We just got home from a week away at Disney World. It was a much needed escape with the kids, as I’ve been feeling like kind of a shit mother this year, traveling about and locking myself in my  office to work for days at a time. So, we thought it’d be a lovely – semi off the grid no work done – treat, and I can confirm that indeed, it was.

We go to Disney often. Okay not often, but more than normal people. This sounds privileged or fanatical, and I’m very appreciative that we get to do it, but the truth is that Andy’s parents live there, it’s an easy trip, and the kids love it. Obviously. I mean, it’s Disney. Once or twice a year we head down from frozen Ohio and enjoy a few days in the mouse and the sun. Naturally, this level of enthusiasm elicits it’s share of questions. Aren’t you an adult woman? Do you wear Disney clothes while you are there? Can you tell me how to make this affordable? The answers to all those questions are, yes. But let’s focus on the last one. There are plenty of guides and reviews of Disney World, but I find them a bit hard to connect to, and sometimes question their authenticity. So, I figured I’d throw together a post of my own, being a normal girl who goes to Disney with her three kids, paying with her normal human dollars, getting absolutely nothing for free.

Cheap Disney Guide

You want to go to Disney World, now what?

Well, that depends… do you have a computer? Do you know how the internet works? Do you have some free time? Okay awesome, you can now book your trip to Disney World.

Do you have all those things and find the whole thing time consuming/overwhelming? No problem, use a travel agent. Yes, those things are still real, and they are actually free*! We used Rachel Smith from The TravelSmith for a recent Disney World vacation and it was amazing. She did everything. She booked our hotel, our airport transportation, dinner reservations, attractions, and when we had flight delays due to a blizzard, she handled all that worry, also. #ThisIsHowBeyonceLives

*I actually never realized that travel agents were free to use, so I just never looked into them. They should print an adult manual and put this crap in there.

You can also totally DIY this, as Disney has a super usable website and apps that make all your planning super easy. Read on.

When should we go?

I shall answer your question with a question. How much do you like other people and being touched by them while waiting in lines around them? If you like that a lot, the Disney calendar is your oyster, so pick a season you love and have at it.

If you are like me and don’t enjoy crowds or crotch sweat, you might want to be a bit more selective. Andy and I took the kids to WDW during Spring Break a few years ago, and after one hour at Magic Kingdom, we swore we would never ever step foot in Florida during the spring or summer again. Enter, the Disney Crowd Calendar. We take our love of cooler weather (sun tans are lovely, but schlepping three kids around a theme park for 12 hours a day is a warm weather nightmare) and short wait times, and check out the Crowd Calendars online to find a time that best fits our WDW personality.

Personally… Our go-to favorite are the first week of November, January and February, the weather is 60’s and perfect, and you can’t not smile at 30 minute or less ride wait times.

Do I stay on or off property?unnamed (7)

Decisions, decisions. My answer is, it depends on a lot of different things.

Disney Resorts & Hotels: I have this thing where I won’t go to a concert if I don’t have seats in the first 10 rows. It’s not because I’m an entitled bitch, it’s because tickets are expensive, and if I’m not experiencing something mind blowing, I’d rather just save my money. This personality quirk also applies to Disney hotels. WDW has generously created an array of hotel options, from the deluxe to the value priced, so you have options. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

The Value Resorts are much more wallet friendly than the moderate and deluxe accommodations, but they are still – okay fine, I’ll just come out with it, I hate them. I do. I’m so sorry and it’s just my personal opinion, but they are tiny and loud and being in them is like being in a kid run hostile. And yeah, sure, it’s just a room and you are barely in it. But, it’s Disney, man. You are already paying a ton for the experience, you might as well make it mind blowing. (See: concert ticket analogy above.)

My point is, if I am going to stay on property at WDW, I’m saving my money up and going Moderate or Deluxe, otherwise it just feels like a waste of housing budget.

Still unsure whether or not you want to stay onsite?

The Pros:

  • If you are in a hotel on the Monorail Line, getting around is fast and easy. Totally worth the money.
  • It’s convenient. You have access, one way or another, to every part of WDW. Whether it be by bus, boat, monorail, or foot, you can get there. They’ll even pick you up from the airport in the Magical Express. And this is all… free!
  • Extra Magic Hours. Parks will open early and stay late for resort guests only.
  • Anything you buy can be sent back to your room. Don’t wanna carry that giant Buzz Lightyear around all day? No problem, buy it and they’ll take care of the rest.

