Disney World Vacation Planning: Non-Holiday Dates to Avoid

plan a better Disney World vacation

Heading off to Disney World these days requires a lot more planning than it took years ago. In the olden days, or perhaps the Golden Days, you could throw some bags in the car and drive to Orlando for a week or a simple weekend without doing very much in advance. In this new era of technology, you’ll need hotel reservations, Advance Dining Reservations, and ride reservations using FastPass+, if you don’t want to pay a fortune, get shut out of restaurants or stand in long lines. Disney World planning has become complicated.

Many vacation planners are well aware that travel during holidays can seriously affect the quality of your trip, since many families choose major holidays to vacation in Orlando. I’m talking about summer holidays when school is out, Christmas holidays, Spring Break, etc. It’s natural to expect these times of year to be busy. But when you start to look at a calendar to schedule your trip, you should be aware that there are other events and actually sports competitions that can have an impact on crowds and general traffic at WDW. 

Over 10 Ways Kids Can Earn Money for a Disney Vacation

avoid these dates at Walt Disney World

Many of the following competitions and events that take place on Disney property may not have that much of an impact on the amounts of people entering the theme parks. Sometimes athletes and chaperones travel to Orlando for competitions, but just covering that expense alone does not always allow for the purchase of park tickets. What they can affect your trip in particularly are the crowd levels at your resort, since in an effort to save money, many student groups stay at the Value Resorts like the All-Stars and Pop Century Resort. Cheering, chanting and people everywhere can take a toll on your sanity during what was intended to be a time to relax. If you typically choose the Value Resorts, these may be dates you want to avoid. 

While Mardi Gras is not an actual event that takes place at WDW, many school children get off for several days or the entire week in southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Our coastal Alabama school system shuts down for Monday and Tuesday of Mardi Gras week every year. We live four hours away from New Orleans, but that is close enough for local cities to have their own Mardi Gras parades. 

Teens from Argentina and Brazil frequently take school breaks at Disney World in large groups. There are intense discussions on the Internet about the chanting, singing and clapping that occur within these groups. While I am all about having a good time with other students on a trip, many people have complained these large 100+ teen groups (did I mention loud noise and chanting?) created tranquility issues for their time in the theme parks. The word chanting is like the opposite of the word relaxing. 

Understanding Disney Park Closure Phases: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

IMG_7323

Around the 1st/2nd week of November, New Jersey schools have a teachers’ convention when many families head south to Disney, a time known as “Jersey Week.” This is like the Spring Break of winter for New Jersey schools, and park attendance will definitely increase. 

During “Pop Warner Week” in December, Disney hosts the The Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships. Again to save money, football players, cheerleaders, coaches and family members will pack out the Value Resorts, as well as some of the Moderate Resorts. If you can imagine almost 70 football teams and over 400 cheerleading squads there for competition, you will know to expect noise and crowds, especially on busses, and higher there park crowd levels at night when competitions are completed. 

Will it be the ruination of a great vacation if you schedule a trip during these events? Absolutely not, but it’s just a good idea to be aware of what is going on at the parks and resorts so you can make an informed decision. Everybody handles crowds and kids differently.

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

when is Jersey Week at Disney World

Use this simple layout so you can see how these dates might affect your trip. These were dates for 2016. 

January

College Cheerleading & Dance Team National Championships – January 15-17, 2016

National Dance Team Championship – January 30-31, 2016

South American Tour Groups

February

National High School Cheerleading Championship – February 6-7, 2016

Twirlmania – February 12-15, 2016

March

Contest of Champions Nationals – March 4-6, 2016

International All Star Cheerleading Championship – March 12-13, 2016

Mardi Gras Holidays – February 9 is Mardi Gras day in 2016

April

All Star Cheerleading & Dance Worlds – April 23-25, 2016

July

South American Tour Groups

November

Jersey Week – November 10-11 in 2016

December

Pop Warner Super Bowl – December 5-9, 2016

National Cheer & Dance Championships – December 5-9, 2016

Cheapskate Princess Extravagance: Platinum Disney Jewelry

best time to go to Disney World

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

How to get around Disney World by bus

(Updated September 2016) One huge reason visitors choose to stay in Disney World Resort hotels is because of the free transportation around the property. If you fly into Orlando, Magical Express will drop you and your luggage off at your hotel. If you drive yourself, you can park your car and let Disney do the driving from this point on.

Wikipedia, that source of information most high school English teachers detest, provides a WDW bus 411. “Disney Transport operates a fleet of TMC RTS, Nova Bus LFS, Gillig Low Floor, and New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior bus models. They have approximately 350 buses in their fleet with a further 50 Gillig buses on order. Disney has been expanding their fleet with new Gillig buses, and has recently introduced new articulated New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior buses as a pilot project to increase capacity on certain routes.”

So let’s take a look at navigating your way around The World using the Disney busses. They’re free, after all!

*Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

Why use the Disney bus system?

It can save you time. The Disney resort is a huge piece of property with miles and miles of roadways, some of which can be confusing even with huge signs along the way. If you get turned around while driving yourself, this can waste precious park time. Why use your time parking your car and walking to a tram/the gate when you can have a bus drop you off at the front gate, (for free!) Time = money.

It can save you money. Why use your own gas? Why put the wear and tear on your vehicle? 

Almost areas throughout the Walt Disney World Resort are accessible using a bus, even if some of the routes will need a transfer to another bus. A bus can take you to the following areas:

  • Disney Springs
  • Disney Theme Parks
  • Disney Water Parks
  • Resort hotels

*“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

Disney World bus guide for beginners

When do the busses operate?

The Parks: Bus transportation is available each day 45 minutes before the parks open until one hour after the parks close for transportation from your resort. Theme park hours can vary from day-to-day, and the hours are often different from park to park. Call or visit the front desk if you have questions about specific times buses will be available. To get to Disney Springs from a park, bus transportation runs from 4pm to 11pm (or until 2 hours after the park close, whichever is earlier). There is no service from Disney Springs to the parks. 

Disney Springs to a resort hotel: Bus transportation is available each day from resort hotels to Disney Springs until 1:00 a.m. Between 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., only outbound service from Disney Springs to Resort hotels is available.

Let’s get this bus trip started…

There are convenient and well-marked pickup points throughout Walt Disney World Resort. There are a plethora of Cast Members standing by to instruct you to the bus stop if you cannot locate it on your own.

Bus transportation service at the Walt Disney World Resort operates every 15 to 30 minutes, but remember this is not always an exact timetable. Busses break down, busses fill up during peak travel seasons, and loading can take longer depending on visitors and their needs.

Values & Moderate Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Value and Moderate resorts provide buses to WDW theme parks.

Deluxe Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom resorts (Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Bay Lake, Contemporary Resort, and Wilderness Lodge) provide buses to the other three parks. You can walk to Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower, in addition to traveling by monorail or ferry to Magic Kingdom.

To get to EPCOT, you can take a monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) and take the Epcot monorail straight to the park

From the Boardwalk Resorts, take a bus to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Walking or taking a boat are options to get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from here.

*Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World vacation tips

Resort ——> Resort

Visitors travel from resort to resort for several reasons. You can “resort hop,” which means yo take a look around resorts where you do not have reservations. You are not allowed to swim at resorts where you are not staying, but looking around is allowable and even encouraged. 

You can grab a bite to eat at different resorts, many of which have fabulous dining entertainment and Character Meals. 

Using a bus to get from your resort to another resort, catch a bus to the closest theme park. Transfer to a different resort bus upon your arrival, or walk/monorail/boat yourself from there, depending on your location.

You can also take a bus to Disney Springs and catch a different resort bus from there.

Resort ——> Fort Wilderness Campground

If you are visiting Fort Wilderness Campground for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show, or to visit the Circle D Ranch, catch a bus from your resort to the nearest theme park and ride a bus to the campground.
 
You could also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and take a boat from there, or from Magic Kingdom, walk to the Contemporary Resort and take a bus.

Theme Parks ——> Disney Springs

As of September 2016, Disney now offers one way bus transportation from each of the four parks to Disney Springs starting at 4pm running through 11pm (or until 2 hours after park close, which ever time is earlier). If you wish to head to Disney Springs prior to 4pm, you will need to travel from a Disney resort. You will need to plan ahead for how you will get back to the Theme Park as bus service is not available. 

Disney Springs ——> Theme Parks

This is where many first time visitors, and those of us that just plain forgot, struggle with bus transportation. Disney does NOT offer bus transportation from Disney Springs directly to any theme park.  You can be pretty sure this is because people were parking for free and riding in on the bus.   If you want to get to a Theme Park from Disney Springs, ride a bus to any resort and then take a bus to the theme park from there. 

Resort ——> Water Parks

Bus service begins from Disney resorts 30 mins prior to water park opening, and the buses run until the water parks guests have departed.

For Typhoon Lagoon, there are afternoon instructions that are very important. 

  • Leaving a resort before two p.m., take the Disney Springs/Typhoon Lagoon bus 
  • Leaving a resort after two p.m., take a bus or monorail to Epcot and transfer to a Typhoon Lagoon bus.

*FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World resort bus system

Resort ——> Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf

There is no direct bus to Fantasia Mini Golf.

From any theme park or Disney Springs, take a bus to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf is located very close to either of these two resorts, making it easily within walking distance.

To get back home, ride a bus to any theme park or Disney Springs and catch a bus back to your resort from there. 

Resort ——> Winter Summerland Golf

There is no direct bus to Winter Summerland Golf.

While Blizzard Beach is open, take a bus to Blizzard Beach and simply walk mere steps over to Winter Summerland Golf. 

Things get complicated when Blizzard Beach is closed, because bus service stops at Blizzard Beach an hour after closing.  I called Disney directly on 10-15-15 and was told there is a bus that cycles between Blizzard Beach, Epcot, and Coronado Springs, which is located just down the street from Blizzard Beach. Double check this with your resort front desk, but if you take a bus from your resort to Epcot and transfer to a Blizzard Beach bus, you should be dropped off at Winter Summerland Golf on this cycle, and bus service should cease here around 11 p.m. 

*Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide*

Disney World transportation

Resort ——> Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports

From All-Star Sports, All-Star Music and All-Star Movies, Pop Century Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resorts, there is direct bus service to and from the Sports Complex every 30 minutes.

The operating hours on the route to ESPN Wide World of Sports will vary day-to-day and are based on events at the Sports Complex.

If you are not staying at one of these resorts, take a bus to any theme park and catch a bus to one of the resorts listed, and then take a bus over to the Sports Complex. I’m just guessing here, but this sounds like it could take a long time to accomplish this, like over an hour or two with waiting and bus transferring If you are in a big hurry, I would phone a cab.  

*Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Several Bus Riding Tips

  1. Do not take luggage or alcohol on a resort bus.
  2. All strollers must be folded and stowed out of the aisle, and you need to have this completed before you start to board the bus.
  3. Medical strollers for guests with disabilities are treated as wheelchairs.
  4. If you are traveling when the busses are not operating, taxi cabs are also available, obviously for a fee.

Disney bus

We asked our Cheapskate Princess fans on Facebook what they thought about using Disney bus transportation. 

Galonii,Bring a coat no matter what time of year you’re visiting Disney because the buses will be 50 degrees and you’re going to freeze your butt off on the way back to the hotel!”

C.j.I love love love the bus system! Except when coming back late from Disney Springs, and then it’s awful. The drivers are exceptionally wonderful. Back he was six, our Jackzilla even received a collector token that said ‘I was caught being good’ and that made his day.

Dianna, “I can go anywhere on Disney property! Very convenient. The busses are very cold, and it’s good to be patient. Sometimes you gotta be aggressive and show the bus driver you want to get on the bus. They will leave you because they will think you’re just standing there.

Anita, “Disney Transportation is the best way to get around on your vacation. You don’t have to worry about parking, traffic or Mapquest. Best of all, it’s free.”

CarissaWe avoid them as much as possible. There is nothing magical about the buses! Except, I will say, sometimes you meet the nicest people and can have the best conversations. For us, the extra cost is worth the convenience of a resort with boat or monorail transportation. We’re staying at the Contemporary in November. WALKING to/from Magic Kingdom is heaven to me – especially after Wishes.”

Disney Food Tip #2: Adults Save Money Ordering This Meal!

Cindy, “We used the buses on the last four days of our trip in August, and it was so much less stress. Mind you, we got lost several times driving ourselves around.”

Carissa offers some tips if you do take a bus,” Plan for the worst, and allow an hour to get to the park including waiting. Make the best of it, talk to the people you’re practically sitting on top of! For goodness sake, if you are able to stand, do it and offer the seats to people older than you, pregnant women, or moms who are struggling with a toddler. If you’re traveling with small children, put one on your lap and squish two tiny butts in one seat when it’s crowded. Be kind, be courteous, be patient. And bring a jacket – sometimes those buses are freezing!”

Randy agrees with Carissa, “You nailed it. I was raised to give up my seat to those older than me, women, and children. My boys continue that tradition. The bus transport for our family has always been a big plus for staying on grounds. You learn quickly that planning the extra time when headed to a park is a must just as important as taking your time after park close to let the crowds die down. We have met people from all over the world who share the love of Disney. An experience we would not have if we drove ourselves to the park.”

Items You Can NOT Bring to Disney Theme Parks: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney World bus transportation tips

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all the Disney day, and because transportation costs are built-in to the cost of your vacation as an on-property guest, there are no additional costs for you.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking out a bus window, headed toward a theme park…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Best Disney World Meals Under $20: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast

Whispering Canyon Disney World

Updated for 2017!

Ask Disney World travelers what resort they long to stay in, and a great many will say Wilderness Lodge. This resort has one of the most beautiful lobbies I have ever seen in all my travels, especially at Christmas time with the massive tree and all the decorations. But if the Deluxe Resort price tag is holding you back, you can stop by for a fantastic table-service breakfast for under $20 a person.

Whispering Canyon Cafe surrounds you with log-cabin atmosphere, and serving you will be, in the company’s own words, “colorfully named Cast Members who have a reputation for sassing customers.” Whispering Canyon is a lively dining spot known for loud whoops and songs, and the food has a great reputation for being consistent and well worth the price. They offer Lincoln Logs, coloring pages, spirited singalongs and hobby-horse races to keep the kids entertained.

While you can also enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe, we recommend breakfast because the prices are lower. So just what do you get for your money? Let’s take a look at the 2017 menu.

