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Old 10-21-2014, 11:49 AM   #1
cmstpierre
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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The 3 Smartest Things I Did On Our Trip... plus a few honorable mentions

We are back from a late September trip and I've been meaning to post these tips that really worked for me on this vacation. They were gathered from many sources including friends, the DISboards, and other reading I did before our trip.

In no particular order... the top 3:

1. Had a folding step stool Amazon Prime'd to us at our hotel. http://smile.amazon.com/Kikkerland-F.../dp/B001GM61CW

What a joy to not have to lift up each kid to have them wash their hands and brush their teeth multiple times a day!! I was prepared to abandon it at the hotel but it actually fit in my suitcase going home.
(Your mileage may vary on the value of this if you are staying at a convention hotel like the Contemporary and you have to pay a handling fee to get your package.)

2. Got one of these external battery chargers --> http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZBZ64Q/

The MDE app REALLY drains your battery! It was great to plug in to this and keep it in my backpack. Yes, it was a little heavy but once it was in my backpack I didn't really notice it.

3. Ordered room service for dinner on the spur of the moment! This was SUCH a treat. We didn't have any dinner reservations booked, the kids were begging for chicken nuggets, and my husband and I couldn't stand the thought of another quick service meal. Plus the kids were exhausted. We fed them before leaving the park, and then put them to bed. I called down to private dining and placed an order from the Artist Point menu (we stayed at WL.) 20 mins later the server knocked on our door, and set our little table with a white tablecloth and silverware. We ate by the dim light from the reading lamps while the kids dozed off. Peaceful AND delicious. In a carefully planned trip filled with ADRs and FP+ reservations, this was a rare unplanned moment that we both really enjoyed.

Honorable mentions -- a couple of other smart things I did:

Packed our GoPro Hero camera and bought this pole mount to go with it -- http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H1YPYLS -- we got some really good video on the roller coasters! Watching the kids' reactions is PRICELESS.

Used Baby Wheels Orlando for our double stroller rental, and paid for a case of water to be delivered with the stroller. Thanks to this fridge in our room and the on-board cooler we didn't pay for water in the parks all week. We also used the rain cover EVERY TIME we parked even if it didn't look like rain. It rained A LOT the last week of Sept so that saved us quite a bit.

Packed a suitcase with cereal and snacks - we were lucky to get to check 3 bags free on our airline so it made sense to bring some cereal, packets of oatmeal, and granola bars. I bought milk and OJ in the hotel shop and we were set for breakfast on the days we didn't have a breakfast ADR. My 4 year old even at oatmeal for lunch on day when we took a mid-day break.

Packed lightweight quick dry towels. http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HQ7XQQ/ Useful for drying off (it rained A LOT as I mentioned!) and sitting on. I had two of the bath size and wish I had had two more. They were really useful, and folded down really small.

Hope you found a nugget in here that you can use!!

Last edited by cmstpierre; 10-21-2014 at 12:06 PM. Reason: added towels to the honorable mentions
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Old 10-21-2014, 11:54 AM   #2
cmstpierre
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I should also be fair and let you know two places where my planning was not as worthwhile.

--Cooling towels were a bust -- the kind you snap to activate -- they just did not work in the humidity.

--I had gotten glow sticks and glow necklaces at the dollar store and packed them in an effort to avoid being sucked into buying light up toys at the park. Dollar store glow sticks just don't compare to the battery operated whiz bang toys that Disney peddles, and my kids are now the proud owners of light up Sorcerer Mickey and a Spinning Light Up Minnie. We'll pack them for the next trip!
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Old 10-21-2014, 11:59 AM   #3
smiths02
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I have been eyeing a portable phone charger for quite some time now.

But I have to remember the stool thing! We drive, and we actually have a stool like that, so we can easily bring it!
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Old 10-21-2014, 12:40 PM   #4
nkereina
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Great tips, OP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by smiths02 View Post
I have been eyeing a portable phone charger for quite some time now.

