The Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Disney World Vacation

I know my way around saving money on Disney Cruise Line, but Walt Disney World always leaves me feeling a little bit at a loss. How do I find a good deal? Is the website my best way to go or should I work with a Travel Agent? Packages or room only discounts or park hoppers or free dining? Tickets? Does going in the off season really save any money? And airfare. Always the airfare.

The Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Disney World Vacation Review
“How to Easily Save Thousands on Your Next Trip!” Who Knew?

Then I read The Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Disney World Vacation thanks to a free copy of the book from a Blogorail friend, Kevin Barry.

Hi. I’m Lori and I’m a Disney Tips Pinterest addict.

(Hi Lori!)

So I pin hundreds of pins that explain different methods to save and spend at Walt Disney World. The problem is that these tips are floating around in my head with no clear plan of which ones work best. (Which is perhaps why I love using a good travel agent when I go to WDW, but I digress.)

Rather than overload with tons of ways to save a dollar here and there, Kevin Grady’s book focuses on the big ticket items in a vacation budget (transportation, tickets, resorts/hotels, and food) and focuses on a few good tips for each to save hundreds of dollars in that category. This is doable.

The Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Disney World Vacation – How Much Did I Save Using Just One Hint?

By following just one tip in each of the categories on our upcoming last minute vacation, how much could we really save?

Transportation:

We are traveling to soon to use credit card airline miles toward our trip, but by choosing to fly Thursday and Tuesday at odd hours, we’ll be spending $152 round trip each. Which is less than the best price on the weekends ($208 round trip each) or more if I wanted better flight times ($367 round trip each), even last minute. That shaved off $56 per person.

Savings on Transportation – $168

Total savings so far – $168

Tickets:

I always have been a park hopper girl. It’s what we book. It wasn’t until I started doing detailed trip reports that I realized quite how much vacation time is eaten by hopping. Never mind the financial cost.

Four day tickets are currently $325 for an adult and $305 for a child but if you add park hopper options they jump to $394 and $374. That’s not an insignificant price to be paying to spend extra time traveling between parks rather than staying in one park all day enjoying it.

Savings on Tickets- $207

Total savings so far – $375

Resort:

I’m perfectly happy using any of the value resorts and taking advantage of the free transportation both to and from the airport and to and from the parks. However, rack rate (the cost of the hotel without booking it as part of a package) can be quite a bit higher than I’d prefer.

I wish for a way to save money at Walt Disney World! It's like wishing for more wishes.
I wish for a way to save money at Walt Disney World! It’s like wishing for more wishes.

Rack rate for Pop Century is currently $120.20 per night. By booking our room and tickets together as a package, the cost per night drops to $96.16 per night. We’re staying for five nights. Always check if the room only rates or the package rates are better for you!

Savings on Resort- $120 and change

Total savings so far – $495

Food:

We’ll have to wait and see if we save any money in this category, but we sure stand to! I’m a big fan of splitting meals, we always pick character breakfasts over lunch or dinner, free cups of water over buying bottles and love eating our big sit down meal at lunch time rather than dinner.

All food tastes better when it's Mickey shaped.
All food tastes better when it’s Mickey shaped.

All of these add up to savings but I am not going to get into the nitty gritty for the time being. I’d estimate that the overall savings is generally at least $50 per day.

Savings on Food- $250

Total savings estimate – $700-800

If I can save that much on a last minute trip for a few people when I’m only utilizing a few easy tips, I’d imagine that you can easily save thousands from a well planned trip for the whole family.

It's kind of fun to keep them in the dark about our upcoming trip.
It’s kind of fun to keep them in the dark about our upcoming trip.

To repeat, these are some of the easier tips (and ones I’d heard before) and I could easily have saved another $500 had I booked my trip a little earlier. With a little reading, your dream trip is in reach.

Happy savings!

You can find The Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Disney World Vacation on Amazon. It’s currently on sale for Kindle too!

The Joy of Concierge | Disney Cruise Line

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing what you need to know to start planning your Disney Cruise.


For my first cruise, a quick three night getaway while Mimi watched the babies, we stayed in a inside standard room. With the kids along we moved up to a secret porthole room and after several more years and celebrations, we’ve stayed in nearly every category of stateroom from inside standard stateroom to the Walter E. Disney suite. I enjoyed each and every cruise. I loved each stateroom for different reasons and our next cruise (a big family reunion) will be in a non-concierge stateroom with a verandah.
Frankly, I’d be happy if they let me sleep on deck!

Cruising with Mickey!

So why cruise concierge?

Why concierge is magical!
Why concierge is magical!

 

Let’s dive in and find out!

