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

free or cheap activities at Disney Springs

Updated for 2018!

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

[Read more…]

Disney Springs Must Do: the 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 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…]

To Get FREE Disney Emojis, Play Disney Emoji Blitz!


Back in the summer of 2016, while cell phone game players were walking around like zombies collecting virtual Pokemons, I got busy winning Disney emojis I could send to my friends in texts. Granted, they are not a prize I can hold in my hand, but I can insert them into text after text, and there are hundreds to collect.

As soon as I saw the Disney emojis, I knew I had to have them, and two years later, I still play for new characters and emojis. And best of all, unless you just really feel the need to play extra games, the emojis are totally free!

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

Ready to start collecting yours? Here’s how… [Read more…]

Disney Resort Hopping? Our Best Tip to Watch a Sunset

Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened on October 1, 1971, one of only two original properties located at the Disney World complex alongside Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  With an A-frame main building and located adjacent to Magic Kingdom park, it’s one of the most iconic buildings on WDW property. Visiting the Contemporary Resort is a must do.

You don’t have to pay for a room at the Contemporary Resort to look around, however, because you can resort hop. [Read more…]

Christmas Holidays at the Disney World Resorts…Where to Find the FREE Stuff!

Updated for 2018!

While the Christmas holidays are the busiest time to visit Disney World, this time of year, with music, entertainment and fantastic decorations, is also the most beautiful. You don’t need park tickets to enjoy resort hopping and free fun. So where should you go and what should you do for free? [Read more…]

A Day with No Disney World Park Tickets? Try These Fun Activities

Free Day ideas for Orlando and Disney World Resort

Updated for 2018!

We always to suggest a “free” day to those planning a Disney World vacation. Not necessarily “free,” as in it costs nothing, but free as in you do not have regular park tickets for that day. You and the family are not waking up early, walking for miles, and shutting down a park late into the night.

Many parents new to all this Disney planning stuff don’t realize that Disney vacations are tiring, and it’s a good idea to plan a “free day” mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. (If you can afford it, we actually recommend two days if you are staying for six days or more.) For those parents not into tantrums and meltdowns, be aware that heat, exhaustion, overstimulation, and an altered schedule starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well make plans for a day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks, because there really is a lot to do besides roller coasters and in-park character meet and greet lines. [Read more…]

Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!

best tips for kids on a Disney World vacation

Best Disney Tips

If you are planning a Disney vacation that includes children, you will do a lot of just that – planning. We’re here to help. When we published our most popular article, entitled 120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!, we had no idea it would be read over one million times in less than two years. So introducing…Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids. Think of this article as our FREE vacation gift to you, because we love free!

Warning: this article is long. But this list may seriously be the ONLY planning guide for Disney World vacations with kids that you may ever need. At least we hope it is!

So don’t feel like you have to read it all at one time, because we’ve organized, categorized, and numbered it for you.  Pinterest pin it, bookmark it, e-mail it to yourself, come back later, or just settle in with a cup of coffee for a nice long read. You’ll thank us later.

And if we forgot YOUR favorite tip, leave us a comment so we can add it in. We have some of the most traveled readers and best informed Facebook fans ever!

tips for a Disney World trip with kids

1. Use FREE T.A.

Planning a Disney vacation has become a complicated ordeal, especially when traveling with kids, and it’s nice to have expert help. We recommend using Milke Ellis, our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations. Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com. His services are 100% free, and he is fantastic!

2. Phone App.

Get the My Disney Experience iPhone app., where you can view and update plans, make dining reservations, search park maps, and get attraction wait times. Older children could easily learn to navigate this app. on their on, plus practice reading a wealth of information. For more detailed information, use this link.

3. Schedule FastPass+

Use Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience app. (see #2), to make three (per day) pre-reservations for rides, shows, or meeting characters before you even arrive in Orlando. On-property guests can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days before their trip; everyone else can book FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance. Use your first three FastPass+es, then get more one at a time. Fine out what rides are most important to the kids, and let the pre-planning begin.  Use this Disney link for more info.  

4. Arrange for Magical Express

Are you and the kids flying? Disney’s Magical Express transportation is a complimentary service for guests of select Disney Resort hotels from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. To use this service, provide your arrival and return flight information when you make your reservations.  5. Delayed Check Out

All Disney hotels have a posted check out time of 11 a.m. To work with later flight schedules, when you check in at the front desk, ask if it would be possible to extend your check out time. Sometimes, depending on occupancy levels, this can be extended by several hours but no guarantees.

6. Tickets

Unless you purchased Annual Passes, your tickets will expire 14 days after the first day of use. So if the kids get tired after several days of early mornings and late nights, you have the flexibility to schedule in a free day without stressing over looming expiration dates.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

7. Start Walking 

Kids have a tough time walking miles for days at Disney World. Start them walking way before the actual vacation, as exhausted children make for brutally long days. The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Disney Vacation? It’s a Four Letter Word!

8. Wear Comfy Shoes

Kid’s need shoes to be comfortable. Glittery heels, flip-flops, and sandals can be rough on little feet hour after hour, and wearing brand new shoes is just asking for trouble. What are the Best Shoes to Wear on a Disney World Vacation? We Asked the Fans…*

9. Prepare for Rain

It rains a lot in Orlando, especially in the summer. You can buy good quality ponchos at the parks, but they are expensive, so many people bring their own.

10. Count Down Calendar

If your children are driving you crazy in anticipation of your departure date, make an old-fashioned paper chain or a chalk board count down calendar so they can physically see how many days they have left (to suffer) before you leave.

11. Google Maps

Google maps have some really cool, almost-cartoon-like maps of the Disney parks and resorts. These are great for kid’s entertainment. This is a perfect way to show children what your resort and the parks look like with a childlike appearance. FREE Disney Virtual Vacation…Check Out the Walt Disney World “Parks” Maps.

12. Free Disney Planning DVDs

Disney Planning DVDs offer video tours of the theme and water parks, resorts, a tour of Disneyland, tips to save money, and pocket-sized planning guides  To request a free planning DVD, use this link. 

13. Utilize YouTube 

YouTube can be a huge aid in planning and preparing for a vacation. Show the kids several ride videos each day so they know what to expect. Search YouTube for ride videos, park tips and secrets, ride music (one of my favorites), and all sorts of fun fact videos.

14. Camera Equipment

It’s extremely important to remember extra batteries and memory cards for your camera to ensure you catch your children’s precious memories. Charge your phone, and make sure you remember your camera. Some of these experiences will not ever be repeated. 

15. Photopass 

Disney’s PhotoPass is a free service where Cast Members are stationed with digital cameras at park entrances, iconic locations, most character meet and greets, and character dining to snap photos of your group. Purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one CD for $169.95, or pre-order the CD at a discounted price of $119.95. The PhotoPass Archive Disc, which is your photo CD, gives you a copyright release to print the photos yourself. Use this link for more information. 

10 Vacation Questions Answered by a Disney Travel Agent

16. Memory Maker

Memory Maker connects your photos to your MyDisneyExperience account, including your PhotoPass, attraction, and dining photo print packages all for $199. Purchase it in advance for $169. Download your photos at no additional charge from MyDisneyPhotopass.com for 45 days after being taken. These photos also come with a copyright release, allowing you to do anything you want with them except commercial use.

17. PhotoPass Photographers & Your Camera

PhotoPass photographers will be glad to take pictures with your camera, even if you don’t want PhotoPass. Simply wait in line, hand the photographer your camera to snap a picture, and say thanks!

18. Bring Ziplocs

Ziplocs can store light medical supplies, unfinished snacks and meals, unopened snacks, batteries, memory cards, cameras, and phones, with everything remaining safe and dry. Want to Save Money on Food at Disney World? Ziplocs Can Save You Cash!

19. Bring Your Meds

You can purchase simple medical supplies in the park and resorts gift shops, but that’s expensive. Make sure you pack what medical necessities you and the kids need beforehand.

20. Bring Your Sunscreen  

You will need sunscreen, and it costs more to purchase it on Disney property. Be sure you put it on the kids 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun. Make sure the sunscreen has not expired; all sunscreen has an expiration date.

21. Bring Change

One of the cheapest souvenirs ever is the pressed penny, and pressing machines are found all over property. For $.51, you can get a Disney image pressed onto a penny. For $.75, you can get an image pressed onto a quarter. The Cheapest Disney Souvenir EVER? Many crafty moms turn these souvenirs into jewelry.  Cool Disney World Pressed Penny Jewelry! Children will enjoy throwing change into fountains on property as well.

22. Tinker Bell Gifts

Many parents buy gifts before the vacation, which can save big bucks on souvenirs. Tinker Bell brings gifts at night for children, especially those with good behavior. Our readers offered suggestions: The Ultimate Tinker Bell Gift Guide for a Disney Vacation

23. Glow Jewelry

When the sun goes down, glow in the dark jewelry appears. Many parents purchase these in advance from Dollar Tree or Michael’s. This is also a great way to spot your child in a crowd while you are in dark lighting situations. 

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

24. Autograph Books

If the kids plan to collect character autographs, you’ll need an autograph book. Make or buy your own book pre-trip, or purchase a Disney autograph books for around $10. Tips on out of the ordinary items to have autographed:  12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books.

25. Bring a Sharpie

For character autographs, make sure you bring a large wide-tip Sharpie marker. Many of the characters wear big chunky gloves, so it’s hard for them to hang onto small pens.

planning guide for a kids vacation

26. Costumes

Children really dress up at the Disney parks these days. And If you don’t bring pirate and princess costumes for your kids, it’s going to cost a fortune to buy them there. We suggest you bring outfits with you including comfy shoes.  Can You Afford Those Adorable Disney Princess Costumes at Walt Disney World?

