Have you ever started unpacking your suitcase only to find the handle snapped off your new Haunted Mansion mug? Or the brand new Minnie Ears snapped in half when you tried them on one more time? For us, it was the Donald Duck Hat, the back kept unsnapping, and we didn't know why until examining closely we realized there was a crack running the length of the adjuster.
So what happens? Are you totally out the money you spent? Are you stuck with a glued on handle you hope won't break when you drink your morning coffee?
Not necessarily. The same incredible customer service that Disney has IN the Parks and Resorts also often extends once you are back home. Stories of replaced mugs, ornaments and even toys like those light up bubble wands fill the internet. There's a bit of a trick though to make sure you have the best shot at getting your item replaced.
Let them know ASAP
You have a better chance if you contact Disney as soon as you find the item was damaged. Be sure to be polite. Sometimes an item just breaks. It doesn't mean it was anyone's fault. They usually will want to verify that you were shopping when you said you were, so also:
Save your receipts!
We needed to produce our receipt for that Donald hat. Luckily, I'd saved it along side of three zillion other ones. This proved to Disney that yes, I'd bought the item and that also, I had bought it recently, not a year ago. Next, be sure that you:
Take photos of the item's damage
It's easier to see the damage in a picture, and it shows that you are being truthful. I'm sure that the readers here wouldn't ever try and scam, but people do. Be truthful. Point out the chip, the crack, the torn seam in your spirit jersey, whatever. If you have it, also take photos of any item numbers or the tags. It's also helpful to say which store you got the item in. Then:
It can take a while to hear back. Patience isn't one of my strong points. When I want something fixed, I haaaate waiting. But be patient. It can take up to a week to get that first email from them. Follow ups are usually quicker though!
If all else fails
If you've done all you can and Disney can't help you, there are a few other ways to get your item replaced. A personal shopper, Ebay and even Amazon can help you locate a replacement.
While my fingers are crossed that you never arrive home with a broken item, if you do chances are good that Disney will take care of it for you. When it's all done and replaced, make sure you fill out a cast compliment for the person who helped you get the replacement so they can be thanked with a positive report on their work record.
Previously we talked about how much money you should bring to Disney World. Let's go a little more in depth on the souvenir budget. How much is enough? How much do you need to actually get a nice lasting souvenir or two?
Let's view a few budgets, then see what can actually be bought on those.
There isn't really one answer other than what you can afford. I know of families who give each kid $25. I know some give their kids $200. You might be in the middle, however, it is never too early or too late you get your kids saving up towards all of the extras that they will want. Here's seven tips that work great!
But what about you? What about adults? My husband and I each bring about $200 for spending money. Does it all get used? Not always, but it's Disney.
All magic has it's price, right?
What are the average costs of items at Disney?
Here are some of the typical items bought on a trip by most people, and their prices
T Shirts: Adult shirts start at $25
Mickey or Minnie Ears: Start at $18
Key chains and Magnets: Start at $8
Pins: Start at $8
Mugs: start at $15
Plush toys: start at $23
Notebooks and pens: start at $10
While there are some good deals to be found near the registers and often Disney stores offer a heavily discounted item with purchase, it's very easy to spend your money and often there's more than one thing that you like, especially since the prices above are the base prices and from there they jump up quite a bit.
(One thing I will say about Disney, is their quality is really good, in many items you do get what you pay for. I have a Disney wallet that I bought in 2014. I paid $50 for it. The most I've EVER spent on a wallet. Six years later, it still looks great. No tears, no major worn spots. Their t's last too if you aren't super rough on them)
So how much money should you bring? What is right for you?
One simple way to pre-check prices is with our friend, Youtube! Remember we talked about how it's a great planning tool? Type in a store instead of an attraction and you'll find a lot of videos, and prices mentioned too.
Another way is to visit the ShopDisney site and click on the Parks tab. Those are a small collection of items that you will find in the parks and so the prices will be current.
