As a Disney Cast Member I can say I’ve learned a lot about what you need to carry with you for a day at the parks. I hear it all the time – “I wish I knew to bring ___”. So instead of letting my readers go to the parks unprepared, I thought I would make you all some of the most prepared people at the parks. While yes, I realize that it sounds like you will be camping at the parks with how long this list is, I promise I can fit this stuff in my backpack and make it in the parks.

Cooler with waters, sodas, and snacks

Water and soda at the parks range from $3-4, so to save yourself some money pack drinks and snacks with you. My favorite thing to do is to pack two waters that are ready to go and freeze two waters over night to pack into my lunch box to have ready to go for the next morning so they are still cold in the afternoon while I’m at the parks.

Cooling cloths/wash rags

In Florida it gets hot. The best thing you can do to keep cool is have a cooling cloth or a wash cloth with you. I personally use a wash cloth. I wet it the night before and put it in the freezer. In the morning before I go to the parks I throw it in a Zip Lock bag and have it ready to go in the parks.

Portable phone chargers

Between using your phone to take pictures, checking My Disney Experience for wait times, and playing phone games waiting in line your phone battery will die very quickly. I’ve watched way too many guests run around looking for outlets to charge their phones and quite honestly, you have much better things to be doing on your trip than looking for charging locations.

Portable fans

Portable fans are your life savers in the parks, especially with how many rides have outdoor ques. I picked up several from my local Wal-Mart that I always have with me in my backpack.

Rain ponchos

Florida weather is crazy. One minute it can be 100 degrees and the next it’s pouring rain. Disney’s ponchos cost $10 a piece and the lines to get them are crazy. Bring lots of rain ponchos with you! And pro-tip, when it rains is the best time to head over to Splash Mountain if you are in Magic Kingdom.

Autograph book and Sharpies

If you plan on meeting the characters, I highly recommend coming to the parks with an autograph book and Sharpies in hand. Despite rumors, no, the characters do not keep Sharpies/pens with them, so make sure you bring your own.

Camera with extra batteries and memory cards

Instead of using up all of your phone battery, use a camera instead. This also means that you can have better quality vacation photos than the ones from your iPhone.

Deodorant and perfume

These are must haves since Florida is hot and there is too much on the agenda for the day to not smell good. Plus, with how hot it is another layer of deodorant is never a bad feeling.

Extra change of shirt and socks

Whether it’s because of rain or sweat a change of clothing is never a bad idea. If anything, I highly recommend having an extra shirt and change on socks on hand.

Pennies and quarters

The penny press machines in the parks are very popular. I highly recommend getting some shiny pennies and quarters before you head out for your trip. Pro tip: the easiest way to carry these around is in empty plastic M&M containers.

Pouch for trading pins

If you plan on trading pins with cast members around the parks then you definitely want a pouch to carry the pins in that you are willing to trade. This way they won’t get confused with the ones you are keeping and they won’t fall off your trading lanyard.

Make-up to touch up

While this isn’t a necessity, I would highly recommend it if you have plans to take lots of nice family pictures or if you have reservations at one of our nicer sit down restaurants.

Hand-sanitizer and baby wipes

Thousands of people are in the parks every day so it’s very important to have hand-sanitizer with you. I also highly recommend baby wipes or sanitizing wipes of some sort as you never know what instances will come up.

Photo ID

For purchases over a certain amount cast members are required to ask to see a photo ID before completing your transaction. If you don’t have a photo ID, you will be turned down from making the purchase, so definitely make sure you have an ID on you. (yes, it sounds harsh, but Mickey wants us to ensure it is you making such a big purchase. You will never imagine how many lost credit cards are found on the ground every day.)

Band-Aids and over-the-counter medicine

Band-Aids for blisters and any over the counter medicines to help with an upset stomach, head-ache, and motion sickness are highly recommended.

Feminine hygiene products

Sadly, these are typically out in the bathrooms so you have to walk-up to first aid. Keep some with you at all times, ladies.

Hair brush and hair ties

As I’ve said, Florida is hot. Have hair ties with you in case you want to pull your hair up and a hair brush to touch your hair up after rides, before pictures, and before nice dinners.

Sun screen, aloe, and sunglasses

Need I say more since we’ve covered how hot Florida is? And even if you go in December, bring sun screen, sunglasses and aloe.

Bug Spray

This is a must if you are staying in the parks until the evening time.

