Saving Money

Costuming Your Princess or Pirate Without Raiding the Treasury

by on September 19, 2017

Kids are only young once, and every parent wants to have amazing memories (assisted by plenty of photographs) of those precious childhood years. It seems that you can’t poke around the internet without seeing videos of parents doing transforming princess dresses or multiple costume changes over the course of the day. For most parents, those kind of photo shoot forays don’t couple with limited packing space or a limited budget. And although you can get the royal treatment from Disney itself through the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Pirate’s League, the full experience including costumes, makeup, and hair styling can add up quickly, especially if you have multiple kids in that age range.

There are other options if you want to have your child experience the fun of dress up for a day in the park, however. Here’s some options for your Pirate or Princess that won’t have you emptying the royal treasury.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! AUGUST 2017 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo, secret shopper Daisy Lauren and I found a whole bunch of neat items this month including Adventureland Tsum Tsums, next level bonkers coffee cups based on Fantasy Football, and a Dapper Dan nutcracker (like we could make that up.)

Ready to see what we else we found? Alright, let’s go!

Disney spent a long time on the creation of the Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom, and while the show itself isn’t drawing the rave reviews The Mouse was looking for, it did bring with it a whole bunch of great merchandise. Between the food & drink components, the awesome Rivers of Light soundtrack, and the other items at the gift shops, no other show at WDW comes close to touching the merch quality of Rivers of Light. Some of those items – all of which actually debuted well before Rivers of Light because the show got delayed so long – made their way to the Outlets this month.

First up is the E-Ticket Lotus popcorn bucket. This is hands-down the best popcorn bucket the American parks have ever made. It looks incredible, holds a giant amount of popcorn (have you seen the 10 kernels of popcorn that the Star Wars Tie-Fighter popcorn bucket holds?), and actually has an led lighting feature. The other two items also light up and they were both souvenir cups. The “adult” one resemble a stein, while the “kid” version was like a lantern which you could actually collapse.  I bought all three of these when they came out at the parks, so of course it drove me insane to see them at the Outlets, but good for all of you (he begrudgingly wrote).

(photo by Captain Cruiseline himself, @TheDCLBlog)

I really liked these Mad Tea Party coffee cups. May actually make my top six all time Disney coffee cups. Originally $19.99, now $5.99.

Mad Tea Party cups. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

Also a big fan of these Mickey and Minnie cups that came out during the Flower and Garden Festival. I believed they arrived late though because these probably would have flew off the shelves if they were offered throughout the Festival. Originally $14.95, now $5.99.

Mickey and Minnie (photo by Julia Mascardo)

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SATURDAY SIX: The 6 Lowest-Rated Attractions at Walt Disney World

by on August 19, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at The Six Lowest-Rated Attractions at Walt Disney World! You may remember that the last few editions of the SATURDAY SIX took a look at the highest-rated ridesshows and spectaculars at WDW, as voted on by you. This week we are going in the other direction. Len Testa, co-host of the Disney Dish podcast, has sent down thousands-and-thousands of survey results from TouringPlans users, submitted after returning from their Disney trips. After combing through the data, we’re here to present the six attractions which scored the lowest among all the survey, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Fossil Fun Games (Animal Kingdom)

While “games of chance” and carnival-style games are found at pretty much all of Disney competitors – including the Universal Orlando Resort – many guests find them to be extremely tacky and an outright money-grab targeting kids. The Fossil Fun Games at Animal Kingdom are dinosaur themed carnival games at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. In Disney’s defense, games such as these fit in perfectly with the overarching backstory of Dino-Rama (which – in short – is basically Chester and Hester quickly putting up a roadside attraction to take advantage of the popularity of the nearby Dinosaur Institute.)

Personally speaking, I love carnival games. I think it’s something fun that kids and adults can do together and the smile on a kid’s face after they win* is just as good as them coming off their favorite ride. For me, the downside of Disney’s games compared to Universal’s are the lackluster prizes. At Dino-Rama the prizes are generic plush that come nowhere close to the level of quality that Disney puts into merchandise. Universal has some cheapo prizes too, but it also has some amazing items that you can’t buy in stores (such as The Simpsons Santa’s Little Helper and Spider-Pig along with this bonkers slice of pizza plush.)

*I’m assuming that part, I never let the kids win.

Overall Score 3.3/5

Fossil Fun Games. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Prizes at Fossil Fun Games. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Fossil Fun Games. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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Groceries at Disney World – Delivery Services Part Two

by on August 15, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we compared two of the most popular grocery delivery services at Walt Disney World, Garden Grocer and Amazon Prime Now. For a refresher, you can see it here. We appreciate the positive responses, and many of you mentioned other services that you wanted to see included in the comparison. Not wanting to deny our dear readers of their Disney fix, we’re back with a part two, where we’ve added two of the most requested services, instacart and Shipt, to the picture.

