Planning a Walt Disney Trip

August 6th, 2010

Planning a vacation can be a chore in and of itself.  Even worse when you are planning a trip to Disney!  Your kids have probably been driving you absolutely banana’s to go, which creates a domino effect of skyrocketing your stress level, raising your blood pressure, and kicking in your fight or flight response (In this case flight…  Somewhere far, far away from children!).  Needless to say, with all of that pressure, it is pretty darn tough to plan a proper vacation and do it on the cheap.  Or at the very least, affordable.

Never fear, I have your back.  Keep reading, you are going to learn how to plan the best darn Disney vacation on the planet, and all without even breaking a sweat.

First Step:

Well the first step is easy.  If money is no object, hire someone else to plan your vacation for you!  No seriously, you don’t have to do that, although it is something to

consider if you can afford it.  For those that can’t though, the first step is to decide on the nuts and bolts of your trip.  For example, arrival and departure dates.

Decide whether or not you want to brave peak season or go off season.  Decide whether you are driving or flying.  Figure out which is more cost effective and easy on your sanity.  Choose whether you will stay in a Disney hotel or vacation home.  Vacation homes can be a great and affordable option if you have a large family or are going with relatives and can split the costs.  Those are the 3 basics you need to getting there and being able to function.

Second Step:

Plan your meals in advance.  If you don’t know it yet, you soon will.  Disney is a tourist trap.  Especially when it comes to preying on families becoming weak with hunger!  And meals out can get expensive, especially if you have a large family, so plan for that in advance.

If you are hoping to dine in a special place, or with special Disney characters, then you need to do some digging and find out the places to go and book reservations as far in advance as you possibly can.  It would be a shame to get to Disney, decide you want to dine with Goofy and Pluto, and be unable to do so because the 10 families ahead of you booked their dining experience 6 months ago.  That is just the nature of the beast, especially if you are attending during peak season.

Third Step:

Plan your attraction itinerary.  I know it sounds a little boring and the complete opposite of what you may imagine a Disney vacation should be, but trust me, you will thank me later.  Especially if there are kids involved!

You should be able to get on the Disney website and find maps and schedules for their different parks and attractions.  Some parks or attractions may open earlier than others or close later than others.  All of this information is good to know, so that you can plan each day accordingly, and be able to really see all that Disney has to offer.

Remember that without planning, you are planning to fail.  Yes, even on a Disney vacation this holds true.  Ever been kicked in the gut by a 5 year old’s face and disappointment because you failed to plan and now they are not going to get to meet Cinderella or Mickey Mouse?  ‘Nuff said!

Final Step:

Finally, shop around for park tickets.  Yeah, it might be a bit easier to purchase straight from the ticket counter when you get there, but why do that if you can find them elsewhere for a few dollars cheaper?  It is always important to keep your budget in mind when you are planning your perfect Disney vacation.

There is nothing worse on vacation than running out of money too quickly and missing out on some great experiences because you failed to plan and budget properly.  So do whatever you can where ever possible to cut a few corners and save a few bucks.  Trust me, your family will love you for it.

Where To Stay For Your Budget: Economy, Moderate and Deluxe Disney Lodging

July 6th, 2010

 

Disney is a great vacation idea.  But it can be tough deciding where to stay with so many options to choose from.  Do you choose an economy hotel?  Or deluxe lodgings? Or somewhere in between?  It really depends on your tastes and budget, so here I will go over some of your options so that you can make an informed decision.

Economy:

When possible, Disney owned hotels tend to offer the most variety in packaging, although not always the best choice in pricing.  Not to mention they are the closest to the parks, which means you will spend less time commuting and more time having fun.  Disney also has a ‘Good Neighbor’ program where they have partnered with neighboring hotels to offer various lodging options to Disney vacationers as well. That may just be where you will find your best Economy deal.

Three good ones that offer great deals are Anehiem Quality Inn and Suites, Jolly Roger Hotel, and Motel 6 Aneheim Maingate.  All three offers affordable economy lodging for your Disney stay as well as other amenities.

Moderate:

Moderately priced lodging is available all over the place, including some really great Disney owned hotels.  Some of the best options include Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Port Orlean’s Resort French Quarter, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.  All three offer some really great amenities at affordable pricing as well as a great Disney experience with many perks you might not find at neighbor hotels.

Of course there are many other options than just those three, you can search Google for Disney hotels and be taken to many different websites with many different options for lodging, it is all a matter of taste and what you can afford.

Deluxe:

Finally, you can find deluxe lodging instead of moderate or economy and really accentuate your Disney vacation. Granted it is a bit more money for deluxe lodging, but if you can afford it, well worth the extra costs.  You will enjoy extras such as extra magic hours, bell services and arcade time, as well as multi bedroom units and table service dining.

Some options for deluxe lodgings are Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Polynesian Inn, and Disney’s Beach Club Resort, among several others.  All of these resorts offer superior amenities and perks, and luxurious stays perfect for your next vacation.

