Character Dining: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

My favorite part of planning a Walt Disney vacation is deciding where to eat and a trip to WDW isn’t complete without character dining. Character dining can be expensive and some experiences are better than others, but it saves lots of time to dine with characters instead of waiting in line in the parks to meet some of your favorite Disney characters. Character dining is also very popular so be sure to make your reservations at 180 days out or book with us and have your Princess Travel Expert take care of it for you!

Character Dining

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The BEST Disney World Snacks to Share!

Enjoying snacks is a very integral part of a Disney World vacation, but they are expensive and sweet. Like really sweet, as in sometimes too sweet to eat all by yourself without getting a stomach-ache.

This fits right into the cheapskate style of planning a vacation. Get ready for the BEST snacks you chould share with a friend to cut down on sugar and your costs. [Read more…]

Why Book Advanced Dining Reservations: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

When people plan their vacation to Walt Disney World, there are so many decisions to make. Guests have to decide where to stay, how many days to spend in the parks, which parks to visit, which FastPasses they want, and my favorite decision – where to eat. Disney allows guests to make dining reservations 180 days before their vacation. While there are a lot of out of this world choices for dining, there are some restaurants that are very popular, and they can be locations where it is hard to get the Advanced Dining Reservations (also called ADRs.)

Disney World Dining

Photo from Walt Disney World 

[Read more…]

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival : A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Have you ever been to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival? Disney has announced that from September 14- November 14, Epcot will host the International Food & Wine festival – this year’s event will be almost an additional two weeks longer. If you are a foodie, then this is your festival.

[Read more…]

What to Expect at Tiffins in Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Tiffins Animal Kingdom

Got a special occasion and want to try some new dining on your next visit to Walt Disney World in a restaurant like no other on the property? Give Tiffins a try, Disney’s newest signature restaurant and part of the largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in the summer of 2016.  [Read more…]

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

hoop-de-doo-musical-revue-00Photo Credit:

Updated for 2017!

It’s a rootin’ tootin’, not high falutin’, good old-fashioned family fun hootenanny! The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Walt Disney World has the distinction of being the longest running dinner show in America. It also is one of the more expensive dining experiences at Disney World. Let this guide from your Princess Travel Experts help you decide if the Hoop-Dee-Doo is perfect for you and your family.

Read: Over 30 FREE Activities In Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

[Read more…]

The Disney Holiday Gingerbread House Kit: Is It Worth the $10?


Updated for 2017!

How do you entertain three older teenage kids during the holidays? Buy them a gingerbread house! We found a Disney “Crafty Cooking Kits” Mickey and Minnie house for $10 at Big Lots.

Here’s what you get for ten bucks:

Mickey Mouse gingerbread house

This is the look we were going for:


First we rounded up all our helpers, including this one…

making a Mickey Mouse gingerbread house

The kit comes in a pretty big box, which you really didn’t need for the contents. The box makes it appear as if you are getting more than you get.

Disney gingerbread kit and instructions

Disney World gingerbread kit

Look closely and you can see our problem, although I didn’t notice the issue until we removed the thin wrapping, 20 minutes away from the store.

trouble making the Disney gingerbread kit

how to repair a broken gingerbread house

We took that kit back to Big Lots and got a replacement with no problems. They were very nice.
The first thing the instructions say to do is to prepare the icing, kneading it for one minute until it reaches a soft, creamy consistency, or you can place it in a bowl of warm water. We kneaded, and knew well because hard icing doesn’t spread very well.
Next, the instructions say you snip the corner of the icing pouch to a 1/4-inch opening. I would start smaller than that and go larger if needed, because you can not un-do that hole once you cut it too big. We actually did this with another gingerbread house from Wal-mart, and once we squirted the icing in a Ziolock bag, we cut the end off way smaller. That worked ok as a solution.
This kit just had a small broken end. The instructions say any pieces of gingerbread that are broken can be mended with icing.
This is us mending:
fix a broken gingerbread house
making a Disney Mickey gingerbread house
You can see why that would not work for large entirely broken pieces.
The instructions suggest you pipe a line of frosting in the channels of the house base. Now, we were scared we would run out of icing, so we did not do this. The house stayed together mostly just fine (see below). If you plan to move your house around a lot, you might not want to skip this step, as it might hold it more securely.
We got the four walls put up, and we let that sit about 15 minutes to harden. The box suggests you wait just five minutes. We say triple that to be safe.
Disney gingerbread Mickey Mouse house
Then we applied the roof and held it for a few minutes. The instructions say 10 minutes wait time, and again, we say 15.
how to make a gingerbread house for Christmas with a Disney theme
And that’s when the wall caved in.
Disney gingerbread house
We took off a roof panel, pulled that wall back out, and reapplied the ceiling icing to glue it together again. That really wasn’t a huge deal, and it held this time.
Next we decorated the ceiling. While the box instructional photo used all white icing, we had purchased some red cookie icing for about $2.50. This added a little color.
My son would tell you straight lines without guidelines are harder to pull off than you think.
Mickey gingerbread house instructions
make a cute Christmas gingerbread house
Then the decorating with the candy enclosed in the kit began, which was probably the most fun.
decorate a Disney gingerbread house
Icing was added to the base for decorating candy.
Disney gingerbread house for Mickey Mouse
What did we think about out $10 investment?
To add a little Mickey and Minnie to your holiday decor, we would give a thumbs up to the $10 gingerbread kit. Again, ours was purchased at Big Lots.
Minnie and Mickey at Christmas
This isn’t professional level material, but then, we aren’t professionals, so…
I think if a 17-year-old boy who can’t do the dishes much less decorate anything can put 98% of this house together by himself, you and your kids will have a nice couple hours of family bonding.
Several tips:
Make sure the gingerbread pieces are not broken before you leave the store. Driving back with broken pieces is a bummer.
Make sure you get the icing warm enough by kneading the bag or warming up the container in a bowl of warm water. The kids complained about working with icing that was too hard.
If you use other icing besides what comes with the kit, make sure it’s not too soft, because soft icing will roll off and down slanted or horizontal surfaces.
best Disney World gingerbread house ever
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in Big Lots buying gingerbread. They had a cute Snoopy house as well…
To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of 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 Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Elizabeth and Julie. You can also e-mail them at

