Looking Back at Disney’s Wishes: Looking Forward to Happily Ever After

what to do at Disney World at night

If you have watched the 10 p.m. fireworks show at Magic Kingdom since way back in 2003, then you’ve seen “Wishes.” How much longer will it be at Magic Kingdom? Not long.

In fact, it’s already gone, but it’s still fun to look back and remember.  [Read more…]

A Whole Bunch of Tips For a Better Disney Trip!

tips for a better Disney World trip

One of our most popular articles EVER is called120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!” By popular, I mean that as of January 2017, it has been read over 1,500,000 times. This piece gets pinned like crazy on Pinterest.

We had a lot of our readers leave comments on the article, because frequent Disney visitors love to give advice to friends, family, and even strangers who are planning trips. The DO NOT comments they left on the article will certainly not RUIN a Disney vacation if you do the opposite, but they can definitely add a lot to your trip, depending on the needs and wants for your group.

Take it from our readers… there’s a lot of planning that goes into Disney vacations these days. You might as well benefit from their experience.  

Read: Disney Ticket Prices Just Went Up, So What Can You Do?

[Read more…]

Cheapskate Princess Extravagance: Star Wars Guided Tours

Updated for 2017!

Well, at the price we’ll discuss, this certainly isn’t for the cheapskates out there, but it has special occasion or just simply a vacation extravagance written all over it, especially if you are a Star Wars fan. Walt Disney World offers special tours and events for guests, for an additional charge in addition to your regular park admission, but you can enjoy the full Force of Star Wars fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with an all-access tour called the Star Wars Guided Tour.

Are you ready for The Power of the Park Side! [Read more…]

Cheap Disney World Souvenirs: Where to Purchase a Silhouette

disney-world-silhouette-cutting

Simple items that can stretch your Disney World vacation budget are souvenirs. T-shirts for $30, sweatshirts for nearly $60, and toys that can soar into the hundreds. A small trading pin will cost $10. How can you make the most use of your money without skyrocketing your overall budget?

We’ve searched all over the “World” for the best bargains, and we’re going to suggest a silhouette…

Wait, a what?!
[Read more…]

MagicBand 2 at Walt Disney World… All You Need to Know!

magicband-2-arriving-soon

Updated for 2017!

New MagicBands have arrived at Walt Disney World as part of their continuing effort to innovate and personalize their guest’s vacation experiences.  They called it “MagicBand 2.”

Read – Prisma: The FREE App You Need for Your Disney Vacation Photos

[Read more…]

Hanging Out at the Disney Vacation Club Member Lounge In Epcot

DVC Lounge

Updated for 2017!

Located in the Imagination! Pavilion, Disney Vacation Club opened a DVC Member Lounge back in 2016 for members to enjoy when they visit Epcot. Who does;t need a break in the air conditioning when walking through that park – Every Person Comes Out Tired. The Lounge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

location of the DVC Epcot Member lounge

This complimentary space was opened as part of the 25th anniversary of Disney Vacation Club, and current plans call for it to stay open through 2017 through the Membership Magic Ever After celebration.

We read about the lounge in our winter 2016 Disneyfiles Magazine. I was interested immediately because I thought the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot was the coolest place to be back in the 80s. The look of the lounge was retro and reminded me of the furniture I missed back in the 60s, since I wasn’t born until 1970.

DVC Memver Lounge in Epcot

Formerly called  The Journey Into Imagination, Imagination! is a pavilion that debuted in 1982 on the western side of Future World. I remember the movie you watched inside in 3D, which was the coolest thing ever back in the mid 80s when Kodak was the former title sponsor of the pavilion. The movie, Magic Journeys, was played along with a song of the same name by the Sherman Brothers. Those of you my age are singing the song in your head right about now…

After checking in with your membership card and photo ID, you walk upstairs to the second floor of the ImageWorks merchandise location within the pavilion.

DVC member lounge stairs

walk up the DVC member lounge stairs

In 1998, the original Journey Into Imagination was shuttered for renovations. The upstairs ImageWorks was closed, the leap-frog style fountains were reduced in size to accommodate the new gift shop at the exit of the new ride, but the glass pyramids remained intact even though the upstairs ImageWorks was closed.

The glass pyramid ceiling is of course the best part of the building.

DVC Lounge pictures

DVC Epcot Lounge

The lounge space offers many features:

  • Comfortable seating

DVC member lounge in Epcot

DVC Lounge perks at Epcot

  • Complimentary soft drinks

DVC Lounge complimentary soft drinks

  • Children’s play area

DVC Lounge children's play area

  • Wi-Fi
  • Charging stations
  • Computers with printers

DVC perks

  • Member Services Advisors

DVC Lounge at Epcot Member Services Advisors

We visited during Thanksgiving, so Christmas decorations were already on display.

