Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Paying for your trip.

A few days ago, I posted about maximizing your dining plan while at Disney.  Today, I want to talk a little bit about maximizing the one part of a Disney trip that everyone dreads....paying for it.  I was reminded to do this post after a client paid their trip with me using a method I'll mention below...quite a good way to maximize your money! ....  Read on!

We all love the planning...deciding on the time to go, where to stay, what to do, etc.  We love while we are there, and the anticipation is palpable.  It always goes sideways, however, when it comes to money.  Disney is affordable...but definitely not cheap.  That being said, there are ways to maximize your potential to not get a big hit in the pocketbook before you go.

First off, we all know to save.  Saving a little bit here and there is huge when it comes to any big purchase, and a Disney vacation is no different.  Taking even as little as $50 per week will get you a long way toward getting the trip totally paid for.  I never advocate leveraging your credit in order to pay for a trip, but if you can save bit by bit and pay it off, that's the best way to go.  Booking directly through an Authorized Disney Travel Planner is the best way to do that since the trip is booked with a small deposit and then can be paid slowly off until 45 days prior to travel.

One specific way to save is to take the earmarked (pun intended) and purchase gift cards.  You can pay for your trip using Disney gift cards just as you would money.  The client I mentioned above paid the final $2800 of their trip all in gift cards they had purchased and saved over the last few months.  That way, the money is gone from your budget and can only be used for that purchase.  It keeps you honest, in a way.

Truth be told, you can take this one much farther as well.  For example, I've seen Southwest Airlines gift cards at stores as well.  If you know you are going to fly Southwest, begin to purchase gift cards in small increments to save for the trip.  Food is another way to save here.  Disneyland, which I haven't spent too much time talking about, is much different than Disney World in that it is much easier to eat out of the park at restaurants instead of in.  In fact, it's a way to save on costs while visiting that park.  Why not do a bit of research and see what restaurants are around your hotel (if you don't stay at one of the three Disneyland Resorts) and purchase gift cards for those?  Again...earmarking the money before you go so that you can plan.  You can also use the Disney gift cards to pay for meals...just use them like money in the parks at both quick serve as well as table service restaurants. (Keep in mind, you can't use a gift card to leave a tip, so you will need to have some cash on hand for that).

Taking it one step further, if you purchase your gift cards at whatever local store sells them with your Disney Visa card, you can make your money go even farther.  Each purchase on your Disney Visa gets you Disney dollars you can put on a card to use just like cash at Disney, on, or in the Disney Store.  It's all about making the money work for you, right?  The Disney Rewards Card can be used like cash at the parks, or can be used (like we do) to get those gifts and things we might want to purchase in the park beforehand at  

Lastly, there is no reason not to take it a little bit further.  Our local Kroger grocery store has a gas pump in front.  We have a Kroger Plus card that gets us fuel points for each dollar we spend.  If we accumulate 100 points, we can take 10 cents off per gallon of gas, up to 35 gallons.  If we make it to 1000 points, we can use up to $1 off!  Now....stay with me here....Purchase your gift cards for the trip with your Disney Visa Card, while Kroger is doing 4 times fuel points....that gives you Disney Reward Bucks for the purchase, Fuel Points that you can use to fill up your car, and gives you the savings flexibility to pay for a magical vacation without breaking the monthly budget.  Win, Win....Win!!'s all about making the money work for you.  If you can get something out of a purchase more than that purchase, do it!  It makes it all worth it in the end.

Have a Magical Day!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


So, unless you've been under a rock, in outer space, with blinders and headphones on, you've heard at least a little something about Frozen.  From the music, to the characters, Frozen has taken not only the US, but the world by storm.  It is the highest grossing movie in Disney history, and is still setting records for merchandise and media.

The characters are mainstays at Disney on both coasts, and are now going to be staples on Disney Cruise line.

But....does Disney stop there?  Why, of course not, silly!!   According to my friends over at Chip and Co. (, Disney is expanding a section of Epcot to include a Frozen attraction.

Here is what is being said from Disney:

Documents have been filed for Epcot’s Frozen Expansion. The new “Frozen” attraction will be located between Norway and Mexico. It will be taking over the old Maelstrom ride and then some. The new documents were prepared for the South Florida Water Management District and the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
It will be quite the expansion, it includes a 13,000 square foot building which will house the main attraction.


I definitely found myself drawn into the whole Frozen trend, and I, for one, can't wait.  Honestly, I think this is going to be the biggest thing for Disney World since the most recent Fantasyland expansion!

Wishing you a Magical Week,


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Maximizing your meal plan at Disney World

I get asked a lot about how to maximize your meal plan while at Disney.  There are quite a few ways that I've seen to make the most out of your 2 meals...assuming you aren't doing the Deluxe Dining.

One way is to manage your reservations.  Routinely, I've made breakfast reservations late at various restaurants so that your two meals can bridge the entire day with just supplements from snacks.  Truth be told, this is the spirit in which the meal plan was formed.  For example, make a late morning reservation at Chef Mickey's or Akershaus...say 11:00 or so...and you'll be good until your quick service dinner.

One of the best things about Disney...well all of central Florida's main attractions, the affordability of the food.  Even if you did have to purchase a meal here and there to supplement, you won't be spending an arm and a leg to do it.  One way that my family takes advantage of this is the purchase the big breakfast plate at breakfast time.  It usually comes with 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, 2 pancakes, and a drink.  We will share one or two of those for the whole family, and it will only cost us about $20.  Keep in mind we don't do that often...but when we do, it helps us slide through the day just fine.

Snacks are also quite useful.  I don't know anyone who gets to the end of their trip and doesn't have leftover snacks.  Use those snacks up getting fruit, or other carry-along type foods at the food court/resort shop before hitting the parks.  Then manage your reservations appropriately, and you'll be fine.

If none of those options appeals to you, you can always bring your own food.  If you are driving, there is a Sam's Club near the resorts, as well as various big box stores like Target and Walmart.  The best thing for Sam's is that if you are a member, you can Click-And-Pull an order and it'll be ready as you pass by.  That makes for a stress free arrival at the resort.

The Garden Grocer ( is an online service that will deliver certain groceries directly to the resorts.  You can even purchase a Styrofoam cooler to keep the perishables cool.  They'll deliver and the resort will bring it to your room.  You can also order non-perishables direct from or any other online retailer and have them shipped direct to your resort.  The resort will keep packages for you for 2 weeks prior to your arrival.  I mention Amazon directly because if, like us, you are an Amazon Prime member, you can take advantage of that free shipping and have the items you need already at your
resort!  Save money, time, and ......  your sanity!!

**(I would also like to point out that I am not getting compensated by any company I list.  This is merely an informational blog that provides travelers with ways to help their trip be fantastic.  I'm sure there are many other businesses, online entities, and other options that I've not listed here that will be great for your trip.  I use these, so I list these.  If you have any other ideas, please comment or message me.  I will be more than happy to use them as well.)

There are many ways to maximize your meal plan.  We so often think of 3 meals a day being the amount we need when, with just a little planning, you can make the two magical meals that Disney gives you last through your entire day!

Have a Magical Week!!