Following on from Part I of do’s and don’ts when it comes to packing for your Walt Disney World holiday…….here is the second part of our blog post. Enjoy!
Do pack Skin So Soft from Avon. Now also available at Amazon, which is sometimes easier than finding a local Avon representative these days, Skin So Soft oil is something we have been using regularly for a few years now, and we make sure that at least 2 bottles are always in our suitcases, packed and ready to go to Orlando with us on our holidays. To be honest, it isn’t a beauty product we would use at any other time of the year, but it has certainly become an essential part of our packing for Walt Disney World due to one very useful thing – Avon’s Skin So Soft is a smooth and oily deterrent for those pesky Florida bugs – particularly those blood-sucking mosquitoes who just love to put a dampener on your dream holiday. Disney does it’s best of course to prevent people being bitten when they visit their parks, but in reality there are mosquitoes in Orlando, after all Walt Disney World was built on swamp land, so there’s no getting away from it! We here at Travel with the Tribe say “no” to anything which is going to attempt to cause any unwanted or unnecessary grief or upset on your holiday, and especially for the ladies in your tribe (who have higher body temperatures so are more susceptible to insect bites – that’s the science bit!), Skin So Soft oil is a definite buy to stop those itchy, uncomfortable bites appearing over your body (we are scratching here just at the thought of it!). There is a lot of online discussion about which products to take with you to prevent bites whilst you’re out there, and like many things to do with travelling with your family, what you eventually decide to use is ultimately down to your own individual opinion and choice. If you read the countless numbers of Disney blogs and social media pages out there, you will find a variety of products which people will recommend to you to use. Some will work, others won’t. We here at Travel with the Tribe want you to be as informed as you can about these things, we would always encourage you to look at the information out there and made a decision based on that, you could maybe try out a few of the products which seem to be popular and take them with you on your holiday to trial if you need to.
Skin So Soft oil in our opinion works really well at keeping bites at bay, it is tried and tested by us and our children, and we would therefore say it’s a definite winner for us. Fairly cheap to buy, (less than £10) if you buy off Amazon it can also be delivered to your door quickly, it’s easy to pack and takes up minimal space in your suitcase, but more importantly when you are in Orlando it’s easy to apply before you go to the parks, rub it into arms and legs, and when you’re walking around it will act as a defensive barrier against any little critters who might want to “suck your blood” (said in the best Vincent Price impression we could do!). Don’t just take our word for it, try it out. If you buy it before you leave the UK, you don’t have to make a trip to Walmart or the local pharmacy if you are bitten, which in itself can impact upon your time spent in the parks, which you don’t really want to have to compromise on – hopefully you won’t have to worry, but Skin So Soft is worth taking with you, just in case.
Don’t take towels. One of the FAQ’s which first timers to Orlando generally ask are whether or not they should take towels and tea towels with them from home. When we first visited Walt Disney World in 2009, not only did we pack several towels, but we also took them to into the water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach!! Nobody really tells you not to take towels with you, unless of course you ask, which we didn’t! Towels at Walt Disney World are provided in your rooms, in fact we can never use all of the towels room service leave for us everyday, and you can also take these towels to your resort pools (although there are also towels available here too!), so you will never go without clean towels. Consequently, you can save so much space in your luggage without having to take your own towels, if you have a larger tribe too this can be especially useful because it can give you extra space for other priorities – or the extra space can also provide you with some extra baggage weight………just in case you decide to visit those Orlando Shopping Malls during your stay! When you visit Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon you can also hire an unlimited number of towels at the “Towel Rental” (no real surprises there!), and the really great thing about this is that for Disney guests the cost of renting those towels is…….zero! We caught onto this a few years ago, having paid for towels historically every time we went into the water parks, but be assured you will not have to do this! If asked, you only need to confirm the Disney resort in which you are staying, and that is usually confirmation enough, no need for hotel room number of forms of ID. Being able to use those free towels is fab, it makes the time spent at the water park that little bit easier for everyone because you’re not having to lug around towels in your bags, or having to carry them on the bus, or even worse having to take wet smelly towels back to your hotel room (yuk!) – you simply leave them near the changing rooms and let Disney deal with the rest – what a result!
