Capturing the Details

Posted on by Gab in 02) When You're There, Photography 1 Comment

As many Disney fans know, it’s the details within the parks that make them special (and make them more than just amusement parks). A fun way to document your Disney trip is to try and capture some of these details. Just looking around, up and down more will help you notice these little things.

While waiting to get on Jungle Cruise on my last trip I noticed that the yellow danger/warning tape in Adventureland was not the traditional black and yellow diagonal stripe, but an animal print. Of course I had to snap a few photos of this.

To get to Tarzan’s Treehouse at Hong Kong Disneyland, you need to catch a raft across a “river” to an island. The dock at the raft uses the same animal print warning tape.

This next detail is something my 11 year old son noticed and now it’s something I point out to everyone I take to the park. We all know how good the popcorn is at a Disney Park. Did you know that there is something slightly different about each popcorn cart? And that it depends on where in the park the cart is located? Take a look at these pictures and see if you can see what I’m talking about:

Yes, it’s the little person/creature/animal that turns the popcorn around. In Tomorrowland (first pic) it’s a robot. At the end of Main Street, it’s a turn of the century man and in Grizzly Gulch it’s a bear.

The last detail I’ll talk about in this post is the Mickey face at the front of the park. Each time I go, the face is different. In autumn, it’s pumpkins:

For Chinese New Year there are lots of yellow chrysanthemums:

In April there were some pretty white flowers:

And in May there was more greenery

What are your favourite details to capture?




Gab has been a Disney fan and scrapbooker of sorts ever since she can remember. She lives in Hong Kong with her husband Anthony and 11 year old son Conor and has a Magic Access Pass to Hong Kong Disneyland. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram (as gabmc) where she shares Disney (and other) memories.




Episode 82: Updates on Magic Shots in DIsneyland and Disney World

Posted on by Wendy in 02) When You're There, 05 Podcast, Magic Shots, PhotoPass 1 Comment

Subscribe in iTunes

 HeatherW and Tanya join Steph in this episode to talk about Magic Shots: what they are, how to get them, and where to get them. We are sharing details about brand NEW Magic Shots including Pascal in Disneyland and Jiminy Cricket in Disney World. Also, be sure to check out the Magic Shots post where we updated it with FIVE new Frozen Magic Shots we found out about after the recording.


Heather (heatherw25 on Twitter and Instagram)
Tanya (Tanyah666 on Twitter and Instagram)
Steph (Capturingmagic_ on Twitter and Instagram)

Show Notes

Be sure to bookmark the Magic Shots post and check back often as we continue to update it!


Picks With Pixie Dust

HeatherW: Disney Hidden Worlds
Tsum Tsum
: Oh Sew Magical

Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk

Posted on by Terri in Disney World, Entertainment, Holidays, Photography, Shows 1 Comment

Title Collage - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

I’m a firm believer in the two days on, one day off approach to Disney World planning. After two days in the park, my family needs a day to sleep in, chill out and generally relax. But that doesn’t mean we spend our off-days staring at the walls of the hotel room. Off days usually mean some low-key entertainment and a nice dinner.

My favorite location to stay in Disney World is Disney’s BoardWalk. This area is adjacent to seven resorts  - Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Disney’s Beach Club and Villas, Disney’s Yacht Club, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and it’s located within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney's Boardwalk Collage - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Set on Crescent Lake, Disney’s BoardWalk has the look of a turn-of-the-century Atlantic City boardwalk. I love arriving at Disney World in the morning and enjoying lunch on the water to make me really feel like I’m on vacation. With Disney’s typical attention to detail, the BoardWalk provides not only entertainment but lots of wonderful photo ops, day and night.

Disney's Boardwalk at Night - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Editor’s Note: Check out this post from Katrina on capturing photos in low light. 

Disney’s BoardWalk

The actual BoardWalk runs for a quarter mile in front of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and includes shops, midway games, entertainers, nightlife and restaurants.

My family’s favorite part of Disney’s BoardWalk is definitely the live entertainment. Entertainers can vary but include musicians, jugglers, acrobats and a magician. My son is a huge fan of the magician and has often participated in the show. The one catch is that the entertainment is only available on Thursday-Saturday nights from 6:30pm to 10:30pm. We often stop to see the shows on our way back from Epcot. In the event of rain, you can often find the magician in the lobby of the BoardWalk Inn.

