Free Disney Dining Rumors!!

http://www.chipandco.com/disney-free-dining-coming-fall-2013-149258/

Here’s to hoping this rumor is true!! I just read this a couple nights ago so I’m not sure when the final dates will be released. May need to rethink travel dates though!!

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Handy Websites

I’ve made mention of several websites that I have been using to help plan our future Disney World trip. I thought maybe it would be handy to have them all in one place for anyone else that needed a good starting place.

www.wdwprepschool.com 

Awesome site full of first hand advice and knowledge. She has great planning downloads, videos, and a 6 step process to planning your trip that has helped me out tremendously.

www.touringplans.com

Another really amazing site. I’ve used this one A LOT. Everyone I read about says that this site is the most accurate as well as far as determining crowd levels at each park during the year.

www.undercovertourist.com

Good advice, and helpful videos, and DISCOUNTED park tickets.

www.disneyfoodblog.com

All things Disney Food related. It’s amazing and will make you hungry.

www.costtodrive.com

You type in your location, your destination, what type of vehicle you’ll be driving etc and it calculates how much gas will cost you for a one-way trip. I plan on using it for our next vacation so I will be able to report back on how accurate it is.

www.disneyworld.com

I think this one is pretty clear. One cool feature is you can order really nice quality maps and also a Disney Vacation Planning dvd…for free.

www.disneystore.com

This one is pretty clear also.

www.mousesavers.com

Sign up for the newsletter. It comes out the 15th of each month, and has lots of info on discounts and savings.

www.DISboards.com

A whole lot of forums to browse around and get first hand info.

www.disneytouristblog.com

Another really cool blog with amazing Disney photography.

Hope these help as much as they have helped me.

Enjoy this day!

 

Tinkerbell

This is just a quick note with some ideas I’ve been gathering about “Tinkerbell gifts”. If you don’t know what I’m referring to it’s a pretty simple concept. Basically you bring some gifts from home (or I guess you could buy them there although it will be MUCH more expensive) and surprise your kiddos with them at the hotel. Some people do it each night for the kids to find when they get back from the park and some people do it in the morning time for them to find when they wake up. Regardless of the whens and the hows, I think this is such a cute idea. I can very easily see it help deter all the wanting at souvenir shops if they know that Tinkerbell is leaving them something special.  If you have a lot of time to plan ahead it can also be very budget friendly. I have a small tote of things I’ve been finding and many of them have come from the dollar bins at Target or Walmart, and the Dollar Tree.

Here are some of my ideas or things I have already found:

  • Nightlight (Dollar Tree)
  • Disney toothbrush/paste
  • Disney character pajamas ( I see these ALL the time on sale at Target and Walmart)
  • Books (I’m planning on going to 1/2 Price Bookstore and looking for some there)
  • Pool toys -a Disney Character Beach Towel??
  • Maybe put all their “Souvenir Money” on a Disney Gift Card
  • Disney hair clips, bows, hairbands for the girls, or fun, glittery nail polish
    (Doesn’t Target have a young makeup brand called PIXIE??)
  • Playing Cards (I’ve seen Mickey Mouse ones at Party City for $.99)
  • Pennies, Quarters, and a Pressed Penny map
  • Something special to get autographed – pillowcase, a plain t-shirt, a laminated family picture, or maybe a laminated map of one of the parks
  • bubble bath
  • hand soap
  • washcloths (Dollar Tree has really cute Disney ones that start as the round disks then when you add water they expand into a washcloth)
  • Bubbles
  • Disney Kleenex or Wipes were also found at the Dollar Tree (I basically was thinking it would be cute to have a little “arrival bag” to start things off with some basics they may need during the trip)
  • Coloring Books
  • Flip Flops ( Disney Store has a lot of different styles on clearance for $3.99 right now!)
  • Disney T-Shirts  are also on clearance right now at the Disney Store

Those are just a few things to help get the creative Disney juices flowing. My goal is to not spend a whole lot or even buy a ton of useless things, but to try and create special memories for each child. It’s possible I am even more excited then they are! Happy Weekending everyone.

