Disney World Tips to Make Your Trip Magical

We returned from 3.5 day trip to Disney World in early February. Here are our Disney World tips to make your trip easier.

Cinderella’s Castle at 50. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Disney World tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks: You don’t have to stand in the mosh pit in front of Cinderella’s Castle, or pay for expensive dessert packages to have a great view of castle fireworks. We stood on the bridge between the circle in front of the castle (the one with the Walt statue) and Liberty Square (close to #37 and #38 on the map). We got there less than 10 minutes before the fireworks. It was not a mob scene. It was not very crowded at all. And we got a great reflection of the castle in the water too.

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Disney World with the Disability Pass

DAS pass Disney World

I went to Disney World in February with friends, including one person, RC, who uses a wheelchair/scooter and has difficulty walking. Does Disney World offer disability passes? Definitely. RC qualified for the Disability Access Service (DAS) at Disney World and we were not sure what to expect during the registration process or while we were there. This post will help explain the DAS pass at WDW and how to use it. You’ll find info on how to register for the DAS pass Disney World at the bottom.

Front row seat for Frozen Singalong at Hollywood Studios, where the handicapped-accessible seating was. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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Is the MaxPass at Disneyland worth it?

The MaxPass was introduced at Disneyland/California Adventure since we last went. It’s currently $15 per person per day. We are FastPass experts, and the FastPass is free, so we debated whether to spring for the extra cost. We are so glad we did. Here’s why.

The Incredicoaster takes FastPass tickets. We also did the single rider line and got in in 5 minutes – several of us in the same car. The next time we tried, though, it took too long and we ended up bailing. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Benefits of the MaxPass

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What’s new at Disneyland and California Adventure?

We used to make an annual spring break trek to Disneyland and California Adventure. We did so again this year, but it’s been a few years since we did both.

2019: went to both

2018: went to neither

2017: Disneyland and Universal Studios

2016: Disneyland and California Adventure

Galaxy’s Edge in the background. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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The Official Disney Cake: Disney Haunted Mansion Cake

For the first time in many years, we visited Disneyland when it wasn’t Passover, and we could actually eat whatever we wanted. The plan was to get churros, as we always talk about that but aren’t able to eat them during the holiday. This year when my sister said “let’s get a churro” late afternoon, I told her to wait until after dinner. I had another plan. An official Disney cake.

Our trip to Disneyland was right in between my daughter and my sister’s birthday, though this was not top of mind when we made reservations for the Blue Bayou, where we always wanted to eat, but didn’t bother, given holiday restrictions.

The Blue Bayou restaurant in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

I decided to surprise them with an official Disney cake. You can’t order or find official Disneyland cakes online. They said it’s because of quality assurance, but I think they don’t want anyone to steal their designs. You have to call to order it – I called and waited 20 minutes online for someone to answer.

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Universal Studios vs Disney

Guest post by Dori Kaplan
Both Disneyland and Universal Studios are popular theme parks in California, but what are the differences? This year, we skipped our usual day at California Adventure and substituted it for Universal Studios. After two consecutive days of Disneyland and Universal, I noticed many striking differences between the parks.

The butterbeer truck at Universal Studios. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Disneyland Tips: How to Make the Most out of Your Day at Disney with the Family

This is a guest post by Dori Kaplan.

My family is not one to dilly dally when it comes to Disney. Our motto is: structured, organized fun. In our most recent visit, we managed to go on all of the best rides within three hours of arriving at the park. Not only that, but we did not wait in a single line longer than half an hour. Those of you familiar with Disney lines will understand how big of an accomplishment this is, especially for a beautiful day during spring break. To help out other families who are hoping the maximize their day at Disney, here are some tips from my family.

**Note: usually we go to California Adventure and Disneyland – each for one day – but this year we just went to Disneyland. These tips apply for both parks.

