Sunshine Villa Florida

Losing A Child In The Disney Crowds

lost children at disney

How to handle a lost child in Walt Disney World

This has got to be one of the most terrifying moments a parent could go through.  And in a place surrounded by thousands of people, it’s quite often that a child loses their way.  I am going to share some tips with you that will help keep your child safe, or know how to handle one that is missing

  1. Help your children identify Cast Members:  Before you enter the park, stop and have a discussion with the kids in your party.  Tell them that if they lose sight of you, the first thing they should do is to find a cast member and explain how to look for them. Ie: name tag, uniform.
  2. Pick a meeting area:  During the above conversation, select a meeting area that is easy to recognize.  If your child gets lost and they are old enough, when they find a cast member they can tell them I am to meet my mom at XX location and the cast member can take them there safely.
  3. Don’t panic.  This may be a tough one but you need to think calmly and get prepared to follow all of the necessary steps and provide the necessary details and information you will need to seek help to find your child. 
  4. Find the nearest cast member:  Immediately notify the nearest cast member that your child is lost.  Disney has a process in place for these situations and will put it in motion after the child is reported missing.  Every ride operator & cast member will keep an eye out for the child
  5. Be prepared to give a description:  Look back at those photos and tell the cast members exactly what your child is wearing and what they look like to help them definitively identify the child while they are also looking
  6. Stay in the last place you saw them:  Chances are they are not very far from the last place you were together.  Stay visible in the last place you saw them as they are likely close by
  7. Send other adults to look :  if you have other adults in your party, there is no sense is staying together.  Get them to go to your designated meeting spot while you wait with a cast member.
  8. Don’t be too hard on yourself:  It can be easy to beat yourself up when something like this happens.  But know that it can happen to the best of us, especially in a world full of wonder and magic.  It’s easy for kids to stray and get lost in the crowd rather quickly.

If the child cannot be reunited with the parents in the immediate area, the child may be escorted to “Lost child room” which is an inviting, fun area fully stocked with Disney movies and staffed with professional care workers who do their best to help your child feel safe.

Where are the Lost Child Rooms Located?

Magic Kingdom – right next to the First Aid Center on Main Street on the left walking towards Cinderella’s Castle.

Animal Kingdom – located on the way to Africa – on the left-hand side just past Pizzafari restaurant and before the bridge.

EPCOT – located in the Odyssey Center between Test Track and the Showcase Plaza.

Hollywood Studios – located on the left as you enter the park via the main entrance.  

I hope these tips will help you and your children enjoy a magical vacation.

Why Does Disney Scan Our Fingerprints & Should We Be Concerned?

Disney has been using biometrics as part of their entry system since 2013.  Merrian Webster defines biometrics as the measurement and analysis of unique physical or behavioral characteristics (such as fingerprint or voice patterns) especially as a means of verifying personal identity”

Disney is not the only organization who uses biometrics.  Orlando International Airport recently announced implementing small facial recognition stations to verify the identities of all incoming and outgoing travelers, including U.S. citizens.

In Disney’s case, to enter a park, all guests from age 3+ are requested to scan their ticket media (or your Magic Band) and then place their finger onto a scanner to confirm your ID.

But why? More importantly, are there any implications on our personal privacy?  You can find the answers to this and more here:

Essentially, Disney scans fingers as a preventative measure against fraud, and matches your ticket, to you and you only.  Disney discards the measurements and uses a tag ID instead.

Disney explains this on their site:

We offer the convenience of Ticket Tag at the entrance of many of our theme parks and water parks. Ticket Tag helps to facilitate ease of re-entry into our parks and helps prevent fraud.  In order to use Ticket Tag, you simply place your finger on a reader. The system, which utilizes the technology of biometrics, takes an image of your finger, converts the image into a unique numerical value and immediately discards the image. The numerical value is recalled when you use Ticket Tag with the same ticket to re-enter or visit another Park. Ticket Tag does not store fingerprints.

The security, integrity and confidentiality of your information are extremely important to us. We have implemented technical, administrative and physical security measures that are designed to protect guest information from unauthorized access, disclosure, use and modification. From time to time, we review our security procedures to consider appropriate new technology and methods. Please be aware that, despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.

So there you have it.  According to Disney there is no need to be concerned about privacy, but if you still feel uneasy about it, you can always opt out.

Express Train Will Connect Miami And Orlando By 2022

virgin express train orlando

Exciting news for the cities of Orlando and Miami as Virgin Trains USA starts a new project in Florida.  An express train that will connect Orlando and Miami in just 3 hours while riders enjoy a fast, clean ride with food and drink service and Wi-Fi.