Magician - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

If you’re a sports fan, the ESPN Club provides a fun break. This is a typical sports-themed restaurant with plenty of television screens, video games and interactive sporting games. The ESPN Club is also equipped with a television and radio broadcast booth that supports many popular ESPN shows and sometimes features live interviews with sports celebrities. During one of our trips, the BoardWalk was actually hosting a college football awards show.

College Football Awards Show -Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

The BoardWalk also includes some adult nightlife. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar, open from 7pm to 2am. Guests must be 21 and over and there is a $10 cover charge. The Atlantic Dance Hall calls to mind the dancing of an older era, but it’s really a nightclub with a DJ that plays songs from the ’80s, ’90s and today. The Dance Hall is open from 9pm to 2am Tuesday through Saturday. Guests must be 21 and over but there is no cover charge. During low-crowd periods on weeknights, these venues can be pretty quiet, though the ESPN Club can get quite crowded during sporting events.

Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

The BoardWalk has a variety of options for shopping. The Screen Door General Store is a typical resort shop including gifts, sundries and groceries. Disney’s Character Carnival has golf apparel and accessories. Thimbles and Threads has clothing and Disney character toys. Wyland Galleries features marine life art. The Yard, next to the ESPN Club, has ESPN merchandise. There is also a Pin Station for Disney pin collectors.

Thimbles and Threads - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

The BoardWalk has four table-service restaurants: ESPN Club, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Flying Fish Cafe and Cat Cora’s Kouzzina. Flying Fish Cafe is, hands-down, our favorite Disney World restaurant, but I also love just sitting outside at Big River Grille for a leisurely lunch. A Disney trip can be fast-paced and over-stimulating and this seashore retreat can be a great reminder to relax and enjoy our vacation.

Food Collage - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

For a lighter snack or a sweet treat, the BoardWalk also includes:

  • Boardwalk Bakery,
  • BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas,
  • Seashore Sweets,
  • a Funnel Cake Cart, and
  • the Pizza Window.

Note: Kouzzina will be closing at the end of September; no word yet on what will replace it. 

One of my favorite places on the BoardWalk is the old-time photo booth. There’s a fun aspect to the photo booth experience that just can’t be replicated on a phone app.

Photo Booth Strip

Other entertainments on the BoardWalk includes caricature artists, midway games and Surrey bike rentals. At night you can even see the fireworks from Illuminations from this area.

Surrey Bikes - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

If you’re really interested in the history, art work and architecture of the BoardWalk, try the BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour. This tour runs every Wednesday through Saturday for 45 minutes, starting at 9am. The tour is free; just check in at the BoardWalk Inn’s Belle Vue Lounge by 8:45am.

Around the BoardWalk

The wooden Boardwalk itself is anchored by the ESPN Club and The Atlantic Dance Hall. However, the path continues in a circle around Crescent Lake, making it easy to enjoy the themes, shopping, restaurants and entertainments of the other resorts.

If you continue walking past the ESPN Club, counter-clockwise around the lake, you’ll find the path that leads to Epcot’s International Gateway.

Path to Epcot - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Keep walking around the lake and you’ll find a sandy beach in front of Disney’s Beach Club resort. Check the resort activities flyer for specific activities, but this beach is often host to volleyball, campfire sing-alongs or Movies Under the Stars. Note: Swimming in Crescent Lake is prohibited.

Beach Club Collage - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

While you’re at the Beach Club, don’t forget to stop and enjoy a giant ice cream sundae at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Beaches and Cream - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Continue further and you’ll come to Disney’s Yacht Club resort and the Bayside Marina.

Yacht Club - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Here you can rent motorboats, rent bicycles and arrange fishing excursions. The Bayside Marina is also the starting location of the Albatross Treasure Cruise, one of four pirate adventure cruises for kids ages 4-10. This cruise can be booked in advance at 407-WDW-PLAY.

Continue walking counter-clockwise around the lake and you’ll come back to the Atlantic Dance Hall and the other end of the BoardWalk. Take the path around and behind the Dance Hall and you’ll find the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts, as well as the path to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Atlantic Dance Hall and Dolphin Resort - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

If you walk to Hollywood Studios early in the morning you’ll often see people fishing in the canal. My son really wanted to try this, so on one of our off-days my parents brought their fishing poles. Unfortunately, we went rather late in the day and nothing was biting, but my son still loves to talk about the time he went fishing with his Pap at Disney World.