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Groceries at Disney World – Garden Grocer vs. Amazon Prime Now

by on July 25, 2017

As you’re probably well aware by now, Disney vacations aren’t cheap. But there is one area you can cut costs without damaging the vacation experience – food. By supplementing signature dining experiences and Dole Whips with groceries back in the room, you can get the best of both worlds while still saving time and money. One part of that plan that doesn’t save time, though, is traipsing around an unfamiliar grocery store trying to find your groceries. Luckily, a few services now offer to do that part for you. We’re comparing two of the most popular services, Garden Grocer and Amazon Prime Now, to help you figure out which one is best for you. 

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TouringPlansTV: 10K Giveaway!

by on May 23, 2017

We’ve reached 10,000 subscribers on our YouTube page!

To celebrate this milestone, we’re giving away FIVE TouringPlans.com subscriptions.

Watch the video below to see how YOU can enter, and thank you so much for supporting us!

Have suggestions for future videos? Let me know in the comments!

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! December 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on December 31, 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.

Can you believe 2016 is already over? Think about where we were a year ago at this time. There was no such thing as tiered ticket pricing, there were no cabanas in the Magic Kingdom, Tom Staggs was still with Disney, and we were all waiting for Rivers of Light to debut in Animal Kingdom. Well, at least some things never change.

I want to say up from that this month’s edition of the Outlet Report is a slightly shortened, and the reason for that is during December the Disney Outlet Stores become busier than the Magic Kingdom on a phased closure day. It’s just not fun. Both of us managed a trip in, but ran out screaming in short order. Now, I was going to make Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo go back on Christmas Eve in order to get a first hand report of the carnage, but Head Honcho Len Testa told me that would break several treaties in the Geneva Convention. First they take away water boarding and now this… maybe this generation has gone soft after all.

However, there is no rest for the wicked, and since December is my favorite month of all, I personally had a lot of fun outside of the Outlets. Myself and TouringPlans TV’s own Brian McNichols put out a new episode of the critically acclaimed Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. While over on Twitter I did a 25 day unveiling of the Theme Park Blogger Advent Calendar as well as drawing many Derek Doodles for a good cause.

Now, what did Julia and I find when we did briefly step into Mordor the Disney Outlet Stores? Let’s check it out!

First up was a good one. You’ll remember last month I pulled my hair out seeing a May the 4th Be With You R2 droid at the Outlets that I had picked up earlier in the year at full price in Disney Springs. Well, this month brought the special Halloween figure, R2-BOO, which I did not buy at the stores. Jackpot! Originally $12.99, reduced to $4.99.

R2-BOO. (photo by Julia Mascardo)

In 2015 Disney went all in on hand sanitzers, creating a whole bunch of them. Each one holds 1 0z of hand sanitizer, which is just about the amount you will need if your kid wipes his hand on that “honey wall” in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh queue. This year brought even more designs. The bottles originally were $8.85 each, but these were reduced to just 99cents. Picked one up at that price. For $9 I’ll take my chances with the germs.

Mickey Hand Sanitizer

More Disney Infinity stuff hit the Outlets. Disney stopping the entire system cold earlier this year was a shocker, and even made the special SATURDAY SIX: IN MEMORIAM article for this year. Here is Mulan, and even more unbelievably, the character “Time” from the Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. Maybe this line needed to be put out of its misery after all. Originally $13.99, reduced to $6.99.

Disney Infinity.

Also appearing were Disney Infinity Power Discs that were originally $9.99, now $4.99. Now I have picked up some of the Disney Infinity figures, even though I have never played the game, because I absolutely adore that cartoonish art style throughout the line. It’s like an awesome shared Universe line-up that has everything from The Incredibles to Pirates of the Caribbean to iconic Disney parks characters. Basically it’s like if Marvel Studios worked with Warner Bros to make an Avengers/Justice League film. Anyway, I was going to take a jab  at why anyone would buy these power discs, but they seem to be almost the exact same shape and size of the ridiculous “pogs” I grew up with and bought way too many of.

Disney Infinity Power Discs (photo by Julia Mascardo)

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! October 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on October 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. 

So what happened in October? We had some good news and we had some bad news. Good news: the Muppets themed PizzeRizzo is opening in just a couple weeks! Bad news: unfortunately it appears that the venue will be serving the exact same awful food as its predecessor, Pizza Planet. This would be a shame as Blaze Pizza in Disney Springs just proved that you can have a great tasting, affordable, personal size pizza at Walt Disney World. We also had more good news in the form of Muppets as the new Great Moments in American History show in Liberty Square is a certified hit! This is the Muppet humor we know and love. We also have to end on some more bad news as the first man is down at Disney Springs. That’s right, the incredibly named Aristocrepes has now gone seasonal. With the opening of so many great dining options, it was only a matter of time until we lost one. My bet was on Yesake (it’s actually a good place but you never see anyone there) being the first to go, but if you read this Me Thinks STK Doth Protest Too Much article, a certain high end steak house could be the next tenant to go buh bye.