Sweatshirts, hats, scarves, mittens, and hand-warmers

If you are in the parks anytime late October-late March, items to stay warm are a must. Believe it or not, Florida gets cold. You definitely don’t want to be heading back to your hotel instead of heading back to you hotel because it’s chilly.

Bubble refills

If you are traveling to Disney with young children or are simply a child at heart, bring bubble refills with you for the bubbles wands sold in the park. While Disney does sell refills, they are expensive and often very hard to find in the parks.

Is there anything you would add to this list of what to take to Disney World? Did you see anything on this list that you wouldn’t have thought to bring with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

My first job when I was 16 was at my local Chick-Fil-A. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t too happy about it. Since I’m from a small town most of the retail stores only hired 18 year olds and my mom couldn’t get me to step foot into any other fast food place to put in my application. Little did I know that after almost three years with the company I would walk away with so much more appreciation for not only the people that work at fast food restaurants, but the importance of having a strong brand. And that I would still say my pleasure in the most awkward situations and be recognized around town as the energetic girl on headset. Here’s what I learned working fast food from nearly three years in food service.

Turn off your windshield wipers in the drive-thru

A good portion of the time I spent working at Chick-Fil-A was spent either handling money at the drive-thru window or on head-set for the drive-thru. Since Chick-Fil-A is built on southern hospitality values it’s against the rules to close the window if a guest is waiting for their food, so whether rain or shine (or snow) the window is open. When you pull up to the drive-thru at any fast food place and see a soaking wet person the register, chances are it’s because guests have their windshield wipers on and it’s getting the person working window wet. I promise it’s much appreciated if you turn them off. I can actually recall several guests I served at the window who laughed as they turned off their wipers and said, “I worked food in high school too, wind shield wipers are the worst!”

Delays in food being ready are out of our control

I can’t tell you how many times guests would say that we were simply watching their food get cold or didn’t know what we were doing when there were delays in food getting out, but the delays were typically beyond our control. One time one of the fryers was out, sometimes it was because of dinner rush, and other times it was because we were short staffed. We will always do our best and never want you to have to wait too long for food, but sometimes the delays are out of our control.

If you have change or exact change, don’t feel like you need to be in a hurry to get it to us

Never feel bad about taking a few extra seconds to hand us change/exact change. Speaking from experience, I can say I definitely appreciate getting more change to put in my cash drawer, especially if you have pennies or quarters.

We really do say “my pleasure” at the most awkward times outside of work

Yes, it’s true. Chick-Fil-A employees especially will say my pleasure at the most awkward times outside of work. To this day my most awkward moment was visiting a local shoe store, going to pay, the employee thanking me for handing her my card, me replying “my pleasure!” and then her saying that she knew I was the girl from drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A. Even after leaving Chick-Fil-A two years ago this woman still recognizes me when I walk into her store.

The person on headset can hear you just as well as you can hear them (Read: they probably can’t hear you very well)

As I mentioned previously I spent a lot of time on headset. Most of the time I heard the guest say, “could you repeat that? I can’t hear you.” Chances are, if you can’t hear the person on headset, they also can’t hear you very well. You will basically become the guest of the day if you speak loudly and clearly and are patient if you are asked to repeat part of your order because we can’t hear.

We appreciate (and typically remember) the customers who smile, are nice, and thank us

Customer service isn’t always the most fun field to work in. Guests are often rude and generally not very happy. Was that last sentence harsh? Yes. Is it true? Absolutely. And not all guests are rude, but a larger portion than what people realize aren’t the nicest people out there. If you can break that spell of rude and unhappy, we will appreciate and remember you. I’ll never forget getting yelled at by a guest for being useless for not giving her a meal for free when the next guest walked up to me and smiled and said, “I’m so sorry she yelled at you. I hope you are having a good day though.” Then stayed and chatted with me until I felt better after being yelled at. I recognized her every time she came through our door after that.

We will go out of our way to give you the best service we can

Even when guests aren’t the nicest, we want to go out of our way to give you the best service possible. I’ll never forget watching my managers and fellw co-workers go running out the front door to get something to a car that went through drive-thru that they forgot or when it was pouring rain and my managers were outside with umbrellas walking guests in from their cars.

We ask you to take the lid off your cup for a refresh for efficiency and cleanliness

Probably one of the most awkward questions to be asked while working at Chick-Fil-A was “is taking off my lid for your sake or mine?” It’s for efficiency so we don’t have to grab you a new lid and straw after we’ve taken it off and for cleanliness so we aren’t touching a lid you’ve been touching and spreading germs both ways.

