an explosion of nerdy awesome

Category Archives: Vacation

First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

And now for the fun stuff!

I checked so many Blogs and travel sites before we left, just as I did last year before our Disney Cruise, that my head swam. Some of the advice I took, some I didn’t. Here’s what worked and what I’ll probably do next year (yes, we already have our dates picked out and I’ve requested vacation time).

Pants/Shirts/Dresses

  • 3 pair Jeans   Next time: I would take just 2 pair; 1 tight, 1 a bit looser for the flight home
  • 2 pair of black leggings  Next time: I might add a pair of yoga pants
  • 1 pair black clamdiggers  Next time: good, but better with pockets
  • Sun Dress, Long flowing Dress, shorter dressy dress  Next time: This I did well with, maybe another sun dress, stay away from restrictive clothing
  • Shirts: hand-full of T-shirts, 1 button up, 1 fancier pull over  Next time: You’ll buy t-shirts there so maybe a few less
  • Shorts: 4 pair  Next time: because of recent weight loss all fit awkwardly and looked terrible on me (I have pictures to prove it) Better planning next time 
  • Bathing suit  Next time: If you plan on swimming a lot, bring 2, I may even bring a beach towel as they don’t give them at the pool so you need to bring the bitty ones from the room

Lingerie:

  • 4 bras in various colors  Next time: at least a couple more 
  • Underwear, the number of days staying +1  Next time: whatever you think you need, you need more, because of the heat,  focus on breathable materials, opting for functional, and not cute
  • Socks: I pair for each day, a couple of long pairs, a few ankle length, mostly short bootie socks  Next time: all ankle length all the time, 1 for each day + a few extra (The bootie socks kept slipping beneath my heels, and it was painfully annoying. I’ll avoid them from now on)

Shoes

  • Flip Flops, mine are dressy, these will work when dressing up provided you’re not in a dining location that bans them altogether
  • 2 pair converse (I normally live in my converse, but next time, I may just bring one pair)
  • dress flats (I didn’t wear mine at all, and I bought a Chinese silk pair in EPCOT’s China Pavilion that I loved better and wore twice)
  • I almost took a pair of UGG’s, in retrospect, that would have been stupid
  • I didn’t bring heels because of the resort nature, but if I was planning a special meal I might
  • Next time: Very lightweight running or hiking shoes, regardless of how ugly I might think they are  

Haircare/Cosmetics/Body care

  • Hair Conditioner (I’m picky, the stuff in the room doesn’t cut it, the provided shampoo is ok)
  • Moisturizer (bring a good thick lotion for your arms and legs too)
  • Foundation (something that can survive the deep moist heat, or a tinted moisturizer if your skin can get away with it)
  • Eyebrow pencil (that’s because of my deep eyebrow obsession) and eyeshadow
  • Something to keep the hair frizzies at bay, but much more isn’t needed
  • Hair-ties, bands, barettes – I was constantly trying to keep my hair off my neck because of the heat
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash (Duh)
  • Facial cleaner (again, the provided soap doesn’t cut it for me)
  • Lipbalm for daily use, lipstick for dressing up
  • Face powder, blotting papers
  • Disposable wipes and/or hand sanitizer (to carry in your bag, there will always be a call for them)
  • Flushable wipes for the bathroom (do I even have to explain this)
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file, clippers
  • hair brush
  • hand mirror (I like to sit while I’m doing my makeup)
  • Baby powder
  • Razor
  • Aloe or skin soother

Electronics and Accessories 

  • Laptop and charger (free wi-fi!)
  • Kindle and charger (mostly for the plane, I didn’t end up reading at all on my trip – maybe if I spend more time at the pool)
  • iPhone and charger
  • Portable back-up battery for electronics (specifically my iPhone in the parks)
  • fitbit charger (I wear it on me all the time.  I walked over 70 miles on this trip)
  • Power strip (extra outlets to charge my many electronics)
  • Camera / standard and long lens/ battery charger

Suitcases / Purses / Bags

  • large checked bag (with room to add stuff on the return)
  • My inflight roller bag  including : 1 change of cloths for arrival, makeup remover, pajamas, all electronics and chargers – essentially, anything you might need if your checked bag doesn’t arrive with you
  • Personal carry-on (I take a large purse that I can fit my laptop in, but a good backpack will work too)
  • Backpack or daypack – I would have liked something lightweight with a cellphone pocket on the strap
  • lightweight purse for nights out

Misc.

