Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where To Buy Tickets

You can purchase discounted theme park tickets at a variety of places, but don't get scammed! Do NOT purchase tickets from someone you don't know on the Internet or Craigs List. If you are unsure if the site is legitimate then chances are it isn't. The best deal may be too good to be true. Trustworthy "discounted" ticket sites include AAA travel and Undercover Tourist where you can save up to $24 off the price of an adult 10 day ticket bundle or even better, up to $34 off the price of an adult 10 day park hopper ticket bundle. Undercover Tourist offers free shipping and they even sell tickets to many other attractions such as Universal, Sea World, Lego Land, Busch Gardens Tampa, Gatorland and many more.

A membership to AAA is only $69 for the year. You can purchase theme park tickets at discounted rates and you can also book your travel accommodations, get road side service, etc. with a membership. I highly recommend having a AAA membership if you do a lot of traveling.

Did you know that you can add additional days to your park tickets at Disney World? If you decide you want to extend your vacation and visit another park you can simply go to the Guest Services desk and add on to your existing tickets.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Three Disneyland Moms Pledge

I am excited to announce that I have taken the Three Disneyland Moms Pledge. The pledge lets my readers know that I am committed to blogging with honesty and integrity. The pledge is important to me because I want my readers to know that I will not post information that is a 'rumor' or information that I know to not be true. I also pledge to be a friend to other Disney bloggers and fans because we are a community not a competition.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting Ready For Your Disney Road Trip

My family of five travels almost 800 miles to get to Orlando FL. Eleven hours later I always ask myself, why did we not fly?? But flying would cost over $1000 so we opt to make the long drive. Last year we drove straight without stopping over for a night. We did stop at least three times to stretch and have lunch. We left at 5 am and drove all day long. I had made the kids goody bags filled with fun activities to keep them somewhat busy on the ride down. I wished later that I had made them one for the ride back home too!

This year we are going to leave after lunch and drive six hours and stop for dinner followed by a night at a hotel. This will help break the long drive up and the kids really do enjoy getting out of the van to stretch and play for more than just a few minutes. We will be packing a separate duffle bag with everyone's pj's and clothes for the next day. This way we do not have to unpack the whole van for just one night.

When getting ready for your Disney road trip I recommend that you have your vehicle serviced two to three weeks before your trip. Do not wait until the day before you are scheduled to leave because you might find out that your vehicle needs to have some work done. You should have the oil changed and all state inspections completed. The last thing you want is to experience car problems on your road trip. Check your tire pressure too. It is a good idea to purchase a road side emergency kit if you do not already own one. These are great to store in your vehicle and usually come stocked with a flashlight, jumper cables, tire sealant (for fixing a flat), necessary tools, first aid kit, etc. for less than $40 dollars.

I always take our van to the car wash the day before we hit the road for a complete interior and exterior cleaning. I also make sure to fill up the gas tank the day before to save time the day of the actual trip. When packing the car for your road trip try to space your kids out as much as possible...this will allow for less arguing trust me. We separate our kids in the van, the oldest gets the whole back seat to spread out and the other two are in the middle row. They each bring a backpack with things to keep them busy in the car. In their backpacks I put a few snacks (that are not messy) and my oldest has a Nintendo DS that she brings on road trips. In addition to their backpacks you could make them a Disney road trip goody bag and surprise them with this on the day of the actual trip. Do not give these to them in advance! I also pack the van the night before we are leaving to save even more. When it is time to hit the road all I have to do is grab my kids, the cooler and toothbrushes/toiletries.

      Summary of Road Trip Tips:
  • pack a road map
  • pack a goody bag to keep your kids busy
  • check your tire pressure
  • have your vehicle serviced 2-3 weeks prior to leaving
  • purchase a road side emergency kit
  • pack your vehicle the night before
  • space your children out in the vehicle if possible
  • leave a spot open to change diapers if possible
  • pack a travel potty to avoid rest stop bathrooms with little ones

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Epcot OR Animal Kingdom???

Many people do not get the opportunity to visit all of the four Disney theme parks. For whatever reason, lack of time, money, etc. they have to decide which parks to visit and which parks to skip. My family usually buys the 5 day base park tickets. We do not purchase the hopper tickets because they cost more and we feel that since our children are so young that trying to squeeze in too much in one day is not worth it.

I am here to help you decide, Epcot or Animal Kingdom. Let's say your family only has four days in Orlando. I would recommend visiting Magic Kingdom at least twice because there is just too much to try to squeeze into just one day. Hollywood Studios is a must for my family, there are so many great shows and attractions for young children here. Now, hypothetically speaking, let's say you have just one valuable vacation day left in Orlando. Do you choose Epcot or Animal Kingdom? Well, this is really a personal decision and it really depends on many factors.