Virgin Trains broke ground on its station at Orlando International Airport’s Intermodal Terminal on June 24th, a project that will be completed by 2022.  It will connect existing rail service in South Florida with new tracks in Central Florida, creating a rail line between Orlando and Miami.

The project includes about 170 miles of new track that will be built over the next three years by more than 10,000 construction workers, which Virgin Trains calls the largest private infrastructure project in the nation.

On those new tracks, the train will reach speeds of 125 miles per hour between Cocoa and Orlando.

According to a breaking piece from the Orlando Sentinel, a station at Walt Disney World, as well as a link with SunRail’s Meadow Wood station are set to open at about the same time as Virgin Train USA’s Orlando airport station. “It’s our expectation to get it done and to build out to Disney,” Virgin Trains president Patrick Goddard said about the lines. Construction is expected to take between 30 to 36 months. And so you know they’re serious, Goddard also mentioned that Virgin Trains signed a letter of intent with Disney last year.

What’s particularly attractive about this project is the opportunities it will create for visitors who now can jump on a train in the morning after visiting Orlando attractions like Disney World or Universal Studios and be relaxing on South Beach by the afternoon.

With Miami International Airport being a leader in international visitors, who are used to taking trains in their home countries, and Orlando International Airport leading in domestic visitors to Central Florida’s amusement parks, there’s a natural synergy for linking the two airports with a train.

Additionally, it will also provide relief for local travelers who will be able to choose whether they want to deal with highway traffic to get from one city to another.

*Image courtesy of Virgin Trains USA

6 Ways To Stay Cool In The Parks

6 WAYS TO BEAT THE ORLANDO SUMMER HEAT

Snowbirds like to visit Florida during the winter months to escape the cold in exchange for some Southern heat. But for people who are parents like me, we prefer to visit the parks during summer break when the kids aren’t in school. But that likely means sweltering, humid temperatures. So how do you deal with the Florida summer temps? Well we’ve come up with 6 ways to beat the Orlando heat this summer.

  1. Resort Pool

If one thing is certain about visiting Orlando during the summer, it is that you’re going to need to spend some time in the pool. Luckily for those who stay with us, they will have full access to the community pool.  It features a zero entry for your little ones, a ripping water slide, and lazy river in a lush tropical setting.  Disney properties also have several pools at their resorts to cool off.

  1. Cold & frozen treats

Icy treats are the perfect accessory on a hot summer day. While at the parks, you can indulge in one of the many frozen or cold food and beverage options available to purchase. You can find some satisfying sweets or icy beverages dining locations and carts scattered throughout the theme parks. My personal favourite – Dole Whip! Another (non-park) personal favourite is Twistee Treats. You can spot these cone shaped buildings scattered around the Orlando area and they offer creamy soft serve ice cream in a combination of flavours. Don’t forget you can also visit our onsite restaurant Frankie Farrells for a cool beverage.

  1. Indoor attractions & entertainment

When you aren’t soaking up the sun at pool, chances are you’re in one of the theme parks. Although many of the attractions and entertainment are outdoors, there are plenty of indoor options in each park that are out of the sun and into the air conditioning.

Many of the classic attractions at the Magic Kingdom such as The Haunted MansionPirates of the Caribbean, and, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, are perfect for visiting on a hot day. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy some of the old school attractions that you may not have experienced in a while.  Don’t forget our resort has an indoor arcade that you can escape to when in need of some A/C and some gaming fun.

  1. Cooling Towels

Cooling towels are re-usable chamois like cloths that absorb water, but does not drip wet, thus keep you cool and dry.  We always bring them with us to the parks.  You can wet them throughout the day and drape them over your neck or head to provide relief from the blistering heat.

We happen to own Frogg Toggs, and they work great, but there are many brands on the market some of which stay cool for hours. They are also machine washable.

  1. Frozen water

Luckily Disney permits guests to bring in their own food and drinks.  We happen to use a cooler bag that is from the Disney store to carry our drinks.  We freeze plenty of water bottles the night before, and they gradually thaw out through the day providing cool refreshments all day long.  This is a double whammy because it will also save some money on buying water in the parks.  Win win.

