Thursday, January 10, 2013

Doing Disney Thrift & Tips

The best way to do Disney is to be related to my brother.  Without him so so much of our recent trip to Florida wouldn't have been possible.  Free park hopper tickets were a blessing I never ever ever saw coming.  However, there are MANY other things we did to save money that I'll share with you.  Your kids (probably) wouldn't know the difference and they can add some magic without making you broke.  I also added some general tips.

Thrift:  If you can, camp.  There is a campground that you can stay at and it is a fraction of the price of a hotel.  Especially if you own a RV/camper this is great.  You still get to use all of the amenities (nice pools, campfire with Chip n Dale) and Disney transportation.  
 We had hopper tickets that we were able to use at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  Because Fantasy Land just re-opened the week before we were there, we couldn't use them for The Magic Kingdom.  First tip:  If you get to plan WHEN you go, go between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the middle of the week.  Our longest line was 15 minutes.
 Here's the Magic Man.  LMM thinks he has all the tickets to everything in the world.  He states that fact frequently.  We're at Animal Kingdom here where there is a great safari ride with real animals.
Tip:   save your child's photographic memories.  Don't take every family picture with one of them in a backpack.  You'll get the above results.  HOWEVER, taking a backpack for a young child as well as a stroller is GREAT.
 Animal Kingdom has a large "Boneyard" play area for kids.  While several of us rode Mt. Everest (we took turns going) the kids played in here.  It is all fenced in so they can't get out without you.

 There are two can't miss shows at Animal Kingdom.  Finding Nemo was AWESOME.  The Lion King was Equally awesome and takes some crowd/child participation.
 I haven't mentioned it on here in a long time, but LMM still has some special reactions to certain situations.  His Sensory Processing Disorder is something he may have to live with for the rest of his life.  Being in long lines (we didn't know that there wouldn't be any) and being around lots of people can bring out a side of him that can be hard on him and others around him.  We got a pass the very first day at Guest Relations that acts as a fast pass for him. Tip:   If your child has special needs (Autism, SPD, Diabetes, etc.) and long lines are a problem, I suggest you go talk to guest relations.  We only used the pass one time, but it was there if he needed it.  We actually saw the stress of the trip with him after we left Disney and it is just settling down.
 Hollywood Studios has a large Pixar area.  One of my kids' favorite rides was one that you were in an arcade game with the characters from Toy Story.  Even babies could ride, which was the case several times. Thrift: kids two and under are free into the parks.
Tip: Take lots of pictures.  I am so glad I did.  Tip:  I took a small camera with me so that we didn't have to carry our large expensive camera.  I did take it to Animal Kingdom to get good safari pics, but I was glad not to have it all the time to worry about breaking/have to carry/get stolen.
 Tip: don't stop to take pictures with characters unless it is their very favorite/there isn't much/any line.  Because it was slow we were able to do a couple, but you can wait a very long time instead of doing other things.  You can take pics as you walk by, just cut off the kids who you don't know (If they are short) and have a picture of the character to keep :o)
 The Beauty and the Beast show at Hollywood Studios was one of Rosebud's favorite things.  She was very tired going in, but CAPTIVATED the entire show.  Weird story...when we left there I didn't have her and I saw a man walking away with her on his shoulders.  I ran up to him and stopped him.  Then I looked closer. It was a little girl the same size as Rosebud with the SAME shirt on, very similar shorts/shoes and the SAME hairdo.  Freaky.  He was amazed when he saw Rosebud at how eerily similar they were.
 At Christmastime in Hollywood Studios they have a huge light display.  It is set to music and a lot of fun to see.  
Tip:  Baby Backpack.  Did I already say that?  Ok- take it one step further.  Beg/borrow/buy an Ergo.  My SIL had one and it was great.  My niece was very happy.  We now have one too that I got cheaper than many used ones on an after Christmas sale.  Our baby backpack you'll see pictured ripped while on our trip and we use it daily.

 Thrift:  After Halloween sales are a great time to get a $2 princess dress.
 Tip:  If you want to see princesses (or Mickey) the building is on Main Street on the right as soon as you walk into Magic Kingdom.  Get a fastpass first thing in the morning with a time to return and not have to wait long.  When we were there three princesses were in a line and the girls met all three.  Cinderella is Rosebud's FAVORITE princess and the only one she really wanted to see but she was polite to the others.  You need a fastpass for EACH person going in to see the princesses.
 Thrift:  Take your own princess.  I was blessed to get Rosebud's dress FREE on a Facebook mommy group I belong to.  It was being given away because the little girl didn't use it anymore and it was stained.  I washed it on delicate with Oxiclean and it was like brand new.  It says don't machine wash, but it was fine.  You can spend $189 to get a similar look at the Bippity Boppity Botique.  You'll get dress, hair, crown, and makeup.  I put her hair in a bun, put a crown on (this one was also free from a mommy swap but you can find them at Claire's or a garage sale) alone with her free dress and WAH-LAH princess for a day.  About 50-60% of all 2-8 year olds are dressed this way at Magic Kingdom.  I'm glad I was told ahead of time.
 I don't know it it is always this way, but Mickey was VERY generous with his time.  He took time posing with the boys.  My brother had fastpasses for them to get in and I didn't have one for Rosebud, they let me through cause I had the camera...
 ...Mickey motioned her over anyway and they hugged.  And hugged.  And hugged.  I kept telling her she needed to leave and he shook his head "no" at me!
 Tip:  You can have the photographers who are taking the pictures you can buy from Disney use your personal camera (they give you a little plastic credit-card like thing to use during your whole trip that keeps all pictures you have taken on an account that you access online when you get home).  Just stand and let them take their "professional" picture too.  Then you get your whole group in a shot.
 Tip:  Have Mr. Magic be your uncle.
 Thrift:  Pack in your lunch/snacks.  Disney is very nice about letting you take in your own food and drink.  They do check all bags coming in to make sure that you're not bringing in anything you shouldn't, but food and drink are not prohibited.  This will save you a LOT of money.  Tip:  Don't forget a bib for little princesses!
 Another lunch photo.  She's just too cute not to include enjoying lunch!
 Fun Fact:  The Dumbo ride in the new Fantasy land is now a DOUBLE Dumbo ride.  They have 2!  And on  top of that...there's no waiting if you don't want to!  They have an INDOOR play area.  When you get there they give you a pager and when it is your turn, it goes off, you collect your kiddos, and you ride.  Brilliant!

