Money Matters

Walt Disney World Annual Pass: Not Just For Locals

by on July 31, 2015

Annual Passholder Box

This box could be yours! – © John Kivus

If you’re going to Walt Disney World for a once in a lifetime trip, or even a once-a-year trip, it has probably never occurred to you to get an Annual Pass.  Honestly, why would you? Those things are expensive and are only appropriate for locals that go regularly, right? Well, sometimes you have to spend money to save money, and believe it or not, a Walt Disney World Annual Pass can pay for itself and then some even if you only intend to go once in your entire life! How? Find out after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s OLD KEY WEST Resort

by on July 18, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Old Key West Resort. One of Walt Disney World’s biggest strengths against all of its competitors is the wide variety of unique resorts it has on property to offer guests. We’ve covered several here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts such as Art of Animation and Pop Century, Moderate Resorts with Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, and Deluxe Resorts including the Contemporary. While our reviews on both Animal Kingdom Lodge and BoardWalk Inn & Villas included a Disney Vacation Club component, today we are going to take a look at our first DVC exclusive resort with Old Key West.

OldKeyWest_MainSIgn

 

In fact, Old Key West was the very first Disney Vacation Club resort built at WDW. Originally named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort in 1991, it wasn’t until 1996 when the name was changed to Old Key West. With its pastel colored buildings and lush vegetation throughout, the resort definitely stands out from the other hotels on property. When Walt Disney said “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland…the blessing of size” he may have been foreshadowing Old Key West, as the resort itself is massive.

OKW_ConchFlats

Welcome to Conch Flats, the mythical town of Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

 

With the sprawling size comes some downsides, including many rooms being quite far away from the check-in area and several of the resort’s amenities. There is an internal bus system, and the grounds are gorgeous to walk across, but it may be a shock to guests who have not stayed at such a large resort. Thankfully the TouringPlans Hotel Room Request will help make getting a room closer to front easier, but it is still something to consider. That said, the size of Old Key West is also a positive, as it is one of the best places at WDW to spend time at outside of the parks because there is so much to do. So sit back, grab a plate of conch fritters and an ice cold margarita and let’s begin counting down our top six reasons we love OKW starting with…

# 6 – The Sandcastle Pool Area

Anyone who travels with their family on vacation knows how important pools are when it comes to selecting a resort. For our family, pools with slides now rank above any E-Ticket attraction or dining experience at WDW. Old Key West has a total of 4 pools spread out across property, but the Sandcastle Pool located by the front of the resort is where you want to be. In this area you’ll find the main pool along with its incredible 125 foot waterslide and a plethora of  nearby activities. There are several play areas for the younger set, a whirlpool spa, a sandy beach, and even a themed sauna!

OldKeyWest_pool1

The Sandcastle Pool at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

OldKeyWest_pool2

Theming around the Sandcastle Pool.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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

by on June 30, 2015

MMM positiveWe have reached the end of June and the non-stop amount of theme park new continues. Most importantly, our prayers were answered and Disney World banned the use of selfie sticks at any of its four theme parks, two water parks, and DisneyQuest. Over at Animal Kingdom, snacks shaped in the form of animal poop became an instant success last week, generating more viral attention for Disney than I have seen in years, yet they have already been taken off the market. Meanwhile at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Frozen Summer Fun began its summer run, but with the good comes the bad, as it was also announced that The Magic of Disney Animation would be joining the Studio Backlot Tour, the Legend of Capt Jack Sparrow, Sounds Dangerous, American Idol Experience, and the Sorcerer’s Hat in the great big theme park in the sky. Universal, already in the middle of building an E-Ticket attraction (Skull Island: The Reign of Kong), a new hotel (Sapphire Falls) and a water park (Volcano Bay) also just committed to what looks like a MAJOR renovation of the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the removal of what is expected to be Twister: Ride It Out for a rumored attraction based on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Don’t the theme parks know it’s summer and they are supposed to be resting on their laurels while the theme parks are packed?!

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).

This trip started off with a surreal experience at the Disney Character Warehouse on I-Drive (close to Universal) because everything in the store was 50% off the already discounted prices. A lot of stuff that was normally in the store was gone though, such as Tsum Tsums, most of the pins, all the plush, etc. Later in our journey I’ll explain why this once-in-a-lifetime sale was happening. However, to show the type of deal that this was, that next level bananas Mama Melrose sign had been brought down to “just” $30 after all the discounts were applied. I was tempted to buy it, if only as a gag gift for Len Testa, but somehow held back.

