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Category: Quick Tips

Quick Tips: What To Do If You Get Sick At Disney World

No one sets out on vacation thinking they’ll get sick or possibly injured; unfortunately, illnesses and injuries are a part of life, even at the place where dreams come true. Luckily, Disney is well prepared for any situation. Here’s what to do if you, or someone in your family, gets sick while visiting Walt Disney World.

For minor ailments, such as headaches, blisters, upset stomach, heat exhaustion, etc., you’ll find a first-aid station at each of the major parks and two water parks (there is no first-aid station at Downtown Disney).  Specifically, you can find them at:

  • Magic Kingdom, at the end of Main Street, between Casey’s Corner and Crystal Palace;
  • Epcot, at Odyssey Center, between Future World and World Showcase;
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at Guest Relations building on Hollywood Boulevard;
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom, at Discovery Island, behind Creature Comforts (headed towards Africa);
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, behind Leaning Palms; and
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, between Lottawatta Lodge and Beach Haus.
The first-aid centers are staffed by licensed nurses who are extremely helpful, and their services are free. I’ve been in there many times for things like Motrin, or a band-aid, and have seen guests of all ages come in for help for everything from a skinned knee to bug bites. While there is no pharmacy inside and there are no doctors on duty, should you require prescription medications or further medical assistance, they can direct you to such services.
If your condition cannot be treated with over-the-counter medicine and you think you need to see a doctor, you can visit one of the local urgent care centers. Two of the most common are Buena Vista Urgent Care and Centra Care. 
Buena Vista Urgent Care is located near State Road 535  (the same road as the Crossroads Shopping Plaza) and offers walk-in treatment for everything from minor injuries to family medicine. There is even 24 hour emergency care available, though you do have to call ahead for that. Centra Care is located in the vicinity of Downtown Disney on South Apopka Vineland Road/State Road 535. They are open from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, and treat all sorts of non-life threatening conditions, from family medicine to pediatrics. The nice thing about both of these urgent care facilities is that they offer a free shuttle to guests staying at nearby hotels and resorts. I would encourage you to call the front desk at your resort if you need an urgent care center and they will be happy to help you.
If you are unable to leave your resort, or you want more personal attention, and are willing to pay extra for it, consider a service like Doctors on Call Service, or “Docs”, who will send licensed physicians to your home, resort, hotel, or villa to treat you. You will need to call for pricing.
Should you need a hospital, the closest  is Florida Hospital Celebration Health, located  in nearby Celebration.  If it is a medical emergency, of course call 9-1-1. If the condition is not life threatening, again the front desk at your resort/hotel should be able to assist you in arranging transportation.
Hopefully you never need any of these services, but if you do, it’s good to know that they are there and ready to assist you however they can, so that you can get back to feeling better and having a good time.

