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…]

What to Do with All Those Disney World Key Chains? Put Them on a Tree!

disney-cheapskate-princess

Disney key chains are cheap. They are one of the least expensive souvenirs you can purchase on vacation at the Disney parks, and the amazing part is, that for a low price, you get a quality product that could last for years.

But now let’s be real; how many key chains does one actually need? We only have so many cars and a limited number of locking house doors.

I solved that problem. The answer is you really can’t have too many. You simply need a place to display them.

Read – Disney Springs Must Do: Shopping for Jewelry

The most obvious choice? [Read more…]

Disney Springs Must See: the Coca Cola Store

disney-springs-coca-cola-store

If you have planned a free day on your next Disney vacation,  a time when you don;t have park tickets, then visiting Disney Springs has got to be on your agenda. And a brand new Must See at the Springs is the Coca-Cola Store located in the Town Center area. With so many other shops to see, why stop in? [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 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…]

How Cooking Your Own Meals Can Save Money on Food in Orlando

Updated for 2017!

Welcome to Chef Carl’s. Can I take your order?

I have a good friend who used to stay at the Beach Club Resort for a week, and when I asked how they afford such lush accommodations, she mentioned they cooked a lot of their meals “in house.” I though to myself, why would you go on vacation and cook for yourself? When my small kids turned into hungry teens that wouldn’t dream of sharing a kids’ meal, because they were hungry enough to eat their own adult meal, then suddenly realized, this cooking gig might not be so bad…

Food prices really hurt my adult-meal eating family of five. On many trips, we typically only eat one counter service meal in the parks, but that can run $75 or more per day for just one meal and soft drinks. Ordering water can help, but this is a vacation, and Orlando water isn’t always that pleasant tasting.

Snacks can be WAY less expensive as well. For the cost of two Disney strawberries covered in chocolate, we made an entire tray.

 

 

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.

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Times Have Changed: Welcome to the New Era of Walt Disney World

New Disney World

Updated for 2017!

A while back, author and freelance writer  wrote an article for Huff Post Travel called, “For the First Time in Forever… I Did Not Enjoy My Vacation to Disney World.” She described how, as a life long Disney vacation traveler, her most recent trip to the Mouse House was not as enjoyable as she hoped for. “It’s simply gotten too big, too commercial, too regimented.” She noted that through the years, changes have been made which many long time Disney fans haven’t enjoyed so much. I’m here to tell you that my most recent trip was neither efficient nor pleasurable.

She provided several reasons why she didn’t have fun-fun-fun at the Happiest Place on Earth. And even after time has passed since she wrote the article, people have problems with some of her same issues.

[Read more…]

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

hoop-de-doo-musical-revue-00Photo Credit: www.disneyworld.com

Updated for 2017!

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

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

[Read more…]

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

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Updated for 2017!

As the newest resort on Walt Disney World property, completed in 2012, the Art of Animation Resort will give you and the kids the feeling of being a character in some of your favorite Disney movies. Whether you are going under the sea with Nemo and Friends, swimming with The Little Mermaid, chilling out in Radiator Springs with Lightening McQueen and Mater, or enjoying the essence of the African savanna with Simba and his friends Timon and Pumba, Art of Animation has something for everyone of all ages.

This value resort provides the amenities and perks as other value resorts on property but can comfortablly accommodate larger families.

Compared to the other Disney value resorts, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms are perfect for any budget. And while the Family Suites are higher priced than those found at All-Star Music Resort, your kids will definitely enjoy the adventurous feel of each differently themed area.

This list of pros and cons for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will help you decide if this should be your next choice for your magical Disney World vacation!

Read: A Cheapskate Prince$$ Guide: Top 10 Freebies at Disney World

7996404249_d7aeb790c2_zThe Inovabed in the Lion King Suite, one of 1,120 Family Suites available at Art of Animation

Art of Animation Resort Pros:

Standard Rooms: 

The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms can accommodate up to four guests, plus one child under the age of three in a crib.

These rooms have two full beds.

Family Suites

For larger families, the Family Suites comfortably accommodate families of six.

While all rooms have a mini refrigerator, the Family Suites, also have a microwave and a kitchenette.

Family suites also have two bathrooms.

