It’s Time to Disney Yourself, all for FREE!

It’s hard to find anything truly free these days, I mean, there always seems to be a catch. You didn’t know it, but you really need to “Disney Yourself,” and unlike a vacation, it’s 100% free. It’s catch free as well!

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Saving Money with a Disney Visa Card: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Taking a Disney vacation is not like visiting your local Wal-mart. Events, meals and merchandise do not just suddenly appear on sale, figures magically rolled back and accompanied by big yellow smiley face balloons. Knowing how expensive trips are these days, how can you save money and still enjoy the maximum amount of fun on a Disney vacation? [Read more…]

Taking Kids to Epcot: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Have your kids ever asked you what EPCOT stands for? Quick history lesson: EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, a utopian community of the future planned by Walt Disney. Epcot is divided into two sections: Future World has eight pavilions and World Showcase is themed with 11 world nations.The park opened in 1982, and Epcot is ranked the third-most-visited theme park in North America and the sixth-most-visited theme park in the world. Not only is it a busy place, but it’s massive in terms of the space it occupies.

Set on 300 acres, this park is more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom. Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, primarily technological innovation and international culture. Those of us old enough to remember World’s Fairs sometimes think of this Disney park like a permanent World’s Fair. You’ll see a variety of attractions and entertainment spanning the web and the globe.

Ready to take the kids for a visit? We’ve got some tips to make your trip easier on everyone.

Disney World Tips for Kids: Free or Inexpensive Activities at Disney Springs

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Disney World Tips for Kids: Free or Inexpensive Activities at Disney Springs

free or cheap activities at Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex that is free – the word free probably caught your attention, eh? Now kids probably don’t care much for shopping, and they would probably rather be entertained by rollercoasters than dining in a sit down restaurant, but there are TONS of things to charm the kids into begging for a trip back, most of which you can do for free. 

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Walt Disney World Tips: Resort Goodies for Kids

Disney Resort goodies for kids

There are several reasons to stay off property at Disney World, one of the most important of which can be a lower cost, 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. Many people prefer to stay on property just to take advantage of all that Disney World has to offer.  

There are lots of goodies for the kids if you stay in the on-property resorts.

 10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

1. Pools

As a resort guest, you paid for the room, so you will basically swim for free as a perk of your accommodations choice, and the pools run from kid-friendly with Disney characters in sight to simply amazing with hot tubs and slides. 

Wilderness Lodge resort pool

2. Bathroom Freebies

Shampoos and soaps at the resorts are great, created by a company called H2O just for Disney. Why bring your own toiletries when you can use the H2O soaps, conditioners, and shampoos in your room? If you run out, simply run down the hall to Mouse Keeping and ask for extras. If you don’t mind paying a tip, call the front desk and ask for extras to be delivered to your room. They come in child size bottles too. 

 

3. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. Complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort, as seen in the list below. Call the resort to confirm that night’s fire and get an approximate time, although they usually take place before sunset.

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

 

fires and marshmallows at Disney resorts

4. Stationary Freebies

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

5. Character Greeting Call

Upon check-in at 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 call for a big surprise! 

6. 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 tired kids out of bed to start another magical day. 

7. 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 or a free day when you take a break from the parks, and now they don;t have to drag a towel with them. Are you traveling with a large group and want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks?  For something a little different, the kids can use the showers near the pool.

8. Mugs 

So the purchase a Resort Mug isn’t free, but the free refills afterward at all the Disney resorts for sodas and drinks are. The Dining Plans already includes a Resort Mug for everyone age three or older. The mugs cost $17.99 for your length of resort stay, no matter how many days. These make excellent dinner cups once the kids get back from vacation.

 

 

why kids love Disney resort refillable mugs

9. Pool Side Games

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

10. Outdoor Movies

Come for the campfire, and then stay for a movie. Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies outside the resorts. This can depend on weather. At some resorts, you will need to bring a towel or blanket to sit on, and at others, they provide chairs. Call the resort desk for specific information.

Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice. For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort, or call 407- WDW-PLAY or 407- 939-7529.  How to See FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts!

movies by the stars at Disney resorts

11. Professional Portrait Service

This may not be so great for kids when they are young, but it could be a fantastic heirloom when they are adults. You can arrange to have professional portraits taken of your family while you’re at Walt Disney World. To make a reservation to schedule a portrait session or get more information, call 407-934-4004. Make reservations up to 30 days in advance.

Portrait sessions are available at the Grand FloridianPolynesian Village, Beach ClubWilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

12. Playgrounds

Your feet will be tired, but the kids may still be full of energy.  Walk down to the playgrounds found at the resorts, and they all have one. Playgrounds are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing kid’s playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

playground at Disney's all star resorts

13. Resort Decorations

At the Value Resorts, there are incredible landscaping decorations that will totally entertain the kids in your group. 

what to do for fun at Disney World All-stars resort

Disney's All Star Resort

When my children were young, these seriously were the highlight of their stay at the All-Stars. Going back now that they are teens, they have a true fondness for the property I hope they share with their own children one day.