DVC Christmas decorations at the Epcot member lounge

Mickey Mouse Christmas decoration

Important Details

There were a lot of rules members needed to be aware of to visit the lounge without issue.

  • Valid Membership Card and photo ID required at check-in. The name on the membership card must match the name on the photo ID.
  • Party size is limited to the member and up to five guests per membership card.
  • Guests and associates must be accompanied by a member with a valid membership card and photo ID.
  • No automatic re-entry allowed. Members and their guests who leave the space must follow the same entry policy.
  • Strollers must be parked at the attraction stroller parking outside.
  • Children may not be left unattended in the member lounge.
  • Members should remain with their guests.
  • Personal devices should not be left unattended.
  • Personal cups may not be used with the Coke Freestyle machines.
  • Access to the Member Lounge is part of Membership Extras. New purchasers after April 4, 2016, must purchase directly from Disney to have access to Membership Extras.

Was it worth paying DVC membership dues to visit the Member Lounge? No, not by a long shot as a perk by itself, but it was cool experience. DVC perks has started vanishing through the years we have been members.

It felt like sitting in a part of my childhood history. Enjoying free snacks and drinks in the air-conditioning on a hot fall day was certainly fun for 20 minutes or so.

 

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’s Memory Maker: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

memory-maker-00-full

Updated for 2017!

Pictures are priceless. They capture once in a lifetime moments. Pictures freeze our children at every age, and they hold our memories. Pictures are often the very best part of a vacation. And the photo opportunities at Disney World are completely above the everyday norm!

The pictures you take during your Disney vacation are the greatest souvenir you can possibly bring home.  [Read more…]

Cheapskate Guide to 2016 Disney World Halloween & Christmas Parties

There is a reason Disney World, especially Magic Kingdom, is considered the most magical place on Earth. For 365 days of the year, children, men and women walk through the gates and experience all the magic the parks have to offer.

But for fifty nights this fall, extra holiday magic fills the air as Magic Kingdom is transformed to a holiday wonderland.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are two of the biggest events every year at Disney World. But, are these holiday parties a perfect fit for you and your vacation? Let this list of tips and information help you decide.

Disney World Halloween & Disney World Christmas Party Basics:

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are both separated ticketed events and are NOT part of your regular park admission tickets. You MUST purchase tickets to these parties in advance or at the gate of Magic Kingdom. (NOTE: If you wait until the date of the party to buy the tickets, you do run the risk of the event being sold out.)

The 2016 prices for each party are tiered and different depending on the date you choose to attend. Each party lasts from 7 pm until midnight.

You are able to gain entrance to Magic Kingdom at 4 pm on your party day. When you arrive and check in, you are given a wristband to wear for the entire party. You want to make sure you get this wristband because once the clock strikes 7:00, Cast Members will be checking to make sure only party guests are left inside Magic Kingdom.

Because you are able to get in at 4 pm, I always prefer to use our party day to sleep in, have lunch in Disney Springs and then head to the party. This is a great way to conserve your park tickets during your vacation!

At both parties, exclusive party merchandise is sold. T-shirts, hoodies, limited edition souvenirs and trading pins are just some of the things you can get and they are only sold during the party. There are also specialty holiday food and drinks you might want to try.

Also, with both parties, you will not be able to make fast passes for rides or attractions during the parties. But, honestly, that is not really a bad thing. Especially with the Halloween party, where this is so much entertainment, you might not want to ride anything that night!

MNSSHP (1)

Disney World Halloween:  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Dates for 2016:

September: 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
October: 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31

The best thing about the Disney World Halloween party is that it truly is more fun than scary, which makes it the perfect addition to a vacation with little ones. Costumes are a must for the kids, and you will definitely have fun seeing all the princesses, pirates, fairies, ghosts and goblins. And for kids especially, I think this party hands down, wins over the Christmas party in terms of price of admission, getting to dress up, trick-or-treating, parades, oh my!

NOTE in 2016: Because of Disney World’s enhanced security measures of metal detectors and bag searches, please take note of their policy regarding costumes for the Halloween Party. “While costumed attire may be worn, guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body as they may be subject to additional security screening. Additionally, costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.”

As for costumes, remember, you are in Florida. The lighter weight, the better! If the weather at your home is freezing on Halloween, and you are accustomed to bundling up…don’t do that for this party. You might want to put together a lighter, less expensive version of your kids’ favorite costume so everyone will be comfortable.

