Hello!!!! Long time no blog! I've had a ton of requests to do a blog post on our trip to Disney so here you go :)  Warning-  this post is a long one, and photo heavy. Because of that, I have decided to break it up into three separate posts. Also, just know- I am not a "pro", or affiliated with Disney in any way (I wish). The reviews below are my opinion. We have been to Disney a few times before, even Disneyland Paris...(this was back in 2015)


...but this was Adriana's first time to Disney World. This was also my first time extensively planning a trip here, staying on Disney property ..etc. I started planning with...gift cards! As soon as you start planning your trip, I highly recommend you start buying these. This is a great way to start saving money for your trip because you can use them for pretty much anything.

Planning the trip:

I made it a habit to grab a gift card every time I went into Target, or Walmart. However, if you have the Target red card, you save an additional 5%, which is why i generally recommend Target over the other. You can also grab them for a discounted price at Sam's Club/Costco if you're a member. I didn't have a specific amount to save up to in mind, I just wanted to save as much as I could for this trip just to have that luxury of not having to worry about anything when we got there. With these gift cards you can use them for pretty much anything Disney related. You can put them towards your hotel balance, park tickets, meals, snacks, souvenirs, etc. I started buying these in November for our trip in July, so over the months they added up fairly quick. Normally we stay off property whenever we go, however, this time we wanted to stay on site. Most people think staying on property is expensive (guilty), but we actually paid the same amount as we were paying to stay off property! To be honest, i feel that you actually save more staying on property since all of the resorts provide free transportation to/from the parks. You save that $20+ parking fee for each park (over $80+ for all four parks) just to park! You also get free transportation to/from the airport to your resort (magical express!) if you decide to fly vs drive. Another huge plus to staying on property, you get advance reservations for dining (180 days out vs 150 for others staying off site) and fast passes (60 days out vs 30 days for those staying off site), you can view fast pass info here on their site. The last time we went to Disney World (2011), it was just the two of us and Gio (3 at the time), and they were just building the Beast's castle. It was nowhere near finished and I was bummed because I really wanted to eat at "Be Our Guest". So having that luxury of booking our reservations 180 days out sold me, especially since they book up immediately. (reservations are required to even enter the castle) You also get "extra magic hours" at the parks - schedule varies per park; but what that means is that by being a resort guest, you get access to the parks either before they open, or after it closes. Example, if Magic Kingdom hours today are 8-10, and that day just happens to have extra magic hours for the morning, you would be let in at 7 am instead of 8 am with everyone else. (Perfect time to get that empty castle shot!) Again, it varies by park each day, another thing to keep in mind when it comes time to plan your schedule and what park you want to visit on that day.

We chose to stay in Pop Century. I have heard great things about this resort. They have 3 pools, a 24 hour arcade, a restaurant, gift shop, and the hotel is all about the "pop century" so throughout the resort, you'll find a ton of props from the 90's-2000's (rubrix cube, walk man, old computers). The food in the restaurant was really good. I forgot to snap pics of our food but we ate there two or three times our whole stay. We chose a preferred room, which was great because it was closer to the restaurant and buses. However, the only "downside" is that our room was directly in front of one of the pools that stayed open until 11pm, so I was never able to fall asleep until they closed the pool. Other than that, we liked this resort.

Every night they show Disney movies out by the pool on the big screen.

 we ordered groceries to our room from amazon prime now. We also used uber eats to get Mcdonalds...lol. Sometimes you just need a break from Disney eats and you just want some good old Mickey D's.

Magic Bands:

These are the coolest inventions, ever! If you don't know what a magic band is, it's a band that goes on your wrist, just like a watch, and it is your all access everything. It's your hotel key (on property only), it's your ticket into the parks, and it's your wallet (you can link your card to it). When you book a trip through the Disney website, or a travel agent, you link everything to your account and you get these bands mailed to you, or your resort 30 days before your trip. At first, I had no clue they were free with your reservation and I was about to purchase them on my own ($50+). Don't do that! They are free with your reservation, and you can log into your account to customize the names, colors, etc. You only get solid colors for free, but you can definitely order printed ones from there, or get cute vinyl stickers for them through Etsy. My kids were the most excited about having these lol. So, whenever you make a purchase in the parks, or pay for your meals, you can scan your band (and enter your pin) which is really convenient. Also, just to add- this is great for those that don't want to carry a purse or wallet into the parks. You can charge everything to your room, and the night before you check out, you can pay your balance in cash, and/or with the disney gift cards, and whatever balance is not paid, will get charged to whatever credit card you put on file (if that makes sense)

Memory Maker:

We purchased the memory maker photo package for convenience. This is also linked to your magic band - but it's a package that allows you to have your photos taken throughout all of the parks, character dining, and on rides. You just go up to a photo spot, scan your band, and a cast member takes your picture.You get unlimited downloads on all of your photos, and you can view all of your pictures on the my Disney experience app immediately. I'm a photographer, so I'm used to taking pictures of everyone except myself, and I hate asking people to take a family photo for us. Especially at such a large attraction, you can't really trust anyone. This costs $169. However, if you are Military, there is a discount. You just need to go in person, and show your ID when you activate your park tickets. This was a huge convenience for me, and not having to lug my huge camera around, or worrying about it getting stolen, broken or wet on rides. It was so worth it! By the end of the trip we had over 400 photos and videos. The photographers add "magic" to your shots as well which our kids loved. We purchased this in Disney Springs, at the information center, or whatever it was called, the day before we started park hopping. If you decide not to purchase this, the cast members at the photo spots will also take your photo with your camera/phone for you at no cost