27. Match those Clothes

Dressing the family in matching t-shirts creates a sense of belonging and makes your group (especially children) members easier to spot. You can order your shirts or make them yourself.  Save Money on Disney World T-Shirts by Making Your Own!

28. Packing for Winter

We generally recommend taking pants and a jacket with you to Orlando in the winter. In the daytime, shorts and t-shirts may be just fine, but night-time could require some warmer clothing. Be sure to check the weather forecasts frequently.

29. Best Rides for Your Child’s Age

The Disneyworld.com website has sections under each theme park with a series of filters that can help you determine the best rides for your child using their age, height, and interests. If you would like to do some detailed research for your family, use these links to each park’s Attraction Page: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

30. Celebrate Something

Did you know you can celebrate “something” at Disney six months prior to and six months after the date? This opens up all sorts of reasons to plan a trip, including birthdays and anniversaries. *Nine Tips for Celebrating Birthdays at Walt Disney World for FREE!

31. Plan a Child Free Night?

If you are celebrating something adult-ish, like your birthday or a wedding anniversary, perhaps you would like some adult time without the kids? Disney uses “Kid’s Nite Out” for in-room babysitting children 6 months to 12 years of age, with prices starting at $16 per hour for one child. Use this link for prices and more information. 

5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

32. Children’s Activity Centers

Kids ages 3 to 12 years of age can visit “Children’s Activity Centers” located at select resorts hotels. These are themed, supervised play areas where children watch movies, play games, draw, eat and play. Call 407-939-3463 for more information on operating hours, because hours vary based on location.

33. Potty Training

Ah, potty training. Do you really want to be hauling around a child’s potty seat or even one of those big plastic potty chairs? (No, you don’t.) This could be a great incentive for kids to speed things up and do some pottying on a regular adult seat.

34. Beware the Automatic Toilettes

The toilettes in Disney parks and resorts are automatic flushing. You can put your hand over the sensor, but this makes helping out difficult with one hand tied up. Take some Post-It notes with you into the bathrooms (keep them stored in your Ziplocs.) Place a sticky note over the sensor before your little one sits down, taking it with you when you exit.

35. MagicBands + Room Key

MagicBands have mostly replaced traditional room keys/keycards. Linked with My Disney Experience (see tip #2)MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands that resemble a watch or bracelet which are touched to a sensor. Use the bands to unlock your room, enter theme and water parks, check in using FastPass+, connect PhotoPass to your account, and charge food and merchandise purchases to your room.

If you do not want your children to have charging privileges with MagicBands (or key cards), tell a Cast Member when you arrive for check inWalt Disney World MagicBands: A Cheapskate Guide 

36. Customize your MagicBands 

The My Disney Experience website allows you to customize colors (pink, blue, red, green, orange, gray and yellow) and names for your MagicBands. Ask the kids what color they want, because you have until 10 days before your arrival to customize your MagicBand, if you wish to have the bands shipped to your home.

10 Things They Forgot to Mention About Walt Disney World Vacations

37. Earn $ 

If you know someone who wants to take a trip, Disney or other locations, you can earn $20 for referring your friends, family, work associates to use the FREE travel services of Mike Ellis, our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations. Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com. His services are 100% free, and he is fantastic, and he can;t wait to send you $20 once your referral finishes their travels.  


When kids are out if school, families go to Disney. If you can take the kids out of school, lines will be shorter and crowds will be lighter. But this can be hard for those with older children who would struggle with make up work or truancy policies. What Are the Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World?

tips for toddlers on a Disney World vacation

38. Locker Rentals

You can rent key-operated lockers to store your personal items in the theme and water parks. Not including a $5 refundable key deposit, large are $10 and small are $8 per day. Return your locker key before one hour after park closing to receive the deposit refund. Use this link for more information. 

39. Keep a Map/Schedule

At the resort front desks and park front gates, grab time schedules and park maps. Put these in scrap books, picture frames, or turn them into drink coasters by gluing them onto small ceramic tiles, coating them with Mod Podge.

40. Free Stickers 

Be on the lookout for Cast Members with free stickers, which are great for t-shirt decorations, scrap-book mementos, and spilled-food stain cover ups.

41. Change of Clothes

Accidents happen, kids get dirty/wet, and chances are pretty high they will need a change of clothes. Put an extra outfit in a Ziploc bag (tip #18) inside your park bag, swapping the dirty clothes back into the Ziplocs.

70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!*

42. Hydration is a Must

Mid-summer in Orlando is Africa hot. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity, without sufficient rest and fluids puts children at risk for dehydration. So keep those fluids going, both water and Gatorade type drinks.

43. When Children Get Sick

What do you do what a child gets sick on vacation? In the parks, visit one of the First Aid centers. Nurses are available during normal park operating hours to offer over-the-counter medications, bandages and other quick remedies. Resorts have a map with directions to local drug stores and Wal-marts if you need to pick up medications. In-room medical services are available at all WDW Resort hotels 24 hours a day. Use this link for more information. Offsite Urgent Care centers like Florida Hospital Centra Care Walk-In Urgent Care Centers are open 8 to midnight, M-F, and 8 to 8 Sat. to Sun. Complimentary transportation is available and many insurance plans are accepted. Call (407) 934-2273 for more info. or use this website for more information. 

44. Hand Sanitizer

You won’t always be able to get little hands to a sink with real soap, and kids touch everything in sight at Disney. (So do I!) Keep some small bottles of hand sanitizer with you and apply often; wash with soap in sinks when possible.

45. Pin Trading

With Disney Pin Trading, guests trade metal Disney pins with Cast Members and possibly other guests. The pins are not free, but trading them is. Trading Pin boards are located at resorts and gift shops. Cast Members wear pins on lanyards for trading: if their lanyards are green, they will only trade with children.

46. Ready for Characters?

Cast Members in some character costumes are tall, and even if they are very familiar, children still may get scared when it comes time to take a picture, like what often happens with Santa. If the kids start freaking out, don’t push them or force them to interact. Tips from our readers: Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents*

47. Where are the Characters?

If your child is looking for a certain character, just ask Cast Members where to find them. If you want to make advance plans, use this list on Intercot.com for typical character locations, although remember these can change at any time without any notifications.

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

48. Get a Button

When you celebrate a special event at WDW,  stop by your resort front desk or Guest Services for a FREE “button” ( a big pin, but don’t confuse this with Trading Pins) announcing your special event. Get them for first trips to Disney, birthdays, anniversaries, and occasionally special events. Why Celebrate with a Birthday Button at Disney World? Let a Cheapskate Princess Tell You!

49. Get on the Correct Bus

A great majority of the Disney busses look exactly the same, or they look pretty similar. Before you lose valuable time riding on the wrong route, ask the driver where they are headed. It never hurts to double-check anything.

plan a fun Disney vacation

50. Transportation Trading Cards 

Cast Members on the various forms of Disney transportation often have transportation trading cards available upon request. Sometimes they are out of stock, so if you strike out with one Cast Member, just ask another.

51. Travel Takes Time

Traveling ANYWHERE at Disney takes time. Be sure to give yourself just that, a lot of time to transition from place to place. When traveling from a resort to a dinner reservation, give yourself an hour’s  head start before your reservation time.

Some thoughts on Safety…

52. Child Gets Lost?

If you look up and can’t find your child, or they aren’t at a designated meeting spot, immediately tell a Cast Member. Lost children can also be reported at Guest Relations and Baby Care Centers. When a lost child is found, they will be taken to the Baby Care Centers.

53. Take a Daily Picture

Snap a quick cell phone picture as you walk out of the hotel so you know exactly what each child is wearing that day. This could come in handy (if your memory is like mine…) if you need to show someone what your child’s outfit looks like. 

54. Utilize those Buttons

Remember the buttons we mentioned in Tip #48? Take a Sharpie and write your contact info on the back. If your child gets separated, make sure they know to find a Cast Member and show or tell them your how to reach you.

55. Cell phones

*Cell phones can be really helpful with children that are old enough to A) answer them B) not lose them C) tell you exactly where they are if you get separated on accident. They don’t need a brand new iPhone, because an older phone or a Go Phone works fine. 

3 Days with No Orlando Theme Park Tickets; How We Survived and Thrived Almost for FREE!

56. MagicBands 

Cast Members say MagicBands will NOT provide any information about a lost child. Have your children memorize your full name and phone number, or write your information on a Disney button (#48) or on a piece of tape you secure inside their shirt collar.  Until the MagicBand technology advances, the bands won’t help when a child is lost.

57. White Name Tags

When separated from your group, make sure children know to look for Disney Cast Members wearing white oval name tags. Make sure your child is carrying or wearing your contact information if they can’t remember it on their own. 

58. Hand Holder/Harness

Toddler harnesses and “hand holders” (Playskool made one called the “Baby Hand Holder for Toddlers”) can help you hang onto impulsive children, on those occasion when you need a little extra help besides just holding a little hand. They may look a little over-protective, but they work. 

59. Deliver Foods to Room

Having groceries, water and snacks delivered  to your hotel can save money and provide picky child eaters with exactly what they will consume. Goodingsdelivers.com, Amazon.com, gardengrocer.com, staples.com (no perishables), and wegoshop.com are companies that deliver water, snacks, and groceries.

 dining tips for Disney World vacations

Dining Tips

60. Kids Under Three Eat Free 

Children under the age of three eat for free at Disney’s buffets and family style table service restaurants as long as they eat off your plate. So their food is free as long as they are willing to eat what you eat. Why Take a Baby to Walt Disney World? Because It’s FREE!

61. Kids’ Meals

Kids’ meals are served with carrots or grapes and milk. If your child wants fries or a soda, simply tell the Cast Member when you place your order.