Trick-or-Treating through Magic Kingdom is a once in a lifetime experience, and you should come prepared with a couple of bags to hold it all! Now, I’m sure most parents would agree that if your kids KNOW you are about to trick-or-treat, they are going to ask to start right away. I personally recommend keeping that little tidbit of information as secret as possible until you are ready to start, or until you have a plan.

If Character Meet & Greets are what you are most looking forward to, you are in luck! Several very hard to see characters will be available to meet and take pictures with, as well as some old characters, all of whom you would not see any other time. The Seven Dwarfs, for example is very popular and an excellent photo op. Another very popular duo at the party are Jack Skellington and Sally from A Nightmare Before Christmas. TIP: Start lining up by 6:30pm to see either the Seven Dwarfs, or Jack and Sally, because these lines will be long all night.

One of the best things about the party is you can use the party map (pick one up when you arrive) to hit all the trick-or-treat spots. While walking from one trick-or-treat location to the other, you will find many of the characters as you are walking through the park. We have stumbled upon some great characters just by enjoying walking around the park waiting for the parade.

There are also a couple of locations for Character Dance Parties. A couple of times we have literally run into Monsters, Inc. characters dancing in Cosmic Rays in Tomorrowland or Tarzan in Adventureland. The best thing about running into characters like this is interacting with them. Dancing with The Incredibles or having King Louie recognize your beat skills can be the highlight of your entire vacation, whether you are a parent or toddler!

One of the best things about the Halloween party is the Boo to You Parade! There are always two times for the parade,(8:35 pm and 11:15 pm) and the second one is usually less crowded and my personal pick. However, if meeting characters or trick-or-treating is not that important to you, then you might want to see the first parade AND then watch it again at the later time. (It is that much fun to watch it twice!) Whichever parade time you decide, you will want to find your viewing spot at least 30 minutes before the start time. If you want to view the parade from Main Street, you might want to leaving more than 30 minutes to find your spot.

The Headless Horseman starts the parade off, which is one of the highlights! (If it is raining hard, or has been raining all day, the Horseman might not ride.) But don’t be surprised to see the Horseman and then….wait for it….the parade to continue several minutes later. This parade is not just phenomenal for Halloween lovers, but it really is one of the greatest parades you can see at Disney World. The music, the characters, the choreography, everything is really spectacular.

HalloWishes, the fireworks spectacular, only happens once a night, (10 pm) between the two Boo to You parades. The great thing about HalloWishes is that if you are viewing it from anywhere other than Main Street, you will not be missing any projections or anything happening in front of Cinderella Castle.

Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular happens in front of Cinderella Castle (check party guide for exact times) and is not to be missed. (You have four chances to see this show: 8:00 pm, 9:20 pm, 10:40 pm and 12:00 am) The Sanderson Sisters debuted in 2015 and are back again this year for some double, double, toil and trouble! This show, featuring Maleficient and Dr. Facilier, as well as several classic Disney villains is a fantastic way to celebrate Halloween.

disney world christmas

Disney World Christmas:  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Dates for 2016:

November:  7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29
December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22

Is there anything better than a Disney World Christmas on Main Street, complete with snow, chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate? It is a tough combination to beat, honestly. And of the best things about the Christmas party is that you are able to go in early November and December before holiday crowds make party going uncomfortable.

(Note: After December 22, the Holiday Wishes are shown nightly replacing the regular Wishes fireworks show. Also, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade runs daily through the holiday as well.)

Character Meet & Greets are available and, like the Halloween party, there will be characters you might not normally get to see.  However, with the Disney World Christmas party, you are less likely to need a plan of attack to see characters. BUT, the Seven Dwarfs, Jake Skellington as Sandy Claws and Anna and Elsa are all big draws at this party. TIP: Just like the Halloween party, if you want to see a particular character, you want to start lining up by 6:30pm to see either the Seven Dwarfs, or Jack and Sally, because these lines will be long all night.

Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is truly one of the most magical experiences you can have in Magic Kingdom. It is very difficult to describe the beauty of the lights, the characters, reindeer dancing, tin soldiers marching, the music AND Santa Claus. And just when you think you won’t be able to handle the magic one more second…it SNOWS…on Main Street…at Disney World! Just like the Halloween party, there are two viewing times available for the Christmas parade. And also like the Halloween party, the second viewing of this parade is usually less crowded.

Typically there are two Character Dance Parties you can enjoy as well. The Holiday Hootenanny is in the Gold Horseshoe building, and then Club Tinsel is in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. The Hootenanny is a fan favorite for most people over Club Tinsel, but both are fun for all ages.

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Stage Show is new for 2016, and is replacing Celebrate the Season show, held in front of Cinderella Castle.  Mickey Mouse throws a party with his friends complete with Christmas carols, dancing and special effects!