Disney statues at the All Stars Resorts

So while you may pay a little to a LOT more money to stay on Disney Property, there are lots of extras and goodies for the kids to enjoy. Some you’ll take home with you; others you’ll take home as pictures and memories. 

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you standing by Buzz Lightyear outside your resort room. 

 

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 Springs Must Do: Goofy’s Candy Co.

goofys-candy-co-disney-springs

Sometimes we take vacations and visit places we soon realize we’ll visit again. There are beaches, hotels, and believe it or not, even stores that just stay in your memory for all time. Goofy’s Candy Co. is one of many super adorable shops in Disney Springs which, with all their renovations and new additions, is fast becoming an incredible Disney-themed shopping and dining location you have to visit while in Orlando.

Goofy’s is certainly not new. This sweet shop has looked mostly the same for as long as I can remember, and yet it remains an absolute must do for any shopping trip to Disney Springs.

Grab your wallet and be prepared to make a yummy purchase!

Read: A Whole Bunch of Tips For a Better Disney Trip!  [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?

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20 Tips for Taking Kids to Walt Disney World

20 Tips for taking Kids to Walt Disney World

Planning a Disney World vacation with kids in tow? Visiting theme parks with children can sometimes be like traveling with a herd of wild house cats on vacation; it can be every man for himself. We’ve gathered some words of wisdom for not only surviving the trip but thriving at the House of Mouse.  [Read more…]

Jewelry Bargains Found in the Disney Parks Collection by Rebecca Hook

rebecca-hook-jewelry-for-disney-parks

Let’s talk a little bit about souvenir shopping. The word “bargain” is really a relative term; what you call a bargain, I may call insanely expensive. While jewelry may not generally be regarded as cheap, I really believe it’s one of the best souvenirs you can bring home from a Disney vacation. You’re buying a quality item, often produced using high-class metals like sterling silver and gold, which can last for generations if you take proper care.

See, this $4,000 diamond necklace could be the un-doing of someone’s vacation budget…

expensive Disney World jewelry

Read – Cheap Disney World Souvenirs: Where to Purchase a Silhouette

There’s a new jewelry designer on the Disney scene, with her creations selling in both park and resort gift shops as well as at DisneyStore.com, for those days when your post-vacation depression leads to a little online shopping. Priced under $150, with many pieces under $100, the cost of her jewelry didn’t cause my Visa card to scream in panic. I therefore call that a bargain, based on prices for other jewelry items (see pic. above) and Disney souvenir costs in general.

Her name is Rebecca Hook, and her designs are understated yet beautiful, with prices that even a cheapskate can afford.

The pictures alone will sell the product…
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Disney World Extravagance: Helzberg’s Enchanted by Disney Jewelry Line

helzberg-disney-jewelry-collection

Updated for 2017!

If you can find some room in your Disney vacation budget to bring home a nice souvenir, jewelry is often great choice. Prices can range from $10 to over $4,000, both in the on-property gift shops and online at the Disney Store. If you spend a lot of time in the parks, you will notice that the same jewelry will hang around for sale for years. Let’s take a look at something different from the usual gift shop merchandise, and you won’t even have to set foot in a park to make a purchase.

Helzberg Jewelry opened their first store in Kansas City in 1915. They are one of the oldest jewelry chains in America, and they have a brand new line of Disney inspired jewelry designs. We’ll take a look at some of their new designs priced from $49.99 to $1299.

Read: Fabulous Disney-Inspired Wedding Rings, Perfect for a Disney Princess!

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Christmas Eve and Day At Disney World: How Crazy are the Wait Times?!

wait-times-at-disney-world-during-christmas

Several years ago, our family went to Orlando during the week of Christmas. You know, that week that I literally tell people they are crazzzzzyyyy to visit Disney World because of the crowds. But we only had one days worth of tickets, and we went early in the week.

Just how nuts can things get the week of Christmas? More specifically, how busy will it be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Let’s talk about wait times, because there will be BOO COODLES of people wandering the parks and resorts, and most of that time, they will be standing in line with you, elbow to elbow, cell phone to iPad.

I wrote down wait-times that holiday week at certain points during the day just to give you some perspective.

Read: Holiday Wishes Dessert Premium Package: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

a

Christmas Eve Morning 2015

Small World 25disney-world-wait-times

Astro Orbiter 50

Big Thunder Mtn 60

Buzz Lightyear 75

Dumbo 35

Tales with Belle 60

Haunted Mansion 40

Jungle Cruise 60

Peter Pan 90

Pirates of the Caribbean 45

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 120

Splash Mountain 45

Winnie the Pooh 55

Space Mountain 110

Speedway 60

Under the Seas 30

Dinosaur 30

Expedition Everest 55

Kali River Rapids 25

Kilimanjaro Safari 50

Living with the Land 35

Mission: Space 50

Soarin’ 130

Spaceship Earth 35

Test Track 85

Seas with Nemo 35

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 125

Toy Story Mania 75

Great Movie Ride 35

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster 75

Star Tours 40

Read: Cheapskate Guide to Disney World Halloween & Christmas Parties

how-crowded-is-disney-world-at-christmas

These people are all waiting in line just to get to the jewelry counter.

