Category Archives: Walt Disney World

Summer travel with kids & fashion for moms?

Today’s post isn’t going to solve world peace, resolve hunger crises or help reach a consensus on the sequester. But it will  – or rather should  – solve some last-minute packing crises that most women face when prepping for a trip. Especially summer travel with children. Particularly if your summer travel has you going on a physical endeavor. Example – are you headed to Walt Disney World?  Prior to our trip last month I am not ashamed to admit I put quite a bit of effort into assessing my shoe choices.  I knew we were going to be walking miles a day. I knew it was going to be humid. I knew I was going to be sweaty and grumpy and need comfort. But I just couldn’t toss my running kicks in my suitcase with a pair of white socks and call it a day.


I also knew that the kind of bag needed for such a trip was a dilemma. When one is hot and walking and dealing with hungry kids, you can’t have the added weight of a shoulder bag on your body. Yet you also need to pack water bottles, snacks, cameras, phones and the inevitable swag the kids make off with in the stores.

What does a gal do?

Here’s what I did.

I first raided DSW. I went to the biggest one I could find. And I went alone. I needed razor like focus and time to deliberate. I knew I wanted to look somewhat stylish during the day and I knew I couldn’t deal with lame looking sneakers. I also knew that if my feet hurt, then that is just stupid. If you know you are going to walk a ton, and you have small children, and it’s going to be super hot and humid, your feet need support and your feet need comfort. I was hoping to find a brown sandal that offered some cushioning and support but didn’t have any straps between my toes. Those bother me unless I am in flip flops. And flip flops do not meet the criteria of offering support all day long unless you are sitting in a beach chair.

For reasons that escape me entirely, it is not easy to find the kind of brown sandal I was looking for but  when life gives you lemons……I found what worked out better for moi. I found these New Balance ballet sneaker flats. They have remarkable cushioning and support, they slip on and off easily (read: airport security), and they pretty much go with everything. You can wear them with a casual summer skirt or shorts. Since purchasing and wearing them almost daily, I regularly am given compliments on them and asked where I got them from. Good old DSW.


But if you share the following trait with moi: packing lightly is not in your vocabulary – then obviously you need more than one pair of shoes. Again, today’s post is about pairing comfort with style, and without realizing, it’s also quickly becoming an ad for DSW and New Balance because I also stumbled upon these kicks:


They are trendy with their neon brights, they are incredibly light weight and take up little room in a suitcase and they meet my criteria of offering much needed support for hours of walking and crowds.

Moving away from shoes, now what about the purse? I settled on two choices. My daytime purse and my evening purse. The evening option required I pack fewer things, which really is a challenge for moi (again: packing lightly is not something I do. Ever).

For the daytime, I went with a Camelbak backpack. First, the reality is, if you are trekking around all day with children, you need a backpack, like it or not. And if you find one that looks somewhat gender neutral, your husband will carry the load as well. Also, if you are headed in the heat, you need water, lots of it. The Camelbak gives you not only padded shoulders for the backpack, but the ultra convenient zip down the middle so the other person can access whatever is needed without you taking the damn thing off is really a brilliant idea, and then there is the easy access of the water in the back. True, I felt a bit like people in my family were milking off me when they would stop to access the water from the Camelbak but this pack was the saving grace for me every day. Also, I suffer from migraines and dehydration is a serious trigger for me – so the truth is – I need an obscene amount of water on any given day, but especially so when wandering the humidity of Florida for hours on end.


Back to the theme of me never packing lightly – however – clearly when we headed out the door in the evening for dinners, I wasn’t going to toss the Camelbak over my dress. The question was – what sort of purse would suit evening summer dresses? I am beginning to worry you’re thinking I’ve transformed into Sporty Spice between the sneakers and the backpack. Fear not.

As luck would have it, when shopping alone with my hawk-like focus at DSW, I stumbled upon a super fun bright yellow Betsey Johnson purse. I could wear it across my chest with the long strap, it was small enough that it packed easily and it forced me to put only essentials inside for evening outings. Never one to settle on practical colors when shopping for purses, I was tempted by the lovely cream colored one but reasoned that the bright yellow is just more fun and would add a great accent color to really anything I was wearing – and it certainly did.


I also liked the small exterior pocket for storing a hotel key card or a cell phone for easy access. Naturally, I am also a sucker for interior design and you can be sure a Betsey Johnson purse never disappoints:


Right? It was a most excellent score.

