Ahh!! Disney for the holidays! There's nothing quite so cozy to remind you of your home away from home.
Sometimes I find the PERFECT thing at the store, and then nearly pass out cold at the price. Sticker shock, for sure! Doing Disney, or any theme, doesn't have to be expensive to look good, or have results!
Last year we were at a little place that's a big deal in our area for good bargains on books and home decor and toys. It's only open a few times a year, that's part of what makes it such a big deal. They were doing a Halloween event for the kids, so we thought, why not? We get there, and they had massive piles of plastic pumpkin pails. I already love those, I do this thing every Halloween where I cover the lawn with them, and inside place one or two battery tealights. As it gets darker and darker, our yard is lit with pumpkins of all sizes, each glowing. We get about 200 trick or treaters so it's always fun to make it look special. Anyway...I'm there, saying ohh look at those, when I see it. Someone walking away with MICKEY shaped pumpkin pails. I ran all over looking for some. No luck. I was standing near the checkout, when I saw them. A box full. I must have knocked over eleven people getting to that box. I asked the cashier if they were someone's, she said yes. Sad, I moved on. An hour later, I poke my head back around. "Anyone claimed these yet?" A shrug, and am I'm sorry, I just can't sell them because they are someone elses. So I check out, get to the parking lot and think, you know...no one's coming back for those or else they already would have. So I run back, leave my name and number, and start looking online for some. Can't find them. That evening, the phone rings, and lo and behold!! THEY WERE MINE!! Mr. Disney Magic earned himself some major brownie points heading over there and managing to get there two minutes before they closed. So now, I've Disney pumpkins for the lawn too, and I'll have to share a photo with you later of them glowing! The photo at the top is the backside of the pumpkin, the front is Mickey's face.
But my point is...doing Disney, doesn't have to be expensive. Let's look at a few of these awesome decorations that didn't cost much to do time OR money wise! It's amazing how a few of these clever people have Disney-ied up their homes, and on the cheap!
Click on the photo to take you right to their page.
Have any of these inspired you to add a little Disney to your decorations?
My boys LOVE dress up. At around age 3, they both have gone through the phase of costumes taking place of regular clothes. My youngest just turned 5, and he's still in that phase, but he amazes me every day with the costume creations he comes up with to represent characters. Disney bounding (and other characters) seems to come so easy to him! If I just had his awesomeness...seriously! My oldest is excellent at it too, when none of the Iron Man costumes fit him while they were playing Civil War, he made his own layering various clothes and using art supplies.
Kids love dress up, but do you cringe at the prices of costumes? I do too! We still have a ton of them, but I try to get them after halloween, or at yard sales, so we can have several costumes for the price of one.
But what about when the costume you want, isn't in the store? Or it's WAY too expensive? You make your own! I've found some super cute, super easy costumes you can make throwing together things from your kids closets, or just a quick trip to the store! Best of all, in the throng of trick or treaters, you won't be stuck trying to figure out which Spiderman or Sofia is yours..
Just click on a photo to take you to the original link where I found it!
First up..Indiana Jones. This little guy is mine, and he made the whole outfit up himself. Totally impressed me. When he wears khaki pants, everyone in the store starts calling him Indy, which he loves.
Mickey! Or Minnnie!! So cute! And so easy looking!! Add a red dress and put removable white dot stickers on it for Minnie, or maybe a fluffy tutu! You could also do Minnie in pink, like in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Monster's Inc! This is a great idea, and soo easy to make! You could do short or long sleeved!
A simple blue dress and a white apron could be Alice in Wonderland, or Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
This little Goofy is absolutely adorable!
Smee!!! how absolutely great this one is!
Before she went to the ball, there were floors to sweep... I actually like this costume better than the Princess version!
If your stash of Pixie Dust is all out, and there's no Fairy Godmother in sight, no need to worry! You can DIY your own costume, with things you already have!
Have you ever made your own costume? Or are you a Disney bounder? What awesome creations have you come up with?
Disney is expensive, and it's only natural that you want to find ways to cut your expenses. For some families, it's the only way that they can go, for others, they might not care about staying at a Disney resort, maybe they visit often, or they just want a place to rest, and some, there are just so many in the group, it makes more sense to rent a house. No matter which way you do it, there will be good things, and a few uhhhhhs. It's best to think carefully about what is best for YOU before you decide.
In order to help you decide which way is going to work best, we've outlined a few of the things to think about
On Property, you'll have a choice of either a restaurant/food court breakfast that you'll need to buy, or else a quick meal in your room, or on the way to the bus stop.
Off Property, if you've managed to find a place with free breakfast, that might just help out with the overall budget! No matter if you like a big meal, or just a snack, it's already included in the price of your room!
Rental: You'll have access to a few more kitchen tools and perhaps even a larger refrigerator to make meals, be it sit down or on the go.
Parking at your hotel/resort/rental
When you stay at a Disney Property, parking is always free. It's free to park at the resort, and it's free to park at the Parks if you take your own car. Of course, you can always use the free Disney transportation too.
