Top 10 Vacation Tips To Save Money in Walt Disney World

If you have been hanging around here more than one second, you know that I love all things Disney, and this of course includes vacationing in Walt Disney World. However, it can be very expensive to vacation there especially if you have kids. Over the years I have learned a thing or two to help cut costs while still having a ton of fun. Some things just don’t matter as much if it means you get to still go to your happy place, right? Check out my top 10 10 vacation tips to save money in Walt Disney World:

Save Money in Walt Disney World

1.) Bring food from home or order groceries: All WDW hotels have mini fridges, and all DVC (disney vacation club) rooms have microwaves, and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom DVC villas have full kitchens. If you are driving to WDW, bring food with you or stop when you get to Orlando for groceries. If you are flying, take advantage of grocery delivery services like Garden Grocer. One of my favorite Disney memories is staying at a DVC resort and grilling burgers and eating outside with the family at picnic tables. (Yes all villa resorts have grills!) We aren’t big breakfast eaters so have brought milk, cereal, and protein bars for breakfast, and even made sandwiches for lunch. It saves a ton of money because let’s face it, Disney food is pricey.

2.) Purchase base tickets: Choose a base ticket instead of a park hopper to save money. Remember, with a base ticket you can only go into one park per day, but you can go in and out of that park as many times as you want. If you have little ones, consider going to a park in the morning, then going back to your resort for a nap and swim, then head back to the park in the early evening.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

3.) Target gift cards: If you have a Target red card, you already (hopefully) know you save 5% on all purchases. Did you know this includes Disney gift cards? Pick up a couple everytime you shop at Target then save them for your trip. You can even pay off your hotel or package balance with them.

 

4.) Souvenirs from home: Disney shirts, toys, and the like are SO expensive. Like it’s painful. Thankfully, I have a Disney Store outlet near my house with great prices. I have bought toys and clothes for Emma Kate there and then given them to her when we are at Disney. We have even surprised her in the morning and said “Mickey or Tinkerbell left her a present overnight”. This way we can stay out of the stores and save some money. You can literally find a lot of the same toys from the parks at the outlet (there is even one in Orlando near Disney!) or online when the Disney Stores has sales.

5.) Bring your own water:  We always bring out own water from home by the case, but you can also bring a refillable water bottle, or ask for free ice water in a cup at any counter service location. A bottle of water at WDW is $3+, and I can get a whole case for that much. Save your money for other things!

6.) Choose where you stay wisely: There are tons of on site WDW hotels, and if you go at certain times of the year and are flexible with your dates, you can go when prices are lowest and snag a resort of package discount, maybe even free dining. However, don’t be afraid to look outside Disney property. There are several great hotels near Disney Springs as well that can save you a lot of money. Remember, holidays and summer are the most expensive and most crowded.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

 7.) Chase Disney Visa: We have a Chase Disney Visa credit card that we use for everyday purchases (please note, we pay it off in full every month!) and we earn points that translate into Disney dollars. (holla!) We use the cards for everything from gas to daycare bills to groceries and money adds up fast! I have a friend who paid for 3/4 of a Disney cruise with her points, so it is like getting free money! They also offer merchandise discounts as well around the parks.

8.) Share meals: At the sit down restaurants (not the fancy ones) we have found that portion sizes are quite large, and Emma Kate and I can easily split a meal. You can always get a mickey bar or popsicle later if you are still hungry, which is actually what I prefer anyway. 🙂

9.) Have an “off” day: Disney Springs has been revamped over the past couple of years and now it’s a destination in and of itself. The best thing? It’s free! (well, unless you have a shopping problem.) Free parking, free wifi, free live music, and chocolate samples. You can also play with Legos and there is a splash pad area that has kept Emma Kate entertained many times while we eat outside at Earl of Sandwich. Take a day “off” from the parks in the middle of your trip and hit up Disney Springs for a half day, then spend a half day at the pool, or ride the monorail around and look at some of the gorgeous hotel lobbies.