Fishing at Disney World - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

I should also mention that the Disney Friendship Boats circle through this area. It is almost always faster to walk around the lake and to the parks than it is to take the boat. However, if you’re not in a hurry or if you’ve just ended a busy day in the parks, the boat ride can be quite relaxing.

Friendship Boats - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

The Friendship Boats run from outside Epcot’s International Gateway to Disney’s BoardWalk resort to Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts to WDW Swan and Dolphin resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Then it runs back to WDW Swan and Dolphin, Yacht and Beach Club, BoardWalk and Epcot.

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf

If you want to venture a little farther, but still within walking distance, Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf is located across the street from the Walt Disney World Swan hotel. This venue has two 18-hole courses. The Fantasia Gardens course is designed for families and includes 5 scenes from the movie. If you haven’t seen Fantasia, or if it’s been a long time, I highly recommend watching it before you go. The course is filled with lots of fun little details from the film.

Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

The Fantasia Fairways course is designed to look like a traditional golf course, only smaller, and requires more skill. This course includes sand traps, water hazards and sloping greens. Fantasia Gardens and Fairways is open 10am to 11pm, seven days a week. Telephone reservations are not accepted. Annual Passholder’s currently receive a 50% discount.

Mini Golf Scorecard - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Christmas on the BoardWalk

If you’re going to Disney World for the Christmas holiday, plan to spend extra time exploring the resorts around the BoardWalk. Displays can vary from year to year, but in recent years the BoardWalk Inn has had a life-size gingerbread house.

Boardwalk Inn Gingerbread Display - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

Beach Club resort has had a giant chocolate carousel display.

Beach Club Chocolate Carousel - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

And the Yacht Club has had a miniature train display with lots of Disney details.

Yacht Club Train Display - Capturing Magic on the BoardWalk -

If you’re a pin collector, there are sometimes limited edition pins available to commemorate these displays.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort also has numerous holiday displays and events, including classic Christmas movies, a nightly tree lighting and pictures with Santa Claus.

There are, of course, unlimited options in Walt Disney World for spending a day outside the parks – hanging at the pool, exploring themed resorts, shopping and entertainment at Downtown Disney, just to name a few. See more ideas from Beth’s post, Capturing Magic Outside the Theme Parks and share with us your favorite ideas for relaxing and spending time outside the parks at Disney World.

Last Minute Prep for Capturing Magic

Posted on by Aaron in 01) Before You Go 1 Comment


As of right now, I am about a month out before my next trip to Disney World. As I’m sure many of you know, this is both and exciting and nerve wracking time. My days are filled with getting things ready to take, getting things ready to pack, making sure everything will be taken care of while I’m away and lists. Lots and lots of lists. Just as I make lists of things we need to pack, or things I need to pick up before the trip, I’ve made a list of things I need to do to make sure I’m prepared to capture all of our magical memories while we are away.
These are the things I typically do right before a trip to ready myself to capture magic.
  1. Download the Capturing Magic App, set up my desired photos – Have you tried out the Capturing Magic app? It’s great, it lets me set up the photos I want to make sure to capture, and then using GPS, it reminds me when I am near the location to take the pictures.
  2. Decide upon a hashtag to share with the family and friends- The last few trips I’ve had to keep a little secret because we were taking time off from work. This time around, we can share our trip publicly so I plan on using Instagram and other social media outlets to document our time. I’d like to decide upon a hashtag so that my family and friends can easily find my posts from the trip.
  3. Clean Up my Phone and Camera – I find before a big trip like this, it’s always good to take a little time to clean up my files on my phone and camera. I delete photos that I’ve already transferred to my computer, I delete unused apps that are lingering on my phone, and I clean up my music files.
  4. Make sure I have additional supplies – I often check to make sure I have multiple SD cards for my camera, and this year I purchased an external charger for my phone, upon the recommendations from my last post. Last year, I purchased my Black Rapid strap and a camera bag.
These are the few key things I do before I leave for a Disney trip, so that I am totally ready to capture all the magical memories my family and I will make.
What are the things I do right before a trip to ready myself to capture magic?

Booking’ It in the Parks

Posted on by Alison in 02) When You're There, Extra Magic 4 Comments

On our next trip we are going to be “booking” it through the parks.  Nope, and I am not referring to running.  (Although, I need to take up that hobby, and do some RunDisney).