Holiday Wishes is the nightly fireworks show, and it is as magical as you can imagine. The choreography of the music and the fireworks is a holiday experience like no other. Trying to decide the better show, Holiday Wishes or HalloWishes, for me is like trying to pick my favorite child. It is impossible because I love them both so much. But the Holiday Wishes at the Christmas Party definitely gives me goosebumps every time.

Cookies and Hot Chocolate are given throughout the park and if you want to enjoy them during the parades or fireworks, keep in mind, the lines for refreshments get longer the closer to Main Street you get.

disney world christmas

Are of the Disney World Halloween or Disney World Christmas holiday parties right for you and your vacation? Is it worth the extra money, especially this year with tiered pricing?

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.

Early Morning Magic & Disney After Hours: A Cheapskate Guide

Early Morning Late Night Disney tickets

Disney World has become a really busy place to take a vacation, some would say almost too busy. With some wait times reaching more than three hours during holidays and parents taking kids out of school for trips, there isn’t really ever a down time anymore to visit the Mouse in Orlando. So if you have the money, you can have the parks almost to yourself on certain days before the general public arrives and after they go home, but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

What do you get and is it worth it?

Tips to Stay Cool on a Summer Disney Vacation

Early Morning Magic Disney World

Disney Early Morning Magic in Fantasyland

First, you need a regular theme park admission ticket, and that cost will depend on how you bought your tickets, annual passes, single day admissions, seven-day admissions, whatever you purchased. Then add that to $69 per adult and $59 per child (tax not included) for a limited-entry, first-access experience in the park.

What You Get

Rides: Early Morning Magic guests can ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. Warn the kids – these are the only attractions that will be operational during this special event.

You will receive an event sticker for identification upon check-in.

Breakfast: enjoy a morning meal breakfast at Pinocchio Village Haus featuring the following items:

  • Chilled juices, coffee and teas
  • Seasonal fruit and berries
  • Freshly baked pastries
  • Cheese and cured meats
  • Scrambled eggs with assorted toppings
  • Vegetable frittata
  • Smoked bacon
  • Pork and turkey sausages
  • Fried potatoes with caramelized onions
  • Waffles with butter and syrup

Top Three Disney World Souvenirs You’ll Use Every Day

Disney World Early Morning Hours prices and dates

When Can You Go?

This ticketed event is available on select Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The number of available tickets will be very limited. Dates have not been announced as of yet.

How Do You Purchase Ticket?

You can purchase tickets online, call the Disney Reservation Center at 407-827-7350 or have a Travel Agent book your tickets for you. Remember that all tickets are non-refundable, non-transferrable and are only valid for admission during the special event date and hours.

The Details

  • At 7:30 a.m., check-in near the far left turnstiles of the Main Entrance to Magic Kingdom park starting.
  • Starting at 7:45 a.m., event guests will be admitted into the park and guided into Fantasyland.
  • From 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., breakfast will be available at Pinocchio Village Haus.
  • Around 9:00 a.m., Magic Kingdom will open to guests with regular admission tickets. Your event-only attraction access will end.

Again, dates for this event have not been announced yet; we will update our information when they are.

20 Cheapskate Tips for Accommodations and Tickets at Disney World

Disney After Hours ticket prices

Disney After Hours

If morning park time with limited-entry is not your thing, maybe you would rather stay up late. You can enjoy Magic Kingdom at an after-hours special event filled with characters and attractions with almost no wait times!

The cost? $149 per child or adult (tax not included).

What You Get

Well, for about $50 per hour, you get three hours in the park with almost no crowds and very short waits, plus ice cream and bottled beverages.

When Can You Go?

Disney After Hours will take place on the following remaining dates in 2016:

  • Thursday, April 28, 2016 from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM
  • Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM
  • Sunday, May 8, 2016 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
  • Thursday, May 12, 2016 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
  • Thursday, May 19, 2016 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM

I am sure if these dates are successful, they will announce dates for 2017 as well.

How Do You Purchase Ticket?

You can purchase tickets online, call the Disney Reservation Center at 407-827-7185 or have a Travel Agent book your tickets for you. The number of tickets available is limited. In addition, all tickets are non-refundable, non-transferrable and are only valid for admission during the special event date and hours.

The Details

  • At 7:00 p.m., check-in for the event at the Main Entrance to the theme park beginning.
  • Magic Kingdom park will officially close to guests who haven’t purchased Disney After Hours tickets at 10:00 p.m. on April 28 and May 5, 2016; and at 11:00 PM on May 8, 12 and 19, 2016.
  • Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests may use Walt Disney World Transportation after the event for up to two hours.

Disney World Preferred Parking: Do You Need It?

Disney After Hours information

Cheapskate Thoughts

Do you really need tickets to these events. Of course not.

