Several years ago I won a Passporter’s Walt Disney World Travel Guide through a blog giveaway. I have thoroughly loved this book and have used it as a resource in planning all our WDW trips since 2009. But Walt Disney World has changed A LOT since 2009! Fantasyland has expanded, new resorts have opened, attractions have closed, prices have increased and events have changed. I realized it was time for an updated Passporter!
Since we are in the middle of planning our next trip, I thought it would be the perfect time to offer a review and giveaway of the 2014 Passporter’s Walt Disney World Travel Guide on A Disney Mom’s Thoughts.
When I received my book I was impressed by the size, durability, organization and content. This guidebook has 350 pages of information, tips, maps, photographs and planning tools. The spiral bound pages allow readers to keep the book flat or fold it back to read one page at a time. None of my other Disney planning books allow this. The thick, glossy cover includes a large rubber band and external flap to cover 4 of the 6 sides to this book. The top and bottom are still exposed. This book covers 8 areas: Planning, Getting There, Staying in Style, Touring, Feasting, Making Magic, Index and Notes & More.
The organization aspects of this book are what impressed me most. On each page of the Passporter’s Guide, you will find vertical tabs to show you which part of the book you are using. Along the top, you can see the chapter and topic (Chapter 5: Feasting and Snacking, Topic: Epcot Eateries). Each park has a beautiful fold out map that are bound into the spiral part and are made of a thicker card stock paper.
For each of the parks, the rides/ attractions are grouped by the land where they are located. Each attraction is color coded by the target audience: Thrill Seekers, Family Friendly, Loved by Little Kids and Everything Else. I like that I can see the type of attraction at a glance based on color. Next to each description, you can also see Passporter’s age appropriate ratings, the height requirement, the thrill factor, average wait time and duration of the ride.
For each resort review you will find 4 pages describing the ambience, resort layout & rooms, eating & drinking, playing & relaxing, getting about, tips, notes, ratings, resort map, best locations, room rates and contact info. What I like the best are the photos, maps of the resort and floor plans, the travel time chart from the resort to each park, and the tips!
The organizing tools to help you plan your vacation add a nice touch to this book. At the end of each major section of this book you will find worksheets for making notes to help plan your vacation. These tools allow for you to make decisions and alternate plans if needed. Some of the worksheets include a budget, travel plans and packing lists, lodging and compare/ contrast tables, touring parks planning, meal reservations and reservation numbers. These worksheets help you organize your thoughts, decisions, and reservations all in one place.
In addition to the planning worksheets you use while preparing for your trip, Passporter also includes “PassPockets” in the back of the book where you can continue to make notes, once you arrive at Walt Disney World. You can write your final plans, memories, thoughts and notes while on vacation. You can also keep your tickets, maps, coupons, and other paper memories in the pockets which are divided by day of your trip. Think of these “PassPockets” as a journal, scrapbook, or a vacation slam book. You can also use the included stickers and labels to further customize your PassPorter.
Not only does PassPorter provide a great planning tool for your future Walt Disney World vacation, they also have an incredible online presence. You can register your PassPorter and find additional material at PassPorter.com. You will be able to find free material as well as e-books that won’t break the bank. There is also an active online community to further help you plan your perfect vacation!
Now, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to win your own copy of PassPorter’s Walt Disney World Travel Guide! Follow the Rafflecopter form below to enter! Good Luck.
Honestly, I wouldn’t plan on a relaxing vacation if I were traveling with my boys! It seems like those trips are all hustle and bustle! But, if I were traveling with adult friends or my husband, I would definitely want a more relaxed vacation!
Here are a few tips for helping make a Walt Disney World vacation somewhat relaxing.
- Consider staying off property. I know, this goes against everything I’ve always said about a Disney vacation! I LOVE staying on property, but staying a few miles from Disney may allow you to get a cheaper room, a full sized house with a pool or more amenities. It also allows you to get away from the characters and fanfare- which for some people is needed (not me though!). There are several relaxing hotels in the Orlando/ Disney area that offer spa treatments, lazy river rides, nature hikes and more.