How to: Beat the Summer Heat

Summertime…and the living is easy
I know it’s not even spring yet, but I can’t help but look forward to summer at Walt Disney World. It’s been a very warm winter here in Central Florida so far. Aside from a scattering of days that were quite cold (and yes, it can get cold here), we’ve experienced consistent temperatures in the upper 70’s and low 80’s . There’s also been very little rain. Having such a warm winter makes me think that we could be in for a very dry, hot summer though.
Summer of course also happens to be a time of year when lots of people visit Disney World. After all, the kids are out of school, the parks  stay open later, and it’s traditionally the period people think of when you talk about taking a vacation. If you’re one of those people, here’s some tips on how to survive summer at the parks.
 Dress appropriately
Average highs during June – August are in the low 90’s, but an average humidity around 60% during the same period can cause the heat index (or what a person’s perception of the temperature is) to be much higher, so it’s not usual to feel like it’s more like 98 degrees (or more!) out. This should go without saying, but now is not the time to wear all black clothing and combat boots, while lugging around a backpack so large it comes with its own Sherpa. Light colored clothing, shorts, and t-shirts is the way to go. And don’t forget to wear a hat and sunglasses. This goes for kids, too. Ditch the combat boots, and the flip flops (they won’t give you enough support as you walk through the park, plus you’re just asking for a wicked sunburn on the tops of your feet). And ditch the huge backpacks, too. I’m not saying don’t carry one, but visitors tend to overpack for the parks. Before you head out the door, ask yourself “Will I really need this in the parks today?” If the answer is no, or probably not, leave it behind. Trust me, by early afternoon, you’ll be thanking me.
Sure it’s a nice hat, but I don’t think it’s going to protect you from the sun….
 Use sunscreen
This is another must. I know, lots of people go on vacation and want to get “a little color” to show off when they get home. The trouble is, it doesn’t take long to go from a little color to a bad burn in the Florida sunshine, and you don’t want to be in pain on your vacation after waiting months for your trip to arrive. Use something strong, with at least an SPF of 50 for the best protection, and don’t forget your ears and behind your neck. The goal is to shield your skin, not saute it, so skip the cocoa butter. Parents, make sure your kids wear it too, even if they’re like me as a kid and scrunch up their face and yell as soon as you try to touch them with it. If you’re going to be swimming or at a water park, take the time to reapply it more often than you normally would. Remember that the sun’s rays reflect off the water, so you will burn faster.
Stay hydrated
Aside from all the walking you’re going to be doing, the heat will really take its toll on you, and you’re going to sweat – a lot – so drink plenty of fluids. Ideally, you want to drink water, and not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, since those will actually dehydrate you more quickly. You can even get a cup of ice water from all counter service locations free of charge, though, to be honest, the water isn’t always that great. Consider getting some bottled water to keep in your room, and keeping it chilled in your in room fridge if you have one, or an ice bucket. 
This isn’t exactly what I meant by “stay hydrated.”
Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours
Whether you use them in the morning, in the evening, or both, these can be a lifesaver during the summer. Roughly 70% of all park visitors don’t take advantage of the morning EMH, so if you’re a morning person and can get to the parks, go! Not only will it be cooler before the heat of midday starts to set in, but you’ll get a lot accomplished in the early morning. And if you’re a night owl, you’ll love summer and the late park hours -imagine being able to stay in the Magic Kingdom until 2 or 3 a.m!   So if your group has the ability to stay out later,  you might relax during the day and hit up the parks at night. Not only will the temperature outside be much more comfortable, but experiencing attractions like Jungle Cruise, Tower of Terror, Test Track or Expedition Everest at night is really different.
Night time is a great time to be in the parks! 

Leave the parks
Regardless of how you tour, you should plan on taking a break during the midday. From about 1-4 p.m., the sun will be at its hottest. It’s no surprise that the hot weather makes people cranky and they start to snap at one another. Don’t let this be you. Go back to your room for a few hours, and take a siesta, or swim in the pool. Then maybe have a nice dinner and head back to a park for the evening. An even better idea? Take a day off from the parks (about midway through your trip) and spend it relaxing poolside, or by visiting one of the water parks. I guarantee you’ll feel better the next day!
Doesn’t that pool look inviting? If the scary clown doesn’t eat you, I mean.

Use Fastpass and a touring plan
No one likes waiting in line for things, and that’s especially true when it feels like it’s 95 degrees out and you’re baking in the sun. Make sure you use Fastpass for the popular attractions whenever you can, and if you aren’t using a touring plan, get one. I can  tell you from experience, they work very well, and can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend in line. 
Better get a Fastpass, or be prepared to wait to ride!
Go for the “cool” attractions
No, I don’t mean cool as in awesome. Do kids even say awesome anymore? I feel old. I mean attractions like Philharmagic, Haunted Mansion, Muppet Vision, It’s Tough to be a Bug, and yes, even the Hall of Presidents. They’re large, air conditioned attractions where you can get out of the sun for a bit. Plus, you can sit down in them, and you can probably even take a long nap without anyone bothering you in that last one. Another good place to come in from out of the heat? The shops. Suddenly, paying $28 for a t-shirt seems reasonable if it means not having to go back outside for 10 minutes.
Bring a poncho
 Summertime in Florida means rain (well, usually). Typically, these storms happen in the afternoon and although they are impressive, strong storms, with thunder and lightning, and can often deliver several inches of rain in a short period of time, they also don’t tend to stick around. Here’s a tip, too -they’ll be lots of people who will leave the parks once it starts to rain; chances are though by the time they get back to their resort, the rain will already be on its way out, so use this time to shop, eat a snack, or experience an indoor attraction. You may just find a much more empty park to enjoy when the sun comes back out.
Serious downpours are part of summer!
What are some of your favorite ways to stay cool in summer at Disney? 

