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25 Fun and Useful Ideas ~ the Month Before Your Disney World Vacation

Countdown to Disney

We are 23 days from our next  Disney World Vacation and I’ll be honest I am just dying to pack my park bags!! However, when I brought it up to my son Joshua, he looked at me like I was a little crazy. So instead, I will write a post about 25  fun and useful things to do to get you ready for your next trip.

Disney World Vacation

The Month Before Your Disney World Vacation

25. Have a discussion with everyone about snacks you are going to take into the parks. Yes, this is not the most fun but you will thank me when you don’t spend $4 for snacks throughout the parks. Yes, $4 is not too much, but take that times 6 of us, twice a day for 7 days ~ that is ( hold on I’m doing the math) $336.00. Quite a chuck of money for muffins and fruit. Amazon Prime Pantry can ship straight to your Disney Hotel. 

24. If you have not been to Disney before ~ I’m sure you have heard about the Disney Pins you can trade. So obviously, if you haven’t been to Disney before you won’t have any. You can buy what I call starter pins on eBay very cheap. They come in groups, so when you get them,  have the kids sit down and pick their favorites! Don’t forget the lanyards to pin them on. I recommend getting them on Amazon. They are way cheaper than Disney prices. Save your money for that special pin at the parks.

23.  Watch a favorite Disney Movie to get everyone in the mood.

22. If your kids are a little older Hidden Mickeys are all over Disney World. It’s a good way to pass time while in lines. There are around 1,000 Mickeys hidden. Just a note of interest ~ this all started as an inside joke among Disney Imagineers.

21 . Autograph books-  I bought books from the Dollar Store when my kids where younger and let them decorate them. So it cost me $1 and some stickers instead of $8.  You can also have characters sign your hat, a shirt, or bag. Just remember to bring a sharpie.

20. Go over your schedule together. See if you are missing anything. Also, double check the park hours because they tend to change as you get closer to the date. Remember to schedule some down time.

19. Play a Disney Game as a family. Disney trivia is my favorite.

18. If you have been to Disney before pull out the old pictures and videos and spend some time remembering what a great trip it was.

17. Make Mickey Mouse Pancakes

16. Watch a new Disney Movie you have not seen yet.

15. Download to your phone, if you haven’t, all the apps you can use while in Disney. Also add these to your husbands and kids phone. They are extremely useful and that way everyone has the information. You can find my list here ~ I have found these to be the most useful and easiest to use.

14. When my kids were younger I would draw a map of our journey from Pennsylvania to Disney.  As we drove they could keep track of the trip. I guess if you are flying, that could work too ~ include the trip to the airport. It just gives them a visual of how far they are going.

13. I also used a binder and printed pages to keep kids busy. Coloring, word finds, or trivia about Disney. What ever your kids are interested in.

12. Play Disney Scene It DVD game

11 . Need help getting ready for your trip? Have the kids chip in and earn a little Disney Souvenir money for them to use at Disney.

10. Pick out movies and things to occupy everyone on the car trip down.

9 . If you are having an order from Amazon (for snacks or breakfast items)  sent to your hotel at Disney ~ do it now.

8 . Remember to pre-check in to your hotel if you are staying on site. This will save time later on and help you get what you need from your stay there.

7 . Start Packing!! I try to find a place to hold everything we will be taking (or at least some of it). That way I can slowly add things as I go.

6. Pick out clothes

5 . Watch a Disney Movie

4. Pack park bags. I get these ready at home so they are filled with everything I will need in the parks. 

3. Pack up last minute items. 

2. Pack up car

1. Get a good sleep and dream about your trip!!

Affiliate links are used ~ These are just products that I personally like and find helpful

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12 Ways to Prepare your Preschooler for you Disney World Trip

Ways to Prepare your Little One for your Disney World Trip

I love Disney! It can be a little overwhelming to young kids. Here are 12 ways to help get them ready for their first trip to Disney World. Or if they have been before, to help build up the excitement. Your preschooler will love these!