Could you benefit from snacks/breakfast and park time all to yourself? Certainly. So it all comes down to money; how much vacation money you have and how much you want to spend?

I’m traveling with five adults in my party, so in terms of my cheapskate budget, Disney After Dark is out of the question. If my party was smaller or I was traveling for a special occasion, then $150 might be more of a personal desire. People pay big money like this for concert or sporting events all the time, just not cheap people like me! But if it was a one-time trip, the trip of a lifetime, I just might splurge for the experience.

TwoBits stopped by with a money saving suggestion for DVC members. “In regards to the after-hours promotion, it has been recently reported that DVC members and annual pass holders are being offered after hours tickets for $75. At that price, getting in at 7:00, fighting regular crowds for a couple of hours, then getting the park with virtually no wait AND all the ice cream I can eat may make it worth it. I can’t imagine trying to make this work with young kids, though.”

Without using a DVC discount, I think I’m still out at that price level, but breakfast for my family might be different…

If I wanted to pay for an “experience,” breakfast for $69 per adult and $59 per child is not that much more expensive than a character meal at Chef Mickey’s. Plus you get park time with no huge crowds. This is an extra ticket event I would definitely consider if I was already paying for character meals.

Disney World Vacation Planning: Non-Holiday Dates to Avoid

Let us know what you think! Has Disney gone crazy with all these extra ticket options, or are they just offering the public what they want, which is more time on rides with less of a wait?

Disney ticket prices

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed over to Magic Kingdom for an early start to your day.

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.

Tips to Stay Cool on a Summer Disney Vacation

stay cool on a Disney vacation

It sure is hot in Orlando during the summer. With average temperatures in June, July, and August hovering around 92 degrees, that means when you factor in humidity, it’s going to feel like it’s about 100 degrees. That’s really hot, especially for those of you not used to high heat in the deep south.

So how can a Disney Princess stay cool in the parks and resorts when the temperature is turned up to broil? We have some tips…

Read: Should You Pull Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

[Read more…]

Walt Disney World Must Eat? Chocolate Covered Caramel Apples

disney-world-must-dos-food

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…]

Disney World Park Tips for Kids: Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney World theme park tips for kids

Updated for 2017!

Let’s be honest. Taking children on vacation to theme parks, surrounded by thousands of people and potentially walking miles a day, can be overwhelming. For the Disney parks in particular, add in scheduling Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) and FastPass+ times, and you have a lot of information to absorb and keep up with.

We’ve amassed our best tips for taking children to Disney theme parks in one easy to follow guide. And away we go!

Read: Taking Baby to Disney World

1. Daily Schedule

Grab a daily schedule when you first arrive at the parks in the morning; this way you know what’s going on with scheduled events, entertainment, and character locations. You can also get a schedule from the front desk at all the WDW resorts. Children that can read might enjoy having their own schedule, which means multiple people in your party will be planning things down to the minute! 

Those of you with iPhones can use the My Disney Experience App. to see times and locations for character meet and greets, attraction wait times, and a limited schedule for some events like Casey’s Corner Pianist, Celebrate the Magic show, Flag Retreat, etc. Kids are totally tech savvy these days and will enjoy looking this up on a phone. 

2. Go Early

If you have spent any time on vacation with children, you know that they are usually wide awake and raring to go way before the adults. Most smaller children are in prime form in the mornings, crashing later on in the day. So it makes sense when traveling with kids to head over to the parks bright and early.

Theme parks are the least crowded first thing in the mornings (unless there is morning Extra Magic Hours), so you will have shorter wait times than from noon until later on in the afternoon. In the summer, it’s not yet hot and humid during the early mornings, and you can always come back to your room and grab a nap. Vacations are hard work; I am a big proponent of naps.

Items You Can NOT Bring to Disney Theme Parks

Disney World Theme Park Tips for Kids

3. Take a Picture of your Parking Row

Time to start your day off right. Cast Members say you wouldn’t believe how many people forget where they parked each day. Take a picture of the sign on your parking row and text it to yourself, or just text the information so you don’t forget how to find your spot.

If any child traveling with you has their own phone, have them take the picture (participation!) and send it to you. Let them be in charge of finding the car, with a little gentle supervision from you.

4. Take a Nap

As I said in #2 when discussing beating the big crowds by waking up early for park openings, I am all about the nap, both for me and for children. On a typical Disney day, but even more so when it’s summery-hot, kids start to lose it around lunch time. Even if you have active children who can handle a fair amount of walking, the Florida heat alone can suck the life out of you.