While these are my most triumphant purchases, there’s more. What about the mom headed to the beach and pool this summer? What if your travels take you water bound instead of walking bound?  Look, I am a HUGE fan of the Scout beach bags. Why, you ask? Simple – they are super stylish, come in a great array of colors and patterns and have 6 exterior pockets for easy access to sunblock, water bottles, sunglasses, phone, whatever you need – without losing time wading through the big deep bag.

photo(80)Finally, how about communications with families during your trip? And photo documentation?

My sister went away last summer and all of a sudden, these adorable postcards with pictures of her and her husband started arriving in my mail box, including a different return stamp style picture of themselves, and then their personalized messages – all sent from her phone. It’s brilliant. Don’t send postcards in 2012, instead send a Postagram. 

The app will send pictures from your phone or Facebook straight to your family or friends – an easy and fun way to personalize your trip and share it with friends! Even my mom used the Postagram app during our Disney trip.

My other new fav app is Story by Disney. We first learned about it last month at the Disney Social Media Moms conference and it’s a beautiful app. It’s free to download and offers you a quick, convenient and simple way to transform an experience into a photo album and share it via email or post it on Facebook. You can add video, change the text, change the background color and then post it on Facebook and share via email. It’s that simple and it really does make anyone a storyteller. I tried it out a few times after our Disney trip and loved the results. It’s a fabulous way to pair a series of pictures or an entire afternoon and share it with family and friends with pizzaz and personality instead of just posting individual pictures on Facebook.

There you have it — I believe you can pair some style with comfort while traveling this summer with the kids. Not a deep or profound topic today but a great way to kick-off a rainy Monday, right? For the “best time you ever did have” be sure to hit “Like” on the Wired Momma Facebook page.

Walt Disney World Tips: The WM Experience

2012-Spring 2013 2098How do you even begin a post about a trip to Walt Disney World?
I have been belaboring this dilemma for about a week now.


It is overwhelming – and I mean that in a good way. Look, the truth is – I don’t particularly like other people’s crying children, I don’t particularly like crowds, I really don’t like humidity and I rarely have the patience for long lines.


Initially, it didn’t seem like I was the sort of person who would fall in love with Walt Disney World.  As many of you know, despite these facts, we were initially planning a trip in November but then I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference and well – obviously you don’t turn down such an amazing opportunity.

On Thursday May 9, we sprung it on the girls. Disclosure – they knew we were going to Disney World but we’d kept the specifics on when in May, deliberately vague, and my older one had arbitrarily decided we were going on Monday May 20, so I went with that. We tossed it on them about an hour before departure for the airport time and well, I’m thinking the Disney PR team isn’t going to pick up their reactions for a TV ad:

I still found their reaction to be highly amusing, however, right? I mean, the library? Really? #Nerds.

But – here’s the thing – before I knew it, we were roaming Magic Kingdom and these words fell from my four-year-old’s mouth:  “This is the most fun I ever did have.”

And she was right. I fell in love with Disney, despite the odds, and it was the most fun we ever did have. With that, I give you my top tips on optimizing your Disney experience – in no particular order, mind you. I’m thinking I might do a separate post on shoes & necessary accessories.

1 – “The Parade made me late.” Seriously. It did. There’s one place in the world where you can use this excuse and actually not be lying, when you show up 20 minutes late to your dinner reservation…and that is Disney World. We were warned of the importance of factoring in “getting there time” but I couldn’t fully appreciate it until we were experiencing it first hand – getting where you need to go takes at least 30-45 minutes – so when you are heading out the door – be sure to factor in time for getting through lines, bag check, getting there (monorail, switching monorails, waiting for boats)….navigating through crowds….or the parade blockade. Expect the unexpected and pad your time accordingly.

2012-Spring 2013 21692- Character Meals – yay or nay? Totally YES! Frankly – these were a real highlight of our trip and I wish we’d done more of them. For many of the character meals, you really should make your reservation 180 days in advance to score your seats at your preferred time – but in our case, we had less than a 60 day notice we were going. I was able to book a table at Tusker House Restaurant for Donald’s Safari Breakfast in the Animal Kingdom and our hotel concierge reserved a table for us at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian hotel for our last night. Cinderella and characters were the hosts of that particular meal and we really loved the boat ride from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian (where we were totally late for dinner because of the parade….). My seven-year-old discovered a deep love for buffets at these meals and we found the food to be surprisingly good and healthy. The kids also loved the individual time with each of the characters and we appreciated not having to wait in line for those character meet and greets, as you otherwise would at the parks. As you can see here, they also do more than just take pictures and sign autograph books at the character meals. Where else can a gal dance with Cinderella?