 No tip.  No thrift.  Just cuteness.
 Thrift:  Buy ahead of time.  I bought the boys Disney shirts at Goodwill ahead of time.  No one ever knew.

My MIL bought all the kids red Disney shirts that they wore the first day and they were nice because they were all easy to spot. I also used them on the plane on the way home for airport ease. Tip:  Dress your kids in the same color!
 Thrift.  Get great goodies at home and take them. I bought the kids these giant lollipops (they thought I had gone insane, we are very stingy about sweets) for $1 each at Kroger.  I slapped on Disney Character stickers that came in the mail (one of those DVD clubs).  I saved over $10 for three compared to what I would have spent in the park.    Guess what?  The wrappers on the suckers at the park had the EXACT same stickers on them.

 Tip:  At the Magic Kingdom do not miss the Laugh Floor from Monsters Inc.  It is hilarious.
 Thrift:  Take your own glow.  I got swords for the boys (above) and a wand for Rosebud (below) for $1 at the dollar store.  I also had glow bracelets from Michael's Craft store 15 for $1.  I didn't take them in our carry on luggage as I don't know if they are ok, so call your airline or put them in your checked baggage.  TIP:  Put them in cardboard to make sure they don't break on the trip.
"My mommy lost her mind and I LOVE IT!"  Ok, really this was a once-in-a-childhood trip to a magical place.  I let go a little and let them have fun.  
 Tip:  Don't buy souvenirs in the parks.  Pretty much everything they sell in the park they sell at Downtown Disney in the Disney Store.  You don't have to waste time in the parks shopping, don't have buyers regret when they see something they like better AND you don't have to carry it all day!  Thrifty Tip:  Spend 1/2-1 day at Downtown Disney.  Its free and so much to do.  Thrift:  Get free glitter at the Bippity Boppity Botique in Downtown Disney.  Tip:  It won't wash out for DAYS.
Thrifty Tip:  Don't buy the ears.  There really is NOTHING to do with them when you get home.  They won't wear them.  Put them on, take a picture, put them back :o)
 The Lego Store at Downtown Disney is awesome.  There are tons of things made out of Legos.

 We literally spent an hour in this store.  You can build, watch videos, and of course, shop.  I got the boys a Christmas present here.  It is a tub that you fill with whatever you want from this one wall for $7.99.  I got wheels and windshields and flowers and all kinds of special pieces.  I made sure to get an even number of everything and split them between the boys.  My SIL was VERY good at getting them all to fit in the tub :o)
LMMs favorite thing at the Lego store was where you build a race car and race.  An employee oversees it and calls the winner.  There are also Duplo tables for the younger crowd.  
I hope this helps someone.  I've had lots of questions, and I've tried to put all my tips and thrifts into one post.  I'm sure I forgot a few things.  I want to say thanks to everyone who made this trip possible-from matching t-shirts, to plane/park tickets, to a van to use, housing, and help with the kids.  We appreciate it so much and the kids still talk about the trip daily.


Aunt Cheryl said...

These are all great tips! For my trip, I went the Sat after Thanksgiving-no lines! Mid-week they closed the Magic Kingdom early so they could decorate for Christmas. I got the see the "everyday" Kingdom plus the beautiful Christma version & pararde.

CM said...

Wow, what great tips! What a fun trip. Man, you really put a lot of planning into it. Good for you!

One question...did you have any pics of the campgrounds? I would love to take our camper in a couple years when the baby on the way is big enough.

Anonymous said...

I got robbed and people kept kicking the door in. [url=]Homecoming Dresses[/url]
[url=]canada goose jackets[/url] He has been convicted of bribery (of tax officials in Italy), opened his chain of Armani Cafes, and developed a new fragrance.
You're looking for shakes and wobbles and creaks and buzzing, as well as for all the controls and stuff to work. [url=]thomas sabo charms uk[/url] The mobile is DLNA enabled that can help you with sharing the content of the phone to various other media devices with wireless method. You may place dark shades lipsticks only when you're attending evening functions. Read several once-a-month type cook books for ideas.
There are lots of career avenues that attract fresh school pass outs and graduates and fashion designing is one of them. A number of engineering schools are quite costly.
The traditional models of listing a short sale are just not working, and alternative solutions are needed. These investments included a hotel in Kuala Lumpur and a store in Peking. The designing process is the graphic tools and method online. [url=][/url]