Off property visitors are going to need to pay for parking, possibly at their off property resort, AND at the theme parks. When planning your trip, be sure to calculate that into the number of days you plan to stay. For an example, the BLAH LAG charges $ a night to park your car, .That's quite a huge chunk out of the vacation budget when you think about how you're going to have to pay to park at the theme parks as well!
It's definitely sneaky to charge these extra fees. The Orlando Sentinal did a report back in 2016, saying 129 hotels were charging “resort fees” to cover things like WiFi and parking.
Parking at the Disney Parks
If you stay On Property at a Disney Resort, you will not have to pay to park at any of their theme parks. If you are staying off property, you'll have to pay $20 for a standard parking spot, per day, or $40 for a preferred parking spot. Some other hotels do offer shuttles to the parks, but the time you wait can vary wildly, and there's not always the frequency of pick ups. If you rent a house, of course, it's likely you will need to take your own vehicle.
Meals don't have to be eaten at the parks, and honestly, there's nothing easier than heading back mid afternoon for a snack or a late meal. At a Disney property, it's pretty easy and convinient to grab something, but the same goes as you are leaving in your own vehicle and passing by numberous places. There's not really a savings one way of the other, it's just your personal preference. Meals inside of the parks really aren't as expensive as you would think, there's a wide variety of things to get in the $10 or less range.
While you can rest anywhere, with your own transportation you do have the luxury of driving yourself back whenever you want, without waiting for a shuttle to pick you up. I find though, that I like to rest a bit on the Disney bus, and that restores me enough it's an easier walk from the bus stop to my room, and even back again to the food court to fill my mug. We personally find it restful to let someone else do the driving in an unfamiliar area, but those of you with huge strollers, large families or not staying close by really might perfer to drive.
The pool will vary at Disney Properties depending on what level resort you are staying at. Value resports have no water slides, for example. If a deluxe pool is something that is important to your family, you might want to check out the pool at the place you are thinking of staying at first, to make sure it's going to fit your needs. We've found that the pools at the Value on property resorts are more than wonderful, with huge splash pads or splash pools, multiple pools per resort, (Pop Century has 3, and a splash pag, for example) and have poolside games and movies but some friends of ours refuse to stay anywhere that doesn't have a waterslide. That's important to them, so they make sure to check for it.
If you want your resort to scream I'M AT DISNEY!!! (at least on the outside) then you'll want to stay on property. If you just want a place to rest your head, or maybe a more spa like surrounding, well, you also might want to stay at Disney, in one of the moderate or deluxe resorts, or you might be fine staying off property. Off property, you are unlikly to get any Disney themeing, however, if you are renting a house, it's possible that you could get some thememing, to help you stay in The Bubble.
The Bubble is the experience of being at Disney and not leaving it once until your trip is over. Many people enjoy that, myself included. Even though the inside of our resort doesn't scream DISNEY WOOO the theming is still fun, and we really enjoy the touches of Disney everywhere we look, plus going to the gift shop or food court whenever we want. You might not like that though. Maybe you go so often you just don't care, or maybe you don't want to be staring at a giant mouse everywhere you turn, that's totally fine! I would suggest though, if you have NEVER stayed on property, AND if you have small kids, just try it, at least once. There really is something special to be said for staying in The Bubble.
So there's a few things to think about when you are choosing where to stay. Run the numbers, take into consideration your meal needs, but also parking and resort fees. There's nothing to ruin a vacation like the shock of added expenses on your first day. Do a little research ahead of time, and be prepared!
While there is no bad time at all to visit a Disney Park, without a doubt one of the most popular times to visit is a holiday. There’s something special about holiday decorations, whether it’s for a Patriotic holiday, Halloween of Christmas. It adds a little extra Pixie Dust to that already magical experience.
If you are one of those planning out your visit to the Magic Kingdom or any other park for an upcoming holiday, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Going to Disney during a holiday does mean more magic, but it also means higher crowds. In order to get the most magic, and the least frustration out of your trip, there’s a few things you’ll want to take into consideration!
If you are driving your own car, be prepared for a much longer walk to and from your parking space. Arrive as early as you can for the best parking space possible. There will also be longer lines or wait times to take the parking tram.
Because holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially, are such popular times to visit, Magic Kingdom can reach capacity. What does this mean? A holiday at capacity happens in stages, so knowing those stages can make sure YOU get inside. Disney can change the way they do things at any time, but this is generally how it happens when it starts getting closer to capacity. Usually you’ll only need to worry about this a few days before, and after Christmas.
Guests with one day, single park tickets or those using cast member passes will not be allowed to park, they will be turned away at the toll plazas.
Any guest staying at a Disney Resort, even if they drive themselves, is allowed in. Also, anyone with a multi day ticket, or park hopper tickets, annual passholders, someone hopping in from another park, anyone arriving by Disney transportation or anyone with an existing in park reservation.
When the second stage occurs, the only ones allowed into the parking lots, or through the ticket turnstiles are:
Those staying at a Disney resort, annual passholders, those re-entering the park from earlier that day, those hopping from another park, those with in park reservations or those coming by Disney transportation.
