Save Money on Disney’s Characters In Flight

save money on Characters in Flight at Disney Springs

Updated for 2016!

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…

So here’s what you’ll do for a morning at Disney Springs as you head over to climb aboard  Characters in Flight.

get a discount on Characters in Flight at Disney Springs

Save Time

Traffic is so crazy at the new Disney Springs, with construction going on at every turn and intersection. The whole complex is really going to be fabulous upon completion, but parking and highways are a big mess right now. If you don’t get an early start, you could be headed for some major delays. By getting to Disney Springs before most stores even open, you’ll be looking at a relatively empty parking garage. Several hours later, traffic and parking will be congested and frustrating.

Arrive at Disney Springs by about 9 a.m.

Now walk straight to the new Starbucks right next to Characters in Flight, which is the balloon that takes guests up 400 feet in the air.

where Disney Springs Characters in Flight is located

Enjoy a Snack

Have you been to the new Starbucks by the lake at Disney Springs? As much as I dislike the Starbucks that replaced the bakery on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, I LOVE this Starbucks location. It’s not that I am anti-corporation or anti-Starbucks coffee. I just disliked how they removed the seating. Perhaps they noted my complaints and set out to rectify that mistake at Disney Springs.

Go in, order a breakfast snack or drink and take a seat. Starbucks prices are not unreasonable, and many drinks and snacks are part of the Disney Dining Plan. I’m not sure there is a coffee shop with a better view anywhere than this Disney Springs location. When you go to the Disney Starbucks early in the morning, I can’t tell you how relaxing it is, without having to wait for a seat or stand in line to order.

Sitting inside smells like coffee with a view. To see more pictures, use this link:

I Completely Disliked Starbucks at Walt Disney World, Until This Happened…

tips for Characters in Flight

Outside seating, interesting on its own, has an even more fantastic outlook of the lake and the balloon. The combination of wood, stone, vegetation, and fire is soothing to the soul. Did I mention how much I LOVE this particular Starbucks? I don’t even like coffee, and I practically run from our car straight here.

To see prices from Starbucks menu, use this link:

Disney World’s Main Street Bakery: Can You Afford Starbuck’s Prices?

how to enjoy Characters in Flight

Grab a table and enjoy the scenery!

save money at Disney World

When to ride the Disney World balloon

Enjoy the Ride + Save $$

Finish your snack by 9:30, 9:40 at the latest, and then walk over to buy your tickets at the balloon. 

Characters in Flight is an attraction that takes guests 400 feet up in the air on an Aero30 tethered gas balloon that was custom-built for Disney by Paris-headquartered company Aérophile S.A..

The yellow striped balloon has hand-painted silhouettes of Peter Pan, Dumbo, Aladdin, Jasmine, Buzz Lightyear, and Tinker Bell. On its 19-foot diameter gondola, up to 29 passengers and an Aérophile-certified pilot can take a ride straight up, floating skyward with the help of up to 210,000 cubic feet of helium.

Because the balloon is tethered, it will not travel beyond 400 feet at any time.

Is Your Starbucks Coffee Habit Taking Money Out Of Your Disney Vacation Fund?

save money on Characters in Flight

If you purchase your ticket and travel up by 10 a.m., ticket prices drop from $18 for adults to $10. For adults, that’s almost half off! You’ll save $2 per child’s ticket. It’s called the Early Bird Special. Kids under the age of three fly free everyday.

Now, this special could change at any minute with no notifications for you or me, but a Cast Member said this promotion had been going on for a long time.

So up you go, Early Bird, but first be sure you have read our ultimate guide to Characters in Flight.

Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

Characters in Flight discount

cheap fun at Disney Springs in Orlando

Tips to Know Before You Go Up

The balloon will not fly if winds exceed 22 mph or if there is a storm.

Maximum balloon capacity will be affected by wind speeds.

Items that are not permitted aboard are bags, food and drink, smoking and strollers. You’ll need a place to secure these. 

There is a safety net, but the holes are large enough that you could drop your camera or phone. You won’t save enough on Early Bird tickets to replace anything electronic that you drop, so hold on tight. 

best things to do at Disney Springs

Do Some Shopping

Well, now you are now at the perfect time to do some shopping, assuming you are finished with the balloon by around 10 a.m. Stores at Disney Springs traditionally start opening at ten, so the crowds aren’t crazy yet. Temperatures in the summer start to rise at this point, so being in the air-conditioned stores will keep you cool.