- Split your vacation between Walt Disney World and the beach. It’s only a 2 hour drive to Tampa/ St Pete on the Gulf or just over an hour to the Atlantic coast where you can visit Cocoa or Daytona Beach.
- Choose only 2 of the 4 parks to visit (based on your families interests and kids ages) and get there at park opening to get the most out of your stay. Spend the other days on the golf course, at the spa, at the resort pool or walking the grounds.
- Make dining reservations at restaurants that aren’t so busy and noisy. The Crystal Palace, Garden Grill or Tusker House would be good eats with characters and less crowds.
- If your schedule allows it, consider visiting in late summer or fall when rates and crowds are lowest. It won’t be as congested and busy, which makes me feel more relaxed! 🙂
I’m in the middle of planning our fall Walt Disney World vacation. I don’t think I could be any more excited than I am right now! Even though we are over 200 days away from our vacation, I’m still in planning mode! We made our hotel reservations and have purchased tickets with the dining plan. We know we will be driving so we don’t need to worry about airline tickets. We received a packet from Disney last week with info on our Magic Bands and important dates to book meals and FastPass+. Other than that, I’m at a stand still with Disney until I can start making reservations.
So, what do you do 200+ days out to plan for your Disney trip?
- Start using the Disney Rewards Visa to pay for things… then pay it off that afternoon. For every $100 spent on the card, you get $1 in Disney Dollars.
- Go on the Disney web site and order a planning DVD, customized maps and choose your Magic Band colors! You can also create a customized video highlighting the parks and attractions you will visit.
- Start looking at the different dining options and make a list of those must do restaurants.
- Visit sites like yourfirstvisit, easy wdw and touringplans to get an idea of daily crowds at each park. This will help you decide which park to visit each day of your trip.
- Book your dining reservations! Be especially mindful of this date (180 days prior to your trip) if you want to dine with princesses or in Beast’s Castle! Look at the crowd calendars to figure out which park you plan to visit each day so you’ll book dining at those parks.
- Make reservations for The Pirate’s League, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Richard Petty’s Driving Experience.
- Book any rental cars if needed.
- Make reservations for stroller rental if you aren’t bringing your own or renting one from Disney.
- Start making a mental note of things you will need on the trip. When you see it on sale, grab it! I also start looking for fun Disney themed trinkets to keep the boys occupied in the car ride, in line for attractions and to decorate our room.
- Revisit your dining reservations and see if you need to make any changes.
- Start planning your day- if you are a planner! Make a list of attractions you want to visit, shows you want to see, times and locations of parades, when dining reservations are, etc.
- Start your Disney countdown! Make a construction paper chain, mark off days on a calendar, or uncover pictures. There are so many creative ways to mark off the days!
- Make your packing list and make sure clothes fit and you have everything you’ll need. Start making any purchases you may need.
- Download apps for your phone to help you on your vacation. Start becoming familiar with them now!
- Make a list of all your confirmation numbers and keep them handy during your trip.
- Make any changes to reservations if needed.
- Have all prescriptions filled and ready for the trip. Don’t wait until the last minute and realize you only have 3 pills left!
- Start packing for everyone in the family.
- If you want snacks and groceries in your room, place your oder with Garden Grocer. They will have your order ready for you at the resort!
- Get all important documents together.
- Keep your house safe while you’re away.
- Have all suitcases ready to go. This means carryon bags, backpacks, fanny packs, etc.
- Have all your documents, tickets, IDs, credit cards, reservation/ confirmation numbers, etc. in one place.
- Make sure phones and cameras are charged and the chargers are packed!
- Watch a Disney movie as a family, get a good nights sleep (yeah, right… you’ll be too excited to sleep!) and get ready to GO!!!