The Cons:

  • Bus service sucks. It just does. When you are tired and ready to just get back to your hotel room, waiting for a bus and hoping it has room for you blows.
  • You get no break from Disney, from the decorations to the prices.
  • Which leads me to saying, it’s fucking expensive. Not that you don’t expect it, but it deserves to be said. It’s an expensive experience that encompasses so much more than the cost of the room.

Personally… Our favorite hotels are The Polynesian, The Grand Floridian and Port Orleans.

Tip… Even when we stay on site, the last thing I want to do is check into the room and then have to track down necessities in an overpriced gift shop. We love Garden Grocer because it lets us place an order online before we get there (toiletries, snacks for the park, soda, beer and food for the room, etc). All we do it check in, and our groceries are waiting for us at the hotel. It’s heaven and way more fun than buying $90 panty liners from a Mickey Mouse kiosk. 

So I should stay offsite then?

This happens to be my favorite way to do Disney, and my bank account loves it, also.

We are big huge fans of the site VRBO.com for our house rental needs. For just a few hundred dollars, we can get a big house for a week with a private pool, hot tub, an array of bedrooms, and then split that cost with another family (we love vacationing with friends)…boom… cheapest best vacation ever! We pick houses within 10 minutes of the parks, stock the kitchen with food and booze, and have not a worry for the week. This works especially well for us because we primarily opt to drive down to Orlando. Flying is quick, but costly, and leaves us still needing to rent a car big enough to hold 3 boosters for the week to get around. Driving down and renting a house let’s us get down there and stay for an average of $500-$600.

How can I get the best deal?

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to Disney discounts. I know, sucks. Unless you are a Florida resident (no way to cheat this), in the military, or a AAA member, scoring a discount can be hard and time consuming. Most discount sites are scams. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

We get the best price on tickets by looking for package deals (FYI ticket discounts start when you purchase 3 or more days) and knowing what we want.

Do we want the Park Hopper? If this is your first Disney trip and you have small kids, my advice is no, no you do not. Disney is a day long haul, even when planned to perfection, and making it through one park, let alone two, is hard for us. If you are savvy, have multiple days to play at Disney, or are confident as fuck, have at it! I have just never used the Park Hopper option and felt fulfilled with my trip, but rather, rushed and like I’m missing something.

What about the Dining Plan? Enter, the most polarizing question ever. The people who love the Dining Plan, LOVE IT. The people who don’t love it can rationalize the hell out of not getting it. First, you need to decide what kind of Disney Diner you are. All the parks offer different dining options, from quick service to a fancier sit down meal. As a rule, we make a reservation for one nice meal at each park, and then just snack or grab a quick service meal should we get hungry again. We just love having that one moment a day when we can walk into a reservation, sit down, have some amazing food, and pay only a bit more than we would at the quick service options, because let’s face it, even fast food is pricey for a family of five.

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Magic Kingdom: MK is the only park we don’t religiously book a sit-down meal for, and that’s because the park is huge and it’s hard to plan where we’ll be at any given moment. However, when we do book a sit down meal, we go with Be Our Guest Restaurant. MK is the home to our favorite quick service stop: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe; the rotisserie chicken is super good. And so help me God, if you leave Magic Kingdom without hitting up Aloha Isle for a Dole Whip Float, we aren’t friends anymore.

Hollywood Studios: Listen, this is the single most important Hollywood Studios tip you will ever get: BOOK THE FANTASMIC PACKAGE. The Fantasmic Package is a set menu package at select restaurants that gives you a 3 course meal and VIP tickets to walk into the Fantasmic night show right before begins, which is huge, because the show is amazing and people usually start funneling into that thing at least an hour in advance. With these special tickets, you waltz in to your front row seats with no wait or fuss. Also, the food is amazing. The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood & Vine and Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano are all participating restaurants. Hollywood & Vine is my favorite, it’s an absolutely loaded buffet (try the Lobster Mac N’Cheese), but Andy is obsessed with Brown Derby. Honestly, you can’t go wrong. This meal package can be booked online (click here), but you have to grab it ASAP as spots are limited.

