Monday, December 27, 2010

Money Saver Monday!! Get Your Free Souvenir

Happy Monday!!! I hope that you had a relaxing time with your family and friends this holiday season.

Now that the holidays are over you may be thinking about ways to cut costs for 2011. I know one thing is for sure...we will be going to Walt Disney World in 2011....but I am always on the hunt for a deal or even a freebie!!! Did you know that kids can get a free souvenir at Epcot???

All too often I hear people say that Epcot is not a kid park. There is a ton of fun for the entire family as well as countless opportunities for children to learn. One of my favorite opportunities takes place at Kidcot Fun Stops. Kidcot is a fun way for kids to learn about the different countries from around World Showcase and Future World. In addition to learning your children will be able to take home a souvenir for free!!!

Kidcot Fun Stops can be found throughout Epcot, these are places where children can go and interact with Disney cast members and do a fun activity.  Younger travelers are encouraged to draw, write, and stamp at these locations. But the best part of it’s free!!!!

My favorite part comes in at World Showcase. Each county has a Kidcot location; your child will have the opportunity to interact with a native of the country you are visiting in.  What you need to do is start your adventure in any country that you chose. Let the cast member know that you are beginning your adventure with them. The cast member will present your child with their very own mask. You can then travel around to each country, and stop at the designated Kidcot Station. Each station provides a craft-filled fun time for your child. Your child will receive a different adornment for their mask at each station. In addition to the mask you can also collect stamps at each location. This make for a sort of make-shift passport for your child.

At the end of your adventure, you child will have learned about each country and interacted with natives to each country, as well as created a free souvenir.
If that does not say good free fun, I don't know what does!! :0)

See you real soon!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Disney Vacation Connection

I feel like I am always planning a Walt Disney World vacation....and I love it!! I just love everything involved in the planning. Naturally I was so very excited when I opened my email and read my " December Disney Hello" newsletter, I quickly  stumbled upon Disney Vacation Connection.  This feature truly puts the excitement of planning your next Walt Disney World vacation right at your desktop. 

Disney Vacation Connection is a cool FREE customizable feature that you can download right to your desktop. This feature is designed to keep you in the Disney know.  With Disney Vacation Connection you are  able to:

  • Stay up to date on special offers and the latest 
  • Plan your next magical  
  • Answer polls and quizzes to earn points for  downloads
  • Find out Insider information
  • Download a  countdown clock
  • Access a  of Special events
  • Get great  and animation-all packed with pixie dust
  • even check out the weather
  • And much more
Some of my personal favorite features are the countdown clock....come on we all like to know how much longer until we are back in the most magical place on earth!! In addition, I love being able to quickly check the park hours. Last, it is super fun to compare the Disney World weather compared to my Chicago weather....hmmmm let me guess which one is better. :0)

Leave it to Disney to add a little magic...just click on the magic button on the front of the download for a extra treat! In short, whether you are a die hard Disney fan in need of a daily Disney fix, or are in the midst of planning your next trip...the Disney Vacation Connection is for you. 

Click here for download details. 

What are some of your favorite Disney Vacation Connection features?

See ya real soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten First Timer Tips

So you have done it....taken the plunge into the world of Disney travelers. One thing is for sure, you cannot visit Walt Disney World and not have done a little research. Even the most seasoned Disney travelers plan their trips before they go. Not only is it important to know what to pack, park hours, ride restrictions, parade times and more, but you also need to know a few tips and advice that us seasoned Disney travelers have for you. 


10. Wear comfortable shoes- This is a must will understand when you get there but Disney World is HUGE!!! Things are not close to one another and you will be walking. Many people, including myself, use Crocs. In fact, so many people use them that there are actually Disney Crocs. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. The great thing is, you can get them wet and dirty without any worry. Disney used to offer their Crocs in adult sizes....why oh why did they stop?
Crocs Cayman Disney Kids - Yellow/Sea Blue 2

9.  Bring a stroller- For those that are traveling with small children, bring your own stroller. The cost to rent a stroller will run you about $15 per day for a single and $31 per day for a double.  In addition, for those traveling with children that you may think are too old for a stroller, you may want to think again. We recently visited Disney with our 3 children ages 2, 5, & 13. We had the 2 year old and 5 year old both in a stroller. All we did was go to Wal-Mart and purchase an umbrella stroller for $15 for our 5 year old (we already own the Maclaren for our 2 year old). If you are looking for a higher end umbrella stroller that is just amazing....check out the Maclaren. I read about it on a Disney forum, we purchased one last year and just love it!!! 

