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  • Writer's pictureJon Watkins

Disney World Part 1- Learn From Our Failures

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

We travel with the family to Disney World during the end of Covid. Reservations are key for any part of your Disney adventure (during the pandemic or after). Are gift cards from Target better or the Disney Visa card? Both will help… if you remember to use them! Jenn’s obsession with buying ponchos before the trip. Our stay at Kidani Village Animal Kingdom and what we packed to snack along the way. Were the blogs right or did we do everything wrong? Learn from our failures and success!

Transcript from Podcast:

Disney World Part 1

John: Let's do it. So, we're here. We've got microphones. You have your Day Owl wine...

Jen: Yea

John: And glass number two, before recording courage, I guess is what you're saying.

Jen: Liquid courage.

John: I expect every podcast will be some kind of wine review as well. So, it's travel / wine, if you think about it. Isn't it?

Jen: Oh, wait. So only wine. I can only have wine while we're doing this apparently

John: What else are you going to be doing during this.

Jen: I don't know. I could drink maybe vodka,

John: We have children in the other room, you can’t be doing shots tequila while we record this podcast.

Jen: All right, fine.

John: We actually talked about doing a travel podcast like a year because our family was traveling a lot and we have a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old and we're going to all these cool places. And then the pandemic happened and we stopped traveling altogether.

Jen: Like everybody else.

John: And so, we bought all this recording equipment. It's been down in the basement for the last year.

Jen: Collecting dust.

John: Yeah, and you said I had to sell it or we had to do the podcast, so...

Jen: Or Liam was going to start his own.

John: Yeah. Our nine-year-old son decided he wanted to be a gamer during the pandemic and stole our microphones. So honestly, as I was building this thing, I was like going back to his computer and trying to find like the USB port and everything. So that's okay. We're up to date...

Jen: Yes.

John: And we know what we are doing

Jen: Yep, things are back open.

John: Yes.

Jen: We're moving and shaking.

John: And in fact, we decided to do our first trip and that was to Disney world. We went to Disney world in Florida and we went to three different parks from Animal Kingdom to Epcot, to Hollywood studios. We stayed there like on the park itself. And I think we need to say first and foremost that we're not like Disney files.

Jen: No.

John: That's not who we are.

Jen: No. I mean, we love what Disney is. I mean, I love the fact, like, you know what you're going to get it's expensive.

John: Yes.

Jen: But you're getting quality. The rides are quality. The park is quality. The resort is quality. So, I'm okay spending the money.

John: You're paying five-star prices, but you're getting a five-star resort it's just then kid focused.

Jen: And it is kid focused.

John: And that's cool because we have kids.

Jen: Yes.

John: If we didn't have kids.

Jen: We would not be going.

John: We're not those people

Jen: We're are not those people.

John: I think that's what we're just trying to say.

Jen: Yep. No, no offense to those people.

John: No. Cause if you're, you might be listening to this cause you saw it and you're going, I am that person.

Jen: Cool.

John: Awesome.

Jen: Yes

John: I worked at Disneyland.

Jen: Yes, you did.

John: I like everyone to know that.

Jen: Yes, you do.

John: Its literally the first thing I tell people when we meet, I'll introduce myself as John and then tell you, I worked at Disneyland. Those are my only two talking points I have about myself.

Jen: Yes.

John: But that's pretty much where ... I don't know. Now I'm thinking about it here, because we're going to do one about the Disney cruise as well. We've done a lot of Disney trips.

Jen: We have kids.

John: So, it's okay.

Jen: Yes

John: If we were just, in our fifties traveling around at Disney places, that would be a different story unless you're listening to this podcast.

Jen: [crosstalk02:54] And that’s okay

John: Yeah, exactly. So, full disclosure, also, we did this during the pandemic at the end.

Jen: Towards the end. Yes, and I think that gosh, we really lucked out.

John: Yea we did, right?

Jen: I mean, I know that everyone wants everything to be completely open. We all do. But there was nice things.

