To Get Home From Disney With Your Souvenirs, Bring Less of This…

Christmas on Main Street, Toy Soldiers, Disney Toy Soldier, Disney Christmas, packing for Disney, what to pack for vacation

Getting to and from a vacation seems to be the worst part of the whole deal, and don’t get me started on the depression that can set in once you are back home. Either flying or driving to Walt Disney World Disney, chances are you will over-pack, especially if you are traveling by car. You know Disney Princesses – we overpack for everything! My husband commented for years that we looked like the Clampetts from the Beverly Hillbillies as we pulled into our hotel. Well, it’s tough to pack light with a family of five. But as our children have grown older, we have tried to take along just the necessities. He swears on the next trip, we can make it it in just two large suitcases. The number one thing we always over-pack?


Today’s Cheapskate Princess tip? Cut back on the amount of clothing you bring.

One good question to ask when you make your Disney reservations is, “Where can I wash clothes?”  Many hotels and resorts, both on Disney property or otherwise, have laundry facilities. You can find out if your accommodations have washers and dryers in one quick phone call or with a little Internet research. This will leave room in your suitcases for fabulous Disney souvenirs.

10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

packing for vacation, what to pack for vacation, what not to pack for vacation, back pack, Disney bag, Disney backpack

If you’ve packed lighter and don’t have access to a washer and dryer, there’s always a sink and a bar of soap. I readily admit, this is not my number one choice. Faced with no room for my new Mickey sweatshirt in the suitcase or washing out a few socks pairs of socks, those socks are headed for the sink, pronto. It’s not the ideal situation, but hey, you do what ya gotta do to get it all home!

Multi-pack. If you have a big t-shirt, use that as a bathing suit cover-up and pajamas.  Bring a light jacket, as this can serve as both the jacket and a raincoat.

Save Money on Disney World T-Shirts by Making Your Own!

Dooney & Bourke purse, Disney bag, Disney luggage

What can you do while you wash clothes?

Take a little nap.

Take a walk around your resort/hotel.

Grab a light snack.

Prop up your weary feet and watch some TV.

Take a dip in the cement pond. (see above Beverly Hillbillies reference)

Window shop without your wallet to avoid overspending.

Disney’s Basin: For $5.99, I Can Smell Like Disney All Day!

stroller at Disney World, stroller, Disney souvenirs

One thing about vacation is that most people find themselves toting too many items, which in the long run just causes additional stress. Vacations can be stressful enough just fighting crowds and worrying about finances without sitting on your suitcase to get it packed, or paying those extra fees at the airport when your luggage goes over a certain weight.

There are definitely an abundance of packing lists floating around, but with all that stuff crammed in your suitcase, there may not be enough room for the important things, like bringing home your new Mickey Mouse ears hat or a coffee mug. Stuff that shirt/pajamas/beach cover-up in the mug for extra travel protection.

Can You Afford a Vacation at WDW’s Bay Lake Tower Resort?

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse parade, I love Mickey Mouse, Disney parades, vacation at Disney World, picture of Mickey Mouse, photo of Mickey Mouse

So to get home from Disney with all your souvenirs, you will definitely need more cash and probably less laundry!


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

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

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


Thanks for stopping by for a quick Disney tip, and we’ll see you in the resort laundry mat with a roll of quarters.

A Disney World Vacation: Can You Put A Price On Buying Memories?


why take kids to Disney world

Your Disney vacation is going to cost you a ton of money, but can you really put a price on the memories you make there with your children? I tell every new mother the same thing, “Time goes by heart-breakingly fast, so you better take a lot of pictures.”  And I follow it up with this, “The only piece of advice I will offer you? Take that baby to Disney.” They most-often don’t, of course, usually choosing to wait until Jr. is headed for pre-school. “Babies don’t remember vacations. Those trips cost a fortune. I want to take Jr.  when he is old enough to remember everything.”

Point taken. I took my babies to Disney, and they don’t remember a minute of it. I took a lot of pictures, though, so I have the memories. Time does indeed go by fast, and in a short five more years, all my children will have flown the coop off into the real world, where I won’t make their breakfast and wash their clothes. They are still excited about Disney vacations at this point, those trips that cost a fortune. I probably could have pre-paid for one year of college for what I have paid in Disney tickets and hotel rooms over the last 14 years.

