Go! Go! Go! Or No Go! Go! Go!

Now, you may look at the title and be saying to yourself…HUH! This entry is not about whether to go to Walt Disney World or not! I believe I would have to relinquish my status within the fabulous Disney community if that was the debate.

Partner's Statue, Magic Kingdom Park

No, this is about how you decide to tour the resort. Do you hit the ground running like a platoon of commandos? Or, do you like a more leisurely pace what is the order of the day? There are more than two trains of thought on how to handle the parks. And, don’t forget that there ARE things of interest outside of the parks to occupy your time.

Commando Style of touring means hitting rope drop no matter what! Breakfast may be an optional meal for those who are aiming to make certain rides and attractions at certain times. These folks carry spreadsheets and touring plans. Everything is laid out and there is very little, if any, room for augmentation! You know going in that your first stop is a FastPass machine (may be a thing of the past, soon). Then you hit a few of the main attractions, before going back to cash in that FastPass. Your constantly moving all around the park to get everything done in a day! If you’re lucky, you get a 30 stop for food, and a 3 minute bathroom break along the way. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired just typing all of this up!

The Leisurely plan allows for a few change-ups along the way. Sure, you may still make rope drop, but you will either eat a little something in your room, or grab something at a Counter Service and sit to take in the surroundings. As you stroll from one attraction to another, you may take a moment or two looking at some of the details that are put into the facades and queue lines. After all, Disney is in the Details! You may not finish an entire park in one day, but you will have relaxed and really enjoyed your day.

Some may blend both of these styles and make them work according to what day they visit a certain park. And, depending on how much time your vacation allows will be critical in determining how you tour the parks at The Walt Disney World Resort. It seems the shorter time that we have, to more we feel the necessity to hit it and keep running!

There are some really good resources available to help in the planning, regardless of the style you may choose. One place is at http://www.touringplans.com. Touring Plans is the brainchild of Len Testa, one of the co-authors of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. They have crowd calendars, suggestions, touring plans for all types, and an optimizer that you can use while in the park that uses current wait times to help you navigate your way around the park.

Another fabulous site is http://www.easywdw.com. Here, you are given an everyday guy’s view of what goes on at WDW. This site also has some calendar information, and some planning tools. I love to read his postings on a regular basis as it feeds my own Disney habit, and the pictures really help to understand what he is doing. If he visits a restaurant, you get a picture of the current menu with prices.

Whatever your style of touring the parks of WDW, if you can look back and say you’re satisfied, you’ve had a great Walt Disney World vacation.

Thanks for reading! Have a blessed and magical week!

Waiting To Go To WDW!

My family is eagerly awaiting our next trip to WDW! Don’t worry, it’s not THAT far off! Problem is it gets harder to wait as the time moves closer to departure. We don’t know if we will be able to order MagicBands, FastPass+, etc. And, that’s got us a little nervous! But, according to a Cast Member I spoke to last week, we should be good at about 28 days from arrival.


In the meantime, I keep checking My Disney Experience, double checking that all my information is in place. We keep talking about what attractions we want to use, if we get to choose. I see reports from friends all the time about their experience with MBs, and really want to see it for myself! I’m not very patient, sometimes.

We are going to watch a different Disney movie over the next several Friday evenings to put us in a Disney frame of mine and we are hoping to score “Fantasia” for the ride to Florida. I have all the music and am downloading some podcasts to keep me company during my overnight shift of our, planned, 17 hour trip. And, of course, I talk about Disney World with anyone who will listen.

So…the countdown continues, the packing will begin soon, and we are waiting for our Mickey Mail to arrive with whatever documents may come our way.

How do you wait for your vacation to Walt Disney World? Leave your comment on my blog and share some ideas with me and other WDW fans!

Have a blessed and magical day!

Epilogue: As I got on My Disney Experience this morning, I got on the Fastpass+ portion and found the ability to choose attractions. As a result, I decided to click on the Customize Magicbands, and voila! MBs ordered!!!

What a trip!

I don’t know about any of you, but I love to hear Walt Disney World trip reports on the podcasts I listen to everyday. I also love reading what people share on Facebook, or other sharing sites. So, I was thinking that it might be fun to share through this medium!

Today, I would like to ask for some input from my readers and their friends. I would like to share trip reports with everyone who loves Disney vacations. Whether Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise, or Adventures by Disney, I’d love to know more about your personal adventures. Simply type something up, sharing as much as you want, and be sure to include some pictures.

Send your stories to threestrandswdw@hotmail.com.

Thank you and have a blessed, magic filled day!


