Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thrifty Tips Tuesday!

Hello and thanks for stopping by!!

Today's tip for saving money on your Disney vacation is about souvenirs.

No trip would be complete without some kind of memento to take home to help you relive the magic every single day. But it is so so easy to get carried away and whip out the credit card. The merchandise in the Disney parks is all so awesome. The clothing is so so cute. The nicknacks are so pretty. Jewelry, toys, hats, keychains, Mickey Mac n Cheese....they really everything under the sun.

Here are some tips for controlling yourself in the gift shops!

1- Do not go in the giftshops. The best way to prevent yourself from shopping is to avoid the temptation. It is impossible though, since many rides exit through a gift shop. But remember why you're there, first and foremost, to experience the parks and attractions. Spend as little time as possible in the gift shops and you'll get to experience more of the parks.

2- Make a list of the souvenirs you like and can go back and buy later. Nothing worse than spending money and then finding something later on that you like better. Many gift shops carry the same things, though there are times you will find something unique, especially in Epcot's World Showcase. So if you see something you need to have and you know you won't be going back to that park later in your trip, it may be best to get it right then and there. But if not, wait and buy later.

3- Ask yourself if you will really use it at home. This is probably the most important part of this post. Yes, that Pluto hat with the ears hanging down is super cute...but will you ever wear that at home? If the answer is no, then you should probably put it back on the shelf.

4- Give the kids a souvenir allowance and be firm with it. It is so easy to spoil the kids with toys and fun souvenirs, especially when they're whining every 5 minutes for the next thing they see. Resist the urge to calm the whines, and instead offer the kids a certain amount of money to spend on whatever they want. But when it's gone, it's gone. It's a good lesson for them to learn on budgeting money.

5- Spend money on things you know you will treasure. I am big into photos and always buy myself a Disney photo album to hold our vacation photos. Once I bought a frame and each trip we purchase a photo package from one of our meals. Right now our photo from Hoop Dee Doo Revue is in it. Our photos of our trips are something I treasure and often look at.

Good luck! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thrifty Tips Tuesday!

This is an easy tip, and I'm sure most people already do this anyway! One of the best ways to save money is to bring breakfast foods and snacks from home.

It's no secret that I LOVE to eat in Disney and we always do the basic dining plan. We choose to use our credits for lunch and dinner each day, and the snack credits are usually fun beverages and candied nuts or other snacks in the evening. I am not a huge breakfast eater, but we always bring food, drinks, and snacks for the kids.

Breakfast is such an easy meal to pack. We usually bring those mini boxes of cereal, prepackaged pecan pinwheels, Pop Tarts, fruit bars, Nutra Grain bars, etc. My kids don't need fancy. They actually look forward to these treats for breakfast when we are on vacation. I think my daughter might be upset if I forgot the pinwheels!

We always bring Capri Suns and sometimes Horizon chocolate milk. That way we have drinks in the room. We usually get a refillable mug for the resort's food court, but usually that is just for me and hubby.

As far as traveling with food, we do fly in and pack them in our suitcases. I usually split the food up so that there isn't one suitcase with all the heavy stuff. Drinks can get really heavy. We used to bring fruits cups and applesauce cups too and those really pack on the weight in a suitcase. But if we bag them in gallon-size ziplocs and disperse them throughout the suitcases, it's not too bad. We've never gone over the 50 lb. limit.

Some people will ship a box of food to their resort a week or so ahead. I honestly cannot see the value in that. As I said, that stuff is heavy, and I can't imagine it being any less that $25 to ship a box to Florida. I guess if your airline charges for every bag and bringing food will cause you to need an extra suitcase, well...maybe shipping it would work. But then I ask myself is it even worth it then?? You can buy snacks and food items at the resort and if you're gonna pay to ship it down, are you really saving any money??

I have also heard of people using a shopping service in Florida. There are several who deliver right to the resort for you. But there is a delivery fee (about $12-$15). I buy a lot of store brands and off brands that are cheaper. I don't think these shopping services do that. Again, it just seems cheaper to bring items from home.

Hope this thrifty tip helps!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Decor at Disney!

Participating in my first ever Disney Blog hop!!

So a huge hello to new visitors!

This week's topic is decor and no talk of Disney Decor would be complete without mentioning Christmas!!

Is there any better decoration than Cinderella's castle?? I think not!

So bummed that Osbourne Lights might be starting later in November this year :( It's my favorite Christmas decor!

Gotta love a nice big Christmas Tree, especially in Epcot!

Nobody does topiaries like Disney World!

LOVE the garland across Main Street USA!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thrifty Tips Tuesday!

Today I want to talk about resorts!

Since 2000, I have been to Walt Disney World 9 times. Only that first trip was off-property, and of the remaining eight, six were at Value resorts on Disney property, and two were at a Moderate resort. One of the best ways to save money at Disney world is to stay at Value resort.

I highly recommend staying on property versus off-property. For us, a family of four, it is just the best value. For larger families, not so much. But for small families like us, or couples, the perks of staying on property far outweigh the cons, especially if you fly in as opposed to driving. The free transportation is great!! A rental car for a week can cost you $200+.