62. Drink Refills

Kids get thirsty, as do adults, and at almost all WDW theme parks, you will pay more for additional drink refills at counter service dining locations. But FREE refills (leaving more money for other items) are available at certain restaurants:

  • Magic Kingdom: Tortuga Tavern, quick service lunch at Be Our Guest
  • Epcot: Sunshine Seasons, Electric Umbrella
  • Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
  • Animal Kingdom: Restaurantosaurus

63. ADRs 

Because of increased crowd levels, it’s difficult to get a table at a full-service restaurant without an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR.) You can make ADRs 180 days before your trip by calling 407- 939-3463, make reservations online, or let Erin, our T.A. with Destinations in Florida, do it for you. For last-minute trip planners that cannot secure a reservation, it never hurts to walk up and ask if you can get a table.  If you are close by anyway, the best they could do is locate a table! 

64. Recipe Request

*If your children really enjoy a specific dish served at a table service restaurant or character meal, speak to your server, and they can sometimes provide you with the recipe. You can also phone Disney Guest Services at 407- 939-6244 to request a recipe, or visit disneyfoodblog.com for recipes.

65. Eat Now, Not Then

If you eat at your children’s regular meal times, you will probably be standing in long ordering lines. Try to eat before the rush, like a late lunch or even a late dinner. Lines will be shorter, more tables will be available, and you won’t have to leave the kids seated and reserving your table while you order.

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66. Free Water/Ice Cups

You can order water with meals, and water is FREE!  Kids will save calories, and you’ll save that and money. You don’t have to be eating a meal to order water. Counter service restaurants and snack stands will give you water or cups of ice for free, so just ask. Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

67. Eat Breakfast in Room

You don’t have to eat breakfast outside of your room, unless you have a meal plan or free dining. We recommend you and the kids eat breakfast in your room to save time and money. The best food to eat? To Save Money on Disney World Food, Eat Breakfast Here!

68. Bring Your Own Water

Bring your own water bottles, and to save money, refill them with fountain water, water left from lunch, or water you got in one of those free cups we mentioned in Tip #66. Take your own refillable water bottle/container with you into the parks to keep you from throwing away so many plastic bottles, teaching the kids about recycling. To Save Money on Food At Disney, Bring This Bottle With You

69. Bring Water Flavoring 

Some people do not like the taste of Disney water when it comes out of the water fountains, especially children, so bring flavor packets to mix into your water bottle. Let the kids pick these out at the store.

70. Freeze that Water

Freezing water bottles the night before you need them is a great way to fight the heat, and many believe it makes the yucky Disney tap water taste a little more palatable. Drink the cold water as it melts.

71. Bring Your Own Snacks

If your children are picky eaters, bring snacks with you on vacation so they will have their favorites Not only will this save money, but it can keep the picky eaters satisfied and full in-between meals. Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

72. Check the Menus

Are your kids picky eaters?! It’s a good idea to take a peak at the restaurant menus before you show up for an expensive meal. How to find menus online: Before You Make Your Disney World Dining Reservations, You Should Read These…

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73. Character Meal/Table Service Money Saving Tip

Lunch is a less expensive time to eat than dinner for table service and character meals, and a lunch-time break could be just what fussy children need before a nap. Save Money on Food at Disney World? Make Dining Reservations for This Meal Rather Than That One…

Disney park tips for kids and toddlers

74. Parking Space

Cast Members say you wouldn’t believe how many people forget where they parked. Notice what section and row you parked in. Take a picture and text it to yourself, or write it down, because you’ll need this information 12 hours later when the kids are ready for bed.

75. Holidays

Holiday at Disney are magical and completely decorated to the hilt, especially Christmas. If you go to Disney World during a holiday when children across the country are out of school, then prepare the kids for long lines, people everywhere, and more waiting in lines. Are You Crazy Enough to Go to World Disney World at Christmas?

76. Daily Schedule

Grab a daily park schedule when you first arrive at the parks so you know what’s going on with scheduled events, entertainment, and character locations. You can also get a time schedule at the resort front desks.

tips and tricks for planning a Disney vacation

77. You Can Rent Strollers

Disney also has molded plastic strollers for rent, which are not suitable for infants or older babies but are fine for toddlers to preschoolers. To get the length of stay stroller discount, you pre-pay the number of days that you need.

  • Single strollers (children 50 lbs. or less) cost $15 daily and $13 for multi-day rate.
  • Double strollers (children 100 lbs. or less.) cost $31 and $27 for multi-day rate.

78. Strollers are Moved

Cast Members will often move strollers around as they straighten the area, so there’s no need to panic if you don’t find your stroller where you originally parked it. Attach balloons, ribbons, or decorate your stroller for easier recognition.

79. Stroller Fold Up 

If you get on Disney busses and trams with your stroller, it needs to be folded up. Strollers can be rolled onto monorails and some boats, depending on space, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared to fold it up.

80. Emergency Plan

If you get separated, do the kids know where to meet? Do small children know what to do if they suddenly can’t find you? Should they stand still or walk around looking for you? Determine a meet up place if you should get separated.

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81. Baby Care Centers at all Four Parks

Open during regular park hours, each full-service Baby Care facility is FREE to use and includes the following:

  • Private nursing room with rocking chairs
  • Changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom
  • Feeding area with high chairs
  • Kitchen with microwave, oven and sink
  • Main room with television, table, chairs and sofa
  • There is an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing for purchase. There items are not free.

82. Souvenir Pick-Up  for Big Toys

Theme park merchandise purchases can be delivered to a designated location near the front entrance for convenient pick-up as you exit the park. When you make your purchase, tell the Cast Member to have your items delivered to the park entrance.

83. It Gets Loud

Small children sensitive to loud noises can find shows like Lights, Motors, Action!, Fantasmic!, IllumiNations, and Wishes to be really loud. You can bring earplugs, and they are also available at First Aid. If possible, sit far away from the source of the noise.

84. It Gets Dark

If kids have never been on “dark rides” before, you may be shocked by their reactions. Don’t push them into something they can’t handle. If the tears start in the first dark space, then don’t continue going into dark ride after ride.

85. Go Early

Head over to the parks early. Except on Extra Magic Hours days, theme parks are the least crowded first thing in the mornings, so you may have a shorter wait time than later on in the afternoon. In the summer, early mornings are not yet hot and humid.

86. Need more Tickets?

If the kids beg you to stay another day in Orlando, to add another day(s) to your current tickets, go to Guest Services before you use the final day of your tickets. Unless it’s the last day, you have the option to add more days, park hopper, and water parks options.

87. Take a Nap

On a typical Disney day, kids start to lose it just after lunch, so head back to the hotel for a quick rejuvenating snooze. There are kids napping in strollers everywhere, which is a great other-option as opposed to going back to the resort.

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88. Take a Break

Disney overstimulation is a very real possibility. If your child isn’t into naps, take a break from rides, take a walk around a resort, or you catch a nap while they watch a little TV. Less stimulation is ideal over cranky and completely stimulated.

89. Lines/Queues Entertainment

Stand-by lines can frequently get really long.  Entertain the kids with iPhone apps., look for Hidden Mickeys, play “I Spy,” or use this time to have a conversation with your child.

90. Ride Before Parades & Shows

During parades and shows, or when people start lining up for entertainment, take advantage of what can be shorter wait times for popular rides. These lines will fill back up right after the parades and shows end.

91. For Big Theaters…

For shows like PhilHarmagic, Little Mermaid, and Muppets 3D Movie in large theaters, your impulse will be to hurry inside one they open the doors, but the better plan is to hang back. First guests inside are instructed to walk all the way to the end of the rows. To be seated in the middle, let other people go in before you.

92. FastPass+ Ride Limits

FastPass has changed in recent years. You can schedule FastPass+ rides in advance but not for the same ride. Some parks put rides into categories called “tiers,” and you can only choose one attraction per tier. Without a FastPass+, stand-by lines for your child’s favorite ride can be long. Use this link on touring plans.com for more information.

93. FastPass+ is Inflexible

FastPass+ ending times are now strictly enforced. You will not be allowed on a ride if you arrive past your return window. Screenshot your My Disney Experience so you remember your times, or write them down, and double-check them frequently to ensure you arrive on time.

94. Extra PastPass+

When the switch was made from FASTPASS paper passes to FastPass+ and MagicBands, you were only allowed three passes per park per day. You can get more PastPass+ passes once you have used your original three, one at a time, but warn the kids, there may not be many popular passes left by the end of the day.

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95. Special Parties = Extra Tickets

Especially popular with kids, “hard ticket events” are special parties held at the parks that require additional admission. MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) and MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.) have a starting price of around $55- $65 for children’s tickets and $65-$75 for adult tickets before tax. You get sweet treats, special photo opportunities with characters, music and light shows, and time in the parks when regular ticket holders have left.

96. Sleep In

There will be days when you just can not wake up super early without the kids declaring “mutiny.” It’s not the end of the world if you sleep in. You can make up a few missed rides later with a good attitude and a rested body.

97. Stay Late

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) are hours the parks open early or stay open later for those guests staying at Disney resorts.  EMH at Magic Kingdom are a great option for vacationing with small children, because when the really popular roller coasters have long lines, there are still lots of MK attractions for kids without crazy waits.

98. Show the Bands

If you attend Extra Magic Hours, you will need a MagicBand/park ticket for every person you are traveling with to show a Cast Member for E.M.H. admittance. You will not be allowed on rides or in shows without a ticket or band, and that rule goes for every person.

99. Night Time Shows

If the kids can stay up late, some of the best shows start after 9 p.m, like Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, and Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. If there is a second show time, the second showing is generally less crowded than the first.