For our families fall trip to Walt Disney World, I have several goals:
1) Stay at a new resort- Disney’s Art of Animation. We are looking forward to experiencing this new resort. I’ve walked through in the past and love the theming! I think my boys will too- especially the Nemo pool and Cars area.
2) Eat at new restaurants during our trip. I know we’ll try Be Our Guest, Via Napoli, The Plaza, and Hollywood & Vine. I still have time to research other options for us! 🙂
3) Wear FAMILY Halloween costumes to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I so badly want to dress as a Family for this party. I want all of us to be a character from a Disney Movie… but my husband does NOT dress up, ever. I have to really work hard on this resolution! I also have to decide on a theme that won’t be to ‘baby’ or ‘girly’ for my then 5 year old.
4) Make Magical Memories on our vacation! That goes without saying. Just being at Walt Disney World, with our family, not having the distractions of “real life” make it magical! No work, no bills to pay (at least while we are there!), no schedules (unless we decide to make one) and no pressures. Just fun, family and lots of Pixie Dust!
At home, I have several resolutions or goals as well:
1) Have 2 Disney themed birthday parties- Star Wars and Dumbo. For C-man’s 5th birthday, in a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating in Jedi fashion! I’ve had to learn about Star Wars and do some research for planning this one. In September, we’ll have Big E’s 2nd birthday under the Big Top with a Dumbo theme!
2) Have Disney family movie nights. We have so many Disney movies and we watch them often, but I could do so much more to make them “funner!” I love how others make a night of it- with a movie themed dinner, decorations and activities. That’s what I want to do more of this year!
3) Create more Disney memories at home through crafts, cooking, scrapbooking and the movie nights mentioned above! So many of my Disney blogging friends do a fabulous job of creating Disney magic at home and I want to do that for my boys too! There are so many wonderful Disney things to celebrate at home and I’ve already started adding big dates to my calendar- stay tuned! 🙂
And last, I actually have Disney resolutions and goals for my blog! 1) I hope to move my blog from blogger to WordPress in 2014. I have no idea how to do this, but I have friends! 🙂
2) With the move to WordPress, I plan to update my blog with the theme, background and side bar “stuff.” I want it to be clean, crisp and easy to navigate. I hope that’s not too hard!
3) I want to organize the material and add new content. I hope to have reviews of all of the resorts by the end of the year, begin reviews on all the attractions and offer more information rather than opinion. Whew- I’m tired already just by thinking of this!
4) Last, I need to figure out the best way to use social media to promote my blog and actually do it! I have all the accounts, I think, but I don’t utilize them to the best of my ability. I hope that’ll change.
- I always pack goody bags for the boys with Disney themed games, books, coloring books, movies, snacks, etc. You can see an example above. I have put everything in the bag at the start of the trip and I have slowly given the treats as we travel. Both worked fine for us.
- When you do have to stop, make it a multi-purpose stop! Get gas, snacks, and use the restroom all at the same time. Stop for lunch and let the kids run around on the playground if you are eating fast food or in the grass at a rest stop for a picnic.
- Play group games in the car: I spy, car bingo, the ABC game, the color game, or the license tag game. Include as many family members as possible.
- Make a Disney themed playlist or CD for the car ride.
- Watch a Disney movie in the car or listen to a Disney book on CD.
- If your kids are older, bring a hand held game system for them to play or download Disney themed games onto the iPad, Kindle or whatever tablet or phone you own.
- Consider making some sort of “payment” or reward system for good behavior. Pay the kids with play money that can be cashed in and used for souvenirs at the destination. Or clip clothespins with each kids name on the sun visor and remove when they misbehave. Reward the kids at each stop who still have their clip up.
For additional ideas search on Pinterest for “Car Trip”, “Car Travel with Kids”, etc. or see what I have pinned here!
What ideas do you have for keeping your kids occupied as you travel to Walt Disney World?