                                                                 Cosco Umbrella Stroller, Giraffe
                                                      Cosco Umbrella Stroller, Giraffe

8. Do not rent a car- I will never forget the very first trip I planned to Walt Disney World on my own(without my parents). I was so well planned...but one thing I could not shake was this obsession to have a rental car. Long story, there was a problem with the reservation and in short we were not able to rent the car. This forced me to utilize Disney Transportation throughout the duration of our trip. Not only is Disney Transportation easy to use but folks it is FREE!!! You would not pass up free dining, or free park tickets so why pass up free Disney Transportation. Sit back relax and enjoy the ride as Disney takes over the driving for you....nothing says a true vacation like being carted around. :0) One thing to keep in mind is you must be staying on Disney property in order to utilize Magical Express.

7. Fastpass- Disney truly does think of everything so that you do not need to do a thing. One of the many great features that Disney invented for their parks is Fastpass. Not sure what it is? It is a time saver and folks time is money. Fastpass is a "reservation" type system you can utilize to allow for shorter wait times. The great news is, that Fastpass is available to everyone that enters the park, and it is free to use!! Check out this page for detailed information about how to use Disney's Fastpass.

6. Disney's Photopass- Disney has done it again...made it possible for you to sit back relax and smile!! Photopass is a wonderful system that allows your entire family to be in your photos.  All you need to do is look for any Disney Photographer throughout the parks. Ask the photographer for a Photopass Card. Each card has an ID number assigned to it..the card is to be used throughout your stay. Each time you see one of the Disney Photographers, simply present your card and let them do the rest. Once you get home you can view your photos online and make purchases. Click here for more information.

Quick Tip: As soon as you get your card take a picture of the ID number on the back. This way if you misplace the card while on your trip, you are still able to retrieve the photos online using the ID number.

7. Baby Swap(Rider Switch)- Need I say it again...just another reason to love Disney!! This is a feature that allows a group to ride some of the thrill rides while others that are too young, scared, or too short to ride stay off with another portion of the group. Once the first group is done then the second group can enjoy the attraction with a very limited wait time. Please click here for more information about Baby Swap.

6. Join a FREE Disney discussion forum- I cannot describe the amount of information I have learned throughout the years from some of my favorite Disney forums. There are hundereds of thousands of people out there just like me that LOVE to talk Disney...they will give you factual information all for FREE!! All you need to do it sign up and start asking will get responses right away. My personal favorite forum is .

5. Disney Dining Plan-It is true, Disney World vacations can be seen as an all-inclusive vacation plan if you chose to add the Disney Dining Plan(DDP) to your trip. This plan is available as an add on if you are staying on Walt Disney World property and if you have purchased a Magic Your Way Vacation Package. The DDP is a wonderful way for your family to enjoy delectable meals that are all prepaid in advance.  There is something to be said for going to a nice sit-down meal every day and allowing your family free-reign of the menu. Long gone are the talks with little Johnny and Suzie about sharing a meal to cut costs. My kids enjoy trying new things and not having to consult me on price and selection. In addition, it is great to know that the kids can try some things that they otherwise would not have the chance to. On our most recent trip we ate at the castle for dinner, my daughter ordered the duck and LOVED it!!! If you see food as part of the attraction, the DDP may be worth checking into. Visit my recent article about the dining plan.

4.  Disney Vacation Planning Book-If you are a new Walt Disney World traveler a vacation planning book is very necessary. I have always used the Birnbaum Guides because it is a fun read and very simple to navigate. In addition, you can very easily carry it along with you to the parks because it is not too clunky. My children LOVE when I get them the newest edition of the Birnbaum's Walt Disney World For Kids 2011. I would highly recommend getting a copy of this book to help enhance your planning...the books are very affordable and a new edition comes out each year.

                    Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 2011  

          Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 2011                                            

                   Birnbaum's Walt Disney World For Kids 2011
  Birnbaum's Walt Disney World For Kids 2011                                

3.  Arrive Early- Arriving early to the parks is one of the best tips I feel I can give you. You will see and do more between park opening and 11:00 AM then you will all day at the parks. If you arrive 10 minutes prior to park opening you will even be in for a little treat.....each park has a special rope drop ceremony in the morning. Know the park hours and plan to be there as they open.

2. Slow down and enjoy the magic- This is the single most important tip I can give you. I have traveled to Walt Disney World over 20 times and I still see and do new things on every single trip I take. In order to fully enjoy the Walt Disney inspired details that are surrounding the entire property, you have to stop and smell the roses. If you see something that catches your fancy...stop and enjoy it. Do not be afraid to be spontaneous....some of the best things happen when we are not planned.