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100. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Big Thunder Mountain – 44″
  • Goofy’s Barnstormer – 35″
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – 38″
  • Space Mountain – 44″
  • Splash Mountain – “40
  • Stitch’s Great Escape – 40″
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – “32

101. Wishes Fireworks Viewing

If your children can handle the loud booms of fireworks (or bring ear plugs,) try standing behind Cinderella’s Royal Carousel to watch Wishes at 10 p.m. Fireworks are shot from the roof tops and the swampland behind Fantasyland, so you get a tremendously “in your face” experience from behind the castle. Beware falling ash on windy nights, but this spot becomes more popular each year for a reason.

102. After Wishes 

Watch Wishes (Tip #101) from behind Cinderella Castle, and then walk around to the front of the castle for Celebrate the Magic. You should be able to get an unobstructed seat right up front. Then catch the second Main Street Electrical Parade performance. This helps avoid the crazy crowds exiting the park before and after Wishes at 10 p.m.

103. Trading Cards 

The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game gives you five FREE collectible trading cards per day for each ticket that has been activated on that day. If dad stays back at the resort, sorry, you can’t pick up his cards. You don’t have to actually play the game to start collecting. Pick up cards at the Fire Station on Main Street and over in Liberty Square by the Christmas Shop. 

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104. Hair Cuts

While hair cuts are not generally regarded as all that much fun, they can be at the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street. Prices for child and adult hair cuts are extremely reasonable.  Should You Get a Haircut at Walt Disney World? For $20, with Pixie Dust and Stickers, Yes!

105. Hair Confetti 

The Harmony Barber Shop (tip #104) on Main Street will “confetti” and “pixie dust” your child’s hair for free. Castle Couture in Fantasyland also has “pixie dust.” As far as we know, this is still a free service. 

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106. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle is a styling salon for children over the age of three. This is popular, so reservations (407-WDW-STYLE) are highly suggested. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance, or a $10 fee can be applied. All packages range in price from $15.95 (Knight Package) to $189.95 (Castle Package) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Can A Cheapskate Afford To Become A Disney Princess?

107. The Pirates League

Next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, kids ages three and up can become transformed into pirates or empresses, complete with a new pirate name and a bag of loot. This is becoming popular, so reservations (407-WDW-CREW) are highly suggested. Package prices are $29.95 (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) to $74.95 (Mermaid Deluxe Package)

108. Early Character Meals

Make an early reservation for Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table on a day with no Extra Magic Hours, and you are admitted into the park ahead of other guests. Your child may not eat $30 worth of food, nor might you eat $50 worth of food, but it’s truly the experience you are paying for. Tips to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong*

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109. Goodnight, Sweetheart, It’s Time to Go…

Getting out of the parks at night can be a mad dash to get in yet another line to wait for transportation. Many parents leave before Wishes fireworks. If you stay until after 11 p.m. or later, transportation lines and crowds will be much more manageable.

110. Shop Late

After park closing, Main Street at Magic Kingdom frequently stays open a full two hours. While the whole world is standing in line to get home, kids can take their time and look through the gift shops or grab a snack and eat it above the train station. Let them take your time looking for souvenirs.

111. Free Snack Samples 

Visit the Main Street Confectionery for occasional free candy samples, with cotton candy being a pretty common sample handed out daily. Good luck getting out of there without purchasing something sweet.

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112. Height Requirements in Alphabetical Order

  • Mission: SPACE Green and Orange – 44″
  • Soarin’ – 40″
  • Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East – 48″
  • Test Track – 40″

113. Two Entrances

Epcot is the only Disney park to have two entrances. The front entrance at Future World (East and West) connects to the parking lot. The secondary entrance, connected to the back edge of World Showcase, leads to Disney’s Boardwalk and multiple resorts. If the kids want to see the countries, you may do less walking by using the back entrance. 

114. Two Opening Times

Just as there are two different entrances, World Showcase also has a different time schedule, typically opening two hours later than Future World. Plan accordingly, because a lot of wasted walking is at risk.

115. Seriously, Strollers

Epcot is massive. Even if your children can handle every day walking, you should think about bringing or renting a stroller, because little feet tire fast.

116. There are Characters

While most people do not associate Epcot with Disney characters, there are meet and greets for characters including Alladin and Jasmine, Alice in Wonderland, Aurora, Belle, Mary Poppins, Snow White and others. Consult the times guide or ask Cast Members where you can find them.

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117. Character Photo

Have a Disney Chase Visa Card? Enjoy a character Meet ‘N’ Greet at Chase’s Private Cardmember location that includes a FREE 5×7 photo.  This exclusive event is offered daily 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Innoventions West.

118. Character Meals

Epcot has 2 character meals. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Princess Storybook Dining) features Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mary Poppins, Mulan, and Snow White. These characters rotate, so you won’t see them all during every visit. At the Garden Grill (Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast) kids meet Chip, Dale and many other favorite Disney Characters, which can include Mickey and Pluto.


Make sure the kids stop by INNOVENTIONS East and West, two separate pavilions where children discover engaging exhibits, stimulating simulations, educational games, and tons of interactive, hands-on fun.

120. Fountains = Wet

Several areas in Epcot allow kids to splash and play in fountains, which can be great for cooling off in the sweltering summer heat. Have a change of clothes though, just in case the little ones don’t like walking around soaking wet. 

121. Get a Drink

Club Cool in Epcot’s Future World offers eight drinks from around the world, all of which are international Coca-Cola brands. Taste as much of the beverage samples as you want, but make sure the kids don’t leave with a tummy ache.

122. Kids Crafts

See Cast Member at any Kidcot Fun Stop to get a complimentary cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and personalize with the free supplies at each station. Cast Members will share insights about their native lands, such as how to say “hello,” and they will give your child a stamp of Duffy in each country. Use this link to find Kidcot Fun Stops.

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123. Go on a Secret Mission

At Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, kids can solve clues with Agent P. to thwart some of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s most daringly evil plots. Visit a recruitment center at Odyssey Bridge, Norway Pavilion, Italy Pavilion or near the International Gateway to receive your assignment. Here you will pick up an interactive handheld device that will guide you on your 30 to 45 minute mission. 

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124. Model Trains

A large model train display is located at the Germany Pavilion. Kids will love the three electric traveling trains, mostly locomotives that pull a car or two. 

125. Buy Me Somethin’

Where can you shop with kids in mind at Epcot? Mouse Gears is a massive souvenir shop in Epcot’s Future World by INNOVENTIONS, where kids will find every imaginable bit of Micky-themed merchandise available. There are gift shops in World Showcase that are more adult-oriented, but they offer candy, toys, jewelry, and holiday ornaments.  

126. E-mail a Video to Friends

Leaving Spaceship Earth, you are deposited in Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Kids can e-mail a video message to their friends and family.

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127. Thoughts on IllumiNations

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is a 12 minute fireworks show beginning just before the park closes at World Showcase Lagoon. Small children can definitely be frightened with the loud sounds of fireworks. Also, the show is probably best viewed right around the lagoon, which can be difficult on crowded days.

128. Hats & Glasses

Of all the parks that get direct sun without benefit of very much shade, Epcot guests suffer the most.  Kids would definitely appreciate hats and sun glasses.

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129. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • Rock’n’Roller Coaster – 48″
  • Star Tours – 40″
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 40″

There are only six rides in Hollywood Studios, three of which have height restrictions, so if you visit with smaller children, understand they will be seeing shows and street entertainment more than riding anything.

130. Shows for Smaller Kids

*If there is a benefit to a lack of rides for kids at Hollywood Studios, it would be that the stage shows available are Broadway-caliber. Beauty and the Beast – Live on StageVoyage of The Little Mermaid, and Disney Junior-Live on Stage! are all tremendously popular shows. Remember parts Little Mermaid take place in a darkened theater, and Ursula can be scary to little children.

131. Specialty Meals

Looking for a special dining experience for kids? The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant lets you enjoy your meal sitting in convertible car tables, watching clips from b-movie sci-fi flicks on a big screen. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe invites you to enjoy crazy family antics eating in “Mom’s kitchen.” Advanced reservations are highly recommended.

132. Character Meal

Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine is a character meal available May 4 through June 14 (2015 dates). You’ll meet Disney pals dressed like Star Wars characters, including Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Vader Goofy, Storm Trooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale.

The cost is $57.99 per adult and $34.99 per child age 3 to 9. Tax is included but not gratuity. Advanced reservations are highly recommended. For booking, you can check availability online or call 407- 939-3463.

133. Shrunken Playground

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is an 11,000-square-foot play area based on the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Children climb enormous anthills, scale sprawling spider webs, avoid dripping garden hose, explore a maze tunnel, slide down a roll of film, and sit atop an ant. Be advised that this is a large area, and it can be hard to spot your own children here.

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134. One Man’s Dream

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is part walk-through exhibit and part 15-minute film. Guests view over 400 of Walt Disney’s personal artifacts featuring one-of-a-kind animation art, paintings, storyboards, photos, park and ride models, props, costumes, and movie set pieces. Here, children can get a better understanding of Walt Disney as a real person.

135. 3D Movie

Join Kermit, Miss Piggy and the entire Muppets gang for a spectacular 3D movie presentation in a theater designed to look like the original Muppet Theater from the classic television series. This show rarely has a long wait.

136. Get a Jedi Training Certificate

At the Jedi Training Academy, children learn to use the Force in a 20-minute training academy. Twelve guests between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age will be selected for each show, all receiving a certificate at the end of training. At park opening, get in line outside the ABC Sound Studio, across from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, to sign the kids up.

137. Get a Disney Junior Dance Party Balloon

During night-time Extra Magic Hours, dance to music videos with Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and more. New characters fill the floor throughout the night, so you never know when someone special like Jake and the Never Land Pirates or Bones & Sharkey might appear. 

138. Take Home a Free Drawing

At the Animation Academy, with help from a trained Disney artist, kids get instruction for drawing a Disney character sketch. Unlike the Animation Academy at DisneyQuest, take your drawing from this Academy home for free.