  • Gum (you can’t buy it anywhere on the resort)
  • I would have loved a case of bottled water, Tom goes through it like, well….. water. You can have groceries delivered and I may do that next time
  • candy or snacks that are portable and cost prohibitive on the resort

I feel like I’ve missed a bunch of things, so I’m sure I’ll add to this later

I would love to hear other suggestions in the comments section 🙂 


First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

Magic Bands! The system is still in beta, but you wouldn’t have known it at the parks. It seemed like everyone was wearing one of the these colorful bands.

I had limited use for mine for a couple of reasons:
For tickets, as a CM, I use my credentials to get myself and my guests in. The new CM system at WDW is even easier than before, with RFID chips embedded in the media (DLR is still on the old system) but our bands are not tied into it…crossing fingers… just yet. In fact, the turnstiles at the  four WDW parks move so quickly, it doesn’t feel like there are lines at all. It’s kind of amazing!
Because my ticket media isn’t tied into the bands, I couldn’t use the FastPass+ system either. The old system is still working for the time being so it didn’t make much difference to me, but it was neat to see people scanning through.

I was able to use the band as the key to my room at the hotel and as a point of pay for both my Disney Dining Plan (DDP) and to buy things to charge back to my room/credit card on file.
There is a learning curve, you’ll hear the phrase “touch Mickey to Mickey” constantly, referring to Mickey on the face of the band and the Mickey on the point of purchase machine that lights up green when done right. I was finally able to do it first time every time by the last full day of our trip. Next time I’ll be a total expert! When making purchases we put in the pin code that we chose at pre-check in. You can make them all the same or give each guest their own.

The bands come in “One size fits all” but the grey part peels off to make the bands fit kids wrists better (or me, because I have the wrists of a 5-year-old). I found it hard to take the band off at the end of the trip because it had become such a part of me.
My one complaint, give this goth-at-heart girl a band in black or even purple. My orange band just didn’t go with everything I wore! They also sold add on’s for the bands so you could bling them out. I opted to keep mine in its natural, blingless state.

I’m told there are those who are a bit paranoid about the bands in a creepy, Big Brother way. I see the point but I see so much potential in these bands.  In the parks, they could know where guests are going, and what they’re avoiding. This could be a great way to know when to improve on an under utilized attraction or location. I have no idea if that is a capability of the bands, I just see the potential.
From a lodging standpoint, a guest never has to say their room number out loud, a privacy issue, or even remember it (because we know that you memorize the path to your room, but not always the number). When making an inquiry at the front desk, you scan your band, “Mickey to Mickey”, and your reservation comes right up on their screen. This is great for making dining reservations as well. I could see a touch-point set up in each building or in the lobby where guests could touch to check out and receive their final list of charges.
Everything syncs to My Disney Experience (MDX), an App and a website. I can’t tell you how many times I saw guests pull out their iPhones to check wait times, dining reservations or character locations.
If I could ask for any improvements, besides other color choices, I would ask that the DDP have better tracking in the MDX app. I’d like to know how many meals & snacks I have left and which band scanned for them and where. But I’m one of those people who keep crazy track of things like that.

