Monday, October 27, 2014

We're Going to Disney World! Part 2

Ok so yesterday we talked about how to save on your trip and different options on how to book your trip. Today we move on to what to do next. Now, if you are using or plan to use a travel agent some of this won't apply to you because they'll take care of all the details. Be sure to ask though! Some travel agents do not handle all the booking!

*Before making dining plans check out the park operating hours. A quick google or pinterest search will pull it up.

Disney Dining Plans:

You have 3 options when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan.

Quick Service Plan (this is the plan included during Free Dining for the value resorts)

  • 2 quick service meals, 1 refillable mug and 1 snack per person per day
Basic Dining Plan (you can pay an upcharge to this plan during Free Dining)

  • 1 Table service meal, 1 quick service meal, 1 refillable mug and 1 snack per person per day
    • This is my preferred plan. We like having the sit down meals (especially the character meals). It's just enough advanced planning to feel organized but not overwhelming.
Deluxe Dining Plan (you can pay an upcharge to this plan during Free Dining)

  • 3 table service/quick service meals to be used however you want, 1 refillable mug, 2 snacks per person per day

If you are trying to decide whether or not the dining plan is worth it for your family, check out this nifty little program! Disney Dining Plan Calculator You enter in your plans and it gives you a price breakdown.

180 Days from check in:

At exactly 180 days from the day you check in (if staying on property) you can book your advanced dining reservations (ADR). I would suggest to start making these plans WEEKS before you go! Have a first, second and third choice lined up because some reservations are hard to get (ex: Cinderella's Royal Table at breakfast, Chef Mickey's, Le Cellier).

Not sure where to eat? Have picky eaters? Check out All Ears for a great list of what each restaurant serves. It really helps you get a feel of what to expect. 

So you have your list in hand. Sit down in front of the computer at Midnight (Eastern time zone!), so 11 pm central time, log into the Disney website and start making reservations. Aim for those hard to get reservations first! Most people work from day 1 to their last day. I suggest working in reverse AFTER making those hard to get reservations. Lots of times you'll find the end of the trip dates open. PRINT OUT YOUR CONFIRMATIONS! I can't encourage that enough! With the recent move to My Disney Experience app and the website having hiccups, sometimes reservations get lost or just disappear. You'll need to call Disney Help Desk 407-939-7765 to straighten it all out. 

The exception to the 180 day rule is the Be Our Guest Lunch Fastpass. On the 27th day from the day you want to EAT (not the day you check in) you can go to the Be Our Guest site and get a lunch fastpass. As of right now the ONLY way to get in for lunch is with a fastpass. Once you get your FP you have two choices, pick your meals now or when you arrive. 

Money Saving Tip: You are free to share meals at counter service restaurants (even on the dining plan)! Some great sharing options are the chicken and rib plate at Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom (also available at Cosmic Ray's in Magic Kingdom), Yak & Yeti also in Animal Kingdom, Fairfax Fare in Hollywood Studios (large servings), Sunshine Seasons in Epcot (again large servings). You can add some another small side for a small out of pocket fee and FREE ice water! 

Also, eat at "off times". Have a big brunch instead of breakfast and lunch. Eat an early dinner and skip lunch, then have a snack later in the night. 

FREE ICE WATER is available at ALL quick service counter restaurants and most kiosks. Don't weigh down a bag or haul an ice chest bringing in water bottles. 

60 Days before check in:

60 days before your first day of check in you can make your fast pass reservations. I'm not even going to go into all these details because why should I reinvent the wheel when WDW Prep already has such a great break down!

Also at this point you can do your online check in for your hotel and make any requests for rooms, etc. Keep in mind those requests are not always met.

40 Days before check in:

Make sure your My Disney Experience account is set up and you've selected all your magic bands. They'll be shipped out 30 days before your check in date.

If you plan to rent a stroller now is the time to book it! I would still suggest bringing a stroller for the 5-6 year old crowd. My youngest is 5 and tires quickly. We went with Magic Strollers. They are a preferred Disney company. I've heard great things! This will be the first time we've rented a stroller because I didn't want to try to pack ours. Magic Strollers drops the stroller off at your resort and picks it back up too!

30 Days before check in:

If you are planning to use the Memory Maker/photopass plans now is the time to book them. You'll save money by ordering in advance. We do not use these (remember I'm a penny pincher!) All of the photopass photographers will take pictures for you with your camera for free!

That's everything I can think of right now!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

We're going to Disney World! Part One

I'm so stinking excited I can't hardly stand it! We will be leaving in 14 days to do to Disney World. We started planning this trip close to one year ago, so a lot of thought and preparation has gone into getting ready for the big trip. If you've followed this blog for very long you know that this trip will be on a MAJOR budget! The budget has gotten even tighter after the last two months that our family has experienced several expensive, unplanned for, auto and home repairs. Hopefully my planning can help you!

I'm no Disney expert, but I'd love to be one! So here is Part One of my "We're Going to Disney World" series.

How to pay for a Disney trip:

Everyone thinks Disney is so expensive! Our county fair was this week. We didn't go. Why? Because it's more expensive than a trip to Disney World! With each fair ride costing 4-5 tickets each (tickets at $1 a ticket), riding 10 times would be $50. Not to mention the safety and quality at the county fair is far inferior to Disney. I'd rather spend another $40 and spend an entire day at Disney World!

Yeah, yeah, "but Reagan what about a hotel, food, gas? I wouldn't have to buy all that at the county fair. " Well maybe not the hotel, but you'd still have food and gas! Have you seen the prices at the county fair for a corndog and the cost of parking?

