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Disney World Tips and Tricks

IMG_0382IMG_0384IMG_0383IMG_0385Can we take a moment and reflect on my childhood Disney fashion choices? Pink fanny pack + SUPER high wasted jeans + turtle neck + center part?! Whew!IMG_2301

I love Disney World! Like, a lot. Maybe too much for a sensible adult. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my family at the magical parks. Some of my favorite young adult memories are of my friends and I at the parks. Living only 2 1/2 hours away from Orlando, Disney World is definitely a convenient vacation destination. Disney World is magical for children and adults, BUT it can be stressful. Here are some tips and tricks to have a magical time and keep any stress at bay!

1. Get to the parks EARLY! On our most recent trip, Ray and I arrived almost an hour early to the Magic Kingdom. This was sort of on accident (actually we planned on getting there early, then forgot we did it) but it ended up being perfect. We were able to watch the opening show and be some of the first people to walk into the park. We were also able to walk directly onto the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with a zero minute wait, while people generally have to wait between 45 mins to 1 1/2 hours in line.
2. Get the app! The My Disney Experience app is for sure a life saver (and time saver) while in the parks. You can schedule fast passes, see wait times, view maps of each park, and even make dining reservations for your party through the app.
3. Have a (flexible) itinerary! Know the rides/shows/parades/restaurants you want to attend before you go.
4. Cool (aka air conditioned) rides!  I’ll be honest, going to Disney World in the summer is horrendous and I refuse to go between June and September. BUT, I understand that it’s the only option for some people.There will be times when you just HAVE to sit in the A/C. For this, I suggest finding the closest cool ride. Best cool rides – Carousel of Progress (my personal favorite), Philharmagic, Muppet’s 3D, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Haunted Mansion, Living in the Land, Spaceship Earth,  indoor shows and most boat rides.
5. Utilize FastPass+! I don’t know if the Disney folks invented the idea of fastpasses, but it’s genius! FastPass+ allows you to schedule ride times for your party, resulting in very little wait time.
6. Some rides are better at night! On our most recent trip, the last ride we rode before we left Magic Kingdom was Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. At night It was more magical and romantic than ever before. Other rides that fall into this category: Astro Orbiter, Tower of Terror, Thunder Mountain.
7. Stay on Disney property! If you’re staying in hotel you MUST stay in a Disney hotel. Yes, they can be a little bit more expensive- but believe me, it’s worth it! Disney hotels provide free transportation from the Orlando airport. You don’t have to worry about renting a car or catching a cab to the hotel. Disney hotels also provide free transportation to and from the parks which allows you to bypass the $17ish parking. This is awesome because Orlando traffic can be kind of terrible and confusing. If you’re staying in a Disney hotel and decide to drive your own vehicle, you still get free parking at the parks!
8. Experience the restaurants on Disney property. Disney is home to some of the best and highest rated restaurants in the state! Because of it’s international cuisine, Disney offers so many opportunities to try something new! Disney dining can be expensive, but it can also be a really unique, memorable, and delicious experience. I suggest saving a little extra cash for a nice meal. Most menus and prices are available online, so it’s easy to plan accordingly. When I was a child my parents would bring snacks and lunch food in a backpack for the day and then we would usually go out to dinner. This worked great for our family!
9. Take photos, but not too many! Disney World is magical and a great place for family photos. I mean, magic backdrops galore. Cast members and Photo Pass people will gladly take photos of you with your camera or phone. BUT, don’t spend all your time taking pictures! Fully enjoying the moment is always better than photographing it.
10. Have fun! Don’t stress out! Relax! Take in your environment! Don’t lose your mind when people accidentally run over you with a stroller! That last one was for me, btw. 😉

Disney veterans, what are some of your tips?

Alliray tips for living in an old house with sub-par heating

IMG_6409Four years ago Ray and I purchased a beautiful almost 100-year-old home. With our 100-year-old home we also got 100-year-old insulation, which almost means no insulation. While we have central heat, it isn’t always up to snuff. It feels weird posting this now, because we’ve had several super beautiful, not-too-cold days in the recent weeks. However, north Florida winters are fickle. Going from 80 degrees to 30 degrees in a 36 hour period is a norm. Without further ado, here are a few of our tips for staying warm in a cold house.

1. Slippers. Slippys. Slips. They’re essential. I never wore slippers until a few years ago because I always assumed socks were sufficient. Guess what? In the winter socks alone are never sufficient, even in Florida. Slippers have been saving my life and my ice block feet.faves 3

2. Lone Wolf. Ray and I consistently fight over this sweatshirt. We bought it at a Goodwill 3 or 4 years ago because we thought it was funny. Little did we know it was also warm and roomy and we both always want to wear it. Sure, we each have other sweatshirts, but none as perfect as Lone Wolf.IMG_0098

3. Casseroles. One cold COLD day last January Ray and I were freezing so we made a casserole and we truly believe it saved our lives. To be honest, we don’t eat casseroles very often. They’re not really my thing. BUT, if the temp is dropping below 30 I suggest a warm gooey meal.

4. Black Cat. If you’re going to live in an old home with sub-par heating or insulation you will need a pet to keep you warm. Black Cat (when he’s in the mood) is a great heater.bc 2

5. Double blanket. Sometimes one blanket just isn’t enough.

6. Bubble baths. A hot bath is great for curing what ails you. Especially if cold weather ails you. In the Hancock household we love baths. It’s the perfect place to relax, read a book, and warm up. Treat yo self!

7. Space heaters. Now, space heaters can be just as awful as they are awesome. They can cause dry skin, dry nasal cavities, and scratchy throats. They can also be dangerous. However, if you buy a good one it can be so wonderful. Ray’s parents gave us an inferred heater for Christmas and it has absolutely improved our heat situation. As space heaters go, you get what you pay for so don’t skimp!

Do you live in a super cold house? What are your tips for keeping warm?