 prepare preschoolers for Walt Disney World

  1. Telling young kids ~ This in itself can be a lot of fun. Take them to their first Disney movie at the movies. Do a picture treasure hunt. Do a whole theme evening at your house. They are little and so easy to please ~ have fun with it. Wait till they are teenagers ~ the little things are just not as exciting to them. Take advantage of this time!
  2. Make a countdown ~ for little ones I have seen a lot of people do a paper chain, they can help make it. I just did a Disney Countdown Calendar . You could print out Disney coloring pages, let them color them, and then use them for decorating the calendar. 
  3. Watch Disney Movies ~ Disney Movie are great for the whole family. If they have not seen many, this is a great way to get them ready for the characters on your trip. Wait till you see their little faces light up when they see their favorite movie character.
  4. Make Mickey Mouse pancake ~ I did this for my kids and now for the little ones I keep during the week. Always a big hit!
  5. Read Disney Books ~ Princesses or All Characters ~ Or maybe Disney books from when you were little. Where ever you get them ~ you can never go wrong with reading.
  6. Listen to Disney Music ~ When you get to Disney World, you will be immersed in all things Disney. The more they recognize, the more fun it will be. If you don’t have a CD ~ you can use Pandora (the free version) to listen to music. Or if you belong to  Amazon Prime, take advantage of their free music. 
  7. Souvenir Budget ~ Have you little one help you around the house. They can make a little jar to save the money to buy their own souvenir. This helps them learn about money and makes them feel important. It also might help them not ask for everything. Extra Tip ~ buy cheep little Disney things at home they would like. You can save them for the trip and give them to your little one in place of all the expensive things at Disney. 
  8. Play Disney Games ~ These are great ways to learn to take turns. There are also lots of free games you can download on your phone or iPad for little ones.
  9. Watch Disney Movies ~ refer to #3. I believe you can never watch too many Disney Movies. Make brownies and pop corn for a movie night. Put on your pj’s and remember what it was like to be a kid.
  10. Packing ~ Let them help you pack toys for the trip to Disney World. If your driving and have a DVD player, let them help pick out movies too. 
  11. Use utube ~ This is a great tool to help show them a little of what they will see. There are lots of  videos to choose from. You can check out rides, fireworks, or  whatever you think will help them feel more comfortable on your trip. 
  12. Talk to them about if they get separated from you. You hope it never happens, but it does. Come up with a plan for your family. It happened to us. We lost my niece for the time it took us to run to a show. Fortunately we talked about how to find an employee and stay with them. My niece still reminds us of it 13 years later. Always pays to be prepared.
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Walt Disney World Trip Countdown Calendar

Walt Disney World Countdown Calendar

Here is a great way to get more out of your next Walt Disney World Trip! I love Disney ~ but let’s face it, it is expensive so you need to squeeze out as much magic as possible.! 

I do a Disney countdown when we take our trips now. It is a great way to build the excitement!! You can go really simple or get very crafty. Some people start theirs 90 or 100 days away. I keep mine to 60. Usually, I just do a number countdown with a themed background. Last years was Disney Quotes. I love the idea of a countdown because it really extends your trips magic. 

This year I did a calendar with the theme ~ Movies We Love. It was nice looking back and remembering some of the movies we had forgotten. Movies that my kids would want to watch over and over again when they were young.

First I bought a piece of poster board. I went online and picked out picture of the movies I could print out.  I have these at the bottom so if you like, you can just print them out.  Somewhere it the process I decided to put some more  color into my design. I went to Michael’s and bought 4 sheets of scrap booking paper for the background. So, in all I spent $4.26. Don’t forget to use your coupon at Michael’s. 

 First I drew on my calendar Walt Disney World Trip Countdown CalendarThe squares where 2 inches by to 2 inches. This left about 4 inches around the perimeter. I’m telling you this because it drove me crazy coming up with the sizing I wanted ~ but I obsess. 

Next I took my colored paper and glued it around the edges. Then I cut out my pictures and letters I had found on the internet.  I used a hard clear plastic paper with white polka dots (found with the scrap booking paper)  over my black paper at the top for a little extra design. 

mickey mouseI also used this on my walking Mickey that I will use to move from day to day. Get it!! He is walking towards our trip date!!  (Yes, my son looked at me strangely when I told him that too) This way he would be less fragile as he went along his way. 

Now the fun part. Decorating it was the easy part.   I also thought if you had little ones at home you could print off Disney coloring pages. The kids can color them and you can cut them out. Then use them to make your poster. What a great way to get them involved!

The finished project

Walt Disney World Trip Countdown Calendar

 Here is everything I used if you would like to print them off:

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Save Hundreds on Your Trip to Walt Disney World

You see the headline ~  save hundreds ~ and think ~~ yeah right!

I am here to tell you, you can save hundreds on your Walt Disney World Trip

I found this out a little while back and could not believe it would work, but guess what? It did!!

