Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Packing for a Walt Disney World Trip

One of the questions I’ve been asked by friends and family a lot is now that I’m going to WDW, what do I pack?  That can sometimes be a very daunting thought.  I figured I’d spend a little time going over what we packed for a trip to the World. 
For the interest of organization, I will break this down into the different category lists that we use.  These categories are Clothes, Non-Clothes, Electronics, Park Items,

Clothes are the first and toughest.  Everyone of course has their own tastes, I'll try to be general.  When going from March to October its pretty consistent in the sunshine state…hot.  From October to April though it could be anything.  That’s why the 10-day forecast for Orlando before your trip is a must.  Even so you can get surprised.  A couple of years ago we went for a week in December.  The forecast for 30’s at night and 50’s in the day.  Well, the week started out that way but by the end of the week it shot up n the 70’s and we were swimming.  We were lucky we still packed swim sutis even though the forecast. You never know. 

The amount of things to pack can be an issue also.  If we stay 5 days or less, we can usually pack enough clothes to cover it.  Over 5 days you either have to pack more, which is tough as far as planes go or look for a washing machine.  All of the Disney Hotels have washing machines, some more than others.  Before you go, you can check a map for your hotel and see where all the washing machine rooms are.  In our experience it seems the are usually close to a pool area.  There is a great post by Erin over on the TouringPlans Blog about keeping your clothes clean.  It is her picture here. 

As far as what clothes to pack, that’s up to you, pack for the time of year and forecast.  In addition to what you would normally pack, two pairs of walking sneakers would be good to bring in case one pair gets wet.  (Shoe drying trick: stuff pages of a newspaper into the shoes/sneakers and leave them over-night.)  There are a couple of Table Service restaurants that have a dress code, make sure about where your ressies are.  In truth, with the exception of Victoria and Albert's, you can wear almost anything to WDW restaurants.  Bring hats, but not your most favorite hats.  I've lost a couple on rides over the years. 

Non-Clothes category is just what it sounds like.  These are the items we pack that don't fall into the other categories.  We always take extra ziploc bags, big and small.  They always come in handy.  We've experimented with food and have pretty much stopped taking things from home.  If we haev a car, we hit the Walmart ASAP to stock up on the room and park snacks/drinks.  If we did not have a vehicle, we might revist shipping a "Care Package" to ourselves.  We did it when we stayed at the Grand Floridian.  I sent the package and ha it arrive the day before we were to arrive.  It worked out very well.  There was about 3-4 lbs of snacks and light sticks and stuff for the parks. 
Electronics:  Wow, this is the most changed category over time you’ll find in this post today.  Even from 5 or 6 years ago we take a ton of electronic stuff now.  For the ride down or on the plane the kids take their Nintendo DS’s.  In place of the DVD player we have an Itouch and my Iphone.  The kids have their phones to use if we split up anywhere.  We also bring a computer.  With all of these devices you need to bring the chargers and any other accessories needed to work.  We have a separate bag, kind of a cross between a soft sided cooler and a small toolbox.  This is our Electronics bag.  This makes finding the right charger or adapter easier.  On top of these items, we also have the cameras.  A Point and shoot and water proof video camera and both sets of batteries and such.  Bring a utility strip.  It is a must.

Park Items.  As it says, things to take to the park.  If we’re flying this stuff gets packed anywhere there is room and then re-assembled at the hotel.  If we’re driving we’ll just pack everything in the bag we take into the park.  I've gone from basically carrying nothing in the parks up through college.  Once we went with the kids and were able to carry stuff in the stroller we kind of got greedy and took all sorts of things into the parks with us.  Now, we have one good knapsack or shoulder bag and a camera bag between the 3-4 of us.  If I go alone, it's only the camera bag.  When we go into the parks for a day, we take an aluminum water bottle, a couple of protein bars, an small umbrella and ponchos, first aid kit, small flashlight, lanyards and trading pins, autograpgh books and pens and any touring plans, Glide and Moleskin and any info for that day.  

So those are some of the things we pack to get to and survive a trip to WDW.  I'm sure I left off a couple of things, send us an email at and let us know what it is.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Walt Disney World Face Characters

The last time we were in Walt Disney World I was very impressed with how the Face Character Cast Members presented themselves.  For those that don’t know, there are two type of Disney dress up characters that walk around the parks or resorts.  The first type is the most famous and they are the characters that wear a full head mask to portray their character.  They're known as "Fur" Characters.  The Fab 5 are perfect examples of this type of character.  Mickey, Donald, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.  They have made some great progress in the last couple of years and now Mickey and a couple of select characters can actually talk.  And by talk I mean that now their mask mouth, eyes, and other parts of their face move.  It is very impressive to watch.

The other type of Disney Character, the one I am referring to here is the Face Character.  So called because they wear no mask and present their own faces as that of he character they are playing.  Some examples of this are Peter Pan and Alice and all of the princesses and their princes and so many others.  These cast members that play the face roles are for the most part, established actors and actresses. 
I’ve seen how these cast members interact with the kids and it’s always great, happy and true to the character.  It’s not until you see these characters with an older child or an adult to see some real creativity.  First off, it is my understanding that they go through a very thorough training course.  After that they work on learning all about the character they are to play.  They go through this for about 3-4 weeks and then must pass a test.  We’ve been to many character meals and have full autograph books from various trips to the parks, but the character experience that prompted this post was meeting the girl pirate from the last Pirates movie.  She was doing a meet and greet in Adventureland last year and Hope wanted and autograph.  While waiting in line we got to watch the absolute grilling of this poor girl by the guy in front of us.  He was asking about her family, about her and Jack and a lot of things that was probably not taught in the information classes I mentioned above.  But to her credit, she answered every question he asked with what I thought were probably the right answers.  It all made sense.  And I actually learned something about her character. 
With the addition of the informal meet and greet areas in the parks, it's even easier to see your favorites.  In Epcot there is the Character Spot near the fountain.  For DHS you have the Magic of Disney Animation building.  In the Animal Kingdom it's Camp Minnie Mickey and in the Magic Kingdom there will be the New Princess area in the old Snow White attraction and Mickey and friends are at the Townsquare Theatre.
There is actually another type of Walt Disney World Character cast member and I call then the Atmosphere Characters.  Examples of these really good actors and actresses street performers would be the World Showcase Performers at Epcot, the Streetmosphere people in DHS and Main Street characters such as the Mayor and Fire Chief.
There are many, many, many videos on YouTube showing Disney Characters and they are fun to watch.  Some of my favorites are the Evil step-sisters of Cinderella, their a hoot.  Peter Pan is a really fun character to watch as well as his friend Tinker Bell.  The Mad Hatter another character that I’ve seen a lot of.  There are plenty out there.  I’d be interested to hear what characters you look for at the Disney Parks.
 Ask them any question you had about that character and you might get lucky.  There are certain things to say to any of the characters to get a rise out of them:
  • Ask a princess where her prince is
  • Ask Eeyore if he still has a tail
  • Ask Donald Duck if he has been controlling his temper
  • Tell Donald that you are # 1
  • Ask Cruella how the coat is coming
  • Scratch behind Pluto's ear and see what happens
  • Ask Dale what is the difference between a chipmunk and a squirrel
  • Ask Chip or Dale how to tell the difference between the two chipmunks
  • Ask Mary Poppins to say hello to Burt for you
  • Ask Pooh if he's had too much honey
  • Say Aloha to Lilo
  • Tell the Mad-Hatter its your Un-Birthday
Don't forget you don't need kids to interact with the characters.  Also, if you have any other things to say to the characters, leave a comment below or email us a