  1. Reservations

If you take away 1 piece of advice from this article, let it be this one.  Assuming you are spending at least 1 day at a theme park during your visit to Orlando, spending all day outside in 30+ degree weather while the hot sun is beaming down can make you hot, sweaty, cranky & hungry.  We used to have lunch by lining up in the scorching sun waiting to order our food at one of the quick service places, and then if you were lucky (I mean really lucky) you’ll find an outdoor table in the shade.  Never again.

Make dining reservations in advance through your My Disney Experience app at one of the many restaurants located throughout the parks. It allows you to cool down, re-charge and get you ready to hit the attractions again.

Don’t forget to check out our many other great tips on our blog!

Guide To Drinking Around The World At Epcot

drinking around the world

Walt Disney World is not just for kids and Epcot is arguably Disney’s best park for adults because of its cultural themes and the many options to eat and drink.

Since most of us aren’t able to spend thousands travelling the world at a moment’s notice to experience artisan cheese in Paris, or fine wine in Italy, Epcot’s World of Showcase offers us the next best thing.  The opportunity to sample alcoholic beverages and cuisine from around the world. Take a tour around the world sampling unique beers, wines and cocktails from many different Countries without having to leave North America!

The premise of drinking around the world is simple.  Epcot’s World of Showcase features several Countries to explore.  Choose to begin on the right at Canada, or the left in Mexico and work your way through all the Countries.

Tips:

Share drinks:      Drinking in moderation is key in maximizing fun.  Sharing will help avoid over-consumption and help you make it to the end of all the countries.

Be respectful:    Be mindful that Epcot is a family theme park.  Know your limits.

Explore the Pavilions: You’re limited to which attractions you can visit with a drink in hand so take the time to explore the beauty and uniqueness in each pavilion.

If you find your group may have trouble carrying their drinks purchase the handy Bottle Strap for $3.75 sold in Norway.

Let’s start our journey!

MEXICO:

La Cava Del carries 200+ tequilas and serves some excellent drinks like the Blood Orange Margarita, Avocado Margarita, Jalapeno Margarita and the Tequila flights.

If you were looking to blow all your money in one day, Pay $250 for a shot from a 250 year old tequila company; easily the most expensive drink in the park.

Cuervo 250 Anniversary, $248

NORWAY:

The Linie Aquavit Glacier Shot, $12.25 – referred to as “Satan’s Tears”, is an epic shot with a slight licorice flavor popular in Scandinavian countries.

Nordic Draft Beers, $9 – Choose from Aass Pilsner, Einstock White Ale and Einstock Toasted Porter.

Pear Cider, $9.75 – The only one found in Epcot.  For another caffeine fix, try the Viking Coffee, $10.50 – The coffee is flavored with Kamora Coffee Liqueur and Baileys Irish Cream.

CHINA:

The Tea Stand in China features some of the most unique beverages like the Mango Gingerita, Canto Loopy, Peach Snap! or Green Tea Plum Slush.  The Plum wine is also a fan favourite and cheaper than Japan at $5.  For a real treat, try the Tipsy Ducks in Love $8.95 made with Bourbon Whisky, Coffee, Black Tea, Cream & Chocolate Syrup.

GERMANY:

Well, it’s pretty obvious that this pavilion has its fair share of great beer. Be prepared for long lines at this one but if you head deeper into the pavilion the beers offered here typically include paten,  Altenmunster Oktoberfest, Lowenbrau, & Adeberger.  You can also enjoy some Jägermeister shots, $9.

ITALY:

Head to Via Napoli and enjoy a Moretti La Rosa beer and be sure to have a pizza to go with it – delicious!   You can also enjoy beer flights at Tutto Gusto and Italian wine like the Fior D’Arancio, a sweet & refreshing Moscato, $8.  Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar is a hidden gem and no reservations required.   Try the Villa Marzia Limoncello, $11 – A classic Italian cordial or the Belnero Banfi Sangiovese ’13 Glass, $20 – A pricey, bold red wine with deep flavors. When in Rome!

AMERICA:

Throughout the year, they promote different American craft beers from around the US.  Blue Point toasted lager, and the Blood Orange Wheat Ale at $8.75 each are good options.  Hard Cider is a rare find in Epcot and you can find McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, $10 as well are your typical Bud Light and Yeungling.

JAPAN:

Some favourites here include plum wine a sweet and sour drink made with Japanese plums, shochu and sugar, $7, hot or cold sake and a Kirin Frozen Draft for $6.75

MOROCCO:

If you want beer, the Casa Beer is the only Moroccan beer offered at $7.99.  The mixed drinks and Sangria (especially the Sultan) are really good here.   If you need a caffeine fix, head over to the Tangerine Café where you can enjoy a coffee infused with liquor.

