Save Money on Disney’s Characters In Flight

save money on Characters in Flight at Disney Springs

Updated for 2018!

If you made the trip to Orlando for some theme park visiting, it’s always a good idea to have a “free” day with no park tickets. We’ve devised the ultimate early morning plan for Disney Springs, leading you to an amazing coffee shop, an awesome and discounted balloon ride, followed by world-class Disney shopping. Sorry, roller coaster enthusiasts, but it may not get any better than this! Not for this price anyway… [Read more…]

First Trip to Disney World? What You Probably Don’t Know

What to know for a trip to Disney World

Updated for 2018!

Planning a first time Disney vacation can be a mighty overwhelming task; with so much to do, see, and eat, it’s really hard to learn everything you need to know before you go. I’ve lost count of the numbers of days my family has spent at the parks, yet I seem to learn new tidbits of information here and there all the time.

We asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans if they had advice to offer for anyone planning a first time vacation. If you’ve heard all these tips before, well congratulations, you win a big virtual trophy for being an Ace Disney Planner. And if you learn something new today that can make your trip go a little smoother, then it was well worth your time. [Read more…]

The Best of the BEST Orlando Shopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Best of the Best Shopping at Walt Disney World

Updated for 2018!

While many people associate Disney World with roller coaster rides, I immediately think of shopping. After all, window shopping is THE Olympic sport of the Cheapskate Princess. So if you are planning a trip to Orlando and have wisely built-in some time away from the parks, for a free day or days, where are the best spots to do some shopping?

We’ve put together a Best of the Best Shopping Guide for those of you with a Disney Visa Card burning a hole through your pocket, with addresses and phone numbers for your convenience.

Read: Planning a Disney Vacation? Why You Need a Disney Change Jar!

1. Disney Springs

1490 E Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830

Open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. 

This is the ultimate in Disney retail shopping. World-class restaurants, entertainment and unique Disney-themed shops line the lakefront right next door to Saratoga Springs Resort and across the street from water park Typhoon Lagoon.

 You can shop in the world’s largest Disney store, enjoy a meal with life-size prehistoric creatures at TRex, bowl a game at the 30-lane bowling alley Splittsville and so much more. Parking and admission to Disney Springs area are free.

ProsSo much Disney merchandise in one place, and when you throw in food and street entertainment, it’s almost Mickey shopping overload.

Pros Disney Springs is still becoming an incredible shopping, dining and entertainment hotspot, and with the names of upcoming stores being announced all the time, this place will be amazing upon completion.

ConsThere is an incredible amount of remodeling going on right now. Traffic is a nightmare, and while two above ground parking lots are complete, it still  can be nerve wracking and time consuming getting to a parking place, especially the later in the day you arrive. This won’t last forever, but it will be an inconvenience at a minimum for possibly another year to come. Good luck on parking, but it’s worth the effort.

ConsThis is retail Disney shopping, and you may spot a couple bargains, but you would find better deals on Disneystore.com. But then again, that’s not as much fun as shopping while you are actually in Orlando.

Tip It is suggested you give yourself an hour to get there because of traffic and road work, especially if you have dining reservations.

Better Tip Our best tip is to go first thing in the morning, when traffic is more manageable, and follow this plan: Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

Read: Over 30 FREE Activities at Downtown Disney!

shop at Downtown Disney

shopping at World of Disney at Downtown Disney

World of Disney best shopping in Orlando

2. Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom

It’s not often you will shop in early 20th century small-town America.  You can get a haircut at a real barber shop, plus shop for  souvenirs including plush toys, shirts, trading pins, and Mickey-ear hats at The Emporium. If you are hungry, Tony’s Town Square and the Plaza Restaurant offer table service meals, while Casey’s Corner, at the end of Main Street, sells hot dogs and fries. Your Main Street shopping experience has ended when you run into the iconic Cinderella Castle. Jewelry, snacks, ice cream, and souvenirs…all calling your name.