There is so much to do at Disney Springs, you could easily spend half a day here. Even with the current construction woes, it’s a great place to spend some time on vacation.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you with an almost finished Starbucks coffee in hand, headed for the ticket counter.


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

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 Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at

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

What to know for a trip to Disney World

Updated for 2016!

Planning a first time Disney vacation can be a mighty overwhelming task, because 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.

Speaking of time, let me point out that with changes in Pinterest and Facebook, it’s become difficult to see all the articles from your favorite Disney planning sites. Use this link to join our Cheapskate Princess mailing list, and about once a week, you’ll receive our latest article by e-mail, and it’s absolutely FREE!

Get Money Saving Disney World Planning Tips…Delivered FREE!!

So first (or 10th time) planners, here we go! We have links to articles with more in-depth information as well.

first trip to Disney World tips

Planning – Do Before

1. You really can’t do everything.

Sarah, “Don’t try to do everything. Pick a few must-dos and just enjoy your time. When we go, we don’t like to have a bunch of things scheduled, so we break up our ADRs and such so we can enjoy our time.”

Ruth, “Do not wear yourself out. Pick five things that are a must and anything else will be great. You can not do it all in any park in one day.”

Disney is too big and visited by too many people these days for you to be able to do and see everything you have planned, so don’t head there with the attitude that you will. You’ll also come home more relaxed, since this is a vacation, even if it’s a Disney vacation.

Cheapskate Guides for Planning Your Next Vacation

do lots more at Disney parks

2. Is the vacation primarily for the kids? Then follow their lead.

Crystal, “Don’t try to get it all in on one trip, especially if you have little ones. Yes it is Disney, but it can be a sensory overload for them. Try one park per day. You are on VACATION.  Make memories; take breaks. If you don’t have little ones, plan your day before hand. Disney World is a very large place with lots to see and do.”

If this vacation is “for the kids,”‪ then following their lead can result in more happiness all the way around. If the kids want to stop and play on playgrounds or look around in gift shops, give them some time before you rush off to the next ride. Memories can be made anywhere, which doesn’t always mean being aboard a roller coaster.

If You Do This on a Disney Vacation, You May Totally Regret It Later

facts about trips to Disney World

3. Transportation is not speedy.

Lisa, “Book dinner reservations in the park you will be in that day. The transportation takes too much time out of your day.”

When you are pre-planing and scheduling times, like for wake up calls and dining reservations, keep in mind that the resort property is HUGE. Getting form one place to another takes time, from waiting in line to driving there. Even driving your own car can use up time, if the roads are congested or there is construction. Think of the traffic delays with the Downtown Disney transforming into Disney Springs.  Park hopping breaks up the day, but moving from place to place also eats into your vacation time.

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

how long does Disney transportation take, are Disney busses slow, disney monorails are slow, Disney mom planning tips

4. You can’t just show up anymore.

Melissa, “Do your research. Read the blogs! Make plans well in advance of the 180 day mark if at all possible.”

In days gone by, you could pack a bag, hop in your car, and show up in Orlando ready to go. If you do that now, you run the risk of not getting a table at your desired restaurant and hanging out in stand-by lines for long periods of time. Even locals complain that a spur of the moment day trip is hard these days. You need to make ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) and Fastpass+es. You need a plan, and our number 5 can help with all this planning.

Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations: A Cheapskate Princess Guide 

facts about taking a Disney World vacation

5. It helps to have a TA.

‪Katie, “Get a Disney travel agent. They are free to you, and they will make sure you make the most of your trip by getting all your dining reservations and Fastpass+ selections. (I’m not a TA. I just have friends who are and this is the easiest way to have a ‘newbie’ get a great trip with minimal planning on the clients’ part.)”

‪Julie,  “If possible, take a veteran with you. I LOVE taking newbies to the World! If that’s not possible, I’d say great advice is use a Disney Travel Agent. They can let you in on all the little known facts, make sure you know when to book things, and find you discounts you may have missed.”