What I am buying now is not just a vacation, which I can easily put a price on. What I am buying is memories for my children, memories I hope will lead them back to me in adulthood, and those memories, you cannot put a price on.

6 Cheap Ways to Keep the Disney Magic Going After Your Vacation

why Children love Walt Disney World

I witnessed a proposal at the Magic Kingdom last summer, sitting quietly beside my three kids as we waited for the Magic, Memories, and You! show. I remember wondering if the Disney memories I give my children now will affect their lives as adults. I want our happy times at Disney when they were kids to bring them back to me as adults for more of the same.

30 minutes after the proposal, my 7th grader verbally started planning where he would propose to his wife. He has always talked about having a family of his own, and he declared Cinderella Castle was a fabulous spot to pop the question. I told him I would always have a camera ready to capture the moment if he would have me along on his special trip. He hugged me and said, “Of course you’ll be there. Where else would you be?” Oh, if life were only as simple as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old.

Disney has given my youngest child something to talk about with me for years, planning trips and chatting about the snacks we’ll share. We talk about our plans for my retirement in Orlando, and how he wants to get a job as a dentist and work there. He thinks we can live in the same neighborhood. If he can just find the right girl who will allow him to bring his mother on vacation, I’ll be set up. I’ll miss our Disney talks as he grows older and starts planning dates with cooty-infested girls and practicing his trumpet without me, but I hope the seed is planted.

Come back and visit me, buddy, when you are 34 and have your own children. I’ll hold their hands and walk them through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.

 Do You Have a Favorite Disney Child, and Would You Admit It?

Making memories with family at Disney World

My middle child, a 9th grader and high school school drummer, reacted to the proposal by reiterating,”Ugh. I am never getting married. Can we go ride Space Mountain now?”  This child has been saying he wanted no part of marriage or kids since he was four, which I have to admit, tears greatly at my heart. I have been married for 22.5 years, and I have three kids, a mortgage, and two dogs. You don’t get much more family oriented than that. Middle child not getting married is going to mess up my plans for playing with his children, my grand-children, in the sand in front of the Polynesian Resort.

But then, this is not my life, it is his.

So I don’t tell middle child that he might one day bring a girlfriend or a family to Disney, but I do wonder if watching all the families there will shape his choices as an adult. I just simply say,”I bet Space Mountain will still look like this when you have to help me out of my wheelchair to ride it.”

Come back to Disney with me, oh-kid-O-mine, because the songs will still be the same in the Tiki Room when my hair is all gray, and we’ll sit in the back and sing real loud, just like we used to before you got your own cell phone.

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

Do teens love Disney World?

My teen-age daughter, 11th grade high schooler this year, stood up from the Magic, Memories and You! show and announced,”If I don’t get proposed to in front of Cinderella Castle, then the whole deal may just be off.” I laughed and said,”I guess I should have a talk with the boy then, once you are 28, and he can afford a ring. You have to meet him first. Don’t rush it.” I have to tell myself not to worry. She will find the right guy one day, and she will be stunning in a wedding dress, and I will be totally broke if she plans the wedding I anticipate she will plan. I don’t even mention you can get married at Disney to this one; I just keep it in the back of my mind. And maybe I roll some quarters and hide them in a sock drawer for the wedding deposit.

Come back to me when I am old and gray, my first baby, my precious girl, and bring that boy with the ring with you. I will be there with a camera and a front row seat in front of Cinderella Castle, Kleenex in my pocket and joy in my heart.

Like to see the whole story of the proposal?

The Absolute Most Amazing Thing I Ever Photographed at Disney World? It was a …

proposal at Disney World

It’s just a crazy time we live in these days. My goodness, the world was supposed to end days ago (this was originally written in December of 2012, you know the whole Mayan calendar thing?) yet here I am, planning my next Orlando vacation. I hope I live long enough to see my kids married and happy. I have no reason to think I will be any place other than attending two weddings and watching two sets of grandkids. Ok, three sets if middle child changes his mind. But in a day and age where people get shot in movie theaters, and little children die in school classrooms, nothing seems very certain anymore.

I sometimes ponder the inevitable, because I won’t always be here to vacation with my kids.

Have I done all I can to make my children the best people they can be?

