Back in 2015, we were having a rough start to our vacation. Mr. Disney Magic had come down with a serious cold on the drive down and felt bad. Our youngest had skinned his knee that morning getting on the bus, and when we found out our beloved Flame Tree BBQ was closed for refurbishment we were all starting to turn un-Disney from being hungry, frustrated and having a problem in our touring plan suddenly being off schedule. We ended up backtracking, and going to Restraunt-o-sarus, where first, when we started to take our sleeping 2 year old out of the stroller, the manager stopped us, saying not to wake him, led us through a side entrance, and let our oldest sit with him while we ordered. I'm not going to comment on the Disney pizza, it's not my favorite, but what WAS magical, was the manager stopped by a few times to talk to us. He made us all laugh, and then, before we left, asked if we knew the secret trail behind the Tree of Life. We didn't, and so he told us. It was absolutely incredible getting so close to the tree on a trail that no one else was on, even with the park so busy. That's where I snapped this photo. I can't remember that man's name, but every time I see this photo, I remember how grateful we felt that he told us about the walking path, and turned what was starting to be an bad hour, into something magical! I love Disney CMs!
In a previous post I talked about the Disney Dining Plan. Maybe you've decided that it's the right plan for you. Now what? If you've never had the plan before, how do you know you are not just breaking even, but you are coming out ahead?
Depending on which Disney Dining Plan you selected, what you are going to need to spend in order to break even, or come out ahead is going to vary. It's usually not too hard though. We've got a few tips for that you make it pretty easy to maximize your Dining Plan credits.
Order expensive or order out of pocket.
When you've got the dining plan, no meal is off limits. So don't worry about the cost. Of course, if you want the Cesar Salad with Grilled Chicken for $15 while dining at the 50's Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood studios, go ahead. Just don't overlook Dad's Stuffed Pork Chop with Gouda Cheese, apples and herbs with roasted potatoes, carrots and a demi-glace drizzle for $25, because if you have the dining plan, price shouldn't be the first thing your eye wanders too on the menu. Get what you want.
If that salad still looks tasty, but maybe for later, use a snack credit on a smaller one, or wait and buy it somewhere as a late evening snack out of pocket. A lot of places have that salad.
Choose your snacks wisely.
The snack selection at Disney World varies widely. A snack credit can be a big bag of Chip and Dale's trail mix with a zip top (one of my fav's to take home!), a fancy cupcake in one of many different character designs (my boys love the Darth Vader one), or even 2 jumbo cookies with a big scoop of ice cream in the middle (Mr Disney Magic's favorite.) You could also use your snack credit on a banana, a package of grapes, a fountain drink, a bottle of water or a huge fancy coffee at the Starbucks. There are loads of other things to use snack credits on, but you can see, depending on what you want, the value is going to vary widely. A banana is not going to cost near as much as a caramel apple or huge Starbucks frappachino, just like a bottle of water isn't going to have the same value as a bowl of soup, or an appetizer from a food booth at Epcot.
Just like before, if you want it, get it, but if you are wanting to take some special Disney treats home for later, or you figure you are there, so you're just going to grab that bottle of water, you might want to pay out of pocket for the things that are inexpensive, like that banana. If a snack is more than $5, it's a good snack credit use. If it's under that, you will make out better just paying cash, and using your credit on something more expensive, or bringing home some treats.
A word on using snack credits: A reader brought up in a previous comment that they didn't realize that they specifically had to say they wanted to use a snack credit and had a shock their last night when on their list of charges were a number snacks, they thought were included in their dining plan. It was taken care of in the end, but save yourself the worry and time, and if you want to use a snack credit, tell the Cast Member you want to use a snack credit on that item.
If you eat 3 meals a day but only have a plan for 2:
If you want to have 3 meals a day but are only paying for 2, and you aren't really a fan of a in room breakfast like fruit or a granola bar, there's a few tips to stretch your meal credits. The snack credit can really save the day in this case. First, you could use a snack credit for breakfast to get a pastry or a bagel, or you could use it for lunch on a bowl of soup, a salad, or some other appetizer if you want to use a meal credit for breakfast. You could also consider splitting a meal.
Some of the portions are so generous that I am hard pressed to finish them, and at times, so was Mr. Disney Magic. For example, at Cosmic Ray's I ordered the half chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans. In the summer heat, that was a little too much for me, but would have been perfect for me to split with someone. We could have even ordered an extra side if we thought it wouldn't have been enough on it's own. Lastly, while it would be an out of pocket expense, you can also order from the kids menu, even if you are an adult. The Power Pack Lunch available at Quick Service places is really popular with adults to order, because it has a Danimals yogurt, apples, carrot sticks, goldfish crackers, an apple cinnamon snack bar and your choice of a milk, juice or water for $5.99. That's honestly quite a bit of food, but the best part is it's also pretty portable! Grab it and go get in an attraction line!
Order family style.
This sort of falls under the sharing category, but depending on where you go, using one of my favorites, Wolfgang Puck Express, as example, a family of 4 could eat using only 2 Quick Service dining credits by ordering 2 pizzas to share. The same thing could be if you ordered the half chicken and two veggies meal at Cosmic Ray's. Of course, you'll either need to buy two more drinks, or break out your bottled water of juice, but that's a perfect idea to stretch your credits out a little and use them later for an extra meal, or maybe on a 2 credit table service.