Pros- My goodness, what an amazing place to shop for Disney merchandise. You can almost envision Walt himself walking down the street as a child, except this main street is reportedly far nicer than the one of his childhood town.

ConsThese stores are crazy busy during certain parts of the day.

Tip – Unless there is a special party at the Magic Kingdom that night, these main street stores close an hour after the actual park does. While the whole world runs for the exit, this can be a great time for you to shop.

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

3. Disney’s Character Warehouse

Not as fancy as a traditional mall Disney Store, but pretty close, you will find all sorts of brand new merchandise at mostly deep-discounted prices. With t-shirts for as low as $10.00, Vinylmations for $2,50, and scarves for $8, you can find some true bargains at the Character Warehouse on a good day.

Pros This is definite discount Disney shopping, with prices up to 70% lower than normal WDW retail.

Pros One of the Disney’s Character Warehouses is located in the The Premier Outlet Mall, which is a discount shopping mall. You will find better deals here than other retail malls. Our family has found all sorts of discounts at the Premier Outlet, and we live in an Alabama tourist city with a 120 store outlet mall. We have found many sales to be better in Orlando for the same brand names we shop at home.

You definitely want to make some time to look through shops other than this one Disney store.

ConsIf you like it, you better buy it, because chances are over 90% (based on our previous experience) that your desired item will be gone the next day or within days.

ConsParking is a complete zoo at the Premier Outlets on Vineland, and the mall seems to be busy all the time, based on our years of shopping here and from what we hear from locals.

Tip You can use your Disney MagicBand to charge items to your room. There are not many places I can think of off Disney property where swiping a Magicband will get you anything other than confused looks.

There are two Character Warehouse locations in Orlando, but our suggestion is the Vineland Ave. location.

Disney’s Character Warehouse 
at Orlando Premium Outlet International 

4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

Monday through Sunday 10:00 am to 9:00 p.m.

407-354-3255

Disney’s Character Warehouse 
at the Orlando Premium Outlet Vineland Avenue

8200 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32821

Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

407- 477-0222

Read: The Day You Arrive at Disney World, Don’t Waste Your Tickets on This…

where to find Disney's Character warehouse in Orlando

Character Outlet discount shopping in Olando

discount Disney World merchandise shopping Orlando

4. Mall of Millenia

4200 Conroy Road OrlandoFL 32839

407.363.3555

The Mall at Millenia is a beautifully designed, 1.2 million-square-foot center, offering 150 of the world’s finest stores, services and eateries. You won’t believe the stores here:

  • Louis Vuitton
  • Gucci
  • Prada
  • Chanel
  • Cartier
  • Apple
  • Michael Kors
  • kate spade new york
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Banana Republic
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Anthropologie,
  • lululemon athletica
  • Pottery Barn
  • MAC Cosmetics.

Department stores include Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

The Mall at Millenia also offers outstanding dining options like: 

  • The Capital Grill
  • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Brio Tuscan Grille
  • California Pizza Kitchen

Pros- It’s just a stunning mall with many, many upper line shops that you don’t normally see in most hometown malls, like my favorites Rolex, Brighton, and Pandora. Can you say window shopping at it’s best?!

Pros- The food court is open and airy with a multitude of seating and food options.

Cons It’s retail shopping, so you will pay the full price for the most part. And when you look at those brand names, you know I do mean full price.

TipBe sure to visit the Ikea store right next door while you are here. If you drove all this way from your hotel, you might as well pop in for lunch, like $.50 hotdogs and $1 cinnamon buns.  Oh, and the two stories worth of discount home furnishings are a definite plus, if you have room in your car to take anything home. (We never do, which kills me…)

Read: How NOT to Lose Your Kids at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

best malls in Orlando

mall of Millenia in Orlando

Gucci Rolex stores in Orlando mall

5. The Grand Floridian Resort

4401 Floridian Way, Lake Buena Vista, OrlandoFL 32830

Victorian elegance meets modern sophistication at this spectacular resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Relax in the lobby as the live orchestra plays ragtime, jazz and popular Disney tunes.  This Victorian-style hotel is quite reminiscent of Palm Beach’s golden era.

