Charging up at Disney World…

A while back Disney tested charging locker/stations and random “hidden” outlets.  As this was a minor hit…it was clear that guests wanted to charge while being on the move.  I mean, how many people can sit for an hour with crazy, excited kids – not me.  OR want to go back to that said locker and claim a “charged” phone/device…again NOT me.  WE like to keep it moving at Disney, plus most people need phones for emergencies, taking pictures and well…facebook posts.

So…in response to that need…Disney got in bed with a company called “Fuel Rod”.  And lets just say…I am in LOVE.  What is Fuel Rod exactly?  Let me tell you ALL about it.

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A Fuel Rod is a portable (external) battery, about the size of a lipstick.  It’s basically the same kind you can buy at any store…it charges your phone or device.  So why is this “fuel rod” so great?  Well…Disney has set up “vending machine” stations throughout the parks.  You purchase this battery ONCE for $30, then as you need a charge you “turn-in” your USED one and get a NEW charged one in its place. Cool right?!?!?

But that’s not all – you can do this, Over and Over and Over again (UNLIMITED).  The whole family can use it.  Once the charge is gone, get a new one.  Pass it around the group and top everyone off.  ALL for only $30.  And you can use your credit card to purchase, I got an email instantly with the receipt.

The first time you purchase one, it does come with a few adaptable charging connection pieces, to fit most phones/devices.  OR if worried bring your own cord, it does have a USB port for connecting to your device.  And it comes in a simple clear case to keep everything together.

So why do you need this or should consider it???  I was just at Disney with 6 adults…between us all, phones were dying fast, battery power was flying out of the park and we all needed some juice.  Most of us packed our own back-up batteries but those too ran out quick…so again…unless I wanted to sit for 1 hour and charge up…the Fuel Rod was the perfect solution.  And thanks to Disney’s crazy Wi-Fi (on, off, on, off)…we needed a charge several times in ONE day.  Many times my phone was at 30% and the Fuel Rod charged it to about 80-90% – of course this was while I was also using it; posting, filming, taking pictures – all while I was “charging”.  Since I was the only one who purchased a Fuel Rod, it was getting passed around like crazy.  It became a game to see who had it next.

So for those with older kids, those with multiple devices, those who are posters (you know who you are)…this might be the solution for you too.  Again, even though I packed my own back-up…the ability to use, exchange, use, exchange, use, exchange…several times through-out the day/trip…that was a life-saver.  It’s yours to keep, so bring it back next time at Disney, use it at home and charge yourself.

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TIP:  If this sounds like something you will want/need…you can purchase it for $20 directly from Fuel-Rod (online) and then bring to the parks.  Also…since I got back (5 days ago) I heard rumors that even some resorts are getting a Fuel Rod machine…which would rock.  I remember telling people, if only they had these at the resorts…well apparently…that is coming as we speak – YAY!!!  I did screen-shot the current locations of the machines (see above) and used that to help guide me to the next…we exchanged every chance we could and we were NOT alone, this is growing in popularity.

MermaidNina:  I am a Disney Vacation Planner (aka Travel Agent) and I book and plan Disney/Universal vacations as a living…yep it’s my FULL TIME job.  And when not quoting, planning, booking dining, helping with fastpasses, getting travel documents together…I am at Disney…doing something Disney.  My services are 100% FREE as Disney pays me to do this…so contact me if looking to explore Disney.  Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise, etc.  As I am not the best blogger (I know), I AM amazing at my job which of course prevents me from being an awesome blogger, lol.  I am a mom, a wife, a kid at heart and well…I am a Mermaid (with legs of course).

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Gettin’ Organized…Making Lists

Ok…so I am about 6 months out from our Disney Vacation.  This is about the time that I start making LISTS…yes I am a crazy list person.  But I do this to not only stay sane and organized but to save a few too.

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I find that shopping last minute for specific items not only makes me want to tear my hair out, but also costs more.  Not to mention the dreaded…I must get XYZ (insert Bathing Suit, Formal Dress, Matching Clothes HERE).  Plan Early and shop the Deals!