Lastly, overestimate. One thing everyone forgets about at Disney is the resort tax. It's HIGH! Like 12.5% or something. Whew! So, if you give your child a $25 gift card and say that's it, you might need to plan on an extra dollar or two for tax.
Stretching your budget
This blog is full of great ways you can stretch your budget, but if you want one without having to really do any work, this is my number one way to get free money. how does 5% more money sound to you? Paying $95 for $100 of stuff? Those $5's add up! Maybe you want more. Maybe you want to save 10%. that's in there too.
A good rule of thumb though is to always (if you can) plan to bring more than you expect, and to bring cash too. There are many things that you might want to do that you didn't know would be available. Henna or hair wraps, elaborate face painting or caricatures, tie dyed shirts, paintings and so much more.
What are some of your favorite Disney souvenirs you've gotten in the past? Or what's something that you'd really like to have? Stop by our Facebook and let us know!
Picture from Hollywood Studios Walt Disney Museum
Recently, my dad showed me his old, old Mickey Mouse that his Grandmother had gotten him when Disneyland opened. It was well worn and much loved you could tell, just by looking at it. The paint was off of his nose, his fur was thin in spots but it was Mickey!
There's something special about a treasured childhood toy that brings back memories, no matter how long ago. I have a few of those myself. Recently, I was invited to write out one of those memories for a new blog called Toys for Memories. I didn't choose a Disney toy, but another old favorite.
Toys for Memories is needing others to share their stores, why don't you share one of yours there? Click here, or visit the underlined text above to visit. What is one of your favorite old toys?
Many parents pull their kids out of school for a Disney vacation. Is it the best idea though? While ultimately the decision needs to be between you and your child's teacher, if you are still in the early stages of planning here are a few things to check on before you book your dates.
Check to see what your school district's absentee polity is.
Most schools limit the number of unexcused absences. You wouldn't want to get in trouble by skipping school and not letting them know. In some districts, truancy officers will try and track you down.
Consider your child's age and grade level
While most teachers are pretty agreeable with a family trip during the school year, it's important to always ask and should be based upon your child's ability to miss school. For a younger child it might not make a difference, unless say, your child is at a critical stage in learning how to read, but testing, as well as semester projects do happen especially for the older children, and it could be a problem for their grades if your child misses those.
Look for holidays or extended weekends to go
Most schools put out their calendars pretty early. Look for parent teacher conferences, teacher work days or holidays where your child can just miss a day or two, instead of a whole week. It's easier to make up missed work, or even work ahead.
Have a plan to incorporate education in your trip
If you do go, let your child's school know how to plan to keep the learning going, outside of the classroom. The study of nature and animals at Animal Kingdom. World History at Epcot, engineering and behind the scenes skills at Hollywood Studios, and the history behind how Magic Kingdom came to be. Each park has amazing stories your child could learn and write about.
While going during the school year can be a little tricky, if you plan it right and communicate with your child's school there's no reason that your trip can't be filled with fun and magic with a dash of education thrown in, after all, the knowledge you get outside of the classroom is just as important as what you learn inside of it, and memories and time with family are so important!
Tell us, have you ever ever pulled your children out of school for a Disney trip?
While these last few months have been stressful, to be sure, they've also opened up new opportunities for those who wanted to spend more time with their families or those who always wanted to work from home, but never had a chance to dip their toes into the water until now.
Recently I was pleased to give a few tips in a blog post for a new (and fantastic!) blog called Work From Home Mothers that helps mothers (or anyone, really) find work from home. There's a list of OVER 150 job listings posted right now that have been gathered and for every place imaginable. I even saw Lucasfilm on there! And just as awesome, there are tons of tips from real life women who work from home, including my own.
Some of the things you will read about are incredibly valuable if working from home is something you are considering or have started doing. Things like time management, the work life balance, setting boundaries, handling distractions, it's all there from been there, done that women.
Go check it out! And pass it along to anyone who might need to find work. With the crazy fall schedule for children in school, a site like this is so valuable. It's totally legit, no scams. Check it out, and why not apply for something?
To go there, click any of the underlined links in this article, or just go here.