10.) Bring your own stroller: Lastly, if you have small kids, bring your own stroller. This will save you from renting from an outside company or renting one of the uncomfortable hard plastic ones from the parks, which by the way you cannot take back to your hotel. It may not be a huge savings but every little bit counts when you want to have the vacation of your dreams!

Save Money in Walt Disney World

Related: Tips for Pandora with a Preschooler

5 Things Friday XXXI

Hey-o! Happy Friday my friends. We made it through another week, which means time to catch up on some things that I either haven’t mentioned on the blog or that you may have missed on social media. (Psstt Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for the most up to the minute happenings!)

1.) Dumbo Teaser: Did you know that there is a live action version of the beloved story of Dumbo coming out in early 2019? YES! I grew up on this Movie, and Emma Kate’s “must do” ride every time we go to Magic Kingdom is Dumbo. I can’t wait for us to watch this together! Take a peek at the teaser now:

2.) Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama: Bobby and I are heading out on a press trip with Carnival Cruise lines next week, and we will be going to a new to me port (Bermuda) on the new to EVERYONE ship, the Carnival Horizon! I had the privilege of checking out this beauty at the naming ceremony last month, and can’t wait to sail on her for four nights with some other amazing bloggers. I will have wifi on the ship and will do my best to update as much as I can, signal permitting (again, the best place for updates will be Twitter and Instagram/Instagram stories).

carnival horizon

3.) Nerd Alert: If you follow my Instastories you may have already seen this, but lately I have been having problems with fatigued eyes, headaches, and having a hard time falling asleep at night. I decided to take the plunge and get some blue light blocking glasses. I found some cheap ones with great reviews on Amazon, and so far I am loving them! My eyes don’t feel so worn down at night, and I am falling asleep way faster than before. You can check out the affiliate link for the ones I purchased here.

4.) Action Hero: I was invited to be a Women’s Health Action hero! I will be partnering with them on different campaigns throughout the rest of the year, testing out products and things and telling you which I like, and why. It’s an amazing encouraging and uplifting program and I am so thankful to be a part of it. Look for #WHActionHero on social media for more.

5.) Adventure Island: Last weekend, Bobby and I took Emma Kate and my parents to Adventure Island courtesy of the water park, and we had a blast! We had never been and I will admit I was super impressed. It’s so fun to know something so great is just a few minutes from my house, and I hope we get to go back (especially because I totally want to rent one of the super cool cabanas!) Emma Kate loved the splash pad area with slides and more, and we even all went down a super fast and cool raft ride together (EK and my mom were not fans but they did good!) Bobby rode the brand new Vanish Point slide and said it was a lot of fun, and an adrenaline rush as you anticipate the floor dropping out from under you (YES it happens my friends!) Check out AdventureIsland.com for a fun promo they have going on through July 1 that involves Busch Gardens.

4 Tips for Stroller Running in the Heat

Now that it’s summer and all sense of a regular schedule has gone out the window, I have had to rethink some of my workout times and methods. I want to spend time with Emma Kate without neglecting my health, so it just makes sense for us to do some working out together. Thankfully she will still sit in the stroller while I run for three miles or less, so we are trying to do more of that lately. However, it. is. hot. Not only do I have to worry about being safe for myself, but also for my daughter, so here are my best tips for stroller running:

stroller running

1.) Sunscreen for everyone: I know it may be tempting to think that because they are in a shaded stroller or covered by a canopy that your child is safe from the sun, but they most definitely still need sunscreen! Also if you are a heavy sweater don’t forget to reapply. I use kids spray sunscreen on her body, and sensitive skin just for face on Emma Kate’s face. I use whatever is in the closet for myself. ha.

stroller running

2.) Dress appropriately: Cool, light sweat wicking clothing is best for everyone. I got Emma Kate some super cheap athletic gear at our local consignment shop. We obviously don’t need blankets in the summer! Don’t drape your stroller with a blanket because it traps heat inside and you need air to circulate as much as possible.