Epcot: Holy shit, y’all. There are too many amazing places to even choose from, but we are big fans of Teppan Edo in Japan. The food is super good, the Saki flights keep things interesting, and the kids love watching the Japanese chefs cook their food in front of them and tell them all about their country and traditions.

So where do I stand on the Dining Plan? I could do lots of math for you right now, but I don’t want to. So I’ll just tell you that unless it’s either free or on super special, I pass. If you are on the fence, look up the menu for every place you want to eat (it’s all online), add it up, and see where that puts you. The Deluxe Plan is like strapping a feed bag to your face for the day, which I normally enjoy, just not in scenarios where I’m expected to wear pants and poop in public restrooms, and the skimpiest plan wasn’t enough for us… so it’s just a matter of sitting down and adding it all up.

Tip… make your dining reservations now. Like RIGHT NOW. Okay, 180 days in advance of your trip, but seriously, people start booking this stuff way in advance, and you don’t actually need to have your tickets purchased to secure dining reservations, so act quick or you’ll be left with no options.

WTF Fast Passes?

Only in the last few years has Disney messed with the Fast Passes to the point that they can be a pretty big pain in the ass. Fast passes are special tickets you can snag ahead of time that let you skip the long lines for a ride during a set period of time. AWESOME! The irritating aspect is that you can only get 3 of them a day, and you can only select a set number of rides per tier of ride. For example, only one thrill ride, or one show pass.

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If you are not staying on Disney property, you can start booking your fast passes online 30 days in advance of your park day, assuming you have already purchased your ticket. If you are staying onsite, the window opens 60 days out. Again, like dining, do this ASAP. We stayed up until 12am on the day we could book and still missed out on some of our ride picks.

What should I bring to the park?

Whatever you bring, you will be carrying all day and onto the rides, so keep that in mind. The only bag we bring is a backpack, and we always rent a double stroller, even though our kids are 6, 8 and 9. Not only is the stroller great to have when the kids are tired and cranky and simply can’t walk another step, it’s also nice to have some place to toss your bag when you’re walking around to give your shoulders a break. You can usually get a multi-day discount on the stroller, so let them know how many days you’ll need it at the rental shop. I find renting a stroller to be so much easier than bringing a stroller. It’s sturdy enough for me to toss things on, has cup holders, easy to push, and at the end of the very long day, I don’t have to lug it back to my car, I simply walk away from it.

Here are our Disney Backpack essentials:

Snacks: Goldfish crackers, licorice, fruit snacks, granola bars, gum. Snacks are great when the kids are hungry and angsty in a long line.
Ponchos
Hand Sanitizer
Phone Chargers
Extra shorts for each kid
Sunglasses
Advil
Sunscreen
Wallet

How do we make a plan of attack for the parks?

You might notice, I haven’t once mentioned Animal Kingdom in this post, and the reason for that is… we don’t go there. EVERYONE JUST RELAX. Honestly, we have a great zoo (shout out Toledo Zoo!), so spending Disney prices for a really cool zoo isn’t on our to-do list and the rides just aren’t big enough to draw us there, so we opt for parks that are more in line with our fun expectations. Don’t get me wrong, Disney can almost do no wrong, we just didn’t leave that park dying to go back the way we do with all their other parks. (Until the new Avatar area is built, then hell yes)

Knowing how well you and/or your kids will hold up on a 12 hour day is helpful. Knowing if you are thrill ride people, show people, or parade people is also helpful. As is knowing how long you can take being in a park with tens of thousands of people just as tired and handing over just as much money as you are. It’s a lot to take in and plan, so I am going to share with you our totally subjective/biased/personal/lazy park input and tips for each Disney Park. Take the info if it’s helpful, argue with me in the comments, whatever, in the words of Montel Jordan, this is how we do it.