139. Fantasmic

Fantasmic! is a 30-minute fireworks and water extravaganza showcasing pyrotechnics, laser lights and one million gallons of dancing water. 50 costumed performers sing Disney tunes while classic animation clips are projected onto massive walls of water. This is an extremely popular show, so if there are two shows, the second is almost always not quite as busy.

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140. Height Restrictions in Alphabetical Order

  • DINOSAUR – 40″
  • Expedition Everest – 44″
  • Kali River Rapids – 38″
  • Primeval Whirl – 48″

141. Hot and Sunny

Welcome to the Florida jungle, where there is a real lack of shade and air conditioning. This park tests your ability to cool off sufficiently, so keep the kids hydrated and sun protected (hats, sunglasses sunscreen.)

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142. Go Mornings

If there is a Disney park you can finish in less than a full day, this is it, so going back to your resort for a break or a nap is not advisable. Arrive first thing in the morning, because it’s cooler and animals get less active as the temperatures rise.

143. Stuff Just for Kids

TriceraTop Spin is very similar to the iconic Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom. Primeval Whirl is a spinning roller coaster with sudden dips and hairpin turns. Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama! is a dinosaur-decorated amusement park with vintage-style attractions and games. At The Boneyard, kids ages 10 and under can climb rocks, cross  bridges, roam caves, hurl down twisting slides, navigate a maze, and unearth dinosaur bones.

144. Talk To Cast Members

Cast Members are a wealth of Disney-related information, but this is especially so in Animal Kingdom. Many of them have years of experience handling and caring for animals, so have the kids ask them some questions.

145. Park Hours

Animal Kingdom usually closes well before the other parks; animals need to be fed and cared for, plus have time to sleep. Off season, Animal Kingdom could close as early as five p.m., although six or seven is more common during regular season. In peak attendance times, this park will sometimes open 30 or 60 minutes early. There are no fireworks at Animal Kingdom. 

146. About Dinosaur

DINOSAUR includes loud sounds in the dark with seemingly menacing audio-animatronic dinosaurs that may be scary for children. It is not recommended for younger, easily scared children.

147. Explore The Wilderness 

Kids can follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up! as they complete a series of self-guided, completely different challenges, ranging from animal observation to learning nature skills. As you complete missions, collect over 30 badges to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide. Use this link for info. 

Disney World Resort tips for kids, toddlers, and babies

148. Staying on Property

It can definitely be cheaper to stay off Disney property. But if you are traveling with children, paying more money to be closer to the action and surrounded by all the “Disney Magic” of the resorts may be more desirable than saving money. Cheapskate tip: the Value Resorts are very popular because of the child-centered decorations, and so they are frequently packed.  *10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

149. Pools

If you kids are comfortable in the water, the pools at Disney resorts are great fun. Plus Walt Disney World Resort hotels heat pools to a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit (about  28°C). Remember that Value resorts do not have slides while Moderate and Deluxe resorts do.

150. Pool Side Games

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

151. Use Their Pool Towels 

For registered resort guests, there are towels available that can be used in the pool-side showers located in the bathrooms. Let the kids take a swim on check-out day. Have a large group and want to speed up the showering process at night after a long day at the parks? Send family to the showers near the pool.

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152. Bathroom Freebies

H2O toiletries at the resorts smell lovely and come in child size bottles. If you run out, stop by Mouse Keeping and ask for extra soaps, conditioners, and shampoos. Extras can also be delivered to your room. 

153. Stationary Freebies

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

154. Character Greeting Call

When you check into your resort, ask a Cast Member to set up a “Welcome Call” from a Disney character. Like Disney magic, Mickey or a Goofy friend will leave a message on your room phone. Have the kids answer this. 

155. Character Wake Up Call

Just like the greeting we mentioned above, schedule a wake up call to your resort room and a Disney character, usually Mickey, will call to wake you up. What better way to get the kids out of bed to start another magical day. 

156. Fireside Marshmallows

Camp fires at resorts offer free marshmallows and roasting sticks. These complimentary campfire activities can be found at 14 locations at Walt Disney World Resort, so use this link for the list. Call the resort to confirm that night’s fire and get an approximate time, although they usually take place before sunset.

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157. Outdoor Movies

Take in one of the many free “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movies at WDW resorts following the campfires, although this is dependent on weather and thus subject to cancellation or change without notice. Huge screens are blown up for nightly movies. Call the resort desk for specific seating information, and for movie schedules, call 407- 939-7529.  How to See FREE Movies at the Walt Disney World Resorts!

158. Mugs

Purchase a Resort Mug and receive free refills at all the Disney resorts for soda, coffee, etc. Dining Plans include a mug for everyone over age three, but the cost for everyone else is $8.99 (1 day), $11.99 (2 days), $14.99 (3 days), and $17.99 for your length of stay. These make excellent dinner cups once the kids get back from vacation.

159. Dirty Clothes? Clean ’em Up!

There are laundry machines at the resorts, so don’t forget to bring plenty of quarters. Disney sells one dollar laundry detergent for a single load box, while it costs $2 per load to wash and $2 per load to dry the clothes.

160. Schedule Mouse Keeping

When you check in your resort, make sure you ask for early housekeeping. If you are early morning risers, this will ensure that if you return for an afternoon rest, your room will be clean. And if you are napping, you won’t be disturbed by Mouse Keeping if you forgot the sign.

161. Professional Portrait Service

Like to have professional portraits taken of your family on vacation? Portrait sessions are available at the Grand FloridianPolynesian Village, Beach ClubWilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Up to 30 days in advance, call 407-934-4004 to make a session reservation.

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162. Playgrounds

All Disney Resorts have playgrounds, which are great for a free day or when the parks close early for holiday parties. Coronado Springs has an amazing playground next to the Aztec-themed pool.

163. Hotel Baggage Handling

If your room isn’t ready when you arrive, drop off your bags with Hotel Baggage Handling, and take off for the parks. On the day you leave, check out, drop off your bags, and pick them up later when you are ready to head home.

free day tips for a Disney World vacation

We always recommend taking a “free day” in Orlando, because it’s nice for children to take a stimulation break from riding rides and standing in line, and there are tons of fun activities outside the park main gates. 

Downtown Disney, soon to be re-named Disney Springs, is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex located lake side and within an easy WDW bus ride or car ride from the Disney resorts. You can entertain yourself for half a day here easily. 

164. Play with Legos

Head into the Lego Imagination Center  for some free interactive Lego fun. Outside is a 3,000-square-foot play area filled with Legos,  just tempting little hands to build something. Inside and out are larger-than-life Lego statues just waiting to be photographed.

165. Bowl & Movies

AMC Movies at Downtown Disney 24 is a modern movie theater located near Splitsville Luxury Bowling Lanes. Both are new facilities with state of the art technology and top-notch casual dining. If you can entertain yourself for half a day at Disney Springs, throw in a movie or some bowling with a meal, and you could stretch your half day to a full.  

166. Visit with Santa  

November through December, visit with Santa and have pictures taken. When kids are out of school, lines can get long. Goofy takes over for pictures after Santa heads home.

167. Play Some Games 

Once Upon a Toy has the largest assortment of toys and games in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. You will find theme park play sets, Mr. Potato Head and Star Wars building stations, and an amazing amount of t-shirts, toys, dolls, video games, and collectibles.

168. Splash Around 

In the section with Goofy’s Candy Co., in full sight of the Rainforest Cafe, is a splashpad type fountain. This is fabulous for children on a hot day and funny entertainment for adults any day. Remember, kids may need dry clothes.

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169. Goofy’s Glaciers Free Samples

Goofy’s Candy Co. is a great little candy store by Rainforest Cafe.  Grab a small-cup sample of a Goofy’s Glacier, with flavors like Pucker Purple, Glacier Apple, Rootin’ Tootin’ Red, Orange You Happy Orange, Gawrshly Berry Blue, and Coca-Cola Cooler. This store smells amazingly sweet, and you will want every snack you see! Chocolate-covered caramel apples you design yourself are a big hit with the younger crowd. 

170. Watch an Artist 

In the Art of Disney store, kids can watch an artist drawing Disney characters projected onto a big screen. Statues and paintings for sale are bright and colorful.  Free Disney World Entertainment? Don’t Miss the Art of Disney Store

171. Disney’s Days of Christmas

Children love Christmas, and in this store, it’s Christmas 365 days a year. There are all sorts of tree decorations and plush toys, just right for little hands to touch and squeeze.

172. Free Chocolate!

Cast Members at Ghiradelli’s Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop hand out free chocolate samples throughout the day. This is a small retail space, but they offer some of the best ice creams and desserts anywhere in Disney Springs. They are very rich, so grab a table outside and make plans to share something cold. 

173. Hydrate Your Skin 

Basin is located nest to the Mickey pots topiary fountain, right next door to the World of Disney. Want to get kids excited about bath time? Bring them in to smell the bright, multi-colored soaps. Basin has an assortment of hand scrub and lotions samples you can sample for free. Be sure the kids wash their hands…they’ll love it!

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174. Aaribas Brothers

Looking for a nice souvenir for your princess? Bring her into Aaribas Brothers for a vast assortment of tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, most of which have Disney themes, sparkling with Swarovski crystals. Boys will probably be more into tip #175. 

175. Watch a Glass Demonstration

Arribas Brothers has glass blowers and glass cutters on staff giving demonstrations throughout the day. You can even purchase some of their creations. Children will be mesmerized by the blow torch, guaranteed.

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176. Hear a Concert

There are musical performers at Disney Springs throughout the year, both on a large stage on front of The World Of Disney and in random locations. Take a seat on benches or even the ground for a performance, giving little feet a rest. 