With all the options for resorts on Disney property, we usually choose the Value resorts. They are bright and fun and the kids love them. The rooms are nice, though not huge. We spend very little time at the resort, so all we really need is a place to sleep and shower. The pools are fun and whimsical and the food courts are some of the best on property, including Moderate and Deluxe resort's offerings. The amenities are limited, but as I stated, we mostly just sleep and shower there. There have been trips, like in 08 for our 10th anniversary when our son was only nine months old, we upgraded to a mod, thinking we'd spend more down time at the resort. Nope. Not's just not how we do Disney.

Everyone has their reasons for where they stay and why, but one of my Thrifty Tips is to stay Value. And if you can, travel in Value season and book a Disney promotion to save even more money!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Please don't let it be true!!!!!!!!

I read the other day that Osbourne family Lights may be starting November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving this year, instead of earlier in the month like last year. I am so so upset about this. This is my absolute favorite part of being at Disney Christmas time...and we arrive November 12th.

It has taken me a loooooooong time to get my dad to agree to go to Disney World. And my mom said she wanted t go at Christmas time to see all the decorations. So we planned the trip and I chose dates that I thought would work well. My dad is not a fan of crowds, so I needed a time when the parks were already decked out for the holidays, but also quiet. That took us to the week before Thanksgiving week.

So I will make a plea right here and now..."Please please please Disney, start Osbourne Lights early in November like last year!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thrifty Tips Tuesday!

Hiya!! I'm starting a new weekly feature!!!

Many families are extremely budget conscious, and that doesn't change when planning a Disney vacation. We are lucky enough to survive on one income. Notice I said "survive". No rolling in dough here!! Definitely means we clip coupons, trim our budget as much as possible. If we don't, we can't go to Disney World each year. And even then, the trip costs need to be kept at a minimum.

So for my first Thrifty Tips Tuesday, I will talk about Disney's promotions!!

For the past 5 years or so, Disney has been offering some awesome deals. With the economy and all, their attendance had taken a hit so they deemed it necessary to get people in their parks any way they could. And one way was by offering resort and park packages at stellar deals!! The deals usually have specifcations on length of stay, or a specific date, and have to be booked by a certain date, but if you take advantage of these promotions, you can save yourself a bundle!

Here are some of the deals they have offered over the past few years:

Free Dining Plan: This has been offered mainly in the last summer/early fall, but the last two years has been extended through the rest of the fall, and for 2011, select dates from January through September. This is a huge savings for families, especially if they would have purchased the plan anyway. The promo used to include the basic DDP for any resort, but has been changed to Quick Service Plan for Value resorts and Basic Plan for Moderates and Deluxes. You can stay at a value resort and upgrade to the Basic Plan by paying the difference in cost. We usually stay at a value resort and pay to upgrade. This seems to be the best deal for us, saving us about $500 last year. My fingers are crossed for a Free Dining promo for our dates this would save us even more since my son is now over 3 and no longer free.

Kids Stay and Play Free: This is also a great promo if you have 2 or more kids. The kids get basic park passes for free, same length as those of their parents', and stay at the resort for free...which makes no sense because there is never an extra charge for kids. Resort rooms accommodate 4 people for a flat fee. So really, the promo is for free park passes. A basic park pass for 2011 for a kid costs #238.46. So with two kids, that would save you over $500.

Gift Card Promo: Last year Disney did a promotion where if you booked a package, you got a free gift card to use however you wished. Values received $300, Mod $500 and Deluxes $750. I believe they offered this promo again, but the GC amounts had lowered. But either way, it could easily take care of much of your food bill for the week or souvenirs. Hubby and I booked the GC promo for our adult only getaway last April. We debated on food and in the end booked the Quick Service DDP and used the gift card on souvenirs and such. And we'd saved a good chunk of the card for our next family trip.

General Room Discounts: This is exactly what it sounds like. Disney will often offer discounts off room rates. And most times it's 40% of Deluxes, 30% off Mods, and 25% off Values. This can work out really well if you had already been planning on staying Delux and can trumop a Free Dining offer. I have a friend who did the room discount instead of Free Dining at the Boardwalk. It was just her and her hubby, so the Free Dining wasn't as great a savings for them.

I'm sure there has been other promotions, but these are the biggies. If you're thinking of booking a trip to Walt Disney World, make sure you check out the current promotions- there is usually a button on their home page.

There are usually blackout dates, but as long as you check in by the last day of the promotion period you get the promotion for the entire trip. Like Free Dining or the room discounts.If, say, the promotion ends September long as you check in by that date, you still get the promotion for the entire stay.

And if you book your trip without a promotion, because they aren't offering one at the time, keep checking back. If a promotion is announced for your dates, simply call and they will apply the discount to your package. (But if it's within 45 days of your check in, they may charge you a $50 fee...but as long as the discount is more than that, it's still worth it!) Our November trip for this year was booked a month ago and there are curently no promotions for that time period. But I am holding out hope and keeping my fingers crossed!!