Magic Kingdom. Our favorite parks are Hollywood Studios and Epcot. GASP! NOT MAGIC KINGDOM!? Nope, not Magic Kingdom. We love it, it feels nostalgic and magical, and yes, I totally cry during the fireworks, but it’s our most stressful and exhausting Disney stop. It’s a huge park, lines get very long for rides that are very short, it’s tons of walking, and that’s all a recipe for our kids losing it. Keeping that in mind, we try and treat this day as our most chill day ever. We start in Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland

  • Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor: Do! This is a show, and it’s kinda cheesy and nerdy, but I love it. It’s a great air conditioned escape to circle back to should you get to the point with your kids where you just can’t even, anymore.
  • Stitch’s Great Escape: Pass. This is a dark (as in pitch black) ride that freaks my kids out.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: Do! This is a continuous ride, so the line moves pretty fast, and it’s super fun for all of us. Also, I always beat Andy’s score.
  • Tomorrowland People Mover: Put a pin in this! This, like the Laugh Floor, is a great chill out spot for kids. It’s about 10 minutes of just buzzing around Tomorrowland, and it’s relaxing. This is best to do at night, when the park is lit up and pretty!
  • Astro Orbiter: Pass. I’m afraid of heights and constant spinning, so this is a no go for us.
  • Space Mountain: Do! This is a rollercoaster in complete darkness. I don’t actually like this, but it’s a tradition. It always leaves me with a sore neck and back. Meh, I’m old. Note, if you have small kids that meet the height requirement, the rides sits people in a straight line, so your child will be sitting in a seat in front of you not next to you.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway: Do! Totally fun way to foreshadow how terrible our next generations of drivers will be!

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Fantasyland

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh: Pass. This ride is lame and not worth the long line at all.
  • Mad Tea Party: Do!
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Do! It’s blasphemy to not love this ride!
  • The Barnstormer: Do! This is a Goofy themed mini-coaster for kids, and a GREAT intro rollercoaster.
  • Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station: Pass. Unless you like walking around in wet clothes and having chapped thighs. NOTE! There is a nice, clean bathroom right next to this, use it!
  • It’s a Small World. Do! Duh.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight: Do! The line for this is always crazy long, but I love it.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle: Do! This is way awesomer than I thought it would be, the kids all participate, and it’s lots of fun.
  • Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid: Do! A fun, colorful and continuous ride, so the lines aren’t too miserable. Plus the tiny crab as you wait in queue is adorably entertaining, make sure to wave at it. It will wave back!
  • Seven Drawfs Mine Train: Do! The lines for this get insane, so try and get here early or snag a fast pass.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic: Do! This looks lame on the outside, but it’s an awesome- AIR CONDITIONED- 4D show. The kids like it, and it’s a great place to have everyone just sit, chill, and get their shit together before heading back out into the madness.

Liberty Square

  • Haunted Mansion: Do! Sure, it can be spooky for little ones, but just hand them a fun game on your phone, plant them next to you and go party with the dead!

Frontier Land

  • Splash Mountain: Do! This is my favorite ride! Definitely grab your poncho, though. You get wet, and chances are the seat you are sitting on will be wet, too, so better to suit up then have a wet ass all day!
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Do! Every person I know, myself included, has a story about how when they were small, their parents got them on this ride by telling them it was “just a train ride.” Liars! But you can bet I told my poor kids the exact same line of BS. It’s tradition.
  • Country Bear Jamboree: Maybe. This is a great place to go if you have non-rollercoaster riders in Frontier Land. It kills time, is air conditioned, and is entertaining.

Adventureland

  • Swiss Family Treehouse: Do! If you like climbing trees and daydreaming about boning Fritz… which I do.
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin: Pass. This is just like Dumbo, so unless the lines are super short, it’s not worth the wait.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room: Do! It’s corny, but the kids love it, and it gets dim enough you can kinda nap a bit to the old timey banter of robot birds. NOTE: The Aloha Isle is right next to the Tiki room, so make sure you grab a Dole Whip!!!
  • Jungle Cruise: Do! But note that this is hit or miss, and the entertainment level solely depends on your boat captain. Sometimes, they are hilarious. Sometimes, you can’t understand what they are mouthing into the microphone and you start thinking about jumping out of the boat.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Do! Totally an MK staple, just remember that the ride starts out with about a 20 foot drop, so hold on to your babies and get ready to get a teeny tiny bit wet.

Gibbons Fast Pass Selections: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion.
Gibbons Favorite Magic Kingdom Alcohol locations: Be Our Guest Restaurant in Fantasyland

Hollywood Studios: Maybe it’s because my kids are of the Pixar generation that this park ranks high on our love list, but it’s a great pop culture mecca with super fun rides and tons of shows.