John: It was great. There was only like 30% capacity. In fact, that the hotels we were staying at, they had a whole room and like floors that were not open. So, there was not a crowd.

Jen: No, the pool was not crowded. We could get a seat anywhere we wanted at any time of day. And then we'll get into the different resorts that we stayed at, but some of them have water slides and I'm sure usually there's long lines for those; kids just would go on them.

John: And we had no problem letting our kids run around. Cause there was no one there, like we weren't really our head wasn't on the swivel as much. You're drinking your frozen A's half the time.

Jen: Oh, so good, nice rosacea. I could really use a frozen A's right

John: You've got wine just put it in the freezer. The exact same thing. Yeah. So, I think that's kind of like one of the big things, but we read a bunch of blogs ahead of time before going. So, we did the research. Maybe that's what you're doing as you're listening to this right now. And I thought after we read a bunch, there were a few main things that we kind of took away that we should do.

Jen: Yes, definitely. One of them that I read a lot of was buying gift cards, Disney gift cards at target using your red card. Now we shop at target regularly for our groceries and whatnot. And so that was a no brainer. Like I would just buy a $25 gift card every time we went sometimes a $50 gift card and you get 5% off.

John: So, you're getting the discount price that then you could go to Disney.

Jen: Plus, it's almost like a little savings accounts that we were creating for Disney. I mean, we went there with like a bunch of gift cards, which was really nice.

John: Although we forgot about the gift cards.

Jen: Yeah, we did forget it the gift cards

John: Until the last like day and a half there don't worry. We were still able to use them all.

Jen: Oh yeah.

John: No, it was not a problem. They went fast.

Jen: But I do still think it's a great thing to do. And also, if you know that you're going to be going and the kids know that they're going to be going, we had grandparents that were giving Disney gift cards, like they got Disney gift cards for Easter and it was fun for them to have their own money to spend while they were there.

John: Because we planned this out like a year. You gotta pay the thing off before we went added more to it. Yeah, and then also we got the credit card that Disney credit card. I don’t love it, but I liked how we had points back at the end. So, we went every time we went to like Costco, which is, a 300 or $400 charge, we'd do it on the Disney card.

So, we ended up with a $400 gift card from this credit, the cash back that we used, which was one and a half meals at Disney worlds. I'm sure you could have done it cheaper.

Jen: I know, I know

John: That’s not who we are. Yeah. Okay, so that was the big one. Also, you were so obsessed with ponchos I've never seen you purchase... we have ponchos now a whole drawer in our house.

Jen: Okay, I bought ponchos on Amazon. I read a lot of blogs, everyone's like it rains a ton in Florida. I actually knew this; I had been to Florida as a teenager. I remember this. So, I went on Amazon I got adult ones for us and I got kid ones for the kids and you couldn't just buy just one. It was like a pack. So, we have like a pack of 10 kids ones. And then we have like a pack of 10 adult ones.

John: When are we ever going to use ponchos now? First of all, we didn't even use them on the trip, even though it did rain.

Jen: Yes. So that would be my next thing is I do think that it's a good idea to have them. If you need some, I have some but take them everywhere you go. Literally, everywhere you go. We had one time that we went out to dinner, we went to Disney Springs. We didn't take the backpack for whatever reason. And the ponchos were in the backpack and we totally got stuck in a rainstorm.

John: Yeah, and had we have the ponchos, I don't know it was raining hard. We hid inside a store and I think we would have done the same thing with, or without the ponchos.

Jen: Yeah, I know, but...

John: They're good to have.

Jen: It was nice. It was good to have, I almost wore one. When we went on the one ride...

John: The water ride?

Jen: The water ride

John: Yeah, the Kali river rapids at animal kingdom,

Jen: Because I did not want to be wet.

John: We're going to talk about how upset you were. I've never seen someone throw so much attitude. Going on a ride that your kids want to go to, as you did on that river ride

Jen: Okay full disclaimer, it was mother's day. Okay. That's my day and yet you guys forced me to get on a ride that I did not want to do in the middle of the day, not the end of the day, middle of the day. It is hot, it is sticky in Florida. I don't want to be wet and then permanently wet the rest of the day.

