Disney’s Enchanted Evening Honeymoon Package: A Cheapskate Guide

Updated for 2018!

Have you ever dreamed about enjoying a honeymoon at Walt Disney World? The beauty of a Disney honeymoon is, you don’t actually have to have the wedding on property to honeymoon there.

Maybe a few travel incentives can push you in the right direction… [Read more…]

To Save Money, Visit Disney World During Value Season


Trying to save money on a Disney vacation? A good place to start is with your hotel. Walt Disney World is considered to be busy year ’round now; there really won’t be a time you’ll experience very short wait times in the parks, like some of us old timers remember. Factors like holidays, school breaks, and weather temperatures can affect when people want to visit Orlando, and that basically results in higher resort room pricing.

So when should you travel? Well, it’s not called Value for nothing…

Read – Cheap Disney World Souvenirs: Where to Purchase a Silhouette

[Read more…]

Jewelry Bargains Found in the Disney Parks Collection by Rebecca Hook


Let’s talk a little bit about souvenir shopping. The word “bargain” is really a relative term; what you call a bargain, I may call insanely expensive. While jewelry may not generally be regarded as cheap, I really believe it’s one of the best souvenirs you can bring home from a Disney vacation. You’re buying a quality item, often produced using high-class metals like sterling silver and gold, which can last for generations if you take proper care.

See, this $4,000 diamond necklace could be the un-doing of someone’s vacation budget…

expensive Disney World jewelry

Read – Cheap Disney World Souvenirs: Where to Purchase a Silhouette

There’s a new jewelry designer on the Disney scene, with her creations selling in both park and resort gift shops as well as at DisneyStore.com, for those days when your post-vacation depression leads to a little online shopping. Priced under $150, with many pieces under $100, the cost of her jewelry didn’t cause my Visa card to scream in panic. I therefore call that a bargain, based on prices for other jewelry items (see pic. above) and Disney souvenir costs in general.

Her name is Rebecca Hook, and her designs are understated yet beautiful, with prices that even a cheapskate can afford.

The pictures alone will sell the product…
[Read more…]

Cheap Disney World Souvenirs: Where to Purchase a Silhouette


Simple items that can stretch your Disney World vacation budget are souvenirs. T-shirts for $30, sweatshirts for nearly $60, and toys that can soar into the hundreds. A small trading pin will cost $10. How can you make the most use of your money without skyrocketing your overall budget?

We’ve searched all over the “World” for the best bargains, and we’re going to suggest a silhouette…

Wait, a what?!
[Read more…]

Disney World Extravagance: Helzberg’s Enchanted by Disney Jewelry Line


Updated for 2017!

If you can find some room in your Disney vacation budget to bring home a nice souvenir, jewelry is often great choice. Prices can range from $10 to over $4,000, both in the on-property gift shops and online at the Disney Store. If you spend a lot of time in the parks, you will notice that the same jewelry will hang around for sale for years. Let’s take a look at something different from the usual gift shop merchandise, and you won’t even have to set foot in a park to make a purchase.

Helzberg Jewelry opened their first store in Kansas City in 1915. They are one of the oldest jewelry chains in America, and they have a brand new line of Disney inspired jewelry designs. We’ll take a look at some of their new designs priced from $49.99 to $1299.

Read: Fabulous Disney-Inspired Wedding Rings, Perfect for a Disney Princess!

[Read more…]

Pros and Cons of Staying Off Site at Disney World


Planning a Disney vacation can be very overwhelming, especially considering where to stay in Orlando with so many options for all budgets and accommodation preferences. The first step in deciding where to stay should always be asking, “Do we stay on site at a Disney Resort or do we stay off site?” There are pros and cons staying off site at Disney World, while being in the middle of the magic at Disney World is fabulous and convenient, it comes with a price. On the flip side, off site resorts not operated by Disney or located outside the Disney World property can truly make a Disney vacation thrifty budget friendly, however sometimes offsite isn’t the best option.   [Read more…]

How to Budget for a Walt Disney World Vacation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

How to Budget for your Walt disney World Vacation

When 2017 Walt Disney World Vacation Package Pricing came in 2016, prices went up. Price increases shouldn’t discourage you from planning a vacation. NOW is a great time to think about and plan how to budget for your next Walt Disney World Vacation. Want to know WHY you should plan your vacation now rather than later? Soar into 2018 with your plans set and have one less thing to worry about next year. If you plan and book now, you have between 5 months to 16 months to budget, save up, and pay for your 2018 vacation. [Read more…]

Cheapskate Princess Extravagance: Haunted Mansion Madame Leota Souvenirs by Dooney & Bourke

Updated for 2017!