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  • Toy Story Mania: Do! And run! Literally, run to get there the second the park opens, because the line for this is huge and it’s the most popular ride in the park.
  • The Great Movie Ride: Do! This is another ride that may appear lame on the outside, but it’s my kids’ favorite! It’s part animatronic and part live action.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set: Pass. This is basically just a park with big things to climb on. It’s too much of a time waste corralling your kids back in to do other cooler things.
  • Muppet Vision 3D: Do! God loves the Muppets.
  • Rock n’ Rollercoaster: Do! It’s an Aerosmith rollercoaster for Christ sake.
  • Star Tours: Do! Star Wars totally knows how to do 3D, and you can ride this multiple times and get a different scenario each time. My limit is 3 though, after that, I get pukey.
  • Tower of Terror: Pass. This is a cult favorite, but I hate dropping in elevators. It’s a legit phobia.
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage: Do! Disney can do stage shows like no other, I love how it can still be live, but be chock full of special effects and fun!
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage: Pass. This has limited show times and is not worth jacking up your schedule to accommodate sitting on the floor yelling at your kid to sit down.
  • For the First Time in Forever, A Frozen Sing Along: Do! Even if you have boys or are not a Frozen fan, this show is hilarious and snarky. And yes, I sing all the songs.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: Meh pass. Andy loves this, I am sorta bored. If you like Indiana Jones and want to check out the stunts behind it, this is for you.
  • Lights, Motor, Action Extreme Stunt Show: Do! Of the HS stunt shows, this is the most interesting and exciting. There are no bad seats at this show, the only downside is that it’s a bit of a walk to get to, and takes some time to file out of.
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid: Do! This is a cute, dark, air conditioned show. The key is to sit in the middle, though. Too close and you miss the action on the front of the stage, too far and you don’t see as much.

Gibbons Fast Pass Selections: Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, Rock n’ Rollercoaster
Gibbons Favorite Hollywood Studios Alcohol locations: All restaurants and the food stand outside Indiana Jones.

Epcot: Epcot is made up of two distinct park areas, Future World (ride area) and then the World Showcase. Definitely check out all of the World Showcase, and bonus points for drinking your way around the world. I’ll just be touching on the Future World area below.

  • Soarin’: Do! This is an amazing experience, do do do.
  • Test Track: Do! You build a custom car, and then go on a rollercoaster that simulates actually driving and road testing said car. If it comes to choosing a fast pass between Soarin’ and Test Track, choose Test Track. The line for Soarin’ is at least entertaining, but the Test Track line blows.
  • Mission Space: Do! This 3D simulator is intense, but you get to pick what level of intense you prefer.
  • Living with the Land: Do! It’s a easy breezy boat ride that teaches you about food and shows you all the cool things Disney does to grow it. It’s relaxing and chill.
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends: Do! This is a typical Disney ride. It’s a continuous loop, so lines are horrible, and the kids seem to enjoy it.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush: Do! This happens in the area that the Nemo ride spits you out into. The kids get to sit up front and talk with Crush, which they love.
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Do! This is another one of those chill the fuck out in the dark and air conditioning rides. You go in and stand, which makes you think this will suck, but then you get on a ride and it turns out totally awesome. Seriously, a must do.
  • Spaceship Earth: Do! This is the ball, and yes, you need to go in it. It’s dark and kinda corny, but it’s relaxing and something you should see. Plus, you can make out in the car the whole time.
  • Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure: Do! This experience takes place in the World Showcase area of Epcot, and you can find stands to sign up all around the countries. You head to a kiosk, they equip you with a cell phone, and you turn it on and begin solving clues and completing missions that take you all around the park. Seriously, I was shocked how cool this ended up being.

Gibbons Fast Pass Selections: Test Track, Mission Space, Nemo
Gibbons Favorite Epcot Alcohol locations: Err’where. Seriously, pick a country. But I’m super fond of the Lemoncello shots you can get from the wagons in Italy. 

What are your final tips?

My Disney Experience. This app is your life at Disney, download it. It links with your Disney account, synching the app with your dining reservations, fast passes, etc. You can put everyone in your group on the app, and it’s the best way to keep everything organized. Bonus! It shows you the wait times for every ride.