Getting into the park early:

The number one question I have been getting about this trip is how we took these photos with not one person in the background. The answer is.... early breakfast reservations! You can reserve breakfast as early as 7:30 (depends on the restaurant) for Cinderella's Castle, Be Our Guest, or Crystal Palace. THIS is where those early dining reservations come in handy! At 180 days out, I was up at 5 am refreshing my browser to book. If you can't find the time you're looking for, you can go here to Mouse Dining. This is a cool website that allows you to type in the reservations you want and it will notify you when one opens up an hour before or after the time you select. And Yes, this WORKS!  I did this with The Crystal Palace. I initially didn't book this restaurant at first. I decided later on that I wanted to add it  after reading reviews so I used this site to notify me once an early breakfast was available and it sent me a text at 6 am one morning letting me know my time was available. Of course things change, so if you still can't get the times you're looking for, keep checking back. The closer you get to your trip people will start to change their mind and slots will open up. Our reservation was for 8:10am and we were let into the park at 7:45am. As soon as we were let in, we went straight to the castle to get those photos before walking into the crystal palace for breakfast. The park didn't open until 9am, which was nice. Overall, the breakfast was great! It was a buffet with an omelette station, kid station stocked with mickey waffles, baked goods, etc. It is also a character breakfast, so Winnie the pooh and friends are here to take photos.


sadly this is the only photo i got of the food. I didn't try the breakfast lasagna, but it sounds amazing. Have you tried it?

What we packed for the parks:

I am an over thinker. 100%. I like to be prepared for the worst, so I always make sure to pack benedryl and tylenol in case god forbid someone has an allergic reaction to something, or a headache (me in epcot!). You might be able to find those items in the parks, but i can guarantee you they will not be cheap. You are allowed to bring in your own food/drinks to the parks and I don't know about you guys- but I refuse to pay more than $4 for a bottle of water when I know I can buy a case of 30 for that price. Since we flew in and didn't get a rental, we used amazon prime now to order groceries to our room. Our stuff was delivered within two hours.We knew we would be up really early every morning (who goes to Disney to sleep in?!) so we ordered cereal, milk, yogurt, fruit and water. I always bring flavored water enhancers for us and the kids instead of drinking a ton of sugary drinks like juice and soda. I also bring band-aids, neosporin, wet wipes, sanitizer, battery operated fans ($1.88!) and ponchos. Don't forget these! They are really expensive in the parks. I picked up the ponchos and glow sticks from the dollar store. Florida is a rainy state so be prepared for that on and off downpour.  I also grabbed Ziploc bags just for random things, wet clothes, change of clothes, snacks, waterproof bag for your phone or camera on water rides, knowing my kid a barf bag - you name it. The most important thing you should pack is a portable phone charger. They may have charging ports throughout the parks but you should invest in your own. It's just so much easier. You will run your battery down being in the park all day, taking photos, and videos - especially if you're like us. We are rope drop until the fireworks at 9pm ;)


Clothes & Accessories

 I highly suggest purchasing cute t-shirts and such during the spring/summer, especially if you're planning a trip in the fall/winter, you will quickly learn that your options are slim! I purchased most of our items at Target.. As for the Minnie/Mickey ears, you can definitely buy them at the parks, but be prepared to pay nearly $25 a pair. That's something to keep in mind especially if you have more than one or two kids, it can get pricey real quick. Disney store, amazon, and other stores have them as well. However, I wanted something different, so I went with a few shops that I found on Etsy and paid about $10-35 a pair. You can view the shops here and here. The camo ones were definitely a splurge. I wanted them specifically for Toy Story land because I have never seen anyone with those ears before. Not to mention, they are gorgeous! Sequins AND camo?! - SOLD.

Overall, we loved our trip! We always do the 4 day park hopper - which i recommend. You basically get to visit all 4 parks in the same day if you choose to. This is a great option if you get done at one park early, or get bored, or have reservations at another park, you can leave and go to another. There are buses that take you to/from the resorts AND to/from other parks. It rained every single day of our trip on and off. It would be nice and sunny first thing in the morning until maybe 1pm and then it would pour on and off until 6pm and then the humidity would kick in and it would feel like hell. It was realllllllly hot! We were dripping in sweat from just standing still looking at each other. We had a great time though. The convenience of staying on property was my favorite part. It made our trip so much easier! By the way, Toy story land is amazing! It's so cute! We really liked slinky dog dash and the alien swirling saucers. We got back on a Friday morning, and by Saturday morning we were already planning our next Disney trip :) So, with that being said - we will be heading to Disneyland within the next year! We have never been to Cali, so I am really excited for this trip. If any of you have been to Disneyland and can give us some pointers, we would appreciate it!