3.) Hydrate: Fill up a bottle of water for yourself, and for your wee one. A lot of strollers have a handy basket underneath where you can bring sunscreen, water, a towel, etc. along with you. I also purchased an accessory for my stroller that has two cupholders up top, and a flip down cup holder and tray for Emma Kate in front of her. It’s great for keeping her entertained with snacks, too.

4.) Time your run and route wisely: Try to run early in the morning or late in the evening when you aren’t in the worst of the sun, which is between 10-2. Not only will it be cooler, but there will also be more shade and everyone will be happier. I personally prefer running in the morning and getting it out of the way. Emma Kate is awake at 6:00 most days so it gives us something to do before the world is awake.

5.) Pick a good jogging stroller: I am currently loving the BOB Rambler! It is cheaper than other models, but still packs a powerful punch. It has 12 inch high impact tires for those bumpy roads, a swivel locking front wheel, and a 75 pound weight capacity. I also love the one hand recline adjustment, two step fold, and foot activated parking break. If some of the other BOB strollers are too expensive for your taste, know that the Rambler has the best features at a lower price point. 

You can check out the Rambler’s other features here and also find out where to purchase your own. Happy running!

RELATED: 10 tips for running in the heat

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of BOB, however all opinions are my own.

Cool Down This Summer at Adventure Island

Disclosure: I was provided free tickets to Adventure Island and Busch Gardens as well as attendance at a VIP party, however all opinions are my own.

Recently Bobby and I attended a special VIP party at Tampa’s Adventure Island water park. We had never been to the water park before, so were super excited to check it out before we bring Emma Kate on her first visit.

There were storm clouds all around, and it did pour on and off, but we still had a blast and got to see some of the awesome attractions and even make a few animal friends.

Did I mention they had delicious cocktails served out of pineapples? I may have had more than one, and was able to cross off a bucket list item!

As we were walking to our destination I immediately saw this fun kids area and can’t wait to bring EK back here. There is another splash area as well but we didn’t get to visit that part of the park.

Hello lazy river! This is where I will be spending my time friends.

We did get to see some awesome, tall, cool looking slides including the park’s newest attraction, Vanish Point. It is a drop straight down, yes the floor literally falls out from under your feet!

adventure island

Say hello to my friends that came to greet us. The flamingos were just walking around saying hey to everyone.

There was music and delicious island fare, and everyone was so nice and friendly. I give the food and drinks two thumbs up!

I had no idea you could rent cabanas here. This looks so relaxing and nice on a hot summer day. Rental is for the whole day and includes four lounge chairs, a mini fridge with water, meal vouchers, and all day locker rental.

Another shot of these awesome slides. We got to see someone go down the big yellow and green one in a family sized raft and it looked awesome. There is plenty to do here, and tons of dining options!

There are so many other slides, pools, and activities to explore at Adventure Island, and for a limited time, buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get an Adventure Island Fun Card for FREE*. Hurry! Offer ends on July 1.

adventure island

Be sure to Follow Adventure Island on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Things Friday XXX

Greetings! It’s been awhile since I did one of these posts (like, October!) so I thought it was high time to do a little catching up for those who don’t regularly follow my Instagram stories.

1.) Great but quick trip to NYC: I wrote a post about the naming ceremony and my time on the Carnival Horizon, but I haven’t talked a lot about my evening in the city and the next morning before getting on the boat.  Carnival put us up at the Sheraton Times Square, so we were right in the middle of the action. Amanda and I walked down 5th Avenue, past the Plaza hotel, and all through Central Park (even to the fountain from FRIENDS, see below). I have been to NYC one other time but not to the park and was super pumped to check it off my bucket list. The weather was rainy and chilly, but that didn’t stop us.

2.) Moving on up: The way Emma Kate’s daycare is structured, they go ahead and move children up at the start of summer instead of fall. Even though she turns 4 in September, she misses the cut off of September 1, so she moved from the young 3’s to the older 3’s this week, and I cannot believe how much she has changed in a year! Below is her last day of 2’s vs. last day of young 3’s and she had changed so much. I’m happy for her but sad for me at the same time. My little toddler is no longer so little.