Also considering it’s almost summer and in 6+ months it will be fall/winter…finding summer items and accessories will get harder and harder to come by, not to mention pricey.  So I make my lists and shop as I normally would and if I see something on my list when already at Target or the Disney Store – SOLD and DONE.  No more last minute trips for sunscreen, a suit that fits, cover-ups, backpacks, Disney Tees and so on.  Shop early and save yourself the Headache…here is a general, ever changing list.

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Summer Time Deals to LOOK for:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses, Summer Hats – for ALL
  • Bathing Suits, Water Shoes, Cover-up, etc – For ALL
  • Clothes for the kids…for when you go. Perhaps get the next size up?? THINK SHORTS.
  • Disney TEES, Princess Attire, etc – Shop the Halloween section, shop DisneyStore Deals
  • SNACKS…often Target has deals on BULK snacks during summer

Back to School Items:

  • 1-2 Backpacks – One per parent perhaps
  • Soft-Side Cooler bag or Tote – I just got a deal on one from the DisneyStore
  • Highlighter, note pads, locker Magnet boards with dry-Erase Markers (Cruise)
  • Black Sharpie Markers – Autograph signing
  • Post-it notes – Cruise and for taking notes in general

General Searching:

  • Formal Dress/Accessories and Attire for family…also Sundresses – Cruise
  • Pirate Gear – Cruise
  • Other random items: Blister Band aids, Nightlights, Alarm Clocks, Clothing Pins (Cruise), Ziploc bags, etc.
  • Kids Entertainment – Coloring books, Airplane fun, Tablet apps, Headphones, etc.
  • Disney Gift Cards – if you see a deal
  • Get NEW shoes and start breaking them in…DON’T wear straight from the box.
  • Camera and other Memory Making items…read manual, practice, practice, practice.

NOW is also a good time to search Etsy.com for Matching tees, embroidered outfits for the kids or any other Custom items.

**Also NOTE…I love to purchase lightweight Princess Night-Gowns verses Full-on Fancy dresses…DisneyStore and Kohl’s always has a cute selection and they are perfect for the sunny/hot weather.

I am a Disney Vacation Planner, AKA Disney Travel Agent.  As always my SERVICES are 100% FREE if you book with me and you gain all my Travel and Kid tested tips, advice and HELP.  Check me out: www.facebook.com/wordofmouse or @mermaidninatravels (https://www.instagram.com/mermaidninatravels/?hl=en)

Let’s Talk MAGICBANDS…

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What is this MagicBand?  Why do I Need it?  What makes it so Magical?…Oh the many questions regarding this new AWESOME device.  For anyone who has either never been to Walt Disney World or hasn’t been recently…these are thoughts you will have.  So in an attempt to answer them all or at least the main ones…here you go.

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MagicBands 101:  

MagicBands are awesome, silicone (NO Latex) grade bracelets that Disney guests wear on their wrists.  And YES…they are Magical.  They are your key to everything.  Within the bracelet lies magical electronic awesomeness that links your band to your Disney Vacation Package.  They open your resort room, they hold your ticket info to get you into the parks, they contain all your fastpasses, your dining plan credits, your memory maker link and…you can use them to make purchases throughout the property.  And…they are FREE to ALL Disney Resort guests – just one of the many perks to staying on property.

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The GOOD:

  • They are Waterproof: you can wear them in the shower, pool or in the rain
  • They are adjustable for sizing: for kids, just remove the outer gray lining
  • They can be customized: pick your own color and printed name
  • They can be decorated: special covers, sliders, paint, glitter, jewels, temporary tattoos, etc
  • They can be reused: save for future trips or start a collection to match your daily park outfits
  • Non-Property guest can purchase separately…basic colors are $12.99
  • If lost…all your information is 100% safe…no actual information is stored on the magicband
  • Disney ships them directly to your home – about 3-4 weeks out from your vacation.