Whispering Canyon Cafe menu

Disney Whispering Canyon cafe All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet

Starters

Fresh Fruit with Honey-Ginger Yogurt and Granola  – $8.00

Blueberry Muffin – $4.00

Pecan Sticky Bun Skillet – $5.00

The famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast

This…is Whispering Canyons’s famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast

Entrées

All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet

scrambled eggs, western home fries, bacon, sausage, waffles, buttermilk biscuits, and sausage gravy – $18.00

Steel-cut Oatmeal

with fresh fruit, whole-wheat bagel, and Nutella serving  – $11.00

Eggs Benedict

two poached eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffin, and hollandaise sauce served with western home fries.  Add house-smoked pulled pork – $15.00

Farmer Mike’s Ham and Cheese Omelet

with western home fries and a biscuit – $14.00

Doc Willis’ Egg White Omelet

house-smoked turkey, spinach, tomatoes, and mild cheddar served with fresh fruit and a biscuit  – $14.00

Eggs-Any Style

with western home fries and your choice of bacon or sausage and a biscuit – $14.00

Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe chocolate chip pancakes

House-made Banana Bread French Toast 

with Bananas Foster Sauce served with your choice of bacon or sausage  – $14.00

Buttermilk Flapjacks

with bacon or sausage  – $13.00

Chad’s Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Flapjacks

with bacon or sausage  – $14.00

Belgian-style Waffle

with fresh berries and hand-shipped cream served with bacon or sausage – $13.00

Sides

Toast – White, Wheat, or Rye – $4.00

Sausage Links or Bacon – $5.00

Cold Cereal – $6.00

Chicken Apple-Raisin Sausage – $5.00

Stone Ground Cheese Grits – $5.00

Bagel with Cream Cheese – $5.00

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy – $5.00

 

Kids’ Mickey Check Meal 

Spinach and Tomato Omelet

served with fresh fruit, Goldfish honey-wheat toast and choice of small low-fat milk or small Dasani water. This meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines for complete meals without substitutions. Kids’ menu items are for children ages nine and younger. $8.00

Read – Disney’s Charmed in the Park Jewelry: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe Mickey Waffles

Kids’ Meals

Keep in mind that kids’ menu items are for children ages nine and younger.

One Egg

served with bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes, and a biscuit. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $8.00

Mickey Waffles 

served with bacon or sausage link. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

House-made Banana Bread French Toast 

One slice of Banana Bread French Toast served with Bananas Foster Sauce and choice of bacon or sausage link. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or a small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

Steel-cut Oatmeal 

topped with sun-dried cranberries and maple syrup served with fresh fruits. Includes choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $6.99 

Fresh Fruit Cup 

topped with yogurt and granola, served with choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $6.00 

Buttermilk Flapjacks 

with choice of bacon or sausage link and choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet 

served with choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $10.00
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe All-You-Care-To-Enjoy

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Smoothies

Made with nonfat yogurt and your choice of Mega-Berry or our flavor of the day – $5.50

Shakes

Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry All-You-Care-To-Enjoy – $8.50

Assorted Juices

Minute Maid orange, cranberry, grapefruit, apple, tomato, or vegetable juice – no price provided

Odwalla Berries GoMega – no price provided

Freshly Brewed Joffrey’s Coffee – no price provided

French Press Pot Estate Grown Organic Colombia Blend (Serves Two) $8.00

Alcoholic Beverages

Bloody Mary

Skyy Vodka and Bloody Mary Mix – $7.75

Mimosa

Champagne and Orange Juice – $9.50
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe pancakes and sausage
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe big breakfast
The famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast is known as an especially good deal for your money at $16.99 for adults and $8.99 for children age 10 and under.
 
At times, Whispering Canyon Cafe can be pretty noisy, so this wouldn’t be my recommendation for a romantic meal. But it’s a great dining location for those with large, noisy families or small children who might raise a fuss. No one will notice your noise with everything going on around you.
Cheapskate Princess Christmas
Whispering Canyon Cafe meal prices
Right beside the restaurant is the fabulous Wilderness Lodge lobby, which is decorated with this amazing Christmas tree 20% of the year. The lobby is amazing on its own, but with the tree?! Absolutely stunning…
Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree
 Wilderness Lodge Christmas

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

And while trying not to give away too many secrets, if you want some fun, ask for more Catsup!

Disney World Whispering Canyon Cafe ask for katsup

Be sure to make your ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservation) as soon as you know you are traveling to Disney World, because time slots fill up way in advance. Advance reservations can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. And guessing by the latest rumors, you will need that ADR to drive onto property without paying a parking fee.

In my opinion, Whispering Canyon Cafe offers the best breakfast our family has eaten on property.

Remember that menu items and prices can change without notice. Use this link to make certain the item you want is still on the official menu.

Read – Ferrytale Wishes Fireworks Dessert Cruise: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in Whispering Canyon Cafe, working your way through a stack of chocolate chip pancakes.

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Christmas Holidays at the Disney World Resorts…Where to Find the FREE Stuff!

While the Christmas holidays are the busiest time to visit Disney World, this time of year, with music, entertainment and fantastic decorations, is also the most beautiful. You don’t need park tickets to enjoy resort hopping and free fun. So where should you go and what should you do for free?

General Resorts

Holiday Performances – Choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies singing holiday tunes.  Stop and sing along with a few songs.

Christmas entertainment Disney World resorts

Treats on Christmas Day – For the past several years on Christmas day, Deluxe and Moderate Resorts offered Snickerdoodle cookies and lemonade in the lobby. These were the same kind of cookies given out at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and let me tell you, they were yummy. Looking for a Christmas day activity in Orlando without standing in line up to your elbows with thousands of people? Resort hop, and be sure to stop in the lobby.

free Christmas snacks at Disney World

Smores – Many of the resorts now have fire pits where they had out free marshmallows and fire sticks. Even in the summer whine’s hot, my sons thought this was pretty fun, so it’s got to be even better in cold weather. Check with your resort to see if there is a fire and ask about start time.

making marshmallows at Disney World Resort

Free Snack Samples – Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free samples like cookies and fudge.

Window Shopping – There may be no better time to “window shop” at the resorts than Christmas. The decorations are amazing and the music is magical. It will be very hard to keep that Visa in your pocket though, so stay strong. Once you see some of the prices on ornaments, you may have reason to fight the urge to spend.

Christmas shopping at Disney resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Villas –  You can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby, which was created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

The Edible Carousel – It’s pretty amazing to see the life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel, and 2014 will mark 15 years the carousel has been created. Be on the lookout for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

Boardwalk Resort

The Holiday Gazebo  – Gaze up at this merry gazebo in the lobby at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and examine a scene made entirely out of gingerbread and chocolate. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys just waiting to be discovered.

Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – Explore a Stitch-sized replica of the Boardwalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. See if you can spy Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

The Stitch Display contains:

  • 50 pounds of Icing
  • 400 gum paste and sugar flowers
  • 300 pounds of chocolate
  • Over 2000 gingerbread pieces
  • 15 hidden Mickeys

While you are at this resort, you really need to take your group to get one of these desserts. It’s a true experience!

Contemporary Resort

Gingerbread Holiday Tree  – On the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. Up until 2013, this tree was themed with Mary Blair’s Small World figures, but in 2014, Disney has (totally rammed Frozen down our throats) created a Frozen-themed tree for the Contemporary. Disney Characters have been known to pose here for photos, and if they are no where to be seen while you are there, you can snap your own photo in front of a holiday background near the tree.

The 2014 tree was inspired by Mary Blair’s “small world” figures and Disney’s animated movie”Frozen” and created by the Contemporary Resort Bakery Team. Thanks to WDW Shutterbug for the stats and photo.

  • 311 lbs. honey
  • 514 lbs. flour
  • 212 eggs
  • 67 lbs. spices
  • 35 lbs. sugar syrup
  • 222 lbs. icing
  • 433 lbs. chocolate
  • 1500 gingerbread shingles
  • and 14 hidden Olafs

See the Christmas Tree – Outside the resort, don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Take a stroll outside; kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of the truly immense size, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Mickey Wreath – One of my very favorite Disney Christmas decorations has to be the Mickey Mouse wreath at the Contemporary. This wreath is four stories tall, measuring 25 feet in diameter and has 18 feet elliptical mouse ears. As you approach the Contemporary in the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, it lights up the night.

Gingerbread Pin Signings – By  the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations. For 2013, the chefs were signing Gingerbread Trading Pins. Pastry chef Jeff Barnes was at the Contemporary Resort in 2013 on November 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I suggest you call the resort to see if any signings will take place this year. With the new Frozen theme, I would highly suspect there will be Frozen gingerbread-themed pins available.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Gingerbread House – In what may be the most famous of any Christmas decoration on WDW property, there is a life-size gingerbread house built in the Grand lobby during the holidays. 2014 is the 16th anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is 16 feet high and 17 feet wide, taking six men almost 10 days to create.

Grand-Floridian-Christmas-Gingerbread-House-

What sort of ingredients are used to make this fabulous  once-a-year holiday creation?

  • 1050 of honey

  • 140 pints of egg whites

  • 700 pounds of chocolate

  • 800 pounds of flour

  • 35 pounds of spices

The Tree! – Decorated with a Victorian theme, you have got to see the bird cages, intertwined swans, and lots of amazing golden-colored ornaments adorning this humongous Christmas tree. Assembled in just one night while guests sleep, the tree is four stories tall (40 feet) and sparkles with 45,000 lights.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in their Christmas finest, arrive to take photos in front of the grand Christmas tree. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.  This would make a fabulous Christmas card photo.

free picture of Minnie and Mickey at Disney World

Hear Some Tunes – Beginning mid-afternoon, you will hear live music as soon as you walk into the lobby. Starting around 3 p.m., a pianist starts playing and alternates with an equally talented orchestra until almost 10 p.m. There is no better place in all of WDW to hear live musicians performing mostly Disney themed tunes, all for free. The orchestra is called the “Grand Floridian Society Orchestra.”

Free music at the Grand Floridian Resort

If you take a walk around toward the Polynesian Village, the beach area here is lovely. Take a seat or a swing and enjoy the surroundings.

Disney World Polynesian Village beach

Wilderness Lodge

Enjoy the Christmas Tree –  When the holiday season rolls around, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Dressed in their Christmas finest, our favorite Disney couple arrives to take photos by the “indoor stream.” Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Disney World Wilderness Lodge Christmas decorations

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

As a FREE bonus, we have some bonus information on what to do at Downtown Disney, because entertainment is free there as well.

Bonus- Disney Springs

Enjoy Some Live Music – With restaurants like House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Raglan Road, there is no shortage of Downtown Disney music floating over the crowds. Even the new bowling alley, called Splittsville Luxury Lanes, frequently has outdoor musicians.

street performers at Disney SpringsJPG

Festival of the Seasons  – Enjoy Downtown Disney holiday entertainment (November 15 – December 29 for 2013) plus holiday sights and sounds.  Live Christmas entertainment includes carolers, Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs, costumed stilt walkers, street performers, and a lively holiday dance party with deejay.

Festival of the Seasons  – (November 14 – December 29 for 2014) Speaking of free live shows, Disney has performers walking around showing off everything from acrobatics and magic to theater. Live mini-concerts pop up in various places throughout the Downtown Disney area. Our family has watched Christmas Soldiers on stilts dance above our heads, had our photos taken with mime-type performers, and listened to some of the best singers and guitar players we’ve ever heard perform live. Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, and jazz ensembles in the evenings. Find a spot with a good view and enjoy the show.

Disney Springs Festival of the Season Christmas

Stop the family for a photo.

Disney Springs

Lego Store – Stop by and play with Legos, or take your picture with many of the huge Lego decorations.

Downtown Disney Springs Lego store free activities

There are some lovely sunsets at Disney Springs, which are always free.

Downtown Disney Springs lake sunset

Visit with Santa – During the Downtown Disney Festival of the Seasons, you can visit with Santa and have your picture taken. Santa’s cottage is typically located in-between The World of Disney Store and Arribas Brothers and Basin.

Disney Springs free Santa Photos

After Santa heads back to the North Pole, then Goofy takes over for photos. Times may vary, so stop by what was formerly Santa’s Chalet to see when Goofy will be available.

Goofy's chalet at Disney Springs

See a Show– Look for an outdoor stage across from The World of Disney store. There is a large amount of seating, which is more comfortable in winter because you will be seated in direct sun light. This can be a great place to rest weary feet. This stage is used as a performance area for middle through high school and college bands playing everything from jazz and pop to holiday tunes. You’ll see ballet dancers, dance teams, and hear choirs singing and dancing their way through every genre of music imaginable. Disney has very high standards for acceptance as guest performers, so sit back and enjoy the free show.

 

Christmas is one of the busiest times at Walt Disney World, but it is stunningly beautiful. When we can get to Orlando during the holidays, my family spends a lot of time wandering the resorts and gift shops, away from the huge crowds and long waits at the theme parks. Roller coaster rides are great, but taking in the holiday sights and sounds is equally as memorable.

Cjristmas decorations at Disney World

plan a Christmas Disney vacation

Christmas Mickey Mouse

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the monorail, traveling toward gift shops filled with Christmas merchandise…

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

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Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Understanding Disney Park Closure Phases: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney theme park closure phase

There are a LOT of people taking vacations to Disney parks, which these days can pretty much be year ’round. There seem to be no “down” times to go to Disney with short lines and low crowds like in years past. And during holidays, things can be just downright crazy! If you are one of those people planning a trip to Disney, you need to be aware that all these visitors in one place at one time can affect your vacation in more ways than you may realize.

Walt Disney World will limit the amount of people they allow through the gates so guests have more fun and stay safe. What happens if you are vacationing during these crowd-intense times? Can you get shut out of the theme parks?

Use this link for more Cheapskate Guides!

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Parking Lots Closing

The first thing to close when crowd attendance levels start to peak will be the Disney parking lots, because they generally reach capacity levels before the parks start closure procedures. At this point, your car may be diverted to an alternate parking lot. You will be provided bus transportation back to the park with the closed parking lot, provided that park is still open to visitors.

Time = Money. Driving over to another parking lot will take a lot of time, with traffic moving slowly, bumper to bumper. You will use up time getting to the new parking lot, plus time to get to your destination. When parking has reached the point of diversion, your day is going to get off to a slower start. 

Parks Closing

Now remember that the phrase “park closure” does not mean Cast Members simply shut the gates immediately; there are levels of closures.

Every single Disney World theme parks has reached a level of closure at some point, even if it was a lower level, and predictably because of its popularity, Magic Kingdom is the most likely to start closure procedures based on high crowd levels.

Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are less likely to reach closure phases, but it is definitely possible because they are smaller parks with less standing around room than Magic Kingdom.

Epcot has massive amounts of space, so it’s less likely to close than the other three parks.

Even Disney’s water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, can close due to high crowd levels, which can occur during Easter holidays and the week of July 4th.

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies

Disney World park closure phases

Phases for Closure

The Disney Company does not currently publish any specific information regarding park closure phases. What we assume about closure phases can change at any time with no notice to anyone, so this is our best guess guide. 

“Closure phases” are initiated by Disney to restrict the amount of guests coming into theme parks. There are four phases to closures. These closure phases also may not last all day long. If enough guests leave mid-afternoon or in the evening, closure restrictions can be listed and more guest will be permitted entry. 