FRANCE:

Find your way toward the back of the pavilion to LES HALLES BOULANGERIE-PATISSERIE, a refreshing quick service eatery with air conditioned seating. They serve many delicious entrees and desserts, as well as a variety of drinks.

The Grand Marnier & Grey Goose Orange Slush, and the Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush are pretty good but expensive. These might be a good sharing option.  For wine, the Beaujolais Duboef, $6.90 – One of several French regional wines.

UNITED KINGDOM:

The UK Beer Cart is oddly named as it only offers three beer choices – Bass Ale Draft or Harp Lager Draft for $8.75 and Magner’s Pear Cider for $9.

There are several good beer options in the UK, including the Black and Tan, $9.75 but why not try their Leaping Leprecaun Coctail, $16.75 or a Johnnie Walker Blue or The Macallan 18yr, $41,  a 2 oz. pour from one of these classic scotch whiskies.

CANADA:

La Fin Du Monde is arguably the best beer in the world!  It has a score of 98 on Ratebeer.  For reference, that’s over double the best beer in Germany!  The Trois Pistoles & Éphémèreis also an excellent beer option.

Le Cellier Ice Wine Flight is $21, and features Neige Apple, Inniskillan Vidal and Chateau des Charmes Vidal wines.

We believe in 100% responsible drinking. Remember to drink in moderation and be courteous to fellow guests during your trip, as Walt Disney World is a family vacation destination.

All prices were calculated at time of writing and are subject to change. Availability may also vary.

Why Disney Is NOT The Happiest Place On Earth

why Disney is not the happiest place on earth

Why Disney World is NOT the happiest place on Earth

Screaming kids:  When children see their beloved characters in real life, they scream and cheer in delight because up until now, these characters were merely on pages in a book or on a TV screen. To see their little faces light up is just pure magic.  There are plenty of meet and greet opportunities around each park but be sure to plan ahead of your trip.

Too much competition:

With attractions like Toy Story Mania & Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger, your group’s competitive spirit is likely to shine!  Blast away aliens while trying to attain the highest score in your group!

You may come face to face with lions, tigers, crocodiles, and maybe even a T-rex!

Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park and is the largest of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World. It’s filled with live animals like Sumatran Tigers and a safari attraction that takes passengers through a 110 acre area where you can encounter elephants, giraffes and lions roaming around.

Toystory Land is the newest section of Hollywood Studios and features attractions from the popular Toy Story movies. While there are no real animals found here, you will find yourself surrounded by giant sized versions of the beloved characters like Woody, Jesse & Rex that makes you feel like you’re in the movie itself!

You’ll likely cheat on your diet:

Walt Disney World offers amazing cuisine and treats around all its parks and resorts making it challenging for those who are trying to eat healthier.  Like this refreshingly delicious Lost Princess Cone with purple cone

A giant Mickey Celebration Donut in strawberry, chocolate or vanilla.

mickey donut

A Tangled Éclair filled with dulce de leche, topped with white chocolate cream, sugar flowers and a chocolate frying pan.

Don’t fret, there are plenty of healthier options. Like The Electric Umbrella in Epcot with fresh salads, sandwiches and offers gluten/wheat,milk/dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish free choices. Additionally, it’s peanut/nut safe!

The 50’s Prime Time Café located in Hollywood Studios also features an allergy friendly menu and some good old comfort food like pot roast, soup, pork chops, meatloaf with veggies and more.

Loud Fireworks late at night

Disney’s fireworks is nothing short of mesmerizing. Their current show, “Happily Ever After” is a spectacular show that showcases classic and contemporary Disney stories at Magic Kingdom nightly.  Watch in awe as Cinderella’s Castle becomes the story backdrop by magically transforming through amazing state of the art projection technology.  It’s a dazzling journey of lights, color and song that will warm your heart and take you right into Disney’s animated films.

Unreliable Elevators:  You may want to reconsider accommodations at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.   It reportedly has serious issues with its elevators like plummeting multiple stories! Scary!

Hollywood Tower of Terror is a dark, accelerated drop tower ride located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The attraction is inspired by the television series “The Twilight Zone” and takes place in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel. At 199 feet, it’s the second tallest attraction at Walt Disney World.

You won’t want to leave:

Kidding aside, Walt Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth (at least I think so!). But all good things must come to an end unfortunately and you may suffer from a case of the post Disney blues.  You can help combat the blues by reflecting on the magical time you had by sharing some of your photos, make a scrapbook, or watch a Disney movie to get you back into Disney zone.  Of course you can also book another Disney trip and start counting down!