If your children normally take a nap, we recommend heading back to the hotel for a quick rejuvenating snooze. There are kids napping in strollers everywhere throughout the parks, so if they fall asleep before you make it back to the room, that’s even better for those left to ride roller coasters while the kids nap it out in the shade.

Read: FREE Drink Refills at Disney World Theme Parks

take a nap on a Disney vacation

5. Or Take a Break

Not every child will need a nap, but they certainly might need a break. There is so much to see and do in the parks and resorts (ever seen a child in a gift shop on the way to a park?!) that overstimulation is a very real possibility. If you have two adults, let one take the nap and the other adult can take the non-nappers for a swim.

Single parent of nappers AND non-nappers? This is where you turn the room TV on a low volume, turn off the lights, draw the curtains, and catch some Zs for yourself while those still awake watch some cartoons. Hanging out with the less-stimulated child is certainly ideal over the cranky and completely over-stimulated one.

Naps and breaks can make your vacation run much more smoothly.

6. You Can Rent Strollers

While parents can bring strollers from home, Disney also has molded plastic strollers for rent. These rental stroller are not suitable for infants or older babies, but they are certainly fine for toddlers to preschoolers. You cannot remove strollers from the theme parks, so if you park hop, just present your rental receipt at the next park to obtain a replacement. A $100 credit card deposit is required for strollers rented at the Disney Springs area.

  • Single strollers are recommended for children 50 lbs. or less. The daily rate is $15 and multi-day length of stay rate is $13.
  • Double strollers are recommended for children 100 lbs. or less. The daily rate is $31 and multi-day length of stay rate is $27.

To qualify for a Length of Stay stroller discount, simply pre-pay the number of days that you will need a stroller. Purchase a Length of Stay rental ticket, and show your receipt at the rental location to receive your stroller for the day.

In addition to stroller rental locations across Walt Disney World Resort, several private companies in the local area also offer stroller rentals.

  • Orlando Stroller Rentals: (800) 281-0884
  • Kingdom Strollers: (407) 271-5301
  • Magic Strollers: (866) 866-6177

Over 30 FREE Activities In Disney Springs

where to rent strollers at Disney World

7. Realize Strollers are Moved

Where did your stroller go? You know for a fact you parked it right here. Well, as they straighten up park areas, Cast Members will often move strollers around so everything looks more organized. There is no need to panic if you don’t find your stroller where you originally parked it. Look around for the huge group of strollers, and if you use tip #8, you’ll have no trouble spotting it.

8. Cheapskate Decorate Your Stroller 

You need your stroller to stand out from the crowd. Stroller decoration certainly doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take much time. Lots of families attach balloons, ribbons, or decorate bright-colored name tags so they can recognize their stroller more quickly. When you walk out of an attraction, you will then spot your distinctive looking stroller more quickly.

Personalization is especially important if you rented one of the identical looking Disney strollers. Pick identifiers your children will recognize, so they don’t climb into the wrong one. (Ask me how I know this happens…) You don’t have to spend lots of money for a Mickey helium balloon to make your stroller look special, but if you do, remember to take it home at the end of the day. I’ve heard stories from parents who say their balloon stayed inflated sometimes for over a month. 

Read: Disney World $.51 Souvenir Pennies

decorate your stroller at Disney World

9. What’s in Your Stroller?

I always tell people Disney World is a really safe place, both for your family and your belongings. I once forgot a backpack on a resort bench as we boarded a bus to Magic Kingdom. 20 minutes later after riding back to the bench, me in panic and with a furious husband, that bag was still sitting right there with all the contents, untouched and in place. Chances are anything you leave in your stroller will be right there upon your return, but…

Just in case, make sure anything you leave unattended will not ruin your trip if you come back to find it missing. If your child can only sleep with that one specific Mickey doll, perhaps that Mickey doesn’t need to be in the stroller. Or maybe you need to bring two Mickeys, one for the stroller and one for the room. Chances are everything will be fine, but sometimes it’s not worth taking a risk bringing along financial or emotionally valuable items with you into the parks.

10. Stroller Fold Up 

Keeping in mind that you can’t take the rental strollers out of the parks, when you bring your own stroller on the Disney busses and trams, you will need to fold it up before you climb on board. This catches a lot of families by surprise, and stroller break down and bag organizing can take some time to get yourself together.

Strollers can be rolled onto monorails and some boats, depending on space, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared for fold up. Children should be ready to be in and out quickly. People behind you in line will thank you.

11. Bag Check Lines

Since we’re talking about potentially holding people up in lines, bag check into the parks is another area you should be prepared. You need to have every pocket of your bag open for Cast Members to check. Just for your information, they are looking for glass containers and weapons, not food.

Children traveling with you should have their bags open as well, even if it’s a small backpack or fanny pack. Trust me, people behind you in line will thank you.