I am referring to reliving a great story by visiting all the landmarks possible.

Many books have been written on Disney World.  Most of these are geared towards planning, but there are a few that are fiction works.  Ridley Pearson has written a seven book series called Kingdom Keepers, about ‘virtual’ and often real adventures that five young adults have at the parks (and on a Disney Cruise ship…)

We will be taking pictures at the park at special places that are milestones in the book, documenting our own little Kingdom Keeper adventure in photos.  My daughter and I are also planning on taking a Disney Tour “Backstage Magic” to get an inside look at how the magic is made!  And see how that matches up to the books.  We know that there are differences between the books and the parks and we are hoping to take pictures of that as well.  For example, if Mr. Toads Wild Ride is mentioned, we are going to get shots of the family in front of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the ride that replaced Mr. Toad.

My daughter is planning on keeping a Smash book while we are there and help me with a photo album to recap our adventures when we get home.  The first book in the series was published in 2009, and while that isn’t too old in “life” time, much time has passed in “Disney Time” so be keen that the parks have changed a bit.  The final book in the Kingdom Keepers Series, Kingdom Keepers VII:  The Insider was released just this April, and we can’t wait to read it.

Book 1, Disney after Dark begins in a dream… near the Flag pole in Town Square in Magic Kingdom.  (Isn’t that what you dream about?) So our first picture would be at that Flag Pole.

The Kingdom Keepers are great, but just might not be your cup of tea. There are other fiction books as well as historical, documentary accounts of Walt Disney and the parks.  If you are interested in how the parks were created, try Project Future:  The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World, by Chad Emerson.

If you love One Man’s Dream in Hollywood Studios and want to learn more about the man behind the magic read Walt Disney: An American Original, by Bob Thomas.

Sound like Fun?  Join us.  Better yet, let me know if you have ‘Booked it’ through the park!!




PS… if you love to read, check out the Writer’s Stop, a quaint little bookstore in Hollywood Studios.  You can have a good cup of coffee and check out some wonderful Disney works.


Check out the new Magic Shots

Posted on by Steph in 02) When You're There, Magic Shots, MemoryMaker, Photography, PhotoPass 3 Comments

Heather and I have been working together to keep her original “Magic Shots” post updated with what is currently available in the parks. A lot of changes were made recently at Disney World, so bookmark that post (or pin it, if you are like me) and check back often.

Remember, all Magic Shots are included in your purchase of Memory Maker, which I highly recommend! Just ask a PhotoPass Photographer if they can add some magic to your photos, and if they can, I’m sure they would love to help. After telling a PhotoPass Photographer in Animal Kingdom how much my youngest daughter was loving Magic Shots this trip, he surprised us both and quickly did all of the Magic Shots he had available at the time in just a couple of minutes (no one was waiting behind us). She was so excited and giggled with delight! If I wasn’t sold on Magic Shots before, I am now!

Capturing Magic – The Perspective from Behind

Posted on by Beth in Photography 2 Comments

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |
















This may be a no-brainer for some photographers and memory keepers. But for those new to photography, or as a refresher for an experienced photographer prior to their next vacation…don’t forget to snap those photos from behind! I have been looking through many Disney vacation photos and have found that some of my favorites are taken from the standpoint of standing behind my subjects. Here are a handful of suggestions for capturing your memories from behind.

Character Interactions | Have yourself or another member of your party stand out of line and to the side if possible during a character interaction. I have a handful of great PhotoPass pictures of this interaction with Snow White, but love the expression and bashfulness of my son when he first met Snow White – at the time it was one of his favorite movies and he was a little star struck! And I love how you can see a full shot of her signature dress.Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |
















On Attractions | Take pictures of the people in your group while on an attraction if you are sitting behind them (keeping in mind safety and flash restrictions of course!). The Carousels, Dumbo, and the Speedways are some great choices for this perspective. I have also seen some fun photos taken from behind on Big Thunder Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |
















Taking in the Views | I actually used this photo in another post, but I love it because it captures the age of my two older boys at the time, and their interest in seeing such a cool Lego creation. When I see this photo, I always wonder, “What were they thinking at this moment?” In the fast pace of a Disney vacation, it is nice to capture those moments when our family and friends have slowed down to take in their surroundings. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |
