Okay what you need to know to save money on your next Walt Disney Trip. First you will need a Target credit card. Then you go to Target and buy Disney gift cards on your Target Card. Save hundreds on your Walt Disney TripYou will save five percent just like anything else you buy on your Target card. So if your trip costs $4000.00 you will save $200! I could not believe they would take the five percent off gift cards, but they do.

Now to really save the money you must remember to pay off your Target card before it accrues interest!! I keep the page  where I pay my Target card, right beside my Disney apps on my phone. This is a good reminder. Be sure to write down when you got the cards,  and when you paid Target. I keep track of this is my Disney Binder.  Target will only allow you to buy about $500 worth of Disney gift cards at a time. So you will have to make a few trips, but it is worth it.

You can also use the Disney gift cards at some restaurants at the parks. Don’t forget to use them at the stores for souvenirs. We usually go in May, so I always get my kids gift cards for their Easter basket so they will have their own spending money.  

It’s okay if you don’t believe this amazing tip. Like I said earlier, I didn’t believe it when I read it either. I am so glad I tried it and that I can pass this great tip onto you.                                                                                                                                    Now get out there and save!

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Questions to ask Before ~ You Plan Your Walt Disney World Trip

What should you ask yourself before you plan your Walt Disney World trip

The first question is where do I get my information?

I will not lie to you, a trip to Disney World takes a lot of planning. It  can also be overwhelming your first time.  I promise you it will be worth it! If you have never been or if you have had a disappointing trip (this makes me so sad) lets start from the beginning.5 questions before you plan your Disney trip

First of all Walt Disney World is HUGE. I am sorry to say unless you are staying a month or more~ you will not see or do everything. That is okay. You will do and see what is most important to your family right now. This will change as your kids get older so eventually you will see almost everything.

Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Book – I will also tell you about some great places on line to find information. I always like one of these books on hand. Web info is great but can sometimes be a little all over the place. With this you can highlight things or write in the margins. It has so much information right in your hand.

Mousesavers.com – This in one of the first websites I found when I started doing my research. It really has almost anything you will need to plan an amazing  trip. They even have a newsletter that comes to you every month if you’re interested. I found their information to be invaluable.

Undercovertourist.com – I came across this while in Mousesavers. It has a lot of great information, especially if you had thoughts of visiting other attractions in Orlando.

Alright these are just 3 sources. If you are interested there are literally too many to count. Feel free to explore to your hearts content. If you are just learning these 3 sources will provide more that enough information.

Now that we have some good sources, what questions should you ask yourself about planning your trip to Walt Disney World?

When do you want to go?

There are a lot of factors that come into play. Is that predetermined by your vacation time?  Is your budget the most important thing?  Do you have kids in school? I always take my kids out of school. I know a lot of people cringe at this but it is definitely way less crowded during the school year. While we are zipping through lines I am always thankful I did. Keep in mind that holiday weekends can be as busy as the summertime. Also remember just because it is sunny Florida that there are months that can be quite chilly. To find the best deals coming up go to Disney’s Website ~ they have all their specials and discounts listed for you to help  save some money.

Where to stay?

I will be honest with you, I have only stayed on site, so I cannot give you any great incite.  Advantages to staying off site are you will probably save some money. These hotels usually have more space also.  Some hotels off site from Disney do offer transportation to the parks.

Staying on site you are immersed in Disney and transportation is easy and free to anywhere in Disney World. Disney World has 3 tiers of resorts. There are Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. They each offer different experiences. We usually stay at one of the All-Star resorts. This is a value resort and we choose it for two reasons~ the cost is lower and we spent so little time there it doesn’t make sense to  spend more. All resorts have restaurants and pools on site. If you think you will spend more time at your resort, you should certainly look into the others to make a good decision.

 Disney World Dining Plan or Not?

This is a tough one. I am visiting in May for the first time in a long time without using Disney’s Dining plan. After this trip I will do  a blog with more information. I do not think there is really a wrong answer. With the dining plan your whole trip is paid for up front. The only money you might need to take would be for souvenirs. This is really great knowing everything is paid for.  If you do get a dining plan do not get the deluxe (sorry Disney).  Eat breakfast in your hotel room. It saves money and time.

If you don’t get the dining plan you will probably save some money, especially if your group are not big eaters. This is great if you are worried about that budget. I will give you some quick tips. Disney allows you to take food into the parks. There are some constraints but feel free to pack your lunch. If you do not pack a lunch at least take snacks into the parks. This will save you a good bit if you have little ones.