Factors to consider: the age of your children, the weather on the day you plan to visit either park, do your children love animals, etc. If it is raining on the day you intend to visit said park I would highly recommend visiting EPCOT because there are many indoor activities, attractions and rides compared to Animal Kingdom. If your children are younger then I would recommend you visit Animal Kingdom. It is just more exciting to young children, it is more hands on and in my personal opinion it has a more family friendly atmosphere. Epcot is great for children of all ages, dont get me wrong, however, IF you have to choose between Epcot and Animal Kingdom and you have children that are young then my vote is Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom offers several fun kid friendly restaurants that I would highly recommend. Rainforest Cafe and Tusker House. I would specifically recommend the character breakfast "Donald's Safari Breakfast" at Tusker House with Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Minnie. Animal Kingdom also has the super cute Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade every afternoon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Surprise! Disney Reveal Breakfast

I love reading stories about the different ways that parents told their children they are going to Disney World. It makes me smile and I really love the idea of surprising my own children. I have planned a special breakfast to reveal that we are going to Disney World. My big reveal wont be for another month or so...so stay tuned!

I absolutely love the way that Amanda at Dixie Delights created this amazing breakfast. The big Disney reveal breakfast is one of my favorites that I have seen. Oh my goodness. Does it get any cuter than this?!
 
 
Mouse shaped mini waffles and donuts make for a super cute meal!
 
Do you have a story you'd like to share on how you revealed your Disney vacation to your kids? Please comment below, I'd love to hear your stories!
 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Top 10 FREE Things To Do!

We have covered eating at Disney on a budget and choosing your accomodations. This week we are going to discuss the FREE things to do on your Disney vacation! There are so many great free things to do and many people do not even realize they exist.

1.   Take a FREE boat ride from Downtown Disney-this can be fun in the evenings.

2.    Check out Celebration Florida-Located just 10 minutes from Disney World this small town is the perfect place to relax. Celebration was originally created by the Walt Disney Company. There is a farmers market with fresh produc open every Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. What a beautiful little town complete with restaurants and shops to check out. There is also a really nice interactive water fountain area for children of all ages. There are many nice playgrounds located throughout the town. My favorite playground is in the Commons area along with picnic tables and volleyball courts.

3.   Explore Downtown Disney-Let your children spalsh at the water fountain located near Once Upon A Toy. The Lego imagination center is a great place to let your children take a break and get creative with Lego's. You can get a FREE piece of chocolate at Ghiradelli. And don't forget the huge Disney store. My children love to spends hours exploring the store.

4.   Walk the Boardwalk-in the evenings there are street performers, fire eaters, jugglers and jazz music not to mention lots of yummy snacks to try.

5.   Campfire with ChipN'Dale at the Fort Wilderness Lodge. This FREE campfire begins at 7:30 pm and you can purchase a marshmallow roasting kit for less than $10 which will feed about 4 people. There is a singalong followed by a Disney movie under the stars.

6.   Visit the butterfly garden located at the Contemporary Resort.

7.   Visit Tricircle D Ranch at the Fort Wilderness Lodge. There is not free, I must add, but it is only $5. There are pony rides for children ages 2-8 years old (must weigh less than 80 lbs). Children must wear closed toe shoes to ride the ponies. There is also a petting farm at the Ranch.

8.   Ride the monorail and check out the resorts-I really enjoy visiting the beautiful Grand Floridian. The lobby is so beautiful and there are also many nice shops located throughout the resorts. Splurge and purchase a few yummy cupcakes at the Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary Resort or have a Dole Whip at Captain Cook's located in the Polynesian Resort.

9.   Enjoy the pools! If your hotel has an outdoor pool then I highly recommend that you plan to take a day to just relax enjoy the pool! Children need a break from the sensory overload of the theme parks and with the Florida heat you cant beat a pool day.

10.   Take lots of pictures. This is a great way to remember your vacation. Spend time looking for the perfect photo spot. I recommend the beach at the Polynesian Resort with the Magic Kingdom in the background.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Epcot's Kidcot Fun Stops

What is a Kidcot fun stop??
The Kidcot fun stops are located throughout the World Showcase. They are a great place to cool off, color and learn about the 11 different countries. Children will receive a cardboard Duffy to color on, place stickers on and they can use this to collect the 11 different stamps from each country. Or you can purchase a World Showcase Passport  and collect the stamps from the different countries. There is even space in the back of the passport where your children can collect autographs.

Where to Find Kidcot Fun Stops
  • Mexico Pavilion (near Animales Fantasticos)
  • Norway Pavilion (at The Puffin’s Roost)
  • China Pavilion (near the exit of Reflections of China)
  • Germany Pavilion (at Volkunst)
  • Italy Pavilion (outside, near La Bottega Italiana)
  • American Adventure Pavilion (outside, near Heritage Manor Gifts)
  • Japan Pavilion (in the Bijutsu-kan Gallery)
  • Morocco Pavilion (at the Marketplace in the Medina)
  • France Pavilion (at Souvenirs de France)
  • United Kingdom Pavilion (at The Toy Soldier)
  • Canada Pavilion (at the exit of O Canada!)
my son at the China Kidcot Fun Stop

my children enjoyed collecting the different stamps from each country on their Duffy bears!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Should You Book A Character Meal?

