Having food allergies can make traveling complicated. You do want to enjoy delicious foods and relax on your vacation, yet you have to be ever diligent about taking care of your unique dietary needs. The good news is that Disney World is an exceptional place to visit no matter what your specific food allergies are. Here are some helpful facts that will make you feel more confident and comfortable about your trip.
You can specific your needs on your reservation
If you’re making reservations at any of the many table service restaurants in Disney World, you can let them know in advance that you have allergies or other food concerns. This is a great way to let the chefs know in advance so they can be sure to have the right ingredients on hand.
Chefs will discuss your needs with you individually
At a table service restaurant, all you have to do is let your server know that you have specific needs and they’ll send the chef out to speak to you directly. They’ll take the time listen to your needs and let you know which items you can order as-is. If there are any substitutions that need to be made, they’ll personally make sure they happen.
You can have meals created just for you
Once again, at table service restaurants you can have the chef prepare something specifically for you. For example, if you’re allergic to dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs, they can take that into consideration and recommend a unique dish just for you.
You have options at counter service, too
It’s definitely easiest to deal with food allergies at table service restaurants, but there are plenty of options at counter service spots too. Each one should have an allergen guide that clearly outlines what is included in every dish. Just walk up to the register and ask to see it. It’s often the case that substitutions can’t be made, as much of the food may be per-prepared, or it may be made on the same grill that other problem foods were prepared on, but these guides will give you an idea of what’s ok to order.
There are a lot of reasons it can be a wise move to let your teenager take a friend with you on your family trip to Disney World. It can cut down on the rolled eyes and discontented texting, it can give your teen’s friend a chance to experience something new, and it can give you a chance to spend more time with your younger kids who may be more enchanted with the experience. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you take off.
1. Make a plan to talk to the parents
Don’t let the details of your trip be left to information filtered between you and your teen. Set up a time to talk the parents directly. Ideally you’d do this before you even extended the invitation so that no one gets upset if the parents are uncomfortable with the trip.
2. Get everyone involved
The friend you’re bringing along should be as much a part of the planning as everyone else in the family. Get their ideas and priorities in regards to the various theme parks you’ll visit, where you’ll stay, and what you’ll eat. This helps assure everyone’s expectations are similar.
3. Be clear and upfront about the costs associated with the trip
Make sure you know what you’re comfortable paying for and make those expectations clear to the parents of your teen’s friend. Some families expect the friend’s parents to pay for airfare but handle the rest, while others request a specific amount of money to handle costs. Still others may pay for the room but want the teen to bring their own money to pay for their own meals. Make sure both families are on the same page and comfortable with the arrangement.
4. Keep the other parents in the loop
Remember that your commitment to keeping the parents involved doesn’t begin and end at the pre-planning process. Give them a detailed itinerary with contact information for both you and the resort you’ll be staying in so they’ll know what to do if there’s an issue.
Group travel can be a lot of fun, but it’s not without its complications. Check out this great article with 10 group travel survival tips, or read our favorite five below.
1. Play to the strengths of each individual
Unless there’s one central planner, it’s likely that different jobs will be split up between various people traveling. Make sure you’re not just assigning tasks as needed, but are rather starting by considering what each individual is good at.
2. Speak up when you have an opinion
It can be difficult to make your voice heard when you want the trip to go smoothly, but the reality is that if you know there’s a must-do on your list then it’s important to speak up. If you don’t, you’ll end up resentful and disappointed that you didn’t get to do it. Input is always good – even if the group decides not to follow your suggestion, you’ll know you spoke up.
3. Create backup plans
No matter how well you plan, the unexpected can happen. Have backup plans in the event or rain, a member of the group being sick, or other things that may come up. You’ll be glad you have an alternate plan to follow if you need it.
4. Don’t forget to check for group discounts
Depending on the size of your group, you may be eligible for many group discounts, including on your theme park tickets, resort rooms, and more. The simplest way to find out if you qualify is to simply ask every time you book a meal or reservation.
5. Keep an eye on your expectations
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try to do too much. Remember that there’s a lot to see at every park, and that doing so with a large group can be even more challenging. Try to get everyone to write down their must-dos and hit as many as possible. Anything extra is an added bonus.
there are some steps you can take to make sure that fun is had by all. Take a look at these 5 mistakes to avoid posted by the American Grandparents Association.
1. Not synchronizing your schedules
Taking the grandkids off their regular schedule can lead to meltdowns, grumpy kids, and lots of issues for everyone. The best plan is for you, as the grandparents, to change your schedules. Find out from their parents when your grandkiddos are used to getting up, eating, and going to bed. Try to stick to these times as closely as possible when you’re on vacation.