You should never feel that you are “above” or “too good” for any kind of work

Working in fast food taught me a big lesson: I should never be “above” or “too good” for any kind of work. One day I could go on to be the chief marketing officer of a company, a manager, or own lots of businesses, but I never want to feel above the people that work fast food. You never know why someone is working any kind of minimum wage job. Maybe they went back to college at 40 and it’s a second job to help pay off debt, they needed to get out of the house and a job was the perfect way to do so, or it’s how they pay their bills. Never do I want to look down on people working any form of minimum wage job no matter where I make it in life.

Appreciate your co-workers, no matter their age, gender, etc.

Always appreciate your co-workers no matter how old they are, what their position is with the company, etc. Your co-workers are the ones that make your work experience, which makes it extra important to treat them well. I was not happy when I realized I’d be working in food, but my coworkers are what made my experience wonderful. I promise, work friends are a wonderful thing.

Chick-Fil-A gives you high expectations for any brand, food service, or customer service

The marketing and brand nerd in me is talking when I say after working for Chick-Fil-A I have super high expectations for how customer service should be. Working for a company where it’s policy to have the drive-thru window open the whole time a guest is waiting, where the goal is to have the guest’s food and drink in hand by the time they make it to the drive-thru window, and where we value face-to-face communication to the point where employees stand outside with iPads to take your order, I have rather high expectations for customer service. I won’t go too much into detail, but to say the least I have very high expectations for how customer service needs to be now.

Have you ever worked fast food? Have you worked in customer service? What did you learn from the experience? Anything you would add to this list? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Meeting the princesses in Walt Disney World is a bit of an art. The princesses manage a very full, busy schedule, often greeting guests in more than one park during the day. It’s all about knowing which park to go to and when. So today I’m going to give you a complete guide to meeting the Disney princesses in the parks. Restaurants are on this list as well, so just remember the princesses use lots of pixie dust to get back and forth between the restaurants and their meet and greets, so be patient when they have to leave to have a quick sip of tea and greet other guests.

Snow White

  • In the mornings, you can often find Snow White in the front of Magic Kingdom meeting with guests. Snow White is a “hidden” so she won’t be on your app or on the times guide. If you can’t find her, as she is typically very well hidden, be sure to ask a character attendant or cast member
  • In the late afternoon/evenings you will find Snow White in Epcot at the Germany Pavilion. She’s tucked in a corner and you will often see a line waiting for her to make her entrance.
  • You can also meet Snow White at Cinderella’s Royal Table, a restaurant that is strictly reservations only.
  • She can also be found occasionally in Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant in Epcot.

Cinderella

  • Cinderella currently meets exclusively in Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairytale Hall. She is a very popular one to meet, so if you’d like to see her I’d recommend getting a Fast Pass. Cinderella shares a meet-and-greet room with Elena.
  • Cinderella also meets at her restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Royal Table. This restaurant is reservation only, so make sure you book this ahead of time.
  • Cinderella also occasionally meets in Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant in Epcot.
  • Cinderella can be found at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during dinner time.

Aurora

  • You can meet Aurora in the France Pavilion in Epcot. She’s typically in the gazebo area, so keep your eye out.
  • Aurora can also be found at Cinderella’s Royal Table, a reservations only restaurant in Magic Kingdom.
  • Aurora also meets at the Perfectly Princess Tea Party at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
  • You can also occasionally find her in Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant.

Ariel

  • Ariel meets in Magic Kingdom at her Grotto. This is her meet-and-greet where you can meet her with her fin. Pro-tip: If you plan to be in Fantasyland before meeting her, pick up a dinglehopper. It’s the perfect thing to have her sign!
  • Ariel meets in her turquoise dress in Cinderella’s Royal Table, a reservations only restaurant in Magic Kingdom.
  • Ariel can also occasionally be found in Epcot at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, a restaurant in Epcot in the Norway pavilion.
  • Ariel also meets at the Bon Voyage Breakfast on Disney’s Boardwalk.

Belle

  • While you can’t actually meet Belle here, it’s the only place that you can see Belle in her ball gown. In Magic Kingdom you can meet her at Enchanted Tales with Belle. Fun fact for this princess as well: if you are in the show with her she gives you a book mark with her autograph and you can get a picture with her in her dress. But this is only if you are chosen to be in her show.
  • Belle also meets in the late afternoon/evening in Epcot’s France pavilion.
  • Belle also occasionally meets in Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot.