3.) Timehop Sweetness: Some days I really dislike Timehop and things it reminds me of, but some days I love it! I was reminded yesterday that it has been TEN YEARS since we brought Bella home to be a part of our family. How adorable was she as a puppy?!? Dying over here. She was so tiny that she had a hard time jumping over the threshold to get in and out the back door.

4.) Disney Day: I have a gold Florida resident pass which means I am only blocked out for Christmas and spring break, but Bobby and EK are blocked out all summer as well after this weekend, so we are going to brave the crowds and go to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday with my parents. I just want to soak it all in one last time as a family before fall….along with every other family in central Florida I’m sure! Be sure to follow along on my Instagram stories and on Twitter.

5.) Make money blogging: I have gotten a lot of questions over the years about how to work with and pitch brands and how to make money blogging and via social media. Well I finally got my rear in gear and created a quick guide you can purchase. Check it out here and let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help! 

Emma Kate: 3.5 Years

Well we now have a child halfway to four years old, which blows my mind! on March 24th, Emma Kate turned three and a half and we baked a cake to celebrate and she LOVED it. I just wanted to take a moment to catch you up on our little girl.

Eating: Girlfriend LOVES to eat. She can still be pretty picky, but she loves large quantities of food, and I have grown to hate the word “snack”. She loves fruit like peaches and blueberries and strawberries, and also is a big yogurt fan. She even likes broccoli which is shocking to me. She eats a lot of turkey and chicken, and tries to get us to let her have candy whenever she can (all these holidays are killing me.) She still drinks a lot of water, and isn’t a huge fan of ice cream/cold stuff, but LOVES cupcakes!

Sleeping: We moved her to her “big girl bed” a couple weeks ago and she has been doing great and she loves it. She sleeps great and hasn’t fallen out (yet) and stays in her bed until we come get her in the mornings. Nap is hit or miss, if I let her sleep too long in the morning she won’t nap at school, but I would venture to say she sleeps for an hour 3-4 days a week at school and 85% of the time on the weekends. She goes to bed at 7:45 and usually lays there until about 8:00, and is up anywhere between 6-7 in the morning, but on school days I make sure she’s up at 6:30 so she will nap!

Clothing: She wears 4T and 5T now exclusively, and is quickly outgrowing several 4T things, which makes me so sad. She’s in a size 9 shoe but I feel that will be changing very soon as well.

Potty: She hasn’t had an accident in FOREVER, and has been dry for a week straight at night, and is always dry after nap. I think we are super close to not needing a pull up at night. She is doing awesome in this category!

Emma Kate says the funniest things and cracks us up on a daily basis. She loves to sing and dance, and has been watching movies like Aladdin, Trolls, Moana, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc. She still loves big bows and lets me pick out her clothes most of the time (thankfully!)

She has been doing this thing where she doesn’t like when Bobby and I talk to each other so she will interrupt us and then she has nothing to say. it’s pretty annoying, any tips for breaking this habit?

She loves to have us sing with her at night int he rocking chair and she says her own little prayers which is so cute.

I don’t have an official height and weight but I’m thinking close to 40 pounds and 39 inches tall? I will have to measure her later!

We had our first trip to the ER on Easter Sunday, she jumped off the bed at Grammy and Papa’s house and hit her head on the rocking chair corner and there was blood everywhere and she had a deep gash, so she ended up with three staples. I nearly had a heart attack. She is fearless and independent and brave.

We switched schools at the end of 2017 and she is doing SO well at the new school because they have a pretty strict curriculum and I feel like she is learning so much. She recognizes most letters, counts to 20 something, and is writing with her little left hand.

She loves her “sister” Bella, wrestling with daddy, and putting together puzzles (shes REALLY good at puzzles!) We love you sweet bug and this has been such a fun half year!