My other issue is that I was unable to cancel dining reservations, even within the acceptable timeframe, online or through MDX, I had to go to guest services at my hotel to make those changes. Disney’s Art of Animation has almost 2000 rooms, which meant the lines at the front desk were almost always busy. Canceling reservations took time, every time. It’s a glitch, I’m sure, as the option was there, it would just time out.
The other hidden benefit to the bands it the WDW wide wi-fi that is now accessible to guests. It was told to me, by someone who should know, that the wi-fi is in place because of the bands and the system it runs on. Free wi-fi for guests doesn’t suck…not even a bit.


First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

And now for the fun stuff!

We returned from Florida a couple of days ago and had a marvelous time, but sadly I’m sick as a dog, presumably from touching something that some sticky flu-ridden person had touched before me. It was unseasonably humid for October (or so we are told) and there were days that it was just painful to me. On the upside, EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival was insanely fun. It was exciting trying out food that I might not have tried otherwise and most of the food, but not the wine or other adult beverages,  is considered a snack if you have the Disney dining plan (and OMG, did I mention there was WINE too!). We had some great experiences and met some really awesome people.  One night we cancelled dinner and just went from booth to booth trying this and that. France and Ireland were real stand outs for me. China had this nomm-able steamed bun with Mongolian beef that had just the right amount of heat to it.  Tom, not surprisingly, stayed close to anywhere that served taco’s.

We stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (DAAR) and it’s A-MAZE-ZING!! So cute. The Cast was awesome. The theming and show are better than anything Disney I’ve ever experienced. As a CM myself, I was totally jealous of their spiel and will be stealing what I can!

DAAR Lobby

A view of the Lobby as you walk in

We stayed in The Casa Della Tires building in the Cars section and I loved it.
For those of you thinking of staying, make sure that regardless of which section you stay, walk the entire property, as each section is highly themed both inside and out.
DAAR is 3/4 Family Suites; Cars, Finding Nemo and Lion King. The other 1/4 are standard rooms themed to Little Mermaid.
There are 3 pool areas  The Big Blue Pool and it’s companion bar “The Drop Off” are just behind the main building that includes the Lobby, The Ink & Paint Shop and The Landscape of Flavors (DAAR’s fast casual dining location).
The Cars section has its own pool themed to the Cozy Cone. The pool is a little less busy but much smaller. You walk down Rt. 66 to get to your building (and watch your speed because the sheriff is out and about!). You may also run into Ramone, Flo, Sarge or Fillmore (my personal favorite!). Lightning McQueen & Sally, Mater and Luigi and Guido are stationed outside of their own buildings.
The Lion King section has the Elephant Bone Yard,  Simba, Scar and many more. It has no dedicated pool, but is halfway between the Big Blue and Little Mermaid Pools. It’s also the absolute closest walk to the resort bus stops, if that’s important to you (not that anything is terribly far away).
The Family Suites come with a small fridge (that is slightly bigger than many resort hotels seem to offer) a microwave and a selection of disposable plates, cups and utensils.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, getting a suite here for the price of a standard room at a moderate resort,it was totally worth it. I’d stay there again!

The lights that hang above the lobby at DAAR

The lights that hang above the lobby at DAAR

 

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby





Tom and I are planing a trip to Orlando this October with a couple of friends. We’re staying at The Art of Animation hotel, the most recently opened resort location.
This will be the 3rd time we’ve stayed on property at WDW, and the first time we’re at a “value” hotel. They’re really offering some sweet deals for the “Family Suites” so I couldn’t resist. OMG, it’s so cute!
We’ll be staying in one of 3 designs: Cars, Finding Nemo, or Lion King, we won’t know which until we arrive. I’m so excited!

Credit disneyworld.com

Credit disneyworld.com

Credit disneyworld.com

Credit disneyworld.com

Credit disneyworld.com

Credit disneyworld.com

So, vacation is to far out to reserve dining (which is driving me CRAZY!!), but I know I have so hardcore Disney-Nerds that I’m friends with…what are your favorite places to dine? Favorite experiences? Tours and all out touristy things to do?

One of my traveling companions is a fish-eating vegetarian, the rest of us, no issues. I’m ready for your feedback!



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