Did I talk to them enough?

Will they remember our late nights sharing cupcakes in the Contemporary Resort, and walking the dog around our block while planning the perfect Disney spot to share a snack?

Will they remember enough to come back and hang out with me when I will be called “Granny” and not “Mommy?” I took them to Disney, and one night, we sat and watched a proposal together. For today, I’ll just have to hope that memory stays with them as a reminder that I was there, and that I tried my best as their mom.

10 Things They Forgot to Mention About Walt Disney World Vacations

where to propose at Disney World

Life Lessons With a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Be Appreciative

For better or worse, in sickness and in health, I took them to Disney and we made some memories. What they do with those memories remains to be seen. I’ll forget what I paid for the tickets, but they won’t forget me crying through “Wishes.”  I’ll forget the price of the hotel, but they won’t forget riding the monorail at two a.m. that one summer night, just us by ourselves, my arms around them, humming “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

Hotel and ticket numbers come and go, but you can’t put a price on memories with your family.

Thanks for stopping by. Time goes by fast, so go hug your kids…

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

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

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

Where is the Best Place to Watch Fireworks at Disney’s Magic Kingdom?

Wishes Fireworks, Main Street Fireworks, Main Street, Disney moms and fireworks, Disney princess fireworks

UPDATED for 2017:

As we prepare to say farewell to Wishes at Magic Kingdom, we are sad but excited about the new age of fireworks at Cinderella Castle!

I have watched Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show for years now, from so many park locations I have lost count. I have a favorite viewing spot, but sometimes as I make my way there, I get stuck watching from other places. Where does this Cheapskate Princess turn when she needs a great place to catch the fireworks and make some wishes of my own?  From behind Cinderella Castle, of course…

As your Princess Travel Experts, we give you all our tips and tricks and viewing spots for fireworks, shows and parades. Remember, for a free quote, you can fill out a quote request form here anytime.

I can handle the crowds at Disney. However, I enjoy my own space, which makes Disney a strange choice for my favorite vacation destination since you are usually surrounded by massive amounts of people all invading your personal-space-bubble. I watch the fireworks from the front, at least one time during my vacation, sitting with thousands of tourists by the “Partners” statue of Mickey and Walt. But I always try to see it at least two other times during my stay, and I always try to find a new place to view them.

A Cheapskate Princess Guide to Less Stress on Vacation

Disney fireworks, Disney, fireworks, where should you watch Disney fireworks, where is the best spot to view Disney fireworks, Disney wishes, wishes fireworks

One night, as we left Be Our Guest for dinner we stumbled upon the fireworks from behind the castle, and realized we had a new family challenge! We were going to find the newest and best ways to view the fireworks, minus all the crowds on Main Street, U.S.A.

The Wishes fireworks are shot from a barge in the marshy area outside the Disney property, back behind where the railroad tracks encircle the park. They are fired more close range from the roof tops right by Cinderella Castle, over Mickey’s Philharmagic and Princess Fairytale Hall. You will walk through the water they use to wet the building rooftops each night before the show begins, which certainly lends an “Up Close and Personal” touch to your viewing pleasure. Our family watches from the Carousel, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as well as deeper into the New Fantasyland by Ariel’s Grotto. If you are in just the right spot, you are able to see the fireworks with three iconic castles in the background; Cinderella Castle, Beast’s Castle and Prince Eric’s Castle.

Do You Have a Favorite Child to Bring On a Disney Vacation?



I definitely wouldn’t recommend this spot for families with really small children or kids with noise aversions. It’s loud and firework-smokey, which I have seen frighten some children.

There are also things you miss from the back. Tinkerbell’s flight at the beginning of Wishes, is a crowd favorite for sure. And we hope that the new replacement show will add something even cooler for children of all ages. But if it is in the front of the castle like Tinkerbell, you will miss this if viewing from the back. Also, the wonderful images projected onto Cinderella Castle that adds to the show, will of course only be able to be viewed from the front.  This is why I always make sure to see it at least once from my favorite spot in front of the castle.

The crowds are light behind the castle after all, most people want to see if from the front. I understand this; I’ve just chosen to make other plans. On days when I can’t make it until the Kingdom, my other favorite spot is high atop Bay Lake Tower, but I don’t get this view often, and the volume actually feels muted compared to my regular back-row seat.

