The Magic of Mobile Ordering

Let’s all admit it – half the fun of going to Disney is eating all the great food they have. From the seasonal treats like the Candy Corn Milkshake at Walt Disney World right now, to the classic dole whip that is a MUST on every trip, there are so many choices!

But who wants to wait in line for 15 minutes, only for the person in front of you have NO IDEA what they want!? So. Frustrating.

That’s why I was so curious when Disney introduced the mobile ordering feature on their My Disney Experience app. I was able to use it on one of my recent trips and I have to say, it was super convenient!

To be honest, the first couple of days I forgot that mobile ordering was an option. It wasn’t until I was waiting in line at Aloha Isle that I thought to use it! Because again, who wants to wait for Dole Whip!? So, I opened up the app to see what it was all about.

The “Order Food” button is on the front page of the My Disney Experience app. Once clicked, you choose items from the restaurant menu you are looking to order from. It’s pretty self-explanatory from there! You can order for your entire party, selecting entrees, sides, and even beverages! You even have the choice to customize your selections based on what you order.

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You will have to enter your credit card information unless you are on a Disney Dining Plan (the app will recognize your meal credits!). Once purchased, you will then have the option to notify the counter when you arrive to the location. After you tap the “I’m here!” button, you will be notified when your order is ready to pick up at the designated window.

I have to say, I enjoyed the experience! It was super simple and convenient to use. I also IMG_7722thought it seemed much fast than waiting in line. To put my theory to the test, I used it later in the evening at Casey’s Corner. I started the mobile ordering experience once I got to the location instead of ordering ahead and made note of the guests I would have gotten behind in line, should I have ordered in person. Once I order was purchased, I immediately tapped the “I’m here!” button, and my order was ready within a few minutes! The guests I would have been in line behind were still waiting to even put their order in!

Needless to say, I will be using the mobile ordering feature a lot more in the future! I can see how it would be very useful when you want to stay on-the-go in the parks and making it to your fast passes on time. The fact that you can order before you even arrive at the location takes out a lot of waiting around as well, being able to literally pickup your food moments after you arrive.

Seeing that I’ve only been able to utilize this feature a handful of times, I’m sure there will be some cases where mobile ordering may not be the best option. The kitchen may have a short staff or there are just too many people in the park that day. I think the more people become comfortable and aware of this feature on the My Disney Experience app, the less people you will see in line ordering and more using the Mobile Order window at your favorite quick service locations. But for now, I definitely encourage you to use this amazing feature on your next Disney vacation! If you’ve already taken advantage of this new option, let me know about your experience in the comments below!

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Making Disney a Stress-less Vacation

So many people planning their first Disney vacation always tell me how stressed they are when it comes to planning, and even once they get down to the parks! Indeed, there are a lot of moving parts, and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of it all. Once you’ve had enough practice, it does start to come naturally. But not everyone is a Disney-crazed nut like myself, and they don’t want to spend countless hours trying to come up with a military-level plan for their vacation! So, if you may fall into the category of an overwhelmed first-timer when it comes to going on a Walt Disney World vacation, here are a few tips to help you get through the process!

Dining Reservations – 180 days out

If there is anything you get from this post, it is to remember the 180-day mark and 60-day mark of your vacation (see 60 days below). 180 days out from your vacation, Disney allows you to book your party’s dining reservation. Perhaps there is a character IMG_0187breakfast you want to try where the kids can meet their favorite characters. Or maybe you want to eat within the grand décor of the Beast’s castle at the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Many of the popular dining experiences are booked solid the first day they become available, so make sure to log on to My Disney Experience early in the morning on the day of your 180-day mark. In order to know what you want, you can research the extensive list on Disney’s website and read reviews many places online.

***Pro-tip: Book your breakfast reservations in the park as early as the restaurant allows. Many restaurants inside the parks publish reservation times earlier than park opening, so you can enter earlier than everyone else! It is a great time to stop for a quick photo-op with no one else in the background, and crowds will be lower after your meal for attractions!

Fast Passes – 60 days out
fastpass DLR
You can still get the paper Fast Passes over in Disneyland!

Don’t you miss the days when you had paper Fast Passes for the attractions you wanted to see? While it seems like an added stress to plan ahead of time, there are actually great benefits to booking your Fast Passes before you’ve gotten to the parks! If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you are able to book your Fast Passes 60 days out from your vacation, rather than only 30 days for guests staying off-property. Do some research before your 60-day mark on park hours to know which days you would like to go to which parks, as well as taking into account your dining reservations. When it comes time to make your Fast Passes, you’ll have a game plan and know exactly which days you are going to which parks. Once you’re in the parks, you won’t have to worry about running to the attractions in order to get your Fast Passes, one at a time! The Fast Pass+ system on My Disney Experience allows you to book three Fast Passes per day at a park. You’ll already know walking into the park when your first Fast Pass is coming up and can use the extra time to catch another attraction!