The BAD:

  • Mine fell off a few times, caught on my backpack. But I felt it happen and thus never lost.
  • Many people find them annoying to wear or not comfortable. I was fine wearing mine during the day…but not while sleeping or washing my hair.
  • Do NOT take off and forget and leave in the room…you will be sorry. Wear 24/7 if at all possible.
  • The super cute ones are NOT free – special new designs come out often…roughly $25+

The UGLY:

  • Doesn’t work in the REAL world…
  • Nothing really terrible about these…unless you have a desire to start a collection and thus begins another Disney addiction, lol

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So…in my opinion the Magicband is truly magical and I really enjoyed using on my vacation.  And for those that are staying off property…YES I do recommend spending the extra money to purchase…especially when staying longer then 1-2 days.  My 2 year old still wears his, he won’t take it off.  It’s starting to look very dingy in color but has never fallen off – going strong after 5+ months. Best Souvenir EVER…well other than Mickey Ears 🙂

Decorating Tip…

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I rather enjoyed decorating our bands myself with fingernail polish and received many complements at the parks.  I chose not to clear coat as I wanted to see if it was needed.  Our bands remained bright and painted during our entire trip…but after wearing a few weeks post trip…paint started peeling off.  I did find that making a painting mistake was easy to remove with polish remover…but then it spread a foggy residue color over the area…so paint carefully.  I loved adding little Mickey heads throughout my designs but try to keep the band on a round surface to prevent rolling up while drying.  I wrapped mine on a water bottle while painting/drying.

As always…I am here to book all Disney vacations; World, Land, Cruise and more.  My services are FREE; custom planning and organization.  I do ALL the work and you do ALL the playing.  Contact me today – Nina@goTMCtravel.com or 734-890-2350

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10 Things…

One thing I get asked a lot about or seems to be a big hit when I talk about it is…packing advice.  I did a Facebook post last week about 3 things I was hesitant to pack, but so glad I did (check it out)…but for this blog post I thought I would list 10 things that perhaps most people wouldn’t think to pack…assuming you all remember to pack the basics…sunscreen, sunglasses, good walking shoes and of course a poncho (Florida rain).  These are things outside of the typical list:

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So in no particular order…10 things I always pack but not everyone thinks about…

Nightlight (comforts of home):  This is great for families, people with little kids.  Not only do I pack a nightlight for bathrooms trips in the dark…but I pack fun pillowcases, favorite stuffed toys, blankets, pillows…a few little things that my kids usually sleep with…it helps with the first night away and it helps make the resort room seem like home.  The pillowcase is a great trick for those getting a non-cartoon themed resort, but want to “kid-up” the space.

Entertainment:  So as most people might think to bring video games and up-load movies on their phone/tablet for kids…I am suggesting something non-media related.  Although a movie in a LONG line is a major plus.  For our last trip I packed my 5 year old a kid puzzle book…as it was mainly for the plane…but I also pack it in our backpack for the parks…and was so GLAD I did.  During times when she was either a little bored (line), tired or too stimulated to even focus…she would do her puzzle book.  It was a major life saver.  And for the 2 year old…I packed him a toy Disney Camera that talks “Say Cheese”…this was a huge hit and when he was getting to little “special”…I just had him take pictures.  Also…crayons, markers, stickers, paper, coloring book, comics, homework, lol.

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Blister aids:  I posted about this one on my facebook page…but it was too good of a thing to not post about again, lol.  For all the years I have been going to Disney…I always come back with a few souvenirs I didn’t pay for; sunburn, worn/tired muscles and blisters.  This time I was prepared to remember a blister solution.  I ended up getting Band-Aid Blister bandages and used on my baby toe….before it was a major blister.  The band-aid stayed on…through showers, long days and so on.  And my toe was never a problem and it didn’t once hurt or give me a hard time walking – it was AWESOME.

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Baggies/Containers:  I also posted about this too.  I got colored baggies, 4 colors for the 4 of us…and used for everything.  But the best part was using for food, aka leftovers and snacks for the day.  Now Disney isn’t a fan of people taking food from the restaurants…something about not wanting to be responsible for anyone getting sick from eating a hot old sandwich that sat in the stroller and thus turned.  So beware of eating something that isn’t good anymore…but in general we ate ours within minutes of leaving the restaurant.  Plus I pack ice packs.  It was great for mickey waffles, fresh fruit, proteins, etc.  I would cut up at the restaurant…and then serve to the kids when in line for a ride or sometimes directly after eating…character meals are often too exciting to meet and eat at the same time, lol.  Also perfect when sharing a large tub of popcorn.  The different colored bags represent each person, thus I always knew whose germy fingers were in which bag.

