Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When a Disney Dining Plan Isn't the Best Option for You

I sincerely love the ease of the Disney Dining Plan. I love that everything is prepaid and I don't have to worry or think. I love when my vacations are worry-free and thought-free! I love all the options and yumminess. I love splurging while on vacation! Some days while planning our upcoming trips, all I can do is think about the food I will get to try! And the DESSERTS!!!!

But it's not a great option for everyone. If you identify with any of the reasons below, it might be in your best interest to skip a DDP (Disney Dining Plan).

- You're a light eater. Many families eat very lightly. Many are satisfied with small portions and prefer to just do little snacks most of the day. The one thing Disney does not do is small portions. So two meals a day with giant portions for a family of light eaters is just too much. And you end up wasting food and money. Many light eaters will share meals with their family members, cutting down on costs and food waste.

- You want a loose vacation schedule. There's no getting around it, if you book a Disney Dining plan that includes sit down meals, you need to make reservations. If not, it's very hard to get a seat anywhere, especially at restaurants inside the parks. If you prefer a carefree vacation without having to watch the clock, skip the Dining Plan or opt for the Quick Service plan.

- You hate buffets. And family-style meals, too. Some of the most expensive meals on Disney property are the buffets and family-style meals. Many are character meals. Many people just hate the thought of eating off of a buffet. And aren't too thrilled about family-style either. If you have no desire to do character meals or buffets, then you're not really maximizing the cost of the plan, so it might be best to skip it.

- You don't have a sweet tooth. All table service meals on the Disney Dining Plan include a dessert. You can exchange a dessert for an appetizer at some sit down locations, but it's very limited. If you have no desire to eat dessert at every meal, then the plan might not be a good fit for you.

- There aren't any kids 9 or under in your party. The Disney Dining plan for kids is SOOOOOO cheap!! You save a bundle on them. The cost of the plan alone (per day) is sometimes less than what a character meal costs! So the rest of their food that day is free!

- But if your kids are 10, 11, 12....and don't eat anywhere near as much as an adult, the plan might not be a good fit. Unfortunately, as soon as kids hit 10, they are an adult in Disney's eyes, when it comes to dining and park tickets. Park tickets aren't that much more for an adult...but the dining plan...yikes. It's more than triple the cost of the kid's price.

If any of these reasons resonate with you, your best bet might be to pay for your meals out of pocket. Or take advantage of the Free Dining promotion when/if it's offered.

One the fence? Contact me and I can help you decide!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm so excited!!!

I just got back from my latest Disney adventure!! A 6-day girls-only extravaganza!! Pics coming soon!!!

I have TONS of photos for my dining pages, so I'm really excited to update those! We ate at some new-to-me restaurants and did the Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party!! I love Disney food!

I got the chance to experience some new attractions, including Frozen Ever After, the newly updated Soarin', and the new holiday show Jingle Bell Jingle Jam! Reviews coming soon!

AND I got to stay in a Royal Room at Port Orleans Riverside!! So so amazing!!!

Can't wait to tell you all about it!

And I've already got my next Disney adventure planned! I'll be boarding the Disney Dream on September 8th (my 40th birthday!!) for a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas!! Woo hoo!! Can't wait!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Why I Love Magic Bands!


If you haven't been to Walt Disney World in the last few years, you might not understand what all the hoopla is about Magic Bands. Well....I'm here to help you!



In the simplest of terms- Magic Bands are everything at Disney World. Your park ticket, room key, Fastpasses, dining...and a way to charge purchases to your room if you so desire. It's a flexible bracelet of sorts, comparable to a Fitbit. They're pretty lightweight and very adjustable. They can be made small enough for the tiniest of wrists. I thought I would hate wearing it, but I honestly didn't mind. I got used to it real quick.

To use it, you simple press the Mickey head on your band to the scanner...which will also have a Mickey head on it. The scanner will glow green when its verified. That's pretty much it! (I'll explain the rest below.)

Your first experience using the band will most likely be Magical Express. You don't need to have it on...your boarding pass from your voucher book will be sufficient. We didn't wear them the first time, but did the second time, and I preferred using the band. I didn't have to fidget with the booklet. And I felt kinda special already having it on....and I wasn't even on Disney property yet!

Next you'll use it to enter your Disney resort room. You'll see the same Mickey head on your door. Hold your band to it and wait to hear the click of the lock, then walk on in. No glowing green light here :(

Next up! The parks! When you approach the turnstiles, you'll see that same Mickey head scanner. He'll glow bright green and the you'll be prompted to scan your finger. Security! Gotta have it! That way, if you lose your band and someone else finds it, they can't use it.

I LOVE the Magic Band for Fastpasses! No more papers to keep track of and pull out. They're all linked to your Magic Band. Just scan your band and walk right in!

If you have a Disney Dining plan attached to your reservation, you use it for that too! For snacks and counter service meals, the cashier will have a Mickey scanner. They will then have you key in your pin number, chosen at check in. Everyone who is on your reservation must use the same pin number, so make sure everyone knows it. Or they won't she access to their dining credits. For sit down meals, the waiter or waitress will scan your band at the table and ask for a pin, then print out a receipt right then and there. Proceed just as you have in the past with gratuity.

