Disney Favorites

I am, in case you didn’t know, a big Disney fan.

My first trip to Walt Disney World was in 1986…

Honestly, all I really remember from this trip is looking for Cinderella Castle as soon as we hit WDW property. (And if you know how big the property is, you know that I looked for a long, long while before we actually saw it.)

Wes, who had been to Disneyland and Walt Disney World multiple times as a child and teenager, seemed more into the whole Disney thing than I was when we met, so on a trip with his parents in early 2005, I humored him and spent two days at Disneyland…

… and decided that it WAS pretty awesome. I remember watching the cast members on Main Street, where music was being played, everyone was in character, and — weird! — you actually felt like you weren’t at a theme park. It was (dare I say it?) magical!

Fast forward to 2009, where prices to WDW were low for two low maintenance adults and children not even old enough to be charged admission. We spent five days there…

… and I was so sad to leave. Not nearly as sad, though, as when we headed back to the airport on the Magical Express. They showed the farewell video from Mickey and his friends, and little two year old Ana shouted, “I see you again REAL soon, Mickey!” I mean, how could we NOT go back after that?

So, we went back in 2010…

… and 2011…

… and 2012.

And now? We’re completely hooked. We love us some Walt Disney World, y’all!

Through it all, we’ve learned a few things, and we’ve acquired a few “favorites.” Because today is the day we’re boarding a plane for California and the Disneyland Half Marathon (woo-hoo!), I thought it would be the perfect day to share just a handful of some of our favorite Disney resources. You know, in case you’re planning a trip. And if you are planning a trip, you should plan to take me with you. Just saying.

RunDisney

I told Wes last year that I was only running 26.2 miles if doing so involved a trip to Walt Disney World. He was happy to oblige, and I’m here to tell you that it was worth every mile. We’ve gotten to participate in WDW’s Marathon weekend and will participate in Disneyland’s Half Marathon this weekend, which we’re super excited about. I can’t speak for every race out there (obviously), but I can tell you that out of all the races we’ve run, RunDisney races are the best organized, done with the most excellence, and the most FUN, even if you’re a newbie like me. Even if you’re not ready for the Goofy Challenge, they have all levels of races (5K, 10 mile, half marathons) at different times of the year. Definitely worth checking to see if your trip coincides with one of the races!

Keys to the Kingdom Tour

In 2010, we went to Walt Disney World a few weeks after our wedding anniversary. Rather than buying one another gifts, we booked a Keys to the Kingdom tour for our trip. Best. Gift. EVER! The Keys to the Kingdom tour starts before the Magic Kingdom opens and lasts until early afternoon. A host/hostess takes your small group through the Magic Kingdom, sharing history, telling stories, pointing out things you might otherwise miss, and, best of all, taking you onto rides themselves to point out even more “Easter eggs.” (My personal favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean, is one of the rides you go on with a tour guide, which is why I included a picture of it here.) After lunch with the group, you even get to go down to the Utilidor level to see how the park operates. It’s a great experience and totally worth the time and money, especially if you love learning more about Walt Disney World.

Disney Parks DVDs

Regardless of whether this is your first visit or your one hundredth visit, these DVDs will be a great help. There are individual DVDs for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and even Disney Cruise Line included in the set, and we’ve watched ours so many times that they’re probably close to wearing completely out. (Which is fine, since I think they’ll have to film a new set with all of the changes that have gone on at both WDW and DL during this past year. Cars Land and New Fantasyland — yes, please!) If you’re taking small children to the parks, these are especially helpful in preparing them for the trip. We used these with Ana and Emma, along with lots and lots of YouTube clips of particular rides, to help them feel right at home before we even got to the parks. And now? They’re total Disney pros.

The Disney Food Blog

We love eating almost as much as we love Walt Disney World. Thanks to this great website, we can prepare for the eating portion of our trip well before we get there! The Disney Food Blog is always posting changes, reviews, and pictures of the food served at the various restaurants at the parks, the resorts, and Downtown Disney locations. Very helpful resource!

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

This book should be required reading for everyone who visits Walt Disney World. I’ve already reviewed it here, so I won’t bother you with another synopsis. Just know that it’s worth the read and will have you spotting things in the park that you never would have seen otherwise. It’s the little touches that this book highlights that are some of the best surprises in all of WDW!

Happy planning, y’all!

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