Phase One

Guests allowed to enter:

  • Annual Passholders
  • Multi-day or multi-park tickets holders
  • Guests staying on Disney Resort property
  • Guests re-entering the same park that day
  • Guests who entered another park that day (park hoppers)
  • Guests with in-park reservations or appointments
  • Guests arriving using Disney transportation rather than personal transportation

Guests not allowed to enter:

  • Visitors with no park tickets
  • Visitors with one-day, single-park tickets
  • Visitors intending to use Cast Member passes

Phase Two

The only guests allowed through the turnstiles and into the parking lots are:

  • Annual Passholders
  • Guests staying on Disney Resort property
  • Guests re-entering the same park that day
  • Guests who entered another park that day (park hoppers)
  • Guests with in-park reservations or appointments
  • Guests arriving using Disney transportation rather than personal transportation

Guests not allowed to enter:

  • Visitors with no park tickets
  • Visitors with one-day, single-park tickets
  • Multi-day or multi-park tickets holders
  • Visitors intending to use Cast Member passes

Phase Three

The only visitors allowed through the turnstiles and into the parking lots now:

  • Annual Passholders
  • Guests staying at a Disney Resort
  • Guests with in-park reservations or appointments

Phase Four

The theme park and the parking lot is now closed to all arriving guests. You can assume the entire world is now standing inside that park. 

5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

crowds during holidays at Disney World

How Can You Ensure You Get In?

1. Scheduling

So we really love celebrating holidays at Disney World, with all the decorations, music, and special fireworks. But traveling during really busy times means long lines, people standing elbow to elbow, waiting in traffic, etc.  Our first suggestion to beat the huge crowds is simply to avoid taking vacations during major holidays like Easter, July 4th,  and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Schedule a trip close to a holiday, but not too close, and crowd levels will be lower and more manageable, way below the point of initiating closure phases.

Use this guide: Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

2. Arrive at the Parks Early

If you want to secure a parking spot and get yourself through the park turnstiles, you need to get an early start.  Standing around before the park opens will be way better than sitting in a car stuck in traffic later on, hoping you don’t get directed to a different parking lot.

Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

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3. Stay on Resort Property

Booking your stay on resort property has several advantages, even if you pay more for this privilege.

By waking up already located on Disney property, you can utilize Disney resort transportation. Guests arriving using Disney transportation rather than personal transportation are allowed through the turnstiles through a level two closure. 

Disney Resorts guarantee their guests access to a Disney World theme park. However, just because you are guaranteed to get into a park does not mean you will be able to get into the specific park that you want to visit. And just because you get in, standing side by side with all those people, this does not ensure you’ll enjoy the low-stress holiday you were looking forward to enjoying (see scheduling tip #1.)

Where to stay? Use this guide: *Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide

4. Make In-Park Reservations or Appointments

Guests with in-park reservations get into the parks through a level three closure, so save up your money and schedule a special event or meal just to be sure. 

You can start making ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) 180 days in advance of your trip. This is very important as dining reservations fill up fast during holiday seasons. Use this guide: Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Surviving Disney World at Christmas: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

 

 

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you considering what you and the fam. are doing during Christmas vacation…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

How a Walt Disney World Trip Alters Your After-Vacation Reality

Disney World changes your life

Returning from a fun vacation may be one of the most unpleasant feelings in the world. If you are reading articles about Disney, you are probably either planning a trip or you’re fighting depression, having just returned from a trip. Walt Disney World is a magical place, and a journey to Disney parks and resorts can make you… [Read more…]

Disney World Tips for Kids: “Free Day” Fun Activities

Free Day ideas for Orlando and Disney World Resort

We always to suggest a “free” day to those planning a Disney World vacation. Not necessarily “free,” as in it costs nothing, but free as in you do not have regular park tickets for that day. You and the family are not waking up early, walking for miles, and shutting down a park late into the night.

Many parents new to all this Disney planning stuff don’t realize that Disney vacations are tiring, and it’s a good idea to plan a “free day” mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. (If you can afford it, we actually recommend two days if you are staying for six days or more.) For those parents not into tantrums and meltdowns, be aware that heat, exhaustion, overstimulation, and an altered schedule starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well make plans for a day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks, because there really is a lot to do besides roller coasters and in-park character meet and greet lines.

Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!

These are our favorite tips for a free day at Disney World.

1. Sleep Late, Go for a Resort Swim

Staying on or off property, many resorts have great swimming pools available for your use. Most kids love to swim, so put on the sunscreen and head to the pool. This is a free option in that you paid to stay there, so swimming is thus free.

If the kids want to do some more serious swimming on a free day, there are several ways to purchase tickets to the Disney World Water Parks listed below.

swim on a free day at Disney World

2. Water Park

Water Parks Fun & More Ticket Option

You can add the Water Parks Fun & More Option to any valid Magic Your Way ticket For just $60 plus tax, you and the kids can experience Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, as well as admission to one of the following for each day of your ticket:

  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park This is closing, so don’t count on this.
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (one round) Tee times are required for Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and are subject to availability.

Individual Tickets

Tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach start at $53 per day before taxes. With both thrill and chill rides, relaxing lounge areas, wave pools, snorkeling adventures and much more, these water parks makes your local pool look like a $20 plastic back yard kiddie pool. Both parks have areas specifically for younger children. Use this link for more info. on Disney water parks and ticket options. 

when to visit Disney water parks

3. Resort Hop

Resort hopping is simply looking around the Disney resorts where you are not staying, which is 100% allowable and 100% free. What better way to decide where you want to stay on your next trip than by looking around? Each resort has a different theme, so ask the kids which location they like best. Use this opportunity to talk about finances, because there are big price differences in the three resort levels of accommodations.

The All-Star Resorts, Art of Animation Resort, and Pop Century Resort have the most to offer young children in terms of looking around and taking pictures. Here’s our guide to making the most of time spent looking around: Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

Resort hoppng at Disney World

4. Disney Springs

Wow, is there a lot to do at Disney Springs, which has been completely renamed and re-imagined from Downtown Disney, with some free activities and other things to do that are definitely not so free.

  • Shopping – Over 40 stores from toys and games to clothing and jewelry
  • Dining- Over 40 restaurants, including kid favorites T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe
  • Bowling – 30 lanes, billiards tables, live music, and dining opportunities
  • Movies – 24 Theaters
  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil. Tickets start at $59 before tax.
  • DJ Kids Dance Party – everybody can dance at the Waterside Stage
  • Characters in Flight – ride a balloon 400 feet up in the air
  • Goofy’s Candy Co. – No trip here is complete without stopping by this delightful candy store.

Traffic and parking is nuts while Downtown Disney transforms into Disney Springs, so our recommendation is to arrive early. Use this link for our best plan of action:

Use this link for our ideas on what to do at Disney Springs for free: Over 30 FREE Activities In Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Use this link for our ideas on how to experience the Disney Springs balloon and save money: Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide.

best time to go to Disney Springs in Orlando

5. Character Meals

While you can schedule a two-hour meal break on a day when you have park tickets, why not enjoy a character meal at one of the Deluxe Resorts when you have nothing else more pressing to do? Character meals are pricey compared to counter service meals, and you will be responsible for tipping, but you are paying for an event that kids (and adults) are sure to love.

Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe – Breakfast and Dinner, ($30 to $60 per adult)

Contemporary Resort – Chef Mickey’s – Breakfast, Brunch, and Dinner ($30 to $60 per adult)

WDW Swan Hotel – Garden Grove –  Breakfast and Dinner- ($30 to $60 per adult)

The Four Seasons – Ravello – “Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals” ($22 per child, $42 per adult) Thursdays and Saturdays only.

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 1900 Park Fare – Breakfast and Dinner – ($30 to $60 per adult)

Polynesian Village – ‘Ohana – Breakfast and Dinner – ($30 to $60 per adult)

Here are some suggestions from our readers about their favorite restaurants on Disney property, both in parks and resorts: The Top 20 Best Disney Restaurants, So Says the Fans!

when to schedule a character meal at Walt Disney World

6. See a Dinner Show

Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Take the kids to celebrate the spirit of Aloha with entertainment including dancers, drummers and a show-stopping fire-knife performer all within the confines of the Polynesian Village Resort’s open-air theater in Luau Cove.

Adults will enjoy Island pulled pork, BBQ ribs, roasted chicken and a vegetable medley, honey-lime slaw, pineapple-coconut bread, and for dessert, warm pineapple bread pudding with caramel sauce. The kids will enjoy mini corn dogs with tater tots, cheese pizza, and either grilled chicken or mahi mahi with rice and green beans.

The price here is over $60 per adult, and advanced reservations are highly recommended. Make those up to 180 days prior to your visit.

Spirit of Aloha Dinner show prices Disney World

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Located at rustic Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, the Pioneer Hall Players provide two hours of Wild West dancing, singing and zany vaudeville comedy.  You and the kids can clap your hands, stomp your feet, and sing along. For dinner, you will dine on buckets of all-you-care-to-enjoy fried chicken and smoked BBQ pork ribs, as well as a tossed green salad, baked beans, fresh-baked cornbread and strawberry shortcake.  Unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria are included for Guests 21 years of age and up. Soft drinks are also included. Prices are $59 to $68 per adult. 

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue prices

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Over at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, there is a covered, open-air pavilion for a music-filled hoedown with some favorite Disney Characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Chip ‘n Dale. You will enjoy an all-you-care-to-enjoy BBQ spread including barbecue ribs, smoked chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs with all the trimmings, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, lemonade, fruit punch and soft drinks, plus complimentary wine and beer for Guests 21 years of age and up.

Guests will enjoy cowboy rope tricks, a live country-western band, and line dancing with Disney friends. Several times each night, Disney Characters mingle with guests for photos and autographs. The cost is $30 to $60 per adult.

7. Visit Celebration

Just a short 15 minute drive away from the Disney property is the planned town of Celebration, Florida. Adults will enjoy the shopping, Starbucks, and restaurants. Kids will enjoy a large fountain just right for splashing by the lake, plus candy and toy stores.

Every night during the Christmas season, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Stop to have your photo made with Santa, plus there is other entertainment like strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more. This is our guide to locating the free activities in Celebration: Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide.

Celebration Skating

Skating is a reasonable $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate, with your skate rental included.

8. Visit Ft. Wilderness

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers campsites starting at just $69 (2015.) On 750 acres of pine and cypress trees, you can see wildlife like deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos roaming the woodland trails inside this woodsy backcountry retreat. We mentioned two dinner shows located at Ft. wilderness, but there are a lot of other activities here kids would enjoy as well. 

Explore the Ranch  

(Day) At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch from to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You might get to see the blacksmith make and apply horseshoes. There are many different horse breeds residing at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies. Advise the kids that as a free activity, they will be doing far more looking than petting.

Pony Rides

(Day) If your children want to touch ponies, for a very reasonable fee of $8.00 (cash payments only), children can take a pony ride. Offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall, no reservations are necessary. Riders must be:

  • at least 2 years of age
  • under 80 pounds
  • no taller than 48 inches
  • be able to hang on by themselves.
  • lead on their pony by a parent or guardian at all times.

Campfires/Singalongs

(Night) Ft. Wilderness is home to a free campfire program sing-along and movie, although there is a charge for refreshments. This event usually begins around 7 p.m. in fall/winter and 8 p.m. after the time change in April through summer.

Christmas Lights

(Night) During the Christmas season, vacationers staying at Ft. Wilderness adorn their campers, golf carts, and tents with a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s wise to take small flash lights with you, as some of the woodsy roads through the campground are not well-lit.  Smaller children with darkness issues might feel better with some extra lights.

Wagon Ride 

(Night) Take an old-fashioned, 25 minute horse-drawn wagon ride on a tour of the campground property. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, wagon rides depart daily at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM (weather permitting) from the front of Pioneer Hall. The cost is $8 for guests ages 10 and up and $5 for guests 3 to 9 years of age.

Traveling with a really big group? Group wagon rides (for 30 to 35 Guests) cost $300 per hour and are available with 24-hour notice.

For more information on any activity at Ft. Wilderness, call (407) 824-2832 for information. Here is our guide to wagon rides: Doing Di$ney 4 Le$$: Wagon Rides Under $10

where to find horses at Walt Disney World

9. Water Parade & Wishes

If you are resort hopping after dinner, be sure to catch a glimpse of the free nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant at the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort. The water-light parade was originally created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In my opinion, this show is geared more for younger children, but many adults say they enjoy it too. Approximate show times are:

  • Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
  • Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

If you have stayed for the Electrical Water Pageant, now stay to watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail loop. At the Polynesian Village Resort, the fireworks are visible directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon. The show music is piped in, so while you might not be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes, the kids will still get the show feel. Before or after the fireworks, grab a bite to eat or a snack. Hang out in the remodeled Polynesian lobby, which is beautiful at night.

You will also have a clear view of the fireworks from the Ticket and Transportation Center located next to the Polynesian. 

where to watch Wishes fireworks for free at Walt Disney World

10. Mini Golf

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf

At Fantasia Gardens, you and the kids will putt your way through five scenes featuring tutu-clad hippos, marching broomsticks and pirouetting ostriches. This course is perfect for families and beginner golfers.

Fairways Miniature Golf is more challenging. Resembling a traditional golf course built on a miniature scale, this course emphasizes skill over chance. Sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens make the Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course an exciting challenge, where par-3 and par-5 holes range in length from 63 to 109 feet long.

Both courses are located in the Epcot Resort area by the WDW Swan Hotel. Prices are $12 for children ages 2-9 and $14 for everyone over age 10.

Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

The elves then built 2 distinctly different 18–hole golf experiences: a sand course named “Summer” and a snow course named “Winter.”

On the Summer Course, putt among surfboards, sand castles and ornaments hanging from palm trees, peppermint-striped inner tubes, snapping clam shells and a melting snowman. Disney advises you try not to wake sleeping Santa buried in the sand!

On the Winter Course, watch out for Squirty the Snowman, who sprays water at golfers when golf balls pass beneath him. Holiday themed obstacles include giant peppermints, hockey sticks and the drawbridge of a fantastical, melting castle. The courses combine for the last holes, and after sinking the last putt on Hole 18, you will receive a special message from Santa Claus, courtesy of the WinterNet.

The courses are located next to Blizzard Beach water Park. Prices are $12 for children ages 2-9 and $14 for everyone over age 10.

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf prices

11. Movie Under the Stars

Each night at Disney resorts, a complimentary movie screening is available to Guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Whether on the beach, poolside or surrounded by the woods, enjoy relaxing evening entertainment that’s fun for the whole family, plus this is FREE! Some resorts have chairs while other resorts just have guests sit on the ground, usually on their own towels, so it does;t hurt to ask what the seating arrangements are beforehand.

For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, or call (407) 939-2273. Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice.

Here is a link to our free movie guide: FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

12. Parasailing

By taking a parasail ride at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre, think of the views of Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Magic Kingdom you have from high up in the air. For those not into getting soaked with lake water, you won’t even get wet! 

Set out on a standard flight, where you’ll coast through the air for 8-10 minutes, 450 feet off the back of the boat. Or, float even higher in the sky on a deluxe flight where you’ll flutter gracefully for 10-12 minutes, 600 feet behind—that’s as long as 2 football fields!

  • Come dressed the same way you would if you were heading into one of the parks; no swimsuit is required.
  • Bring sunglasses along for the ride, and don’t forget some sunscreen.
  • All fliers must be six years of age and up, and the combined passenger weight in the parachute must be between 130 and 330 pounds.
  • If a flier is under the minimum weight requirement, he or she may ride tandem with another child or adult to reach the minimum weight.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes early for check-in. Minors under 18 years of age must have an adult present to sign waivers prior to boarding.

