Ten Tips to Make Your Disney Vacation More Magical

There is SO much to experience when you are in the Disney Parks, that it can get to be overwhelming.Be sure to check out these Disney Tips and Tricks to make your visit even MORE magical! Great for first timers, for couples, for families and everyone wanting to make the most of their upcoming Disney Trip!

Hello, everyone!  Carrie here, your “resident Disney expert” on Family Friendly Frugality!  I join you here on Heather’s awesome blog to share my Disney planning tips, money saving ideas, and inside secrets to make your Disney World Vacation more magical!

Planning a Disney vacation is unlike any other planning process.  It’s more than booking a hotel and showing up.  With so much to offer, wonderful shows to see, and attractions for the whole family, it takes work to plan a great trip.

Which is why I love my job!  I get to help plan magical vacations every day!

Last week, I shared Tips for a Budget Family Disney Vacation.  So, today I am going to share with you Ten Tips to Make Your Disney Vacation More Magical!

Tip #1:  Take an afternoon break.  There is SO much to experience when you are in the Disney Parks, that it can get to be overwhelming.  You’ve paid to stay at a fantastic Disney Resort, why not go back for a midday break to enjoy it?  The pools, kids’ activities, and a quiet movie in your room is well worth the time outside the parks.  I always plan a 2 hour break from the parks each day.  Whether it’s to Downtown Disney to shop, back to the resort, or just riding the monorail and exploring resorts, that break is essential to everyone’s sanity.

Tip #2:  Stay in a Walt Disney World Resort.  At Disney, timing can be everything.  That doesn’t mean you have to plan every minute of your trip.  But, staying on property puts you closer to all the parks.  You can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and get into the parks early or stay later, and enjoy perks like continuous Disney transportation all over property.

Tip #3:  Plan on being on Disney property for 5 or six days.  Then, have a 4 or 5 day park ticket on your reservation.  So many opportunities for entertainment, shopping, and dining exist outside the Disney parks.  And, like I mentioned above, those resorts are amazing!  You want to work a “no park day” into your time at Disney, especially if you are a first time visitor.

Tip #4:  Take your time going from place to place.  Disney property is approximately the size of San Francisco.  That being said, you should allow about 90 minutes to get from one place to the next on Disney property.  Disney buses, monorail, and water taxis will get you from here to there in a timely fashion.  But, you want to plan for that late bus, full monorail car, or stopping to take another photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

Tip #5:  Review the Disney Park Maps before  you visit.  Did you know you can even order Customized Disney Maps online?  They come straight to your house, and they are a super cool, FREE souvenir!  Your kids will love them!  Get to know the park you will be visiting, so you can plan your FastPasses and time in the parks accordingly.

Tip #6:  Schedule your FastPasses for early in the day.  The nice aspect of FastPass Plus is you are able to choose three attractions, and after the 3rd is used, you can get a 4th.   So, the earlier in the day you schedule them, the sooner you can get more!

Tip #7:  Ship items to you at your Disney Resort.  Did you know you can do that?  Yes!  You can order from Amazon, or even Wal Mart to ship dry foods and other items to your resort.  This saves SO much space in your luggage, and they’ll be waiting for you upon arrival.

Tip #8:  Download the My Disney Experience App.  The My Disney Experience app has all your reservations, Fastpasses, and up to the minute wait times at your fingertips.  You can check what attractions may be closed, the wait times for attractions nearby, and even get reminders that your dining time is coming!

Tip #9:   Bring an external cell phone charger.  Using My Disney Experience, taking photos of your family, and uploading to social media takes a toll on your phone battery.  An external charger can easily fit into your park bag, and it’s great to have it at your fingertips so you can charge your phones when you see the batteries getting low.

Tip #10:  Book your Disney vacation sooner rather than later.  Since Disney only requires a $200 deposit to secure your reservation, what do you have to lose?  Last minute trips can be booked, but they can be stressful.  Booking early allows you to be ready for those important dates like your 180 day mark to make your dining reservations, plan your park days, and even let your travel agent watch for discounts to apply to your package.  It ensures you get the resort, and package you want, and locks in your rates.

Are you looking for ways to save money on your next Disney vacation?  Do you need planning tips, or are you overwhelmed with where to start?  Then contact Carrie-a Vacation Specialist with Destinations in Florida, An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner-to get your trip planning underway.  You can contact her at carrie@destinationsinflorida.com for the best deals on your next Orlando getaway.  Mention Family Friendly Frugality and receive a free gift when booking your trip with her!  