Disney Springs’ Boathouse Restaurant: Tips for Dining Under $20

Boathouse Restaurant at Disney Sorings for less

Updated for 2017!

I don’t mind admitting I was intimidated by the Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs. The Internet was abuzz with chatter about the prices almost before the doors opened, and the menu just shouted fru fru to my immature pallet. Foodie is the last word people use to describe me, but we gave it a whirl on a trip to Orlando, with the intentions of seeing what you can get for under $20 a person. You won’t get a steak or a lobster, both of which they offer, but there’s definitely meals aplenty for under $20.

Read: Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

What then should you order that won’t bust up your budget? [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Must Eat? Chocolate Covered Caramel Apples


Updated for 2017!

There are certainly a lot of snack options at Walt Disney World. Food makes up such an important, and expensive, part of vacations, that sometimes choosing what to munch on can be overwhelming. How do you know you picked the best snack for your money?

Never fear, a Cheapskate Princess is here! [Read more…]

Announcing New Changes to the Disney Dining Plan!

Disney Dining Plan changes

Many Internet sources including Touring have announced that starting May 31st, changes are coming to the current Disney Dining Plan. While many people hold out for the free dining announcement, the recent disappointment with the free offer has left many people planning to pay out-of-pocket for each meal or just outright purchase the dining plan. Paying for the Disney Dining Plan ensures all your meals are paid for in advance, and many people feel it saves them some money in the long run.

Should You Bring Your Own Snacks to Disney World to Save Money?

Free or paying for it yourself, what do these changes mean for anyone with the dining plan?

should you order the Disney Dining Plan

Table Service

Mix Up Adult/Child Credits

If you are using the Deluxe, Premium, or Platinum Dining Plans, you can mix your adult and child credits. If you are traveling with two adults and two children, you can now choose to select four adult entrée options. If you are using the regular Disney Dining Plan, this is not an option, so your child credit must still be used for a childs’ meal.

Dessert Substitutions

You can now substitute that dessert choice for either a side salad, a cup of soup, or a fruit plate. You have to specifically request this option and substitutions may be limited. You will still not be able to select an appetizer option in place of dessert.

No Restrictions on Meal Entitlements

You will no longer be restricted on the number of meal credits you use in one dining experience. So if your family of four (have dining plan) meet up with friends or grandparents at dinner (do not have dining plan), feel free to use your extra credits to buy their meal. I’m sure they will love you for this!

To Save Money on Disney World Food, Eat Breakfast Here!

changes to the Disney Dining plan

Quick Service

Swap for a Snack

You can now substitute any dessert or non-alcoholic beverage choice for an eligible snack, as long as you do this within the same transaction. Eligible snacks are listed below.

Swap Child to Adults Credits

Quick Service restaurants will not be enforcing the mixture of adult and child credits. Sometimes kids need more food while adults could desire less food. Two adult and two child meals can now be ordered as four adult meals.

Swap a Meal for 3 Snacks

You can substitute one Quick Service meal for up to three snack options within the same transaction. Swapping your lunch credit for three snack options might sound good if you just ate a huge buffet breakfast.

Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?


Everybody loves ice cream!


Changes to the dining plan rules now mean a snack is anything that is a single serving size, so the price of the item no longer matters. This is great news for many Disney snackers. Larger snacks like funnel cakes and Mickey cookies will be considered a snack option from now on.

These items are now considered as snacks:

  • All items on Quick Service menus listed under the Sides option
  • All single-serve non-alcoholic beverages not served in a souvenir container
  • All soups served in Quick Service locations
  • All ice cream novelties and all hand-scooped ice cream including sundaes, which cannot exceed two scoops or be served in a souvenir container
  • All items that were considered snacks but offered additional options at a separate price, like toppings, sauces, etc. (think funnel cake with ice cream or a pretzel with cheese sauce)

With changes to the existing dining plan, there are Quick Service restaurant breakfast items that can now be considered part of an entrée and also offered as a side.

These breakfast items may now be included as snacks:

  • Cereal with milk
  • Side of sausage
  • French toast sticks
  • Side of eggs
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Oatmeal or quinoa
  • Side of potatoes
  • Grits
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Side of bacon

Want FREE Drink Refills at Disney World Theme Parks? Then Choose These Restaurants

new Disney Dining Plan

So if you missed out on the free dining offer, would these changes make you want to purchase the Disney Dining Plan? If we hear of any additions to this information, we’ll be sure to  update what we have heard so far.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking over the menus…

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Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Erin, our Cheapskate Princess travel agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Disney World’s Crystal Palace Restaurant: Is it Worth the Money?

Have you or the kids wanted to dine with Winnie the Pooh and a few of his pals? Crystal Palace is where you’ll find Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore. [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!


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


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


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…


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

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Erin Johnson, our Cheapskate Princess Travel Agent

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel.  She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17.  We know our readers love free…

Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ 

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida