Money Matters

Gift ideas for your own little (and no so little) Disney Princess

by on May 7, 2015

Wal-Mart Mickey Mouse Purse

Wal-Mart Mickey Mouse Purse

Hello again. Having just returned from a fortnight in Florida, I followed my own tips from my last blog and used the flight time to write this blog. As I had spent all of my holiday money, and a lot of my Dad’s hard earned money, during numerous shopping sprees, I thought I would come back with another inspirational, witty and award-winning blog on age appropriate Disney gift ideas for girls (catchy I know but I will think of a better title soon I promise).

My plan is to uncover a range of ideas that you have never really thought of before. I am going to split up my blog into age ranges and then list and explain a few presents that you might be interested in bringing home for your princess/daughter/niece/family friend etc. Being the quintessential Mother’s Daughter that I am, I was born to shop but when I was smaller, I had to rely on my cute smile and good behaviour to get the things I have highlighted. Also, please bear in mind fashions change and I cannot see any Daddy letting their Princess follow Miley Cyrus now; I know mine won’t!

Let’s begin with younger girls and work up my current status of teenage girl.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! April 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on April 30, 2015

MMM positiveThe end of April is upon us, and thus comes the second – yes, second – Outlet Report of the month. That’s right, on April 1st, when you were wondering whether or not the Motorola selfie stick was real or if Olaf was truly replacing Stitch’s Greatest Escape, we gassed up the Merch Mobile and headed down State Road 535 to cover a non-Disney owned Outlet Store (don’t worry, we grabbed an extra bottle of Xanax for the road rage.)

Since that day a lot has happened. The BOATHOUSE opened at Downtown Disney, offering a S’mores Baked Alaska that is surely going to be near the top of our next article spotlighting outrageous eats at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans’s own Daisy Lauren did her must-read Best Week Ever from Tokyo Disneyland Resort (you’ve got to see the picture of the Chandu Tail from Tokyo Disney Sea.) And one crazy person even wrote about all the special events that WON’T be coming to Orlando anytime soon (although who wouldn’t want to go to A Celebration of Twister?!)

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item is one I had speculated we could be seeing after the Mickey Mouse kitchen clock magnet made its way to the Outlet last month. This Stand-By Entrance timer magnet was marked down to $3.99. I’m pretty shocked to see this already because I don’t think it came out that long ago and it is a very clever idea. I guess people just want to use the FP+ of the kitchen (AKA the microwave.)

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The timer can only hold times up to 99 minutes and 59 seconds, so it is definitely not the Anna and Elsa Timer Magnet which goes up to six hours.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Junk! April 1st Photo Report of a Non-Disney Owned Outlet Store

by on April 1, 2015

MMM_JunkWait a minute… didn’t we just do this yesterday? No, Dear Reader, you are not having a case of Deja Vu. We are back for a brand new Outlet Report, except today we are going to travel outside of the two Orlando Premium Outlets that contain the official Disney Character Warehouse stores, and venture into one of the many Disney stores located off property. We’ve all seen them, because they are everywhere. International Drive… State Road 535… 192… if it’s a main road in the theme park corridor of Orlando, there are going to be these knock off shops. Almost all promise cheap t-shirts and Florida souvenirs, and its surprising just how much of the exact same merchandise is in many of the various stores. While I would strenuously recommend you stay away from any place offering you “free” or cheap theme park tickets, heading into these souvenir stores can be fun because you can find items you’d never see on Disney property.

We narrowed down the list of options and chose to spotlight Theme Park Outlet, mostly because we love the name. It is located in the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores off State Road 535 (the exact location will be at the end of the article).

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2015

MMM positiveThough the March Hare is about to leave us on the last day of this very month, you need not worry because the April Fool has arrived a day early and is here with a brand spanking new Outlet Report. So take a break from hunting for Easter Eggs at Epcot, put aside your souvenir mugs from the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hold off on booking that breakfast reservation for Be Our Guest, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground because it’s still there from finding out the Magic Kingdom opened up Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island earlier this week. 