Read: Haircuts at Walt Disney World For $20

find your stroller at Walt Disney World

12. Emergency Plan

If you become separated, do your children 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? It’s an excellent idea to determine a meet up place if you get separated or have a plan on what to do.

For children that are really small and unable to communicate how to reach their parents, many people tape phone numbers in their child’s shirt collars, take pictures of what they are wearing that day, and lots of other child finding measures. We have an entire article with tips to help you keep up with your children in the parks: How NOT to Lose Your Kids at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

13. Baby Care Centers 

Baby Care Centers can be truly helpful during your vacation. 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. These items will not be free.

Read – Disney World 4 Le$$: Miniature Golf

Disney World baby care center information

14. First Aid

What do you do what a child gets sick in the parks?  Or if the adult watching a child feels sick? Visit one of the First Aid centers. Nurses are available during regular park operating hours, providing over-the-counter medications, bandages and other quick remedies.

Use this link to see their locations in each park.

15. Souvenir Pick-Up for Toys/Merchandise

Have the kids have picked out souvenirs too large for you to carry? Or maybe you don’t want to leave expensive items in your stroller? Decide you have to purchase something breakable? Good thing you have an option. Theme park merchandise can be delivered to a designated location near the front park entrances for convenient pick-up as you exit the parks. To utilize this service at the time you make your purchase, let the Cast Member who rings up your items know you want everything delivered to the park entrance.

You can also have items delivered to your resort room, but obviously don’t use this service if you are leaving early the next day. How awful would it be to miss your souvenir delivery!

Disney for Le$$: Chocolate Extinction at T-REX in Disney Springs

have items delivered to yoyr resort room on a Disney World vacation

16. It Gets Loud

Small children can be really noise sensitive, as can be children with special needs. Fireworks and music in Fantasmic!IllumiNations, and Wishes can be really loud. If your children are noise sensitive, pack some earplugs; if you forget, they are available at First Aid. If possible, try not to sit too close to the front.

17. It Also Gets Dark

If your younger children have never been on “dark rides” before, you may be shocked by their reactions. I’ve seen kids wailing in Small World, and this is a happy dark ride! Start explaining to them that some rides and shows may be in the dark. A great way to do this is by showing ride videos found on YouTube.

Once you arrive in the parks, don’t push your children 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. You can always come back when they are older.

Read: How to Pack the BEST Disney World Theme Park Bag Ever!

Disney World tips for kids

18. Lines/Queues are Long

Stand-by lines can frequently get really long, like hours long during holidays, and this can be stressful for both adults and children. Many parents recommend that kids play on iPhone apps. or try looking for Hidden Mickeys while they wait. Hidden Mickeys are just Mickey-head shapes/three circles that appear where you wouldn’t expect them.

This is also a great time to have a conversation with your child, especially teens, because now you have a captive audience!

19. Ride Before Parades & Shows

People can start lining up for shows and parades nearly one hour or more before they actually start. This means while large groups are gathering in one spot, you can take advantage of what can be shorter wait times for roller coasters. The lines will fill back up right after the entertainment ends. I’m not saying choose rides OVER parades and shows, because Disney absolutely has some of the best of both. But if your group isn’t that into seeing live entertainment, then use that time wisely for more popular rides with potentially shorter waits.

Read: Less Stress on Vacation

avoiding long likes at Disney parks and resorts

20. Tips For Big Theaters

Shows like PhilHarmagicLittle Mermaid, and the Muppets 3D movie are all housed in large theaters. Your impulse will be to hurry inside, but the better plan is to hang back. The first guests through the doors are instructed to walk all the way to the end of the rows. If you want to sit in the middle, our favorite viewing spot, let other people go in before you.

However, if you do rush into the theater and find yourself sitting at the beginning (which is now the end) of the row, cheer up, because you are in prime position to get out of the theater faster to move to your next attraction.

21. FastPass+ 

If you haven’t been to Disney World in a long time but are now taking kids with you, know that things have drastically changed in the last few years, especially changes from the paper FASTPASSes. Now, you can schedule FastPass+ rides in advance, but you cannot make them for the same ride. You should have seen my sons’ faces when I said we were unable to schedule three passes for Space Mountain. Both over the age of 15 now, this is a disappointment they still suffer through every single trip.

You can ride the same rides over and over, but you will find yourself at the mercy of the Stand-By lines, and those can be lengthy. Make sure the kids understand this before you arrive, or stress and tears can ensue. This is a HUGE change for people who haven’t been to Disney in a long time.