Per U.S. Coast Guard regulations, Sammy Duvall’s parasailing excursions allow up to six passengers on board. Flyers have priority, but friends or family members can ride along in the boat free of charge, if room allows. (Rider inclusion is not guaranteed.)

Operating hours are 9 am to 9 pm, and the cost is $95 to $170 per personUse this link for more information. 

Disney World parsailing information and prices

13. Rent Personal Watercraft

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre offers two adventures on personal watercraft (PWC.)

Adventure One – Explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon on a guided tour, where you follow the leader to an array of one-of-a-kind sights, including Discovery Island, Magic Kingdom park and more. On this one-hour adventure, you may see animals like river otters or elusive Bald Eagles.

Adventure Two- For those who want to chart a new course, set off into our buoyed-off private riding area under the supervision of an official Sammy Duvall’s Watersports guide.

Either choice offers you an all-new view of Walt Disney World.

  • All PWC drivers must be 16 years of age and up, and will need a form of photo ID present at time of check-in
  • While up to 3 passengers may ride a single PWC at once, combined weight must not exceed 400 pounds
  • Minors under 18 years of age must have an adult present to sign waivers prior to departure
  • Any age can ride with an adult
  • PWCs are governed to 35 mph
  • Private riding area is approximately the size of 3 football fields, and is strictly for PWC use
  • Up to 4 PWCs can be rented at once

Before taxes, the price is $135 per PWC (not per person), and allows up to 3 riders or 400 lbsUse this link for more information.

14. Other Water Fun at Sammy Duvall’s

Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre, located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort marina, offers other water activities in addition to tubing and PWC rentals.

Tubing
Ride atop an inner tube towed by the pros. From mild to wild, you will control the ride with a set of hand signals.  The price is $165 which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to 5 guests. Cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax.  Use this link for more information.

Water Skiing

World-class instructors can accommodate all ages and skill levels, from first-timers to first-rate. Kids and beginners will have a private dry lesson will show you all the key tips you’ll need. More advanced skiers will enjoy top-level instruction to up your skills. The price is $165, which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to five guests. The cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax. Use this link for more information.

Wake Boarding

Towed at high speeds, tearing back and forth across Disney’s Contemporary Resort marina like a true champion of the water, there are wake boarding thrills for all ages and skill levels. For kids and beginners, a private dry lesson will explain all the necessary know-how to become an aquatic wonder once you hit the wake. For the advanced, a little top-level instruction can help you improve your technique and show you how to bust that big trick you’ve been after.

The price is $165, which includes a ski boat for 60 minutes, driver/instructor, equipment and up to 5 guests. The cost is for the boat rental, not the price per passenger, and does not include tax. Use this link for more information.

First Trip to Disney World? What You Probably Don’t Know

Sammy Duvall's watersports activities

15. Specialty Cruises

A free day could provide the opportunity to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy a relaxing cruise aboard a deluxe pontoon boats. Drop your anchor for the world-class fireworks of Magic Kingdom park or Epcot during an evening cruise, where you will experience the fireworks within Epcot when your pontoon boat sails up International Gateway near World Showcase Lagoon.

  • 21-foot pontoons hold up to 8 guests.
  • 25-foot pontoons hold up to 10 guests.
  • A Captain accompanies each Specialty Cruise.
  • Assorted snacks and soft drinks are served.

On the 21′ Tracker Pontoon, the Magic Kingdom show price is $292.88, tax included for your group of 8 guests. Water, soda and bagged snacks  are included. The sound from the fireworks show is not provided on the boat.

On the 25′ Tracker Pontoon, the Magic Kingdom show price is price is $346.13, tax included for your group of 10 guests. Water, soda, and bagged snacks are included. The sound from the fireworks show is provided on the boat.

The price for the only IllumiNations cruise is $325 plus tax for up to 10 guests. Price includes pontoon boat, driver, water, soda and bagged snacks.

Celebration and Dining Cruises

You can transform any cruise into a “Celebration Cruise” with balloons and a banner, and order onboard feasts from Private Dining. Private Dining can deliver customized menus, personalized birthday cake, champagne and strawberries, dessert platters, and light appetizers. You could even order a full meal to be enjoyed during your cruise, from intimate brunches to reception-style dinners. Celebration Cruise packages and Private Dining are available at an additional cost. A professional Butler service is available for order as well. Call Private Dining at the Disney Resort where your cruise launches:

  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: (407) 824-2955
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: (407) 824-2473
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: (407) 824-2165
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts: (407) 939-3160

Fireworks are not guaranteed = On the rare occasion, fireworks shows may be rescheduled or canceled. Guests are encouraged to call to reconfirm the fireworks schedule at least 2 weeks prior to arrival.

Also, it is customary to give your “captain” a gratuity. For more information, use this link. 

Disney World specialty cruises

16. Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage

How about a boat trip where everyone dresses up as pirates?!

Leaving from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, this experience used to be called Magical Fireworks Voyage. You will begin with cookies, snacks and beverages before you head out for a boat trip with prime viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant. Before you board, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee arrive for fun and photos, and your host for the night is “Patch.” As you sail along the Seven Seas Lagoon, Patch leads sing-along, Disney Trivia challenges, and tells the story of Peter Pan, who actually greets you when you arrive back at the dock. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance, and there is a 48-hour cancellation policy  

The price is $33 for ages 3 – 9 and $57.50 for anyone age 10 and up.

Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage

17. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Your daughter will receive her own “Fairy Godmother-in-training” who will wave her magic wand, then break out the beauty tools, and turn your darling into a princess!

Depending on what services you want to pay for, you will choose a hairstyle, make-up, and nail color. You can add accessories, a Disney princess costume, and keepsake photo in a princess-themed photo holder if your brought $$$.

Packages start at $54.95 plus tax and go up to $189.95.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique can be found inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, but on a free day, you’ll want to visit the other location inside the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Springs. Use this guide for more information: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

18. Fireworks Dessert Cruise

Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise lets you see the fireworks show Wishes from a completely new viewing location. You’ll be on board one of Disney’s ferrys, enjoying all sorts of fabulous food and drinks. Guests will board the ferry at the Ticket & Transportation Ferryboat Dock one hour prior to Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

The cost is $99 for guests over the age of nine and  $69 for children ages 3 to 9. These prices include taxes and your gratuity.

Disney World ferrytle wishes dessert party prices

19. Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room is held at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  Afternoon Tea is offered seven days a week and is held from between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.  The cost for tea and assorted finger foods range from $13 to $45, For more information including menu items and specific prices, use this link. 

Disney-Moms-fun-outside-the-parks

How a Walt Disney World Trip Alters Your After-Vacation Reality

And there you have it, tons of activities for a day at Disney World that doesn’t include park tickets. Your “free day” can be as relaxing or exciting, or as free or expensive as you want it to be. The true beauty of a trip to Disney World is never running out of things to do. You will just never be able to see and do it all without running out of time.

Running out of money, well, that’s a different matter altogether.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you after you woke the family up late, headed for your resort pool and perhaps a movie at Disney Springs. 

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Disney World 4 Le$$: Wagon Rides Under $10

cost of Fort Wilderness Wagon Rides at Disney World

Updated for 2017!

Sometimes it’s nice to find Disney vacation activities outside the theme parks, big crowds, and big prices. Over at Fort Wilderness Campground at the Disney Wold Resort, you will find the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Circle-D features trail and pony rides, plus wagon and carriage rides right next to the campground by the shores of Bay Lake.

Are you looking for outdoor Disney fun at a discount price? That’s what we call Doing Di$ney for Le$$. It’s time to take an evening wagon ride! [Read more…]

Dining and Drinking at Disney World’s Trader Sam’s

Trader Sam's Orlando Disney World menu

Updated for 2016!

I’ll admit, I am a sucker for a cool setting combined with some good food, so when I saw the pictures from the 2015 opening of Trader Sam’s at Disney World’s Polynesian Village, I knew this would be a future Orlando vacation must-do.

Press play on the video below for some mood music from the Trader Sam’s in Disneyland, just for a little article ambience…

Are you ready for some tropical food and fun?!

The Location

Located off the main lobby of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace offers views of the marina and the Seven Seas Lagoon.

The Hours

Hours for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto are 4 p.m. to Midnight.

Cheaper Breakfast Than Chef Mickey’s? This is One of Our Favorites!

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

The famous Trader Sam’s cocktails, available in Disney collectible Tiki mugs, are a mixture of old Disneyland and new Disney World.

Skipper Sipper

Tropical Juices, Organic Agave Nectar, Falernum, Mint, and fresh Lime Juice topped with Soda Water

Schweitzer Falls

Tropical Juices and Sam’s Gorilla Grog topped with Sprite

Polynesian Punch

Sam’s Gorilla Grog and Hibiscus Grenadine, served in a Souvenir Sipper

alcoholic drinks at Disney World Trader Sam's

Specialty Cocktails

Polynesian Pearl

RumChata Cream Liqueur, Grand Marnier, and Cinnamon with Tropical Juices.  The Pearl is yours to keep!

Nautilus

Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Crème de Pêche de Vigne Liqueur, Tropical Juices,
and Falernum.  Served in a souvenir Nautilus

Uh-Oa!

Myers’s Original Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Orange, Passion Fruit, Guava, Pineapple, and Grapefruit Juices, Falernum, Cinnamon, and fresh Lime Juice.  Recommended for Two or more Guests.  Served in a souvenir Tiki Bowl

Castaway Crush

Leblon Cachaça, Cream of Coconut, Pineapple, Cinnamon, and fresh Lime Juice

Rosita’s Margarita

Casamigos Reposado Tequila, Bols Orange Curaçao, fresh Lime Juice, Falernum, and Organic Agave Nectar

HippopotoMai-Tai

Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curaçao, Orgeat (Almond), Organic Agave Nectar,
and fresh Lime Juice.  Served in a souvenir Tiki Glass

Krakatoa Punch

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Pyrat XO Reserve Rum, Orgeat (Almond), Sam’s Gorilla Grog, and Hibiscus Grenadine.
Served in a souvenir Tiki Mug

Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum, Cream of Coconut, and Pineapple and Orange Juices dusted with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Shrunken Zombie Head

Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Bacardi 8 yr Rum, Tropical Juices, Falernum, and Cinnamon.  Served in a souvenir Shrunken Head

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, fresh Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, and Falernum

Spikey Pineapple

Barbancourt Pango Rhum blended with Pineapple Soft-serve

Mosquito Mojito

Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, Organic Agave Nectar, Falernum, Mint, and fresh Lime Juice topped with Soda Water

Tahitian Torch

ByeJoe Dragon Fire Spirit, Tropical Juices, Passion Fruit, and fresh Lime Juice

Rum Flight (3/4-oz pour of each)

Bacardi 8 yr, Pyrat XO Reserve, and Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 yr

non alcoholic drinks at Disney World Trader Sam's

Beer Selection

Kona Beer Flight (5-oz pour)

Longboard Island Lager – Kona, HI, Fire Rock Pale Ale – Kona, HI, and Castaway IPA – Kona, HI $8.25

Kona Longboard Island Lager – Kona, HI

Bud Light – St. Louis, MO

Full Sail Session Lager – Hood River, OR

Yuengling Traditional Lager – Pottsville, PA

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat – Kansas City, MO

Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale – Kona, HI

Magic Hat #9 – South Burlington, VT

Kona Castaway IPA – Kona, HI

New Belgium Fat Tire – Ft. Collins, CO

Ace Pineapple Hard Cider – Sonoma County, CA

Trader Sam's Drink menu

Sparkling & White Wines

Hula O Maui Pineapple Sparkling Wine, Hawaii (Glass $12.00, Bottle $53.00)

Maui Splash Pineapple Wine, Hawaii (Glass $9.00, Bottle $39.00)

Maui Blanc Pineapple Wine, Hawaii (Glass $9.00, Bottle $39.00)

King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon (Glass $10.00, Bottle $45.00)

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (Glass $10.00, Bottle $45.00)

Red Wines

Meomi Pinot Noir, California (Glass $12.00, Bottle $53.00)

Canyon Road Merlot, California (Glass $9.00, Bottle $39.00)

Conundrum Red, California (Glass $13.00, Bottle $57.00)

Flora Springs Trilogy Meritage, Napa Valley (Glass $20.00, Bottle $89.00)

Simi Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley (Glass $13.00, Bottle $57.00)

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Trader Sam's drink menu Disney World

The Food

The lounge has 50 seats inside and 82 more outside on the patio. No reservations are required. Small food items are on the menu, with several items inspired by the Disneyland Trader Sam’s menu.

Headhunter Sushi Roll  – $14.99

Chicken Lettuce Cups with Hoisin-Ginger Sauce – $10.99

Kalua Pork Tacos with Cabbage and Pickled Vegetables – $9.99

Hawaiian Poke with Sriracha Aïoli $12.99

Salmon Oshizushi – $13.99

Roasted Chicken and Pork Pâte Báhn Mì Sliders – $9.99

Corn-battered Portuguese Sausages with Curry Ketchup – $8.99

Pan-fried Dumplings with Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce – $8.49

Cheaper Breakfast Than Chef Mickey’s? This is One of Our Favorites!

Headhunter Sushi Roll at Disney World Trader Sam’s

Headhunter Sushi Roll at Disney World Trader Sam’s

Pork Pâté Bánh Mì Sliders at Disney World Trader Sam's

Pork Pâté Bánh Mì Sliders at Disney World Trader Sam’s

Kalua Pork Tacos at Disney World Trader Sam’s

Kalua Pork Tacos at Disney World Trader Sam’s

Remember menu items and prices are subject to change without notice, as they certainly won’t notify me of any price increases. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness, so be careful.

Afternoon Tea at Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room: a Cheapskate Guide

If you are at the Polynesian Village during the day, you can have lunch or dinner at Captain Crooks and eat outside on the terrace area of Trader Sam’s. This area is used exclusively after 4 pm by Trader Sam’s patrons, but it’s open to everyone during the daytime.

The waterfall is fabulous by day but even more enchanting at night!

Trader Sam's menu

Trader Sam's outside area

Trader Sam's

While you’re at the Polynesian Resort, be sure you take a look around over toward the beach. The DVC Bungalows are up and going, and even if the view is far different from the beach that was there before, it’s still an amazing sight to see.

DVC bungalows Polynesian Village

And go by the lobby, because remodeling in the last several years gives it a completely new atmosphere.

Polynesian Village Resort lobby

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed over to the Polynesian for a snack and a drink…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Cheaper Breakfast Than Chef Mickey’s? This is One of Our Favorites!

Chef Mickey's substitute

Updated for 2016!

Looking for a cheaper breakfast than dining at Chef Mickey’s? Finding somewhere less expensive is not all that difficult, because while a fantastic experience, Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast is definitely not cheap. But where to go for a cheaper meal and yet still have an experience of your own? Our suggestion is to head literally just feet away to the Contempo Cafe for a great tasting breakfast at a fraction of the cost.

Over 30 Free Activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

The Contemporary Resort is one of two hotels originally built at Disney World  WDW hotels on the monorail loop servicing the Magic Kingdom. The fourth floor of the main building is known as the Grand Canyon Concourse, where you will find a variety of shops and restaurants. 