The Nifty Fifty

mickey mouse writingBefore we get started on this incredibly random list of Disney tips, tricks, and facts, I would just like to reiterate that I can not take credit for knowing these things first hand. I will do my best to link up to the specific place in order to give proper credit to it’s source. I have read A LOT though, and it may take me a while to research places of origin. For now, I will simply list everything and link what I have, but make sure to check back occasionally as I will be sure to continue working on the links. Just for the record, Touring Plans, Undercover Tourist, WDW Prep School, and Tips from the Disney Diva are all fantastic websites, and most of my information was found there. OH! and The Disney Food Blog is awesome as well. Almost forgot that one!

For me personally, especially when I am working on a new project, sometimes it is easier to just start jotting and scribbling my notes down and not worry about categorizing my thoughts. Later, once I have a good bit of information, I can divide and sort and hopefully conquer all those scribbles into a more organized way. If this technique doesn’t work for you, no need to panic. Most of what is in this list will be broken down in later posts.

Here we go…are you ready? Are you SURE you’re ready?? Do you have your paper and pen? Maybe a cup of coffee? Are the children occupied? I’m here to help 🙂

50 Disney Tips, Tricks, and Facts

  1. Disney Florist is the ONLY company that can deliver to your actual room. They have a pretty decent price range with everything from flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, treats, and of course the iconic Mouse Ears. How much fun would it be to walk into your room and the kids see personalized Mickey Ears already on the bed just for them! OH the squeals that would soon ensue…haha
  2. Each resort has refillable mugs for $15.49. The free refills are only good at your specific resort, and include different coke products and coffee and tea. This is a link to a Disney Food Blog post about the mugs. Make sure to look around the website while you’re there. I’m hungry just thinking about it. 🙂
  3. Trading Pins are incredibly popular and a fun activity for children of all ages to participate in. All you do is walk up to a Cast Member and ask to trade with them. Look at the ones they have and pick what you want and give them one of yours in exchange. Fun times. The Trading Pins that sell in the park are pretty expensive per pin…starting around $7 and some as high as $34 per pin I believe (don’t quote me), but you can find some really great deals on Ebay which would save a good deal of money. I found a bulk of 25 authentic Disney Trading Pins (there is a Disney seal on the back) on Ebay for just a $13. Click here for a link I found on the Disney World Mom’s Panel explaining the process.
  4. Disney World will replace you’re broken souvenirs for free and also any popped balloons  🙂
  5. The California Grill on top of the Contemporary Resort Hotel has a viewing deck that makes a great view of the fireworks away from the crowds.
  6. Another different place to view fireworks is from the hammocks on the beach at the Polynesian Hotel.
  7. Use retractable sharpie pens for your autograph’s with the Characters. It’s easier for many of them to grip and you don’t have to deal with lids.
  8. It’s customary to tip “Mousekeeping”  $1 per person + $1…sooooo 4 people in a hotel room = $5 tip per day of your stay.
  9. There is a free drawing class of one of the Disney characters at the Animation Academy in Hollywood Studios. It’s scheduled every 30 minutes. Wouldn’t this make an awesome souvenir to frame when you get back home??? Well, I suppose that would depend on how well you draw. Mine may be better suited to hang in the kids play room versus our living room.  🙂
  10. Pack-n-Plays are free at your request for those staying at the Disney Resorts. One less thing to pack = awesome. I would probably still bring a pack-n-play sheet from home though.
  11. Make sure you pick up the daily map/guide at the park entrance. Even if you have a map already, those will have the most up to date information.
  12. A character meal tip is to reserve the last meal in a time slot if you have enough time. The Character’s are usually able to spend a little more individual time.
  13. Make sure you pick up your free special occasion buttons. I believe they are at the concierge desk or Town Hall. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, 1st visit, etc if worn usually elicit special greetings, treatment, or attention from Cast Members.
