Money Matters

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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Your Disney Trip Planning Timeline

by on February 10, 2015

TouringPlans logoIf you’re planning a trip to Disney World and reading this blog, you’ll have already seen multiple references to certain milestone dates for your vacation: You can make most restaurant reservations 180 days in advance of your arrival, for example. And that got us talking about what a comprehensive Disney trip planning timeline would look like.

Sure, we’ve tackled trip planning subjects before, including Erin Foster’s  and Evan Levy’s excellent Trip Planning 101 series. But we’ve never tried to fit an entire timeline into one page…until now.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.

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How Two Disney World Vacations That Cost the Same Can Feel Completely Different? or Where’s Goldilocks When You Need Her?

by on February 3, 2015

Len Testa recently did an analysis of the different ways the same party size can choose to allocate the same amount of money on a Walt Disney World vacation, yet arrive at very different trips. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a look.

Staying for four nights at a value resort might feel like a splurge or like an affront, depending on your profile.

Staying for four nights at a value resort might feel like a splurge or like an affront, depending on your profile.

Len examined the quantitative aspects of expenditures on the core costs of food, lodging, and park tickets, noting how choices like deluxe vs. value resort, onsite vs. offsite hotels, and table service vs. counter service meals can change your vacation within a fixed budget. I’m here to look at the qualitative impact of those choices beyond the bottom line, considering how two vacations which cost exactly the same can feel entirely different.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to look at Len’s hypothetical trip for two adults (two people over the age of nine, or two people over the age of nine plus a child under the age of three) which costs $1,500, but you can apply the same principles to any price point or party size. Running the numbers, Len found that two adults can spend $1,500 on core costs in some of the following ways:

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

by on January 31, 2015

MMM positiveIt’s January and that means we are in a whole new year. It’s going to be hard to top 2014. We had Disney Imagineers with 9 foot shovels in Animal Kingdom.  We had a commercial with featured both the Seven Dwarfs and rap music (which, by the way, wasn’t even the weirdest commercial Disney did last year). It was a year we discovered that the Pop Century Resort offered a sandwich that used Pop Tarts as the bread.  It was a year that we lost Push the talking trashcan, the Giggle Gang, and Camp Minnie Mickey, but gained a whole lot of Anna and Elsa. What will 2015 bring? Well, looks like just more Anna and Elsa, but here’s hoping for another 12 months of unforgettable moments, magical memories, and merchandise people don’t want to buy, speaking of which….

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).

Now, some readers of this column may remember last month that I vowed to “hang it up” if Disney released a Steamboat Duffy Bear. Well, Disney called my bluff.

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“Your move Derek.” – Disney Consumer Products Division

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How Stateroom Category Affects the Price of Your Disney Cruise

by on January 29, 2015

t_logo_fbYou’ve decided on the ship and itinerary you want – now it’s time to get the best price on your Disney Cruise. There are two factors you can control when booking your cruise to keep costs down. First is your dates – and we looked at that yesterday if you want a refresher. Second is your stateroom category. Some people have strong feelings about their staterooms, right down to wanting to book the exact same one from cruise to cruise. Others take the approach of “it’s where I’m sleeping so who cares – I’ll take what’s cheapest.” But whatever your preference, your choice can have a big (or surprisingly not so big) impact on the price of your cruise.

Click the image to see it full size.

Disney Cruise Line pricing per cabin on a 7-night cruise.

Disney Cruise Line pricing per cabin on a 7-night cruise.

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Least Expensive Dates for your Disney Cruise

by on January 28, 2015

TouringPlans logoIt’s the end of January. The Northeast is covered in snow. You’ve finished paying for Christmas. So who’s ready for a Disney Cruise? I know I am. There’s no question that among the mass market cruise lines (and, yes, as much as I love them, Disney is still mass market), Disney charges a premium for their cruises. For me, it’s worth it, but the price means I have to be careful about when I sail. For the next edition of the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, I looked at a year’s worth of fares to see when the most and least expensive times to cruise are. Let’s take a look…

I used the Disney Fantasy for this look at fares. Why? Because it’s the easiest for comparing apples to apples year round. The Fantasy has two itineraries, Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-Night sailings out of Port Canaveral. This means that unlike the Magic and Wonder, I’m not comparing European or Alaska cruises to ones in the Caribbean. And, unlike with the Dream, I’m only looking at 7 night cruises, not 3-, 4-, or 5-night itineraries.

Sunset is my favorite time of day on a Disney Cruise, but time of year is what really impacts your fare. Photo - Laurel Stewart

Sunset is my favorite time of day on a Disney Cruise, but time of year is what really impacts your fare. Photo – Laurel Stewart

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What You Get at Disney World for $500, $1,000, $1,500, and $2,000

by on January 21, 2015

Abuela Testa's gaspacho soup mix is an excellent money-saver

Abuela Testa’s gaspacho soup mix is an excellent money-saver

For the next edition of the Unofficial Guide, we interviewed dozens of families planning their first Disney trip, and Disney-specialist travel agents who talk to Orlando-bound families every day. Almost all of them said the cost of a Disney vacation was the biggest surprise, and more important to them than when to travel, where to stay, or how to beat the lines.

All money questions involve trade-offs, of course, and only you know what you’re willing to do to save a buck. For every person who thinks a $65 per day food allowance is malnourishment, there’s another who says they can feed a family of 5 on $10 and some budget gazpacho made with leftover Taco Bell sauce and hot water.

To give you a realistic idea of how much to budget, we’ve created the following set of charts showing the kind of Disney World vacation your family can get for $500, $1,000, $1,500, and $2,000. Each column represents a different family demographic, and each row represents a different budget amount. Our starting assumptions are at the bottom of the page.

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Disney World AP Discounts Released for Travel through mid-June

by on January 8, 2015

t_logo_fbDisney has released Annual Passholder discounts most nights through mid-June at Walt Disney World resorts:

There are two discounted percentages. The higher discount is for travel dates April 6 to June 15, 2015.

  • All-Star Sports and Music, Pop Century: 15-25%
  • Art of Animation suites: 15-20%
  • Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside: 20-30%
  • Deluxe resorts and villas: 30-37%

Exclusions: All-Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, Fort Wilderness campsites, Grand Floridian Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian villas, all 3-bedroom villas.

Thanks to Tammy Whiting of www.StorybookDestinations.com for the information.

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