IMG_9184_2

I promised to all that I will personally buy the BoardWalk Pizza Window sign if it is ever for sale. Because that will mean the place has finally been closed and I’ll be in euphoria.

It’s long been known that WDW Today’s own Matt Hochberg is terrified of the Dinosaur attraction at DHS, and you can imagine why if his parents ever got him this photo frame as a kid. I actually wish Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights merch was this scary. Originally $14.95, this was marked down to $7.99 (and keep in mind that would be $4 after the final discount.)

IMG_9181_2

Mesmerizing.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Current Walt Disney World Disney Discounts

by on June 22, 2015

TouringPlans logoHere are your current discounts as of June 22. There have been no Walt Disney World discounts added since May (fine print follows).

Florida Resident – now through July 2 and July 6 to August 13. Selected resorts only.

Annual Passholder – now through August 10. Selected resorts only.

Free Dining – for arrivals August 28 to October 2, October 25 to 31, November 8 to 19, December 15 to 21 – minimum 3 night stay required for this package. Selected resorts only.

Room Only Discounts – now through October 3. Selected resorts only.

Magic Together/Magic for the Whole Family/Summer and Late Summer Preschool – packages based on families of 3 or 4 staying at All Star Resorts. Ask your travel agent for details. Now to September 10.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Changes to 2016 Walt Disney World Magic Your Way Packages

by on June 22, 2015

magicyourwayDisney has shared details with travel agents for 2016 Magic Your Way packages. Magic Your Way is any package that includes a room at a Disney-owned and operated resort, the Swan or Dolphin, a Good Neighbor hotel, or a Disney Springs area hotel; and park admission. Packages can be booked through your travel agent or the Walt Disney Travel Company. This also includes all dining plans, which have their own extras. Thank you to Sue Pisaturo at Small World Vacations for the heads up.

Let’s start with the good news: The vouchers for mini-golf have been increased from 2 per room to 4 per room, and are good for play before 4PM at Fantasia Gardens and Winter-Summerland. If you’re an Annual Passholder, remember you get a discount on admission already and it’s good all day and night. Also, under the category of things that make you scratch your head, MYW packages now include 4 vouchers for one day admission at ESPN Wide World of Sports. There’s really not much to do there if you’re not participating in a sporting event. If you have made the trip out, let me know in the comments. Every time I go out there to see what’s up, there’s nothing going on. If your tickets include the Water Park Fun and More option, you already have the option for ESPN WWoS admission, so there’s no real benefit for you unless you’re using all your entitlements for water parks, Oak Trail golf, or DisneyQuest (while it lasts, see below) already and somehow still have time to visit Wide World of Sports too.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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

by on May 31, 2015

MMM positiveMay has come to a close and the start of the Theme Park Summer (AKA Some Attractions Are Worth Melting For) is upon us. In case you weren’t paying attention, May just happened to be one of the biggest of the year. Star Wars Weekends started, and I even wrote a handy dandy guide on how you can survive it in Six Simple Steps. Universal had a busy month, officially announcing the new King Kong attraction, a partnership with Nintendo that will bring new attractions to the Florida parks, and a brand new ultra-themed water park in Volcano Bay that looks to compete with Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Meanwhile out in California Disneyland delivered the goods in a major way with their new Paint the Night electrical parade, debuting 60 new pressed pennies, added a new World of Color show, and even a new nighttime fireworks spectacular! Walt Disney World fans weren’t left out in the cold either, as the Lunching Pad at the Magic Kingdom has a brand new crisped rice treat that looks like a flip flop. Everyone came up a winner this month!

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 step is checking out the new Tsum Tsums that have arrived, which naturally have become the newest thing I’m addicted to. Here are two of our favorite pals from Toy Story, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

IMG_8467

Toy Story Tsum Tsums.

There were also several puppies from 101 Dalmations along with Cruella Deville.

IMG_8470

How many of the 101 Dalmations have official names and are identifiable by fans? Do people have their favorites like the Seven Dwarfs?

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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.)

IMG_6627_2

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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).

IMG_5722

 

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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.

IMG_5449

=

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print