  14. There are several places set up to have a Silhouette Portrait created.There is one on Main Street (MK) and Liberty Square (MK), at Epcot near France and in Downtown Disney.  I believe I read it’s about $9. This is one that I am really looking forward to taking advantage of.
  15. I read the store usually stay open 1-2 hours the park closes. While everyone is waiting to get on the bus, you could be doing some some shopping.
  16. Fast Pass, and Parent Swap or Rider Swap…know them, study them, learn them like the back of your hand. Besides getting to the park well before it opens to beat the crowds, these services are the next most popular tips on how to make good use of your time at the parks and not get stuck standing in line for hours. WDW Prep School is an amazing website/blog and has several great explanations of all of this.
  17. Walt Disney World Communications, PO Box 10040, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040 is the address to send a letter to a character. Apparently the character sends you an autographed photo back. My 4 year old daughter just wrote Cinderella. I’ll keep you posted if she receives a response.
  18. On that same note if you text “Sparkle” to 33992 you can receive a phone call from either Cinderella, Rapunzel, or Merida. We tried that out tonight and sure enough, about 5 minutes later my daughter was listening to Cinderella on the other line.
  19. I don’t have the prices for Photopass right in front of me, but I know it’s cheaper to order it before you get to the park if you are interested in buying all the photos on the CD. Here is a link to a post that explains the process in full – Photopass explained.
  20. Party City, Target dollar bins, Dollar Store, Walmart are all good places to find really cheap “Tinkerbell” gifts for the little ones. Give some before, in the car or on the plane, or save them for each night or morning at the hotel. Adds a cheap bit of magic for the kids.
  21. I hear Fantasyland is great for little ones in the early morning.
  22. Apparently there is a sled outside the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. Wouldn’t that make the perfect Christmas card??
  23. I’ve read in several places that if there are two parade times for an evening to chose the second parade if you can. Everyone goes to the first parade so its usually packed.  After the parade everyone leaves the park and it’s just a madhouse getting out and  waiting in line for the buses etc. The ladies’ blogs I read this from suggested waiting around if you want a more relaxed experience.
  24. Several people have said that Animal Kingdom is one of the best places to meet characters.
  25. The Boneyard in Animal Kingdom looks like an AMAZING playground! This is great blog post with a lot of pictures on the playground and why Animal Kingdom is somewhat underrated for kids.
  26. Hollywood Studios is the better park if there is rain in the forecast.
  27. AAA offers usually has discounts for rental cars, hotels, and sometime Disney World packages.
  28. Bring an extra suitcase/duffle bag specifically for bringing all the Disney stuff home that was accumulated over the vacation.
  29. A lot of people complain about the taste of Florida drinking water. Several sites suggest bringing individual packets of gatorade, crystal light, or whatever you want to flavor the water.
  30. There are several Disney outlet stores not too far from Disney World. This is a link to the stores and information.
  31. If you have elementary age children check out the Disney Youth Education Series or YES. In exchange for participating in the program, you usually receive pretty discounted park tickets.
  32. Make sure you make your stroller identifiable either with a tag, or bandana tied to it. Whatever you chose try to make it easier to distiguish it among the hundreds of other strollers. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt to put maybe you’re last name and the hotel you’re staying at. If it gets lost or misplaced or whatnot it can be returned to you.
  33. Along those same lines, even though some family members may not think it’s too “cool” to dress alike or dress up, MANY articles and people highly suggest dressing the same or in bright colors to help find each other in the crowds.
  34. The “Writer’s Stop” around the corner from the Muppets going towards American Idol seems to be a hidden gem with huge sweets, great coffee, a bit quieter and usually a Disney movie playing. Sounds like a great place to take a break.
  35. Shop for the little girl’s Disney Princess dresses and accessories after Halloween. I know the stores around me usually have great sales on all the dress up clothes.