Once it reaches the third stage (which isn’t too often, the second stage it the most common) the only ones allowed into the turnstiles, or the parking lot are:
Those staying at a Disney Resort, annual passholders, those with in park reservations.
The fourth stage, the park is entirely shut down, to all visitors. This has only happened once though, so it’s unlikely you will need to worry about it.
If you are visiting during a holiday, and NOT staying on property, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half early in order to make sure you get into the park. Remember, with the new opening procedure for the park, the hub is open an hour, sometimes earlier, than actual park opening. Once that is filled, and it will fill on a holiday, people will be stuck between the gates and the turnsiles, backing up to to the arrival areas and it will take much much longer to get inside of the park and get where you want to go. Holiday are NOT a time to get there late.
There will be crowds, but like any Disney crowd, common sense will see you through. If you’ve small children, keep them in the stroller or tightly hold their hands so they don’t get lost, or knocked over. It only takes the blink of an eye for your group to be separated when another group pushes past you, so something like matching hats or shirts can go a long way towards spotting each others.
First-timers- please note! You will NOT be able to hear your cell phone ringing, and the person you are trying to call will not be able to hear theirs! Even on a regular park day, it’s just too loud in the park to hear it, so plan to take frequent breaks to look to see if you’ve missed a call or text from another in your group.
If there was a sit down place you wanted to eat, or if your little princess wanted a makeover, I hope you’ve already got reservations. You can start booking your preferred restaurant 6 months in advance. Didn’t do that yet? It’s okay, and you might still be able to get a reservation, but the sooner you start checking, the better. As time draws closer to your trip, if you haven't been able to score a table, don’t give up. Things happen sometimes with the others who hold those reservations, and it’s not unlikely, or impossible to get the restaurant you’ve been longing for, a few days before your trip. The trick is to keep trying, and not stop. Check the odd times too. It doesn’t matter if it’s quick service or not, tables are filled more from 11:30am-1pm.
This really goes along with the crowds, but you know there will already be some longer crowds. While it’s a little harder to beat the crowds on a holiday, it’s not impossible to minimize your wait time if you have a plan. If you don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to eat, the lines are going to get longer and longer and you are going to start feeling frustrated. Disney is such a great place to visit, don’t let your magical trip be ruined by something so small like an hour per park that you’ve made at least a general outline of what order you are going to do things.
Take advantage of the great service Disney offers that’s totally free! Have the shop send your purchases to the front of the park for pickup on your way out, or even better, back to your resort! Keep in mind though, if you are sending back to your resort, don’t send anything back in the last 24 hours of your trip because it might not get to you in time.
Holidays at Disney have some extra special photo opportunities, so be sure to take advantage! You’ll find Mickey and his friends in seasonal costumes, as well as characters you might not get to see during the rest of the year. There will be special parades, music, shows and of course, lot sof special treats to sample that you can only get during these special occasions.
Disney also offers special seasonal events, such as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These have special things like trick or treating, or cookie and cocoa stations throughout the park as well as other fun surprises.
Keep in mind that if you are visiting the park on a day where one of these parties is held, the park does close early to those who do not have tickets for these events. Tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s best to get yours the moment you know you will be there during a holiday. It is very unlikely that you will be able to buy a ticket the day of the event.
Patience, patience, patience
While this is a top tip, other than planning, for any Disney vacation, it’s needed more than ever during a Disney holiday. Have patience. Patience with the family who just cut in front of you, patience with that REALLY annoying family remember who keeps slowing you down, patience with your kid who had to stop for the 11th bathroom/pretzel/pin trading moment in the last hour and a half. Don’t forget to have patience with yourself, too. You might not get to do everything you want. That’s okay. Enjoy what you can!
Remember, a little prep, a little planning will go a long way towards making the most out of your vacation. It can be a little overwhelming to plan a Disney trip, but it’s far worse to be standing there in a panic as the lines get longer and longer and you’ve no idea what anyone wants to ride! Like the old adage, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
Stay sane, and have fun during your Disney holiday!
Want some more ideas?
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I'm not sure if there's a better way to start the morning than with the news that Dole Whip mix is available to the masses! Yes!! It's true! Gaze upon the beauty of that which is Dole Whip!
Now when you aren't at Disney, you can still enjoy the iconic, icy, yummy and dare I say it, good for you treat! No more DIY trying to find just the right recipe, nope! Get the REAL thing. God bless Amazon. I have said it many times, and I mean it. If you can't find it there, it doesn't exist.
Look at this... !! (Well, you'll have to click the color to look at it) Pineapple! Raspberry! Mango! Orange! Strawberry! It's all here! Okay, so I know Raspberry and Strawberry aren't at the Parks, but those do sound nice!
It looks like all you need is an ice cream maker. The other night I saw this one, on America's Test Kitchen, but since I don't have one, I might have to hint at Christmas time so we can get our Dole Whips outside the parks!
Did you already know about this amazing at home Dole Whip mix? Are you excited to try it too? Have you already tried it? I can't wait to!