Christina Wood

For more travel planning articles by Chris, check out her Disney travel blog, Everything Walt Disney World. Chris is also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team and an authorized Disney travel planner with Pixie Vacations, and visits the parks about 55 days each year. To get free planning and assistance with your next Disney vacation, please call her at 919-889-5281 or email at [email protected] You may also fill out a quick Disney Vacation Quote form here.

Disney World’s Top Five Most Loved but Underrated Attractions

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When you think of top Walt Disney World attractions, you probably think Space Mountain, Soarin’, or the Haunted Mansion. Even when it comes to those lessor attractions,  you probably have It’s a Small World and Buzz Lightyear at the top of your list, attractions that speak to a wide range of guests. But what about those attractions that you love but would never make anyone’s top ten list? What about the ones that you walk into and it’s like seeing an old friend, like they’ve become a part of your personal history?  I’ve got a handful of those attractions that I love and I bet you do too.

5.  The Boneyard.

As underrated attractions goes, the Boneyard suffers on two fronts: 1)  It’s in a park that a lot of guests don’t even visit; and 2) It’s an attraction that you walk past on your way to bigger and better things. That’s too bad, because this play area is basically the best playground you’ll ever set foot in, with plenty of places to dig in, climb over and run across. For kids, the Boneyard offers an opportunity to run around rather than standing in lines. Adults can find a cool area to supervise–there’s only one way in, so kids can’t get too far. Visit the Boneyard late in the day because it will be difficult to get your kids out of here.Read More »Disney World’s Top Five Most Loved but Underrated Attractions

Is Free Dining the Best Deal For You?

2012 DCL-WDW 007For nearly a decade, Disney has been offering free dining in the fall and early winter as a way of filling hotel rooms during slower months of the year, a promotion which also has the effect of keeping Disney restaurants full and their staff occupied and up to speed.  Under free dining, a family of four still pays full-price for their room and tickets, but they can easily save around $200 a night.  For this reason, free dining is the stuff of a Disney fan’s dreams and the subject of endless threads on Disney message boards:  Will it be offered at all, what are the dates, what hotels will it cover?  Speculation builds to a frenzy in the weeks before free dining is expected to be released, however, as we approach the latest round of free dining rumors with our forks poised, ask yourself this:  Is free dining really a good deal for you?Read More »Is Free Dining the Best Deal For You?

Childproofing Your Resort Room

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Childproofing your resort room isn’t the most glamorous aspect of planning your next Walt Disney World vacation, but taking a few minutes before you leave can give you peace of mind later. Most of us with children childproofed our homes as soon as we figured out just how dangerous our innocuous looking houses can be to a rambunctious toddler, but few of us think about doing the same thing while on vacation.

While it’s no substitute for a keeping a watchful eye on your child, there are a few things you can do to make your resort room or rental house more safe.Read More »Childproofing Your Resort Room

Top Five Most Overrated Disney World Things

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Okay, so it’s painfully obvious that I love Disney World, but even a diehard fan like me has the occasional head-scratching moment over some things that achieve cult status among Disney fans. Whether it’s food, a certain restaurant, or even a resort, I just don’t get it and I think I’m not the only one. Or at least I hope not.

Here are my top five overrated Disney things.

5. The Polynesian.
For years I’ve wondered why the Polynesian, which essentially looks like the hotel the Brady Bunch would have stayed in during their family trip to Hawaii if Mr. Brady wasn’t still paying alimony to his first wife, has such a cult following. Sure, it’s got a great pool and gorgeous landscaping. The way they light the grounds at night is breathtaking and, dare I say it, romantic. And you can’t beat the location on the Magic Kingdom monorail. Beyond that, however, it’s kind of underwhelming: Dark rooms, dated furniture, and a small lobby. And I’m pretty sure that 90% of the plugs in the rooms don’t even work.Read More »Top Five Most Overrated Disney World Things

Getting the Most Bang for Your Character Dining Buck

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Character meals are a fun way to meet your favorite characters and have a good meal, but they can also be overwhelming and expensive, leaving you feeling, well, less than magical. Just like everything else in Disney World, you need a game plan. Nothing complicated, just a few tips to get make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Here’s five ways to do just that:

5. Go early. Not only will you save money because breakfast is the least expensive meal of the day, but younger kids are usually at their best in the morning before the afternoon crankies have set in. They’ll also look a lot neater in pictures if they haven’t been running around the parks for hours beforehand.

4. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible to get your top choices. That means calling at 180-days out. It seems crazy to first-timers, but the most popular restaurants will fill up the first week they’re available for booking. If you’re unable to get a desired location, don’t fret. Instead, start checking a few days prior to your trip. Disney’s new cancellation policy means that even the most popular locations may open up 24 to 48 hours prior. Just be flexible about times.Read More »Getting the Most Bang for Your Character Dining Buck

Fun Meets Fantasy at Alice in Wonderland Water Play Area at Grand Floridian

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I have a confession to make: Disney’s gorgeous pools are almost completely lost on me. Sure, I sometimes find myself dreaming about spending the day lazing around one, it’s just that once I get to Disney World, what I really want to do is spend my time in the parks. And what I mean by this is, all my time in the parks. Not surprisingly, Disney’s pools get little more than a passing glance on the way back from the park in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, pretty. I can swim at home, right?

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However, stuck on the resort monorail on the way to the Magic Kingdom last fall, I noticed something : The new Alice in Wonderland themed water play area next to the pool at the Grand Floridian. With two slides, a gigantic bucket that fills with water which is then dumped on guests, a shallow splash area, and all sorts of spouts, hoses and sprinklers, this play area intrigued me enough that I booked the Grand Floridian for an upcoming family trip knowing my kids would love it.Read More »Fun Meets Fantasy at Alice in Wonderland Water Play Area at Grand Floridian

Use Your Snack Credits Wisely.

It happens a lot: You’re hot and tired and without thinking, you grab your Key to the World Card and pay for a nice cold drink using your dining plan snack credits. What’s wrong with that, you wonder? Well, a drink costs around $2.59 and your credit is worth about $5. If you have extra credits to burn, it’s fine to use them on less expensive items like drinks, but if you’re like most people, you’ll want to save those credits for more expensive purchases. In our family, we’ve got a “no drinks” rule when it comes to snack credits. That’s probably the easiest way to make sure you don’t waste credits, but beyond that rule, there are even better ways to get your money’s worth.

You’ll get the most mileage out of your snack credits by buying cupcakes, Mickey bars, funnel cakes, and pretzels. Most candies in Epcot’s heavenly ode to all things caramel, Karamell Kuche, are one snack credit, and for that you get a treat that’s big enough to share. Nearly every elaborate cupcake, croissant, cinnamon roll, and brownie in Hollywood Studios Starring Rolls Bakery is also one credit. If you know you’re going to have a carrot cake cookie for a mid-afternoon snack and a funnel cake with ice cream later that day, you’ll want to find out which item costs more and use your credit for that. It may only be a small amount of money, but over multiple days with multiple people in your party, it can really tip the scale in your favor as far as savings go.Read More »Use Your Snack Credits Wisely.

Top Ten (Practical) Disney Splurges

When I first started writing this, I tried to think of all the really expensive things I’d like to do at Disney World, but the truth is, some of them made me uncomfortable because they seemed like a huge waste of money. Take the deluxe dining plan. Sure, I’d love to spend a few days just eating my way around Disney World, but besides the obvious discomfort that I’d probably experience at some point, to say nothing of how my pants might fit, it just seems like throwing money away. This got me thinking about what I would personally define as a splurge. It had to be something out of the ordinary, but it also had to have “value,” in the sense that even though I may have paid a lot for it, I felt that I got my money’s worth. With that in mind, I asked my followers on Facebook what they thought.

Here are our top ten practical Disney splurges.

1. Dinner at a signature restaurant. Yes, it costs about twice as much as a regular table-service restaurant, but the food is fantastic, the service some of the best you’ll encounter anywhere, and the surroundings are gorgeous.

2. Take a child to Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. I resisted this for as long as I could, but the look on my daughter’s face when she saw her hair and makeup was priceless.

3. Stay in a deluxe resort. Okay, we all agree that it’s only a place to lay your head at night, but just once, every Disney fan deserves to lay their head on a pillow in a really, really nice room.Read More »Top Ten (Practical) Disney Splurges