Mobile devices

Okay, I know that this blog is aimed primarily at people who love, Love, LOVE Walt Disney World! But, something I have been fighting myself about is how much tech do I allow myself to indulge in while on vacation. I know that there is Wi-Fi all over the parks and resorts, and yet I can’t help but wonder…How much is TOO much?

I have become aware, of late, of the overwhelming control my handheld device seems to be taking in all parts of my life, and I don’t do anything that important! Last week, my wife and I took a mini-date without the kids. I did not have my phone with me, and I didn’t really miss it! This got me to thinking about whether or not I really need it all that much! And as a dad,on vacation, I really want to work at spending most of my attention on my wife and kids, not my cell phone or tablet or whatever! So, I am now considering how much I really want to use my portable electronics. When I am on vacation, I really want to leave my ‘regular’ life behind. ESPECIALLY AT WDW!

So, my strategy may be changing. Instead of submitting wait times, etc. I may just use my device for tracking wait times for our own use. I am going to take my camera and video camera for various usage, and off load to my computer once I return to our resort. This way, while I am in the parks I can concentrate taking meaningful pictures and not so much on posting. At least, that’s what I think now!!

I pray that you all have a blessed week!!

Disney Transport vs. Car

Disney bus

When going to Walt Disney World, one of the benefits for staying on-property is the availability of the Disney Transport services. There is some form of transportation available from every Disney Resort. Of course, the most talked about are the Monorail Resorts.

The age old debate is whether to use a Disney Bus from your resort to the park you choose to visit on a given day. I guess that depends on how comfortable you are using buses to get around in your life at home. If you are used to using public transportation, you should find Disney to be more than adequate in providing for your travel within The World. Yes, the buses are often crowded! Especially in the early morning and late nights. But, Disney is very good at moving equipment around in such a way as to provide extra service as needed. For those who don’t use public transportation, it can be quite easy to criticize the level of service being provided.

The use of a car, when you are staying on-site, can also have a benefit. If you are a family with smaller guests who need extra stuff to survive the day, it may make more sense to drive to the parks. However, if you can manage, I might suggest that you still use a bus to get to The Magic Kingdom. If you park at the Transportation and Ticket Center, you will still need to take a Monorail or Ferryboat over to The Magic Kingdom entrance. The buses take you directly to The Magic Kingdom and can save you a lot of steps.


In my opinion, the ability to relax and let someone else do the driving is a big part of vacation.

The skinny on our MagicBands…

I called Disney to see what the latest was on getting to put our MagicBands order together. I was told that while it is still in “testing”, that we should get an email invitation at about 28 days before our arrival. But, I was also told that the roll-out is being accelerated and things could move ahead at a quicker pace. I felt this was worthwhile for sharing with my friends.

Our family has already decided who wants what color, so it’s just a matter of getting everything to work.

Also, the Be Our Guest Fastpass for lunch is also an invitation based choosing, according to the Cast Member I spoke with. We are hoping to be able to do this since I have had to change my tour date. So, for my birthday I am aiming for a BOG Lunch and an ‘Ohana dinner.

'Ohana at the Poly

While I am really itching to try both of these elements for planning vacations to Walt Disney World, patience is the order of the day! I’ll update you as things go!

And, as always…May your day be Blessed and full of Disney Magic!

Who can we turn to for help!?

Carousel and Castle

You’re sitting down, ready to plan your FIRST visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. You get on the Disney website and the first thing out of your mouth is, “Where do I start”!?

Well, one place to start is the Disney Mom’s Panel at http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/. You can ask some Disney “experts” for ideas and help in your planning. And, it’s not just moms on this panel, there are a few dads on here as well. So, if you want a guys opinion for the guys in your family, just ask!

For an all-around view of what to look for in your planning at Walt Disney World, check out http://www.allears.net. Deb Wills is probably the internet pioneer when it comes to getting information out on the internet! The service has grown and will give you ratings on resorts, restaurants, parks, or just about anything else you can think about at Disney World. You can even see the menus with up-to-date prices for planning your meals! There is a weekly newsletter you can sign up for to be delivered to your personal email account.

If you want to get some hard numbers on the right time of the year to go, where to stay, or what parks to visit on what day, there are a couple of places to look. With a premium subscription, you can make use of http://www.touringplans.com and the crowd calendars. Touring Plans also lets you put personal touring plans together for your family make-up. Don’t worry, if you don’t like what they have planned, just build your own!


One of my favorite sites is http://www.easywdw.com! Here you can read about how the everyday person might encounter attractions, restaurants, or events. EasyWDW tours the parks like most of us would. By walking around, checking times, and taking a place in line! There are also some guidelines down the right hand column to help you plan your days. Check out their YouTube channel for some really good videos of the parks, too!