The Haunted Mansion is a very popular ride at Disney World, and thanks to Dooney and Bourke, now you can feel at one with the spirits while you take Madame Leota with you all day. Prices are not for the cheap at heart, but especially with the handbags, if you take care of them, they can last for a lifetime of vacations.  [Read more…]

Doing Disney World for Less: Souvenir Picture Frames

Updated for 2018!

Souvenirs are expensive at Walt Disney World. It’s not like walking into Wal-mart of T.J. Maxx where items go on sale. There’s almost nothing on sale at WDW, and paying full retail price hurts.

I like to recommend that vacationers purchase souvenir items they can use every day at home, or at least something you can see every day, so you feel like you got the best use of your money. [Read more…]

Disney World 4 Le$$: Pony Rides Under $10

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride tips

Updated for 2017!

Looking for activities for the younger crowd on a Disney World vacation that won’t cost a fortune? Head over to The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort for some true horse play!

What You Get

You get a pony ride on the petite ponies at Tri-Circle-D Ranch! Riders must be at least two years of age, under 80 pounds, no taller than 48 inches, and able to hang on to the pony by themselves. A parent or guardian must lead the pony at all times.

The Cost


Bring your wallet, because Tri-Circle-D accepts cash payments only.

Read: Disney World $.51 Souvenir Pennies

cheap stuff for kids at Disney World

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride

Tri-Circle D ranch

Time and Location

Pony rides are offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Need Reservations?

No reservations are necessary.

Read – Disney for Le$$: Charmed in the Park Jewelry

cheap activities at Disney resorts

Tri Circle D pony rides for kids

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides for kids

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride prices

How Do You Get There?

You can park on resort property, ride a boat over from Wilderness Lodge, or walk a paved trail through the woods from Wilderness Lodge to the ranch. We found walking from the Lodge to be a great outdoor activity in the winter months when it’s not so hot, which I wouldn’t recommend in the summer or warmer months.

There are lots of horses at the ranch, many of which perform at the parks and resorts and are not available for riding. Children should know that the Tri-Circle-D is not like a petting zoo. While some are available to ride and view for free, feeding and petting horses and ponies is not encouraged.

But they sure can be fun to watch.

After the kid’s pony ride, (keep in mind reservations – ADRs- are a great idea for this meal) head over to Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at one of our favorite places on Disney property:

Read – Disney World Meals Under $20: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides cost

Pony ride at Walt Disney World

Call (407) 824-2832 for information about Tri-Circle-D Ranch’s other offerings, including horseback trail rides, wagon rides and private carriage rides. You can also use this link for more information. 

For details on another cheapskate activity at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, use this link:

Read – Doing Di$ney 4 Le$$: Wagon Rides Under $10

Enjoy reading Cheapskate Princess articles? Here is the best way to make sure you keep up with all the cheapskating Disney news. Over on the right side of this page, the right side of any Cheapskate Princess article, and you will find this box.


Simply type your e-mail address in the blue box, and you will then receive a confirmation e-mail. Once you confirm your e-mail subscription, several times a week, Cheapskate Princess articles will appear in your e-mail in-box, just like Disney magic, and it’s totally free to sign up.

You don’t have to be a cheapskate to know that…is a real bargain.


Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you and the kids headed over toward the ponies, resting your feet if you just walked over from Wilderness Lodge.

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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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

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.



Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

How to get around Disney World by bus

(Updated September 2016) One huge reason visitors choose to stay in Disney World Resort hotels is because of the free transportation around the property. If you fly into Orlando, Magical Express will drop you and your luggage off at your hotel. If you drive yourself, you can park your car and let Disney do the driving from this point on.

Wikipedia, that source of information most high school English teachers detest, provides a WDW bus 411. “Disney Transport operates a fleet of TMC RTS, Nova Bus LFS, Gillig Low Floor, and New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior bus models. They have approximately 350 buses in their fleet with a further 50 Gillig buses on order. Disney has been expanding their fleet with new Gillig buses, and has recently introduced new articulated New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior buses as a pilot project to increase capacity on certain routes.”