Prepare yourself for a trip to not just one, but BOTH Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando (physical addresses for both are located at the end of every edition of MM&M.) That’s right Dear Reader, I did the impossible and braved the I-4 traffic and horrendous parking situations at both outlets, for YOU.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first stop is the Disney Outlet closer to Universal at the end of I-Drive and was surprised to see the first ever Tsum Tsums show up. I’ve seen them before at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, but never felt compelled to buy one at $6 a pop. That said, unlike Vinylmation, I can definitely see the cuteness factor and why people would want to collect them. The only Tsum Tsums available were the seven dwarfs and only the ones pictured below. Of course I bought them all.

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Change to Disney Cruise Line Onboard Booking Benefit

by on March 27, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Have you ever wanted to take advantage of Disney Cruise Line’s onboard cruise booking benefit (reduced deposit required, 10% off your fare, an onboard credit from DCL, the joy of knowing your next cruise is already lined up), but didn’t quite know which cruise you wanted to take?

The previous solution to this problem was a work-around – guests would book a specific cruise and then change the dates as they figured out what actual cruise worked best for them. Now, Disney Cruise Line is allowing guests to put down a deposit to simply hold the benefit without tying up inventory that won’t be used.

In Disney’s words:

Effective immediately, Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line can take advantage of the onboard offer without selecting an actual sailing date.

This new placeholder process allows your Clients to book the onboard offer without booking a reservation for a specific sail date. The confirmation will include a confirmation number, but will not display details such as ship name, sail date or category. Once your Client decides on an actual sail date, you can reference the confirmation number when you call back to modify the booking.

Please note while this is a new process for confirming placeholder date reservations, there are no other changes to the current onboard offer policies, including the number of bookings allowed or the need to complete travel within 24 months from the date the reservation is booked.

The deposit is $200 per stateroom (thanks to Tammy Whiting with Storybook Destinations for the intel on the deposit!).

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Walt Disney World General Public Discounts Start Today

by on March 23, 2015

TouringPlans logoIf you’ve been holding out for a discount before booking your Walt Disney World travel June 16 to August 27, today is your lucky day.

Discounts range from 15 to 30% with the larger discounts being for Deluxe rooms and for travel August 10 to 27.

There are exclusions for Art of Animation Mermaid rooms, Fort Wilderness Campsites, All Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, Grand Floridian Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, and Disney Vacation Club 3 Bedroom Grand Villas.

For travel before June 16, there are five current discounts available in addition to Florida resident rates. Discounts are similar to the above:

  • Kid-size Package offer (book by March 28) for travel though May 28
  • Late Winter room offer (book by March 25) for travel though March 28 – general public
  • Spring room offer (book by March 28) for travel through June 15 – general public
  • Late Winter Passholder offer (book by March 25) for travel though March 28 – passholders
  • Spring Passholder offer (book by June 15) for travel through June 15 – pass holders.

Contact your travel agent or Disney directly for full details or to book.

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How Much Does a Disney World Vacation Cost?

by on March 10, 2015

If you’re thinking about a visit to Walt Disney World, the first thing you’re likely to ask is, “How much will it cost?” As with all things Disney, the answer to the “how much does a Disney World vacation cost” question is: it depends.

Disney trip budget planning can be both evil and fun.

Disney trip budget planning can be both evil and fun.

The price for a Disney World vacation could be anything from about $500 to $50,000 (or more) depending on the number of people in your party, the length of your visit, where you stay, what you eat, and what you plan to do with your time.

Of course, what you really want to know is how much will a Disney World vacation cost YOU. There are two ways to answer this question, the 10-minute way and the 10 hour way.

The 10-minute way gets you a ballpark budget number that’s sufficient for many people’s planning purposes. The 10-hour way gets you the best possible price for your needs, and is very educational, but it may not be necessary unless you’re interested in close budgeting, or if you have a lot of time you have on your hands.