Pros This isn’t a mall, but you will be shopping at one of the most beautiful of all the Disney resorts with a band or a pianist playing elegant music in the background from late afternoon until evening.

Pros There are five different stores in the Grand Floridian, and although they are not huge, you will have lots to see.

ProsDuring the holidays, there is a two-story Victorian-styled gingerbread house in the lobby, plus a Christmas tress so large you won’t believe it. Also, Mickey and Minnie are here during holiday season, posing for photos for free.

Cons This is retail shopping, and I’m not sure they even keep SALE stickers rolls under the counter at the resorts. Many price tags are actually turned over so you have to ask the prices; I’m specifically referencing the jewelry cases here.

TipYou have really GOT to buy a bar of $5 soap at Basin White, which is a true bargain.

Another Tip – It’s just one stop to Magic Kingdom on the complimentary Resort Monorail or a quick boat ride. 

Read: The Best Fashion Accessory to Wear on a Disney World Vacation?

shop at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

best places to shop at Disney World

shop at Basin White Disney World Grand Floridian

6. The Contemporary Resort

4600 North World Drive. Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-8413

An ultra-modern resort hotel with award-winning dining, you are just a quick walk to Magic Kingdom park. You can catch a monorail to the Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, and Magic Kingdom.  The iconic 90-foot-tall mural by Disney legend Mary Blair (think small world ride) celebrates the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest.

ProsThere are gift shops in all the Disney Resorts, some larger and more impressive than others. Two of the Contemporary gift shops don’t even have an actual roof, so you can see and hear everything going on in the resort around you. When the monorails travel through, you actually feel the floor shake a bit. Top that, outlet mall!

Pros Go grab a bite to eat in the Contempo Cafe. The prices are Disney-resonable, meaning you will certainly pay more than lunch at Burger King, but it’s not character meal high prices, and the food is really tasty. Snack prices here are under $5.

ProsThere are three stores to choose from at the Contemporary, ranging from $3 snacks to $400 Dooney & Bourke handbags.

ConsYou will pay retail price here about 90% of the time. 

TipThere is often a pin trading board located in Fantasia gift shop.

Another Tip Choirs, Disney characters, and a large gingerbread tree are here during the Christmas holidays.

Read” How Many Miles Will You Walk on Vacation in the Disney Parks?

best places to go shopping at Disney World

best places to shop at Disney World

Bay View Gifts Disney World best shopping for Disney Moms

Theme park rides empty right into gift shops, and resort lobbies attach to more gift shops. You can’t take 20 steps in most any direction on Disney property without literally almost tripping into a gift shop. So prepare yourself. Merchandise is expensive, and it’s almost all calling your name, from key chains to coffee mugs that you never thought you wanted…until you saw it and suddenly needed it.

Anything you buy will have to make it home in your luggage, unless you mail it back, so this advice can help:

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

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the monorail headed for some retail therapy at the Grand. You may see my car waiting yet again for a parking spot at Disney Springs.

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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

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

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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.

 

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

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Updated for 2018!

If you thought packing your Disney vacation suitcase was nerve-wracking, just wait until you start to pack your theme park bag. Most people take some sort of bag or backpack into the parks, especially if they will be staying for hours or the entire day. If the parks are open for 10-14 hours, that’s a long time to make it on only what you brought with you in your pockets without purchasing extra supplies.

Nearly every Disney blog out there has suggestions for what to keep in your bag. So we asked our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans what items they just HAD to have in their Disney parks bags, keeping in mind most of us are on tight budgets and don’t like spending money when we don’t have to.

Grab your pencil, because the results are in! [Read more…]

The Disney World Do-Over: Tips for Planning a Better Vacation

the best Disney vacation tips

Updated for 2018!