So let’s take a look at navigating your way around The World using the Disney busses. They’re free, after all!

*Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

Why use the Disney bus system?

It can save you time. The Disney resort is a huge piece of property with miles and miles of roadways, some of which can be confusing even with huge signs along the way. If you get turned around while driving yourself, this can waste precious park time. Why use your time parking your car and walking to a tram/the gate when you can have a bus drop you off at the front gate, (for free!) Time = money.

It can save you money. Why use your own gas? Why put the wear and tear on your vehicle? 

Almost areas throughout the Walt Disney World Resort are accessible using a bus, even if some of the routes will need a transfer to another bus. A bus can take you to the following areas:

  • Disney Springs
  • Disney Theme Parks
  • Disney Water Parks
  • Resort hotels

*“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

Disney World bus guide for beginners

When do the busses operate?

The Parks: Bus transportation is available each day 45 minutes before the parks open until one hour after the parks close for transportation from your resort. Theme park hours can vary from day-to-day, and the hours are often different from park to park. Call or visit the front desk if you have questions about specific times buses will be available. To get to Disney Springs from a park, bus transportation runs from 4pm to 11pm (or until 2 hours after the park close, whichever is earlier). There is no service from Disney Springs to the parks. 

Disney Springs to a resort hotel: Bus transportation is available each day from resort hotels to Disney Springs until 1:00 a.m. Between 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., only outbound service from Disney Springs to Resort hotels is available.

Let’s get this bus trip started…

There are convenient and well-marked pickup points throughout Walt Disney World Resort. There are a plethora of Cast Members standing by to instruct you to the bus stop if you cannot locate it on your own.

Bus transportation service at the Walt Disney World Resort operates every 15 to 30 minutes, but remember this is not always an exact timetable. Busses break down, busses fill up during peak travel seasons, and loading can take longer depending on visitors and their needs.

Values & Moderate Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Value and Moderate resorts provide buses to WDW theme parks.

Deluxe Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom resorts (Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Bay Lake, Contemporary Resort, and Wilderness Lodge) provide buses to the other three parks. You can walk to Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower, in addition to traveling by monorail or ferry to Magic Kingdom.

To get to EPCOT, you can take a monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) and take the Epcot monorail straight to the park

From the Boardwalk Resorts, take a bus to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Walking or taking a boat are options to get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from here.

*Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World vacation tips

Resort ——> Resort

Visitors travel from resort to resort for several reasons. You can “resort hop,” which means yo take a look around resorts where you do not have reservations. You are not allowed to swim at resorts where you are not staying, but looking around is allowable and even encouraged. 

You can grab a bite to eat at different resorts, many of which have fabulous dining entertainment and Character Meals. 

Using a bus to get from your resort to another resort, catch a bus to the closest theme park. Transfer to a different resort bus upon your arrival, or walk/monorail/boat yourself from there, depending on your location.

You can also take a bus to Disney Springs and catch a different resort bus from there.

Resort ——> Fort Wilderness Campground

If you are visiting Fort Wilderness Campground for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show, or to visit the Circle D Ranch, catch a bus from your resort to the nearest theme park and ride a bus to the campground.
You could also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and take a boat from there, or from Magic Kingdom, walk to the Contemporary Resort and take a bus.

Theme Parks ——> Disney Springs

As of September 2016, Disney now offers one way bus transportation from each of the four parks to Disney Springs starting at 4pm running through 11pm (or until 2 hours after park close, which ever time is earlier). If you wish to head to Disney Springs prior to 4pm, you will need to travel from a Disney resort. You will need to plan ahead for how you will get back to the Theme Park as bus service is not available. 

Disney Springs ——> Theme Parks

This is where many first time visitors, and those of us that just plain forgot, struggle with bus transportation. Disney does NOT offer bus transportation from Disney Springs directly to any theme park.  You can be pretty sure this is because people were parking for free and riding in on the bus.   If you want to get to a Theme Park from Disney Springs, ride a bus to any resort and then take a bus to the theme park from there. 

Resort ——> Water Parks

Bus service begins from Disney resorts 30 mins prior to water park opening, and the buses run until the water parks guests have departed.

For Typhoon Lagoon, there are afternoon instructions that are very important. 

