Disney on a Budget

For those that aren’t aware, a Walt Disney World vacation can cost a small fortune. Some people¬†have referenced it being the same price as a trip to Tahiti or the Bahamas or Europe…you name it. Being the cheap person that I am, (so cheap that I went 10 years without buying trash bags) I have figured out some ways to make Disney cheaper. Here’s an insight into my cheap ways:

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Pics Courtesy of Disney

Here’s the pictures Disney added onto our Memory Maker package! If you have ever been to Disney and purchased the photo package, then you have probably already seen these. If not, enjoy! ūüôā

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Epcot, HS, and O’hana!

Epcot is probably our second favorite park at Disney! We love the rides, but also walking around the World Showcase. We were too busy having so much fun there and at Hollywood Studios that we forgot to stop and take as many pictures as we did at Magic Kingdom! We had dinner at Biergarten in Epcot, ¬†which was so neat with their dinner show! While at Hollywood Studios, we had dinner at Mama Melrose’s, which is yummy Italian! Here’s the few pictures¬†we did take!

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My biggest success for this entire trip was probably scheduling my son’s birthday dinner celebration at O’hana inside the Polynesian Resort. You may or may not know, but this restaurant is rated 2nd for the best places to view the fireworks from Cinderella’s Castle.

We had a reservations at 8:20pm because that was the ONLY one available months ago when I went to¬†reserve them. In full disclosure, I messed this up big time. This was the one reservation where I didn’t reserve right when I woke up. I did it around noon, therefore, we got the LAST reservation available. I tried and tried and tried to change it to an earlier time, but could never get another opening reservation. My plan was to eat dinner then walk to the beach to watch the fireworks, but alas, we kept our 8:20 time.

While at Disney, we learned that people with 7-7:30ish reservations tend to sit and slowly eat in their seats and stay for the 9pm fireworks show. That’s almost a 2 hour dinner people! I thought by having an 8:20 reservation, that meant we’d definitely see the fireworks while eating. I was wrong. So, to try to get to a table early enough to stay long enough for the fireworks ( I realize how weird that sounds), we arrived to O’hana an hour early and begged for an earlier time AND a firework table for our birthday celebration. We hung out for close to 30 minutes and we scored a table!!!! Not only a table, but probably the best table in the place, right next to the windows with the Castle front and center! It was AMAZING!! We were able to eat and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our table! It was by far, an unbeatable experience and I’m so happy it worked out for us!

Supposedly, the Contemporary is the #1 place to watch the fireworks. I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve never been there. However, I feel fairly confident is saying that O’hana should be #1! You can’t beat the fabulous food AND watching the Castle fireworks front and center from the Polynesian is unbeatable! The Contemprary is off to the side of the Castle, so their firework view is a little skewed. Therefore, the Polynesian has a head on view of the greatest fireworks show! Needless to say, I highly recommend you trying to get a reservation here on your next trip! ūüôā

If you have any dining recommendations for our Disney readers, please share in the comments below!!

Animal Kingdom – Day 2!

Despite the constant rain all day long, we had a wonderful second day at Animal Kingdom! We saw so many animals on our Safaris adventure because it wasn’t very hot, so the animals were out and about. We even got stuck for about 10 minutes and enjoyed listening to the lion roaring for a bit before he retired to¬†¬†his throne! It was so neat!!

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Animal Kingdom!!

I absolutely LOVE Animal Kingdom because it is such a great opportunity to learn about all kinds of animals! This is a homeschool mom’s dream field trip! We had such a great time and could’ve spent many more hours there! We did Kali River Rapids, Flights of Wonder, Lion King, and much, much, more!

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How to Plan a Disney World Vacation

Walt Disney World is one of those vacations you can’t go in all laissez-faire and have a relaxing vacation. If I’m being brutally honest, Disney isn’t really a relaxing vacation at all. It is wonderful, fun-filled, action packed, and enjoyable all at the same time! Sure you can relax in France and have a glass of wine with creme brulee, or margaritas and tacos in Mexico. However,¬†you should be prepared that you’ll want¬†a vacation after your Disney vacation if you do it right! ūüėČ This is coming from someone who loved Disney before and after kids! It is a blast at any age!

I started planning this particular trip over 6 months in advance. First, you pick a date, pick a hotel or campground, purchase tickets, figure out which parks to go for each day, where to eat at those parks, and last but not least, choose your fast passes and park itinerary. We made hotel reservations first, purchased the tickets and linked them with any family members or friends who may be joining, made dining reservations, and made fast pass reservations all over those 6 months. Before beginning this 6 month planning adventure, I first did all my pre-planning.

For my pre-planning, I use¬†WDW Prep School¬†and Kenny The Pirate¬†for everything. I use their¬†crowd calendars to determine what month and week¬†to book our trip, which park is best for the days we will be there, and even the park hours and extra park hours for those staying on the property. I personally, only go to Disney World when the crowd rating is under a 6/10 and only go to parks that are yellow or green. I REFUSE to go when it’s red which is in the summer or during holidays. You can go to Disney World when the crowd calendar is a 4/10, but Magic Kingdom may still be “red” one day because they have a special event that day. Epcot is mostly red the entire length of the Food and Wine Festival, but I highly suggest attending that!

WDW Prep School also has a Facebook group where you can ask questions once a week and get answers from someone who truly knows what they’re doing! I highly recommend stalking their Facebook pages a year¬†prior to beginning to plan your vacation. You’ll learn when and how to book the best and most popular restaurants, rides, etc. For example, on our last trip I learned that Be Our Guest Restaurant, which was impossible to get a reservation at for lunch and dinner, had just started serving breakfast beginning a few days before our trip. We were able to snag a reservation and absolutely LOVED the meal and the experience! Another great suggestion is to make breakfast reservations as early as possible so you can get into the park prior to the official opening that day. This gives you the opportunity to walk around without tons of people everywhere. We were able to snap pictures in front of the castle with hardly anybody in the background, which is such a rare opportunity!

Another great planning tool that¬†is a necessity is the Disney World app called “My Disney Experience”. You can use this at your desktop or on your phone. I booked our dining reservations online so I could print off the confirmations since sometimes you have to input your credit card information. However, I used the app to reserve all our FastPasses because it is so easy to use! You can also link your tickets if traveling with extended family and/or friends, that way you can reserve fast passes for the entire group all at once.¬†Also, if you purchase the Memory Maker Photo Package, you can see each others photos without actually having to be together for every picture.

That’s about all I have as far as a quick guide on how to plan a Walt Disney World trip! Please comment below if you have more specific questions, or suggestions for other readers! Sharing is caring ya’ll! ūüôā