In both cases, the components you’ll need to price out include:

  • Theme park tickets
  • Transportation
  • Hotel (or other lodging)
  • Food
  • Extras

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! February 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on February 28, 2015

MMM positiveIs February already over?! What a month. We got the inevitable yearly ticket price hikes, got the first details on both Star Wars Weekends and the holiday hard ticket parties, saw Big Hero 6 shock the world and take home the Oscar for Best Animated Film, found out Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (YES! YES! YES!) and – most importantly – found out Duck Tales will be returning to TV! It’s a good thing this month is only 28 days because we don’t think we could handle any more (especially since we wasted an entire day on Llamas on the loose and that ridiculous white/gold blue/black dress meme.) We know a lot of you have had a rough month in the area of weather, and we can certainly sympathize. In fact it almost got down to 50 degrees one night this month and we had to pull a blanket out of the closet to stay warm.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

First up is an item I have wanted for a long time and almost cried seeing it at the Outlets. A Polynesian Luau Bowl! Originally marked $49.95, this was reduced to $24.99.

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I think by now most people know how much I love the Marketplace Co-op at Downtown Disney and a big reason for that is the many Adventureland/Polynesian inspired pieces they have. I’ve also seen these Luau bowls at the actual Poly whenever I go to ‘Ohana, and behind glass cases at the Art of Disney store. This bowl is something I’ve always wanted but never thought I would actually own.

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10 Ways to Find the Best Deal on a Disney Cruise

by on February 18, 2015

I’ve said before that a Disney Cruise is worth every penny to me. So does that mean I just throw money at Disney and don’t worry about the price? Of course not! More money saved means more money for cruises! So here are a few tips to save money I’ve learned over the years.

1. Book Early! – I always say this. Book early!! If you know you want to be on a particular cruise, book it. Prices usually only go up on Disney cruises, and particular categories will certainly sell out. Don’t risk missing out or paying a higher price. The itineraries for the rest of 2016 will be out soon, so be ready! Last year the 11-night Norway and Iceland cruise filled up extremely fast even as prices went up and up. Verandahs are long gone on that sailing. If you know you want something, book it while you still can! Aside from concierge, all deposits are refundable up to a certain date, so know that date and book away! If you book concierge and have to cancel, as long as you are outside the penalty period, you can move that deposit to another date or category. You just won’t ever get that deposit back, it’s still non-refundable.

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Don’t Bust Your Budget: Don’t Buy These at Theme Parks!

by on February 17, 2015

Budgeting for a trip, be it to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando, is hard whether you live down the street, or you’re flying down for a week with the whole family. Between gas, hotels, meals, transportation, not to mention the tickets themselves (and don’t even pretend you ain’t all about a pair of those mouse ears), a trip of any length is already expensive. So why make it harder on your budget by buying the things in the theme parks that will gouge you the worst? Today we’re going to talk about some of the things you should never buy in a theme park or an on-property hotel if you value your wallet, and no, we’re not talking about souveniers or turkey legs… we’re talking about the necessities you might not think of, or might be thinking you can just pick up inside the park itself. And just because they don’t get enough love, let’s bring Lilo and Stitch along for the ride.

Lilo and Stitch belong to Disney

Remember, a creepy smile costs nothing. Photo © Disney

Sunscreen

I want you to imagine this item strung from the ceiling above you with streamers, confetti, and a couple big neon Las Vegas arrows pointing at it for good measure. If you’re not from Florida, you might be underestimating just how abysmally evil that great big daystar is no matter what the season, and when you or your family starts turning pink, it’s usually far too late. (One poor British woman stopped me outside the lady’s room to ask me if her back was “as bad as it felt”. I think my face melted off like in Raiders of the Lost Ark when I saw it. It’s okay… I got better.) While most stores in the parks will carry some sort of sunscreen, not only are the types and SPF factor going to be extremely limited, but you’re going to pay upwards of $12.00 USD or more for a tiny bottle! You definitely shouldn’t mess around with sun protection, but you should definitely bring your own!

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