The Contempo Café replaced the 1st floor Food and Fun Center many years ago, now offering a 147-seat dining area with spectacular views of the monorail the 9-story Mary Blair mural with 18,000 hand-painted tiles. 

cheap breakfast at Disney World

contepo cafe menu at Contemporary Resort

Contempo Cafe is open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; hot breakfast items are served until 11 a.m. Bakery items, fresh salads, hot and cold sandwiches, flatbreads and pasta entrées are served throughout the day. Grab ’n’ go items are also available starting at 6 a.m.

Menu items and prices are subject to change without notice. 

best restaurant for breakfast at Disney World resort

cheaper than a Chef Mickey's breakfast

Mickey waffle with a choice of meat and fruit toppings.

Can You Afford a Pool Cabana at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort?

cost of Disney World breakfast

kids breakfast at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World

The child’s breakfast platter at the Contempo Cafe in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

Can a Disney Princess Afford to Stay at the Contemporary Resort at Christmas?

best places for kids to eat at Disney World

Disney french toast breakfast deal at the Contemporary Resort

where to eat at Disney World

Disney breakfast sandwich at the Contemporary Resort

Breakfast sandwich with egg and ham at the Contempt Cafe.

menu and prices for Contempo Cafe

We were really impressed with our breakfast at Contempo Cafe. While it is true that there are no Disney characters posing for pictures with your children, you can see monorails pass through the building, within view of the iconic Mary Blair mural.

A counter service meal here will cost you 1/5 what you pay at Chef Mickey’s, and you will finish in less time, if this is important to those who plan to use lots of time for roller coaster riding.

Mary Blair: Why You Should Touch the Tile Mural in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

Are there any gift shops at the Contemporary?

Bayview Gifts has refrigerated chocolates and fudge, products for the home, ladies’ and men’s casual fashions, watches, jewelry and framed art.

Fantasia offers Disney character merchandise and clothing, trading pins, and a multitude of toys.

Fantasia Market sells a variety of newspapers and magazines, alcoholic beverages, health and beauty supplies, and refrigerated and non-perishable food items.

Have a nice breakfast, do a little shopping (window or otherwise), and then head over to the Magic Kingdom. It’s a great start to an amazing day.

cheap dining at Contemporary Resort

where to shop at Contemporary Resort

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you watching the monorails pass by, slicing into a Mickey waffle…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Afternoon Tea at Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room: a Cheapskate Guide

Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room prices

Looking for a special Disney activity, something different from the usual roller coasters and counter service meals? Then perhaps you should think about making a reservation for Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room. Vacationers always remark that walking around the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, often referred to as the “flagship” of Disney resorts, is like taking a trip back in time. It’s time to experience a traditional afternoon tea served in grand British style.

The Location

To find the Garden View Tea Room, walk through the Grand Floridian first floor lobby to the lounge area at the far end of the building. This light-filled lounge overlooks manicured gardens, a fountain, and a pool area. You will “tour the globe” sipping international teas, dining on a selection of sandwiches, cakes and other delicacies.

Days and Times

Afternoon Tea is offered seven days a week and is held from between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. At three o’clock each day, enjoy the Grand Floridian piano player as he begins performing Disney tunes, a lovely accompaniment to your relaxing afternoon. You can make reservations for the Tea using this Disneyworld.com link.

Disney PANDORA Charms and Bracelets Are Finally Here!

prices for the Grand Floridian afternoon tea

Prices

I was unable to find prices or menu descriptions on the main Disney website. After some research, the most up to date menu (updated 1/15) and price list was located on  wdwinfo.com. They have a tremendous wealth of information on their website, which you can visit with this link.  Remember that all menus are subject to change at any time with no prior notice.

Entree/Main Course

Mrs. Potts Tea (For Guests Ages 3-9)

Assorted tea sandwiches including tuna salad, ham and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly on white bread, plus a selection of two house-made pastries, together with a special “Dark Tea” (Chocolate Milk)  $13.00

Buckingham Tea

Assorted tea sandwiches, butter scone, jam tart, with a choice of two house-made pastries (Strawberries and Crème or English Trifle) together with your choice of tea  $25.00 ***

Prince Edward Tea

Assorted pâté, cheeses served with cumberland sauce, butter scone, jam tart, together with a glass of Fonseca Bin 27 Character Port and your choice of tea  $30.00 ***

The Grand Tea

Assorted tea sandwiches, butter scone, jam tart, with a choice of two house-made pastries (Strawberries and Crème or English Trifle) together with a glass of Domaine Ste. Michelle Sparkling Wine and your choice of tea  $35.00 ***

Princess Kate Tea

Choice of potted shrimp or tuna poke, cheeses and seasonal fruits, buttery scone, jam tart, with a selection of two delicate house-made pastries. together with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and your choice of tea  $45.00***

***There is a charge for additional pots of tea. 

A Disney World Parks Guide: Tips from a Travel Agent

Grand Flroidian Tea

Teas

Cassis  Aromatic blend that harmonizes the sweet tartness of blackcurrants with depth of black tea

Chamomile  Infusion of golden chamomile blossoms with a smooth, apple-like finish

Eros  Medium-bodied Ceylon combines sweet mandarin oranges with warm vanilla for a sweet and creamy finish

Floral Jasmine Green  Spring harvest twisted-leaf green tea with medium- tannic notes and the delicate scent of jasmine

Garden View Blend  Assam and Keemun black leaves blended with the floral overtones or flowery Early Grey

Harmony   Mild and sweet with a blend of chamomile, orange blossoms, peppermint, and allspice

Imperial English Breakfast   Blend of Ceylon and China black teas. Decaffeinated English Breakfast is also available

Jade Leaf   Delicate tea with a hint of sweetness, fresh and grassy quality reminiscent of Nori

Jamaican Spice   Brilliant red zesty infusion of hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party   Medium-bodied Ceylon tea leaves scented with the essential oils of vanilla and natural fruits, including passion fruit and pomegranate

Mango Oolong   Refreshing Tung Ting oolong, mingled with the scent of ripe mangoes

Masala Black Tea Chai   Layered and complex blend of spices with notes of clove and cardamum

Organic Breakfast   Blended true to the origin of “English Breakfast,” this organic connoisseur-grade version is made in the great tradition of strong, malty black tea

Organic Vanilla Rooibos   Madagascar vanilla bean natural essential oils sweeten this organic rooibos

Osmanthus Oolong   Rare Osmanthus flowers are placed next to oolong leaves for fragrance. It is highly coveted for its champagne aroma and deep, rich flavor

Princess Breakfast Tea   South African Organic Rooibos flavored with vanilla beans and a hint of strawberry, rich in antioxidants and vitamins and naturally decaffeinated

Russian Earl Grey   Blended in the honor of the Russian tradition, this Earl Grey uses the rind of the spicy beramot orange for an exotic blend of citrus

Silver Leaf   Harvested from south of the Yangtze River, this premier connoisseur grade of white tea is named for the silver downy hairs that cover the young, unopened buds

Thunderbolt Darjeeling   Often referred to by tea connoisseurs as muscatel, which is a grape varietal found in sweeter wines, this thin-bodied tea is light with a floral aroma

Vanilla Earl Grey   This “classic with a twist” has a decidedly smooth finish

Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

Afternoon Tea at Grand Floridian's Garden View Tea Room

Randy Ash, long-time Cheapskate Princess reader, took his family to the Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room this past January. We asked him how he enjoyed his experience. “I enjoy the down time that Afternoon Tea provides. It is a beautiful place to sit, enjoy a snack, and plan our evening. We’re very happy we purchased Table in Wonderland this year.

Disney Grand Floridian Afternoon Tea Prices

His wife Stacy also told us what she enjoyed about the Tea, “The exquisite foods, tea selection and timeless atmosphere are on our itinerary every Disney trip. Visiting the tea room is like walking into a grand time in history. The atmosphere is fancy, but the service is friendly.”
 
What were Stacy’s favorite foods? “We can’t pass up the cheeses and tea sandwiches, but the scones and lemon curd and fresh strawberries with cream are exquisite. Every WDW trip includes a trip to the tea room, that’s if we can get in!
Disney Moms fun outside the parks

Discount?

The cost for the Ash family’s four people was about $134 including tax, but they saved over $26 on their Tea by using the Tables in Wonderland card. You can read more about this at tablesinwonderland.com.  To my knowledge, there are not any price discounts other than Tables in Wonderland.
Remember even if this is not a full meal, it is essentially a table service experience. An 18% to 20% gratuity for table service meals is suggested.
 free day activities at Disney World

Our Fans

We asked our Facebook fans what they thought about the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea.
 
Pat S., “We enjoyed the tea, but it was five or six years ago. It was a fun girl’s time out.
Helen Z., “It was such a wonderful experience. They have several tea packages that they offer. I can’t wait until my next visit in April.
Jennifer E., “I took my two sons last year. It was so fun; they really enjoyed it, as did I. I see they raised the prices. My kids requested this for our spring trip, so we will see. It was awesome though, so I am considering it.
And our one negative vote:
Christina R., “In my opinion, it’s not worth the price. I have been to a lot of tea houses with my parents over my childhood. The food was average, service was fantastic though. I liked it better when you could order a la carte.”

fun things to do at Disney World

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed through the lobby at the Grand Floridian…

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

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Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!

best tips for kids on a Disney World vacation

Best Disney Tips

If you are planning a Disney vacation that includes children, you will do a lot of just that – planning. We’re here to help. When we published our most popular article, entitled 120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!, we had no idea it would be read over one million times in less than two years. So introducing…Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids. Think of this article as our FREE vacation gift to you, because we love free!

Warning: this article is long. But this list may seriously be the ONLY planning guide for Disney World vacations with kids that you may ever need. At least we hope it is!

So don’t feel like you have to read it all at one time, because we’ve organized, categorized, and numbered it for you.  Pinterest pin it, bookmark it, e-mail it to yourself, come back later, or just settle in with a cup of coffee for a nice long read. You’ll thank us later.

And if we forgot YOUR favorite tip, leave us a comment so we can add it in. We have some of the most traveled readers and best informed Facebook fans ever!

tips for a Disney World trip with kids

1. Use FREE T.A.

Planning a Disney vacation has become a complicated ordeal, especially when traveling with kids, and it’s nice to have expert help. We recommend using Milke Ellis, our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations. Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com. His services are 100% free, and he is fantastic!

2. Phone App.

Get the My Disney Experience iPhone app., where you can view and update plans, make dining reservations, search park maps, and get attraction wait times. Older children could easily learn to navigate this app. on their on, plus practice reading a wealth of information. For more detailed information, use this link.

3. Schedule FastPass+

Use Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience app. (see #2), to make three (per day) pre-reservations for rides, shows, or meeting characters before you even arrive in Orlando. On-property guests can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days before their trip; everyone else can book FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance. Use your first three FastPass+es, then get more one at a time. Fine out what rides are most important to the kids, and let the pre-planning begin.  Use this Disney link for more info.  

4. Arrange for Magical Express

Are you and the kids flying? Disney’s Magical Express transportation is a complimentary service for guests of select Disney Resort hotels from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. To use this service, provide your arrival and return flight information when you make your reservations.  5. Delayed Check Out

All Disney hotels have a posted check out time of 11 a.m. To work with later flight schedules, when you check in at the front desk, ask if it would be possible to extend your check out time. Sometimes, depending on occupancy levels, this can be extended by several hours but no guarantees.

6. Tickets

Unless you purchased Annual Passes, your tickets will expire 14 days after the first day of use. So if the kids get tired after several days of early mornings and late nights, you have the flexibility to schedule in a free day without stressing over looming expiration dates.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

7. Start Walking 

Kids have a tough time walking miles for days at Disney World. Start them walking way before the actual vacation, as exhausted children make for brutally long days. The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Disney Vacation? It’s a Four Letter Word!

8. Wear Comfy Shoes

Kid’s need shoes to be comfortable. Glittery heels, flip-flops, and sandals can be rough on little feet hour after hour, and wearing brand new shoes is just asking for trouble. What are the Best Shoes to Wear on a Disney World Vacation? We Asked the Fans…*

9. Prepare for Rain

It rains a lot in Orlando, especially in the summer. You can buy good quality ponchos at the parks, but they are expensive, so many people bring their own.

10. Count Down Calendar

If your children are driving you crazy in anticipation of your departure date, make an old-fashioned paper chain or a chalk board count down calendar so they can physically see how many days they have left (to suffer) before you leave.

11. Google Maps

Google maps have some really cool, almost-cartoon-like maps of the Disney parks and resorts. These are great for kid’s entertainment. This is a perfect way to show children what your resort and the parks look like with a childlike appearance. FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.

12. Free Disney Planning DVDs

Disney Planning DVDs offer video tours of the theme and water parks, resorts, a tour of Disneyland, tips to save money, and pocket-sized planning guides  To request a free planning DVD, use this link. 

13. Utilize YouTube 

YouTube can be a huge aid in planning and preparing for a vacation. Show the kids several ride videos each day so they know what to expect. Search YouTube for ride videos, park tips and secrets, ride music (one of my favorites), and all sorts of fun fact videos.

14. Camera Equipment

It’s extremely important to remember extra batteries and memory cards for your camera to ensure you catch your children’s precious memories. Charge your phone, and make sure you remember your camera. Some of these experiences will not ever be repeated. 

15. Photopass 

Disney’s PhotoPass is a free service where Cast Members are stationed with digital cameras at park entrances, iconic locations, most character meet and greets, and character dining to snap photos of your group. Purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one CD for $169.95, or pre-order the CD at a discounted price of $119.95. The PhotoPass Archive Disc, which is your photo CD, gives you a copyright release to print the photos yourself. Use this link for more information. 

10 Vacation Questions Answered by a Disney Travel Agent

16. Memory Maker

Memory Maker connects your photos to your MyDisneyExperience account, including your PhotoPass, attraction, and dining photo print packages all for $199. Purchase it in advance for $169. Download your photos at no additional charge from MyDisneyPhotopass.com for 45 days after being taken. These photos also come with a copyright release, allowing you to do anything you want with them except commercial use.

17. PhotoPass Photographers & Your Camera

PhotoPass photographers will be glad to take pictures with your camera, even if you don’t want PhotoPass. Simply wait in line, hand the photographer your camera to snap a picture, and say thanks!

18. Bring Ziplocs

Ziplocs can store light medical supplies, unfinished snacks and meals, unopened snacks, batteries, memory cards, cameras, and phones, with everything remaining safe and dry. Want to Save Money on Food at Disney World? Ziplocs Can Save You Cash!

19. Bring Your Meds

You can purchase simple medical supplies in the park and resorts gift shops, but that’s expensive. Make sure you pack what medical necessities you and the kids need beforehand.

20. Bring Your Sunscreen  

You will need sunscreen, and it costs more to purchase it on Disney property. Be sure you put it on the kids 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun. Make sure the sunscreen has not expired; all sunscreen has an expiration date.

21. Bring Change

One of the cheapest souvenirs ever is the pressed penny, and pressing machines are found all over property. For $.51, you can get a Disney image pressed onto a penny. For $.75, you can get an image pressed onto a quarter. The Cheapest Disney Souvenir EVER? Many crafty moms turn these souvenirs into jewelry.  Cool Disney World Pressed Penny Jewelry! Children will enjoy throwing change into fountains on property as well.