Texas Renaissance Festival: 5 Ways to Save Money!

This past weekend we were invited out to the Texas Renaissance Festival (Tex Ren Fest). We’ve been several times before and we always have a great time.

This year was SO much more fun though! Our kids are at a really good age and actually enjoyed the shows and the jousting.

Now, Ren Fest can be pricey, but that’s only if you aren’t strategic about things!

Here are my 5 tips to save money at the Tex Ren Fest:

#1 Buy your tickets online, by mail, by phone or at your local Randall’s or Walgreens. Also, plan to go on a Sunday. Pre-order tickets are $17 per adult and $8 per child on Sundays (as opposed to $25 for adults and $12 for kids on Saturdays). Lizzie is still free (she’s 3), but next year we’ll opt for the family 4 pack. This is $40…which breaks down to just $10 per person (as opposed to $50 if you buy the pre-order Sunday tickets individually).

You can see all ticket info here. 

#2 Have a plan. Check the entertainment schedule and make sure you have a game plan for what shows you want to see and what events and contests you want to be present for. This keeps the kiddos from getting bored! Bored kiddos make us spend money 😉

#3 Let’s just be honest here. Who doesn’t go to Ren Fest expecting to EAT?! That’s my favorite part! I could easily spend hundreds of dollars on food and still not try everything I want to try! Remember though, there is always next year. Sit down and check out the Festival Feasting page on the Ren Fest website and decide what you NEED to try. Set a food budget. Stick to your food budget!

#4 Once you get in the door, spending money is totally optional. There are SO many free things to see and do! Walk in out of the  stores, see the shows, go to the special events (the Princess tea was a HUGE hit for my daughter!) and the most fun thing to do…PEOPLE WATCH! You won’t find better people watching than at the Texas Ren Fest!

#5 Set a souvenir budget. Chances are, you’ll want to bring something home to remember your experience. Or your kids will. Go in with cash and once it’s gone…it’s gone. No running to the ATM!

Finally, just have fun! The Texas Ren Fest is an experience like no other. It’s a yearly tradition for us and it’s so much fun to watch our children grow and enjoy different things each year.

When they get a bit older, we might even try camping out there!

Also be sure to check out their Themed Events page. This past weekend, the kids were able to trick or treat! It was so much fun!

Be sure to follow The Texas Renaissance Festival on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news and festival information!

Disclaimer: We were invited to check out Texas Renaissance Festival at no cost to us. We were under no obligation to post anything about the festival, but truthfully we always have SO much fun there! All opinions are our own!



Entertaining on a Budget – How To

With the holidays quickly approaching, you might be entertaining more than usual.

This can put a big strain on a budget without much wiggle room!

So what do you do to save money?

Hole yourself in your house until after Christmas and avoid all of your friends?

Of course not!

Entertaining doesn’t have to be horribly expensive!

Here are the top 5 ways we cut costs when we entertain:

Make it a potluck!

Ask everyone to bring their favorites and enjoy a variety of cuisines and courses. This is actually one of our favorite ways to entertain. It takes pressure off the hosts not just financially, but also labor-wise.

Plus it allows everyone to make those recipes they love, but that need to be consumed by a crowd. (um…like this one and this one!)

Don’t schedule around a meal time.

Have an appetizer or a dessert party. Schedule your party just after meal times and make it clear you won’t be serving a full meal (come to our dessert party!).

My favorite get together is sweat pants and wine night at a friend’s house. Everybody typically raids their pantry for something snack-y or dessert-y and brings a bottle of wine. Good conversation and some cheap wine makes for the BEST memories!

Don’t worry about decorations.

Most of the time they just end up in the trash anyway. If you love to decorate, buy useful high quality pieces that you can pull out often.

Think quality, not quantity.

You don’t need to invite all 30 of your closest friends every time you have a get together. Just invite a few at a time and really focus on having fun together. Some people think every party has to have your house busting at the seams. Not so! We enjoy ourselves much more when the gathering is more intimate.

Don’t worry about pricey entertainment.

Board games or movies are incredibly entertaining and don’t cost much at all. You don’t need a moonwalk and magician for every party!

Focus on the people, not the party and you are sure to hit a home run.

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