1. The last tip I have will be from other Disney Guru's. What are some tips you would like to share?

See ya real soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Money Saver Monday!! Pack those personal items and save more money

Happy Monday Guru readers!! I truly hope that you had a wonderful weekend!

With holiday shopping in full swing many of us are thinking about great ways we can save money for our 2011 trip(s).  By planning well ahead of time you can save yourself a TON of money. With the rising costs of air fare and luggage, many people decide to purchase their personal care items from their Walt Disney World Resort. Sure you can purchase those items from your Walt Disney World Resort, but be prepared to pay top dollar for those items. 

Here are a few items you will want to have with you to avoid paying a ridiculous amount of money at your resort:

Disposable Cameras
Camera Memory Card
Lotion(They no longer supply this in your resort room)
Over the counter medications
As a reminder, you cannot purchase gum anywhere on Walt Disney World property.

Then of course you always want to be prepared for things that you do not plan on. Let's face it, when you visit Florida for at least a week, especially in the summer months, plan on rain. With rain comes the need for ponchos. Sure, you can purchase those ponchos at Walt Disney World, for the hefty price of $10 per poncho. Now I don't know about you folks, but I do not want to fork over $50 on vacation for rain ponchos.  For about $4 you can purchase the same quality rain poncho from Wal-Mart or Target. 

 A must do for all of you summer month travelers, a personal fan mister. Any time we visit Walt Disney World during the summer months we are sure to bring the misters with us.  The downfall is not only do you need it, but Disney knows that. Be prepared to pay about $19 per mister....yikes!! The great news is, Wal-Mart sells the exact same misters, minus the Disney logo, for only $!!! Be sure you have enough batteries to power each fan throughout your stay. Another bonus is your little ones will love the mister so much that they won’t even ask for a souvenir (well at least not for a little while). 

Planning ahead for your Disney trip is not only fun, but it is a great way to save some extra money at the same time. Share your great money saving tips by commenting on this post, or visiting our Facebook page...I would just love to hear from you!!! :0)

See ya real soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeping Up With The Magic

I feel so blessed to have a family that loves to travel to Walt Disney World as much as I do.  The magic is never ending from trip to trip. One thing I have noticed is that the more seasoned I get as a Disney traveler, the better our trips become.  Each year I learn new things to see and do, to help enhance the magic that already exists at Walt Disney World. 

To keep the magic fresh this year we tried a few new things and of course we still had the most magical time!!

Themed T-Shirts-Ok so nothing says Disney nerd like a family wearing themed t-shirts...or does it??? A few weeks before we left for our October trip, I found that on the Disboards there are some creative individuals that will create t-shirt designs for you for FREE!! Yep I said free!!! Not only are these people very talented but man oh man are they timely. I created 8 shirts for my trip and my family had a blast wearing them!! Each shirt was similar but had a unique design just for the person wearing it. This idea was a great way to avoid purchasing expensive shirts from the parks and it was so much fun to make. The pictures we took while wearing our shirts came out very cute. Check out Creative DISigns to meet the creators and get started on your creative t-shirt designs. By the way...if I could get the cool guy with the sunglasses on to wear a shirt, it must not be that

Dole Whip Float- So I know this is a Disney must do snack item. Last year was my very first time trying just the Pineapple Soft serve. To be really honest, I was not too impressed...not that it was not good but it was just soft serve. Well this year I took a giant leap of faith and used my snack credit for a Pineapple Dole Whip Float and let me tell you folks...yummy!!! Not only did it quench my thirst but when I finished it left me craving some more. I am pretty sure I used half of my snack credits at Aloha Isle. :0)  We created some lasting memories enjoying our sweet treats together as a family.

Resort Browsing-We seem to always be on the go while we are at Walt Disney World...we never get to stop and smell the roses. My husband and I are considering purchasing DVC(Disney Vacation Club) and wanted to take a look at some of the resorts. We never seem to leave time to walk around and enjoy the free the scenery...hahaha. We had the opportunity to visit Bay Lake Towers and Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was amazed at how much better these places look in person. I am not naive and know that we could never get the full value of the resort from watching the DVC video or going on the tour here in Chicago...but WOW!! They were both beautiful...which by the way, makes our choice that much harder. We truly enjoyed the sights and sounds of AKL at night and the Savannah takes your breath away. We loved the crisp, clean feel of BLT. Resort browsing is something I have never ever taken the time to do but I am so glad that I stepped out of my bubble and took the time to enjoy something new.

