Disney World Planning

Disney World, Planning tips, Disney world with toddlers, Disney family photos, Disney photography, Disney tips and tricks, where to stay in Disney World

PART 1

Hello all you Disney lovers! 😁

This post is all about, you guessed it…

Disney World!

The first time I ever went to Disney world, was for my 15th birthday. My parents gave me a choice of either having a quinceanera or going on a trip somewhere… well I chose an experience! I’ve always been fascinated with travel and while we have barely begun to experience the world, Disney is one world we are well acquainted with! (did you see what I did there)? 😎 ok, I’ll stop.

***Before I begin, I want to add a disclaimer. I am not a travel agent, Disney travel agent, or being paid/sponsored etc by anyone. This is all just my personal opinion and experience through traveling here with friends (some of whom have actually worked for Disney) and lots of my own personal research, planning and experience.

Anyway, there is a whole lot to talk about when it comes to Disney World, so lets begin!

RESORTS

Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to look into before booking, are the various resorts all around Disney; specifically on-site resorts. We’ve only stayed at an off-site resort once, so this post, won’t be much help in that department if you’re looking for off-site suggestions.

If you really don’t know anything about Disney resorts, there are three categories: Value, Moderate and Deluxe.

The Value resort we’ve stayed at is, Pop Century. The resorts in this category will be the most affordable, and in one room, can accommodate your family of four. If you have more members in your group, you’re now looking at having to reserve two rooms. (This is typical for all of the resort rooms in every category, except for family villas which can accommodate bigger families).

While staying at these resorts, keep in mind that the main reason you’re there, is for the parks. The rooms will be just to get some sleep and recharge to hit the parks the next day. They won’t be “luxurious” and are plain rooms, just Disney themed. They also aren’t single-building, hotel style resorts.

In the Moderate category, we’ve stayed at Port Orleans-Riverside and Coronado Springs, which ironically (because we’re from NOLA), our favorite of the two was Port Orleans. Maybe it was due to the fact that Port Orleans was already refurbished when we stayed there versus the room at Coronado Springs, which was not… lets just say I’m glad Coronado springs is actually still being refurbished, because WOW, our room was struggling! Sorry!😬

Anyway, as you’ll gather, these moderate resorts will be about $100 more per night than the values. They are a little nicer, but not drastically, to be honest. The moderates are also spread out into different buildings.

Keep in mind, that if you’re not driving, you’ll want to request to stay closest to a bus stop, or you’re looking at more walking. I honestly didn’t mind it too much, except on the late nights because of EMH or hanging out at Disney Springs. It was dreadful having to walk back when all we wanted to do was fall onto the bed…😴

Lastly, you have the Deluxe resorts and villas. We have not yet stayed in any. We are staying at the Copper Creek Villas this December and we booked it through DVC-rental. So, you’ll have to keep up with me later on in the year to read all about it!

If you stay at the Deluxe resorts, transportation is easier. The perks of some of them, are that you can walk right from your resort to Magic Kingdom! This is awesome, especially if you have babies/toddlers. It’s so much more convenient! They also have more modes of transportation available such as the Monorail, boat and even “Minnie Vans.” (Actually the Minnie Vans might be available at all resorts now). The transportation here, is less crowded, and also less crowded than the value and moderate, which brings me to the next topic.

TRANSPORTATION

I will say this, we flew to Orlando for our trip back in September, and while having the courtesy shuttle, Disney’s Magical Express* (picks you up at the airport and drops you off at your resort and vice-versa), was great, having to wait for and plan for the bus schedules to get to reservations, parks and other resorts, was miserable for us. I’ll say it again… IT WAS MISERABLE!

If you have older kids, disregard this part.

In my family, our girls are still young and having a stroller was a must. That was also the case for our friends. The miserable part was having to wait for the bus (who very frequently, was late), having to break down our stroller before getting onto the bus and finding a spot to sit or stand, because these buses get PACKED; especially at night after the parks close.

That was a huge downside for us, because it made it very difficult when the kids would be asleep at night, one of us having to hold both girls, along with the bags, while the other had to break down the stroller, all while others are packing in the bus, and then lugging it inside with no where to put it.