We couldn’t agree more. At Cheapskate Princess, we are all about FREE, and if I can get a professional to help me plan my vacation, for free, sign me up. We highly recommend Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin. Not only is she one of the nicest people you’ll ever talk to, but she also gives away free perks just for our readers.

We love free!

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6. Schedule Fastpass+ for afternoon and night

‪Angela, “Schedule your Fastasses for late afternoon. That’s when it’s most crowded. The standby lines are shorter in the morning or late in the evening.

Fastpass+ is ever-evolving; what works today may change tomorrow. For those people with small children who wake up early, make Fastpass+ times for later in the day. If your teens sleep in like mine, we like to make our Fastpass+ times between 6 and 10. You will not get as many Fastpass+es as the old traditional FASTPASSes people ran around the parks collecting, but this approach will still work to a certain degree, for right now.

tips for Disney Moms on vacation

7. You need a map to plan your Fastpass+ times

Justin, “Plan Fastpass+ so you go around park in a big circle and double back using passes.”

We haven’t talked about walking yet, but WOW, you will do a LOT of walking on a Disney vacation. Use an online map to see where your Fastpass+ choices are located to avoid walking back and forth across the parks for scheduled rides. While it may look like you are just walking an inch or two on the map, in reality, that’s miles and miles on your feet. Kids wear out fast, especially in the summer heat, and so do adults. Use this link for information on free maps that are great fun to look at:

Making a Disney World Scrapbook? Get These Disney Google Maps for FREE!

Disney Fastpass+ tips and tricks

If you do schedule your Fastpass+ times for the morning, when you use up your initial three, you can get more one at a time. Again, think about location when scheduling these using the phone app. “My Disney Experience.” And here’s more info. on that app.

8. There is a free Disney App

Margaret, “One of my best planing helpers is the My Disney Experience app. It’s almost a necessity to keep up with Fastpases, ADRs, park opening and closing times, wait times, and so much more.”

Disney has a free app. called “My Disney Experience” that includes wait times, maps, characters, FastPass+ reservations and dining info. You can even use it at home to see how long the lines are when you’re not at Disney World. And we love anything free.

For more information, use this link, where you can also create your own account.

tips for using My Disney Experience on vacation

9. Pets are allowed here but not here.

Grayson, “Pets are a big part of every day life for many people but not at Disney.”

Unless they are service animals, pets are not allowed in the theme parks, resort hotels or on theme park buses. If you cannot make arrangements at home, or you just want to bring your pet with you, Disney World has an on-site pet boarding and kenneling facility. Best Friends Pet Care is open one hour before the theme parks open through one hour after closing.

Use this link for prices and details: Best Friends Pet Care website.

Planning – Do During

10. You will probably need a break

‪Jenna, “Don’t be nervous to leave the park for a break during the afternoon heat and crowds. Hop on the monorail from Magic Kingdom and visit one of the resorts and grab a snack there.”

If you are in the parks from rope drop opening to the Kiss Goodnight closing, then you will be T.I.R.E.D., especially when you attempt this for multiple days. If you can stand time away from roller coaster rides, we highly suggest a mid-day break, which could be just a quick rest stop at one of the resorts along the monorail route, to put your feet up, or a longer rest back at the hotel room for a nap.

I usually need a nap to get me through my vacation day. If your kids take naps as part of their daily routine, they probably will as well.

Vacationing at Disney World? Then You’ll Need a Nap!

are pets allowed at Disney World

11. Water is free.

Terri, “Free water!”

You don’t get a lot for free at Disney, but cups of water in restaurants, both table and counter service, are free. This may not be all that big a deal at home, but when your poor Visa balance is climbing higher and higher, this can save you some serious cash. If you happen upon a snack stand with food and drink items, ask for a cup of water. If they don’t have water, many times they will give you ice, which when melted…becomes water!

This deal is so great, we wrote an entire article covering it:

 Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

free water on vacation, get water free at Disney World,

Also free if you can find it..Spa Water in the Grand Floridian Resort lobby.

12. Kids are too small to ride? Use “Rider Switch” 

Kandy, “If you are taking small kids, be sure to check out Rider Switch. My husband and I never missed the ‘adult’ rides when we switched, and it doesn’t take that much extra time to wait.