22. Tinker Bell Gifts

Many parents buy gifts before the vacation, which can save big bucks on souvenirs. Tinker Bell brings gifts at night for children, especially those with good behavior. Our readers offered suggestions: The Ultimate Tinker Bell Gift Guide for a Disney Vacation

23. Glow Jewelry

When the sun goes down, glow in the dark jewelry appears. Many parents purchase these in advance from Dollar Tree or Michael’s. This is also a great way to spot your child in a crowd while you are in dark lighting situations. 

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

24. Autograph Books

If the kids plan to collect character autographs, you’ll need an autograph book. Make or buy your own book pre-trip, or purchase a Disney autograph books for around $10. Tips on out of the ordinary items to have autographed:  12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books.

25. Bring a Sharpie

For character autographs, make sure you bring a large wide-tip Sharpie marker. Many of the characters wear big chunky gloves, so it’s hard for them to hang onto small pens.

planning guide for a kids vacation

26. Costumes

Children really dress up at the Disney parks these days. And If you don’t bring pirate and princess costumes for your kids, it’s going to cost a fortune to buy them there. We suggest you bring outfits with you including comfy shoes.  Can You Afford Those Adorable Disney Princess Costumes at Walt Disney World?

27. Match those Clothes

Dressing the family in matching t-shirts creates a sense of belonging and makes your group (especially children) members easier to spot. You can order your shirts or make them yourself.  Save Money on Disney World T-Shirts by Making Your Own!

28. Packing for Winter

We generally recommend taking pants and a jacket with you to Orlando in the winter. In the daytime, shorts and t-shirts may be just fine, but night-time could require some warmer clothing. Be sure to check the weather forecasts frequently.

29. Best Rides for Your Child’s Age

The Disneyworld.com website has sections under each theme park with a series of filters that can help you determine the best rides for your child using their age, height, and interests. If you would like to do some detailed research for your family, use these links to each park’s Attraction Page: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

30. Celebrate Something

Did you know you can celebrate “something” at Disney six months prior to and six months after the date? This opens up all sorts of reasons to plan a trip, including birthdays and anniversaries. *Nine Tips for Celebrating Birthdays at Walt Disney World for FREE!

31. Plan a Child Free Night?

If you are celebrating something adult-ish, like your birthday or a wedding anniversary, perhaps you would like some adult time without the kids? Disney uses “Kid’s Nite Out” for in-room babysitting children 6 months to 12 years of age, with prices starting at $16 per hour for one child. Use this link for prices and more information. 

5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

32. Children’s Activity Centers

Kids ages 3 to 12 years of age can visit “Children’s Activity Centers” located at select resorts hotels. These are themed, supervised play areas where children watch movies, play games, draw, eat and play. Call 407-939-3463 for more information on operating hours, because hours vary based on location.

33. Potty Training

Ah, potty training. Do you really want to be hauling around a child’s potty seat or even one of those big plastic potty chairs? (No, you don’t.) This could be a great incentive for kids to speed things up and do some pottying on a regular adult seat.

34. Beware the Automatic Toilettes

The toilettes in Disney parks and resorts are automatic flushing. You can put your hand over the sensor, but this makes helping out difficult with one hand tied up. Take some Post-It notes with you into the bathrooms (keep them stored in your Ziplocs.) Place a sticky note over the sensor before your little one sits down, taking it with you when you exit.

35. MagicBands + Room Key

MagicBands have mostly replaced traditional room keys/keycards. Linked with My Disney Experience (see tip #2)MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands that resemble a watch or bracelet which are touched to a sensor. Use the bands to unlock your room, enter theme and water parks, check in using FastPass+, connect PhotoPass to your account, and charge food and merchandise purchases to your room.

If you do not want your children to have charging privileges with MagicBands (or key cards), tell a Cast Member when you arrive for check inWalt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide 

36. Customize your MagicBands 

The My Disney Experience website allows you to customize colors (pink, blue, red, green, orange, gray and yellow) and names for your MagicBands. Ask the kids what color they want, because you have until 10 days before your arrival to customize your MagicBand, if you wish to have the bands shipped to your home.

10 Things They Forgot to Mention About Walt Disney World Vacations

37. Earn $ 

If you know someone who wants to take a trip, Disney or other locations, you can earn $20 for referring your friends, family, work associates to use the FREE travel services of Mike Ellis, our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations. Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com. His services are 100% free, and he is fantastic, and he can;t wait to send you $20 once your referral finishes their travels.  

Scheduling

When kids are out if school, families go to Disney. If you can take the kids out of school, lines will be shorter and crowds will be lighter. But this can be hard for those with older children who would struggle with make up work or truancy policies. What Are the Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World?

tips for toddlers on a Disney World vacation

38. Locker Rentals

You can rent key-operated lockers to store your personal items in the theme and water parks. Not including a $5 refundable key deposit, large are $10 and small are $8 per day. Return your locker key before one hour after park closing to receive the deposit refund. Use this link for more information. 

39. Keep a Map/Schedule

At the resort front desks and park front gates, grab time schedules and park maps. Put these in scrap books, picture frames, or turn them into drink coasters by gluing them onto small ceramic tiles, coating them with Mod Podge.

40. Free Stickers 

Be on the lookout for Cast Members with free stickers, which are great for t-shirt decorations, scrap-book mementos, and spilled-food stain cover ups.

41. Change of Clothes

Accidents happen, kids get dirty/wet, and chances are pretty high they will need a change of clothes. Put an extra outfit in a Ziploc bag (tip #18) inside your park bag, swapping the dirty clothes back into the Ziplocs.

70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!*

42. Hydration is a Must

Mid-summer in Orlando is Africa hot. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity, without sufficient rest and fluids puts children at risk for dehydration. So keep those fluids going, both water and Gatorade type drinks.

43. When Children Get Sick

What do you do what a child gets sick on vacation? In the parks, visit one of the First Aid centers. Nurses are available during normal park operating hours to offer over-the-counter medications, bandages and other quick remedies. Resorts have a map with directions to local drug stores and Wal-marts if you need to pick up medications. In-room medical services are available at all WDW Resort hotels 24 hours a day. Use this link for more information. Offsite Urgent Care centers like Florida Hospital Centra Care Walk-In Urgent Care Centers are open 8 to midnight, M-F, and 8 to 8 Sat. to Sun. Complimentary transportation is available and many insurance plans are accepted. Call (407) 934-2273 for more info. or use this website for more information. 

44. Hand Sanitizer

You won’t always be able to get little hands to a sink with real soap, and kids touch everything in sight at Disney. (So do I!) Keep some small bottles of hand sanitizer with you and apply often; wash with soap in sinks when possible.

45. Pin Trading

With Disney Pin Trading, guests trade metal Disney pins with Cast Members and possibly other guests. The pins are not free, but trading them is. Trading Pin boards are located at resorts and gift shops. Cast Members wear pins on lanyards for trading: if their lanyards are green, they will only trade with children.

46. Ready for Characters?

Cast Members in some character costumes are tall, and even if they are very familiar, children still may get scared when it comes time to take a picture, like what often happens with Santa. If the kids start freaking out, don’t push them or force them to interact. Tips from our readers: Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents*

47. Where are the Characters?

If your child is looking for a certain character, just ask Cast Members where to find them. If you want to make advance plans, use this list on Intercot.com for typical character locations, although remember these can change at any time without any notifications.

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

48. Get a Button

When you celebrate a special event at WDW,  stop by your resort front desk or Guest Services for a FREE “button” ( a big pin, but don’t confuse this with Trading Pins) announcing your special event. Get them for first trips to Disney, birthdays, anniversaries, and occasionally special events. Why Celebrate with a Birthday Button at Disney World? Let a Cheapskate Princess Tell You!

49. Get on the Correct Bus

A great majority of the Disney busses look exactly the same, or they look pretty similar. Before you lose valuable time riding on the wrong route, ask the driver where they are headed. It never hurts to double-check anything.

plan a fun Disney vacation

50. Transportation Trading Cards 

Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation often have transportation trading cards available upon request. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask another.

51. Travel Takes Time

Traveling ANYWHERE at Disney takes time. Be sure to give yourself just that, a lot of time to transition from place to place. When traveling from a resort to a dinner reservation, give yourself an hour’s  head start before your reservation time.

Some thoughts on Safety…

52. Child Gets Lost?

If you look up and can’t find your child, or they aren’t at a designated meeting spot, immediately tell a Cast Member. Lost children can also be reported at Guest Relations and Baby Care Centers. When a lost child is found, they will be taken to the Baby Care Centers.

53. Take a Daily Picture

Snap a quick cell phone picture as you walk out of the hotel so you know exactly what each child is wearing that day. This could come in handy (if your memory is like mine…) if you need to show someone what your child’s outfit looks like. 

54. Utilize those Buttons

Remember the buttons we mentioned in Tip #48? Take a Sharpie and write your contact info on the back. If your child gets separated, make sure they know to find a Cast Member and show or tell them your how to reach you.

55. Cell phones

*Cell phones can be really helpful with children that are old enough to A) answer them B) not lose them C) tell you exactly where they are if you get separated on accident. They don’t need a brand new iPhone, because an older phone or a Go Phone works fine. 

3 Days with No Orlando Theme Park Tickets; How We Survived and Thrived Almost for FREE!

56. MagicBands 

Cast Members say MagicBands will NOT provide any information about a lost child. Have your children memorize your full name and phone number, or write your information on a Disney button (#48) or on a piece of tape you secure inside their shirt collar.  Until the MagicBand technology advances, the bands won’t help when a child is lost.

57. White Name Tags

When separated from your group, make sure children know to look for Disney Cast Members wearing white oval name tags. Make sure your child is carrying or wearing your contact information if they can’t remember it on their own. 

58. Hand Holder/Harness

Toddler harnesses and “hand holders” (Playskool made one called the “Baby Hand Holder for Toddlers”) can help you hang onto impulsive children, on those occasion when you need a little extra help besides just holding a little hand. They may look a little over-protective, but they work. 

59. Deliver Foods to Room

Having groceries, water and snacks delivered  to your hotel can save money and provide picky child eaters with exactly what they will consume. Goodingsdelivers.com, Amazon.com, gardengrocer.com, staples.com (no perishables), and wegoshop.com are companies that deliver water, snacks, and groceries.

 dining tips for Disney World vacations

Dining Tips

60. Kids Under Three Eat Free 

Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffets and family style table service restaurants as long as they eat off your plate. So their food is free as long as they are willing to eat what you eat. Why Take a Baby to Walt Disney World? Because It’s FREE!

61. Kids’ Meals

Kids’ meals are served with carrots or grapes and milk. If your child wants fries or a soda, simply tell the Cast Member when you place your order.

62. Drink Refills

Kids get thirsty, as do adults, and at almost all WDW theme parks, you will pay more for additional drink refills at counter service dining locations. But FREE refills (leaving more money for other items) are available at certain restaurants:

  • Magic Kingdom: Tortuga Tavern, quick service lunch at Be Our Guest
  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons, Electric Umbrella
  • Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
  • Animal Kingdom: Restaurantosaurus

63. ADRs 

Because of increased crowd levels, it’s difficult to get a table at a full-service restaurant without an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR.) You can make ADRs 180 days before your trip by calling 407- 939-3463, make reservations online, or let Erin, our T.A. with Destinations in Florida, do it for you. For last-minute trip planners that cannot secure a reservation, it never hurts to walk up and ask if you can get a table.  If you are close by anyway, the best they could do is locate a table! 

64. Recipe Request

*If your children really enjoy a specific dish served at a table service restaurant or character meal, speak to your server, and they can sometimes provide you with the recipe. You can also phone Disney Guest Services at 407- 939-6244 to request a recipe, or visit disneyfoodblog.com for recipes.

65. Eat Now, Not Then

If you eat at your children’s regular meal times, you will probably be standing in long ordering lines. Try to eat before the rush, like a late lunch or even a late dinner. Lines will be shorter, more tables will be available, and you won’t have to leave the kids seated and reserving your table while you order.

What You Can NOT Wear to Walt Disney World Theme Parks

66. Free Water/Ice Cups

You can order water with meals, and water is FREE!  Kids will save calories, and you’ll save that and money. You don’t have to be eating a meal to order water. Counter service restaurants and snack stands will give you water or cups of ice for free, so just ask. Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

67. Eat Breakfast in Room

You don’t have to eat breakfast outside of your room, unless you have a meal plan or free dining. We recommend you and the kids eat breakfast in your room to save time and money. The best food to eat? To Save Money on Disney World Food, Eat Breakfast Here!

68. Bring Your Own Water

Bring your own water bottles, and to save money, refill them with fountain water, water left from lunch, or water you got in one of those free cups we mentioned in Tip #66. Take your own refillable water bottle/container with you into the parks to keep you from throwing away so many plastic bottles, teaching the kids about recycling. To Save Money on Food At Disney, Bring This Bottle With You

69. Bring Water Flavoring 

Some people do not like the taste of Disney water when it comes out of the water fountains, especially children, so bring flavor packets to mix into your water bottle. Let the kids pick these out at the store.

70. Freeze that Water

Freezing water bottles the night before you need them is a great way to fight the heat, and many believe it makes the yucky Disney tap water taste a little more palatable. Drink the cold water as it melts.

71. Bring Your Own Snacks

If your children are picky eaters, bring snacks with you on vacation so they will have their favorites Not only will this save money, but it can keep the picky eaters satisfied and full in-between meals. Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

72. Check the Menus

Are your kids picky eaters?! It’s a good idea to take a peak at the restaurant menus before you show up for an expensive meal. How to find menus online: Before You Make Your Disney World Dining Reservations, You Should Read These…

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73. Character Meal/Table Service Money Saving Tip

Lunch is a less expensive time to eat than dinner for table service and character meals, and a lunch-time break could be just what fussy children need before a nap. Save Money on Food at Disney World? Make Dining Reservations for This Meal Rather Than That One…

Disney park tips for kids and toddlers

74. Parking Space

Cast Members say you wouldn’t believe how many people forget where they parked. Notice what section and row you parked in. Take a picture and text it to yourself, or write it down, because you’ll need this information 12 hours later when the kids are ready for bed.

75. Holidays

Holiday at Disney are magical and completely decorated to the hilt, especially Christmas. If you go to Disney World during a holiday when children across the country are out of school, then prepare the kids for long lines, people everywhere, and more waiting in lines. Are You Crazy Enough to Go to World Disney World at Christmas?

76. Daily Schedule

Grab a daily park schedule when you first arrive at the parks so you know what’s going on with scheduled events, entertainment, and character locations. You can also get a time schedule at the resort front desks.

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77. You Can Rent Strollers

Disney also has molded plastic strollers for rent, which are not suitable for infants or older babies but are fine for toddlers to preschoolers. To get the length of stay stroller discount, you pre-pay the number of days that you need.

  • Single strollers (children 50 lbs. or less) cost $15 daily and $13 for multi-day rate.
  • Double strollers (children 100 lbs. or less.) cost $31 and $27 for multi-day rate.

78. Strollers are Moved

Cast Members will often move strollers around as they straighten the area, so there’s no need to panic if you don’t find your stroller where you originally parked it. Attach balloons, ribbons, or decorate your stroller for easier recognition.