3 – Fireworks start LATE. Like 10pm late at the Magic Kingdom on many nights. I hadn’t focused on this until we got there and if you’ve been at it all day with little ones, fighting the crowds and staying up late for Magic Kingdom fireworks is no small feat. I would highly recommend the Illuminations show and fireworks display at Epcot – they start earlier at 9pm – and there is more space to exit the park than Magic Kingdom. Just something to keep in mind. If you are a sucker for fireworks, like I am, then I’d encourage you to watch this riveting video I took of the show – Disney does it right. I should also add that we saw beautiful pink heart shaped fireworks coming from the Magic Kingdom show one night. Did you even know there could be a pink heart shaped firework? #OnlyInDisney

4 – Stay on Disney property. I think one caveat would be if you have your own car. Otherwise, there is a price point for everyone and it is just convenient. And with long days, hot weather and lines in front of you – convenience is your friend.

5 – Vintage Disney Still Lives On. What was fabulous when you were a kid is still fabulous. I hadn’t been to Disney World since the mid 1980s. Same with Mr. WM. And I was thrilled to discover that what I loved as a kid is still just as fabulous and completely unchanged: It’s a Small World,The  Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted House. Fabulous. Just as you remembered them to be.

6 – Disney Customer service is unparalleled. We are all so exposed to this world where children are an annoyance. Some people cringe when they see the shortie’s boarding flights. Others don’t want them in restaurants. And then there is Disney World. Where “cast members” can’t possibly be making very much money to stand and manage the line waiting to see Ariel, for example, and yet they act like each child is the most precious gift given to all of us. The attitude towards children was so refreshing. Sure, I know, it’s a children’s amusement park. But again – it is often the perfect storm for bad behavior – combine long lines, hot weather, hours of screaming children and someone who probably makes minimum wage – and yet every person we came across went out of their way to be helpful. What struck me the most was waiting in line at Ariel’s Grotto in the New Fantasyland. If you haven’t been, it’s built like a cave and the sound echoes. As we were nearing the front of the line, a toddler was screaming and the noise was piercing. The woman working the line asked for the crying baby to walk up front. The dad sheepishly strolled forward with his distraught toddler and the “cast member” asked her why she was crying and noted that no one likes the sound echoing through the cave. So what did she do next? She pulled out a stack of stickers and the little girl started smiling. Problem solved. Everyone was happy. That’s the Disney magic right there. Actually, the real Disney magic is how they motivate the 60,000 “cast members” they employ to all share this attitude. And could they sprinkle that across the country? Particularly in airports.

Asleep..on the red carpet...for the entire night.

Asleep..on the red carpet…for the entire night.

7 – If in doubt – always pack the stroller. Do I need to say more? Especially if you have a child under the age of 6 years old. One book I read in prep for our trip noted that everyone walks an average of 5-9 miles a day in Disney World. In fact, they recommend physical conditioning for the trip. When my 4-year-old was tired, that child just fell asleep in the stroller. And yes, she did sleep through the now infamous parade that was fantastic and blocking our ability to get to our dinner reservations. She also slept through an entire Red Carpet dinner party complete with characters one night of the Disney Social Media Moms conference and several other fun outings but hey – she had somewhere to sleep and not slow us down.

8 – Packing for Disney: if they wear it, they will spill on it. If you think you can pack outfits for your kids to wear again, then they must not eat like mine, or you don’t care about popsicle or ketchup stains (which after a few days, I didn’t either). I’d recommend at least one outfit a day for the kids. Picking the right shoes and bags for comfort and style for the adults warrants an entirely separate blog post – so give me a few days.

The inevitable...but you are always in good company.

The inevitable…but you are always in good company.

9 – Misery loves company. I realize now that my attitude was all wrong going into Disney. It’s not that other people’s crying children bother me, it’s that other people’s crying or argumentative children serve as the perfect reminder – just when you think yours is the only one freaking out at Disney World and you are bleeding cash – that they ALL DO IT. Just seeing it happen around you can bring you inner peace and comfort in knowing that you are, in fact, never alone. Disney World is the one place where we can all come together and let it all hang out, so to speak. It’s not our nudist colony, it’s our “here’s how they really are” colony. Namaste.

10 – The magical surprises make the trip. There’s no other way to say it. Realizing that it’s so cliche, it’s just the truth. There are magical, unexpected moments in Disney that make it “The most fun I ever did have” moment. You can’t plan for it, schedule it or purchase it in advance. You just experience it. For us, it was the talking garbage can in Tomorrowland who approached our oldest. Of course there’s a random talking garbage can in Disney World who charms parents, grandparents and kids alike. Why wouldn’t there be? He reminded me of ET.