  • Leaving a resort before two p.m., take the Disney Springs/Typhoon Lagoon bus 
  • Leaving a resort after two p.m., take a bus or monorail to Epcot and transfer to a Typhoon Lagoon bus.

*FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World resort bus system

Resort ——> Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf

There is no direct bus to Fantasia Mini Golf.

From any theme park or Disney Springs, take a bus to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf is located very close to either of these two resorts, making it easily within walking distance.

To get back home, ride a bus to any theme park or Disney Springs and catch a bus back to your resort from there. 

Resort ——> Winter Summerland Golf

There is no direct bus to Winter Summerland Golf.

While Blizzard Beach is open, take a bus to Blizzard Beach and simply walk mere steps over to Winter Summerland Golf. 

Things get complicated when Blizzard Beach is closed, because bus service stops at Blizzard Beach an hour after closing.  I called Disney directly on 10-15-15 and was told there is a bus that cycles between Blizzard Beach, Epcot, and Coronado Springs, which is located just down the street from Blizzard Beach. Double check this with your resort front desk, but if you take a bus from your resort to Epcot and transfer to a Blizzard Beach bus, you should be dropped off at Winter Summerland Golf on this cycle, and bus service should cease here around 11 p.m. 

*Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide*

Disney World transportation

Resort ——> Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports

From All-Star Sports, All-Star Music and All-Star Movies, Pop Century Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resorts, there is direct bus service to and from the Sports Complex every 30 minutes.

The operating hours on the route to ESPN Wide World of Sports will vary day-to-day and are based on events at the Sports Complex.

If you are not staying at one of these resorts, take a bus to any theme park and catch a bus to one of the resorts listed, and then take a bus over to the Sports Complex. I’m just guessing here, but this sounds like it could take a long time to accomplish this, like over an hour or two with waiting and bus transferring If you are in a big hurry, I would phone a cab.  

*Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Several Bus Riding Tips

  1. Do not take luggage or alcohol on a resort bus.
  2. All strollers must be folded and stowed out of the aisle, and you need to have this completed before you start to board the bus.
  3. Medical strollers for guests with disabilities are treated as wheelchairs.
  4. If you are traveling when the busses are not operating, taxi cabs are also available, obviously for a fee.

Disney bus

We asked our Cheapskate Princess fans on Facebook what they thought about using Disney bus transportation. 

Galonii,Bring a coat no matter what time of year you’re visiting Disney because the buses will be 50 degrees and you’re going to freeze your butt off on the way back to the hotel!”

C.j.I love love love the bus system! Except when coming back late from Disney Springs, and then it’s awful. The drivers are exceptionally wonderful. Back he was six, our Jackzilla even received a collector token that said ‘I was caught being good’ and that made his day.

Dianna, “I can go anywhere on Disney property! Very convenient. The busses are very cold, and it’s good to be patient. Sometimes you gotta be aggressive and show the bus driver you want to get on the bus. They will leave you because they will think you’re just standing there.

Anita, “Disney Transportation is the best way to get around on your vacation. You don’t have to worry about parking, traffic or Mapquest. Best of all, it’s free.”

CarissaWe avoid them as much as possible. There is nothing magical about the buses! Except, I will say, sometimes you meet the nicest people and can have the best conversations. For us, the extra cost is worth the convenience of a resort with boat or monorail transportation. We’re staying at the Contemporary in November. WALKING to/from Magic Kingdom is heaven to me – especially after Wishes.”

Disney Food Tip #2: Adults Save Money Ordering This Meal!

Cindy, “We used the buses on the last four days of our trip in August, and it was so much less stress. Mind you, we got lost several times driving ourselves around.”

Carissa offers some tips if you do take a bus,” Plan for the worst, and allow an hour to get to the park including waiting. Make the best of it, talk to the people you’re practically sitting on top of! For goodness sake, if you are able to stand, do it and offer the seats to people older than you, pregnant women, or moms who are struggling with a toddler. If you’re traveling with small children, put one on your lap and squish two tiny butts in one seat when it’s crowded. Be kind, be courteous, be patient. And bring a jacket – sometimes those buses are freezing!”