177. Go Up in a Balloon

The Characters in Flight balloon floats 400 feet straight up in the sky for 8 to 10 minutes, providing 360 degree views of Disney Springs. Prices before tax are $12 for children and $18 for adults, but arrive before 10 a.m., and you can fly for $10 each with their Early Bird Special.  Characters in Flight at Disney Springs: A Cheapskate Guide

178. Kid Restaurants

Two restaurants in Disney Springs are popular with the younger crowd, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex. Singing birds, trumpeting elephants, chest-pounding gorillas and schools of brightly colored fish welcome you to the Rainforest Cafe, while you are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, banyan trees, waterfalls and a starry nighttime sky.

At T-Rex, you dine among life-sized animatronics dinosaurs, including a 15-foot-tall T. Rex. There are themed rooms and a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so, complete with rumbling and fiery “explosions.” The lights dim and things get loud! Kids can assemble a plush pet dinosaur at the Build-A-Dino By Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. Call 407-939-1947.

179. DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park

DisneyQuest is an indoor five floors of fun including virtual worlds, 3D encounters and classic video games. Hours are typically 11:30 a.m. to 11 pm. Guests under 14 years of age must be accompanied by a guest age 14 years of age or older. Admission to DisneyQuest is included with certain ticket types (see tip #182 below), but pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $39 and adults (10+) are $45.

180. Play Miniature Golf

Found in the Epcot Resort area, these two mini-golf courses are based on Disney’s classic animated film Fantasia. Disney’s Fantasia Gardens is designed for families and beginner mini-golfers, as you aim through twirling obstacles, cross fanciful fountains and discover musical surprises. Fantasia Fairways is more challenging, emphasizing skill over chance,with par-3 and par-5 holes ranging in length from 63 to 109 feet, plus sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

Located by Blizzard Beach Water Park, Winter Summerland Miniature Golf depicts where elves built Santa two distinctly different 18–hole mini golf experiences: a sand course named “Summer” and a snow course named “Winter.” The courses combine for the last holes, and after sinking the last putt on Hole 18, mini-golfers earn a special message from Santa Claus. Pre-tax, tickets for children ages 3-9 are $12 and adults (10+) are $14.

best tips for kids Disney World vacation

181. Smart to Hang Out

Disney vacations are tiring; it’s a good idea to plan a free day mid-vacation just to keep from stressing everyone out. If the group can’t handle the parks again without a melt down, have a back up plan. Day after day of waking up early and going to bed late starts to wear out little bodies. If you are already in Orlando, you might as well schedule a “free” day to enjoy life beyond the theme parks.

182. Water Parks Fun & More Option

Add the Water Parks Fun & More Option to any valid Magic Your Way ticket for just $60 plus tax. You can enjoy two water parks, as well as admission to one of the following for each day of your ticket:

  • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (one round) Tee times are required for Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and are subject to availability.

183. Water Parks

Tickets for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach start at $53 per day before taxes. With both thrill and chill rides, relaxing lounge areas, wave pools, snorkeling adventures and much more. Both parks have areas specifically designated for younger children. Use this link for more info. on Disney water parks and ticket options. 

184. Resort Hop

Resort hopping is simply looking around the Disney resorts where you are not staying. Each resort has a completely different theme. This is a great opportunity to talk about finances with your children, because there are big price differences in the three resort levelsDisney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

185. Wishes Viewing  

Watch the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks show from one of the many Disney resorts on the monorail loop. At the Polynesian Village Resort, fireworks are visible directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon, and show music is piped in through speakers. Before or after the fireworks, grab a bite to eat or a snack. Hang out in the remodeled lobby, which is beautiful at night.

186. Night Time Water Parade  

Visit the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, or the Contemporary Resort to catch a glimpse of the nightly water show, The Electrical Water Pageant. The water-light parade was originally created in 1971 for the dedication of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In my opinion, this show is geared more for younger kids. Approximate show times are:

  • Polynesian Resort, 9:00 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 9:15 p.m
  • Wilderness Lodge, 9:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground, 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort 10:00p.m.

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

187. Character Meals

Rather than schedule a two-hour meal break on a day when you have park tickets, enjoy a character meal at one of the resorts. Character meals are pricey compared to table service, but you are paying for an event that kids (and adults) are sure to love. Character dining locations at the resorts are Ohana’s, Garden Grove, Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, and 1900 Park Fare. What Are the Top Three Character Meals at Walt Disney World?

188. Visit Celebration

A 15 minute drive away from the parks is the planned town of Celebration, Florida. Kids will enjoy the fountain by the lake, plus candy and toy stores. Adults will enjoy the shopping, Starbucks, and restaurants. Every night during the Christmas season, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Everybody will enjoy photos with Santa, strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more. Skating is a reasonable $10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate, with your skate rental included. Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Ft. Wilderness Tips

189. Campfires/Singalongs

Ft. Wilderness is home to a free campfire program sing-along and movie, although there is a charge for refreshments. This event begins around 7 p.m. in fall/winter and 8 p.m. after the time change in April through summer.

190. Christmas Lights

During the Christmas season, vacationers staying at Ft. Wilderness adorn their campers, golf carts, and tents with a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s wise to take small flash lights with you, as some of the woodsy roads through the campground are not well-lit. 

191. Explore the Ranch  

At the Tri-Circle-D Ranch from to  through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You might get to see the blacksmith make and apply horseshoes. Advise the kids that as a free activity, they will be doing more looking than petting.

192. Pony Rides

How can the kids can touch ponies? For a very reasonable fee of $8.00 (cash payments only), children can take a pony ride at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall, no reservations are necessary. Riders must be:

  • at least 2 years of age
  • under 80 pounds
  • no taller than 48 inches
  • be able to hang on by themselves.
  • lead on their pony by a parent or guardian at all times.

193. Other Horse Activities

Tri-Circle-D Ranch offer activities for the kids and adults that love horses, including horseback trail rides, wagon rides and private carriage rides. Call (407) 824-2832 for information.

plan the best Disney World vacation

If you made it to the end, congratulations! You deserve a free Disney sticker…

We hope you gained some valuable information on what to do with children at Walt Disney World. Many of our suggestions are just that – suggestions. If you think they will work for you, great, and if not, do what you know works best.

Did we miss anything you feel other parents need to know? Leave us a comment, and we’ll add it in. If any times or prices have become outdated, let us know that as well. Disney changes things all he time without calling me first – can you believe it?!

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

Thanks for stopping by, and we hope you have a magical trip to Walt Disney World!

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.

Free Fun in Celebration Florida: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

where is Celebration. Florida

Everything seems to be expensive on vacation, so it’s a nice change of pace to find an activity that is basically free. Celebration is a master-planned community located in Osceola County, Florida, which is about a 10 minute drive from the Walt Disney World Resort property. Just like Disney resort hopping, visiting Celebration is totally free, so now is the perfect time to make plans for a drive over.

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Celebration Florida

Originally developed by The Walt Disney Company, Celebration is directly connected to the Disney Resorts using one of its primary streets, World Drive, which begins near the Magic Kingdom. In the early 1990s, the Disney Development Company (DDC) established the Celebration Company to develop land in the southern portion of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The total investment for this project was estimated to be around $2.5 billion dollars. Celebration was designed in an early 20th century architectural style. It is not zoned for high-density residences, so you will not see a mass of apartments or similar styles houses all in a row. Celebration was named the “New Community of the Year” in 2001 by the Urban Land Institute. In 2004, the Disney Company sold Celebration to Lexin Capital, a private real estate investment company.

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

architecture in the Disney town of Celebration

While he was the Disney Company’s CEO,  Michael Eisner took a special interest in the development of the new town, and he encouraged the executives at the Disney Development Company to “make history.” He wanted them to develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney’s vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). The Disney Development Company executives worked with leaders in education, health and technology, plus planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for Celebration.

Although you may have a hard time finding a good parking spot close to downtown, Celebration is extremely pedestrian-friendly, with a small town feel that will remind you of old-timey main streets, with homes and real businesses intermingled.

map location of Celebration Florida

Celebration’s downtown has retail shops, restaurants, a town hall, a post office, and offices among other businesses. Many of these buildings are situated along a wide promenade area which circles a beautiful lake.

The downtown area is called “Market Street, and this is where you will want to spend your time unless you decide to take a walk through the neighborhoods.  That is a great idea, by the way, as the architecture of the homes, some in the million dollar range, is simply stunning.

Celebration does not actually have any road named “Main Street.” Osceola County, which does not allow street names to be duplicated, already had a Main Street. So the two main roads going through the center of the downtown area are named Market Street and Front Street. Stores are decked out during the holidays, like this realty company.

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Celebration Florida Realty

What is there to do?

Let’s start with what won’t cost you any money.

The Free Stuff – Window Shopping

Market Street has lots of businesses perfect for shopping, or if you are a Cheapskate Princess, just do some window shopping. It usually takes us a good hour or two to walk in all the shops and take a look around.

Enchanted Boutique offers fine apparel and fashion accessories catering to women, juniors, and girls of all ages.With some clothing custom-made just for Enchanted Boutique, you will also find jewelry, scarves, and other accessories. Enchanted Boutique offers a true boutique shopping experience. 321-939-1111.

Woof Gang Bakery offers full service pet grooming, pet foods, and supplies. Specializing in healthy, natural pet foods and treats, including hypoallergenic, wheat-free and grain-free selections, they also sell a variety of fun, fuzzy, floatable and tough toys, fashionable pet accessories, collars and leads, and a wide range of pet grooming products. WoofGangBakery.com.

This photo shows the doggy outfits at the Woof Gang Bakery.

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

Woofgang Bakery in Disney's Celebration Orlando

Soft As A Grape’s specialty is comfortable family resort wear.  One of the original shops on Market Street, many of their unique designs are made of 100% cotton at their facility in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  They pride themselves in clothing that is soft, carefree, and most important – super comfortable. softasagrape.com.