One of the best things about the Disney Dining Plan is the flexibility you have to order what you want, when you want. Sure, you could do that anywhere really, but with the Dining Plan, it doesn't matter if what you want is $6, or $26. With the dining plan, you are covered and it all basically costs the same! No worries if someone wants something pricey!
If You Like to Eat a Lot or Want to Meet Characters
Those with large appetites or interested in having a meal with a character would benefit from booking table service for buffets, or character dining. Some restaurants even include VIP seating for nighttime shows. Check to make sure that you are booking one that only requires one credit though. If it requires two credits, it might make more sense to pay out of pocket.
Keeping Track of Your Credits
Remaining meal and snack entitlements will always appear at the bottom of your receipt, so hang on to those, or at least your most recent one so that you make sure to use all of your credits before your trip is over. The night before your departure, or the day of, stop by the gift shop to use those last few snack credits so nothing gets wasted.
Are you a Disney Dining Plan fan? What's your favorite thing to use a credit on?
Each Sunday I am hoping to do a spotlight on something that we enjoy at Disney World. Today, I am showing you Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. Grab your safari hat, don't forget the sunscreen and walk with me through the African Village of Harambe on our way to board the Safari. There are African dancers moving to the sound of drums, people bustling around and bright colors everywhere in the market place.
Once you've climbed aboard your personal safari vehicle, with your very own guide, sit back, relax, and listen as your driver points out 34 different African exotic species roaming free on a 110 acre Wildlife Reserve with plains, rocky wetlands and lush, shady forests. Get your camera ready, maybe we can see a few! Climb on... we're leaving!
Thanks for going along with us on the safari! It's a shame a lot of the other photos didn't turn out but there's always next time! What's your favorite animal to see on safari?
Summer time means road trips. Whether it's a short drive to Grandma's house, or a longer drive to your vacation destination, at some point this summer chances are good you are going to hit the road. Chances are also good at that some point, if you have little people (or if you are like me, and not a good sitter in the car) you are going to hear (or say) the familiar, “Are we there yet?!”
Part of surviving and staying sane in the car is preparation. After you've given your vehicle the once over, a few minutes of inside prep can make for a much smoother drive!! Here are a few of the Disney Magic Mommy's suggestions that have worked well for us over the years for both kids and adults!
Pack a few snack and drinks.
When people get hungry, they get grouchy. Prevent that with some snacks and drinks. Treat yourself to favorites you you don't usually buy, to make it more special. With kids, something that can be eaten slower is better. A treat of M&Ms vanishes much faster than a unicorn lollipop! Our kids think the coolest thing ever is to stop off at a gas station and get their own bag of chips and drink, something they don't usually get to do at home. Sometimes something a little out of the ordinary is extra special, and gets you to that next stop.
Don't forget the charged up tablets or DVDs for the player
Nothing stinks so much as getting down the road and realizing the tablets aren’t charged and there's no DVD for the player. Don't do that to yourself. Double check before you go! Grab headphones and then you'll be able to hear without the pups in Paw Patrol yipping every few seconds while you're trying to call out map directions.
I bet every mom packs a few surprises for their kid, new books, or crayons and paper, small toys or a brand new DVD. As a kid I always looked forward to those new trinkets, and now, my kids do too. If you show ahead of time, not only can you find cute things inexpensively, but you could also make it all into a theme. Going to the beach? Get ocean themed coloring books, stickers and shells to look at from the dollar store, Finding Dory for the DVD player, etc.
Every summer Target puts the old fashioned backseat bingo games in their dollar spot. You could also print off all kinds of neat games for the car, like some of these:
or this one, frommomsminivan.com
Comforts for quiet time
It's important to have something familiar too, a favorite soft toy to snuggle, and a light weight blanket. Since children have thinner skin, they get cooler faster, and sometimes when the crankies hit, nothing is more soothing than your usual snuggle buddy.
Kids love music, and whether it's a CD of kids songs, or a kids audio book, loading those up onto an old phone or mp3 player is going to hold their attention for at least a little while. Did you know kids audio books can also be pretty inexpensive? Check these out!
Adult to do's
Mr. Disney Magic does all the driving on trips, and so he gets to choose the music. But if you aren't a music person, a great audio book is fantastic. For the passenger, how about catching up on some of those magazine's that have been piling up near the sofa? I usually take along a loom to do some loom knitting for hats and scarves for a local homeless shelter. There are tons of puzzle books too, just don't forget to talk to the driver, to help them stay alert, and be an extra pair of eyes on the road!
Do you have some other great things that adults and kids can do in the car to keep busy? Comment below, please!!
Part of this weeks blog hop at
I'm not affiliated with Michael's, just wanted to spread the word!
Register now for Michael's DISNEY THEMED Camp Creativity. It's $5 per session, or $12 for three. Classes are help Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, from 10 am til noon.
There are some ADORABLE things for you, or your little person to make!! Crafts are generally in the 30 minute or less time frame.
Take a quick peek at what they are offering!! I'm a little sad we will be out of town week one, I think that's my favorite!
Which week is your favorite? If you make any of these, come back and post a picture or post it on Disney Mommy Magic's Facebook!