Jasmine

  • You can meet Jasmine and Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom in the mornings until mid-afternoon. This meet and greet is included on the times guide and is by the flying carpets across from Aloha Isle.
  • Jasmine meets in the Morocco pavilion in Epcot in the evenings as well. She is tucked away in the pavilion, so you have to keep your eye out for her.
  • Jasmine also spends some time meeting guests in Cinderella’s Royal Table, although sometimes she won’t make an appearance because Aladdin took her on a carpet ride between meeting guests in Epcot.
  • Jasmine can be occasionally spotted at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant in Epcot.

Pocahontas

  • Pocahontas meets exclusively in Animal Kingdom on the Discovery Island Trails. This meet-and-greet is included on the Animal Kingdom times guide, so make sure you take the time to meet her if you get the chance.

Mulan

  • Mulan is a hidden character in Epcot that meets in the China Pavilion.
  • Mulan can also occasionally be spotted at the Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant in Epcot.

Tiana

  • Tiana meets in Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom. Her line is the one that doesn’t have a FastPass, so the best time to go to meet her is early in the morning after park opening.

Rapunzel

  • Like Tiana, Rapunzel meets in Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom. Again, since there is no FastPass for this, I highly recommend going earlier in the day to meet her.
  • Rapunzel also now meets at the Bon Voyage Breakfast on Disney’s Boardwalk.

Merida

  • Merida meets in Fairy Tale Garden in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This meet and greet is on the times guide so I recommend checking the times and going as early as you can before there is a line.

Anna and Elsa

  • Anna and Elsa meet exclusively in Epcot at the Norway pavilion.

Moana

  • Moana is currently in the process of being moved from Hollywood Studios to Magic Kingdom. Once her new meet and greet opens, she will meet in Magic Kingdom in Adventureland.

As you can see, the princesses definitely use a lot of pixie dust to make it to where they need to be. Which princesses are you hoping to spot during your trip? Are there any princesses that you didn’t know you could meet? Are there updates or anything I need to add to this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Disney World. It truly is one of the most magical places on earth. Where else can you go from being a Jedi to dining with princesses to adventuring to the ‘happy place’ on Splash Mountain? Disney is truly the place for kids and kids at heart. And while as cast members we understand that people are paying thousands of dollars to visit our ‘playground’ there are somethings that cast members want guests to know. I’m not saying this to ruin your pixie dust or ruffle any feathers, because I promise I completely understand that you’ve worked hard to go on a once in a life time trip. But in all honesty, I can say you will have a more magical visit if you take these tips to heart.

  1. We can’t control the weather

While it seems silly to include this on my list, let alone to have it as the first item on my list, it’s something that needs to be included. Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. There is nothing we can do about rain, cold weather, hurricanes, strong wind, grey days, etc. While it isn’t fun to have to deal with rain during your trip, it is something to be prepared for. Plus, Splash Mountain is the best ride to head to during the rain.

  1. We have no idea which rides are down, how long they will be down, or how long the wait is

As cast members while we are here to help you, we aren’t up to date on what rides are down, how long they will be down, or how long the wait is unless we are a cast member that works at that attraction. While yes we are in the park, we aren’t informed about these things because our concentration is on helping on guests. Even attractions cast members won’t know other wait times or how long a ride will be down for. You typically will have to go straight to the source to ask a cast member there about what is going on and even then they sometimes don’t have information to give out.

  1. If you are nice to a cast member, we will go out of our way to make magic for you

I can’t stress to you enough how far out of our way we will go to make magic for you especially if you are nice even though you are having a bad day. We love seeing the smile and excitement a guest has when we have made magic for them.

  1. There is no such thing as a “perfect Disney day”

I heard this expression from a guest I was assisting and I couldn’t see it as more true. You can’t come to Disney and plan a “perfect” day because typically at least one thing will go wrong. The carts for turkey legs will close sooner than you expected, the souvenir you waited to buy until the last day will be sold out, your favorite ride will be closed, you won’t get the reservation you wanted, etc. But that’s were Disney magic comes into play. While it might not be what you had originally planned, there are always more amazing magical things to do and try in Disney. When the guest I was helping told me about this they said that they had been too late to get cinnamon rolls one day they ended up finding their favorite Disney treat, Dole Whips.

  1. Disney still has rules

Even the most magical place on earth has its rules. We can’t sell you the purchase with purchase items without you spending a certain amount, you can’t run through the park, a princess dress can’t have the ink tag taken off while your little princess is wearing it, we can’t give you the DVC or AP discount without seeing a physical card or seeing you pull it up on the My Disney Experience App, and so on. While it is a magical place, the magic still has restrictions.