79. Stroller Fold Up 

If you get on Disney busses and trams with your stroller, it needs to be folded up. Strollers can be rolled onto monorails and some boats, depending on space, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared to fold it up.

80. Emergency Plan

If you get separated, do the kids know where to meet? Do small children know what to do if they suddenly can’t find you? Should they stand still or walk around looking for you? Determine a meet up place if you should get separated.

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81. Baby Care Centers at all Four Parks

Open during regular park hours, each full-service Baby Care facility is FREE to use and includes the following:

  • Private nursing room with rocking chairs
  • Changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom
  • Feeding area with high chairs
  • Kitchen with microwave, oven and sink
  • Main room with television, table, chairs and sofa
  • There is an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing for purchase. There items are not free.

82. Souvenir Pick-Up  for Big Toys

Theme park merchandise purchases can be delivered to a designated location near the front entrance for convenient pick-up as you exit the park. When you make your purchase, tell the Cast Member to have your items delivered to the park entrance.

83. It Gets Loud

Small children sensitive to loud noises can find shows like Lights, Motors, Action!, Fantasmic!, IllumiNations, and Wishes to be really loud. You can bring earplugs, and they are also available at First Aid. If possible, sit far away from the source of the noise.

84. It Gets Dark

If kids have never been on “dark rides” before, you may be shocked by their reactions. Don’t push them into something they can’t handle. If the tears start in the first dark space, then don’t continue going into dark ride after ride.

85. Go Early

Head over to the parks early. Except on Extra Magic Hours days, theme parks are the least crowded first thing in the mornings, so you may have a shorter wait time than later on in the afternoon. In the summer, early mornings are not yet hot and humid.

86. Need more Tickets?

If the kids beg you to stay another day in Orlando, to add another day(s) to your current tickets, go to Guest Services before you use the final day of your tickets. Unless it’s the last day, you have the option to add more days, park hopper, and water parks options.

87. Take a Nap

On a typical Disney day, kids start to lose it just after lunch, so head back to the hotel for a quick rejuvenating snooze. There are kids napping in strollers everywhere, which is a great other-option as opposed to going back to the resort.

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88. Take a Break

Disney overstimulation is a very real possibility. If your child isn’t into naps, take a break from rides, take a walk around a resort, or you catch a nap while they watch a little TV. Less stimulation is ideal over cranky and completely stimulated.

89. Lines/Queues Entertainment

Stand-by lines can frequently get really long.  Entertain the kids with iPhone apps., look for Hidden Mickeys, play “I Spy,” or use this time to have a conversation with your child.

90. Ride Before Parades & Shows

During parades and shows, or when people start lining up for entertainment, take advantage of what can be shorter wait times for popular rides. These lines will fill back up right after the parades and shows end.

91. For Big Theaters…

For shows like PhilHarmagic, Little Mermaid, and Muppets 3D Movie in large theaters, your impulse will be to hurry inside one they open the doors, but the better plan is to hang back. First guests inside are instructed to walk all the way to the end of the rows. To be seated in the middle, let other people go in before you.

92. FastPass+ Ride Limits

FastPass has changed in recent years. You can schedule FastPass+ rides in advance but not for the same ride. Some parks put rides into categories called “tiers,” and you can only choose one attraction per tier. Without a FastPass+, stand-by lines for your child’s favorite ride can be long. Use this link on touring plans.com for more information.

93. FastPass+ is Inflexible

FastPass+ ending times are now strictly enforced. You will not be allowed on a ride if you arrive past your return window. Screenshot your My Disney Experience so you remember your times, or write them down, and double-check them frequently to ensure you arrive on time.

94. Extra PastPass+

When the switch was made from FASTPASS paper passes to FastPass+ and MagicBands, you were only allowed three passes per park per day. You can get more PastPass+ passes once you have used your original three, one at a time, but warn the kids, there may not be many popular passes left by the end of the day.

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95. Special Parties = Extra Tickets

Especially popular with kids, “hard ticket events” are special parties held at the parks that require additional admission. MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) and MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.) have a starting price of around $55- $65 for children’s tickets and $65-$75 for adult tickets before tax. You get sweet treats, special photo opportunities with characters, music and light shows, and time in the parks when regular ticket holders have left.

96. Sleep In

There will be days when you just can not wake up super early without the kids declaring “mutiny.” It’s not the end of the world if you sleep in. You can make up a few missed rides later with a good attitude and a rested body.

97. Stay Late

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are hours the parks open early or stay open later for those guests staying at Disney resorts.  EMH at Magic Kingdom are a great option for vacationing with small children, because when the really popular roller coasters have long lines, there are still lots of MK attractions for kids without crazy waits.

98. Show the Bands

If you attend Extra Magic Hours, you will need a MagicBand/park ticket for every person you are traveling with to show a Cast Member for E.M.H. admittance. You will not be allowed on rides or in shows without a ticket or band, and that rule goes for every person.

99. Night Time Shows

If the kids can stay up late, some of the best shows start after 9 p.m, like Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, and Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. If there is a second show time, the second showing is generally less crowded than the first.

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100. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Big Thunder Mountain – 44″
  • Goofy’s Barnstormer – 35″
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – 38″
  • Space Mountain – 44″
  • Splash Mountain – “40
  • Stitch’s Great Escape – 40″
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – “32

101. Wishes Fireworks Viewing

If your children can handle the loud booms of fireworks (or bring ear plugs,) try standing behind Cinderella’s Royal Carousel to watch Wishes at 10 p.m. Fireworks are shot from the roof tops and the swampland behind Fantasyland, so you get a tremendously “in your face” experience from behind the castle. Beware falling ash on windy nights, but this spot becomes more popular each year for a reason.

102. After Wishes 

Watch Wishes (Tip #101) from behind Cinderella Castle, and then walk around to the front of the castle for Celebrate the Magic. You should be able to get an unobstructed seat right up front. Then catch the second Main Street Electrical Parade performance. This helps avoid the crazy crowds exiting the park before and after Wishes at 10 p.m.

103. Trading Cards 

The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game gives you five FREE collectible trading cards per day for each ticket that has been activated on that day. If dad stays back at the resort, sorry, you can’t pick up his cards. You don’t have to actually play the game to start collecting. Pick up cards at the Fire Station on Main Street and over in Liberty Square by the Christmas Shop. 

Disney Mom tips for vacation

104. Hair Cuts

While hair cuts are not generally regarded as all that much fun, they can be at the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street. Prices for child and adult hair cuts are extremely reasonable.  Should You Get a Haircut at Walt Disney World? For $20, with Pixie Dust and Stickers, Yes!

105. Hair Confetti 

The Harmony Barber Shop (tip #104) on Main Street will “confetti” and “pixie dust” your child’s hair for free. Castle Couture in Fantasyland also has “pixie dust.” As far as we know, this is still a free service. 

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106. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle is a styling salon for children over the age of three. This is popular, so reservations (407-WDW-STYLE) are highly suggested. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance, or a $10 fee can be applied. All packages range in price from $15.95 (Knight Package) to $189.95 (Castle Package) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Can A Cheapskate Afford To Become A Disney Princess?

107. The Pirates League

Next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, kids ages three and up can become transformed into pirates or empresses, complete with a new pirate name and a bag of loot. This is becoming popular, so reservations (407-WDW-CREW) are highly suggested. Package prices are $29.95 (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) to $74.95 (Mermaid Deluxe Package)

108. Early Character Meals

Make an early reservation for Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table on a day with no Extra Magic Hours, and you are admitted into the park ahead of other guests. Your child may not eat $30 worth of food, nor might you eat $50 worth of food, but it’s truly the experience you are paying for. Tips to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong*

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109. Goodnight, Sweetheart, It’s Time to Go…

Getting out of the parks at night can be a mad dash to get in yet another line to wait for transportation. Many parents leave before Wishes fireworks. If you stay until after 11 p.m. or later, transportation lines and crowds will be much more manageable.

110. Shop Late

After park closing, Main Street at Magic Kingdom frequently stays open a full two hours. While the whole world is standing in line to get home, kids can take their time and look through the gift shops or grab a snack and eat it above the train station. Let them take your time looking for souvenirs.

111. Free Snack Samples 

Visit the Main Street Confectionery for occasional free candy samples, with cotton candy being a pretty common sample handed out daily. Good luck getting out of there without purchasing something sweet.

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112. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Mission: SPACE Green and Orange – 44″
  • Soarin’ – 40″
  • Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East – 48″
  • Test Track – 40″

113. Two Entrances

Epcot is the only Disney park to have two entrances. The front entrance at Future World (East and West) connects to the parking lot. The secondary entrance, connected to the back edge of World Showcase, leads to Disney’s Boardwalk and multiple resorts. If the kids want to see the countries, you may do less walking by using the back entrance. 

114. Two Opening Times

Just as there are two different entrances, World Showcase also has a different time schedule, typically opening two hours later than Future World. Plan accordingly, because a lot of wasted walking is at risk.

115. Seriously, Strollers

Epcot is massive. Even if your children can handle every day walking, you should think about bringing or renting a stroller, because little feet tire fast.

116. There are Characters

While most people do not associate Epcot with Disney characters, there are meet and greets for characters including Alladin and Jasmine, Alice in Wonderland, Aurora, Belle, Mary Poppins, Snow White and others. Consult the times guide or ask Cast Members where you can find them.

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117. Character Photo

Have a Disney Chase Visa Card? Enjoy a character Meet ‘N’ Greet at Chase’s Private Cardmember location that includes a FREE 5×7 photo.  This exclusive event is offered daily 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Innoventions West.

118. Character Meals

Epcot has 2 character meals. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Princess Storybook Dining) features Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mary Poppins, Mulan, and Snow White. These characters rotate, so you won’t see them all during every visit. At the Garden Grill (Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast) kids meet Chip, Dale and many other favorite Disney Characters, which can include Mickey and Pluto.

119. INNOVENTIONS

Make sure the kids stop by INNOVENTIONS East and West, two separate pavilions where children discover engaging exhibits, stimulating simulations, educational games, and tons of interactive, hands-on fun.

120. Fountains = Wet

Several areas in Epcot allow kids to splash and play in fountains, which can be great for cooling off in the sweltering summer heat. Have a change of clothes though, just in case the little ones don’t like walking around soaking wet. 

121. Get a Drink

Club Cool in Epcot’s Future World offers eight drinks from around the world, all of which are international Coca-Cola brands. Taste as much of the beverage samples as you want, but make sure the kids don’t leave with a tummy ache.

122. Kids Crafts

See Cast Member at any Kidcot Fun Stop to get a complimentary cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and personalize with the free supplies at each station. Cast Members will share insights about their native lands, such as how to say “hello,” and they will give your child a stamp of Duffy in each country. Use this link to find Kidcot Fun Stops.

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123. Go on a Secret Mission

At Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, kids can solve clues with Agent P. to thwart some of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s most daringly evil plots. Visit a recruitment center at Odyssey Bridge, Norway Pavilion, Italy Pavilion or near the International Gateway to receive your assignment. Here you will pick up an interactive handheld device that will guide you on your 30 to 45 minute mission. 

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124. Model Trains

A large model train display is located at the Germany Pavilion. Kids will love the three electric traveling trains, mostly locomotives that pull a car or two. 

125. Buy Me Somethin’

Where can you shop with kids in mind at Epcot? Mouse Gears is a massive souvenir shop in Epcot’s Future World by INNOVENTIONS, where kids will find every imaginable bit of Micky-themed merchandise available. There are gift shops in World Showcase that are more adult-oriented, but they offer candy, toys, jewelry, and holiday ornaments.  

126. E-mail a Video to Friends

Leaving Spaceship Earth, you are deposited in Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Kids can e-mail a video message to their friends and family.

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127. Thoughts on IllumiNations

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is a 12 minute fireworks show beginning just before the park closes at World Showcase Lagoon. Small children can definitely be frightened with the loud sounds of fireworks. Also, the show is probably best viewed right around the lagoon, which can be difficult on crowded days.

128. Hats & Glasses

Of all the parks that get direct sun without benefit of very much shade, Epcot guests suffer the most.  Kids would definitely appreciate hats and sun glasses.

Disney Hollywood Studios tips for kids

129. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • Rock’n’Roller Coaster – 48″
  • Star Tours – 40″
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 40″

There are only six rides in Hollywood Studios, three of which have height restrictions, so if you visit with smaller children, understand they will be seeing shows and street entertainment more than riding anything.

130. Shows for Smaller Kids

*If there is a benefit to a lack of rides for kids at Hollywood Studios, it would be that the stage shows available are Broadway-caliber. Beauty and the Beast – Live on StageVoyage of The Little Mermaid, and Disney Junior-Live on Stage! are all tremendously popular shows. Remember parts Little Mermaid take place in a darkened theater, and Ursula can be scary to little children.

131. Specialty Meals

Looking for a special dining experience for kids? The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant lets you enjoy your meal sitting in convertible car tables, watching clips from b-movie sci-fi flicks on a big screen. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe invites you to enjoy crazy family antics eating in “Mom’s kitchen.” Advanced reservations are highly recommended.

132. Character Meal

Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine is a character meal available May 4 through June 14 (2015 dates). You’ll meet Disney pals dressed like Star Wars characters, including Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Vader Goofy, Storm Trooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale.

The cost is $57.99 per adult and $34.99 per child age 3 to 9. Tax is included but not gratuity. Advanced reservations are highly recommended. For booking, you can check availability online or call 407- 939-3463.

133. Shrunken Playground

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is an 11,000-square-foot play area based on the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Children climb enormous anthills, scale sprawling spider webs, avoid dripping garden hose, explore a maze tunnel, slide down a roll of film, and sit atop an ant. Be advised that this is a large area, and it can be hard to spot your own children here.

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134. One Man’s Dream

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is part walk-through exhibit and part 15-minute film. Guests view over 400 of Walt Disney’s personal artifacts featuring one-of-a-kind animation art, paintings, storyboards, photos, park and ride models, props, costumes, and movie set pieces. Here, children can get a better understanding of Walt Disney as a real person.

135. 3D Movie

Join Kermit, Miss Piggy and the entire Muppets gang for a spectacular 3D movie presentation in a theater designed to look like the original Muppet Theater from the classic television series. This show rarely has a long wait.

136. Get a Jedi Training Certificate

At the Jedi Training Academy, children learn to use the Force in a 20-minute training academy. Twelve guests between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age will be selected for each show, all receiving a certificate at the end of training. At park opening, get in line outside the ABC Sound Studio, across from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, to sign the kids up.

137. Get a Disney Junior Dance Party Balloon

During night-time Extra Magic Hours, dance to music videos with Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and more. New characters fill the floor throughout the night, so you never know when someone special like Jake and the Never Land Pirates or Bones & Sharkey might appear. 

138. Take Home a Free Drawing

At the Animation Academy, with help from a trained Disney artist, kids get instruction for drawing a Disney character sketch. Unlike the Animation Academy at DisneyQuest, take your drawing from this Academy home for free.