 Ten and 1/2 Tips for 1st Time Walt Disney World Visitors

Top of the World Lounge fireworks, fireworks from Bay Lake Tower Resort, fireworks for Disney Moms, tips for viewing fireworks

If you feel like you know the fireworks show by heart and you don’t mind missing the noise and music, there are some other beautiful and special places to watch the show! As your Princess Travel Experts, one of the things we do when helping you with your dining is make reservations at certain restaurants to view the fireworks. Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts all have dining reservations during the fireworks. These resorts also have some wonderful viewing spots on their property so you can enjoy the show from outside the park.

And how could a fireworks viewing be complete without a snack? There are always snack spots around any of your chosen viewing locations where you can all get a snack and settle in for a great show!

Life Lessons With a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Be Appreciative

Disney ice cream, where is the best Disney ice cream, how much is Disney ice cream, strawberry sundae, strawberry ice cream, strawberry and chocolate sundae

One last tip. The park closes after Wishes on some nights, and you are almost half a mile from the front gates. Walk slow…let people pass you as they rush to a monorail…take your sweet Mickey Mouse time. By now, the gift shops are clearing out, and you have more elbow room to do some window or actual shopping.

If you ever waited until the park was closing to do some window shopping, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

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

Are you ready for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Erin is your Princess Vacation Expert! Erin is a Disney College of Knowledge Graduate and Universal Orlando Specialist. Erin’s passion is helping families have a once-in-a-lifetime moments! She provides excellent customer service, attention to detail, magical milestones, and bringing families together.

Erin is ready to help you plan your next magical family vacation. Contact Erin Johnson at or by phone at (214)697-7732 to get started! You can fill out a quote request form here. Our you can email directly.

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



First Trip to Disney: 10 Reasons to Stay on Property

why stay at a Disney World Resort

Updated for 2017!

If you have ever stayed at a hotel off of the Disney property to save some money, you just might be a Disney Princess! Our family has stayed both on and off Disney property, and the reason is pretty simple for staying off site. While there are some really excellent non-Disney resorts and hotels in Orlando, in most cases, staying off-site costs significantly less money. You can make a good argument for staying off site, but there are drawbacks.

Many of the reasons to stay on property are simply because Disney makes it so attractive to stay in their hotels. I’m going to refer to this effect as the Disney Splurge. You get what you pay for in life, and sometimes you just have to splurge on vacation to truly get the most from your hard-earned money.

Here is why staying on Disney property can be hard to turn down, even if it costs extra. [Read more…]

Do You Have a Favorite Disney Child, and Would You Admit It?

kids at Disney World, favorite child, do you have a favorite child?, pick a favorite child, take a child to Disney World

Updated for 2017!

Did you hear the story about the dad who blogged about having a favorite child?  Today Moms’ editor Rebecca Dube blogged about it here. It seems a dad announced on his blog how he definitely had a favorite child between his two sons. While he hasn’t specifically told his kids he has this chosen favorite, he announced it to the world through his blog. This guy couldn’t understand why there was such a controversy surrounding his decision to publish this personal information. He told  his critics, “they must be ‘perfect’ parents.” Other writers chimed in to say that lots of parents have favorites, but you shouldn’t actually say that out loud.

Read: Love the Disney Princesses? 10 Ways to Act Just Like One!

Growing up, both my parents had an obvious favorite among their three children, the irony being they both favored the exact same child. He easily knew he was the golden child; we actually nicknamed him “the Lamb” or “Lambie-pie,” because my dad frequently referred to my brother as “my lamb.” Probably like every kid growing up as the un-favored sibling, I swore that would never be my parenting style.

Yet with Disney forever on the brain, I had to ask myself, being honest deep within, did I have a favored Disney vacation child? Was there one kid I enjoyed spending time with more than the others?

Duh, like I’m going to announce that!

What I needed was a contest to decide the favorite. I needed a contest winner.

Read: Life Lessons with a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Save Their Money

I immediately went and asked all three of my kids whom I should choose as my favorite Disney child. “I need to decide who is my favorite Disney kid on vacation. I need a favorite kid to hang with. Why should I pick you?”

Here are the candidates.

  • 5th grade son, child #3.
  • 7th grade son, child #2.
  • 9th grade daughter, child #1.