And, as always, put your ear to work by listening to some podcasts. I’m currently loading 18 a week! My favorites, in case you missed my previous post are http://www.resortloop.com, http://www.beourguest.com, http://www.wdwtoday.com, and http://www.mousechat.net. For Disney news and updates, check out http://www.wdwradio.com. And, for history try http://www.wedwayradio.com. All of these are available on I-Tunes.

And, lastly, if you really aren’t sure where to start, call a travel agent that is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner! There are many to choose from, and to be honest, I am one of those! You can contact me at Matthew@3strandsfamilytravel.com!

May your day be full of blessings and Disney Magic!

First Impressions: Port Orleans – Riverside Resort

Our first visit to an on-property Walt Disney World Resort brought us to the spacious and elegant Port Orleans – Riverside! First Impression…WOW!!!!

As we entered the Lobby area, we were impressed by the open space and warmth. Of course, that’s all been refurbished since then. We checked into our room, got a bite to eat, and headed for The Magic Kingdom for the day! But, once we got back, it was time to take a look around the resort. The grounds are very easy to walk around with paths wide enough for all who might be on them. The pool is basically the center of it all, and very big! Personally, I loved the hot tub, especially at 5am!

Port Orleans -  Riverside
Port Orleans –

Our room was right off the Riverside Mill Food Court, and had great accessibility to the main building for food, gift shop, and Concierge Desk. The main bus stop was close by, as well! We had a view of the Sassagoula River and it was very quiet in our area.

I took time, a few mornings, to walk around our little area of the resort, we were in building 14. The layout was easy to follow, all of the room exit to the outside in the Alligator Bayou area, and the landscaping is exquisite. Maybe Disney qualifies this as a Moderate Resort, but for my family it felt as Deluxe as any place we have stayed. For more information on either of the Port Orleans Resorts, visit http://www.portorleans.org.

Our upcoming trip is at Art of Animation in the Lion King Family Suites, so I’m sure I’ll be giving you my impressions of that resort when we get back.

Have a magical and Blessed Day!

First Impressions: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

My first visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom was on February 4, 2012. And, I have to admit I had no idea what to REALLY expect. As I walked through The Oasis, I was impressed with a few of the animals they had out. Including some sort of lizard, the name of which escapes me, that one of the Cast Members was holding as we walked by him. We found a not so Hidden Mickey in a Honey Dew melon.

Is this really a HIDDEN Mickey?
Is this really a HIDDEN Mickey?

Unfortunately, I am not a big thrill rider, but my wife and daughters definitely enjoyed Exploration Everest several times, but I really like the authentic look of the attraction. I did do Dinosaur, and plan to ride again on our upcoming trip now that I have a better idea of what to expect. Kilimanjaro Safari is cool, but the story was a little annoying. I am hoping the new story is more interesting! Kali River was closed on our last visit, so I’m really looking forward to it! I liked Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but my wife (the nature lover) wasn’t too impressed. I wouldn’t mind seeing them work on an animal while I’m there, though. DinoLand USA sucked my kids in and didn’t let them go! That will be the LAST spot to visit this trip. And, our son really enjoyed wandering around the Tree of Life! I will have to pay closer attention.

We ate at Yak and Yeti and while the food was really good, our service not so much. We have decided to go counter service this trip at Flame Tree Barbecue. At least that’s the plan for now.

What I found most was the Disney in the Details! And, I think that calling Animal Kingdom a half-day park may be a bit understated. I will be spending every possible minute here on this trip. I believe my second impression may be better than my first. Stay tuned!!

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share it with your friends! And, have Magical and Blessed Day, my friends!

Extra: Memory Making Idea


How do you travel to Walt Disney World? Fly? drive? train? I have been thinking of something that could be fun for the entire family on the way.

I came up with the idea to put together a Vacation Journal. It seems simple enough! All we need is a good notebook to keep track of the states we pass through, restaurants we eat at (especially local fair) along the way, anything that might catch an eye and add to the memories of the journey.

Or, maybe we take a pack of 3×5 index cards and make notes to go with pictures we could snap along the way and then put the pictures, with the proper description card, into a photo album to bring a little more to our memories.

It just seems to me that it would be a really great way to keep track of where you have been, what you have done, and especially the greater highlights of your adventure.

I’m going to put one together for our upcoming trip. I may end up being the one to makes the entries, too! This could be interesting if I am the one driving. I’ll let you know how it works out and will likely share a bit of it with you!

Have a magical week, and God Bless You!!