Your Thanks Don’t Cost a Thing

Two of the over 60,000 WDW cast members who work hard every day.

This blog post was probably better suited for around Thanksgiving, since it’s about giving thanks to cast members; unfortunately, the idea just came to me this past weekend. Depending on how you look at it, that makes it either a really late article, or a really early one.

Anyway….the approximately 60,000 employees, or “cast members” who make up Walt Disney World play a big role in creating lifetime memories for guests. Disney has always prided themselves as being a cut above. I’m not sure they were even trying to do that when Walt Disney opened Disneyland; what I do know is he wanted to create an experience like no other, and the rest just sort of happened! While at a Disney park, you truly get to be a kid again and not think about your troubles, but can escape into a place of fantasy and wonder. That type of magic doesn’t happen by accident; it is through the hard work and dedication of these cast members.

With so many ways to have fun at Disney World, it’s a surprise anyone has time to complain about things. Among some of the funniest things heard in my travels around Disney World over the years:

  • A family upset that their grandmother, who is 87 years old, has a heart condition, a prosthetic leg, and for some inexplicable reason, is 7 months pregnant, was turned away from riding Tower of Terror;
  • There are too many countries in Epcot’s World Showcase;
  • It’s raining out, and they won’t close the dome over the Magic Kingdom;
  • My Mickey Mouse ice cream bar melted in the August heat and Disney ice cream shouldn’t do that;
  • The monorail won’t go back to my non-monorail resort/the trams in the parking lot won’t drive me back to a different park where I left my car; and
  • The toilet paper in the bathrooms is too thin (though I agree with this last one)!
Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t speak up if you have a serious complaint or concern about a cast member or other matter. It’s important for the powers that be to know these things so that your issue is addressed. But at the same time, if during your stay, a cast member brightens your day with a friendly smile or hello, lets you ride Space Mountain one more time without having to get off, or surprises you with a free second turkey leg (blah), take the time to smile back and say thank you. It’s not something they hear too often, and they really do appreciate it! And if you feel a cast member has gone above and beyond, get their name, and then stop by guest services and fill out a comment card. A note will go in their file, and it can really help when it’s time for things like performance reviews.
If you forget to do it while in the park, don’t fret, you can still contact Walt Disney World when you get home, by calling 407-824-4321, or emailing wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com.  I can tell you from experience that Disney is excellent at getting back to you and they do listen to all comments and concerns -even mine.
Has a cast member ever made your visit more magical? Tell us in the comments.
Bob is a Disney travel agent and Central Florida local. You can follow his exploits here and on Facebook.  Email him at Bob@PixieVacations.com or call him at 407-810-2528 for free concierge-level help in planning your next Disney vacation.

Quick Tips: Your Kids’ Summer Clothes.

If you’re visiting Disney any time from November through February, you’ll want to pack both lightweight and heavier weight clothing, as the weather can be extremely unpredictable during this time of year. Since we plan a December trip every year, one thing I do is when it’s time to put the kids’ summer clothes and shoes away, I don’t put their things in storage or donate them right away. Instead, I pack it all in a suitcases that I’m going to bring to Disney. This way, it’s ready for when we go and I don’t have to hunt down last summer’s bathing suits and shorts.

When you’re at the point where you’re ready to do your real packing, just go through the clothes to make sure they still fit and you’re good to go. If you’re out shopping and you see some ridiculously priced summer items on the sales rack, think about throwing those items in your suitcase in as well, if you’re kids are like mine and their summer clothes take a beating.  Even here in North Carolina, it’s hard to find inexpensive lightweight clothing after October. Wait too long, and you’re stuck buying expensive “resort wear.”  By storing (and even purchasing) these items early, you won’t be running around in January looking for shorts.