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

What to know for a trip to Disney World

Updated for 2018!

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

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

Got Pets? Let’s Talk About Off-Property Rental Homes for an Orlando Vacation

rent a house for Disney World

Updated for 2018!

Pets. They bring so much joy to our lives on a daily basis, but in terms of taking them on vacation, being a pet owner can be a real bummer. With the exception of service animals, no pets are allowed inside any of the theme parks in Orlando including the four Disney parks, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Sea World.

Each park has kennels where you can leave your pet while you play in the parks, but what can you do if you don’t want to leave your pet in a kennel?

Take them with you. [Read more…]

Disney World Resort Pool Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

guide to Disney World pool hopping

Updated for 2018!

People pay a lot of money for accommodations at Walt Disney World, for reasons including proximity to the theme parks, ease of transportation, luxury, and amenities. You know that saying about getting what you pay for?  The larger amount you pay for on-property accommodations at Walt Disney World, the nicer your resort pool will be.

A topic that can make a lot of people get irritated quickly when they talk about a Disney vacation is “Pool Hopping.”  Pool hopping is simply staying at one resort and swimming at another. So how can you pool hop at Disney World and not wind up in hot water? And the water I’m talking about is not bubbling in one of the hot tubs…

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

The Boardwalk Resort pool

pool hopping at the Boardwalk Resort Pool at Walt Disney World

Bay Lake Tower Resort pool

can you swim at Disney World Bay Lake Tower pool

Disney World has an “open resort” policy; you are legally allowed to visit their resorts and enjoy some of their amenities. You can sit in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa lobby and listen to the pianist. You can stroll through the Animal Kingdom Lodge and learn all about the original African artwork. You can wander through the Cars Land section of the Art of Animation Resort, taking your kid’s photos with Mater and Lightning McQueen.

But Cast Members are very swift to say that you cannot swim in the pools if you are just visiting from another resort. This is a big no-no.

Disney Resort rules regarding pools are pretty straight forward. You may use the pool/pools at the specific resort where you are a registered guest.  You may not hop over to another resort and use their pool.  Most Disney Resort pools have signs displaying this information for guests. They usually read something like, “This pool area is for the exclusive use of  (fill in the Disney Resort name here) guests.”

Many of the newer or refurbished pools have fences and only allow entry using MagicBands. I’m thinking specifically about Bay Lake Tower, which was built with a fence, and Wilderness Lodge, which had a fence added several years ago. The Polynesian Village main pool now has a fence with multiple MagicBand gated entrances, and at times, both this pool and the Stormalong Bay pool require paper bands handed out by Cast Members as they check your reservation using your magic band. 

So how can you swim in Disney pools if you are not a registered, room-key carrying guest at the resort?

Read: 10 Cheapskate Reasons to Vacation on Disney Property

Contemporary Resort Pool

who can pool hop at the Disney Wiorld Resorts

Contemporary Resort Quiet Pool

Contemporary Resort quiet pool at Disney World

There’s only one simple, legal, legitimate (and expensive) answer to the pool hopping question, and that is for you to join either pay to stay at the resort or join the DVC, the Disney Vacation Club. I have heard occasional stories of people swimming in Disney Resort pools without actually staying on property, but those people are taking the huge gamble of being thrown out when discovered, or worse, arrested for trespassing. Yes, I think an arrest is a pretty far-fetched scenario, but people on vacation have too much to drink all the time and wind up in trouble. I always tell people to imagine what’s the worst that could happen. In this case, I would say arrest is it, no matter how far-fetched this may seem. 

Because over-crowding at the Deluxe level resort pools has occurred more and more through the years, swimmers can be asked by a Disney Life Guard to show their room key/MagicBand to verify they are staying at the resort and thus allowed to swim at that specific pool. That was a risk I was not ever willing to take, being escorted out of a pool area at a resort where I wasn’t staying. I think people who do take this risk are clearly not thinking about the possible negative outcomes. I realize rule breakers probably won’t be arrested, but I’m not one to take or advocate other people take risks or break rules.