All Family Suites have three separate sleeping areas. The master bedroom has one queen, sleeper sofa with double bed, and the Inovabed that converts from a table to a double bed.

Pools:

There are three amazing heated pools; The Big Blue Pool (the largest at the resort and has an underwater soundtrack in the Finding Nemo Courtyard), Flippin’ Fins Pool (Little Mermaid courtyard), Cozy Cone Pool (Cars Courtyard).

The main pool and kids splash area have zero entry, which is perfect for little ones.

The Schoolyard is a water play area for the little ones; Squirt’s Righteous Reef Playground and The Boneyard Playground are all play areas for your little animators.

 

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

Dining

Landscape of Flavors Food Court includes five distinctive food shops – The Soup, Salad and Sandwich Shop, The World Flavors Shop, The Pizza Shop, The Burger Shop and The Market.

The Drop Off is a poolside snack bar and delivery service.

Freebies included with your Reservation

Registered guests receive free resort and theme park parking.

Registered guests receive access to Extra Magic Hours in the parks when offered.

Transportation

Airport transportation is free using Disney’s Magical Express.

Free Disney Theme Park transportation is offered via service bus every 15-20 minutes.

There is a dedicated Disney transportation bus for Art of Animation guests only, as opposed to All-Star Value Resorts which all share the same bus line.

Fun Lobby

Animation Hall Lobby houses Pixel Play Arcade as well as, an interactive, hands-on area where a Disney artist teaches guests how to animate favorite characters.

Read: Disney World’s Memory Maker: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

7320062486_45965f6fb0_zFinding Nemo Courtyard features The Big Blue Pool, The Schoolyard, Squirt’s Righteous Playground

 

Art of Animation Resort Cons:

The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms are the farthest away from Animation Hall, like all standard rooms, so at the end of your day in the parks, it can be a long walk.

Finding Nemo suites are now considered a “preferred location” which means they are more per night than Cars or The Lion King Family Suites.

There are only a few Standard Rooms available with a King Bed.

While this is value resort, the price of the themed suites are more than the Family Suites at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort.

Because this resort is a great option for families, especially larger families, it can definitely be noisier during high peak travel times.

If you are a family of five, the themed Family Suites at Art of Animation Resort are not the least expensive option on property. If are trying to stick to a tight budget, certain room which accommodate five at the moderate resorts can be more cost effective.

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

102 (2)The Little Mermaid wing featuring 864 Standard Rooms

These pros and cons will help you decide if Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the best fit for your family. My opinion is this is a great resort to try for your next Disney vacation. Whether you stay in The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms or any of the Finding Nemo, Cars or The Lion King suites, the pros outweigh the cons with this property.

With the right planning, you can avoid some of the cons of staying here.

7996401717_0aa4d48f04_zSleeper sofa in The Lion King Suite which converts to a double bed

108 (2) (1)Queen Bed in The Lion King Master Bedroom

AOA1The Little Mermaid Flippin’ Fins Pool

AOA2 The Inovabed as a table for four in the Finding Nemo Family Suite

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The Inovabed as a table for four in the Finding Nemo Family Suite
AOA4
The 4.3 cu. ft. refrigerator and microwave in the Finding Nemo Family Suite Kitchenette

AOA5 The Master Bath in the Finding Nemo Family Suite

Art-of-Animation-Resort-040Squirt’s Righteous Reef Playground in the Finding Nemo Courtyard

AOA6

AOA7

AOA8

AOA9

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

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 Cheapskate Souvenir Picks: Fridge Magnets for Under $20

best Disney World souvenirs

Updated for 2017!

You may run out of time on your Disney vacation, but you certainly will never run out of souvenir options. Gift shop after shop, your choices are endless. They are also expensive; sticker shock is a common sight among shoppers. What can you bring home that won’t bust your souvenir budget? This may not sound too original of a purchasing suggestion, but you haven’t seen the pictures yet…

You need a fridge magnet! [Read more…]

Top 5 Souvenir Shops at Walt Disney World

top 5 Souvenir Gift Shops at Disney World

Every vacation budget has that one important line item…souvenirs. How much should you spend? What will we buy? What is the one (or two) perfect vacation souvenir to take home that could carry all your magical memories home with it? [Read more…]