John: You wouldn't have, you would have dried off so fast. Oh, you're saying because it's so humid, you wouldn't have?

Jen: Yes!

John: No

Jen: You don't dry anyways

John: You also packed a suitcase full of wine for our trip

Jen: And you know what?

John: We drank it all.

Jen: Was that not such a good idea?

John: It was so smart. We had to make sure we bought twist off bottles

Jen: Yea, I didn't want... I just wasn't sure if Disney had wine openers. Now, the places that we stayed at; they did have little stores that you could buy wine too, but obviously they were more expensive. The wine was more expensive and I don't know if I saw any wine openers.

John: We never looked because everything was twist

Jen: off.

I know everything was twist off.

John: That was smart, we packed wine and we packed popcorn.

Jen: Yep. I packed some popcorn. I had read that our rooms had microwaves, so I just thought that might be a nice little evening snack for the kids and it was, and then we also packed breakfast items and I was really against this.

John: I know, this was a big argument we had in our house and my whole thought was, we're staying on resort. We're going to be paying out for every meal plus snacks in between the meals plus toys. And I was just asking if one thing could at least not cost us money because every meal was almost a hundred dollars now, 30 to 40, I guess sometimes when we went small, but still, that's a lot of money.

We were at Disney for a week and so my request was to bring breakfast. And so, we brought packets of oatmeal and then just some like protein bars and it worked out.

Jen: It really did

John: I think on the days we ran out; we didn't pack enough. Yeah. We missed it. I don't think anyone was like, oh man, I wish it would have had a Mickey waffle.

Jen: Well, I mean, if you're listening to this and you have kid. They're like birds, the minute they open their eyes, they want food. So, if you're staying in a hotel, like what do... they open their eyes and they're like, you're hungry. So, then what, you have to roll out of bed, throw clothes on, go down, try to like rummage for some snacks before everyone gets ready to go have a big meal and

John: And all of our rooms, and we stayed at two different resorts at Disney. They were far from where the restaurants were, where any food was, it was a hike. So, it wasn't like something that you could just pick oh, I'll just take the elevator down to the first floor and there's gonna be food there. It was like, no I got a stretch, got to get a bottle of water and I'll be back in three hours.

Jen: And I just really liked, especially the days that we were going to the park, we spaced out our park days. But when we went on the actual park days, we would get up early cause we wanted to get there early and we had breakfast. We just had something in our bellies before getting to the park. That way we could get through one or two rides. Before needing another snack. Otherwise, it's like you're waiting in line somewhere to get a big breakfast. We would have had to get up way earlier.

John: And we even though we had breakfast by the time we got to the Animal Kingdom Resort, And we went on the safari ride, everyone in the family got so hungry that we were in line for the next ride. And I mean, the family was... we were getting hangry and like yelling at each other. And the good news was the line was like 70 minutes, so you had time to sneak off and find us food, but I had, we had maybe more oatmeal in the morning ... It save us some money.

Jen: It did.

John: Yeah, at least a little bit.

Jen: It was nice.

John: Also, I'm not sure if the reservations thing is something that Disney always does or just during the pandemic. But it was cool that you could make reservations to all the restaurants.

Jen: Yes. I highly recommend making reservations for meals, especially when you're going to the park, because it's nice to know, even if you can't find a reservation at a normal time, like a couple of our reservations were a wacky time. Like lunch was at two, dinner was like at four, but It was nice to know, like, okay, we can have a couple snacks and pretty soon we're going to be in a very cool spot to sit down for an hour.

John: Yeah. But It's freezing. It is when you say cool, like these restaurants at Disney world, because it's so hot outside and then you go inside, it's not even like, oh, that feels good cool.

Jen: Initially, yes, it feels good, and then you're freezing.

John: You're shaking it’s like an ice bathe.