However, here’s the game changer y’all: LYFT AND UBER! The whole time, I kept suggesting for us to just uber everywhere and the rest of the group was like “nah, it’s fine.” (it wasn’t 😒).

It’s getting even better to use those services around Disney World, because, if you have young ones, you can suggest a car with carseats!

This year, we are choosing to drive and this won’t be a problem for us. It’s about a 10-12hr drive from New Orleans, but I love being able to hop in our car without having to wait and then pack into a bus.

Recently, Disney announced (if you do choose to have a car), that they will now be charging daily fees for parking, so that’s kind of a bummer… but inflation I guess? 🤷🏽‍♀️ HA! (any time prices go up for anything, I always say “inflation”). 😂 So, just be aware of that and factor that into your budget.

Also, I forgot to mention that the Lyft and Uber rides, weren’t expensive! I’m talking $8-$10 to get from resort to park. Everything in Disney is close by, so the fare isn’t going to be much compared to outside of Disney. Well, this was also back in September, so make sure you find out for yourself… I wouldn’t doubt if it’s more now, but it’s definitely worth finding out.

*Disney’s Magical Express: When you book your trip and choose to fly, you do not automatically get this courtesy. You must make sure you add it to your booking by signing into your MyDisneyExperience account. They also mail you where to go once you arrive and provide you with luggage tags as well.

On Site Perks

Once you’ve decided how many days you’re going for, which resort you’ll be staying at and how you’re traveling, then comes the real planning! I will save that for the next part of this blog, but I’ll leave you with this:

The biggest perks, in my opinion, of staying on Disney property, is the reservation window you get for restaurants and fast passes. For restaurant reservations, it’s 180 days in advance and for Fastpasses, it’s 60 days in advance! This is a big deal y’all! Especially with all the new exciting rides that recently opened up, like Pandora’s Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom and now with Toy Story Land opening in June at Hollywood Studios!

The fast passes get booked up quickly, even if you’re up at 6AM and click refresh to start booking! The 180 day mark is crucial for those good times too, if you’re looking at getting into Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest.

You also get to enjoy extra magic hours (EMH), which you also need to keep in mind when deciding which parks you’ll go to each day. Disney will post the schedule for the EMH and any other special events going on. So make sure you refer to it to make sure you take advantage and have a well put together plan for your restaurant reservation times/places and your fast passes.

Having all of this information, to me, is crucial to having a well put together plan of what your days will look like. Each time we’ve gone, it’s been for 7 days and each day counts. It’s not a strict, no time for potty break, kind of schedule… we’ve even had down times where we’re just sitting around enjoying a snack! However, planning every detail out has helped keep our sanity all while still making the most out of our time and being able to see and do everything that everyone wants!

So, stay tuned for the next post which will have more details about how I personally schedule our days, what to bring and our favorite restaurants and fast pass worthy rides!

XO,

Lo

 

Chicago

travel tips, chicago, the bean, millennium park, things to do in chicago,

I cannot believe it’s already been almost TWO weeks since we took our trip to Chicago. Time seriously needs to slow down a bit, because that means my girls are growing fast too!

Sam and I went on our baby moon to the wonderful Windy City. The first time I went to Chicago, I was just entering my teenage years and it was for my brother’s boot camp graduation. It’s crazy how different things look to you as a kid versus an adult. I just knew, despite the harsh cold, that Chicago was a pretty cool city, and obviously memorable. I’m glad that I finally got to go back as an adult and with my most favorite person in the world!

Every year since our oldest was born, Sam and I have made it a point to get away together without the girls.

(Also, let me add that my anxiety goes through the roof, having to leave my babies! I don’t like leaving them, but I know that Sam and I really need the time alone).

Day in and day out, we have the same routine of responsibilities we need to take care of. After a while, Sam and I get worn out and stressed and barely spend time together because we’re so tired. Date nights aren’t enough to catch up and take a breath.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re absolutely needed and important, but after a while, you need some alone time with your spouse that lasts more than a couple of hours every few weeks. SO, that’s why we made it a point to get out of town without the kids every year.

Last year on our anniversary, however, we did a little 3 day “staycation” in the city, where we’d spend all day exploring, adventuring and relaxing with couples massages, and came back home at the end of the night to the girls; and that was lots of fun and gave us the alone time we needed just as well.