Christmas Eve Night 8 pm

Small World 30disney-world-waiting-in-line

Astro Orbiter  50

Big Thunder Mtn 30

Buzz Lightyear 25

Dumbo 20

Tales with Belle 20

Haunted Mansion 20

Jungle Cruise 35

Peter Pan 80

Pirates of the Caribbean  25

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 70

Space Mtn 90

Splash Mountain 30

Winnie the Pooh 10

Speedway 30

Under the Seas 15

Dinosaur Closed at 7 pm

Living with the Land 10

Mission: Space 45

Soarin’ 90

Spaceship Earth 15

Test Track 80

Seas with Nemo 10

Great Movie Ride 5

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 90

Toy Story Mania 85

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster 60

Star Tours 10

wait-times-for-rides-at-disney-world-during-christmas

Christmas Day Noon – closure phase A at 10 am

Small World 35waiting-for-rides-at-disney-world

Astro Orbiter  70

Big Thunder Mtn 80

Buzz Lightyear 75

Dumbo 55

Tales with Belle 40

Haunted Mansion 110

Jungle Cruise 50

Monsters Laugh Floor 40

Peter Pan 115

Pirates of the Caribbean 35

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 150

Space Mountain 190

Splash Mountain 60

Winnie the Pooh

Speedway 60

Under the Seas 45

Dinosaur 40

Expedition Everest 45

Kali River Rapids 10

Kilimanjaro safari 20

Living with the Land 30

Mission: Space 65

Soarin’  120

Spaceship Earth 45

Test Track 80

Seas with Nemo 35

Great Movie Ride 25

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror  40

Toy Story Mania 85

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster 60

Star Tours 50

Read: Where to Find FREE Disney World Theme Parks Christmas Music

Christmas Day 5 pm – If you even got in.

Small World  45

Astro Orbiter  30

Big Thunder Mtn 60

Buzz Lightyear 55

Dumbo 45

Tales with Belle  50

Haunted Mansion 60

Jungle Cruise  90

Peter Pan 90

Pirates of the Caribbean 40

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 120

Space Mtn 125

Splash Mountain 90

Winnie the Pooh 45

Speedway 50

Under the Seas  50

Dinosaur 20

Expedition Everest 35

Kali River Rapids 50

Kilimanjaro safari 45

Living with the Land 20

Mission: Space 50

Soarin’ 130

Spaceship Earth 25

Test Track 95

Seas with Nemo 30

Great Movie Ride 35

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 150

Toy Story Mania 105

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster 135

Star Tours 30

crowd-levels-at-disney-world-for-christmas

And just for kicks, I also recorded wait times the day after Christmas, because if you were going on a Disney vacation December 24th and 25th, chances are you will stick around for several more days afterward.

December 26th 3 pm

Small World  45

Astro Orbiter  40

Barnstormer 45

Big Thunder Mtn 75

Buzz Lightyear 60

Dumbo 60

Tales with Belle 60

Haunted Mansion 45

Jungle Cruise 80

Magic Carpets 45

Peter Pan 105

Pirates of the Caribbean 50

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 110

Splash Mountain 115

Splash Mountain 85

Winnie the Pooh 55

Speedway 90

Under the Seas 60

Dinosaur 40

Expedition Everest 35

Kali River Rapids 60

Kilimanjaro Safari 45

Tough to Be a Bug 110

Primevil Whirl 30

Living with the Land 20

Mission: Space 60

Soarin’ 110

Spaceship Earth 20

Test Track 55

Seas with Nemo 15

Great Movie Ride  35

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 80

Toy Story Mania 155

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster 90

Star Tours 45

Mad Tea Party 25

Mickey’s Philharmagic 30

Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor 20

Prince Charming Regal Carousel 15

Stitch’s Great Escape 10

magic-kingdom-closure-phase

So that’s a lot of waiting, although the wait times will vary in length throughout the day. Obviously things are more quiet at the beginning of the day and rapidly get busier from there.

Curious about closure phases for the parks? Use this link…

Read:Understanding Disney Park Closure Phases: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

So what do you think, visit the Mouse during holidays when the kids are out of school but spend a lot of time waiting or vacation during another time of year when the decorations may not be as spectacular?

 

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 Souvenirs Under $10? Lollypops!

Updated for 2017!

Disney World vacation souvenirs are expensive. As soon as you announce plans for your upcoming Orlando trip, friends will start casually saying, “Hey, bring me something back from Disney World.” Well now the pressure is on, and you have to decide if you will spend the big bucks or look for small trinkets. $35 t-shirts and $59 sweatshirts will kill your budget; I don’t always fit those items in my budget for myself. You may need something way less expensive.

I spent a lot of time looking around the gift shops as a child in the 70s, and these items remind me of childhood vacations munching on candy we could afford to buy in the parks. You know kids usually can’t afford much else.

Say hello to the Disney lollypops! [Read more…]