Start saving now! Disney offers a savings plan that you can use for up to 5 years to plan your Disney vacation! I shaved a little off our final cost by buying discounted giftcards at Target and Sams Club. It takes $200 to get started and then you have plenty of time to pay it off!

Pick a Date:

We are a one income family. I'm a stay at home, homeschooling Mom so our schedule is flexible. However, my husband's schedule is NOT flexible. We have to plan all of his vacation days a year in advance. Really cuts out any thoughts of spontaneity. Nothing like not being able to just pick up and leave for a quick trip to bring you back to the reality of being an adult like having to decide in January whether or not you want a day off in October!

So, that being said we planned our vacation for November so the weather would be a little cooler and supposedly a little less crowded. Previously we have been to Disney World in September and it was fabulous! We waited no more than 10-15 minutes to get on a ride. I can only hope that November will prove to be as easy. There are many places you can view crowd calendars. Some websites charge, some don't. You already know which one I chose! You can head over here to Kenny the Pirate's page to check out the crowd levels.

Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World 
September, October, November 

This is historically speaking! In the past theses months proved to be the slowest because school is back in session and the holidays are coming. However, since Disney started offering Free Dining (we'll talk about that later!) we've seen a HUGE rise in attendance during these months. The only "bad" time during these months is the week of Thanksgiving.

Worst Times to Visit Walt Disney World
June, July, August

It's hot in Florida in the summer, plus kids are out of school so the crowd levels are through the roof. They were seeing 4 hour wait times to see Anna and Elsa in August. Not to mention August is the biggest month for the Brazilian Tour groups to come. I've seen nothing but complaints about these large groups of under supervised teens. Did I mention it's hot and humid in Florida in the summer? 

Travel Agent or No Travel Agent?

Our first trip two years ago a friend helped me book our trip and I did everything. I loved it! Disney planning brings out the OCD in me. I love getting all the details worked out! There were times like on day 180 when I could make our dining reservations that I wished someone with more experience was handling everything. For the most part it was relatively stress free. 

This trip I used a travel agent, one highly recommended by another Disney loving friend of mine. Using a travel agent (TA) should be of NO cost to you! They're great for catching all those discounts and applying them to your account and a wealth of information on where to eat, fastpass details, making reservations, etc. For someone who doesn't want to bother with all the planning a travel agent is great! There are sometimes other little perks too like gift cards for referring a friend, extra little gifts and do-dads. I personally will probably not use a TA again because I LOVE the planning!

If you are looking for a great travel agent check out Sylvia with Love the Mouse Travel.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two: I've booked my trip! Now what do I do?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coupon Class-Biloxi coming soon!

Finally! It's finally happening! A coupon class is coming soon! Have you always wanted to learn to coupon, cut your grocery bill? Then don't miss this chance to learn how!! 


When: Monday, August 25th 
Where: Hancock Bank in downtown Biloxi (888 Howard Ave Biloxi)
Time: 6:30-9:00 pm
Cost: $10 per person Each person attending will receive a booklet outline what is discussed in the class.

Extra: For every 10 people that attend you will be entered to win a $10 gift card!

Limited spaces available! You must preregister by sending an email to

You will learn the basics of how to coupon, local store policies, stockpiling guidelines and more. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Local Grocery Deals 3/5-3/11

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while! Life gets hectic! I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Want to know why? I'm a stickler for rules and I hate to see them broken. I've been seeing a lot of bad advice about couponing being given out locally and I can sit by no longer and let people cheat!

So here's the first post of 2014! Local Grocery store round up! Best Deals! There are plenty more deals available. These are just the ones that jumped out at me!


Zatarain's Rice mixes 4/$5
-.50/1 Zatarain's Rice mixes (zipcode 03103)
Mission Tortillas 20 ct $.99
Cheez It 9-13 oz $1.88
-$1/2 Keebler Crackers And/Or Sunshine Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers, Any 8-16 Oz RP 1/26/14
Dole Spinach 9 oz bag $1
Kraft mac & cheese $.77
Excedrin Migraine 24 count $3.99
-$1/1 Excedrin Migraine printable
-$3/2 Excedrin Migraine printable

Winn Dixie

Gevalia, Donut House, Green Mountain, Folgers, Maxwell House, Celestial Seasonings, Community and more K cups $5.99
-$5 wyb 5
-$1.50/1 Starbucks k cups 10-16 count 12/8/13 SS
-1.75/1 Celestial Seasonings k-cups printable
-$1.50/1 Green Mountain 3/2/14 SS
-$1/1 Keurig K cup box 3/3/14 SS
-$1.75/1 Celestial Seasonings k cups Winn Dixie ecoupon
Dixie Crystal Sugar 4 lb $1.99
-.75/1 printable here and here

Kraft Deluxe Shells & Cheese $2
Earn 5 cents wyb 2
-.75/1 printable
Covergirl makeup BOGO $2.99  Thanks Teri!
-$3/2 covergirl products 3/2/14 P&G

Jerry Lee's

Buy 5 Save $10:

Velveeta loaf $5.99
-$1/1 printable
Oscar Mayer Premium lean sliced ham $3.99
-$.75/1 printable
Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh lunch meat $4.99
-$1/2 Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Lunch Meat, Any - 01-12-14 SS

Also included in sale  A1 steak sauce, family size kraft shells and cheese and kraft deluxe, kraft string cheese,  Planters Pistachios, Kraft mayo or miracle whip, Kraft singles 24 oz twin pack, Velveeta shreds 32 oz and more.