Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ten things to do when you're 10 days away from a Disney Vacation

How exciting!  Ten whole days stand in front of you and your Disney vacation.  That little smile that comes across your face when thinking about it will only get bigger and brighter as you complete this check list.

10. Complete any last minute shopping and finish packing

It’s inevitable that you are going to forget something.  To lessen your chances, write a list of everything you need to pack.  In the case that you should forget something, know that sundries at Disney World cost nearly as much as a sundress from Neiman Marcus.  Knowing that you’ll spend three times as much for the toothbrush you forgot should help you remember to pack yours.

9. Ship non-perishable, consumables to resort hotel

Time to pack up the diapers, juice boxes, snacks and other bulky items that take up valuable suitcase space in a box and ship them to your resort.  Sending them now guarantees that your delivery will get there before you do.  Be sure to include your name, resort hotel confirmation number, and your date of arrival on the box, and on a slip of paper inside the box.

8. Save all reservations times and confirmation numbers, reminders, parade and fireworks times to your smart phone

My husband and I have a shared Google calendar.  All family related events, (medical appointments, community meetings, church events, etc.) go on that calendar.  If I add an event, he sees it and vice versa.  All advanced dinner reservations and the confirmation numbers are put on the calendar.  We also include times for parades and shows we don’t want to miss, as well as little reminders of things we want to do while we are at a particular park.  Sometimes you get caught up in the magic and forget something “small” that you really want to do, like the family’s first Dole Whip. (Yes, I know…trip number 10 and we still haven’t had one, tsk tsk.) Even though you’ll be on vacation, keeping your cell phone tied to your hip at Disney World is a good thing. With so many great apps available for keeping you organized at the parks, why wouldn’t you?  Stay tuned for in depth reviews of several of these apps.

7.  Check out’s Transportation Wizard

Kudos to whoever came up with this idea!  The Transportation Wizard gives you different options to get from point A to point B, and approximate travel times.  This is very handy when you’re not quite sure how to navigate Disney Transportation, especially if you need to make a couple transfers to get from one resort to another.  Even for us seasoned travelers, the route you know may not necessarily be the quickest. Another reason to keep your cell phone handy is that OLP has an iPhone app.  I’m still waiting patiently for the Android app, but until then the browser on my phone will suit just fine. 

6.  Confirm babysitting, special travel & other reservations

Just because we’re staying on Disney property, doesn’t mean we are staying at Disney the entire trip.  There are lots of other things to see and do in the Orlando area, and if you are staying on Disney property, you will need to make other travel arrangements to get there.  Disney Transportation will not take you to Universal Studios, so be prepared to make arrangements should you decide to include other parks in your vacation. 

You may also decide that you need some time away from the kids.  There are a host of supervised activities at some of the resorts, toilet trained kids, ages 3-12.  Check with your Disney resort for more details.  In-room babysitting services are available for children of all ages.  While we dine at Victoria & Albert's (no children under 10 allowed), we’re using Kids Night Out this trip.  Check back later for a review of their services.

5. Check camera equipment

Make sure you’ve got enough batteries, empty memory cards, and other accessories.  DSLR users, consider putting filters on all of your lenses if you haven’t already.  It’s cheaper to replace a filter than a lens, should it get scratched while quickly exiting a ride vehicle.

Take only what you need.  If you over pack remember, you have to carry all that stuff around.

4. Locate all travel documents

My reoccurring nightmare is that my driver’s license isn’t in my wallet when I get to the airport. Make sure all of your Disney documents (reservation number, luggage tags, Magic Express information), personal travel documentation, and other needed paperwork is easily accessible and in a safe location until you leave.  Add these items to your packing list if you think you’ll have a problem remembering.

3. Make boarding arrangements for pets

Plan for your pets vacation from you, whether their stay will be with a friend or family member or at a boarding kennel.  Make certain that their shots are current, and you have records to leave with the care giver.  If you decide to take your pet with you, Disney has some great options for pet care.  Pets are not allowed in the theme parks.  Service animals are the exception. Check out this page for more information on pet boarding at Disney World.

2. Create a countdown sign for the refrigerator

Use a plate and a couple of saucers to make Mickey’s head on a white board or piece of paper, and use sticky notes to count down the last ten days until your vacation begins.  The kids will love running to the fridge every morning to reveal another number.  If you’ve decided to keep the vacation a secret, skip the mouse ears, and just do the sticky notes.  Not knowing what they are counting down to will drive the kids totally nuts, if you’re okay will all their questioning for the next 9 days. Even if you don't have kids, it's a great way to feel like'll be doing a lot of that at Disney.

1. Complete online check in

It really hits you that you’re going on vacation when you complete the online check in process.  This saves you a little bit of time once you get to the resort.  It's a simple process that verifies your credit card and other information.  When you arrive, just look for the “online check-in” sign.  If you have an early arrival, your room may not be ready, but don’t fret.  Go do something fun, and they’ll text you when your room is ready.  More than likely, you’re luggage will be waiting for you.

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