  36. Here is a good post on the Disney Dining Plan from a Mama/Family viewpoint. At the end, she lists some good restaurants for families. Her blog is great in general but in terms of Disney World she has several other posts you should check out regarding budgets, and toddlers etc.
  37. Gratuity and alcohol are not included on the Disney Dining Plans – budget for them.
  38. Need some awesome planning pages to help organize all your park information??? Here you go  🙂
  39. Also, that website www.disboards.com is awesome possum – you’re welcome
  40. Tips from The Disney Diva is a really REALLY great blog about all things Disney. She has tons of info and advice. This post in particular is about what to do if it rains. Great backup plan so you’re not just stuck in the hotel room or not knowing what to do.
  41. At Epcot there is a big Phineas & Ferb sign at the entrance – it’s called Agent P Showcase. If you want to sign up the child receives a little cell phone that rings with clues they have to solve. A fun free game for the kids if you don’t mind being dragged around finding all the clues.
  42. I read that you can be 30 minutes late to an ADR before they cancel you’re reservation, BUT I can’t remember for the life of me where I read that so it may be something to look into just in case.
  43. Pressed Pennies are fun souvenirs that I’m sure you’ve read or heard about. One thing I didn’t realize was that coins 1982 and older are solid copper but the pennies newer than 1983 zinc mixed in with the copper creating silver like streaks in your pressed pennies. Start collecting those pennies older than 1982 and then clean them up good and shiny to make the best pressed penny collection. Drop you’re pennies in a cup of white vinegar for a few minutes – dry them off- and wipe them clean. One website suggested putting some salt in with the vinegar, but I haven’t tried that yet.
  44. Parking is $15 dollars a day if you drive and park at Disney World, but Downtown Disney offers free parking where you can just walk to the bus to take you to the park. I need to look it up again because I believe the free parking is only good for three hours, but if you are really trying to save some money it may be worth it to move the car a few times for you.
  45. Hollywood and Vine Restaurant has your Disney Jr. Characters – Doc McStuffins, Oso, Jake etc.
  46. If you are not on the Dining Plan, it seems that ordering off the kids menu can help save some money. You get more food and the portions are still big enough. Plus it includes a drink.
  47. You’re dining credits are good until 11:59pm on the day you check out of resort.
  48. Pack alot of baggies…maybe different sizes. The gallon size are great for organizing outfits for different kids and would also be easy to take to the park for wet clothes or extra food etc.
  49. The Tri Circle D Ranch at Fort Wilderness Resort offers guided tours on horseback, carriage, wagons etc. I read they they offer Pony Rides for $5 also.
  50. A few people have suggested that the best day to visit a park may be the day AFTER they offer the EXTRA MAGIC DAY at that park. Many many resort people take advantage of that benefit and it may be less crowded the day after. This is a Disney World Crowd Calender from the Undercover Tourist website, which is another one of my recommended planning websites, to help project  how the crowds will be at each park.

Hopefully there was something useful in those tips for SOMEbody!  I’ve got some good lists I’m working on and will try to get those up soon. Right now, it’s about watching some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse  with two little cuties! Here is to a fun filled family weekend!

We’re heading to Disney World….

mickey_with_disney_family_planning_travel_wallpaper-336x280Yes, we’re heading to Disney world…someday, somehow! Our family is loosely planning to go early next year (2014), but there are a lot of factors involved at the moment. Being somewhat type-A, I have papers, lists, binders, “pins”, and books all around me sorting out the details. I actually enjoy this type of thing. I could get lost in in for hours. I’ve decided to start a series on this blog with all of my Disney World finds. Tips and Tricks, schedules, great websites, and personal lists to try and help out anyone else that may be looking for the same thing. I have never had the privilege of going to Disney World so this series won’t be from the opinion of someone that has “been there; done that” but rather from someone who would love to help take some of the leg work out of your own research.  I’ve got a pretty lengthy post scheduled for later this week full of great tips that I have gathered off of many reliable sites. Be sure to check back soon and we’ll start sorting out this Magical Adventure together!