Jen: I know. That's another thing that we have on here is bringing a light cover. Don't bring a sweatshirt, especially if you're going in the middle of summer, but I think a long sleeve t-shirt would be nice. Just something to cover yourself with. I mean, I think that you would have liked that.

John: Yeah. I wish I would've brought something.

Jen: Yeah, I know I brought a small little light cardigan for Ella, our daughter, and then I had just like a long sleeve shirt, just something light. And also, you were the one holding the backpack. So, I also didn't want it to be heavy.

John: Yeah. Jen bought me a backpack for the trip. But it was too small. She bought a backpack that can't hold anything but a wallet.

Jen: Oh my gosh.

John: I don't know what the point is of the backpack, but you bought like a backpack. [laughing12:57]

Jen: I’m going to need more wine.

John: We couldn’t put a sweatshirt in there. But we did have inside the backpack... not only did we have the ponchos and the sweaters and stuff, but we had a bunch of Ziplocs in there for some reason we never used them.

Jen: We did, but we didn't.

John: What were they for?

Jen: All these blogs that I was reading was saying to pack the Ziplocs, one like that water ride that you made me go on. If you wanted to put your like wallet in there, or maybe your phone to make sure that it didn't get wet. I never did that. We ended up not doing that. Also, for food, if you wanted to like...

John: Like leftover food.

Jen: Like leftover food. We just, didn't really doing that

John: Did we have leftovers or where we just wasteful,

Jen: I don't think we had leftovers.

John: We're hungry.

Jen: Well, we share a lot. Our families we share.

John: Yeah. So, we'll get like two meals

Jen: I know.

John: Multiple times throughout the day.

Yes, and that was another thing is like with the reservations right now, they're doing a lot of the mobile food ordering. Oh yeah. I love that.

Jen: I love that too.

John: It was so cool.

Jen: Like I had read all these, again, all these different blogs about different places that you should try and eat or food that you should have, but we couldn't get into those restaurants, but they were doing the mobile food ordering. And so like, I think ... Hollywood studios, we ate throughout the whole day. Cause I just kept ordering food at different times for us to have...

John: That's where we found the tachos.

Jen: Yes, those were good.

John: Those were so good at Hollywood studios. Yeah, we're not planners, like at all and I think the one thing is that we've learned with Disney World is you have to be a planner. Otherwise... like you have to plan out your meals. If there's fast, fast which there wasn't for us at the time, you have to have Fast Pass planned out because otherwise you're stuck.

Like you have nothing to do, everyone else has planned. And if you're like, oh, I'll just go with the flow. I got bad news at Disney World...

Jen: You're screwed

John: There's yet there's no flow because there's so many planners. There's so many people doing all this research that you end up getting nothing to eat. Nothing cool. You don't get to go on any of the rides, it's lame.

Jen: I know. And it's a lot of work to do all this research.

John: Oh yeah. I know, that's why we're doing this. That way maybe you can steal some of our ideas, like by those magic bands. 0I know it seems like a waste of money. So, if you don't know what a magic band-aid is, it's like a smartwatch that you wear and you can connect everything from your theme park passes to your hotel room key to your credit card, all to this watch and your whole family gets them.

Jen: It was really cool.

John: Best thing we did.

Jen: Yes.

John: And I did not want to pay the money for it.

Jen: They weren't even that expensive.

John: But still, I was like, why are we doing ...for what ... but I never had a search for my wallet in the backpack, our room key, the kids could get in and it was so easy and I was afraid like, oh, we would swipe more you know if it's just a watch, I didn't feel that way.

Jen: Well, because you ended up carrying again because you had the backpack, you ended up carrying all of our stuff. So, there was a time where you were waiting in line, I went to go get snacks with Liam...

John: Yeah, this was the hangry episode

Jen: And then this was the hangry episode. And I realized actually, as we were walking that I did not have my wallet and I was like, oh, do we walk all the way back? Try to find Dad and then I was like, oh, I have my magic band. Boom.

