I long for the days of Disney World when you would happen upon a character and grab the signature and photo without a prearranged spot it or it being announced on the Disney app. Well apparently, I am not alone! Disney has been making the random photo ops a thing again! They are also using rare characters as a huge draw to special events such as the Not So Scary Halloween Party. So to date, here are my favorite "rare" Disney characters and where we found them!
1. Captain Hook and Smee - While these two can be seen everyday in the parades, getting a photo of them can now only happen on the Pirates and Pals Voyage, which by the way is amazing. Tip: Ask to sit on the left side of the boat!
2. The Seven Drawfs - They too can be seen during the parades, but to get a photo with them, look for the long lines ahead of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
3. Lotso - This guy is only ever seen as part of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Watch out! He likes to hug!
4. Boo - Good luck getting a photo with Boo. I tried for 30 minutes! But she is a dancing character that would just not stop!
5. Br'er Fox - and Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Bear have begun making impromptu appearances near the exit of the Animal Kingdom. They are unannounced and unplanned - Just like when we were kids! Thrill of my day right there!
If there is one thing Epcot does well (and there are so many more than one!) it is SNACKS! Here are our top 5 snacks you can find in Epcot!
1. School Bread - Found in Norway in the World Showcase. A sweet, cardamom roll filled with creme and topped with coconut!
2. Brioce Ice Cream Sandwich - Found in France in the World Showcase. A warm brioche bun, filed with ice cream and sauce. Amazing!
3. Guacamole - Found in Mexico in the World Showcase. Just darn good guacamole!
4. Cannoli - Found in Italy in the World Showcase. They have ones outside at the cart and in the Wine Cellar. I love the Wine Cellar cannolis!
5. Cronuts! Croissant donuts are found in the Refreshment Port near the Canadian stop in the World Showcase. If you haven't tried these yet, what are you waiting for??
Did we mention your favorite? What did we miss?
1. Refillable Water Bottle – A bottle of water at Disney can cost around $2, but you are absolutely allowed to bring in your own water bottle and refill them with the free cups of water at the counter service restaurants or the water fountains. Staying hydrated is so key to spending a full day a park!
2. Cooling Towel – These small towels that cool when wet can be a life saver in the heat of day. Whether your have a hot toddler or a cranky husband, these are worth every penny!
3. Glow Sticks/Light Up Toys – Once the sun starts to set the street vendors with the bright glow toys and the spinning toys are EVERYWHERE. And every child wants one. Do yourself a favor and already have on handy in your bag.
4. Ponchos – In Florida a rain storm is to be expected at least once during your trip. Grab some ponchos from the Dollar Tree before you leave home. The ones in the park are usually about $6!
5. Apparel/Costumes – Inside the park these are going to cost major $$$. But if you scope out your local Wal-Marts, Targets, and even Etsy, you can grab Disney apparel and costumes for way less!
Sometimes the cost of souvenirs in the Disney parks can give some serious sticker shock. So if you are looking for alternative places to pick up a few things for the kids during your trip or maybe just need a bit of Disney magic while you're not on vacation, here are my top spots to look:
1. Kohls - Kohl's carries several Disney lines of clothing and toys! If you wait and catch their deals, they can be a real $ saver! I particularly like their line with Lauren Conrad which features a new Disney theme every season.
2.Dollar Tree - This is the perfect spot to find a few happies for your kids through their trip: tiny toys, washcloths, Disney crayons/markers.
3. Disney Character Outlet - There are two of these located near Orlando. They carry last season Disney merchandise, but really isn't Disney seasonless? We've have picked up some serious great loot including artwork for a fraction of the cost! (See my favorite find below!)
4. Walmart - Not everyone's favorite place to shop, but this is probably lowest cost place to find t-shirts and toys. The Walmart in Davenport Florida is stocked with Disney merchandise!
5. Ebay - If you are on the hunt for a particular character or collectible, this is definitely the go-to spot!
So many guests and friends of mine have asked, “So is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Worth It?” Spoiler Alert: YES. You can stop reading right here…but why not keep going...