*Images courtesy of Disney Food Blog

Plan Your Disney Trip With Our FREE Planning Itinerary

disney planner itinerary

With 4 parks filled with so many attractions, shows, and dining, it could get overwhelming trying to plan your Disney vacation.  We have created a simple Disney Planning itinerary that you can download here FREE!

disney planner itinerary

Before planning, it may be helpful to check crowd calendars.  We recommend checking here.  This site provides crowd times for each month.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning your perfect Disney vacation.  Here are some great articles that you should check out before you go:

Travelling with pets? Read here

Want some insta worthy snaps?  Don’t forget to look for the elusive #disneywalls here

Beat the Orlando heat!

You’re all set to have a magical holiday!

Disney Plant Based Food Guide

vegan and gluten free dining in orlando

Not too long ago, we shared some gluten free and vegan friendly dining options in the Orlando area.  Well Disney’s Magic Kingdom has now launched a visitor’s guide especially for those in search of vegan & vegetarian food options.

MK vegan list

The new Disney Plant Based Cuisine Guide lists all of the vegan and veggie options across the park in a convenient pamphlet.

The guide is categorized by area and then lists each vegan and veggie-friendly restaurant in the region of that park including the offered dishes.  Head over to Casey’s corner for a vegan hot dog, The Plaza for a veggie burger or Tomorrowland for a plant based sloppy joe.

Disneyland in California was recently crowned the most vegan friendly theme park in the USA by animal rights activist group PETA.  Hopefully this means that Disneyworld will soon have just as many vegan friendly options.

The guide is available at the following locations in the Magic Kingdom:

  • All Table-Service and Quick-Service Restaurants
  • All Guest Experience Team podiums
  • Guest Relations (City Hall and Liberty Square Ticket Office locations)

For any questions or concerns about allergy-free dining and dietary preferences, see Walt Disney World’s page on special dietary requests. Alternatively, you can contact them at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com with any questions you might have.

*Images courtesy of WDWNT

Legoland Florida Ticket Discount Benefits Autism Speaks

legoland

Legoland Florida is offering discount pricing during the month of April in support of World Autism month.  You can purchase print at home theme park tickets at a discount rate of $42.50 plus tax or combo tickets offering same day admission to the theme park and water park for $65.50 + tax.  $10 of each ticket sold will be donated to the North and Central Florida markets of Autism Speaks.

Over the past couple years, Legoland Florida Resort has made ongoing efforts to make their resort a more welcoming place for guests with autism spectrum disorders.  Here are some of the ways Legoland Florida is accommodating guests on the autism spectrum:

  • To assist guests who have difficulty waiting in line, they have created a pass specifically for guests on the autism spectrum. The no cost “Blue hero pass” allows the guest and their family to bypass the standby line at popular attractions.legoland blue hero pass
  • Multiple “quiet rooms” located throughout the resort offer a private space where guests on the autism spectrum can relax with noise cancelling headphones, weighed blankets and soothing toys.quiet room legoland florida
  • “Social stories” where guests can see an illustrated step by step walk through of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that may be frightening or overwhelming. legoland social stories
  • The resorts newly hired Model Citizens now receive specialized training to prepare them with skills and sensitivities needed to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum

The parent company Merlin Entertainments operate under a set of values that includes “we care”, and by working in partnership with organizations like Autism Speaks, they are committed to ensure that the place built for kids is truly built for all kids.

You can purchase tickets here. The offer is available now through April 30. Tickets must be redeemed by May 31, 2019.

*Photos courtesy of Legoland

Epcot’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Every year during Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot hosts an annual scavenger hunt for Easter eggs.  This year the hunt runs until Sunday, April 21.

To join the scavenger hunt, you will need to first purchase a scavenger hunt map. The map costs $6.99 and you can find them at Disney Traders, Pin Central, or World Traveler.

*

The eggs on your sticker card are the eggs you are looking for around the park.  Keep your eyes peeled as some are tricky to find.

Place the matching sticker on your map after you have spotted the egg.  Once you have found them all, head over to Disney Traders to submit your map and receive your prize, the choice of one themed egg!  New this year is that the eggs themselves have a surprise inside!

Eggstravaganza is on through April 21st during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival.  If your looking for an Easter service, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers church services on Easter Sunday.

Hint:  Some eggs are located inside

*Image courtesy of All Ears