Character meals are a great way to get special attention from your favorite characters. It is also a great way to save time waiting in long lines in the heat to get a picture and autograph. There are 3 things to consider when booking a character meal.

1. Do your children like interacting with the characters?

Many young children are initially scared of the characters. I recommend talking with your children ahead of time and letting them know that the characters are friendly and nice. Have Mom or Dad hug the character first to let your little one visually see that you like the characters too. If your child is terrified of the characteres then I would avoid any type of character meal.

2. Is the character meal in your budget?

Character meals can be expensive, especially dinners. Most meals are buffet style and therefore range in price from $30 per person up to $60 per person. If you are on tight schedule I recommend booking a breakfast character meal such as Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom or Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. This way you are already in the park and you can beat the crowds if you reserve an early breakfast prior to park opening. If you are on a budget then I recommend eating at Cape May because they have very low prices for their breakfast character meals plus the food is great!

3. Do your children really want to dine with the characters?

Some children could care less about meeting the characters. If this is the case then by all means why spend the extra money for a character meal? You are paying extra for this special experience. You can save your money for something else that your children will really appreciate such as a visit to the BBB or Pirates League.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Disney On A Budget-Part 3

This week our topic is Disney snacks! Snacks at Disney are not your typical snacks let me tell you. There are so many amazingly delicious snacks available. But snacking can add up quickly. You might find yourself wanting to try everything and spending well over $100 per day just on snacks! Magic Kingdom is my personal favorite when it comes to snacks. The dole whip is on my 'must have' list along with the warm cinnamon bun. I also love the Mickey ice cream bar, such a classic choice but yet so yummy. The nutella waffle sandwiches look delicious and I hope to try one soon.

I suggest to anyone who has not been to Disney World to pick 1 snack per day that you want to try. Budget out money each day for your whole family for snacking. I think that a fair snack budget would be $20 per day for the whole family to have 1 snack. The kids can split a snack (unless it is a popsicle...could get messy splitting that!) and each parent could have 1 snack. Do you have a favorite Disney snack? Comment below and let me know!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Giveaway Time!

To show appreciation to all of my new blog readers and Facebook fans I have an awesome giveaway! Just follow the directions below on the Rafflecopter. And be sure to help spread the word about the giveaway! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 1, 2013

Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau Dinner Review

The Spirit Of Aloha Polynesian Luau dinner was by far hands down my family's favorite dinner of our whole Disney World vacation! We loved every single detail from the lei greeting to the fire dancers to the delicious food. I would highly recommend this dinner show to anyone who loves Polynesian food, fun and anything tropical.
 
Pineapple-Coconut Bread and the amazing Hawaiian salad served with fresh pineapple slices

Roasted chicken, Polynesian rice, steamed vegetable medley (broccoli, carrots and green beans)
 
Dessert consisted of a delicious milk chocolate mousse. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of this before we devoured it!
 
Details: There are 2 shows every Tuesday through Saturday. There is the early show (this is the one we chose) at 5:15 pm and then the later show is at 8 pm. The shows last 2 hours but you are asked to arrive 30 minutes early to be seated. You will have your photo taken after you receive your complimentary lei greeting. The photo does cost extra but I think it is worth it with the whole family wearing their lei's! Reservations can be made 180 days ahead and they are highly recommended. There are 3 categories of seating/prices. Category 1 seats (closest to the stage on the lower level) are the most expensive at $69 per adult and $35 per child. Children under 3 are free. Category 2 seats are $62 per adult and $30 per child. Category 3 (this is what we chose) are $58 per adult and $29 per child.
 
Food Review: The appetizers were served immediately after we were seated. The warm pineapple-coconute bread was amazing. The Polynesian salad was wonderful. The dressing was a sweet orange flavor. Even my husband enjoyed the salad and usually he will not eat salad. The main course arrived a few minutes after the appetizers. The main course consisted of roasted chicken that was extremely moist and marinated with a delicious Polynesian marinade. The vegetable medley was great and the rice was the best Polynesian rice I have had. There is a children's menu available that consisted of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. The dessert was my favorite, a plate of 3 mini milk chocolate mousse volcano's. They were just the perfect size.
 
Show Review: The Spirit of Aloha Luau was the best part, my children were amazed by the hula dancers. The show started off with the hula girls dancing and inviting anyone who was celebrating a birthday to come up to the stage area. The dancers taught the children and adults a hula dance. This was really cute and the children enjoyed this. *Have your camera's ready because it is a quick dance* Following this the hula dancers performed and then the fire dancers arrived. My children still talk about this and how fun it was to watch. Overall, I would say this show was the best dinner we had all week.