***Pro-tip: Once you’ve used up your three Fast Passes, you are able to book one more Fast Pass at a time for the rest of your day! This can be arranged on your My Disney Experience app or at a Fast Pass kiosk in the park.

Don’t Plan Too Much

I know people who will plan each part of their Disney days down to the minute! This may work for some guests who are looking to make their time in the parks as efficient as possible, but it can also lead to some problems. There may be a ride that had to be closed for unexpected repairs, or a dining reservation takes much longer than anticipated. While planning each day at the parks is important, it is also critical to remember to leave some room for spontaneity. Things will sometimes go wrong and having a rigid schedule can lead to disappointment. After all, isn’t some impulsive decision-making okay on vacation?! Let loose, and have fun! Some of the best memories you may make are the ones you weren’t expecting.

Don’t Worry about Seeing Everything

Unless you are planning on moving in to a hotel for a couple of months, it is just not possible to see and do everything Disney has to offer on one trip! Before your trip, make a list of must-do’s and try to get Fast Passes to the attractions that are really important for people in your party to experience. You can even make a list of the must-try snacks (because trust me, there are SO many!). And don’t let one missed-out-on ride spoil the trip! You are in Disney World! There is so much to do if that even if one ride happens to be down, there are plenty of other opportunities around every corner. You are going to have fun no matter what.

Book with a Travel Planner!!!

When you book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner like MVP, you are going to get exceptional service. Not only will they find you the best deals, but these people are OBSESSED with Disney and love to help others create a magical vacation (yes, that includes me!). We know our stuff, and are happy to make suggestions and recommendations before and even during your trip, so you get the best experience possible. Not to mention, we can help book your dining reservations and walk you through making your Fast Passes! These services all come at no extra cost to you (if they do, you are paying more than you should be!) as Disney pays the agents’ commission – not you! If you want the best possible service, contact me or your own travel agent about your next Disney vacation.

castle sun.jpgVacationing in Disney does come with a bit of homework. But it is well worth it! The memories you make will last a lifetime. And if you think the planning is just too much too handle, talk to your travel agent. They can help plan the perfect Disney vacation for you and your family. There is no right or wrong way to experience Disney, as it means something different to everyone. The most important thing is that you have fun on your vacation!

 

Calling all Princesses!

Today the registration opened for the 2019 Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World! Did you sign up?! If you did, or are thinking about joining in on the most magical race ever for the first time, I’m here to let you know it is a whole lot of fun! Sure, you medalshave to run 13.1 miles (or 19.3, if you registered for the Fairytale Challenge!), but the character stops, photo ops, and creative costumes are all well worth the sweat and tears! In honor of today’s registration, I thought it was only appropriate to write a blog post about Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Having been down for this fantastic race every last weekend in February since 2011, I think I have a few tips and tricks to share!

Even if you are a seasoned runner, running in a Disney race can be different than any old street race. There are a few things to keep in mind while running on this weekend, because you’re not just running a race – you are at Disney World! This means you’ll be spending a lot of time at the parks, on your feet, and waking up WAY earlier than you normally would (I’m talking 3 AM, friends!!). This weekend shouldn’t be about getting a new PR, it’s about celebrating a very fun weekend with your favorite princesses and princes in your life!

stepsistersFor me and my mom, this is the perfect mother-daughter weekend where we get to spend time doing what we love – running and spending time at Disney World. We plan our outfits for race days, try new dining experiences, and maybe even a special tour. It’s our favorite long weekend, and it is always magical! Being that we have been so many times over this weekend, there are a lot of things we have learned to make sure that we have the best experiences possible.

Plan dining reservations 180 days out

This weekend always draws in the crowds due to the race’s popularity. There are also some states that are on February Break from school over this time, so you can count on even more crowds than usual. If you want that special dining experience at places like Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table, make sure to set your alarms for 180 days out from your trip! This is when you can log on to My Disney Experience and book all the dining reservations your heart desires.

Stay On-Property

Not only can you book your Fast Passes 60 days out rather than 30 when staying off-property, it is beneficial to stay on Walt Disney World property during race weekend mostly because of the convenient transportation. RunDisney supplies charter buses from all of the Disney resorts to the Race Expos and the Start & Finish lines. As someone whorundisney has seen the long lines of individual cars trying to find parking at the Wide World of Sports for the expo and then the start line on race day, I can say that it is not worth the wait! runDisney’s transportation gives you ease of mind that you will get there with enough time to spare, and you don’t have to worry about parking! I can’t imagine adding the extra stress when we already have to get up by 3 or 4 AM to make the race.