But I have to remember the stool thing! We drive, and we actually have a stool like that, so we can easily bring it!
I can also attest to how nice a portable phone charger is. We own the middle one by Jackery. About the size of an iPod mini. Holds a full charge for a few days, and will charge about 3 devices before dying out. Does take a while to charge back up but hasn't been an issue for us. It's nice to record or take photos without worrying about draining the battery.
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Old 10-21-2014, 07:50 PM   #5
cmstpierre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nkereina View Post
Great tips, OP!



I can also attest to how nice a portable phone charger is. We own the middle one by Jackery. About the size of an iPod mini. Holds a full charge for a few days, and will charge about 3 devices before dying out. Does take a while to charge back up but hasn't been an issue for us. It's nice to record or take photos without worrying about draining the battery.
Yes, agreed!! The battery takes about 10 hours to charge itself but I only had to charge it once on our trip, and it charges my phone to almost 100% in less than an hour.
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Old 10-21-2014, 10:03 PM   #6
cmstpierre
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I remembered another Honorable Mention. If you catch a boat that's going directly to the Contemporary it's only a 5 minute boat ride. But with all the rain we had the boats did not run reliably. I was worried that if we had to wait a long time for a boat to the Contemporary, or if the boats weren't running, that we would be late for our California Grill reservation. I called down for a cab but quickly canceled it when I remembered that I had the Uber app on my phone. For $6 all in we went from our hotel room to California Grill in less than 7 minutes, thanks to Uber. Best money spent all week to solve a problem.
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Old 10-24-2014, 01:25 PM   #7
kidsfirsttrip
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmstpierre View Post
I remembered another Honorable Mention. If you catch a boat that's going directly to the Contemporary it's only a 5 minute boat ride. But with all the rain we had the boats did not run reliably. I was worried that if we had to wait a long time for a boat to the Contemporary, or if the boats weren't running, that we would be late for our California Grill reservation. I called down for a cab but quickly canceled it when I remembered that I had the Uber app on my phone. For $6 all in we went from our hotel room to California Grill in less than 7 minutes, thanks to Uber. Best money spent all week to solve a problem.
Thinking of doing uber next month. You have young kids right? Did they provide a booster or car seat?
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Old 10-24-2014, 01:59 PM   #8
cmstpierre
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Originally Posted by kidsfirsttrip View Post
Thinking of doing uber next month. You have young kids right? Did they provide a booster or car seat?
No they didn't provide anything but we used the bubble bum booster. It's inflatable and packs small. At home I don't have my 4 year old in a booster yet, but for for a 1 mile trip (WL to CR) it was fine.

http://smile.amazon.com/BubbleBum-In...dp/B00AQYZCXK/
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Old 10-24-2014, 02:27 PM   #9
nkereina
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Originally Posted by kidsfirsttrip View Post
Thinking of doing uber next month. You have young kids right? Did they provide a booster or car seat?
This could vary every time you use the service, since each driver is an independent operator. I would bet most do NOT offer a booster or car seat, so be prepared for that just in case. Consider it a perk if they do. One time my Uber driver had a cooler of bottled water and pretzels for his customers, so you never know!
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Old 10-24-2014, 03:35 PM   #10
kidsfirsttrip
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nkereina View Post
This could vary every time you use the service, since each driver is an independent operator. I would bet most do NOT offer a booster or car seat, so be prepared for that just in case. Consider it a perk if they do. One time my Uber driver had a cooler of bottled water and pretzels for his customers, so you never know!
Thanks!!!
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Old 10-26-2014, 12:48 AM   #11
Off to Neverland 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmstpierre View Post
I remembered another Honorable Mention. If you catch a boat that's going directly to the Contemporary it's only a 5 minute boat ride. But with all the rain we had the boats did not run reliably. I was worried that if we had to wait a long time for a boat to the Contemporary, or if the boats weren't running, that we would be late for our California Grill reservation. I called down for a cab but quickly canceled it when I remembered that I had the Uber app on my phone. For $6 all in we went from our hotel room to California Grill in less than 7 minutes, thanks to Uber. Best money spent all week to solve a problem.
I totally agree with Uber! We used it for our late September trip and only paid about $2 from the Airport to Universal and $0.39 from Universal to POP using promo codes. It's AMAZING!
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