Let me start by saying if you are packing for a week long trip in a warm climate, it’s easy to pack 7 days worth of clothes in a carry on bag! If you’re going somewhere cold, I doubt anyone could pack that way, but I could be wrong!
- 9 pair of underwear and 4 bras
- 7 pair of socks
- 3 pj sets- t-shirt and pj pants
- long sleeve t-shirt
- zip up hoodie
- fleece sweatshirt
- tennis shoes
- flip flops
- swim suit and cover up
- toiletries and make up
- 7 t-shirts
- 4 shorts
- 3 capri pants
You can see the final product above! I started with the tennis shoes (stuffed with socks and underwear) at the bottom of the bag closest to the wheels. Some people even wrap their shoes in plastic shower caps to keep shoe grime off their clothing. Next I added the rolls of shirts, pants/ shorts and pjs. These all fit nicely next to the shoes. In the space below the rolled items, I was able to fit the bulkier long sleeved items that were rolled together in a longer roll. Extra underwear was stuffed in the gaps! In the mesh zipper pocket, I was able to add my swim suit, cover up and bras. The flip flops and toiletry bags could easily lay on top of the rolled clothes. And I still had room to spare! I could have easily added a few more outfits.
Tips for traveling:
- Wear your bulkiest clothes while traveling along with bulky shoes.
- If flying, keep all liquids in a quart sized zip lock bag and easily accessible! Remember the 3-1-1 rule.
- If it’s at the hotel, plan to use it instead of pack it! (shampoo, hairdryers, towels, etc.)
- If things come in solids or wipes instead of liquids, pack it. (deodorant, make up remover wipes, insect repellant wipes, hand sanitizer wipes, etc)
- Get all your toiletries in trial size.
- Know the size and weight limit for carry on bags for your airline PRIOR to flying! You don’t want to find out at the check in counter that your bag is too heavy to carry on, even if it’s the right size.
- Take full advantage of your “personal item” when traveling by plane! There is no weight limit for this, so pack your heaviest things in your personal item and not your carry on (even though you are carrying on both!) Just remember this “personal item” must be able to go underneath the seat in front of you.
- You can always buy some things once you get to your destination! 🙂
After spending some time unzipping, spinning and exploring my new luggage I couldn’t wait to see exactly what all I could pack in it. I immediately told my 4 year old we were going to pack for a pretend trip to Walt Disney World just to see how much I could fit into this bag. I was amazed to find that I could pack all my clothing, shoes and toiletries for a 7 day trip to Disney!
Other features I love about my new American Tourister Colora bag:
- The four rolling dual spinner wheels. This feature made it super easy to wheel the bag behind or beside me or push it ahead of me. My 4 year old was even able to wheel this bag around easily.
- The zipper compartments. I’m a sucker for compartments to help organize my stuff! There are 2 outside pockets (one large and one smaller) to hold items or documents that you need to easily access. Snapped to the inside is a small clear bag that is perfect for toiletries you don’t want leaking on your clothing or a wet swim suit.
- The handles. There are top and side handles that allow you to grab it with ease and comfort. In addition to carrying the luggage by the handles, the retractable handle makes it very easy to maneuver. This handle locks in place in the fully extended position or the stored position.
- It’s carry on sized! We decided several trips ago we would never check luggage again. This bag (20.0″ x 14.5″ x 8.5″) weighs only 8 pounds and is designed to fit in most airline overhead compartments. However, it may not conform to some airlines carry-on standards.
- It has a 10 year warranty! WOW! Enough said.
- The color. If I do ever need to check this luggage at the airport, it will be easy to spot on the carrousel. And, being a bright lime green color means my husband will not want to carry it! It’s ALL MINE! That’s the only negative thing I found about this luggage. I don’t know many men who would want to carry lime green, raspberry or orange luggage. This Colora line seems to be marketed more to children, teen girls and women.
You can shop for you own American Tourister luggage here where products are always on sale and shipping is currently FREE on orders over $150!
Connect with American Tourister and #PackMoreFun!