You can use your band to purchase souvenirs too! Or anything! When you check in, you can link a credit card to your reservation and choose which guests on the reservation have charging privileges. When you make a purchase, simply scan your band, just like with your dining credits, and punch in your pin number. Done! I'd like to point out that your credit card will not be changed immediately...but rather the purchase is charged to your room. You can then choose to pay the balance any way you'd like, or just have Disney charge your credit car on check out day.

Magic Bands come in several colors: Grey, Red, Blue, Yellow Green, Pink, Orange...and finally PURPLE! You must customize in your My Disney Experience account ahead of time or they will come in the default grey. Or you can purchase a specialty band online. They range in price and have all kinds of characters on them. Visit Disney's website or the Shopping tab on the My Disney Experience app. There are also D-Tech locations inside Disney world where you can purchase a custom band. There are also ALL kinds of trinkets and charms to decorate your band with.

There you have it! My side to Magic Bands! Feel free to comment with your questions!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dining Plan Details for 2017!!!



I'm a big fan of dining in Disney World and we adore the Disney Dining Plan!! We've done both the Quick Service and Plus Dining plans, and maybe someday we'll be able to go Deluxe! Disney made  a few changes to their plans for 2017 and I have the details here!!

Click the links below for the PDF brochures!

Quick Service Plan

Plus Plan

Deluxe Plan

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2017 Disney World Packages are HERE!



Have you been anxiously awaiting the release of Disney World packages for 2017??? I know I have!! Well, the wait is OVER! As of today, you can officially book your 2017 vacation package!!

In case you were wondering, I'm a Disney-certified travel planner/travel agent. That means I can book your Disney vacation for you and help with every step of the planning!! And I do it all for FREE!

I can help with:

- Resort recommendations
- Explain the different park passes
- Offer advice on when to go
- Help you decide whether or not a Disney Dining Plan is right for you
- Book your vacation package
- Help you choose which restaurants to dine at
- Book dining reservations for you
- Help you choose which days of your trip to go to which parks
- Assist with all Disney technology including Magic Bands, My Disney Experience Account, Fastpass, and more
- Book Fastpasses for you
Make any special reservations you may need, such as Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique, Pirate's League, Wishes Fireworks Cruise
- Arrange your transportation from the airport to Disney property and back again
- Be on hand to answer questions before and during your vacation, anytime

Contact me today for a free no-obligation quote!! FTJbyStephanieHaefner@yahoo.com Or find e on Facebook!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Top 6 Disney Souvenirs!

In my opinion, you can't go to Disney World and NOT buy anything. Most trips I have to really control myself and not buy every single awesome thing I see....which is very difficult because there are awesome things EVERYWHERE!! But over the years I have become really skilled at asking myself if I really need something before I buy it. Will I actually use it at home, or will it collect dust?

So here's my list of the best souvenir buys for your next Disney vacation!

* Photo Albums
I am a huge fan of photos. Always have been. And I need them printed and in albums. We usually get Memory Maker so I can have all the fun photos. I buy a photo album (or two!) every trip. Usually I buy the one with the year on it. Though my last trip mid-December 2015, they were already out of them :( I display all the albums on a shelf in my living room. They're so pretty!

* Ornaments 
I just started this a few years ago. It started simple with one ornament with the year on it. And well..... Now I buy like 3 or 4 every trip. I love all the fun ornaments they have! Last trip I started the Shoe Collection!

* Jewelry
I have a few pieces I've bought during our trips. They're not expensive pieces, but I love them. I love wearing them :) I usually go for the more subtle things...not the ones that scream "DISNEY!!!!" but that's just me. My favorite is a necklace that says "Love" in ti rhinestones with a tiny Mickey head silhouette off the "L".

*Housewares
We all have a kitchen at home. We all use dishes. So this is definitely a souvenir that gets used. I have a few mugs, some kitchen clips, a set of vintage Disney glasses, a Mickey pancake mold. There's a set of Mickey flatware I've had my eye on for a couple years, but have yet to actually buy it.

* Sweatshirt 
Where I'm from, it's cold for many months out of the year. And even in the warm months, it's chilly at night. So we own sweatshirts...lots of them. Disney sweatshirts are pricey, but they're good quality and we get lots of use out of them.

* Pressed Pennies
I got kind of obsessed about this one for a while ;) Disney has Pressed Penny machines all over it's property. Don't know what a Pressed Penny is? Basically the machine takes your penny...and 50 cents... and squishes it. When it come out it has a new picture pressed into it. All kinds of pictures, from Mickey and friends to princesses, to attraction logos and other fun stuff. They even sell books to hold all your pennies. I have a few. I counted once. I think I had over 300 different pennies just form Disney World. And there were tons I hadn't gotten. The machines are easy to spot. Make sure you have tons of quarters on you and nice shiny pennies.

So what are your favorite souvenirs?? Anyone wanna share their souvenir regrets? That will be an upcoming post ;)