Or it’s watching the kids’ faces as a random street parade comes tooling down Main Street. In those  moments, they suspend their desire to be practical and grown up, Disney World May 2013 083they stop crushing the dreams of their little sisters, and they believe that those princesses and characters are REAL and they are so happy. And you are happy. It’s what the whole thing is about and I had forgotten that until suddenly, there was a trash can talking to my kids.

11- You can find healthy meals. I heard the news last spring that Disney World was going healthier. I read the articles. But I still didn’t believe it. Guess what – it is true. There were healthy options for adults and kids most places we visited. In particular, I really loved a parsnip spinach salad at a buffet dinner at a character meal. Would you ever have guessed that’s where I’d find that one? Seriously. The girls munched on grapes and apple slices, had apple sauce instead of french fries. I was duly impressed and not fully expecting it.

12 – Magic Hours are not to be missed. If you are staying at a Disney resort, then pay attention to the magic hours and use those to your advantage. For example, we had a 9:15 character breakfast in Animal Kingdom. Despite all the odds, we managed to get up, get out the door and get into the park and onto the Safari by 8:30am to enjoy it before the crowds and lines – all before our scheduled breakfast. It wasn’t easy because it seems every night is a late night at Disney but it was so worth it.

2012-Spring 2013 212913 – I left my heart in Epcot. Epcot was just lovely. I don’t know what else to say. Somehow, by some cruel and evil twist of fate, I never got to France in Epcot. Personally, I could have spent a week just at Epcot. My older one also really loved Epcot. Bottom line – Disney World is about so much more than the Magic Kingdom.

I could keep going and going and going. Seriously. Instead, I will end here. These are my top tips and insights from the trip. I have a few more Disney related posts coming though. One will be dedicated entirely to the inside scoop I learned at the Disney Social Media Moms conference on what’s coming later this year and in the future from Disney and to the parks.  Clearly you come to moi for the scoop. And one post will be dedicated to mom-fashion at Disney World. It is possible. But one must be practical.

In the meantime, be sure to share anything I missed, that you thing is extra special about WDW and as always, hit “Like” on the old Wired Momma Facebook page.  It will be the most fun you ever did have.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. I paid a conference fee to attend and we were given discounts to the parks and meals during the conference. All the opinions here are my own.


Planning for Walt Disney World: WM Reader Tips

Last month I posted a plea for some tips on how to plan for a trip to Walt Disney World. The last time I was there was 1986 and my friend wore her headgear the entire time (something my sister and I still haven’t let her live down). Things have changed a bit since the mid-80s.

I knew I’d get some good tidbits but I never expected the extent of it….which is silly because of course WM readers are fabulous and savvy and strategic…and pretty, of course. So, naturally, I need to share everything here because there’s no way I’m the only one planning a trip – if not this year – then at some point in the future. Also, as luck would have it, instead of going to Disney in November as we were originally planning, I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference in May – so I’ll have some of my own tips for you after that amazing experience.

Gearing up to meet them in Magic Kingdom

And so, without further delay, I offer you the wisdom, tips and insights from the WM Community – get great tips on buying Disney clothes in advance, where to stay, whether or not to buy the Disney Meal Plans, which meals to reserve in advance and more:

