Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Walt Disney World Trip 2016

{Railroad Selfie}

While I shared a few tips on how to save money at Disney, I wanted to share more specifics from our 2016 trip like our favorite restaurants and rides at each park.  This was our first trip to Disney as a family of three and our two and a half year old loved it!  We opted for a four day pass versus an entire week, and it was the perfect amount of time for us.  We spent about six hours each day at the parks and stayed off site.  I had wanted to go back one night to see the fireworks show, but it didn't happen on this trip.  This Disney trip was a spur of the moment add-on to our already planned family vacation so I am happy with the way it turned out even with last minute planning.  When our daughter is older we will be able to spend longer days at the parks, but for now I'm glad we were able to introduce her to the magic of Disney without it being overwhelming.  Better to leave wanting a little more!

Day 1 - Magic Kingdom

Lunch: Liberty Tree Tavern

Favorite Rides: Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Prince Charming Regal Carousel

Highlights: Meeting Cinderella and Rapunzel

{Prince Charming Regal Carousel}

{Cinderella's Castle}

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

Lunch and Treat: Be Our Guest and Plaza Ice Cream Parlor

Favorite Rides: Mad Tea Party, Under the Sea, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan's Flight

Highlights: Meeting Chip and Dale, Tinkerbell and Daisy Duck

{Plaza Ice Cream Parlor} 

{Meeting Tinkerbell}

Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

Breakfast: Tusker House

Favorite Rides: Kilimanjaro Safari and Tricera Top Spin

Highlights: Breakfast with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy and Wishing Goofy a Happy 84th Birthday!

{Tree of Life} 

{Tracer Top Spin in DinoLand}

Day 4 - Hollywood Studios

Favorite Rides & Shows: Toy Story Mania, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and Disney Junior - Live on Stage

Highlights: Lunch with Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Handy Manny and Jake & the Never Land Pirates

{Toy Story Mania} 

{A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration}

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Nashville Fall Getaway

Since we all have the January blues over here, we've already started planning our next vacation.  Yay!!!  But first, I need to share about our super fun fall getaway we went on back in October.  We spent three nights in Nashville, which is the longest we've stayed in the city other than work trips, and we had a blast!  Nashville never disappoints since we visit a few favorites each trip like Cheekwood, and set aside time to explore one or two new places in the city.  And of course, since we have a little girlie girl in the family we made sure to visit the American Girl Bistro in Franklin before heading home.  

{Pumpkin House at Cheekwood Harvest}

{Pumpkin lined walkway}

{Cheekwood in October}

{Sici's favorite exhibit at Cheekwood}

{Lunch in The Pineapple Room 2015 and 2016}

{Picnic Dinner at Arrington Vineyards}

{Sunset in the vineyard}

{Feeding Jip dog food (chocolate sprinkles)}

{Pink ice cream in a flower pot - perfect ending to a perfect trip}

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Happy Halloween from Snow White

{Trick-or-Treat 2016}

Since this was Sienna's first year to go to Disney, I knew she would want to dress up as a Disney princess for Halloween.  I fell in love with the Snow White Deluxe Costume from the Disney Store and surprised Sienna with it.  The day it came in the mail she tried it on immediately and asked if it was Halloween yet.  Luckily, it was a Saturday night so we headed to Zoo Boo for the first time!  It's so fun to watch kids get all dressed up.  And it's even more fun when they have multiple opportunities to wear their costumes.  We had a fun Halloween season as Sienna was able to wear her costume four times during the month.  Snow White made an appearance at Zoo Boo, a Kindermusik Party, Scare on the Square and of course, on Halloween for Trick-or-Treating.  She received so many compliments on her costume, I have a feeling we'll be sticking with the Disney princess theme for a few more years!

{Trying on her costume for the first time}

{Zoo Boo}

 {Kindermusik Halloween Party}

 {Scare on the Square}


{Trick-or-Treating with The Prince!}

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse Bow-Tique Party

Since we went to Disney World a few months back, I thought it would be fun to have a Disney themed birthday party for Sienna's third birthday.  I gave her the option of having a Disney Princess party (which I was hoping for) or a Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck party.  She enthusiastically chose Minnie and Daisy which I can understand since they are pretty cute (especially to a three year old).  I wanted to keep the party simple this year so we only invited family.  I was surprised that I ended up spending a little more than last year's pineapple party, but that was mainly because we had a barbecue dinner catered for 17 people.  In lieu of a children's activity, I made sure to have plenty of decorations to add to the party's bow-tique theme.  I found bubble fabric on sale at a local fabric store which I used for the dessert table runner since it matched perfectly with the party supplies.  The Minnie Mouse Bow-Tique Paper Lanterns and Treat Bags I picked up last minute added a nice touch to the dinner tables.  The star of the party was undoubtedly the Minnie Mouse Air Walker Balloon that was taller than the birthday girl.  At 54" tall, she provided plenty of entertainment and photo ops for the whole family, and we were able to get our money's worth since she was still alive and well the following week for our daughter's actual birthday.  