LEGOLAND Florida’s Newest Attraction: The Great LEGO Race

Disclosure: I attended a press event for the ride opening and was given four tickets to LEGOLAND Florida, however all opinions are my own.

I love theme parks and I love technology, so when the two are combined, you know I’m going to be excited about the possibilities! LEGOLAND Florida has come up with an amazing new ride concept called The Great LEGO Race, which is now open. “This ride combines roller coaster thrills with virtual reality (VR) technology to put guests in the center of an action-packed road rally where the laws of physics and aerodynamics only loosely apply” How fun is that?

 

Legoland Florida has a new ride, the great LEGO race, with virtual reality technology@

 

“Wearing optional VR headsets, riders will experience the action from every direction while riding the roller coaster – up, down, forward, backward and all points in between  in a dazzling environment where everything is made of LEGO bricks. Check out two of the screenshots from inside the race below.”

Check this out:

“The wild and wacky race pits guests against a LEGO pirate, wizard, surfer, trendsetter and pharaoh driving brick-built vehicles like a rocket-powered windsurfing rig, a stylish scooter fueled by espresso and an ornately canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummy servants.”

On opening day, we got to see an adorable show followed by the ride being officially opened to the public. 

We even go to take photos with some of the heroes of the ride itself. Emma Kate was partial to the pirate, of course. She’s not quite tall enough to ride, but I know one day she will love it. 

Here are some “stats” on the ride itself:

-You must be 6 years old and at least 48 inches tall to wear the optional virtual reality headset.

-You must be 42 inches tall to ride, and must ride with someone at least 14 years old NOT wearing a VR headset for supervision purposes.

-headsets are cleaned in between each guest who rides

-It took 2 and a half years to develop this ride

-The ride is just shy of 400 meters in length

-You drop at speeds of 35 mph during your ride

Who are the LEGO minifigure competitors?

  • Pirate Captain; Team Pirate — He steers a dinghy with a turbine-powered sail.
  • Pharaoh; Team Pharaoh — He rides an ornate canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummified servants.
  • Surfer Girl; Team Surfer — She rides a rocket-powered windsurfing rig.
  • Trendsetter; Team Trendy — She rides an espresso-fueled scooter with a sidecar for her tiny dog.
  • Wizard; Team Wizard — He drives a dragon-themed hot-rod.

 

Be sure to check out the LEGOLAND Florida website for more details.

 

 

4 Tips to get you through stomach flu season

Norovirus. The word that sends chills up the spine of any parent. That dreaded note that comes home from school saying a child, or maybe two or three, in your kids’ class has been sent home with the dreaded stomach flu. The problem is, by the time you get the note, your poor child (as well as your entire family) has most likely already been exposed.

My child unfortunately came down with the stomach flu in early spring of last year, and it is not something I want to repeat again this year. Thankfully, I have a new way to help protect my house and my family this year.

While these announcements and notes are panic inducing, there is something you can do at your house to help make sure any germs that are brought in by your kids are swiftly eliminated, and without harsh chemicals.

Check out my top 4 tips for keeping your home and kids a stomach flu free zone during this season.

1.) Lots of hand washing: Your first line of defense, hand washing can help stop the spread of germs to all the surfaces in your house. Make sure you teach your kids proper hand washing techniques, and be sure to get in between those fingers! The CDC recommends that alcohol hand sanitizers be used in addition to hand washing. I like to carry hand sanitizer  in my purse for when hand washing isn’t possible, and we keep a bottle in the car and in the stroller as well.

2.) Change clothes after school: I feel like schools are giant germ factories, despite teachers’ and staff’s best efforts. Last year, we had an entire school here shut down because so many of the students caught Norovirus (my poor child being one of them). One of the ways to cut down on transferring those germs into your house is to have your kids change clothes immediately after they get home from school (as well as having them wash their hands!) Clean hands and clean clothes only in my house!