  •  Just went in January. No lines! My kids are 3 & 5. Stayed at the new art of animation – SO fun! If staying on site plan a day at your hotel; we didn’t but wish we did.
  • Purchase or get from the library “Walt Disney World with Kids” by Kim Wright Wiley. Invaluable – lists rides by age.
  • Pre-purchase Disney clothing on sale online to take with us and saved a ton of $ by not buying in parks.
  • Make dinner reservations early! We did do the dining plan and found it to be a good deal if you can get reservations for character meals. We also buy Disney souvenirs (light up toys) at Disney outlet at Potomac Mills before we go.
  • Chef mickeys was fun but food was so-so. Animal kingdom breakfast was fantastic and, if you book it right, gets you into the park before it opens. Winnie the Pooh lunch at crystal palace also had great food.
  • I would definitely order some “411 Wristbands” from Mabel’s Labels for piece of mind.
  • The most amazing resource…she planned our entire trip n/c and it was not only flawless but truly magical for our 4 boys!
  • Younger kids LOVE Magic Kingdom. Epcot for older crowd. Animal Kingdom animal safari very cool as are shows…save for low-key day. Eat huge bfast before u head out, u all will last longer before stopping to eat. Bring water bottles and snacks bc u walk your bum 6yo HAD to get pic taken w all Disney character which took 3million yrs of waiting but their little autograph/memory book is worth it. Light show/fireworks at Magic Kingdom run late so bring blankets that night and camp out. Bring sweatshirt…gets cold after sun goes down. I hated it but my husband and kids could’ve done tea cups all four days.
  • Oh, FastPass is worth it too. Scope out rides/shows you really want before hand and work around them. FastPass allows u to purchase tickets early and come back later without standing in line.
  • There is an app for wait times. When I went two years ago I had to pay for the app but looks like they have free ones. It was very helpful in trying to map out the day. Buy your tickets ahead of time! We spent over 30 minutes in line to just buy the tickets.
  • Make most of your meal reservations ahead and stay on property, so much easier.
  • Park times vary by date so be sure to look at that first. We spent about 6 hours at AK and saw everything we wanted to. Kids were happy to go back to the hotel pool by then. But it was January so it doesn’t factor in wait times for rides since there weren’t any. I know some weeks in November can be slow as well. Perhaps you’ve already researched some of these sites that rank busiest times by week?
  • Pack snacks to eat in line while you wait. Best to never get hungry.
  • The apps are key they tell you all of the wait times etc! Animal kingdom was amazing also and they have beer! Tell them it is you first time there and or you are celebrating a birthday and you get a special button.
  • Get there early, take lots of food and keep feeding the kids. Head for the sit-down shows to take a break.
  • One more tip that I found in the Disney with Kids book I recommended on your Facebook post. About 15 minutes before park opening at the Magic Kingdom the train comes in with the characters. The mayor welcomes everyone to the park, and performers do a very cute welcome song and dance. Then they open the park gates. The store keepers all wear Mickey Mouse gloves and stand outside their shops waving as you enter the park while Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah plays over the speaker system. Really worth the effort to see! Leave extra time because you have to walk from the bus drop off point and then get through the turnstiles and bag check.
  • You asked today about Disney!  What a great place!  I’ve attached my TripAdvisor review from a trip in Oct….quick recommendations:
    (1). If you or anyone in your party has food allergies or sensitivities, Disney is amazing!  I’d be happy to offer any suggestions on that topic if food allergies are a concern.
    (2). We got the “whole hog” dining plan (my name for it, not Disney’s!).  What this means is we got breakfast, lunch and dinner on the dining plan instead of the standard one meal covered, with a quick service that most Disney travelers take advantage of….I’d highly recommend going the extra mile and getting the better dining plan.  You’ll spend a LOT less out of pocket, you can easily eat at places like Cinderella’s Royal Table (which takes 2 dining credits) without concern and even go to some really swank dining places that take 2 credits without sweating your credit balance.  I am all about pinching pennies when you can (we stayed at the Pop Century), but I hate lining up for fried food in the heat when I have to pee and haven’t washed my hands.  With dining credits, you can sit down at the meal, if you want, you can wash your hands, you can order dessert and not feel bad because you will have the credits and you will be walking ALL DAY and you will be tired and hungry!  You can also use dining credits in unlikely places, like nearly every bakery/restaurant at Downtown Disney!  We used the few extra snack credits we had left to buy cute wrapped Disney candies and cookies for friends back home.
    (3). Stay on property!!!!  This is a strong recommendation since you will be able to take advantage of Disney transportation everywhere you turn and they provide such great service!  You cannot use the dining plan if you stay off property.
    (4). Schedule every meal….I know this sounds crazy, but I think you know this since you mentioned the 180 days.  I recommend Crystal Plaza for Magic Kingdom, Akershus at Epcot for getting your Norwegian cuisine fix on (and it is really good and sooo fun for the kids!!), Sanaa and any dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge (little known secret, you do not have to be staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at AKL) — you can eat close enough to touch a a zebra with your fork without the crowds, heat and walking of Animal Kingdom Lodge if you eat at Sanaa.  Sanaa even has cultural representatives from regions in Africa and some of the best food we’d all ever eaten!!
    For Animal Kingdom, we liked Yak and Yeti, dining options are a little limited at Animal Kingdom.
    (5). Not sure your daughter’s ages, but I definitely recommend the Bibbibi Bobbidi Boutique for a great experience getting dolled up like a princess.  The Disney Store at Tyson’s helped me pick out a dress so we’d be ready…the princess dress prices at Bippity are much higher.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who took the time to share their favorite tips – I am certain I’m not the only one who appreciates it. I already sent one email I received from a reader to a friend and her response was “Wow, she planned my whole trip for me.” Obviously, if you have any more tips, please feel free to post them here or on the WM FB page! Most of these were previously posted on the WM FB page, which you should totally like if you haven’t already. I will be tweeting from Disney World during the Social Media Moms Conference in early May and will definitely write up a whole post about our trip and my own tips once we’re back!