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Wipes:  So when I say wipes…I mean nice, germ dissolving wipes.  I use wipes instead of sanitizer gel.  I use on my kids hands, on the play areas, interactive ride queues, on all our tables/chairs at restaurants, in the airplane, resort room and so on.  So by now…your thinking why is she such a germ freak…well I wasn’t always this way, but both my kids have severe allergies…so I NEED to wipe down every surface to protect them.  Not to mention when you think about all the millions of people that go to Disney and how many of them might have something to spread.  No-one wants to get sick on vacation and I don’t want my kids to go to the ER due to touching a surface that had cheesy fingers on it.  Another tip…I get the car tub pack of “Wet Ones” and put in the mesh pocket area of my backpack, instead of a water bottle.  Can you say..”Easy access”.

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Bottle holder:  Ok this was a life saver for us.  First when I say bottle holder I mean for on your stroller.  But they do make bottle holders for belts and keychain ones to hook on the loops on your pants…in case you are stroller free.  We use 2 cheap umbrella strollers when we go to Disney…1 kid/stroller per parent.  And between all 4 of us drinking water…a bottle holder was a NEED.  I purchased 2, 1 per stroller.  They were perfect for ANY bottle, a bag of snacks and even my phone.  They still allowed our strollers to collapse with ease and they were used 24/7.

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Portable Charger:  Now I’m not talking about your cord charger…but pack that too.  I’m talking about a 12+ hour backup battery charger that you plug into your device when it’s low…and it charges it up.  See Picture.  Now…I did pack this, as everyone said too, but I never used.  I am just not someone who’s on my phone when on vacation.  Well not a Disney vacation, lol.  But this is perfect for people that use their devices to watch movies in line, take videos of the parades and basically FB, tweet and text during their vacation.  Cell battery power drains super-fast, especially when you’re using the Disney apps or the line apps.

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Chef cards (Allergy cards):  I have been making Allergy cards for years…I use them all the time at home; kids backpacks, lunch boxes, when dining out, visiting, and I use on vacation.  But at Disney…I have special “Chef” cards as Disney is the only time I allow other people (chefs) to cook for my kids…and for a week on end.  I have made several through-out the years and have finally developed a great one for Disney.  Every time I need to order a meal…I present my card.  It clearly lists all allergies and it gives the chefs something visual to look at as you discuss your food needs.  These are perfect for people with multiple allergies and is something I am now offering for my clients.  I will design a card for anyone who books with me and needs one.  I also have one for families with more than one person with allergies.  Also great for vegans, clearing listing what you DON’T eat.

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Address Labels:  I love labels…the more the better.  And my favorite is using the free address ones you get in the mail from certain non-profits.  I use them for our luggage tags, to label our character books…I put them on everything.  Label your camera, phone, tablet, and stroller.  I grab extra of those FREE airline tags, slap on an address label…and boom I can attach to backpacks, camera bags, anything.  Disney has a great lost and found…but it’s easier when your stuff is labeled.

Cash/change:  Ok so this might seem obvious…but you would be surprised how many people forget.  Magicbands and credit cards has made life so easy for making purchases…but something’s you just need cash for.  Tips?  I personally like to tip with cash.  I pay for my dining with my magicband, using dining plan credits, and then tip the waitress with cash.  I also tip the Mouse-keepers (housekeepers), bell hops, bus driver, etc with cash.  I also pack LOTS of pennies and quarters for “smashed penny” machines.  Kids love those, I love those.  Plus…every kid wants to throw coins in a fountain…and there are plenty of those at Disney too.

I hope you found this list to be helpful.  Disney is often a week long adventure and it’s helpful to have everything you need at your fingertips.   Visiting Disney the “Smart and Prepared Way” and book/plan your trip with me.  Remember I am FREE and have lots of wonderful travel tested advice to share.  Nina@goTMCtravel.com or 734-890-2350