If you’ve ever planned a Disney World vacation, you know choices and decisions can be daunting. A big fear many people have is trying something new; sometimes it is really, really tough to get out of your WDW comfort zone. High expectations combined with the knowledge of how much money it will cost to get to Orlando can lead many people not to make decisions or make choices they later regret. Good thing for Disney park veteran travelers, it’s easy to look back and decide what you should or shouldn’t have done on a previous trip.

At Cheapskate Princess, we have a wide variety of been-theres and done-thats to call upon their years of experience. [Read more…]

1st Trip to Disney? Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents

Tips for Meeting Disney Characters

Updated for 2018!

If you are like most parents of small children, you will wait a long time in many lines to collect Disney character autographs on a Disney vacation. Time is money, especially on vacation. Are there pointers to making this process go smoother? [Read more…]

120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!

Disney World Do Nots List

Updated for 2018!

There are some great “101 Best Disney Tips” lists floating around out there on the Internet. You’ve probably read them; they’re good material with solid information. But they were each written by just one person, from the vantage point of that one person. My ideal Disney article would be to write about waking up at noon, resort swimming until say five.ish, then heading over to the Magic Kingdom and staying up until 4 a.m. Now do that four days straight, because that was my greatest Disney vacation EVER. But my particular vantage point might not be what you are looking for to help plan your next Disney vacation.

I like to hear opinions from all sorts of  people who have been there and done that, so we asked this question to our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans:

“What you would tell your friends NOT to do at Walt Disney World?”

And that’s how we came up with this spectacular list, by real people who travel to Disney World a good bit. [Read more…]

Disney World Food Tip #8: Read the Menus Before Making Reservations

Chef Mickey's rmenu

Updated for 2017!

Dining at Disney is not always as simple as making a reservation and showing up in the right place at the right time. [Read more…]

Items You Can NOT Bring to Disney Theme Parks: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

items not allowed at Disney World

Updated for 2018!

I have read many, many “Perfect Disney World Packing” lists, so I am well versed in how to pack THE perfect Disney back pack and suit case. OK, almost perfect, because inevitably I will forget something important. But I had never given a lot of thought on what NOT to pack for a WDW vacation. I’m too busy hoping I remembered to grab sunscreen, and do I have our MagicBands in my bag? Why would I worry about what not to pack, when I am usually searching FOR my bag. [Read more…]

1st Trip to Disney? 20 Magic Kingdom Rides That Save Time and Money

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Updated for 2017!

When you write about Disney topics, people like to ask you questions. Probably the one question I get asked the most is, “We only have tickets for one day. What park should we go to?” Without hesitation, I say Magic Kingdom. Regardless of age or how much you love roller coasters, I always say the Magic Kingdom just for the experience. When people think of Disney World, what pops into their heads first is usually Cinderella Castle; adult visitors have said they cried the first time they saw it because they had waited for so long. So if you can only be in Orlando for one day, I say spend it there. [Read more…]

Disney World Food Tip #5: When to Schedule Your Best Times to Eat

When to eat meals at Disney World when to eat lunch at Disney, when to eat dinner at Disney

Updated for 2018!

Meal time can be what I call “crazy time” at Disney World. Do you want to dine at a resort restaurant or one of the food courts? Were you able to snag Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) far enough in advance to book the actual restaurant where you really wanted to eat? Did you wind up standing in line at Casey’s Corner with 100 people after a Main Street parade? Did you have to leave your kids at a table by themselves so you could order the food?

[Read more…]

Bringing Food into Disney World Theme Parks: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

yummy snacks to bring to Disney World

Updated for 2018!

If you ever tried to sneak food into some sort of establishment, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess! Most Walt Disney World visitors are aware that you no longer have to sneak your food into the theme parks, because the rules have changed from years past. I have a mini-anxiety attack every time we go through Security, because my dad snuck in food during every trip we made to Disney when I was a child. I call it “Post Traumatic Cheapskate Syndrome.”

Even the most well-traveled Disney visitors could use a refresher on just what you can bring and how to transport food for a day at the parks. [Read more…]