We feel and believe that as parents, and even if you don’t have kids, it’s good to disconnect from everyone else except each other. We get to focus on just each other and really catch up and talk…actually have conversations without distractions and screaming kids asking us for something every .02 seconds! lol

Anyway, Chicago has so much to offer! We ABSOLUTELY loved and enjoyed it. We went for 4 days and despite battling the cold weather, we got a lot done! Here’s some of the highlights of our trip and if you’re thinking of visiting, hopefully serves as some inspo!

DAY ONE

We caught a super early flight and as soon as we got to the hotel to check in and leave our bags, we headed out in search of BREAKFAST! HA We were hungry, y’all!

Luckily, there was a restaurant called Yolk right across the street from our hotel. Which by the way, we stayed at The Langham and it was absolutely amazing! It’s a beautiful hotel with exceptional service and an A M A Z I N G spa!

After breakfast, we explored Magnificent Mile, before heading back to our hotel for our couples massage 💆🏽‍♀️💆🏻‍♂️ it was much needed and very relaxing.

Chicago, chicago travel, baby moon, hotel, things to do in chicago
The only picture we got of our hotel was the hallway 😂
Baby moon
Feeling relaxed after our massages and ready to eat up some steak!
Chicago eats, chicago food, rpm steak, baby moon, travel, chicago travel, things to do in chicago
I didn’t get a picture of our steaks and our “millionaire potatoes,” which O M G… but here’s our yummy dessert! The cotton candy was complimentary.
D000E161-6DDE-4142-B0BB-7BB169C46B79
To finish off our first night, we did some bowling, which was also located across the street from our hotel.

I LOVE that everything was literally within walking distance from our hotel. We were right on the river and a short walk from Mag Mile and TONS of different restaurants.

DAY TWO

Ya’ll… day two was CUBS GAME DAY! It was literally a check off of my bucket list! A dream come true for me, as I’ve been a cubbies fan since I was a kid.

chicago cubs, cubs game, Wrigley field, things to do, travel
I bought that hat when I visited Chicago the first time! I told myself that one day I’d be back and wear it to my first Cubs game!! It’s a 14 year old baseball cap y’all!!

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetProcessed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
The Cubs lost, but that’s ok! The experience was still AMAZING and Wrigley Field is AWESOME!

Thanks babe, for making this girl’s day!

After the game, we headed back to our hotel and for dinner we decided to check out the famous Chicago deep dish at Giordano’s, and lets just say, it did NOT disappoint!

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

chicago deep dish pizza, chicago pizza, chicago eats, travel, things to do in Chicago
I meeeaaan!! drool…

 

DAY THREE

Started the day with a yummy breakfast with a view at NoMi located in the Park Hyatt.

water tower chicago, travel, things to do, chicago eats, chicago restaurants
View of the water tower

 

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
Delicious cornbread toast with pear

Chicago eats, chicago, chicago restaurants, things to do, travel, park Hyatt chicago, water tower

After breakfast, I of course had to get the girls a gift… so we hit up the American Girl store and got one each for them. Sam was over it after two minutes of searching for their perfect doll lol

Then it was off to Millennium Park to get in that tourist pic, of course!

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Lastly, we couldn’t leave without catching Hamilton! We were able to see it on Broadway and loved it! We listen to the soundtrack all the time!  So, we had to catch it while in Chicago and it was just as amazing.

Hamilton musical, chicago theater, theater, things to do, entertainmentProcessed with VSCO with a5 preset

DAY FOUR

Was our check out day, we ate breakfast at Yolk again, and just had some good old fashioned date fun. We went to FTW which is like Dave n busters and just had fun feeling like little kids. Afterwards, as our last stop, we went to a little hole in the wall, suggested by a friend, called “Da Lobsta.” It was actually really yummy, we don’t typically eat lobster, I prefer shrimp and crawfish, but this was Maine lobster, the way New Englander’s eat it in a roll and it was yum!

So, that’s it! That was our trip to Chicago! Lots of fun spent with my favorite person, best friend, and baby daddy! We were supposed to check out the Navy Pier but had put it off till Saturday, to kill time, but it was rainy that day… so to that we say, we’ll check it out next time because we’ll definitely go back to Chicago!

xoxo,

Lo