And honestly, swimming in a pool you didn’t pay for is just not fair to the people who paid lots of hard-earned money to stay there.

Read: 22 and 1/2 FREE Activities at Downtown Disney!

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa pool

what pools can I swim in at the Disney World resorts

I am a Vacation Club Member. When we took the DVC tour, our DVC representative explained that pool hopping was not only legal for DVC Members (with some stipulations,) it was encouraged.  This was presented as a big perk of the DVC program. When I heard this, all rational stick-to-the-budget financial thought flew straight out the elegant-curtained windows.  Pool hopping, pool hoppingDisney Pool Hopping!!

I love Disney pools, and while I have not stayed in all the Disney resorts, I have swam in a fair amount of their pools, the pools on the “Pool Hopping is O.K.” list. Truth be told, I’ve swam in more Disney pools than I have actually spent nights in their numerous resorts. Why again was this possible? How do you pool hop without risking possible arrest and public humiliation when you’re caught swimming illegally?  oin the Disney Vacation Club.

Read: How to Maximize Disney’s FASTPASS System, Because Time = Money!

 Wilderness Lodge Resort Pool

how to swim at Wilderness Lodge Resort pool at Disney World

swimming at Wilderness Lodge resort

Once you’re in the DVC, or The Club as I call it, when you use your membership to stay at a WDW DVC or Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, you and any guests staying with you are allowed to pool hop to certain (are you paying attention to that word? certain) Disney resort pools when they are not at full capacity. There is your answer, my friends: this is how you legally pool hop.

Membership has its privileges, but there are certain blackout dates, usually around holidays, for members when resort occupancy is high. There are also pools even DVC members can never pool hop at while they are staying at another resort.

  • the pool at the Disneyland Resort in California
  • Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Uzima Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Samawati Springs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village
  • Leisure Pool at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower
  • Nanea Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Silver Creek Springs Pool at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • The Pools at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Even members of the DVC Club can’t swim at some of the nicest pools on WDW property without paying for a room stay.

Read: Can a Cheapskate Princess Afford a Dooney & Bourke Disney Handbag?

Stormalong Bay pool, Beach Club Resort

can you pool hop at Stormalong bay at Disney World

Stormalong Bay kid's pool

Vacationers pay a ton of money to go to Disney World, and some pay more than others for perks and amenities that money affords them with a room reservation.  It’s morally unethical to swim in a resort pool you did not pay to swim in. It’s also embarrassing if you get caught there illegally, so don’t take the risk.  Let the people who paid for those pool privileges enjoy them. As for the people who paid for DVC privileges, you will really enjoy the pool hopping option.

[Read more…]

The Top 10 Best Disney Vacation Planning Web Sites

Mickey Mouse ears, unusual Mickey Mouse photo, what are teh best Disney web sites to plan a vacation?

Updated for 2016!

If you ever read Disney planning articles on the internet for FREE, rather than forking over cash for planning books, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

Should you total up all the gift shops, restaurants, events, resorts, theme park rides, the number of Disney related topics of interest for someone visiting Disney World would be in the thousands. Throw in ride refurbishment schedules, Advanced Dining Reservations, park opening and closing times, and generally wondering what everything costs, and it’s probably no wonder people get overwhelmed when they start planning their Disney vacation. Sometimes, if they haven’t done the proper planning, they show up in Orlando only to get overwhelmed on vacation. What should I do? Where should we go? Is this worth the exorbitant price? [Read more…]

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

You need

Updated for 2017!

If you ever took part of your dinner out of a restaurant with you to snack on later, then you just might be a Disney’s Cheapskate Princess! Walt Disney World is a vacation spot known for serving great food, but dining at Disney has a reputation for being rather pricey. The good news is that portions are usually reasonable, and many people feel the portions are actually quite large. When you walk away from your meal, your tummy will be full even if your wallet is significantly lighter.

We asked our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans if they traveled with Ziplocs to save money on food, and we’re sharing their ideas. [Read more…]