Do take plasters (couple of key bits of medicine that you take, but most you will find in the shop on site). We always pack plasters and Calpol in our suitcases for our kids, and these are the only “medicines” we ever really choose to take with us on our holiday. Everything else if easy to buy, either in your resort shop, at first aid centres around the parks, or in nearby supermarkets like Walmart. We don’t even take paracetamol now either, as it’s easy to get out there. We know that plasters are easy to buy too and we hear you say “why bother packing plasters?”, but when you are suffering with your feet, and have developing blisters from walking a record 20,000 steps in one day, plasters to hand will always be a saving grace, and it saves feeling the obvious discomfort of having to walk in pain. So a top tip from us is to buy plenty of plasters, preferably waterproof so they will work in the water parks, and keep them in your pockets, or bag if you take one into the parks, ready for use just in case you or any of your little ones start to feel the effects of the constant walking and stress being placed upon your feet. Even after 8 trips to Walt Disney World, our feet still get blisters as it can’t always be avoided, but you can be at least on hand with plasters should anyone need them.
Don’t take loads of food in your suitcase – (or any at all actually if you can help it!) as you will have to declare it, and that slows down your tribe at immigration – Another question which is frequently asked if whether food being brought into the USA from home has to be declared at Orlando International Airport, and the answer to this is YES. Any items of food – fruit, snacks, food from the plane you’ve decided to take with you, can be subject to another check at immigration, which will slow down the process of clearing customs and getting on with your journey. We would advise not to take any food with you at all, and instead use Garden Grocer if you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, or in a villa off site, which you can pre-order and have delivered at a specific time of your choice when you arrive at your destination (Please see our post on the reasons why we order from Garden Grocer 60 days before our holiday). MCO (Orlando International Airport) is notorious for at times being incredibly slow (and incredibly thorough) when moving people through immigration, and depending on whether or not there have been any other inbound flights from the UK or elsewhere, you can potentially find yourself queuing with a fair few hundred people. Not the thing you want after a 9 hour flight, when everyone is tired, grumpy and is desperate to either get to their villa or hotel in the quickest time possible. If you have to go through an extra queue because you have food in your suitcases, this process suddenly becomes much longer. You have to ask yourself the question as to whether it is really worth it, for a few items of food? We certainly don’t think it is, and don’t recommend packing any food items in your suitcases – even coffee, tea and sugar, as it may cost you valuable relaxing holiday time at the other end.
Do take cover ups for the water parks. It may sound like an obvious point, but packing a cover up/swim top for you and your tribe is essential for any type of Orlando holiday. We love Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon and have massive fun every time we go, but at the same time we have identified some pretty exposed areas at both of these water parks, especially Typhoon Lagoon where unlike Blizzard Beach if you get there early enough, you can escape the heat of the sun by finding a more shaded and wooded space to base yourselves in, which means you aren’t literally “putting yourself out there” in the direction of the blazing hot sun. Typhoon Lagoon is less shaded, and even if you get to the park for opening times, as a first timer you don’t always know where to go, or which bits of the park are the best for you and your family to base yourselves. Even the maps which you can pick up at the entrance don’t give tell you where the best spots are, and it’s only through going there several times that you’ll know where is best for you and your family. So cover up’s/swim tops are always in our cases to make sure none of our tribe get too sunburnt, suffer from heatstroke, end up ill or spending any amount of their holiday feeling the effects of the sun. You can of course buy cover up’s and swim tops when you get out there, Disney Springs have a good selection of shops where you can buy swimwear, and there are swim tops available to buy at both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, but why spend you money out there when you can probably find something cheaper here at home which can be ready to pack in your cases for your holiday. Invest in a good cover up/swim top for one Disney holiday, and you can of course get plenty of use out of it when you go back – once you’ve got the Walt Disney World bug, it’s hard not to go back again year on year!!!!!
Don’t take books and magazines, download online versions onto your phones. A holiday to Walt Disney World is busy, full on, and jam packed with things to do. Clearly, it isn’t a holiday to sit by the pool and read a book or two. However there are times when you can have some downtime and rest and rejuvenate your weary limbs (and feet!) before starting it all again! Having a number of books and magazines on your phones or tablets is a good idea for those precise times when you are taking a break from the parks, and want to switch off from everything – and everyone – for a brief time! If you do have time at the pools or water parks, you can use the opportunity of chilling out on your sun lounger and read then, or sit on the balcony/patio of your hotel room and appreciate your hotel surroundings whilst also having a read. Not having to take physical copies of books and magazines again leaves a bit of space in your suitcases for other things, so using modern technology to read off can be a good thing even for the most cynical of us who prefer the feel of a good book when giving you your essential holiday reading list.
A lot of these our hints and tips here are common sense really, and may seem pretty obvious, but it’s always worth having a real think about how you are going to pack, and what you are going to pack, as your holiday approaches the end of it’s countdown. There are ways you can streamline your packing to make it more family (and Orlando) friendly, and in the long run helps you to have a far more relaxing holiday with your loved ones. Isn’t that what holidays are all about?