30 October 2012

31 Days:: Other Tips and Tidbits

{Insider Info Series}
Welcome to today's topic: Other Tips and Tidbits! These are random tips that didn't seem to fit anywhere else, but are really neat and useful, in my opinion!

Apparently I'm Piglet size!! Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom
Throughout the Disney parks, at various times of the day, you can meet Disney characters and get their autographs! You can bring your own book or buy an autograph book at many of the shops around WDW. Also, bring a fat pen (so the characters can better grip them!). A great FAQ page about Character Meet and Greets can be found {here} on AllEars. It's been quite a while since I've gone to one, so head on over to AllEars to find out some great info :) Don't forget that various restaurants have character meals, and those can be found {here} on Disney's website! Check to see if the characters are about to come by your table before you head off to the buffet line (I missed Eeyore that way last year!).

eticket Rides
Some of you may have been wondering about this "eticket" thing I've mentioned here and there throughout the month. To quote Wikipedia, "The phrase E ticket (or E ticket ride) refers to an unusually interesting, thrilling, or expensive experience. It derives from the admission ticket system used at the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom theme parks before 1982, where the E ticket (officially termed "E coupon") admitted the bearer to the newest, most advanced, and/or most popular rides and attractions." Today, the term is still used by Disney enthusiasts to describe the most popular rides :)

Remember where you parked- row and area!! The parking lots are broken up by area (Mickey, Donald, Minnie, etc.) and by rows. You can jot it down on paper you know you won't accidentally throw away or misplace! Or I've taken a picture of it! Then you can scroll through your camera/phone's photos at the end of the day and find the picture of your area and row. Not a chance you're gonna throw away your phone or camera ;)

At the end of your day at the park, you'll hop a tram back to the parking lot. If you're at Magic Kingdom, then you'll hop a ferry or monorail back to the Ticket and Transportation Center, and THEN grab a tram to the parking lot :) If you're at Epcot, you can actually walk to many of the parking lots. At closing time (or if you have a fussy child) this can often times be faster and more convenient. The lines for trams can get LONG at closing times, especially after the last evening shows.

Hidden Mickeys
Disney Imagineers, when creating the Disney parks and resorts, created hundreds of "hidden Mickeys." They are generally defined as the traditional three circles depicting Mickey's face. You can find them hidden in the cement of walkways, hidden in murals, hidden in tile work, hidden all over the place! There's a website you can visit {here} where it explains more about this really neat feature of WDW. You can also purchase the book to bring with you on vacation, {here on Amazon}. I have it, and every year we visit, I make a note of which new Mickeys we find! There will likely be a new addition coming out in upcoming years with the newest areas of Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland and The Magic of Disney Animation Resort being finished up!

Throughout the Disney parks, you'll find cast members wearing tan vests and wielding cameras. They take your photo at the perfect photo locations throughout the parks, and can even pose you in fun ways to later "add in" Disney characters to the photo. Before you get your first photo taken, ask the cast member for a Photopass. This will let you see all of your photos online and order them and other photo memorabilia! My favorite purchase in a photo calendar :) Lets me chose two photos for each page, along with two photos for the cover, and you can access professional Disney photos of the parks as well! Take a peek at the {official website here} for more info!

Disney has their own timeshare resorts, called Disney Vacation Clubs. DH and I are hoping to invest in one down the road, but if you'd like to learn more, there are booths located at most every Disney location- parks, resorts, Downtown Disney, the Boardwalk (which is where many of the DVC resorts are located!). You can also read more {here online} at their website.

Pin Trading
Trading official Disney pins is a long tradition at Disney. I myself have never partaken in this hobby, so I'll direct you to {this AllEars article} or this {Disney website overview} to learn more (or ask any Cast Member), but I'll give you the general gist here! When you visit, you'll notice many of the Cast Members (as well as many of the guests!) will be wearing a lanyard around their neck or belt that is adorned with many Disney pins. Once you buy a start up Disney pin trading set, if you like a pin someone else has, you can trade your pin for theirs! It's a pretty neat Disney tradition, as you can often stumble upon rare pins that were only offered at special events or have been discontinued! There is "pin etiquette" for what constitutes a fair trading of pins, but I'll leave that info to the articles that I've linked for ya ;)

Free Personalized Maps
Once you go to the Disney website and create an account, you can pick your favorite rides and restaurants and they'll ship you free personalized maps! They come with your family's name, your choice of theme, and all of your favorite picks! They're a thick sturdy material, perfect for standing up to plenty of folding and unfolding as you reference them throughout the day in the parks (and maybe even a spill of water!). Make sure you allow enough time for shipping (I think it's up to 2 months, though we got ours in ~2 weeks). They're a really neat keepsake :)

Cast Members
The Disney employees are known as "Cast Members." Many times they won't even go by their real names, but rather a "Disney name" ie. "Daisy" or "Thumper"(this is common when you talk to CM's on the phone). It's all part of the Disney magic :)

Parades & Shows
  • If there are two showings of a parade or evening show (ie. Fantasmic, Electrical Parade, etc), the later showing will generally be less crowded. Families with small children tend to go to the earliest showings and then head home for the evening. 
  • Also, while any parade or big show is occurring, generally lines for the big "eticket" rides will be shorter, so hit up those rides during a parade/show!

Source: AllEars

Electrical Water Pageant
Although I have yet to see the Electrical Water Pageant, it's on my to do list- it looks so cool!!
"The Electrical Water Pageant is a nightly display that makes its circuit around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake for the Magic Kingdom area resorts. The pageant consists of two strings of seven barges, each carrying a 25-foot-tall screen of lights."  This quote is from {this Allears.net article}- check it out to see photos and more info!

Tip Boards (in case you missed this on the FastPass post!)
You can also use your iPhone app to check current wait times and Return Times being distributed. In each park, there is also a display board showing the wait times and FastPass times for the various rides throughout the park. Here's where they're located...
  • Magic Kingdom: on the lefthand side in front of the Castle, just before you enter Partner's Circle
  • Epcot: just outside of Innoventions West
  • Hollywood Studios: at the corner of Sunset and Hollywood Blvd.
  • Animal Kingdom: on Discovery Island, to the right of the tree after you enter from The Oasis
This will help you better plan out your day. If there's a short line for your favorite ride, you can hurry over and ride it. You can also check to see if FastPasses are running low for your favorite ride so you can scurry over and get one before they're gone!

Immune Boosting
While this may not be for everyone, we like to bolster our immune systems before heading out on a trip! Considering that we'll be in cramped quarters with other guests while on the plane, taking in some of the shows, and grabbing onto door handles that have been touched countless times by perhaps other sick guests... and factor in that I'm also a bit germaphobic, so yea. We take some zinc starting about a week before hand through a week after the trip! Echinacea, vitamin C, and blueberries are also common items we use to give our immune systems a little support!

While there are no pets allowed at WDW parks, aside from working service dogs, there is a kennel located on Disney property. Best Friends Pet Care is located across from the Port Orleans resort. Visit their website {here} to find out more info, if your furry friends would like to travel with you to the World!

Note: I earn advertising fees on qualifying purchases from the Amazon Affiliate links to the Hidden Mickeys book.   I have not been compensated in any other way to endorse these resources. 

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