Randy agrees with Carissa, “You nailed it. I was raised to give up my seat to those older than me, women, and children. My boys continue that tradition. The bus transport for our family has always been a big plus for staying on grounds. You learn quickly that planning the extra time when headed to a park is a must just as important as taking your time after park close to let the crowds die down. We have met people from all over the world who share the love of Disney. An experience we would not have if we drove ourselves to the park.”

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

Disney World bus transportation tips

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all the Disney day, and because transportation costs are built-in to the cost of your vacation as an on-property guest, there are no additional costs for you.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking out a bus window, headed toward a theme park…

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.

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

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?

General Resorts

Holiday Performances – Choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies singing holiday tunes.  Stop and sing along with a few songs.

Christmas entertainment Disney World resorts

Treats on Christmas Day – For the past several years on Christmas day, Deluxe and Moderate Resorts offered Snickerdoodle cookies and lemonade in the lobby. These were the same kind of cookies given out at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and let me tell you, they were yummy. Looking for a Christmas day activity in Orlando without standing in line up to your elbows with thousands of people? Resort hop, and be sure to stop in the lobby.

free Christmas snacks at Disney World

Smores – Many of the resorts now have fire pits where they had out free marshmallows and fire sticks. Even in the summer whine’s hot, my sons thought this was pretty fun, so it’s got to be even better in cold weather. Check with your resort to see if there is a fire and ask about start time.

making marshmallows at Disney World Resort

Free Snack Samples – Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free samples like cookies and fudge.

Window Shopping – There may be no better time to “window shop” at the resorts than Christmas. The decorations are amazing and the music is magical. It will be very hard to keep that Visa in your pocket though, so stay strong. Once you see some of the prices on ornaments, you may have reason to fight the urge to spend.

Christmas shopping at Disney resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Villas –  You can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby, which was created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

The Edible Carousel – It’s pretty amazing to see the life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel, and 2014 will mark 15 years the carousel has been created. Be on the lookout for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

Boardwalk Resort

The Holiday Gazebo  – Gaze up at this merry gazebo in the lobby at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and examine a scene made entirely out of gingerbread and chocolate. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys just waiting to be discovered.

Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – Explore a Stitch-sized replica of the Boardwalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. See if you can spy Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

The Stitch Display contains:

  • 50 pounds of Icing
  • 400 gum paste and sugar flowers
  • 300 pounds of chocolate
  • Over 2000 gingerbread pieces
  • 15 hidden Mickeys

While you are at this resort, you really need to take your group to get one of these desserts. It’s a true experience!

Contemporary Resort

Gingerbread Holiday Tree  – On the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. Up until 2013, this tree was themed with Mary Blair’s Small World figures, but in 2014, Disney has (totally rammed Frozen down our throats) created a Frozen-themed tree for the Contemporary. Disney Characters have been known to pose here for photos, and if they are no where to be seen while you are there, you can snap your own photo in front of a holiday background near the tree.

The 2014 tree was inspired by Mary Blair’s “small world” figures and Disney’s animated movie”Frozen” and created by the Contemporary Resort Bakery Team. Thanks to WDW Shutterbug for the stats and photo.

  • 311 lbs. honey
  • 514 lbs. flour
  • 212 eggs
  • 67 lbs. spices
  • 35 lbs. sugar syrup
  • 222 lbs. icing
  • 433 lbs. chocolate
  • 1500 gingerbread shingles
  • and 14 hidden Olafs

See the Christmas Tree – Outside the resort, don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Take a stroll outside; kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of the truly immense size, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Mickey Wreath – One of my very favorite Disney Christmas decorations has to be the Mickey Mouse wreath at the Contemporary. This wreath is four stories tall, measuring 25 feet in diameter and has 18 feet elliptical mouse ears. As you approach the Contemporary in the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, it lights up the night.

Gingerbread Pin Signings – By  the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations. For 2013, the chefs were signing Gingerbread Trading Pins. Pastry chef Jeff Barnes was at the Contemporary Resort in 2013 on November 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I suggest you call the resort to see if any signings will take place this year. With the new Frozen theme, I would highly suspect there will be Frozen gingerbread-themed pins available.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Gingerbread House – In what may be the most famous of any Christmas decoration on WDW property, there is a life-size gingerbread house built in the Grand lobby during the holidays. 2014 is the 16th anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is 16 feet high and 17 feet wide, taking six men almost 10 days to create.


What sort of ingredients are used to make this fabulous  once-a-year holiday creation?

