Favorite Disney Resources

Monday, May 27, 2013
For quite some time we have been planning a big family vacation for this fall. Actually Perry was booked to travel out of the country before he had a name or birthdate. This year marks our 5th anniversary and we wanted to do something special. We decided we wanted to do a cruise and that we wanted to include Perry in the fun. We love cruising because it is so simple and fun and relatively stress-free (unless you have been on a carnival ship recently...eek). I did a lot of research about which cruise line and itinerary would be best for a little one (~10 months old) we finally settled on Disney Cruise Line. We have never cruised Disney before but it seems like the perfect set-up both for Perry and us. We will see how it goes. : )

So this fall, the three of us will be Disney bound. We are going to go down a few days early and spend 2 nights prior to the cruise in the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. You can say we are crazy for taking a baby to disney world...but we think we know what we are getting ourselves into, and have appropriate expectations. No he can't ride space mountain...but I think there are some aspects of the parks he will really enjoy in a short visit. We are going to just relax and enjoy a day at disney at his pace...and maybe ride space mountain using childswap. : ) Then we will be off on a 7 night cruise in the caribbean. We can't wait.

That is all to say that I am neck deep in planning for the trip and trying to figure out our packing lists (which is quite different with a baby), documents, and other details. Since I have been spending quite a bit of time recently with my favorite Disney planning resources, I thought I would take a minute and make a list of them for posterity sake and in case anyone else finds it useful.

Here are my favorite Disney resources (in absolutely no particular order):

1. WDW Radio Podcasts: I can't describe enough how much I like this resource. Lou Mongello hosts weekly disney newscasts and podcasts that keep you up to date on happenings in Walt Disney World (WDW) and discusses every possible detail about disney vacations. Best part is there is an archive of the past podcasts (hundreds of them) with descriptions so you can go and find the ones that would be most useful. For example there are podcasts about disney cruiseships, taking little ones to disney, dining, resorts, disney trivia, and on and on. I often listen to them on my commutes to and from work.

2. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (Insert year here) book: This is probably my favorite Disney planning book (of which there are many). It seems the most comprehensive with reviews of all the resorts, rides and restaurants (and ratings of attractions by age level...you know while grandma might love the Hall of Presidents...young kiddos maybe not so much). My only problem with the book is that it is bulky and I would never actually carry it into the parks with me...no big deal since I am OCD and love making lists and planning out every detail ahead of time.

3. Blogs: There are lots of great blogs and bloggers out there who specialize in writing about Disney. Some of the ones I follow are:
The Official DisneyParks Blog http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/
The Main Street Gazette http://www.mainstgazette.com/
WDW Radio http://www.wdwradio.com/category/blog/
Disney Daddy http://disneydaddy.blogspot.com/
The Disney Food Blog http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/
Touringplans.com Blog http://blog.touringplans.com/
The Disney Blog http://thedisneyblog.com/
And I am sure there are lots of others I have yet to find.

4. TouringPlans.com: This website is awesome. To use it to its fullest you need a paid account, which is only about $12 for a year (less than you would pay for a travel book). The folks at TouringPlans have done just what the name suggests...they have created a whole bunch of different suggested touring plans for the parks at WDW. These plans really help maximize what you can do and minimize the amount of time you spend standing in line. Using touring plans (essentially an advised schedule and order of attractions) is most important when the parks are crowded...but are helpful anytime. There are tons of plans to pick from depending on what kind of overall experience you are going for, and can be customized and printed. The other great thing about TouringPlans is their crowd calendar, which tells you on a range of 1-10 how crowded each park is every single day of the year....super helpful in picking when to go. It also tells you when all the special events are in the parks so you can decide if you want to be there then (or if you want to avoid that particular week). : )

5. AllEars.net: This website has all sorts of WDW planning tools and advice. One thing I have definitely used it for is to look ahead of time at menus for all the restaurants within WDW. And I mean all food service locations (including quick service/snack places).

6. The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World book: This is a book I am currently reading (electronically on the ipad as i have time...usually just before bed) and enjoying. It is less about planning and more about the hidden things and backstories found throughout the World, that are often overlooked. It appeals to the nerd in me and makes me want to slow down and appreciate the little things next time we are there (which is good...our 10 month old will definitely take the pace down a notch).

7. DISboards.com: Forums/discussion boards about absolutely anything and everything Disney related.

8. YouTube: Disney puts out all kind of great (official) videos on YouTube, as well as lots of random (and not so random) visitors to the World. If you are wanting a little taste of Disney from home, or are wanting to know what an area of the park or attraction looks like...just look it up on YouTube...I promise someone has captured it on video.

Those are just some of my favorites. I am sure there are lots of great resources I don't even know about or forgot when I was writing this list. If you have one that didn't make this list...please share it with me.

And because I feel like a blog post is kind of naked without a picture...here is one I dug up from the bowels of history (aka albums found in storage) of me at Disney World when I was almost 4. : )

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