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Tips for Doing Disney World in Style

Jordan Rhodes

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There are tons of great blog posts and resources out there on how to conquer Disney World. If you’re reading this post then you love Disney, and have probably read most of them. So I decided to take a different approach and help you feel stylish while doing Disney - because let’s face it, it’s not the place to go to feel cute. You’re sweaty, tired from all the mad dashes into the parks, stressed from screaming kids, surrounded by junk food and crazy people in a rush. It can be a little daunting at times. But read this and hopefully it will be a little easier.

  • Hire a tour guide.

    We love to hire tour guides, either through Michael’s VIP’s or Stone VIP’s. The guides will meet you at the entrance to the parks, get you inside, and lead you around to all the rides, where you never wait in line. How do they do this? Before you arrive they will arrange your initial Fastpasses, then throughout the day they are constantly on their phones checking wait times, adding new Fastpasses, and planning all of your next moves. It is SO worth it to not be on the app trying to figure all of that out on your own, and you’re free to really enjoy the park. Bonus - they will watch the kids who aren’t tall enough for the fun rides. Pricing varies, but minimum is about $800 for 6 hours plus gratuity.


  • Plan Fastpasses in Advance.

    If you do not hire a guide, make sure you pick your allotted three advance Fastpasses so you’re not running like a crazy person towards a popular ride when the park opens. Fastpasses are available 60 days prior to your visit if you’re staying in the park (including at the Four Seasons), or 30 days in advance if staying off property. To book them, download the Disney app, and make sure your tickets are purchased through the app or link physical passes by entering the number into the app (don’t worry, it is very easy to navigate). Here are my suggestions for Fastpasses, based on popularity: at the Magic Kingdom - Peter Pan, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (my kids’ favorite); at Hollywood Studios - Slinky Dog, the Aerosmith roller coaster, the Tower of Terror; at Animal Kingdom - Avatar, Everest, a safari ride. And voila! Now you’re ready to wake up a little later and ease your way into the park, because those without Fastpasses are running and waiting. Epcot unfortunately is a little different because the Fastpasses work on a Tier system. You can only book one of the popular rides as one of your three, which would either be the Frozen ride, Test Tracks or Soarin’. Soarin’ is my absolute favorite ride of all (as a travel journalist it’s not hard to see why), so I would book that one and run to Test Tracks when the park opens. But if you have little kids, book the Frozen ride in advance and run to Soarin’ when the park opens, whose line moves a little slowly, then be prepared to wait a little bit at Test Tracks. If you do Test Tracks first the Soarin’ line will get very long because it doesn’t move as quickly as the other. For your other two Fastpasses we like Mission: Space and the other Space ride.

    Now don’t forget, once you’ve used your first three passes you are able to book more one by one. So try to book them all as early as possible in the day so you’re not waiting all day to add be able to add a new one.

A view from the Animal Kingdom safari

A view from the Animal Kingdom safari

  • Book the popular restaurants and events in advance.

    Some of these include the Be Our Guest restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, the Goofy breakfast at the Four Seasons, ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, the luau at the Polynesian, the pirate fireworks cruise at the Contemporary, the Star Wars dessert party at Hollywood Studios, the Princess Tea at the Grand Floridian, Rose and Crown pub for Epcot fireworks, and the rooftop restaurant, Capa, at the Four Seasons for fireworks. Except for those last two which are more for date night, your kids will be over the moon at the rest and thus in better moods.

Happy kids at the Star Wars dessert party

Happy kids at the Star Wars dessert party

  • Speaking of date night…

    if you have young kids, I highly suggest booking a babysitter and doing After Hours at Hollywood Studios and/or the Animal Kingdom. Most of the best rides at the parks are for taller kids, so if you have littles they can’t go on them. After Hours tickets allow a handful of visitors into the parks late at night, and you can do the rides over and over and over. The kids get to bed early and you can really enjoy yourselves.

    The best sitter service is called Kids Nite Out, and we have loved every sitter we’ve hired from them. They are highly reputable and recommended by the Four Seasons, as well as all the Disney hotels.

  • And speaking of the Four Seasons…

    Stay here! It is THE BEST hotel, and I even know people who vacation there and don’t even go to the parks. A more detailed post on it is in the works, so for now just trust me that it can’t be beat.

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  • Pack accordingly

    Everyone I know wears athleisure to the parks because it is basically cardio. So buy some new Lululemon and APL’s and feel a little more stylish. My husband likes to wear shorts with golf shirts so he stays cool. Don’t forget the sunscreen and bring some princess costumes or Star Wars t-shirts for the kids. When going out at night I like to wear white jeans, Golden Goose’s, something like a Figue top and my favorite L’agence jean jacket. Crossbody bags are perfect for day and night.

  • Don’t forget the gear

    We love our Bugaboo for the park because the tires are big and can be navigated easily. We also always pack tracking watches for the older kids. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve wandered off, and with crowds like those it’s easy to lose them. We have the GizmoPal2 which allows us to call the kids, they can call us, and we can see their location. It brings us peace of mind. Another important device is a backup charger, because if you are headed to the parks without a guide you are going to burn lots of battery using the Disney app to check out Wait Times, shows and Fastpasses.

And there you have it, a few ways to feel a little less stressed, therefore a little more stylish. Let us know if you have any specific questions!

48 Hours at The Dewberry in Charleston

Jordan Rhodes

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In late October I took a trip to Charleston with my little boy for his birthday. Having gone to college there I feel like somewhat of an expert on the city, but with the ongoing explosion of hotels and restaurants over the last few years, I need to get down there often in order to keep up with the pace of additions. Six visits with my kids over two years means I’ve finally figured out the best way to see the city in two days, so I decided to create a short itinerary for those looking to spend a weekend in the Lowcountry (but don’t forget we have a full city guide to Charleston on our app). And because our guides are for luxury family travel, it means they work with or without kids.