Anything from anniversaries to birthdays to family reunions makes an excellent excuse to try concierge. Concierge is addictive, consider yourself warned. After our first concierge cruise, we intended to go back to the simple life, but the perks brought us back!

Concierge offers many, many worthwhile perks while you soak up the sun and enjoy the suite life at sea. While some cruisers enjoy the royal suites and the square footage and amenities that those entail, the majority of the concierge rooms are comparable in size or only slightly larger than other verandah staterooms onboard.

Onshore Perks!

The concierge benefits begin before you ever set foot onboard. Shoreside concierge contact cruisers around 125 days before sailing to see what magical touches they will add to your vacation.

Hakuna matata in your own private tropical paradise.
Hakuna matata in your own private tropical paradise.

Everything from a romantic dinner at Palo, to massages or a private beach cabana can be pre-arranged through your concierge. If you’d like to try any of the port adventures or book anything through spa, dining, stateroom gifts, the shoreside concierge set the wheels in motion.

Embarkation Day!

It’s finally here! your countdown is done. The bags whisked out of sight at port and you’ve passed through security without a hitch. Where’s your concierge? Your concierge experience begins as soon as you reach the concierge check-in desk.

The Royal Treatment
On checking in, they may treat you to a surprise or two.

The concierge team swiftly verifies paperwork, fits your children with MagicBands for the kids clubs and shows you to a lounge. Short lines and reserved seats? It gets better. Before embarkation begins by boarding group, concierge guests are among the first shown onto the ship.

Reception(s)

On the classic ships, you’re instructed to arrive at the deck three forward lounge during the early afternoon to meet your personal concierge. Until then, you’re free to pop over to the restaurants for lunch if you’re feeling hungry or explore the ship at your leisure. On the Dream class ships on arrival in the atrium, cast member escort your family straight to the Concierge Lounge to meet your team. In both cases, snacks and drinks flow plentifully in the lounge while your concierge reviews your itinerary for the week, arranges for any ticketed events (meet and greets, wine tastings, tea parties) and then visits a bit to get to know your family.

 A few days in, your concierge lets you know that there will be a reception for the concierge guests. Don’t miss this!

Our family really quacks me up!
Quick meet and greet on the concierge sundeck. Disney Fantasy 2014

Yes, there is food everywhere on deck. This isn’t just a buffet. Save some time for this happy hour/meet and greet. We’ve seen Donald and Daisy each host, though any of the classic characters are possible.

Exclusively on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

There are a couple extra perks for concierge guests staying on the Dream class ships:

Exhibit A:

Boarding Day
Concierge Sun Deck

Exhibit B:

Puerto Rico
Private Concierge Lounge

Concierge Cast Members

Words fail me when describing the concierge. If you crossed Mary Poppins with Genie and threw in a dash of Tinker Bell, you’d be in the right ballpark. Each detail of your vacation is important to them and they’ll bend over backwards to try to knock your socks off.

Plenty of other magic waits in store! I didn’t even touch on complimentary sodas stocked in your room to the amazing staterooms themselves to just plain old heaping doses of pixie dust which vary from cruise to cruise. I wouldn’t want to spoil all the surprises!

Is a concierge cruise on your bucket list?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Cruising 101 Loop:

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “On The Road” Austin

Early Friday morning, I tried to avoid all of the controversy on Facebook. In case you hadn’t heard, they banned the selfie stick from  all of the Disney Parks locations and the Disney discussion was running rampant. Just before I shut off my phone, I checked my email.



#DisneySMMC #KeepAustinGoofy
I love pixie dusted email!

I squealed.
I jumped up and down.
I hopped onto Twitter and tweeted my disbelief.
Then I hopped back onto Facebook and discovered my Disney BFF, Casey who blogs at Mommy to All Girls got in as well!
We’ll do our best to #KeepAustinGoofy and report back after the #DisneySMMC conference in August!

FAQs:

How do you get invited?
Please visit www.disneysmmoms.com and add your email to their email list! You’ll get notified when it’s time to apply for future “On The Road” events. No one really knows how the selection process works, but you can never g wrong following Genie’s advice to, “Just BEE yourself!” The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is a magical conference that happens in early May and is also invitation only.

Congratulations! Is this that Disney Moms thing you applied for last fall?
Nope!
This is not the same as the Disney Parks Moms Panel. Disney Social Media Moms is a really cool group of ladies (and a few select gentlemen) who love sharing online through Pinterest, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any form of social media and love the magic of Disney! Read more here.

Oh. Well are you still going to try for the Disney Parks Moms Panel?
I’m still planning on throwing my mouse ears into the ring again when applications for Disney Parks Moms Panel open up in August or September. The panel selection is generally completed right before Thanksgiving. Send pixie dust!