  1. If we ever have to raise our voice when talking to a guest, yes, we absolutely are allowed to do so

While this happens more often with security, attractions, food, and non-merchandise cast members, if we have to raise our voice with a guest, yes, we are allowed to do so. While I won’t get into details about the reasons I’ve had to raise my voice with guests, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a guest then tell me that I’m not supposed to yell and I’m ruining the magic. Yes, it ruins the magic. I will admit that it isn’t so magical to hear anyone yelling in the parks unless they are on one of our thrill attractions. But I will say that if a cast member raises their voice, we are absolutely allowed to do so and it is typically for the safety of ourselves, our fellow cast members, and our guests. (It also isn’t very fun to raise our voices, so please be safe while in the parks)

  1. We want you to have a magical visit. We will give you all of our tips to a great day in the parks if you give us the chance to

As I said before, as cast members we understand that you’ve saved and sacrificed a lot to be able to come to Disney. We want to you get the most out of your trip and enjoy it. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have guests stop and ask what rides they should head to next only to have them walk away excitedly because you just mapped out where they should go and when to avoid long wait times. Remember: as cast members we typically spend some of our free time in the parks. We know which times are the best to hit up certain rides, which rides are worth a long wait, and where you can go for some great quick service food.

Are you a Disney cast member and have anything you would like to add to this list? Are you a guest that has anything to add or input for this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Midterms, finals, or even just a hectic week are right around the corner. You have to complete a homework, study for three tests, write two papers, and meet up with your group for the project due. Many students look at that schedule and aren’t even sure where to begin or how to start. That’s where a study schedule comes into play. It’s the perfect way to plan what you need to do each day to get things done. While it might be hectic, things are getting accomplished and you are working your way to get through a crazy week.

Start ahead of time

Cramming all of the information into your head the night before the test isn’t worth it. While yes, it can be possible on occasion, is it worth staying up late and all of the stress to get it done in one night? For me, it’s not. Typically, I like to start studying a week in advance so that I have two weekend days to really get stuff done, but if I feel that that material covered on the test will be difficult I often start one and a half to two weeks early. If you are someone who likes to study one chapter per day, take that into consideration as well and remember to add in a day or two to review all information and focus on parts you struggled with.

Know your test, assignment, quiz, and paper dates

I personally sit down at the beginning of the semester with my planner and write down each and every due date. Whether it’s an assignment, paper, quiz, project, or test, it’s in my planner. I always sit down at the end of a crazy test period and figure out when the next crazy test time will be because college goes in terms of midterms and finals season, not by months in my mind. I always make a note in my weekly notes section of big upcoming dates so that I can plan accordingly and know how many days in advance to start studying.

Find out the material that will be covered on the quiz or test

Now that I’ve entered the upper level courses at university it’s not uncommon for my professors to post a study guide online or go over material that will be covered on the test in class. Also, by actually attending class regularly professors often hint at material that will be covered on the test. One of my stats professors used to hint at particular types of questions he would ask on the test and often they would be almost word for word what is in our notes. I also highly encourage stopping by office hours and asking your professor what will be covered on the test and what you should be reviewing.

Know how you will study

Know which method works best not only for you, but for the kind of material you are studying. Do practice problems, high light your notes, read it out loud, make a study guide, write out note cards, go to a study group, rewrite your notes, or even do practice tests. For example, if I’m studying for a math test I will read over the definition notes, look over the kinds of problems I will be doing, write out the steps for the kinds of problems I’m doing, write out any formulas I may need to know, do practice problems, and finally do practice tests.

Break it into pieces

The purpose of a study schedule is not to cram things at the last minute. The purpose is to break things into smaller pieces to make it manageable. If you have an upcoming IMC test that covers 5 chapters maybe you want to start 7 days early and go over chapter 1 notes and definitions day 1, chapter 2 notes and definitions day two and so on and then use days 6 and 7 to review any materials you might have been struggling with. That way, you can take the time to focus on material and only cover 1 chapter’s worth of material instead of cramming 5 chapters into your head in one night.

Get to work

Now that you know your dates, what you need to study, how you will student, and when it’s time to get to work. I always sit down with my study schedule and add it to my daily to-do list so it gets done. It’s the best way for me because then I know that I’m getting work done from the goals that I personally set.

Do you make study schedules? If so, are there any tips from this list that you use? Do you have any tips to add to this list? If you don’t make study schedules, do you plan to make one and use any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!