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is a special ticket event in the Magic Kingdom that takes place between September 2nd and October 31st on select nights of the week. The ticket costs start at $72 per person depending on the night of the party and if you buy them advance. If you don’t go to the park before 4pm, you don’t need park admission to enter the park. We usually use this day to relax by the pool or sleep in to save up energy (and that park ticket!) for the party!
What’s so special about it??
First off, COSTUMES! Ok, so maybe this one doesn’t just grab everyone, but for me this is a biggy. On any normal day in Magic Kingdom adults are not allowed to dress up for fear of confusion with characters, but not so during MNSSHP!
There are some rules of course for the safety of everyone, but in general adults can dress up as their favorite Disney character and enjoy Halloween like a kid again! I also just love to see all the other families in their costumes and themes. Some of them rival the characters is authentic details and creativity! So get ready for some people watching!
Second, trick-or-treating! All over the Magic Kingdom Cast Members (CMs) are stationed handing out gobs of treats. The quality of candy has also gone up in the recent years and theres just something about trick-or-treating near that castle that is more magical that wondering who is at home on your street.
Boo To You Parade!
Third, the “Boo to You” Parade is not to be missed! Headlined by the Headless Horseman, and followed by your favorite ghools and villans, this parade is fun and catchy and really not scary at all. The parade also features really rare characters such as Wreck-it Ralph! The parade is performed 2x each night and the crowds get intense, so I highly recommend finding your seats EARLY in the night.
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular!
The list keeps going! So next up is the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. Now this is not a normal stop for me, but people have raved about the recently revamped show featuring the characters from Hocus Pocus, an older Disney Halloween film resurging in popularity. If you or your kids like shows, definitely check this one out!
On the nights of the MNSSHP the normal fireworks show, Wishes, is replaced with Hallowishes. Hallowishes is truly awesome. It is 12 minutes of awestruck as Disney has perfectly coordinated their fireworks to Villains theme songs. Its creepy and fun! There are several great locations to catch this show from inside the park, but usually I recommend watching from the main center in front of the castle, but just a bit to the right (close to Tomorrowland) so that you can disperse from the crowds easily after the show is over.
Low Wait Times!
Exclusive Merchandise and Snacks!
If you are one of the thousands of people that collect anything Disney (limited edition pins, mugs, shirts, whatever!), then the exclusive merchandise may be a big draw for you!
This is one my FAVORITE events of the year at Disney and I cannot recommend it enough! Have you been?? Let us know!
These are the party dates for 2016:
September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31
If you are new to the Disney World experience, you may be overwhelmed by the tour guides, advice from friends, Pinterest, etc...There's so much to take in and grasp before you go! Here are a few things that you will likely not find in the guides!
1. Disney World Is HUGE!
The Disney World Resort is approximately 40 square miles! While a lot of that is undeveloped land, it shows you just how big and how long it can take someone to "See It All". My advice: Don't even try to see it all unless you are an Annual Passholder and staying for 2 weeks or more! If you drag your kids around to every ride and every character, they will be miserable and cranky! And so will you...
2. Don't Just Eat the Hamburgers and Fries!
Most guests assume that the bland, boring food at your every day theme park is the only thing available. Not at Disney World! All over the parks, Disney Springs, and at the resorts are amazing restaurants with unique and delicious food. You just sometimes have to look for it.
3. Most Important Thing to Pack...
By far the most important thing to pack is your PATIENCE! See Number 1...After that, Ziplocks! They help carry and organize your park bags and your suitcases, but they will also keep your phone dry on Splash Mountain, help carry snacks for "hangry" toddlers, and you can stuff your wet rain coats in them.
4. Make Time to Relax!
As I mentioned, if you go full throttle all day long, you and your whole family will be miserable! Take the time to relax and recharge. There are quiet places in the parks such as Tom Sawyer's Island. Or go back to your hotel room or vacation rental and take a nap, swim in the pool, and just have some down time. This is by far the biggest tip I can give to families with young children.
5. Get Up Early!
6. Character Meals Are Worth It!
Tell Me What You Think! Any Disney Pros Have Tips I Missed?
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!