How long will your stay be?

Keep in mind there are four big parks so if you can do the minimal of 4 days, that at least gives you time to get to each park. Also remember there are also 2 water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf, and a partridge in a pear tree………… oh no sorry about that. But you get my point ~ it is BIG. I will repeat ~ you will not get to do everything. We have been there 5 times and still not done everything. Disney is always growing and changing. Six days is probably a really good average. Two days at Magic Kingdom, two at Hollywood Studios, one at Animal Kingdom and one at Epcot. However everyone is different ~ so do your research after you book your trip. I will work on that blog next!

 

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Top 15 Apps & Websites to Plan & Enjoy Disney!

I have  searched for the most useful apps and websites for your trip to Walt Disney World. Some are great for planning and some for getting around at Disney World.  There are also a few to help pass the time in lines. All are free except the last app which is 99 cents.

Top 15 Apps & Websites to Plan & Enjoy Disney!

1. My Disney Experience  is #1 on my list ~  it is  THE  Disney App and you can make plans and keep track of  your trip using this app.                                                                                                                                                    

2. Magic Guide for Walt Disney World  ~ This has maps, dining, ride wait times, and park hours.  The above app does the same but this one is more streamlined and I find it useful while we are in the parks.

3. Undercover Tourist Orlando ~ This tells you the crowd estimates for the parks and gives you the weather forecast.          

 4. Disney Countdown ~ Great app for your phone to help you make the big countdown. It has pictures of Disney or you can add your own. I screen shot it on my phone and text it to my family!                                                                                                    

5. Walt Disney World Trivia ~ Fun trivia game about the parks to play while you’re in line.                                                            

6. Disney Trivia ~ Trivia about Disney movies and music.                                                                                                                                      

7. Disney Side ~ Cute picture app to have Disney fun with your pictures.                                                                

8. Shop Parks ~ This will help you find specific merchandise in Disney World. You can look it up and then find it at a park or resort.

9. WDW Phone #’s  ~ This app holds all the phone numbers you could possibly need to ask any question you could think to ask.              

10. My last one is Heads Up ~ It is not a Disney app but they do have a Disney version. We played it in line at Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster on our last trip. Yes we looked silly ~ but guess what ~ one of the workers came over to play with us and then others started playing it too!!! It was a fun way to pass the time.

Next are the websites:

1. My Disney Experience ~ Yes, this is the same as the app but you can use it on your computer. As long as you’re signed in any plans you make are saved. This is the best website to help plan your trip.   

2. AllEars.net and themouseforless.com ~ These are both websites that list all the places to eat at Disney. Not only that, but they include the menus and the prices! I know, I know you don’t need two but I could not decide between them.  They are a great way to pick the perfect restaurant for your family

3. Distripplanner.com ~ This is a Disney dining calculator. It helps you to decide whether to get the Disney Dining Plan or not. I was pretty amazed when I found it. I was also skeptical, so I went through myself and calculated and guess what it works really well. This is a great tool to use to help plan your trip.

4. Last but not least is the Disney World website!

Now that you have all the tools to make your trip stupendous ~ get out there and plan!!

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Seize The Day ~ Don’t take it for granted

Seize The Day~~WE  ARE  GOING TO DISNEY IN MAY!!

This is a last minutes trip. What lead to this insanity you ask?

~~ I have two daughters who are graduating ~ one from high school one from college. This has lead to me understanding that our family is really changing and that has lead to sadness. Another reason we decided to go ~ we lost someone close to us this past year. This person has not left my thoughts one day since she passed away.  It is a constant reminder that you never know what tomorrow brings so you better get out there and make every day count.  So we are doing what my financial adviser (haha if I had one) would tell me not to do. We will spend time as a family,  make memories to have forever, and then come home and sit on a worn couch.  

More to come but I have to go make plans now………….

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Happiest Place on Earth~~ Walt Disney World

Our Trip last year to Walt Disney World. It was early in the morning and we were in The Magic Kingdom before it opened for the day.

 

 This is just about my favorite place on earth~~ of course that is because it is…… The Happiest Place on Earth. If i am in a bad mood -talk Disney to me and it will pull me out every time. If you are planning your first trip or maybe did not love your last trip~ feel free to ask me anything. I love planning our trips and would love to help make your experience as great as ours  have been. The next best thing to planning your trip is helping someone else plan theirs.