  • 1050 of honey

  • 140 pints of egg whites

  • 700 pounds of chocolate

  • 800 pounds of flour

  • 35 pounds of spices

The Tree! – Decorated with a Victorian theme, you have got to see the bird cages, intertwined swans, and lots of amazing golden-colored ornaments adorning this humongous Christmas tree. Assembled in just one night while guests sleep, the tree is four stories tall (40 feet) and sparkles with 45,000 lights.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in their Christmas finest, arrive to take photos in front of the grand Christmas tree. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.  This would make a fabulous Christmas card photo.

free picture of Minnie and Mickey at Disney World

Hear Some Tunes – Beginning mid-afternoon, you will hear live music as soon as you walk into the lobby. Starting around 3 p.m., a pianist starts playing and alternates with an equally talented orchestra until almost 10 p.m. There is no better place in all of WDW to hear live musicians performing mostly Disney themed tunes, all for free. The orchestra is called the “Grand Floridian Society Orchestra.”

Free music at the Grand Floridian Resort

If you take a walk around toward the Polynesian Village, the beach area here is lovely. Take a seat or a swing and enjoy the surroundings.

Disney World Polynesian Village beach

Wilderness Lodge

Enjoy the Christmas Tree –  When the holiday season rolls around, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Dressed in their Christmas finest, our favorite Disney couple arrives to take photos by the “indoor stream.” Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Disney World Wilderness Lodge Christmas decorations

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

As a FREE bonus, we have some bonus information on what to do at Downtown Disney, because entertainment is free there as well.

Bonus- Disney Springs

Enjoy Some Live Music – With restaurants like House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Raglan Road, there is no shortage of Downtown Disney music floating over the crowds. Even the new bowling alley, called Splittsville Luxury Lanes, frequently has outdoor musicians.

street performers at Disney SpringsJPG

Festival of the Seasons  – Enjoy Downtown Disney holiday entertainment (November 15 – December 29 for 2013) plus holiday sights and sounds.  Live Christmas entertainment includes carolers, Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs, costumed stilt walkers, street performers, and a lively holiday dance party with deejay.

Festival of the Seasons  – (November 14 – December 29 for 2014) Speaking of free live shows, Disney has performers walking around showing off everything from acrobatics and magic to theater. Live mini-concerts pop up in various places throughout the Downtown Disney area. Our family has watched Christmas Soldiers on stilts dance above our heads, had our photos taken with mime-type performers, and listened to some of the best singers and guitar players we’ve ever heard perform live. Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, and jazz ensembles in the evenings. Find a spot with a good view and enjoy the show.

Disney Springs Festival of the Season Christmas

Stop the family for a photo.

Disney Springs

Lego Store – Stop by and play with Legos, or take your picture with many of the huge Lego decorations.

Downtown Disney Springs Lego store free activities

There are some lovely sunsets at Disney Springs, which are always free.

Downtown Disney Springs lake sunset

Visit with Santa – During the Downtown Disney Festival of the Seasons, you can visit with Santa and have your picture taken. Santa’s cottage is typically located in-between The World of Disney Store and Arribas Brothers and Basin.

Disney Springs free Santa Photos

After Santa heads back to the North Pole, then Goofy takes over for photos. Times may vary, so stop by what was formerly Santa’s Chalet to see when Goofy will be available.

Goofy's chalet at Disney Springs

See a Show– Look for an outdoor stage across from The World of Disney store. There is a large amount of seating, which is more comfortable in winter because you will be seated in direct sun light. This can be a great place to rest weary feet. This stage is used as a performance area for middle through high school and college bands playing everything from jazz and pop to holiday tunes. You’ll see ballet dancers, dance teams, and hear choirs singing and dancing their way through every genre of music imaginable. Disney has very high standards for acceptance as guest performers, so sit back and enjoy the free show.


Christmas is one of the busiest times at Walt Disney World, but it is stunningly beautiful. When we can get to Orlando during the holidays, my family spends a lot of time wandering the resorts and gift shops, away from the huge crowds and long waits at the theme parks. Roller coaster rides are great, but taking in the holiday sights and sounds is equally as memorable.

Cjristmas decorations at Disney World

plan a Christmas Disney vacation

Christmas Mickey Mouse

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the monorail, traveling toward gift shops filled with Christmas merchandise…


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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. 

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