2. Not making priorities clear
Many grandparents assume their grandkids will want to ride as many rides as possible, or meet as many characters as possible, when their grandkid’s priorities are actually quite different. Talk to everyone going before you take off, and discuss what everyone’s priorities are. Make sure you do a little pre-planning to make sure everyone hits their most important rides or attractions.
3. Not accepting help
If you’re like many seniors, you likely took your own kids to Disney World. You may assume the experience will be fairly similar this time around and you may decide you can handle it in the same way you need decades ago. Remember that not only have you changed, but you’ll be taking kids who weren’t raised with the same rules as your own kids. Let others help you when needed.
4. Not following the rules of the parents
It’s a common misconception that because you’re the grandparent you can spoil the kids rotten. That may be true at Christmas, but the reality is that if you’re spending several days on vacation, you do need to stick to their parent’s rules or you may find a lot of fighting and meltdowns.
5. Not addressing the important safety issues
You may get so caught up in finding the perfect resort hotel or vacation home, or choosing the perfect character breakfasts that you don’t think about some of the most important things. For example, make sure you have their health insurance information handy and bring a first aid kit with you at all times.
Renting an Orlando vacation home is a great way to both save money and assure you have plenty of room. As you consider your options, take a look at these 4 factors to keep in mind.
1. Location, location, location
Of course one of the first things you’ll consider is the location of the home you’ll rent. However, think this through carefully. Don’t just think about where you’ll be spending the most time – think about your entire trip. For example, if one is just a few minutes further from Disney World, but has easier access to the interstate for your trip to Cocoa Beach, it may be worth it to stay further away.
2. The amenities you really need
You may be tempted to choose a home that has all the possible amenities, and that might be the best bet for you. On the other hand, you may pay more for amenities you don’t even need. For example, if you’re not planning on doing a ton of cooking, you may not benefit from the home with the nicest chef’s kitchen.
3. The number of bedrooms
A common mistake families make is to pair up guests to share rooms in an effort to save money when it’s really not necessary. For example, a family of 5 may choose a 4-bedroom home without realizing that a 5-bedroom home is just a few dollars more per night. Consider all your options and the pros and cons of each.
4. To heat the pool or not heat the pool
Most homes have a fee if you’d like to turn on the pool heat. Note that this fee will only be charged for the days you actually use the pool heat. If you’re traveling in cooler months and are definitely planning to use the pool, then make sure you put your request in. It can take up to 48 hours for the pool to be fully heated so you will need to give some notice.
Taking the kiddos on a trip to Disney World is probably something you’ve dreamed about for years, but there are a lot of things to consider. Take a look at these helpful packing tips to make sure you’re not leaving something essential behind.
1. Pack individual outfits and label them for quick access
If you’re traveling for more than 3 days, pick out your kid’s individual outfits, place each one in a gallon Ziploc bag, and label them. This makes it simple to grab an outfit in the morning, and allows you to take outfits to the parks in the event they need to change.
2. Bring a mini first aid kit
You’ll find basic first aid items at your resort and at the parks, but it’s always a good idea to have your own supplies on hand. You don’t need anything fancy, just your basic Band-Aids, disinfectant, aspirin, etc. You can save time by buying a kit pre-made at your local drug store.
3. Consider your past trips
Some parents always bring way more stuff than they need, while others are always forgetting the essentials. If you’re driving you may not care if you over pack, but for those of us who fly, having extra bags can be costly. Consider what you’ve done on your past trips and try to avoid those mistakes.
4. Pack some blue electrical tape
This may sound like a strange suggestion, but you’ll be amazed at what it can be used for. As an example, consider using this tape to baby proof the electric sockets or to hang up kid’s artwork in your hotel room. This tape is affordable and easy to get off the walls.
Your first trip to Disney World can be a little overwhelming when you consider how many different things you have to take into account. Take a look at these FAQs to see if they clear up some of the confusion.
Where do I start?
If you’re just beginning the process, take some time to check out the Disney World planning information. You’ll find a wealth of information on virtually every topic you can think of.
Where do I stay?
There are hundreds of hotels, resorts, and even vacation homes for rent in the Orlando area. You don’t want to spend more than you have you to but you do want a safe, convenient place to stay. Check out these approved resort hotels and vacation homes to see which ones strike your fancy.
What type of tickets do I buy?
After doing a little research you’ll see that there are several ticket options. Note that Disney World is made up of 4 separate theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Base tickets will allow you access to one park per day. Park hoppers allow you to travel from one park to another on the same day.