The Cowboy Scene in The Great Movie Ride- I finally did it!! I asked the CM at the front of the queue if we could see the cowboy scene and I LOVED it!!! It is true people there are two sides to The Great Movie Ride..we even got to sit in the front!!

Decorated my Resort Window- I know people have been doing this for years. We have never remembered to pack items to decorate our window. This time we had a blast going to Target to purchase window clings, and lights to decorate our resort window for was so much fun!! When we got home at night and the kids saw the lights illuminating the hallway, they were so excited...and yeah of course the adults were as well.

Just an fyi...these are not my windows. I actually forgot to take a picture of my own

Dressed up for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party- I am all about being a kid at heart and all but I never have enjoyed dressing up for Halloween....well at least that is what I thought. My husband has begged me for years to dress up and finally I gave in. I have never seen a grown man get so excited about dressing up for Halloween. Needless to say I am hooked and will continue to keep the tradition alive. By the way my mother in law and 22 year old brother in law also go in on the action. :0)

Walked the Pop Century Grounds-We have stayed at Pop Century 5 times now and I am embarrassed to say that until this past trip I have never fully walked the grounds. We have always had the luxury of getting our room request on the first floor just outside of the Hippy Dippy Pool. This is a great location at Pop...but because it is so centralized, we never found our way around the resort. Like everything Disney, this resort is just spectacular. Everything about it is lively and vibrant. The theme stays true throughout the grounds. One thing I loved were the year plaques that were placed throughout the decades. My daughter and I were on the hunt for our birth year so that we could read what happened the year we were born.

These are just a few of the many new things I tried this year while on my travels to Walt Disney World...I know that there is no way I could ever do it all. This is how we keep the magic fresh from trip to trip. How do you keep the magic fresh?

See ya real soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday's top ten signs you are a Disney geek

Chances are if you are reading this you may have a slight addiction to Disney. I know I do..I eat breath and sleep Walt Disney World. If I could live in a little bubble in the middle of Main Street USA I firmly believe that I would be the happiest woman on earth. :0)

So are you a Disney geek??

10. You have been sighted wearing Disney Crocs not only to Walt Disney World but to the local Target store.

9. Once you let people know you are going on vacation they do not even bother to ask where you are going....they automatically assume you are going to Walt Disney World.

8. You have Disney Stick Family Decals in your car window.
7.You do not need a park map at any time during your Walt Disney World vacation.

6. You order the Disney vacation planning DVD and watch it as a family movie....popcorn and all.

5. You frequent daily to price out vacation packages, even though you have no intention of purchasing one.
4. You belong to a Disney discussion forum and post on it daily.

3. You create Disney themed t-shirts for your family to wear during your Disney trip....come on I do it too!!! :0)

2. You have vacation planning spreadsheets (that you have created) and actually enjoy analyzing the park hours in combination with your dining reservations.

1.  You have no problem reading the following sentence. On Monday, my DH and I are starting off our day at AK and then we headed over to MK  to eat at CRT. Last we will ride BTM, and finish our day off watching fireworks while we ride TTA.

See ya real soon!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sorry for the delay

Hello Guru readers....I would like to apologize for the delay in my postings. I was having some technology issues and was unable to post. Please check us tomorrow for our regular scheduled postings.

See ya real soon!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just How Busy???

Friday Question of the Week.....

It is that time of year again...many people are planning to spend Christmas week at Walt Disney World. Could the holidays get any more magical than that? Now, I know there are many seasoned Walt Disney travelers...I am one of them...but I also know that there are many seasoned Walt Disney Travelers that have never been to Disney the week of Christmas....I am one of them. :0)

So my questions is, how can those of us that have never been to Walt Disney World Christmas week(seasoned or newbie’s), prepare for the crowds that we will encounter. Really...truly....honestly?????

Reply with your feedback in the comments section....I cannot wait to hear your thoughts.

Hope that everyone has a safe and magical weekend!! :0)

See ya real soon!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where in the World??? Answer

This picture is located in The Cinderella Castle. Check it out the next time you dine in the castle. Check back next Wednesday for another photo challenge.
Email me your pictures to use...I would love to hear from you.
See ya real soon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where in the World??

Where in the World-Wednesday's

Here is a photo challenge for you. Where in the "World" can you find the picture below. Post your guesses in the comments I will give you the answer at the end of the night on Wednesday.
Have Fun!!!

Do you have a picture that you would like me to feature on Where in the World-Wednesday's? Email me and I will be sure to use your picture.

See ya real soon!