My 5th grade son talks about Disney just about every day. He helps me plan our days, saves his money for the trips all year ’round, and offered to buy my breakfast at Chef Mickey’s for my Christmas present. Looking out the window of the car, he has been known to say, ”Mom, I miss Disney.”

My 7th grade son loves Disney roller coasters, offers me samples of the snacks he buys with his own allowance, and will not turn down late night adventures at the parks no mater how much his feet hurt. This kid went to bed every night when he was five saying, ”When I wake up, I want to go to Disney World and ride the monorail.”

My 9th grade daughter likes to look in gift shops with me, is the first one dressed and ready to head back into the Magic Kingdom at night, and insists we skip all rides to watch the Magic, Memories, and You! show that was formerly displayed on Cinderella Castle right before and after Wishes. She can walk for Disney miles without complaining.

Let the “Pick Me!” arguing commence to determine the winner.

Read: Can a Disney Princesses Afford a Vacation at WDW’s Bay Lake Tower Resort?

5th grade son, child #3, said he truly appreciated being at Disney (way more than the other two, he unhesitatingly pointed out.) He also looked forward to spending time with me all by myself, quality mom-time, he said. He reminded me that one day, he really wants to go to the Magic Kingdom with just me, just he and I hanging out, rather than having everyone else tag along. “Everyone else,” he said, are the family members who don’t appreciate Disney World’s qualities like he does, and they most certainly do not appreciate alone time with me like he does. He made a strong case.

My 9th grade daughter, child #1, was texting when I asked for her sales pitch. By the way, the running joke in my house is that she is already my “favorite daughter.” Now, this particular favoritism is psychologically acceptable, because she is my only daughter, and there is no step mom in the picture. She stopped texting long enough to see me lying on her bed, waiting for her reasons why she should be favored, and she came up with this deep sentiment. “I love when you buy me stuff at Disney.” “That’s it? That’s all you have?” I enquired? “I can’t wait to look at purses with you in November.” She does have good taste in merchandise, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell me when a t-shirt is not for me.

Read: Life Lessons With a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Be Appreciative

Harley Davidson for kids, kid on a motorcycle

7th grade son, child #2 immediately asked about the answers from his competition. “What were their answers?!” he inquired. “Cheater,” I declared. He said that he was always willing to go anywhere with me when the other kids were too tired. I can never relax on vacation in Orlando,with my ADD motored revved up to Main Street cotton candy overdrive. He was there for me, he stated for the record, so he was my partner in Disney crime. Point well taken.

The beauty of my children is that five minutes after I talked to them, they forgot I had even asked. Not one kid came to find out who won, which told me I must be doing Ok on not actually playing favorites. There are no “lambs” in this Disney home.

And the winner is? Me, of course, for I am truly the actual winner as the mother of  kids who love visiting Disney with me, and how cool is that?!

So, do you have a favorite Disney child, and would you ever admit it?

Read: Avoid These 10 Mistakes That Can Wreck a Disney World Vacation

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you, walking through the park with the kids…

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

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planners 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 Elizabeth and Erin, our Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations in Florida travel.

You can also e-mail them at

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

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 Erin. You can also e-mail them at

Making Your Own Disney World T-Shirts: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Mickey Mouse Premium Ice Cream bar shirt, ice cream bars, Disney ice cream bars, Disney World ice cream bar t-shirts

Updated for 2017!

There’s probably not a Disney World t-shirt I haven’t given a look-over, held the fabric between my fingers, and pondered if there was enough cash in my vacation budget to bring it home. Some I liked more than others, but it seems for a few minutes, I liked them all. What can you do if the money just isn’t there to but your family Disney shirts that start at around $20 and sometimes soar over $40? How about make your own! [Read more…]

1st Trip to Disney World: Should You Travel during Christmas?

Disney World at Christmas

Updated for 2017!

It seems that spring and summer are often the time planning begins for colder weather vacations. Lots of people want to visit Disney World during Christmas, and who can blame them?  If you have ever scheduled a vacation during the Christmas holidays to avoid putting up holiday decorations in your own house, you might be a Cheapskate Princess! While we’re talking about scheduling, the question must be asked. Is Christmas really the best time of year for you to visit Walt Disney World? [Read more…]