3.) Keep hands away from face and mouth: My daughter is three so this one is still a struggle for us. I am constantly telling her to keep her hands out of her mouth and away from her face so that she won’t get sick. She is getting much better at it, but it’s still tough some days. I am working on a reward system right now. She really wants me to paint her fingernails but I told her I would only do it if she keeps her hands out of her mouth for a week. Fingers crossed!

4.) Use PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant : My lifesaver, my new favorite disinfecting and cleaning product! I use this on a daily basis in my house. It kills 99.9% of viruses  and bacteria in 30 seconds including cold, flu, strep, salmonella, and yes, norovirus! It’s worry-free around kids, pets and food, and kills germs like bleach but without the harsh chemicals. There is no water rinse required since there are no harmful chemicals, and it’s great to use on surfaces you can’t wash easily like gym bags, car seats, and high chairs. We use it daily to wipe down counters, clean up spills, and wipe off things touched frequently like doorknobs, remote controls, and handles.

Unfortunately, sometimes our kids still get sick despite our best efforts, but it’s good to know that I have done everything in my power at home to help prevent the spread of those icky germs. I love knowing that I am using safe products for myself and my kids—even the furry one!

Mary Poppins Returns and Christopher Robin Teasers

There is some exciting stuff coming out this year my friends! I have two things to tell you about. First of all, there is a new teaser trailer and poster our for Christopher Robin! I grew up on Winnie the Pooh so I am loving this:

“In the heartwarming live action adventure, the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.”

Be sure to follow Christopher Robin on Facebook.

This movie in theatres everywhere on August 3, 2018!

Also…

I am so pumped for this one guys. Mary Poppins Returns is in theaters on Christmas Day, 2018, and there is a new teaser trailer available (at the end of this post if you are in a hurry.)

 

 

mary poppins

be sure to follow Mary Poppins Returns on Facebook!

Tips for Disney’s Pandora With A Preschooler

Disclosure: I was provided with free tickets and fastpasses for Walt Disney World, however all opinions are my own.

When people think of Disney’s Pandora, World of Avatar, they probably think it’s geared more towards adults, since the movie itself was more of a “grown up” film. However, don’t count out this unique land when visiting Walt Disney World with your preschooler. They may enjoy it more than you think! Here arr my top five tips for visiting Pandora with a preschooler:

5 Tips for visiting Disney's Pandora, World of Avatar with your preschooler

1.) Let them Explore: We decided when we arrived to not really have a plan (aside from wanting to ride the rides) and just kind of explored and walked around at Emma Kate’s pace. It was so much fun to see her running around playing with different interactive things like the drums, the spitting water fountains, and more. There is so much to stimulate a young mind, and I loved following her around!

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

2.) Ride the Navi River Journey: This ride is super tame, my bright color loving daughter loved every minute of it. She pointed out different animals and colors, and it held her attention the entire time. It’s also a great place to sit down and cool off on a hot day.

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

3.) Check out the adoptable banshees: Really, just check out the gift shop in its entirety. We spent about 20 minutes just walking around looking at all the cool merchandise, including the banshees. She picked up toys, talked to other kids, and generally just had a blast. All of the cast members were so friendly in the store and took time to talk to her as well.

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

 

4.) Point out the beauty: Because she was so excited and moving so quickly, it was easy for Emma Kate to miss things. Sometimes we had to back up and point out hidden details or fun plants and colors. Once she knew to look closely, it was fun to watch her look deeply into the plant life and point out unique things herself.

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

Tips for Disney's Pandora With A Preschooler

5.) Experience the fun food: Not only is the land itself fun and colorful, but so is the food! Be sure to grab a quick service meal or a snack while visiting Pandora. It brings having fun with your food to a whole new level! Plus, the frozen beverages taste really, really good.

pandora with a preschooler

pandora with a preschooler

My three year old had a blast visiting Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I am so glad we decided to take her and just let her roam around. It was so fun to see what caught her attention versus having a strict schedule, and it allowed us to see the beauty and fun through her eyes.

pandora with a preschooler