Read: Surviving Disney World at Christmas

Disney World Fastpass + tips

22. FastPass+ is Inflexible

FastPass+ ending times are now strictly enforced. Long ago, if your FASTPASS paper ticket said 2:30 and you showed up after 3:00 with your paper pass, Cast Members waved you through. But now with the use of MagicBands and a crack down on times, you will not be allowed on a ride if you show up outside of your return time window, no matter how much you smile or how much the kids beg. So plan accordingly, which can include writing your time frames down or storing screenshots of them in your phone for easy access.

23. Additional PastPass+

When the initial switch was made from FASTPASS paper passes to FastPass+ and MagicBands, you were only allowed three passes per park per day.  You can now get more PastPass+ passes once you have used your original three, but warn the kids, what is left at the end of the day will probably not be their first choice ride. There’s not much left by the end of the day in terms of really popular rides.

24. Special Holiday Parties = Closing early

During certain times of year, there are “hard ticket” events that cause the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios to close early. Without a ticket for popular parties like MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) and MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) you will be leaving the parks around 7 pm. This was a real shock for my crew when we were instructed to make our way to the exits way before 10 p.m fireworks. Be sure to have your Travel Agent check the dates for you or check themselves using this link to Disney’s Special Event Ticket page. 

Read: Buying Disney World Souvenirs on Ebay

Tips for Disney World Christmas party

25. Extra Tickets

If you want to purchase a ticket for these special events so you can stay after 7 p.m., know that prices will vary. You can expect a starting price of around $55- $65 for children’s tickets and $65-$75.00 for adult tickets before tax. You get sweet treats, special photo opportunities with characters, music and light shows, and time in the parks when the general public has gone home. How Much Are Tickets to Mickey’s Halloween and Christmas Parties? Grab Your Disney Visa!

Starting in April 2016, Magic Kingdom park will stay open for three extra hours after the park closes to other guests on certain dates. This is called Disney After Hours. You can enjoy favorite attractions and character greetings with very little wait time, but it’s going to cost you $149 before tax for both adults and children.

Of it’s being offered, the Early Morning Magic program will involve one hour and 15 minutes of park time before opening with three rides and a breakfast buffet. The rides are The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. This cost $69 for adults and $49 for children in 2016.

Disney is providing lots of way for you to visit the parks without huge crowds, but it will cost you extra, and a fair amount extra at that.

26. Sleep In

You may have days when you just can not wake up super early without a child (or adult! I’m thinking of you, dear husband) committing mutiny. It’s not the end of the world to sleep in. So you miss a few rides…you can make up for it later with a good attitude and a rested body.

27. Stay Late

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are times the parks open early or stay open for those guests staying at Disney resorts. This extra time a perk of staying on property. The parks will thin out as non-resort guests leave, but they also get replaced with on-property guests coming over from other parks. If you have small children, Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours are your best option, because when the really popular roller coasters have long lines, there are still lots of other attractions for kids without crazy waits.

If you managed to catch a nap, then enjoy Extra Magic Hours late at night, when the summer temperatures and humidity are lower.

Read: 10 Ways to Save Money on Disney World Food

Disney Moms tips and tricks

28. Show the Bands

If you are attending Extra Magic Hours, you will need a MagicBand/park ticket for every person you are traveling with to show a Cast Member for admittance. You will not be allowed on rides or in shows without a ticket or band, and that rule goes for every person in your party. So make sure you keep them with you.

29. Night Time Shows

This may be tough with small children, but if they can stay up later, (naps help tremendously here) some of the best shows start after 9 p.m. I’m referring to the Main Street Electrical ParadeWishes, and Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. These are all excellent shows that start after most younger children’s normal bed times. If Disney offers a second show time, the second showing is generally regarded as being less crowded than the first.

 30. Prep. for Holidays

Holiday crowds at Disney World are indeed crazy. If you go vacation during a holiday when kids across the country are out of school, then you better be mentally prepared for long lines, people everywhere, and more waiting in lines. Should you take your kids out of school? More and more parents are these days, so they can hopefully enjoy lighter crowds, but Christmas is definitely the busiest time of the entire year. Prepare your own children for possible long waits and crowded situations.

Other holidays are packed out as well; if the kids are out of school, crowd levels will be pretty intense. 

Here are two articles that can help you prepare for the holiday madness.

Are You Crazy Enough to Go to World Disney World at Christmas?

What Are the Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World?

Disney World Christmas snacks

31. Need More Tickets?

When the kids are having a blast at the parks, if you decide (to make them happy, of course!) you would like to add another day or days to your current tickets, go to Guest Services. You need to make this decision before you are on the final day of your tickets. Extra days are not as expensive as your initial four or five days. Unless it’s the last day, you have the option to add more days, park hoppers, and water parks options.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed toward the Magic Kingdom, pushing a small child in a stroller…

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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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.