Downeast offers ladies’, men’s, and children’s clothing plus gifts including brand names like Ralph Lauren Polo, LaCoste, Corbin, Southern Tide, Bill’s Khakis, Sperry, Jack Rogers, Alden Shoes, Susanna Monaco, Milly, Ella Moss, Spanx, Vera Bradley, Caswell Massey, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Cavalli Sunglasses and more.

Market Street Gallery offers exquisite jewelry selections, Vera Bradley, Suzy Toronto, greeting cards, home decor, a year round Christmas room and more! 407-566-1500

There were Vera Bradley patterns aplenty for the purse lovers.

Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide

Vera Bradley store at Disney Celebration

Once Upon A Time features quality clothing and accessories for children from newborn to teens. They carry brands like Twirly Girl, Cheeky Banana, Rugged Butts, Kate Mack, Biscotti, Lipstik and Petit Lem, plus a number of items manufactured only for this boutique. Once Upon A Time sells dresses, tops, jeans, and shorts to swim, shoes, jewelry, accessories and hats for boys and girls alike, plus gift items, games, toys and books. They will gladly ship items home for you. 321-939-1144.

Confetti of Celebration has specialty gifts, centerpieces, candy bouquets, candy, and embroidery. They specialize in parties, dinners, and meetings. If you need to send a birthday gift, they can customize any candy bouquet to your special needs. They sell many types of candies and a huge selection of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.confettiofcelebration.com.

Sanrio Surprises is the home of “Hello Kitty” and all your favorite Sanrio characters.They offer Sanrio gifts and stocking stuffers, plus you can book a birthday party in their large party room.  To liven up your experience, add a special “Hello Kitty”  appearance or a ride on the Celebration Express Train. 321-939-1777.

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Christmas at Celebration is especially beautiful, and if enjoy looking at decorations, the holiday season is a great time to visit the stores. Step outside from the Christmas music in the shops to snow outside in the street.

Christmas shopping at Disney's Celebration

The Free Stuff – Events

Market Street often has different events scheduled each month like  antique car shows and craft festivals. For a complete list of Celebration events, use this link. This list will give you an idea of events in months past and coming up. 


Town of Celebration Marathon and Half Marathon

Winter Sidewalk Sale


Posh Pooch – For a howling good time, head to Downtown for a whole day of barking good fun. There are vendors, activities, demonstrations, food, performances and fun to enjoy with the entire family.

Art & Wine Stroll


Art & Wine Stroll

porch and yard sale


Great American Pie Festival – Celebration becomes the Pie Capital of the World in April, when thousands of pie lovers, tasters and bakers gather together. The highlight is always the Never-Ending Pie Buffet, featuring award-winning pie and ice cream.

Celebration Exotic Car Festival – a four-day children’s charity event that showcases North America’s largest collection of exotic cars, race cars and iconic Hollywood movie cars, coming together to help children with life threatening medical conditions.


Jaguar Car Show – showcases Jaguar cars from the early 1950s to present.

Art & Wine Stroll

July/ August

Hearts of Reality/Summer Sidewalk Sale – a weekend full of TV’s hottest deals and hottest Reality Stars.

A Sci-Fi 4th of July – Celebration Town Center’s World Famous 4th of July event.


Oktoberfest, where leaves fall nightly at 7, 8, and 9 p.m.

Art & Wine Stroll

porch and yard sale


Founder’s Day Concert

Alfa Romeo Car Show –  the Mid Florida Alfa Romeo Owners Club, Inc. hosts their annual Alfa Romeo car show.

Now Snowing Tree Lighting Ceremony – November 29th – This special tree lighting event features live music, a special entrance by Santa Clause, and family fun for everyone.


A Celebration of Voices

Now Snowing Nightly

During the winter holidays, Market Street hosts an event called “Now Snowing Nightly,” where it “snows” on Market Street multiple times a night. You and the kids, even the family dogs, can walk around in the “snow.” I wouldn’t do it in your finest leather shoes though.

Ready for Christmas at Disney? You May Need Some Advice…

Disney Celebration snow

When they announce the snow, it can get pretty busy. Kids seem to love this!

Snowfall and events happen every night through December 31st, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Every night, the snow falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM. There are photos with Santa, strolling holiday carolers, an ice rink, entertainment and more.

Now Snowing Nightly parking and admission are FREE. For a complete list of Community Performances click here.

*10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

snow in the Disney town of Celebration

Watching is free, but you’ll need to rent skates. This is “Disney” ice, by the way, so it’s not actual cold ice, and thus the ice skates will not be dangerous to smaller children.

The Endless Ice rink is open daily from 4:00-10:00 p.m. through January 3rd. There are Celebration Resident Skate Passes or multiple-day skate passes for guests (after November 29th .)

$10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate (skate rental included)

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ice skating at Disney's Celebration

ice skating and snow in Florida.

During the Christmas holidays, Train Rides are $5.00 at the gate or $4.00 in advance if purchased at Confetti, Market Street Gallery, Sweet Escape, or Sanrio Surprises. (Before 4 p.m. Nightly)

Photos with Santa
Prices depends on the package purchased, and Santa will only be available until December 24th. For information on Santa photos visit: www.towncenterphotos.com.

Disney Celebration Pictures with Santa

The Free Stuff- Other Activities

Take a walk along the Lakeside Promenade or on the miles of walking paths and nature trails. These are especially nice as the sun is setting.

Head over to the large interactive fountain by the lake, where if it’s warm, the kids can splash around. Some still splash around even when it’s not so warm.

There are numerous rocking chairs by the lake. These are hard to come by in the busier seasons, like when the holiday snow is falling, but they are comfy and the lake view is peaceful, especially at sunset.

One of the most visually stunning buildings on the lakefront is the Bohemian Hotel Celebration. You can take a seat in one of the lobby chairs, and for a splurge, order a coffee or a drink at the bar.

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Bohemian Hotel Celebration Florida

At Christmas, the decorations at night on Market Street are just lovely.

decorations at Disney's Celebration town

The Not-Free Activities – $$ Meals

There are a lot of restaurants in Celebration. The downtown atmosphere is fantastic at night, with many outdoor tables enveloped in soft lighting. Enjoy a meal in one of the award-winning restaurants.

Cafe D’Antonio has an open kitchen and a wood burning oven, grill and rotisserie that are common to Antonio’s restaurants. The menu features items representative of the varied regions of Italy. antoniosonline.com

Ari Sushi offers authentic Japanese food and sushi. arisushi.net

Celebration Town Tavern describes their business as “Family, Food & Friends.” This New England style restaurant and tavern opened in early 2000. Favorites include clam chowder, fried clams, fresh Boston scrod, haddock & scallops, main plate salads, burgers, chicken, ribs and steaks.  thecelebrationtowntavern.com

The Columbia Restaurant overlooks the lake and offers classic elegance in a Mediterranean style setting. Diners can enjoy fine Spanish/Cuban cuisine in their old-world-style dining rooms, an outdoor cafe, courtyard, and a Tapas Bar. columbiarestaurant.com

Euro Bistro  offers a wide variety of affordable menu items to select from.  Tapas, very popular in Spain, are smaller servings that allow you to select several different items to snack on or combine a few items to make a full meal.

Imperium Wine Room is a 100 seat bar offering the highest quality food and wines with a 50 seat patio. Disney employees receive a 10% discount with ID. mperiumfoodandwine.com.

Market Street Cafe is an upscale diner concept that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Favorites range from blueberry pancakes and maple butter french toast at breakfast to homemade meatloaf and hot open face turkey sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is available all day, and signature desserts are made fresh daily. Market-Street-Cafe.com.

Thai Thani Restaurant was established by a retired Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai Ministry of Commerce. This restaurant was opened to enhance the Thai Government policy to promote Thai food as a leading cuisine of the world. thaithaniorlando.net.

Upper Crust Pizza features two types of pizza, thick Sicilian style and traditional New York style, both with a variety of toppings. Panninis are filled with items such as Tuscan chicken, steak, cheese, and vegetables. An open-faced calzone called a “Crusti” is a hand-made delight stuffed with meatloaf, steak, Greek Salad and other items. There is a rotating menu of dessert pizzas including chocolate and apple cinnamon.

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ice cream at Disney's Celebration

snacks at Disney's Celebration

The Not-Free Activities – $ Meals and Snacks

For less expensive snack and meal options, there are several “sweet shops” that will be quicker than a table service meal and less expensive as well.

Sweet Escape is an authentic European Style Bakery & Deli in a Victorian environment. In the bakery, there are fresh-baked breads, pastries, desserts, and cupcakes all made fresh daily. In the deli you’ll find breakfast, lunch, and dinner sandwiches featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. In the café you’ll find locally roasted coffee including Italian Espresso, specialty coffee, frozen coffee, and iced coffee. You can also purchase 100% fruit frozen smoothies.

Sweet Escape also sells convenience items like newspapers,milk, eggs, yogurt, Monster Energy drinks, snacks, candy, and more. sweetescapecelebration.com

Kilwins offers confectionery chocolates and ice cream. kilwins.com. This was one of my favorites!

The Starbucks just across from Market Street is mid-size with plenty of seating. There is a nice outdoor area. We bought some inexpensive cake pops and a pastry, and then we watched families line up to see Santa. starbucks.comThis store has T-Mobile HotSpot wireless broadband Internet service.

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Disney Celebration Starbucks Coffee

The Not-Free Activities – $$ Splurges

Looking for a special occasion treat?

Misty Blue Acres Carriage, the official carriage company of Celebration Florida, offers carriage rides every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening from 6pm – 10pm. Providing a carriage hitched to either team of percheron horses, they are available for weddings,  two-horse carriage and single horse carriage rides, hay rides, birthdays, Halloween, sleigh rides, Christmas rides and holiday parties. mistyblueacres.com.