John: The only thing I wish we would have done is have the kids... we didn't hook it up to where they could make purchases. And sometimes at the resort, when we were by the pool, I think it would have been fun for them. Cause we were going to let them get a soda or, a blended drink or whatever. It would have been cool for them to go buy it. But then I had to get up do and you like, I don't know.

Jen: Yeah,

John: No, you don't care about that. All right, fine. I will say that we also downloaded a bunch of Disney apps for ...

Jen: Dang, you Disney taking up all my apps space...

John: But they were all good.

Jen: They really were. They know how to do it.

John: I know.

Jen: I... okay first of all, the main one...

John: Yeah, the Disney world app.

Jen: Yes. Is so awesome.

John: We need it.

Jen: I mean, we were looking at it every day, even if we weren't in the park, just because we were curious what rides were the busiest.

John: We would look a day ahead to see like, oh, okay...

Jen: It's one o'clock like, which rides are the busiest, right?

John: Yeah, and you can do that... so you could actually start looking like a week in advance at the app and then you can plan out which rides you need to do first or around lunchtime, which rides kind of slow down. Like I thought that was awesome for us. And then we also have like some game app that Disney.

Jen: Yeah. Well, you know what, and I'm bummed that we didn’t know about it sooner, but we download it. It's Disney play, it's a Disney play app and we played all these fun games while we were in line for the different rides.

John: We even played the games at the restaurants to try to keep the kids off of electronics.

Jen: Yep.

John: And we have played the game since we've been home as well.

Jen: And they're really fun. Like they're all different games that they have on there, but the ones that you do with partners, like those were fun.

John: Yeah. Yeah. I recommend that the Disney games app. So, it's another one it's free, it doesn't cost you it's like one of the only things that Disney that's free, you can do that. And then we'll get the final tip let's because we said we wanted these podcasts only be like 20 minutes. So why don't we give one more tip.

Jen: Okay.

John: And then the next episode, we'll actually start talking about our actual trip, we haven't gotten to the trip. You haven't even got to the fact that I almost got beat up at Animal Kingdom. So yeah. So, I would say another thing we learned. Was do the Disney Photo Pass I'm not saying pay for the photo.

Jen: Yeah, I didn't. So, I didn't purchase the Photo Pass it seemed very expensive to me. So, we did not do that. However, with the magic band, it makes it so easy. Every time we saw the Disney people that were taking photos.

At any park anywhere we had them take our photos, mainly because pandemic still, no one wants to touch your phone. So, we had a really hard time having family photo. We have a ton of photos of just the kids have some with you and the kids, me, and the kids. So, we would just have them take all the photos and then just scan our band. And then on the app, boom, there's all your photos. And really there was like two or three...

John: Yeah, so out of the 20 photos we took, we found two that we didn't get a good photo with our phone and it wasn't bad and they try to fool you, Disney does and make you think you have to buy the unlimited pass, but you can actually go on and buy individual photos.

Jen: Yes. Are they pricey? Yes, but I didn't spend yeah...

John: As much as we would have.

Jen: Yeah, right exactly.

John: Also, it forced you and I to take a photo together.

Jen: Yes.

John: Because half the time, with the kids that they're not good enough to take a photo or it's like shut up and I have like nine chins in it. So, these are like professional photos of you. And I thank goodness, because we don't have any photos together.

Jen: I know.

John: It's always like with the kids. Okay. We're going to finish this podcast with a plea for you to follow us on Instagram.

Jen: Yes. Our savings start tomorrow.

John: And that's plural. Our savings.

Jen: Our savings starts...

John: Starts tomorrow. We really should have brainstormed a better name, but that's, if you can follow us there, and then if you don't mind, if your kind of like what this first episode was, review us in a positive manner.

Jen: Yea, only positive please.

John: Yeah, come on, give us five stars, help us out. Tell a friend who travels as well. And then in the next one, we'll do another episode where we actually talk about...

Jen: the places that we went.

John: Yeah.

Jen: Perfect.

John: Okay.

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