Mouse Ears | This is one of those classic Disney vacation photo opportunities: our favorite people wearing their mouse ears. Whether you get the shot right after you buy them, sometime during the day (as in my photo below), or during a night time parade or fireworks, you just have to get that photo! And getting it from behind can give adorable results. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |










Holding Hands – Relationships | Don’t hesitate to snap a few photos as you trail behind your group. They may never realize you’ve taken their picture, and honestly it can be some of the most candid and relaxed moments. My husband took the photo below while we were walking into Downtown Disney. I actually take these shots all the time now and love how they can capture the relationships between people. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |










Get Their Reflection | Take advantage of mirrors and reflective surfaces that you come across. A funhouse style mirror is hard to pass by without taking a look, and getting a photo from behind offers two perspectives: the back side of your subject, and then their front side as it is reflected in the mirror. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |














Magical Moments | Because I like to take pictures of my family when no one is looking (they can’t complain that way!), I am often snapping a few photos here and there as I bring up the rear. I especially love pictures of the kids when they are small enough to ride on my husband’s shoulders. When I realized our youngest was on his dad’s shoulders after a full day at Disneyland, I had to capture it! The photo tells a story about a relationship (father and son), the magic of our day (Yoda Mouse Ears), and that exhausted but (hopefully) contented feeling of being on a Disney vacation when you are exiting the park. I had cropped and edited the photo to share on Instagram. 

Capturing Magic from behind - snapping photos from a rear perspective |














Next time you are in the Parks, try to get at least a few shots from behind. This perspective is easy to practice at home, too. Including uniqure perspectives will always enhance the photo record you have of your Disney memories.


A scrapbooker and collector since childhood and long time fan of Disney parks and media, Beth ventures into the blogging world at Any Happy Little Thoughts where she shares her approach for preserving personal Disney memories, one story at a time.



California Adventure Land Signs

Posted on by Stephanie in 03) Back Home After The Trip, Electronic Die Cutting Machines, Scrapbooking (digital or paper) 1 Comment

More fun with fonts & paper to create land signs for California Adventure.

First up, A Bug’s Land. I found the font and cut it out of yellow card stock. I used a simple leaf from Lettering Delights for the base of the sign. I adhered the letters with pop dots to add dimension to the sign.

Next let’s travel on over to Grizzly Peak  Recreation Area.  I created a free form shape combining an oval and a trapezoid and then manipulated the nodes to get the rock outcropping shape for the Grizzly Peak  Recreation Area. I used  the Block BE font in all caps for the lettering. I cut two layers from different shades of grey cardstock and then added some distress ink through the center to add an aged look. I wanted to create the chisseled stone look, so I used a silver gel pen to create a focal line in the center of each letter.

Stephanie is an avid paper crafter, scrapbooker, and lover of all things Disney. She also enjoys playing with geeky toys to create her paper creations! When not creating scrapbook pages about her husband and son, she can be found at making handmade paper crafts for parties and events.

180 Days Out

Posted on by Wendy R in 01) Before You Go, Counting Down, Dining, Disney World, Holidays, Holidays Disney Style 1 Comment

We’re planning for an 8-day trip to Walt Disney World in December and I’m having a blast getting ready! We’re going with some friends of ours, so we’re traveling as a party of 6 (husband, wife, and daughter for both families). I’ve told my husband many times that he can surprise me with a lot of things, but it is never ok to surprise me with a Disney trip because planning is almost as much fun as actually being in the World. We’re about 160 days away from our trip, and I’m enjoying filling up my PassPorter’s Guide to Walt Disney World with all of the plans I’m making. Here’s what I’ve been working on since we hit the 180-day mark:

For this trip, we’re staying off property at a condo so we can all stay together for as cheaply as possible. Our girls (who will be 9 and 10) are so excited to live together (it’s like an 8 day slumber party!) and decided that matching Disney PJ’s were a must. We’re keeping our eyes out for Mickey PJ’s that will fit our girls and grabbing them as they go on sale.

When we vacation with our friends, we typically tour together for a few hours, then separate and tour on our own, then get together again for a nice meal or a special event. We have several places we wanted to eat for this trip, so I made dining reservations last week. Most of our choices could accommodate us if we made reservations much closer to our trip, but I like to do it early so that I can pick any meal time I want instead of having to settle for what’s available 30 days out. For this trip, we’ve reserved the Hollywood Brown Derby and Sanaa for lunch and Kona for breakfast. We’ve also made reservations for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian. We want to have dinner at Be Our Guest, but even this far out there aren’t any reservations available. I’m checking almost every day and have also signed up for WDW Tools (it’s a Pick with Pixie Dust!), so hopefully we’ll have that reservation soon.