Rider Switch, which is sometimes called “Child Swap,” is a pass system that allows people with small children to take turns riding the “tall people” rides while the other person/people wait with the child. Now you won’t have to miss riding because someone has to babysit the kids in line. With your entire group present, tell the Cast Member that you would like to use Rider Switch. The “waiters” receive a Rider Switch pass, similar to a FastPass, and the “riders” proceed on through the line. When they finish, you will swap. This will also work if a child is tall enough but doesn’t actually want to ride.

Taking Baby to Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

what is rider switch at Walt Disney World

13. You miss a lot if you rush around all crazy

Randy,Slow down and don’t miss the subtle magic around you. The smile that comes with a first Mickey balloon, the little girl waving at the princesses in the parade, the drip of melted ice cream from a Mickey bar….it is all around you, if you take the time to just look.”

‪Jessica, “Stop and check out the little things instead of rushing from place to place. Reason #1 for taking my toddler to WDW.”

I know there are people who plan their vacations down to the minute, but you can miss a lot while you run from place to place, and this can tire you out physically as well as emotionally. Take time to sit down in a resort lobby and look around. Stop and rest on a bench and take in the scenery. Let the kids look through the gift shops for a little longer than you originally planned.

There is so much to see and so little time; don’t miss the small details, because that’s one thing Disney does so very well.

Disney World survey markers

14. Resort mugs don’t work at the parks

‪Sarah, “Pace yourself, and don’t bother taking the refill mugs you can get at the resorts. They don’t work at any theme parks, so it’s just extra stuff to lug around. And remember to have fun!”

The Rapid Refill resort mugs are only for use at the resorts, so unless you want to haul them around all day, drop them off in your car or hotel room. I see mugs hanging off strollers all the time, and I always wonder if they are filled with drinks. Because if it was my expensive mug, I wouldn’t take the risk of it disappearing or getting lost because I didn’t plan ahead. There are no refill stations in the parks for your resort mugs.

Disney’s Refillable Resort Mugs: A Cheapskate Guide 

do Disney resort mugs work at the theme parks

15. Mickey can wake you up

Sandy, “Although they didn’t love waking up early, my kids loved this. Have them answer the phone in the mornings. Mickey Mouse telling them it was time to wake up was a big thrill for my small ones.” 

I phoned a Cast Member on this one, because there isn’t a lot of information online, although this is so simple to do. Just arrange for a wake up call from your resort. (It’s still a good idea to use your own alarm, just in case.) Then have one of the kids answer the phone. A Disney character, I was told usually Mickey Mouse, will announce it’s time to rise and shine and head out for some Disney fun.

Disney World front desk wake up call for kids

Bring With You

16. You can bring your own food in the parks

Tara, “Bring snacks along in a bag. Also have single serve drink mixes in there and have water delivered from an outside source. We used Staples website.”

A long time ago, the rules forbid you bring any food into the parks, but it’s Ok now. They are searching bags for weapons and not your cans of Coke and sandwiches. Since you are on vacation, you might not want to bring in full meals with you, although many people do, but bringing water/Gatorade  and snacks that won’t melt in a hot summer backpack can save you money. Just don’t pack anything in glass containers.

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

does it rain often at Disney World

17. Trade pins with Cast Members and visitors

Jamie, “Our kids love trading pins, and I’ve been known to buy a couple for myself as souvenirs.”

There are trading pins you can purchase to trade with Cast Members and even random people you see, if these strangers are willing to make a trade. Cast Members will always trade pins. There are pin starter sets for sale in all the gift shops and even occasional carts. If you want to be prepared before you arrive, pick up trading pins online at You can also get them on eBay, but read our guide first.

There are many Disney items you can purchase on eBay at big discounts, but trading pins on eBay are typically not authentic. You can read about that here:

Beware of Buying These Disney Vacation Souvenirs on Ebay

18. Ziplocks have multi-purposes

‪Lynn, “Bring a zip sandwich bag for your cell phone for water rides/rain.”