Now while all of you were trying to sneak guns into EPCOT, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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.)

We always love to start with new Tsum Tsums, and at the International Drive location, this month we had the rest of the Pirates of the Caribbean line arrive with The Pig and The Bad Pirate. We also go another member of The Avengers B-Team with The Vision. Normal Tsum Tsums at Disney cost $5.99, and at the Outlet Store they are usually $2.99, but this month they were once again just 99 cents each. Picked up several of the pigs and one each of the other two.

tsum_pig

Seeing this pig reminds me of that awesome moment in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie when Orlando Bloom tosses a second bucket of water onto a guy and says, “That was for the smell.”

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The Bad Pirate.

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Vision.

Meanwhile over at the Disney Outlet Store on Vineland, they had the JUNGLE BOOK line! Also at 99 cents, bought one of each.

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Jungle Book Tsums. (photo by Julia Mascardo)

Next up is an item I’ve been waiting a while for. At the World of Disney store they have had three great Beauty and the Beast items show up in the last year or so that I’ve really wanted. A light up Lumiere, a “life size” Cogsworth, and a ceramic Chip cup. Well, the Chip cup finally made it’s way to the Outlet and now I begin my daily praying ritual for the other two. Not sure what the original price was, but I’m thinking it was around $19.95, which is why I always passed it. Outlet price was $6.99. Ya-hoo!

chip_699

Interesting how they do the “chipped” part of the cup.

Here is a stunning tapestry featuring the Magic Kingdom’s carousel, and the picture does not do it justice. The colors really make the picture come alive and it’s terrific. Originally $125, this was reduced to $29.99.

mmm_tapestry_125_2999_julia

Tapesty.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! September 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on September 30, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Hard to believe it’s Fall already, and as a Floridian I mean that it’s literally hard to believe as it still “feels like” 100 degrees down here on a daily basis.

So what happened in September? Well, there was good news for many of us who waste way too much time on social media, as Disney is considering a bid to buy Twitter. Judging by the Mouse’s history of technology (go.com, Mobile ESPN, Epic Mickey, etc), once they take over Twitter it won’t be long before they shelve it entirely and move on to something else. Meanwhile over on the Florida roadways, which are the closest equivalent to a real Mad Max Fury Road experience as you can get, a huge WDW sign came crashing down. Those who follow Your Humble Author on Twitter go to see a look at what really caused the accident. Maybe the greatest news of the whole month though was that Sitch’s Great Escape is days away from going “seasonal” at the Magic Kingdom. This brings us one step closer to my dream being fulfilled as well as the chances of the attraction actually being re-themed to Wreck-It-Ralph (as rumored by Jim Hill on the Disney Dish Podcast.) Happy days are here again!

Now while all of you were passing your kidney stones the fun way Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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 was a nice surprise as the 2016 EPCOT Flower and Garden MagicBands arrived. Featuring Figment, a Sorcerer Mickey topiary, Spaceship Earth and a monorail, you better believe I bought one of these. Originally $29.95, reduced to $14.99. Unlike the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Magic Bands, which seemed to still have 4,994 available out of the 5,000 made, there didn’t seem to be that many of the Flower and Garden bands.

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Flower and Garden MagicBands.

Next up, it was like I died and went to Tsum heaven, as not only were the Tsum Tsums still on sale for 99 cents each (original price is $5.95, and they are usually reduced to $2.99) but they had THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN collection! These included the “Dog with the Keys,” one of my favorite characters in Walt Disney World. In fact I had just bought a great plush featuring Pluto as that very same dog earlier in the month. This is legitimately one of the top five things I have ever seen at the Outlets.

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Pirates Tsum Tsums.

There was also “The Redhead.”

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Pirates Tsum Tsums.

The “Pirate Captain.”

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Pirate Tsum Tusms.

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Booking and Flying Southwest Airlines

by on September 20, 2016

Anytime I discuss travel that involves flying, I love to mention Southwest Airlines as an option. They’re sometimes easy to forget since their prices typically don’t appear on search engines like Kayak or Google Flights (both are great tools for comparing flight prices by the way!). But as one of the largest airlines flying in and out of Orlando International Airport, Southwest Airlines is an excellent option when planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Because their offering is so different from many of the other major airlines (low fares, no bag fees, and no assigned seats), I thought we’d take some time to talk about what it’s like to book and fly Southwest Airlines. If you’re lucky, I may even add some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, so let’s get started!

This chart from Southwest.com explains the differences between fares

This chart from Southwest.com explains the differences between fares

Booking: Online booking is incredibly easy. You plug in your starting airport, your destination, date or dates (depending on whether you’re purchasing one-way or round trip), and the number of people. On the next screen, you’ll see three different prices for all the flights available for those dates: Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away.

From this page, you can also click on other dates near the dates you originally selected to check their prices as well, or you can access the Low Fare Calendar.

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