Premium:

As a premium option you can also explore Disney Vacation Club resorts and villas.  Some options include Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Disney’s Boardwalk Villa’s and The Villa’s At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  All offer first class luxury and offer a lot of the same benefits of a Deluxe hotel and also offers rooms with kitchens or kitchenettes, as well as Character breakfasts, which is not something you will get with a Deluxe resort package.

It all depends on your personal tastes, the needs and desires of your family and what your wallet can handle.  A Disney vacation doesn’t have to break the bank if you don’t want it to, but you need to know you have options on how luxurious an experience you want to have.  After all, the Magical World Of Disney is all about atmosphere and experience right?

Visit Walt Disney World for a one stop overview of the many Disney Resorts you can stay at.

Top 10 Inexpensive Places To Eat At Walt Disney World

July 6th, 2010

Dining is one of the biggest and quickest drains on your wallet when you vacation at Disney.  People have to eat and Disney takes full advantage of that knowledge by providing restaurants on just about every corner and most of it pretty steeply priced.  However, it is possible to find several places inside of Disney to eat cheaply with a bit of digging, which I have already done for you.

Magic Kingdom

Main Street Bake Shop has the best options for a bite of breakfast.  They offer baked goods in the 2-3 dollar price range, as well as a breakfast quiche, or cottage cheese with fruit for about 4 dollars.  You can also grab sandwiches at lunch time for a decent price as well.

Columbian Harbor House has vegetarian chili and clam chowder.  You can get a bowl of soup for about 5 bucks there.  They also offer zero trans fat foods like chicken nuggets and fried fish, as well as salads and sandwiches.

You can also dine at Cosmic Ray’s and get a ? rotisserie chicken, with mashed potato’s and veggies for about 9 dollars.  They also have wraps and sandwiches, salads, BBQ ribs, burgers and hot dogs among other things.  Lunch and dinner only, but entertaining with the animatronic band of aliens.

Animal Kingdom

Kusifiri Coffee Shop And Bakery is your best bet for breakfast cuisine.  Yogurt and fruit cups run about 2-3 dollars and muffins and sweet rolls run you about 3-4 dollars.

For the kiddies, Pizzafari is a favorite and offers reasonable food choices like pizza, chicken sandwiches, spaghetti and meat balls and even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Anadupur Local Food Cafe offers eggrolls and fried rice for less than 4 bucks as well, so if you happen to like oriental food than this would be the spot for you.

Epcot World Center

Electric Umbrella Restaurant is the place to go inside Epcot if you are looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Serving breakfast burritos in the morning, french toast and cereal and bagel sandwiches.  After 11am, lunch and dinner is served in the way of chicken tenders, wraps and burgers.

If you have a hankering for Japanese style food, you can’t go wrong at Yakitori House.  It’s affordable and offers up chicken and beef skewers, veggies and rice, and my personal favorite, sushi!

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios has a lot of affordable places to eat, but the one where you can find breakfast, lunch and dinner all rolled into one would be the ABC Commissary.  Think typical fast food and that is what you will be eating.  Breakfast is oatmeal, fruit, and egg and cheese bagels.  Lunch is things like cheeseburgers and fries, wraps, chicken nuggets, and other typical American fare.

If that doesn’t suit your fancy you can check out Studio’s Catering Co. Flatbread Grill.  For meals under 7 bucks it can’t be beat.  Order grilled chicken or pulled pork, Greek salads and chicken wraps.  Whatever your taste buds happen to find appealing.

So, there you have it.  10 of some of the least expensive places to eat inside Walt Disney World.  There are numerous other affordable locations of course… and then the many not so affordable ones.  But this should be a great starting point for you so that no one starves to death on your big outing!

A Guide To Dining At Disney

July 6th, 2010

Disney dining can be just about any kind of experience you want it to be.  They have restaurants that cater to just about every single taste you can dream up.  From the exotic, to the home grown steak-and-potato’s kind of person, to the health nut, you can find a restaurant to suit your taste buds with very little difficulty at all.

The Magic Kingdom:

😉 Kid Friendly Casey’s Corner, specializing in hot dogs; Pinocchio’s Village Haus, specializing in fast food; The Crystal Palace which specializes in buffet style character dining with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore; and Cinderella’s Royal Table, which offer pre-plated, all you can eat fare, and time with Cinderella, Snow White, and others.  Liberty Tree Tavern is also a good one for family meals with kid friendly options.

😯 Adult Friendly Tony’s Town Square, specializing in Italian food.  Columbian Harbour House, specializing in seafood and vegetarian chili and Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station, specializing in Asian cuisine, which is only open seasonally.

Snacks-  ToonTown Farmer’s Market, Auntie Gravities Galactic Goodies, Sleepy Hollow, and Enchanted Grove.  All offer a variety of snacks ranging from fruit and smoothies to caramel corn and espresso.

The Animal Kingdom

😉 Kid Friendly Flame Tree BBQ offers outdoor seating and is a great place to relax for a moment with the kiddies.  Tusker House is also great, offering a character breakfast buffet in the A.M. and a regular buffet during lunch and dinner.