We’re going around Christmas time and just adore Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I read Brian McNichols’ article on the Touring Plans blog about the least crowded MVMCP dates and we chose a date during our trip that appears high on that list. I bought our tickets 2 weeks ago and they came in the mail yesterday. Disney mail is the BEST mail!

I’m spending some time on Pinterest looking for a few ideas for matching shirts. For our last trip, we made iron-on Mickey head shirts like these and got lots of positive comments and had tons of fun with them. This time, we’d like to do some tie dye Mickey head shirts, so we’re planning a playdate for this summer to tie dye shirts. I’m looking for a few more fun ideas.

My daughter, Monica, will turn 9 while we’re down there, so I’m starting to look for a fun way to celebrate her birthday. We usually make our annual visit the week of her birthday, so celebrating her birthday down there is something she’s done several times (spoiled much?) and I’m keeping my eyes out for a new and different way to celebrate. I just read this article and fell in love with the ideas!

Monica is young enough to still firmly believe in the magic of Disney so I’m gathering ideas for ways to sprinkle some extra Pixie dust on her vacation. I’m flat out stealing some of the ideas from this episode of Capturing Magic, especially the one about the basket of goodies at the resort/condo when we arrive. I always try to bring in as much magic as possible as cheaply as possible, so I’m starting to keep my eyes out for Disney stuff in the dollar sections or toys on clearance.

There are still many things to do to prepare for our trip (book airfare! Schedule Fast Pass+! Buy Memory Maker! Packing list!) but that kind of to-do list is something I like to savor and work on slowly as we count down the days. Planning for our annual trips brings so much joy into my everyday life and I’m so grateful to be married to a man who is as smitten with this magical place as I am! How far out do you start to plan for your Disney trips?

Capturing Magic of the Potter Kind: Planning

Posted on by Steph in Universal Orlando 2 Comments

I had heard podcasts about Universal Orlando by people in the Disney community before, so I had some ideas about what we would need to do, but I am the kind of person that likes LOTS of information. So, I thought I would share a few really GREAT resources I found when I was planning our trip (we try to stay away from direct planning tips on this site, unless they pertain to creating and capturing magic).

A great Universal Orlando overview

Shannon at WDWPrepSchool does a great job in this post of telling us what we need to know without overwhelming with too much detail. I used her ride descriptions while in the parks a lot, because they often compare the rides to Disney World rides. As someone that suffers from motion sickness, I knew if the comparison was similar to a ride at WDW that makes me sick, it would be a good one to skip.

Orlando Informer

I only wish I would have discovered Orlando Informer much sooner, so I could have fully taken advantage of everything they have there. It is a huge resource complete with anything and everything you might want and need to know about Universal Orlando. So much GREAT information! If you are going to Universal Orlando, spend as much time as you can here! You won’t regret it!

I used quite a bit before going and in the parks as well. I really loved their thorough descriptions and ratings of the restaurants, which often contained full menus. I also used the crowd levels to know what we would be “in for” as well as the great overview. (I have a subscription to TouringPlans and was given the Universal subscription when our podcast was part of their network).

Universal Orlando App

Universal Orlando released an app our last day there and I didn’t get to use it in planning or while we were in the parks, but it looks like a pretty great app and they have a lot of plans for it in the future, including features like e-commerce purchase capability, customizable itineraries, social sharing and more. The app is available in Android and iOS versions.

How we made it all work

I’ve had a lot of questions about how much time we spent at Universal Orlando and when (as well as how I planned), so I thought I would share that here as well.  We were in the Orlando area for 2 weeks (yes! it WAS heaven). We spent one week at Port Orleans Riverside in Disney World; then three nights at Cabana Bay, the brand new hotel at Universal Orlando; and then the last few nights were spent at our offsite timeshare. We did have a rental car for the entire trip. The savings from the few nights we stayed in our offsite timeshare, more than paid for the car, and made all of the hopping so much easier. We did look into only renting a car for part of the time, but it became so logistically difficult, that it wasn’t worth the savings.

Do you have specific questions?

Click on “contact us” and ask away or post here in the comments.


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