Stay Hydrated During your Stay

It is easy to get dehydrated when walking around in the parks under the hot Florida sun all weekend. This can be detrimental during a half marathon! Make sure to drink plenty of water the days ahead of your race. I’ll bring a plastic water bottle in to the parks with me and refill it throughout the day at water fountains. Remember that you can get free ice-water at any quick service location as well!

Be Smart About Your Time in the Parks

As I’ve already said throughout this post, your wake-up call on race days can be as early as 3 AM. The last bus on the morning of the Half runs at 4 pm from the resorts, so if you are in the parks until closing the night before, you are in for a few hours of nap time rather than a decent night’s sleep! It is tempting to stay in the parks to catch the nighttime spectaculars, but I highly recommend skipping out and leaving around 6 or 7 pm to head back to the resort to head to bed. Try to plan a few extra days onto your Race Weekend so that you can enjoy all Disney World has to offer and not worry about what time you have to be up the next morning!

One Word: COSTUMES

The Princess Half Marathon is every little girl’s favorite activity: playing dress up. There is not another race at Disney where you will see more creative costumes! Having been down for other Disney races, this is the one race weekend where absolutely EVERYONE is dressed up! My mom and I have brainstormed ideas for costumes months in advance for this weekend, always incorporating our Sparkle Skirts as a part of our ensembles. You can be as creative as you want, however, we always strive to get those oohs and ahhs from our fellow runners during the race!

 

Not only are you guaranteed to have fun over race weekend, but it is a great excuse to head down to Walt Disney World! Princess Half Marathon Weekend provides runners with a great value of character spots along the course, fantastic views that you wouldn’t see anywhere else, and a beautiful medal to commemorate your achievements. Whether it is your first half or your 50th, it will sure to be one to remember!

6 Essentials to Pack in Your Carry-On

It’s almost here! It’s the day before your Disney vacation! And it’s time to pack (because let’s face it, who packs more than a day ahead??). You may be taking advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, in which case you have been given the special yellow tags ahead of time to put on your checked luggage. That’s great! However, it is important to keep a few items on your person during your travel to the World. Below are six important items to keep on your carry-on list when heading to the airport.

Magic bands

If you are staying on Disney property, you are going to need your magic band in magic bandsorder to ride the Magical Express! You’ll want to keep this in your carry-on so that once you get Orlando International Airport, you can easily access it to scan at the Magical Express check-in location. It will also be your hotel room key, which you will most likely have access to before your checked luggage. Make sure to have it on your person!

Comfortable shoes

When I go down to the parks, it always ends up that the best flights leave reallllly early in morning! That means I have a pretty full day ahead of me and can spend some time in the parks. Comfortable walking shoes are must at Disney Parks, so make sure to pack these if you are planning to go to the parks on your day of arrival.

Portable phone charger

Let’s face it, we use our phone for everything these days. By the time I arrive in Orlando, my phone charge is way down. There are no outlets on the Magical Express, so it is nice to have a portable charger on hand so that by the time I get to my hotel, I have a full charge and ready to go for the rest of the day!

mickey earsMickey/Minnie Ears

Obviously, you are going to need your go-to Disney accessory upon your arrival! If you’re like me, you even might want to wear these on the plane, just so everyone is aware you are heading on a magical vacation. With these babies, you’re officially park-ready!

Swim suit & change of clothes

Day-of-arrival can be a prime day to lounge at the resort for a few hours and take a dip at the pool. Because your luggage is arriving with Magical Express, it may take a few hours for it to reach your hotel room. This leaves you with only what you packed in your carry-on for a bit. Unless you want to sit out by the pool in the same clothes you wore on the airplane, it is definitely a good idea to pack a change of clothes and a swim suite!

Pajamas, toothbrush, hairbrush, and other night-time toiletries

toiletries

This goes along with the swim suit and change of clothes – if your flight gets in later in the evening, your luggage may not arrive until bedtime! I’ve found it’s nice to be able to get ready for bed ahead of time, and then be able to go right to sleep once my luggage has arrived.

Now that you have all the necessities for a successful first day at Disney, it’s time to start packin’! Share if you think of any other items that would be helpful to have in your carry-on!

Benefits to Staying at a Disney Resort Hotel

So, you are planning your trip to Disney World! There are a lot of decisions to be made. One of the first things you will probably be thinking about is where to stay. There are many great options around Disney, both on- and off-property to consider. You might be thinking about your budget, as well as certain amenities that you look forward to when you stay at a hotel on vacation. While there are fantastic off-property hotels near Disney Springs and the surrounding area (referred to as Good Neighbor hotels) that offer affordable pricing and decent location, it is important to remember all that Disney Resort hotels have to offer. Disney has increased its value through the five benefits below of staying at an on-property Resort hotel.