 {Chocolate Chip Bow Cookies}

{Flower centerpiece}

Sunday, July 10, 2016

10 Tips on Saving Money at Disney

{Meeting Daisy Duck at the Tusker House Restaurant at Animal Kingdom}

Our family of three spent four days at Walt Disney World last month, and we are already ready to go back!  It was a spontaneous add-on to our already booked beach vacation, so we didn't get to plan as much as we could have if we had booked six months out.  But we had so much fun!  And that made all of the last minute effort of finding another hotel and planning ahead for four days at Disney parks totally worth it!  We've known a lot of friends who have gone for a full week to Disney, but for us, four days felt just right.   And the good news is since we didn't break the bank we hope to go back soon!  

Here are 10 tips on how to save money on your next Disney trip:

1.) Consider driving rather than flying.  Flying these days is such a hassle that we prefer to drive instead.  It makes our trip less stressful because we can go with the flow instead of worrying about a plane to catch.  Then when you arrive at your destination you have transportation!  Plus, the money  saved on airfare can go toward park admission tickets.

2.) Stay off property.  The allure of staying on Disney property is appealing until you see the price tag.  The prices of Disney hotels are higher than other comparable hotels.  While we were there we checked a couple of Disney properties out and for the price we chose to stay off property.  It was really nice to go back to our hotel in the afternoon to swim or relax and get away from the big crowds for a little while.  I would recommend staying within 10-15 minutes of the parks so that your commute isn't too long each day.  

3.) Go for four days instead of seven.  We purchased 4 Day Park passes and felt like that was a good amount of days for our first trip with a toddler.  We went to Magic Kingdom two days, Animal Kingdom for one day and Hollywood Studios on our last day.  

4.) Take a rest day at the hotel.  It was so nice to take a rest day after three days spent at the parks.  There's only so much a toddle can take in so having a day to decompress and relax by the pool was just the buffer we needed before our last day at the parks.  The key to a fun day at the hotel is making sure you have a nice pool area when you book your hotel.  Since you are paying for a hotel anyway, it's nice to enjoy the amenities while you are there and helps with your vacation budget!

5.) Explore other parts of Orlando.  We enjoyed other parts of the city besides Disney on our rest day.  We went shopping, ate at local restaurants and even drove around some gorgeous neighborhoods.  

6.) Bring your own stroller.  You will definitely want to make your toddler ride as much as possible instead of walking the park.  You can rent strollers at the parks, but you will save by bringing your own.

7.) Split meals and bring your own snacks.  The days at the parks are long and tiring so we preferred to eat smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day to keep everyone happy.  At the table service restaurants, my husband and I split an entree and ordered a kid's meal for our toddler.  The lunch portions were pretty generous so it was plenty to hold us over until our afternoon treat (which was ice cream most days).  Disney lets you bring in your own snacks and drinks which was a big help.  We brought in three large waters every day plus snacks for our toddler which helped with the waiting for rides.  This strategy cut the cost of eating out each day.  

8.) Splurge on one character breakfast.  Since it's Disney, we thought it was totally worth it to dine at a character buffet where we could meet Disney characters.  We ate breakfast at the Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom and lunch at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios.  Our favorite by far was Tusker House - the Jungle juice was amazing!  I would highly recommend budgeting for a character breakfast on your next trip, especially since the price of an adult breakfast buffet is cheaper than lunch and dinner options.  Having a special dining reservation to look forward to was a great incentive for keeping the food budget reasonable on other days.  Plus, it really made our trip!

9.) Use your fast passes to see characters.  Instead of feeling obligated to set up expensive lunches and dinners to see characters, use your fast passes each day to see your toddler's favorite characters.  At Magic Kingdom, we saw Tinkerbell, Cinderella and Rapunzel.  Then we saw the classic characters at our Tusker House breakfast: Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy.  We did see the Disney Jr. characters (Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Handy Manny) at our Hollywood & Vine lunch, but on our way out we saw them outside at accessible spots with short lines.  Since Hollywood Studios is a much smaller park, next time we would just wait in line a few minutes to see Sofia instead of paying for the pricey character lunch.

10.) Bring your own princess dresses/ character costumes.  Since our daughter was under three, we didn't make an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  We brought our own princess dresses with us which made her meet and greet experiences more magical.  She wore a Cinderella dress when she met Cinderella at her castle, and I had a few shirts monogrammed for her to wear each day to the parks.  I let her pick out one dress on our last day at Hollywood Studios.  I used the Disney Shop Parks app on my iPhone the night before to pick out a couple of clothing options that I thought she would like that were in our budget.  This app is great because it shows what items are in stock at each gift shop!  The next day I was able to go straight to the options I had picked out which helped us not waste time shopping and kept my toddler focused on the task at hand.  After holding up a couple choices, she enthusiastically chose an Elsa and Anna tulle dress to wear to the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.  It was less than what I would have spent at the boutique, but still made her feel special because she got to pick something out at Disney World!

Have you been to Disney lately?  What tips can you share on how to save money?

© 2010. All Rights Reserved. | Custom Blog Design By Penny Lane Designs