😯 Adult Friendly Rainforest Cafe offers excellent cuisine and a full bar after a long day of touring the grounds.  Hit the Dawa bar for evening cocktails.

Snacks- For snacks, stop by Dino Bite Snacks, or if you fancy some ice cream, try out Tamu Tamu.  You can also try Petrifries if you have a hankering for french fries!

Epcot Center

😉 Kid Friendly Teppan Edo is a great Japanese Hibachi style restaurant sure to delight your children.  The chefs cook right at your table and put on a great little show for the family.  The Garden Grill has a great kid friendly menu and offers Character meals as well, with Farmer Mickey and Chip and Dale.

The Coral Reef is a great option to help you unwind over a relaxing meal.  It features floor to ceiling aquariums that keep children engaged.  If none of those suit, Epcot is wide and varied; there are several more kid friendly restaurants.

😯 Adult Friendly Visit San Angel Inn for a dark and romantic evening dining experience.  Check out Restaurant Marrakesh for a meal and belly dancing entertainment.  If that doesn’t suit, try Biergarten for a full dining experience with musical entertainment.  Again, Epcot is so widely varied, it has several restaurants to choose from – you are bound to find at least one that strikes your fancy!

Snacks-  Drop by Lotus Blossom Cafe to snack on some delicious eggrolls.  Or try Baulangerie Pattiserie for excellent pastries.  If you are just looking for a quick, but decent meal, drop by Electric Umbrella for your run of the mill burgers, chicken and related foods.

Hollywood Studios

😉 Kid Friendly The two best places to dine in Hollywood for the kiddies are the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and the Sci-Fi Dine In Dinner, which is great if your kids are into old Sci-Fi movie clips and enjoy dining at a table shaped like an old vintage car.  The 50’s Prime Time Cafe offers a unique experience where the wait staff play ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ to diners while ‘mom’ cooks in the kitchen.  Kids get a kick out of it because mom and dad get chastised in a funny and fairly frequent manner for various infractions.

😯 Adult Friendly Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano is a good choice to dine with your hubby.  You can also try out Hollywood Brown Derby for some delicious eats!  (Don’t forget desert!)

Snacks-  Snacks abound in Hollywood.  Try Hollywood Scoops for some hand dipped ice cream, or try Toluca Legs for turkey legs and hot dogs.  Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner offers stuffed pretzels and milkshakes or you can try the ABC Commissary for a multi-ethnic blend of options.

Again, all of these are just some ideas of places to dine within each park, there are several other restaurants with great cuisine both inside the parks and outside, as well in the surrounding areas.  Check out Walt Disney World Dining for in-depth information and sample menus.

How To Find Unique Souvenirs At Disney

July 6th, 2010

 

It doesn’t matter if you travel to California’s Disney Land or to Florida’s Disney World.   Unique Disney gifts are all around you.

You can go to the parks themselves and find gifts from every area of the park specific to that scene or land.  You may be inside Walt Disney World and be at Cinderella’s Castle,  you can be sure that you will find a Palace with every Disney character making a royal party.

If you want unique gifts that are not characters or cartoons, you can visit many on location areas such as the hotels and resorts and find jewelry specific to Disney and labeled with beautifully bedazzled clasps with Disney’s signature logo or 14 karat Mickey and Minnie rings and necklaces, whatever suits your fancy.

And if you really want some out of this world, unique, funny souvenirs from Florida, you can visit any number of souvenir shops surrounding Disney and all of their resorts.  There you can find Mickey roping a cow or Goofy taming a gator.  You can find Minnie in the Florida Orange State Beauty pageant or Daisy swimming with the dolphins.  You get the picture, right?  Anything you are looking for is pretty much in any surrounding shop in and around Disney World.

Oh, and don’t leave out those Disney collectors.  You can find something for everyone who collects art, decorations, baby souvenirs, even cigar boxes.  If you can name it you can find it at the Disney shops at Lake Buena Vista.  Even the hotels carry beach towels, sun glasses, hats and t-shirts, all with the Disney characters and logos on them in their shops!  And of course, it is always nice to find deals and discounts on merchandise.

So don’t forget the Disney Factory outlet shops.  You can find these wonderful money saving shops just about anywhere and everywhere in Kissimmee and Orlando.  There you can find anywhere from 50% to 75% off the original retail prices.  Great buys you won’t want to miss!

You can also find excellent deals and pricing, as well as unique Disney souvenirs on line.  Try places like Amazon and Ebay.  You might find some really great stuff and even some stuff that may be worth some money some day at a bargain price.

Whether you visit Disney in California, Florida, Europe or online – you can find any type of Disney gift you want.  It is such a marketable place that outlet shops abound and Disney is all around you.  You just need to double check and be sure all purchases are made through an authentic Disney dealer with the authenticated Disney logo.

Just remember to enjoy your trip wherever you decide to go and be sure you bring back a little piece of the Magic for future enjoyment!