139. Fantasmic

Fantasmic! is a 30-minute fireworks and water extravaganza showcasing pyrotechnics, laser lights and one million gallons of dancing water. 50 costumed performers sing Disney tunes while classic animation clips are projected onto massive walls of water. This is an extremely popular show, so if there are two shows, the second is almost always not quite as busy.

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140. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • DINOSAUR – 40″
  • Expedition Everest – 44″
  • Kali River Rapids – 38″
  • Primeval Whirl – 48″

141. Hot and Sunny

Welcome to the Florida jungle, where there is a real lack of shade and air conditioning. This park tests your ability to cool off sufficiently, so keep the kids hydrated and sun protected (hats, sunglasses sunscreen.)

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142. Go Mornings

If there is a Disney park you can finish in less than a full day, this is it, so going back to your resort for a break or a nap is not advisable. Arrive first thing in the morning, because it’s cooler and animals get less active as the temperatures rise.

143. Stuff Just for Kids

TriceraTop Spin is very similar to the iconic Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom. Primeval Whirl is a spinning roller coaster with sudden dips and hairpin turns. Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama! is a dinosaur-decorated amusement park with vintage-style attractions and games. At The Boneyard, kids ages 10 and under can climb rocks, cross  bridges, roam caves, hurl down twisting slides, navigate a maze, and unearth dinosaur bones.

144. Talk To Cast Members

Cast Members are a wealth of Disney-related information, but this is especially so in Animal Kingdom. Many of them have years of experience handling and caring for animals, so have the kids ask them some questions.

145. Park Hours

Animal Kingdom usually closes well before the other parks; animals need to be fed and cared for, plus have time to sleep. Off season, Animal Kingdom could close as early as five p.m., although six or seven is more common during regular season. In peak attendance times, this park will sometimes open 30 or 60 minutes early. There are no fireworks at Animal Kingdom. 

146. About Dinosaur

DINOSAUR includes loud sounds in the dark with seemingly menacing audio-animatronic dinosaurs that may be scary for children. It is not recommended for younger, easily scared children.

147. Explore The Wilderness 

Kids can follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up! as they complete a series of self-guided, completely different challenges, ranging from animal observation to learning nature skills. As you complete missions, collect over 30 badges to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide. Use this link for info. 

Disney World Resort tips for kids, toddlers, and babies

148. Staying on Property

It can definitely be cheaper to stay off Disney property. But if you are traveling with children, paying more money to be closer to the action and surrounded by all the “Disney Magic” of the resorts may be more desirable than saving money. Cheapskate tip: the Value Resorts are very popular because of the child-centered decorations, and so they are frequently packed.  *10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

149. Pools

If you kids are comfortable in the water, the pools at Disney resorts are great fun. Plus Walt Disney World Resort hotels heat pools to a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit (about  28°C). Remember that Value resorts do not have slides while Moderate and Deluxe resorts do.

150. Pool Side Games

Lots of WDW resort activities include a fee, but many Disney resorts now offer games lead by Cast Members poolside for the kids. Groups of children participate in these games. By the way, swimming at resorts where you are not a registered guest is tempting but not allowed (unless you are a DVC member at certain resorts.) A Guide To Disney World Resort Pool Hopping

151. Use Their Pool Towels 

For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool-side showers located in the bathrooms. Let the kids take a swim on check-out day. Have a large group and want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks? Send family to the showers near the pool.

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152. Bathroom Freebies

H2O toiletries at the resorts smell lovely and come in child size bottles. If you run out, stop by Mouse Keeping and ask for extra soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. Extras can also be delivered to your room. 

153. Stationary Freebies

There are usually free postcards, stationery, and WDW resort pens in your room. These are for your use, so make sure the kids bring them home.

154. Character Greeting Call

When you check into your resort, ask a Cast Member to set up a “Welcome Call” from a Disney character. Like Disney magic, Mickey or a Goofy friend will leave a message on your room phone. Have the kids answer this. 

155. Character Wake Up Call

Just like the greeting we mentioned above, schedule a wake up call to your resort room and a Disney character, usually Mickey, will call to wake you up. What better way to get the kids out of bed to start another magical day. 

156. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. These complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort, so use this link for the list. Call the resort to confirm that night’s fire and get an approximate time, although they usually take place before sunset.

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157. Outdoor Movies

Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires, although this is dependent on weather and thus subject to cancellation or change without notice. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies. Call the resort desk for specific seating information, and for movie schedules, call 407- 939-7529.  How to See FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts!

158. Mugs

Purchase a Resort Mug and receive free refills at all the Disney resorts for soda, coffee, etc. Dining Plans include a mug for everyone over age three, but the cost for everyone else is $8.99 (1 day), $11.99 (2 days), $14.99 (3 days), and $17.99 for your length of stay. These make excellent dinner cups once the kids get back from vacation.

159. Dirty Clothes? Clean ’em Up!

There are laundry machines at the resorts, so don’t forget to bring plenty of quarters. Disney sells one dollar laundry detergent for a single load box, while it costs $2 per load to wash and $2 per load to dry the clothes.

160. Schedule Mouse Keeping

When you check in your resort, make sure you ask for early housekeeping. If you are early morning risers, this will ensure that if you return for an afternoon rest, your room will be clean. And if you are napping, you won’t be disturbed by Mouse Keeping if you forgot the sign.

161. Professional Portrait Service

Like to have professional portraits taken of your family on vacation? Portrait sessions are available at the Grand FloridianPolynesian Village, Beach ClubWilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Up to 30 days in advance, call 407-934-4004 to make a session reservation.

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162. Playgrounds

All Disney Resorts have playgrounds, which are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

163. Hotel Baggage Handling

If your room isn’t ready when you arrive, drop off your bags with Hotel Baggage Handling, and take off for the parks. On the day you leave, check out, drop off your bags, and pick them up later when you are ready to head home.

free day tips for a Disney World vacation

We always recommend taking a “free day” in Orlando, because it’s nice for children to take a stimulation break from riding rides and standing in line, and there are tons of fun activities outside the park main gates. 

Downtown Disney, soon to be re-named Disney Springs, is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex located lake side and within an easy WDW bus ride or car ride from the Disney resorts. You can entertain yourself for half a day here easily. 

164. Play with Legos

Head into the Lego Imagination Center  for some free interactive Lego fun. Outside is a 3,000-square-foot play area filled with Legos,  just tempting little hands to build something. Inside and out are larger-than-life Lego statues just waiting to be photographed.

165. Bowl & Movies

AMC Movies at Downtown Disney 24 is a modern movie theater located near Splitsville Luxury Bowling Lanes. Both are new facilities with state of the art technology and top-notch casual dining. If you can entertain yourself for half a day at Disney Springs, throw in a movie or some bowling with a meal, and you could stretch your half day to a full.  

166. Visit with Santa  

November through December, visit with Santa and have pictures taken. When kids are out of school, lines can get long. Goofy takes over for pictures after Santa heads home.

167. Play Some Games 

Once Upon a Toy has the largest assortment of toys and games in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. You will find theme park play sets, Mr. Potato Head and Star Wars building stations, and an amazing amount of t-shirts, toys, dolls, video games, and collectibles.

168. Splash Around 

In the section with Goofy’s Candy Co., in full sight of the Rainforest Cafe, is a splashpad type fountain. This is fabulous for children on a hot day and funny entertainment for adults any day. Remember, kids may need dry clothes.

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169. Goofy’s Glaciers Free Samples

Goofy’s Candy Co. is a great little candy store by Rainforest Cafe.  Grab a small-cup sample of a Goofy’s Glacier, with flavors like Pucker Purple, Glacier Apple, Rootin’ Tootin’ Red, Orange You Happy Orange, Gawrshly Berry Blue, and Coca-Cola Cooler. This store smells amazingly sweet, and you will want every snack you see! Chocolate-covered caramel apples you design yourself are a big hit with the younger crowd. 

170. Watch an Artist 

In the Art of Disney store, kids can watch an artist drawing Disney characters projected onto a big screen. Statues and paintings for sale are bright and colorful.  Free Disney World Entertainment? Don’t Miss the Art of Disney Store

171. Disney’s Days of Christmas

Children love Christmas, and in this store, it’s Christmas 365 days a year. There are all sorts of tree decorations and plush toys, just right for little hands to touch and squeeze.

172. Free Chocolate!

Cast Members at Ghiradelli’s Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop hand out free chocolate samples throughout the day. This is a small retail space, but they offer some of the best ice creams and desserts anywhere in Disney Springs. They are very rich, so grab a table outside and make plans to share something cold. 

173. Hydrate Your Skin 

Basin is located nest to the Mickey pots topiary fountain, right next door to the World of Disney. Want to get kids excited about bath time? Bring them in to smell the bright, multi-colored soaps. Basin has an assortment of hand scrub and lotions samples you can sample for free. Be sure the kids wash their hands…they’ll love it!

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174. Aaribas Brothers

Looking for a nice souvenir for your princess? Bring her into Aaribas Brothers for a vast assortment of tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, most of which have Disney themes, sparkling with Swarovski crystals. Boys will probably be more into tip #175. 

175. Watch a Glass Demonstration

Arribas Brothers has glass blowers and glass cutters on staff giving demonstrations throughout the day. You can even purchase some of their creations. Children will be mesmerized by the blow torch, guaranteed.

Best Disney vacation planning tips for Kids

176. Hear a Concert

There are musical performers at Disney Springs throughout the year, both on a large stage on front of The World Of Disney and in random locations. Take a seat on benches or even the ground for a performance, giving little feet a rest. 

177. Go Up in a Balloon

The Characters in Flight balloon floats 400 feet straight up in the sky for 8 to 10 minutes, providing 360 degree views of Disney Springs. Prices before tax are $12 for children and $18 for adults, but arrive before 10 a.m., and you can fly for $10 each with their Early Bird Special.  Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

178. Kid Restaurants

Two restaurants in Disney Springs are popular with the younger crowd, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex. Singing birds, trumpeting elephants, chest-pounding gorillas and schools of brightly colored fish welcome you to the Rainforest Cafe, while you are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, banyan trees, waterfalls and a starry nighttime sky.

At T-Rex, you dine among life-sized animatronics dinosaurs, including a 15-foot-tall T. Rex. There are themed rooms and a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so, complete with rumbling and fiery “explosions.” The lights dim and things get loud! Kids can assemble a plush pet dinosaur at the Build-A-Dino By Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. Call 407-939-1947.

179. DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park

DisneyQuest is an indoor five floors of fun including virtual worlds, 3D encounters and classic video games. Hours are typically 11:30 a.m. to 11 pm. Guests under 14 years of age must be accompanied by a guest age 14 years of age or older. Admission to DisneyQuest is included with certain ticket types (see tip #182 below), but pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $39 and adults (10+) are $45.

180. Play Miniature Golf

Found in the Epcot Resort area, these two mini-golf courses are based on Disney’s classic animated film Fantasia. Disney’s Fantasia Gardens is designed for families and beginner mini-golfers, as you aim through twirling obstacles, cross fanciful fountains and discover musical surprises. Fantasia Fairways is more challenging, emphasizing skill over chance,with par-3 and par-5 holes ranging in length from 63 to 109 feet, plus sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

Located by Blizzard Beach Water Park, Winter Summerland Miniature Golf depicts where elves built Santa two distinctly different 18–hole mini golf experiences: a sand course named “Summer” and a snow course named “Winter.” The courses combine for the last holes, and after sinking the last putt on Hole 18, mini-golfers earn a special message from Santa Claus. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

best tips for kids Disney World vacation

181. Smart to Hang Out

Disney vacations are tiring; it’s a good idea to plan a free day mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. If the group can’t handle the parks again without a melt down, have a back up plan. Day after day of waking up early and going to bed late starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well schedule a “free” day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks.

182. Water Parks Fun & More Option

Add the Water Parks Fun & More Option to any valid Magic Your Way ticket for just $60 plus tax. You can enjoy two water parks, as well as admission to one of the following for each day of your ticket:

  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (one round) Tee times are required for Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and are subject to availability.

183. Water Parks

Tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach start at $53 per day before taxes. With both thrill and chill rides, relaxing lounge areas, wave pools, snorkeling adventures and much more. Both parks have areas specifically designated for younger children. Use this link for more info. on Disney water parks and ticket options. 

184. Resort Hop

Resort hopping is simply looking around the Disney resorts where you are not staying. Each resort has a completely different theme. This is a great opportunity to talk about finances with your children, because there are big price differences in the three resort levelsDisney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

185. Wishes Viewing  

Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail loop. At the Polynesian Village Resort, fireworks are visible directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon, and show music is piped in through speakers. Before or after the fireworks, grab a bite to eat or a snack. Hang out in the remodeled lobby, which is beautiful at night.

186. Night Time Water Parade  

Visit the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. The water-light parade was originally created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In my opinion, this show is geared more for younger kids. Approximate show times are:

  • Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
  • Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

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187. Character Meals

Rather than schedule a two-hour meal break on a day when you have park tickets, enjoy a character meal at one of the resorts. Character meals are pricey compared to table service, but you are paying for an event that kids (and adults) are sure to love. Character dining locations at the resorts are Ohana’s, Garden Grove, Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, and 1900 Park Fare. What Are the Top Three Character Meals at Walt Disney World?

188. Visit Celebration

A 15 minute drive away from the parks is the planned town of Celebration, Florida. Kids will enjoy the fountain by the lake, plus candy and toy stores. Adults will enjoy the shopping, Starbucks, and restaurants. Every night during the Christmas season, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Everybody will enjoy photos with Santa, strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more. Skating is a reasonable $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate, with your skate rental included. Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Ft. Wilderness Tips

189. Campfires/Singalongs

Ft. Wilderness is home to a free campfire program sing-along and movie, although there is a charge for refreshments. This event begins around 7 p.m. in fall/winter and 8 p.m. after the time change in April through summer.

190. Christmas Lights

During the Christmas season, vacationers staying at Ft. Wilderness adorn their campers, golf carts, and tents with a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s wise to take small flash lights with you, as some of the woodsy roads through the campground are not well-lit. 

191. Explore the Ranch  

At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch from to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You might get to see the blacksmith make and apply horseshoes. Advise the kids that as a free activity, they will be doing more looking than petting.

192. Pony Rides

How can the kids can touch ponies? For a very reasonable fee of $8.00 (cash payments only), children can take a pony ride at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall, no reservations are necessary. Riders must be:

  • at least 2 years of age
  • under 80 pounds
  • no taller than 48 inches
  • be able to hang on by themselves.
  • lead on their pony by a parent or guardian at all times.

193. Other Horse Activities

Tri-Circle-D Ranch offer activities for the kids and adults that love horses, including horseback trail rides, wagon rides and private carriage rides. Call (407) 824-2832 for information.

plan the best Disney World vacation

If you made it to the end, congratulations! You deserve a free Disney sticker…

We hope you gained some valuable information on what to do with children at Walt Disney World. Many of our suggestions are just that – suggestions. If you think they will work for you, great, and if not, do what you know works best.

Did we miss anything you feel other parents need to know? Leave us a comment, and we’ll add it in. If any times or prices have become outdated, let us know that as well. Disney changes things all he time without calling me first – can you believe it?!

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Thanks for stopping by, and we hope you have a magical trip to Walt Disney World!

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Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.