Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

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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Memory Maker FAQs

by on January 21, 2015

PhotoPass Memory Maker ©Disney

The Memory Maker gets you digital copies of all of your PhotoPass photos. Photo ©Disney

Disclaimer: While I am a Cast Member, the following is based on my own experience and does not necessarily reflect the policies of the Walt Disney Company.

Philosophers of the age ask: If there are no pictures, did it really happen? Photos are an integral part of preserving your Disney moments and sharing the memories with family and friends. To that end, Disney offers the Memory Maker for purchase. The Memory Maker is a way to get digital copies of all of the PhotoPass photos and videos from your Walt Disney World vacation. Like any major Disney purchase, you should look at the pros and cons before you decide to drop the cash. I recently had the opportunity to use a Memory Maker as a Guest and participated in the One-day Memory Maker pilot program as a Cast Member. Here are the questions I heard from Guests—and had myself—about the Memory Maker.

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How to Experience an Empty Magic Kingdom

by on January 16, 2015

What do you think of when you think of Disney World? Castles? Princesses? Pirates? I sure do! But just like everyone else, I can also think of less magical things such as crowds, long lines, and wait times. Fortunately, Touring Plans can help cut down those long lines and wait times; but one thing that can’t be done is to remove the throngs of people entirely. That is, until now. Yes, in this post, I will explain how to experience an empty Magic Kingdom before the park opens up to the droves of guests. Read on!

I had the castle to myself!

I had the castle to myself!

The Secret

The Magic Kingdom opens most mornings at 9:00 AM, but the secret is that two park restaurants open even earlier, such as The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table. (Note: Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently closed for refurbishment but is expected to reopen in spring of 2015.) If you are able to book an advance dining reservation before park opening, you will be able to walk through the empty park in order to check-in for your breakfast!

Now, before you get too excited, let me clarify a few things. For one, the shows and attractions at the Magic Kingdom do not open for anyone until the park opens, and many of the surrounding lands are roped off to guests who do have early morning reservations. Still, getting in early was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had at Disney World.

Getting In

When I first heard about this Disney World secret, I immediately booked an advance dining reservation at The Crystal Palace for my upcoming vacation dates. It took some checking and re-checking for several days, but I finally was able to grab a reservation at 8:20 AM on a day when the park opened at 9:00 AM. Score!

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Relocating to Florida: Part Two – New Surroundings, Schools and The Disney Distance

by on January 16, 2015

Photo - Michael DahlgrenWelcome to Part Two of my relocation series! If you missed the beginning of this series where I interview fellow TouringPlans bloggers, Julia Mascardo and Natalie Reinert about weather and finances, read Part One to hear more about relocating to Florida.

Today, we’re going to discuss housing and living within close proximity to Walt Disney World. Let’s begin!

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The Walt Disney World Road Trip: Tips, Tricks and What Not to Do

by on January 14, 2015

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

Recently, my family decided to make a last minute trip to Disney World the week of New Year’s. Before everyone faints at the heresy of going during the busiest week of the year, my brother’s school was playing in a bowl game in Tampa, so my family decided to kill two birds with one stone. Quickly putting aside the loud warnings in the back of my head about the massive crowds, I couldn’t turn down a pseudo surprise Disney trip. The resort reservation was all set (we would be staying at a Finding Nemo Suite in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort), and I already had my annual pass, but the flight fares were absolutely insane from Baltimore, which is the closest airport to me. Being a more intelligent person than I, my girlfriend suggested a simple alternative. Why don’t we just drive down? So we did. I hope everyone who is considering the possibility of driving instead of flying finds this useful.

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Relocating To Florida: Part One – Weather and Finances

by on January 9, 2015

Photo - DonkeyHotey via FlickrWe’re gearing up for another frigid Winter here in Minnesota. My nose would be longer than Pinocchio’s if I didn’t admit there were some days I thought to myself, “Man, it would be nice to just move and live at Disney World!”

Now, the odds of me living at Disney are very slim, but hypothetically, if I DID decide to move to the sunshine state, how would I go about this?

I did the research, and enlisted the help of two amazing women, who have gone through the relocation process, in an effort to make this series as informative as possible. I played the part of investigative reporter to interview Julia Mascardo (who relocated from Maryland) and Natalie Reinert (moved in December from New York City). Let’s see what these ladies had to say about relocating to Florida!

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Menu Monday: ESPN Club

by on December 29, 2014

ESPN Club

©Disney

Recently my boys and I returned from another fun-filled adventure in Disney World. Being huge sports fans, one of our family’s favorite spots during every Disney World trip is ESPN Club. We love the wide selection of games to watch and foods to eat that this restaurant has to offer. ESPN Club is very unique and the perfect place to take a break and watch the big game during your vacation. If you have a sports lover in your traveling group, please read on for all of the details.

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Menu Monday: Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant

by on December 29, 2014

Photo - Disney

Reception area

While planning my visit for this past September, I was browsing through different dining options and saw Coral Reef Restaurant. After reading a few reviews and chatting with people who had dined there, I was on the hunt for an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). Because of my husbands work schedule at the time, I had to mentally plan our trip long before I could make reservations. Once work approved his vacation time, I set to work on the details….did I mention this was a month before the trip? (Let me know if you’d like an article on how to plan a WDW trip last minute. I’m an expert!) The stars must have been aligned that day because I not only got an ADR on the day I wanted, but I made a reservation for TEN guests!

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Menu Monday: Infant Friendly Dining at Walt Disney World

by on December 22, 2014

BiergartenOne of the (many) reasons I love Walt Disney World is because the parks are so family friendly. There are some vacation destinations where bringing a baby would be impossible. At Disney, even the dining is suitable for all ages.

Having a young one of my own, I know the insecurities that come with bringing an infant to a restaurant.

Will she get fussy? What if she cries? How will I entertain her?

Quick service dining is one thing, but enjoying a nice sit-down meal is quite another. So with that in mind, i’ve provided a list of my favorite infant-friendly restaurants within the four parks.

Note: When making your dining reservation, be sure to include your child into the final number. Disney counts per spot at the table, not just who is eating.

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Cast Member Chronicles: Melissa’s Disney College Program Experience

by on December 21, 2014

Photo - DisneyMelissa is a friend of mine who completed the Disney College Program in January 2013. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about it, so I decided to pick her brain and ask her to share the experience with all of you. For more information about this program, check out my girl Trista’s post here.

Okay ready? Let’s get started!

Walt Disney World has always held a special place in Melissa’s heart. Growing up, her family made several visits and each time was as spectacular as the last. She first heard about the Disney College Program (or DCP as I will refer to it) from her older sister, who had spent a semester there years previously. With her love of Disney blazing like a hunka hunk of burning love, she made the easy decision to apply.

In the Fall of 2012, she began the application process. Step one involved filling out a general application, mostly requesting education and work experience. There was also a section where she was asked to rate different job roles on a 1 to 5 interest scale. Melissa had experience in the restaurant business, so she felt Food and Beverage would be the best fit. From there, things moved very quickly. Step two was a mere two days later, when a representative from Disney requested an online interview. A few days after that, Melissa had a phone interview. One week later, she was a future employee and student of the Disney College Program!

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