Ziplocks are your friends. They don’t just hold restaurant leftovers the kids may decide to eat in an hour, they also hold snacks you know they’ll want in three hours. You can put emergency boo boo medicines and band aids in zip locks, your phone, and I always bring a large Ziplock to hold my camera in case of rain. If it absolutely needs to stay dry or fresh, think plastic Ziplock bag.

Disney Food Tip #3: Bring Ziplocks In Your Theme Park Bag 

best things to take on a Disney vacation

19. It’s probably going to rain

‪Jordan, “Bring ponchos! Don’t fool yourself into thinking it won’t rain, because believe me, it will.

Orlando weather is notorious for changing in a matter of minutes. You walk outside your resort to hop a bus, squinting against the scorching sun, and before you arrive at your destinations, you are sitting in a full-blown thunderstorm. Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but in the summer most especially, chances are you will feel some rain drops. Ponchos are expensive to purchase in the parks, so plan ahead and bring what you need, which could include dry socks if the rain forecast is high.

how much does it rain at Disney World

20. You will walk more than you think

‪Nicole, “Be prepared for a LOT of walking – remember your comfy shoes !! I had a friend who warned me, but I totally did not expect that much walking!  I learned the hard way, and I’m glad I remembered my Epsom salts for my feet!”

‪Teresa, “Work on your core muscles and have an hour family walk two weeks before you go to WDW. Your feet and back will be prepared, and you won’t be in so much pain.”

We’ve done entire articles on the topic of how much walking you will do at the parks and resorts. It can honestly be pretty brutal if you are not prepared. Our family joke is that I walk at every night, all year-long, in training for the next Disney trip. Need an excuse to get the kids outside for a walk? Tell them you are training for vacation. For more information on how much walking you can expect to do, use this link:

The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Disney Vacation? It’s a Four Letter Word!

do you walk a lot at Disney World

21. If you have young children, strollers are feet savers

‪Jordan, “If you have a child five or under, rent a stroller from an outside rental company. It’s much cheaper, and they offer much nicer strollers.”

Carl, “We always rented a Disney double stroller. While we complained about the price, anything was better than hauling kids around when their feet gave up.”

Regardless of where you get the stroller from, while it may seem like a good idea to skip out on renting a stroller to save money or the hassle of carrying it, little feet wear out fast.  You’ll be glad you have it when the kids refuse to walk anymore. If you bring your own stroller from home, which can certainly save you money, just make sure you can fold it up to get on the Disney busses. Your ability to fold that stroller up pretty quick is a bonus for the other passengers on the bus.

rent a stroller at Disney, kids like Disney World strollers, tips to moms on vacation, Disney moms

22. It pays to know the menus

‪Mary, “Look up restaurant menus online first. We’re not into hot dogs and burgers, so the extra effort to find good food is worth it.”

If there are over 300 restaurants on Disney property, then you will definitely want to be familiar with menus where you plan to dine. Disney has pages and pages of restaurant links with menus for your pre-visit reading pleasure. Don’t feel overwhelmed – just type in the name of the location of your choice. You can also find out your dining options by reading about the resorts themselves. Use this link for info. on where to find menus:

Before You Make Your Disney World Dining Reservations, You Should Read These…

best tips for people new to Disney World

If you would like some recommendations on our readers favorite restaurants, use this link:

The Top 20 Best Disney Restaurants, So Says the Fans!

And there you go, 22 tips that our readers felt like most people new to the World of Disney did not know. And if you knew them all already, well again, Tinker Bell bonus points for you. We hope these enable you to have a fabulous vacation.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in line to get a cup of free water…every dollar saved counts!


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

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 Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at

The Best of the BEST Shopping at Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Best of the Best Shopping at Walt Disney World

Updated for 2016!

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.

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 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

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.

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.


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

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


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…)

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. 

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.

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 Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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

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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 Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at

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


Updated for 2015!

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 2017!

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 2017!

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 2017!

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.

Parks security has been tightening through the years as the world becomes a crazy place, You will go through a security check before you enter all the Disney theme parks, and Security Cast Members will look through your entire bag, section by section. This is a bit of a shock for first time visitors, and we have some tips to make that process go more smoothly. 

Ultimately, packing the right items in your Disney park bag can save you time and money.

What sort of goodies are you not allowed to bring into Disney theme parks? [Read more…]

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


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: How to Schedule the 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 2017!

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…]