Wagon Rides- $5.00 per person
Horse and Carriage Rides- $25 for the first 2 passengers, $10 each additional

Special Holiday Home Tour Rides (30/40 minutes in length to see the lights throughout Celebration)- $25 per person
Call for Appointment for Horse & Carriage Holiday Home Tour: 321-624-6380

 U Can Cook is an all-inclusive Culinary School where the young and the young-at-heart can learn to cook. Their classes are designed to teach the basics on food preparation, food safety skills, proper etiquette, the skilled art of layering flavors and planning parties.They will also host an array of engagements. 407-233-0948.

Where to Find FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples!

And there you have several hours worth of entertainment just down the street from the Walt Disney World property. If you have a free day with an empty time slot to fill after a swim or a nap, then head down World Drive to the town of Celebration. Take a walk, do some (window) shopping, and grab a coffee or a snack for an inexpensive several hours. If you have to pick a certain time of year to go, I would highly recommend Christmas, when music is in the air along with “snow.”

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you headed over for a celebration at Celebration!


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.

Looking for Vintage Disney Items? Try Theme Park Connection

Theme Park Connection directions

**Update for June 2017**    Be sure to call the number listed before you make a drive over. Rumor has it they closed their physical location in favor of an Internet business.

**As of July 2017, their website no longer worked, plus their eBay Store and e-commerce store Internet links no longer worked. 

They were a pretty interesting store that seems to be no more. While you are here, you might as well look at the pictures. On the right side of this page, you’ll find links to some of our most popular articles. Thanks for stopping by…~A.

I don’t remember where I first ran across the store called Theme Park Connection, but I strongly suspect it was on Facebook. After scanning through store photos, I was giddy at the idea of looking back in time at old vintage merchandise that was for sale to the general public.  If you are not familiar with the name of this business, Theme Park Connection is an Orlando area store that sells specialty vintage Disney items. The company goal is “to inspire an emotional, memory or passion for store guests by providing unique Disney items and the best in customer service.” Since 1995, Theme Park Connections has sold over 500,000 Disney related items.

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Although merchandise will change frequently, they carry a wide assortment of items including:

  • authentic signs and glassware
  • props
  • cast member memorabilia
  • cast member costumes
  • decor
  • artwork
  • collections
  • trading pins
  • figurines
  • rare and unique items

These are some photos from their Facebook page.

buying used Disney merchandise in Orando

Snow globes and picture frames

buying antique Disney picture frames in Orlando

A seemingly endless collection of lanyards and hats

where to shop in Orla for Disney merchandise

Original ride vehicles

buy original Disney theme park ride vehicles in Orlando

A car from Snow White’s Scary Adventure, which was listed at $8,000 if memory serves me correctly.

where to find old Disney parks merchandise for sale

A huge mural made of Legos

Disney Moms, where Disney fans shop in Orlando

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A huge wall of Disney Trading Pins

This business will buy your Disney memorabilia. If you want to sell anything to Theme Park Connection, you will need to schedule an appointment so they can review your items.

Typical buying days are Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can call to request an alternate day and time if these don’t work for you. It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment to make certain there is a buyer on site. These days and times could change without any notification to us, so calling ahead is a must do in my opinion.

Cast Member costumes and authentic resort linens

authentic Disney trading pins cheap

Location and Operating Hours

2160 Premier Row 
Orlando, FL 32809 

Phone 407-284-1934
Operating hours

Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Closed Sunday

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How do you get there?

Well, not being a local Orlando resident, that’s a hard one for me to answer.  We put the address in our GPS and had no trouble finding our way there, but I have no idea how to describe where there is, really. Nearby roads,  the Florida Turnpike and Sand Lake Road, sounded familiar to me, as did the Mall of Florida. Theme Park Connection is located closer to Universal Studios than the Disney Parks, which is also close to Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive.

Here’s a map that can give you an idea of what you are looking for. Again, type 2160 Premier Row into a GPS and you’ll be set to go.

Theme Park Connection map

What did we think of the store?

I have scored some really good purchases at Theme Park Connection before. Key chains, lanyards, and picture frames for under $5.00 is a bargain in my cheapskating book. If we are in the area of Universal Studios, we will definitely stop by just to look through the bins and glance at the displays. Many of their larger items are really cool to touch.

PANDORA Jewelry is coming to Disney Parks!


If I was just staying on Disney property, I wouldn’t make a trip out to Theme Park Connection just to visit this store. But if we are close to Universal Studios, I feel like it’s worth my time.

vintage Disney World picture frames

Vintage Disney World lanyard

I am not a Disney memorabilia collector. I have absolutely no idea what I am looking at in terms of the authenticity of items or how much a real vintage Disney find is worth. While my family really enjoys looking at the more expensive items Theme Park Connection has to offer, there is no way I am paying $1,000 and way upwards for vintage Disney items.

Now if you are one of those people looking for a one of a kind Disney find, and money is no issue, then you’ll have a ball here.

Tips to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong

vintage Disney World items

My budget is limited, and that’s why I would not drive long distance to visit this store. I’m all about some $2 and $3 key chains, and a $5 picture frame in pretty good shape? That seemed so low I was looking to make sure it hadn’t been mis-priced. But $800 for framed resort room pictures and thousands of dollars for ride vehicles? Well, I just got priced out.

Theme Park Connection is worth a look if you are in the area.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you Googling how close you will be to Premier Row in Orlando.

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.


For Your Princesses…Free Disney Inspired Paper Dolls!

Paper Dolls by Cory Jensen

Anybody remember cutting out paper dolls in a long ago childhood that pre-dated iPhones and Play Station 4s? I grew up in the era where children were rarely seen and heard from even less often, so I spent some quality time with paper dolls and Fashion Plates. (Leave me a comment if you remember those!)

At Cheapskate Princess, we love anything FREE, and it’s pretty darn hard to come by free these days without there being some sort of string attached. After spotting Paper Dolls by Cory Jensen, a Facebook group featuring paper doll designs you could print off for free, I was so excited we got permission to supply these images to our readers. These would be perfect for a rainy day craft you could do with your girls or a project they could do at the kitchen table one day while you cook dinner. You can find Paper Dolls By Cory using this link. I’ll let Cory tell you about the dolls. 

12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books

“Cute Ariel paper doll, anyone? I had alot of fun with this one! The two dresses on the right were both designed by yours truly, and the top dress on the left was a dress Ariel wore in the Disney Parks. Like the Elsa and Anna dolls in this style, I wanted to keep all the outfits in a similar color scheme, which is the color most associated with the character.”

Ariel doll

Free Ariel paper doll

“The Fairest of Them All, Snow White! I’ve always loved Snow White and I have made several paper dolls of her in the past. When I started making dolls in this style I knew that at some point I would have to make one of Snow White! I had fun designing a new dress for Snow.  This one took me a while to complete but I am happy with how it turned out!”

Disney Snow White Paper Doll

“I started using this style with my Mary Poppins doll a while ago, and I think its fun and cute! The idea of this doll is that all of these dresses incorporate Elsa’s magic in some way. Her ‘classic’ Snow Queen gown, two of my original designs, and the bottom right dress is a dress designed by the legendary Marc Davis for a never built Disneyland Snow Palace attraction.”

Elsa Disney Frozen paper doll

“My latest Elsa doll looked a little lonely, and several of you asked if I would make Anna as well, so here she is!  I feel like green is Anna’s color, so like the Elsa doll, I stuck with one basic color scheme. Two dresses are from the movie and two are my own creations using different motifs used in the movie.”

Disney Elsa paper doll set

“Here’s the latest addition to my Disney Villains Collection, Cruella De Vil! She has always been a favorite of mine even when I was very young, when most children are terrified of her! She is evil but she is pretty fabulous!  I had a lot ot fun designing outfits for her. The red dress is inspired by concept art by Marc Davic, while the last one is my own design.”

cruella de vil

“I’ve never done a coloring page doll, but I felt this time it was appropriate. Every girl is a princess! If you have daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters I would encourage you to remind them how special they are! Have them write their name on the doll and use their creativity to color her and the dresses to creat their own Princesses!”

Disney paper dolls for free

These dolls sure would make a great car-ride distraction for anyone traveling long distances to Orlando. And you can use this link to paper dolls inspired by Frozen.

Get These Disney Inspired Frozen Paper Dolls – Free!

Cory said to use the paper dolls, simply click on the photo, and press print on your computer. That’s way easier than dealing with an iPhone.

A couple of tips to make things easier for you.

  • Paste the doll on card stock so it will last longer.
  • Save this page somewhere on your computer. If you need to reprint any outfits, you’ll be able to locate them quickly.

Head over to Paper Dolls By Cory to see what new designs he is currently working on. Disney princesses are not the only dolls he draws, although we plan to share all the Disney creations. We would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Cory for allowing us to share his designs. It’s impossible to look at these amazing paper dolls and not think about what an amazing talent he has! 

12 Disney Craft Ideas from Pinterest for the Disney Princess on a Budget!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you searching for scissors, keeping your printer humming!

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.

“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies

Best of the Best Disney World free stuff

Updated for 2018!

A trip to Disney World is magical and expensive, two words that seemingly don’t go together. Or perhaps they do, because sometimes magic is costly. But when you think about those memories you made or plan to make, then you just deal with the cost and try to find a… a deal. At Cheapskate Princess we love deals, even more if they’re free. [Read more…]

30 Free Activities at Disney’s Contemporary Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Free activities at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Updated for 2018!

Along with the Polynesian Village Resort, Contemporary Resort is one of Walt Disney World’s two original hotels. These are Deluxe accommodations, so what can you do there for FREE to go along with the high price tag! [Read more…]