Fantasyland – copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

1. Get there when it opens. RIGHT when it opens. Continue reading “Disneyland Tips: How to Make the Most out of Your Day at Disney with the Family”

Orlando for Nearly Free – find out how

Before kids, I used to get lots of free airplane tickets for getting bumped. I traveled off season, which was cheaper. Now that I have kids, paying for travel for four is tough, especially since my husband doesn’t like getting bumped (“I want to get home NOW!”) and we travel during school breaks. Given how expensive travel is, especially to the Orlando parks, I’m excited to welcome Summer Hull to Jersey Kids today. She is launching an ebook called Frequent Flyer Toolkits, including one called Orlando for Nearly Free. She has been running MommyPoints.com, a popular blog that helps travelers navigate the frequent flyer type point programs to make travel more affordable.

Tell me a bit about you and your travel-for-free background.orlando-for-nearly-free

I first dabbled in the miles-and-points hobby as a cash-strapped grad student at New York University. I racked up frequent flyer miles flying back and forth to visit friends and family in Houston. Then, after graduation, while my friends could only muster up the money for a drive to the shore, I was able to use miles and points to take my boyfriend at the time to Hawaii. After that, I was hooked. I didn’t have as much travel occur naturally after grad school, so I had to find ways to earn miles outside of flying.

I kept learning more about how to earn and leverage loyalty currency and eventually my husband got sick of hearing me talk about it all the time! He encouraged me to start a blog and that’s how MommyPoints.com was born in 2011. Since that time I’ve shared tons of tips and strategies that can help just about anyone earn miles they can redeem for a nearly free flight (you still pay tax on award flights) and hotel stay.

What kind of freebies do you talk about in your ebook in terms of traveling for free?

The books teach you how to use frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and bank points. The fact is, using loyalty currency can drastically reduce your costs on all sorts of travel-related expenses. Frequent flyer miles can be redeemed for nearly free flights. All you’ll pay for, in the case of a ticket to Orlando, is the tax (which is $5.60 per flight segment per person). Continue reading “Orlando for Nearly Free – find out how”

Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland and California Adventure

To make the days at Disneyland and California Adventure even MORE fun, I bought the book Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disneyland Resort’s Best Kept Secrets (see Hidden Mickeys on a Disney Cruise here. See the rest of this Disneyland/California Adventure series here.)

Note that the book is a few years old so it’s a bit outdated (Cars Land isn’t in there and it covers the time before the renovation of Buena Vista street and the main entrance). We had fun reading through the scavenger hunt and additional clues to find the Hidden Mickeys. We found the scavenger hunt way too difficult and preferred to just read the hints and look for them (we would have missed everything otherwise!). There’s also a Hidden Mickeys book for Disney World.

Like in the book, I’ll separate these out between actual Hidden Mickeys and mere decorative Mickeys. Unfamiliar with a Hidden Mickey? It’s a representation of Mickey in a place you might not look for it or expect it. Y

Here are a few we saw at Disneyland and California Adventure:

This one is in the exit area of Astro Blasters, the Buzz Lightyear ride, on a larger picture.
This one is in the exit area of Astro Blasters, the Buzz Lightyear ride, on a larger picture.

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How to use a FastPass at Disney parks

Disney parks have the most awesome thing since all-inclusive tickets: the FastPass. While parks like Six Flags and Universal Studios charge for these “get to the front of the line” passes, everyone has access to FastPasses at Disney for no extra cost. Read on for using a FastPass at Disneyland. Disney World changed its FastPass system – you can read more about it here.

Can you see the difference in lines? We waited about 5 minutes to board our space craft inside. The others? Oh, about 90 minutes.
Can you see the difference in lines? We waited about 5 minutes to board our space craft inside. The others? Oh, about 90 minutes.

What are they?

A FastPass is a timed ticket to get you into a special, faster line during a one hour period. Otherwise you ride “standby” which is Disney lingo for “huge long line.” The FastPass line sometimes get you in immediately, but more likely you have to wait a few minutes (though we’ve never waited more than 15-20 minutes unless the ride was broken down). Continue reading “How to use a FastPass at Disney parks”