When my little boy and I landed we headed straight to The Dewberry hotel, Charleston’s newest hotspot. I had heard from so many friends how cool it is, and I was very intrigued by the design. They took a historic building from the 60s and incorporated the original elements from that era to create updated luxury, but with mid-century influences. The results are impressive, and you really feel like you have stepped into that decade. Here are a few photos, some taken by me, and some provided by the hotel:

The Living Room. Photo by the hotel

The Living Room. Photo by the hotel

The bar in the Living Room

The bar in the Living Room

Henrietta’s restaurant. Photo by the hotel.

Henrietta’s restaurant. Photo by the hotel.

The Concierge. Photo by the hotel.

The Concierge. Photo by the hotel.

Cocktails and the famous popcorn.

Cocktails and the famous popcorn.

The entrance. Photo by the hotel.

The entrance. Photo by the hotel.

Our room was beautiful, and very spacious with a four-poster bed, stunning marble bathroom, and the hotel’s own signature bath products. I could have soaked in the large, free-standing tub all day followed by cocktails in the living area, and Don Draper could have been transported to our personal bar and felt right at home on the velvet sofa. Besides hanging in our room, we also spent some time in the lobby bar area where kids are welcome, and my little boy fell in love with the popcorn.

Our personal bar.

Our personal bar.

The living area of our corner room.

The living area of our corner room.

The Dewberry bath products. I love the font they chose.

The Dewberry bath products. I love the font they chose.

The spacious bathroom.

The spacious bathroom.

This is the bread basket from room service! Perfect after a night out on the town.

This is the bread basket from room service! Perfect after a night out on the town.


The design aside, the staff is also a reason to stay here. Everyone we encountered could not have been friendlier, and it seemed like there was a balloon for my little boy every time we turned around. There’s nothing better than staying at a luxury hotel where you feel like your kids are really welcome. I also think the location is perfect, situated right in the middle of the stunning mansions down on the water, and the new foodie spots that have popped up in a renovated part of town. Plus the square right across the street is a great place for kids to run around, for older kids to ride bicycles provided by the hotel, or for the entire family to enjoy at the well-known, seasonal Farmer’s Market.

Bicycles to borrow.

Bicycles to borrow.

Garden & Gun magazine has a boutique in the lobby with amazing curated goods.

Garden & Gun magazine has a boutique in the lobby with amazing curated goods.

While we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the spa, which I hear is amazing, we did make use of the hotel’s car service which will drop you off at most of the tourist spots and restaurants on the peninsula. It was very tough for me to narrow down my picks for the perfect two-day visit, but here is what I would recommend:

Day 1

Lunch - after landing and checking in, head to Cru Cafe which is nice and quick, and not too far from your first activity. My kids devour the macaroni and cheese.

Afterwards, take a boat to Fort Sumter for a tour of this Civil War-era fort. The kids will love the boat ride, and you will enjoy the view of the historic homes and steeples. Reservations can be booked ahead of time here.

If there’s still time before dinner, pop into the aquarium next to the boat landing.

Dinner - dine at The Ordinary. While I wouldn’t recommend eating at its famous sister restaurant, FIG, with kids, they are perfectly welcome here and the seafood-based menu is incredible. I still dream about the oyster sliders.

Day 2

Breakfast - Henrietta’s at The Dewberry. My photo of the bread basket, above, says it all.

Take a walk down towards Waterfront Park where my kids are obsessed with splashing in the fountain. It is seriously all the want to do whenever we’re in town. If you’re interested in a horse-and-carriage tour they embark from the market area on the way here, but I find they are best for older kids. Afterwards keep walking towards the bottom of the peninsula where there is a great playground for kids at 70 East Bay Street. You can then wander along the water checking out the enormous historic homes if you did not take a carriage tour.

Lunch - Hop in your rented car and head to Taco Boy. You’ll love the delicious Mexican food and the boisterous ambiance is perfect for kids. I particularly love the enclosed courtyard where they can walk around.

After lunch make your way to Magnolia Plantation in your car. Kids will love the petting zoo with animals like tame deer and peacocks, and there are also train and boat rides. Adults will enjoy getting a glimpse of the antebellum south, with the moss-covered trees and house with sweeping front porch. You can also pop over to other neighboring plantations like Middleton Place and Drayton Hall. If the kids are still up for activities, Charles Towne Landing has a mini zoo and other fun activities.

Dinner - head to Leon’s Oyster Shop for insane oysters, or their famous fried chicken for those with less adventurous kids (like mine).

Day 3

Breakfast - after a long day sleep in a bit and head to Hall’s Chophouse at 10 am. The Sunday brunch with gospel choir is really special.

Next take your car out to Sullivan’s Island for some beach time. We like this beach because it is more families, less college students and surfers like at Folly Beach.

Lunch - enjoy a late lunch at nearby The Obstinate Daughter. The pizza and pasta will be enjoyed by all.

Finally, start planning your next trip to Charleston. Because we promise you will fall in love with this town full of southern charm, noteworthy restaurants, and architectural beauties.

Horse-and-carriage tours.

Horse-and-carriage tours.

Petting deer at Magnolia Plantation.

Petting deer at Magnolia Plantation.

Stunning homes.

Stunning homes.

The fountain at Waterfront Park.

The fountain at Waterfront Park.

A walk along the water.

A walk along the water.






A Glimpse of LA and Palm Springs

Jordan Rhodes

Jordan took a trip to LA and Palm Springs in February, and below are captured moments. Included in the trip were stays at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Parker Palm Springs, as well as meals at Vincento, Sunset Tower Hotel, the Polo Lounge and Nobu Malibu.