Pin Trading and Autograph collecting. These are small investment things you can do that your kids will fucking love. We bough each kid an autograph book and pen 3 years ago and they are still excitedly filling the same books. Thanks to a tip from a friends, we just made our way into pin trading. Disney pins are metal character/themed pins people stick to a lanyard. You can then go and buy more pins, OR trade them for free with any staff member in the park. My kids love this, and it’s a great way for them to meet new people, then barter for cooler pins. I’ve never seen them so proud, and the starter lanyard and pins I bought were worth every cent. Speaking of which, I looked to eBay to save money on both, just make sure you RESEARCH your sellers to make sure the pins are legit. I have bought lanyards from here and a lot of 30 random pins to trade from here.

Rider Switch. We are a family of 5, which means 3 small kids and two adults. This is an issue when it comes to the rollercoasters because our kids aren’t big enough to ride solo, but most of the thrill rides at Disney seat 2 riders only. Enter, Rider Swap. This allows one parent and kid to ride, while other other parent waits with the small kids, then, they swap, and the next parent is given a fast pass to hop on with the next kid, no waiting. It’s confusing to describe, but works like a dream, and makes Disney with a big, young family super doable. Just let the cast member at the front of each ride know, and they’ll take care of the rest!

Heads Up. Next to the Fantasmic Dining package, this is the second greatest tip I can offer you. DOWNLOAD THE HEADS UP APP.  It’s available for apple and android, and it’s that hilarious interactive game of charades that Ellen created. It is the single greatest long line saver you can have in your arsenal. The kids LOVE IT, I love it, and even all the people around us in line end up playing, making the time spent waiting fly by.

My favorite resort eateries. Disney can do food. They are great at it, and if you are a foodie, this place is a gold mine. Outside of the parks themselves, we do have a few favorite stops that are open to all, whether you are staying on property, or not. For breakfast, hit up Kona Cafe at The Polynesian for Tonga Toast, it’s addicting as hell. If you are a seafood lover like we are, check out the All-You-Can-Eat Crab buffet from Cape May at The Beach Club Resort for dinner. So much crab, shrimp and sides. They also have kid friendly foods and a dessert buffet. Wear your eating pants.

Open the park. Disney parks are marathons, not sprints. So get there early to set the pace, or you’ll be doing way too much sprinting between long lines trying to cram it all in. Get there, do the busy stuff first, then coast through the rest and eat your face off. If the park opens at 9am, we’re there are 8am to begin the ticket line and bag check process. Earlier for Magic Kingdom, which requires additional transportation to even get to the park.

Character Meeting. Obviously, everyone wants to snag a picture with the characters. But it can be a big huge time suck. I lost 9 years (or 300 minutes, whatever) of my life waiting in a line to meet the princesses at Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairytale Hall. If you find yourself in a line that springs up, awesome! But our best, most time effective place we’ve found is inside The Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios. It’s the unassuming gray building in the same area as Disney Jr. Live and the Little Mermaid show. Head in and you’ll find a whole trove of characters for pictures and autographs; Mickey, Big Hero 6, the Incredibles, Minnie Mouse, etc.

Buy me stuff! Obviously, kids can be greedy little monsters. Our rule is that our children have $25 to spend on the last day of our trip ONLY IF they behave every day prior. And it works. If they keep it together through the parks they each get a $25 Disney gift card they can shop with.

Speaking of Gift Cards. Since we primarily drive down, we usually spend the time between trips loading up on restaurant gift cards. Whether it’s grabbing them with some extra cash in line at the grocery or requesting them as gifts for Christmas and birthdays, we are always eager to get our hands on gift cards to make the trip down even cheaper. Fridays, Bob Evans, Chili’s, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, McDonalds, Taco Bell… I have a box full of cards for these places in my possession at all times. Same goes for gas cards, we stock up on Shell, since that’s the most common station we see on the way.

Yeah, we take our kids out of school. I understand this is a heated topic, and at the end of the day, nobody gets a say about your family outside of you. Personally, we find traveling with our kids at off-peak times makes the trip more affordable, less stressful, and way more educational. We aren’t fighting crowds to do the bare minimum, we’re going places and learning new things and, most importantly, spending quality time together… something we don’t do nearly enough. We make our kids keep journals, collect park maps in multiple languages, visit new beaches and state parks, and work the paper maps you get from each state’s welcome center on the way down.

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Okay, let’s hear it. What say you, Disney fanatics? Tips? Questions? Secret Dole Whip Recipes? Leave it in the comments!

 

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