Complimentary Transportation To and From the Airport

magicalexpress Disney’s Magical Express offers free transportation from Orlando International Airport to your Resort hotel. After you’ve purchased your flights, you can add your flight information to your Disney reservation, so they know when to pick you up and drop you back off at the airport. Disney will also send you special luggage tags in the mail before your trip to put on your checked bags. Then Magical Express will pick up your luggage for you and transport it directly to your hotel room! That’s right – no hanging around the baggage claim! When it’s time to head back home, Disney will put your Magical Express information for your departure in your room the night before and will let you know what time to wait outside for the bus.

Complimentary Transportation To and From the Parks

Not only do they schedule service to and from the airport, but you never have to worry about transportation to and from the parks during your stay! Each resort has its own line of buses (the All-Star Resorts share some routes) which are stationed at a central location at your hotel. Something new that Disney has recently added to many of the resorts are screens at the bus stops to let you know how long the wait for next bus is! This can come in handy if a littler traveler has realized they need to make a pit stop at the bathroom right as you get to the bus stop. You know exactly how much time you have before the next bus arrives.

Buses typically run every 20 minutes from all four theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney Springs. The buses do not run between resorts – you would have to take a bus to a park first and then get on a bus to the next resort from there (but that is a whole other post in itself!).

Extra Magic Hours

Every day, one of the four main parks at Walt Disney World will open earlier or close later than the posted times for the day. These Extra Magic Hours are only available topark hours guests that are staying on Disney property. If you’ve been to Disney World before, you know that time is money! And that is why Extra Magic Hours are so important. The crowds are typically much lighter, giving you extra time to experience an attraction that may otherwise be a longer wait. More hours in the park gives your ticket more bang for your buck and a little more of the magic! See the park times and Extra Magic hours for your vacation dates here – although times are always subject to change.

Delivery Service Back to Your Hotel

You know that a few days at Walt Disney World also means countless gift shops to be explored! Once you find that perfect souvenir to commemorate your trip – and maybe even a few gifts for the folks back home – do you really want to carry those around the park all day long? The stores tend to be more crowded at the end of the night, too, so you’ll want to buy your gifts earlier in the day. Luckily, if you’re staying at a Disney hotel and it is more than 24 hours before the end of your trip, you can have your items wrapped up and shipped directly back to your hotel! You can rest at ease knowing your items are safely transported back to you, without the bulkiness and heavy weight of your bag in the parks all day long! After you’ve requested the delivery of your gifts back to your hotel, you can pick them up at your resort’s gift shop about 24 hours later.

The Magic Never Ends at the Disney Resort Hotels!

While there are obviously many wonderful options near the Walt Disney Resort for hotels, the level of service you’ll find at Disney is unlike any other you will experience. Here is an example from one of my own trips:

            My mom and I arrived mid-day for our long weekend stay at Port Orleans Riverside. We had flown in and taken the Magical Express to our resort, where we promptly received our luggage to our room, which was magically upgraded to a Royal Guest Suite! However, upon receiving our luggage, my mom realized her suitcase had been severely damaged. While there was no way of knowing how it occurred, whether the damage was done by the handling of the airline or Magical Express, the cast member who listened to my mom explain the damage to her made sure the problem was taken care of. She promptly asked for the dimensions and brand of my mom’s suitcase, without question. By the time we returned back to the hotel that evening, Disney had purchased a brand-new suitcase for her!

all-star movies
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort has themed areas styled after Fantasia, 101 Dalmations, and Toy Story.

There are not many other places you will find service like this. Not to mention, every Resort hotel has a touch of Disney in the theming and décor, keeping the magic alive well after you’ve returned from a day at the parks.

 

Disney knows how tough walking around all day to experience unforgettable attractions and memorable shows can be, so they make sure that there are convenient ways to see that guests are getting the most out of their stay. Before you consider staying off property, think about what is important to you when on vacation and what Disney offers their guests who stay at a Resort hotel! If you have further questions, contact me or your Magical Vacation Planner agent to help you decide what hotel is right for you!

Welcome!

dolewhip

Welcome to the Running on Faith and Pixie Dust blog! My name is Megan, and I am a personal vacation advisor over at Magical Vacation Planner. When it comes to planning Disney vacations, I am constantly looking to help my friends and family book the best vacation possible. So I figured, why not get paid to do it?! The folks over at Magical Vacation Planner are very focused on making sure that you and your family are getting the best service possible, and the best deals possible, which is why I was ecstatic to join their team. If you are looking to book your next Disney vacation, whether it be to the parks, on a Disney Cruise, or one of their fabulous resorts around the country, I am here to guide you and plan the best trip ever!

The best part? My services are included in the price you pay directly to Disney – no extra service fees required!

This blog will feature tips and tricks for the parks, and occasionally some news and reviews of the latest and exciting things happening at various Disney Destinations! As the name fits, I like to participate in runDisney events throughout the year at Walt Disney World, so I will feature some of those races here as well. Follow along to make sure you are staying up-to-speed on planning your next Disney vacation!