If you’re on the fence about park hoppers, we recommend buying discount tickets ahead of time and not adding the park hopping option. You can always add it at the parks if you decide you need it, but many first time visitors find that one park per day is plenty.
What’s the right age to take my kids to Disney for the first time?
This is truly one of the most frequently asked questions but there is no definitive answer. Some parents take their kids at just a few months old, while others like to wait until they’re 3 or older. There are numerous rides that children of any age can ride, and there are lots of places for them to interact with the Disney characters.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, otherwise known as MNSSHP, is a great way to take your kids on an extra special trip to the Magic Kingdom. A Dad’s Guide to WDW has posted a great article with the top 5 reasons to attend MNSSHP. Check it out there or read our favorite tips here.
1. Characters, costumes, and candy!
There are a ton of characters to meet at MNSSHP, including some you won’t see at any other time of the year. Your kids can dress up and even trick or treat with Mickey and friends. It’s a truly magical trick or treating experience.
2. A special fireworks experience
Happy HalloWishes, a unique fireworks experience just for MNSSHP is routinely considered one of the absolute best options of all the fireworks displays throughout the year. If your kids love fireworks, this is not to be missed.
3. Unique treats
Not only can you get your free candy when you trick or treat, but you’ll also have access to a ton of specialty Halloween themed treats at the gift shops and bakeries throughout the Magic Kingdom.
4. Merchandise worth writing home about
While you’re searching for treats, don’t forget to keep an eye out for special merchandise that you won’t find anywhere else or at any other time of the year. Whether it’s a t-shirt with your favorite Disney character all dressed up for the spooky season, a MagicBand cover of the Haunted Mansion, there are tons of options to choose from.
5. The “Boo to You” Halloween Parade
Just like the special fireworks display, if your kids are a fan of parades they won’t want to miss the “Boo to You” Halloween parade. With special guests, including the headless horseman, and plenty of spooky yet safe theatrics, this is a unique experience.
Orlando has one of the largest convention centers in the world, yet when many business travelers come here they only think of Disney World and the other theme parks. If you don’t have time to spend an entire day taking it all in, consider these 5 ideas for half-day adventures.
1. Visit a lesser known park
You likely won’t get your admission’s worth if you try to do a half day at Disney World or Orlando, but there are other parks in the area that can be easily enjoyed in a few hours. Why not try out Gatorland or cool off at Wet ‘n’ Wild?
2. Enjoy delicious Orlando food
There is something for everyone in area Orlando restaurants. You’ll find plenty of chains directly surrounding the convention center area, but for a taste of local flavor try venturing out to further into the city to take a taste of some delicious Cuban food, seafood, or a local food truck.
3. Chill out at the beach
Cocoa Beach is only 45 minutes away and the famed Clearwater / St. Pete beaches are only an hour away in the opposite direction. It’s a nice drive too, and you can enjoy some of the most well-kept and comfortable beaches anywhere in the world.
4. Head to Downtown Disney
If you really wish you could visit the Disney parks, but you know you won’t have time, consider checking out Downtown Disney. There you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and more. It’s a great way to get a little taste without spending a cent on admission.
5. Make your hotel your destination
Stay in a Disney area hotel to take in some amenities you won’t find elsewhere, like themed rooms, pool activities, and more. These resort hotels are spectacular enough to make a vacation in and of themselves.
It’s easy to see that bringing your own food into the Disney World theme parks is the best way to keep your food expenses low. But what if you don’t want to carry around a backpack full of food all day? There are actually several ways you can save big on food without the inconvenience of bringing your own.
Split meals strategically
Quick service meals, which are any meals you purchase at a location with a walk-up window instead of a server who comes to your table, can be quite costly – if you don’t plan correctly. A cheeseburger and fries will cost around $10 for every adult, but if you order a meal that can be split, you can feed a family of 3 or even 4 for not much more. For example, at Cosmic Rays in the Magic Kingdom, you can get a half chicken and half slab of ribs, plus 2 sides, for less than $15. This can easily be split.
Eat a big breakfast and / or lunch
Dinner will almost always be the most expensive meal of the day, so try to have a large breakfast, which will be the most affordable meal of the day, or a late lunch. Lunches can literally exist of the exact same food, but at a considerable discount, than you’d get at lunch.
Skip the buffets
It’s a common mistake to think that buffets are a great value since you can eat as much as you’d like. The reality is that they can easily cost $35 per person. You’d be hard pressed to find a counter service meal that wouldn’t fill you up as well as a buffet would, but at a fraction of the price.