Disney Announces New Discount for Select Dates This Late Summer and Early Fall

This past week, Disney announced a new discount for mid-August to late September. While it doesn’t really discount the rooms, tickets, or dining plan, it does include the Memory Maker for free ($149 value).  Memory Maker is the new version of what was once known as PhotoPass. It’s a convenient way to have Disney photographers take your photos while you are in the parks. When you get home, you can edit the photos and download them for free.
While there will probably be better deals announced for this time period, this is a good freebie to add at this point if you are already traveling during this window. Contact us or Request a Quote to let us help you find the right vacation package for you.
Here are the details from the Disney website:
Get free Memory Maker when you purchase this room and theme park ticket package!For just $899, purchase a 3-night, 2-day package for a family of 3 (2 adults, one child ages 3 to 9) that includes 2-day Magic Your Way theme park tickets and 3 nights in a standard room at a select Disney’s All-Star Resort—valid for stays most nights August 15 through September 30, 2014. Plus, you’ll receivefree Memory Maker—a photo package that makes it easy for you to capture magical family moments and first-time experiences at Walt Disney World Resort.

Take advantage of this offer and enjoy a getaway that’s just the right size for your family! Sample Rates 

View sample rates for stays most nights during the travel dates that are eligible for this offer:

  • April 27 through May 29, 2014: $949
  • May 30 through June 15, 2014: $1,019
  • August 15 through September 30, 2014: $899

Sample package prices are based on 3 nights in a standard room at a Disney All-Star Resort and 2-day theme park tickets for a family of 3 (2 adults, one child ages 3 to 9).

Rates may vary based on Disney Resort hotel, room type and party size. View complete list of Disney Resort hotels included in this offer.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Tickets are valid for one theme park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use.

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Can you afford a trip to Disney?

Can YOU afford a trip to Disney?

HammFirst let me say that ONLY YOU can really answer this question.  In order to honestly answer this question, however first you must be informed, which is where DWDads hope we can help.

The first step in deciding on whether you can afford a trip is to find out how much it will cost by answering these 4 simple questions:

  1. Who is going [# of Adults + # of Children (with ages)]?
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights?
  3. Where do you want to stay?
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?

By answering these 4 simple questions DWDads can give you a quote (without discounts) so you can begin saving or budgeting for your trip.

**Note – We will often book/quote clients at “rack rates” knowing there is a strong possibility of a discount coming in the future.  When the discount is released, we then apply the discount and the balance due decreases or a refund is issued.

Here is an example:

  1. Who is going?  2 Adults and 2 Children (ages 8 & 5)
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights? October for 6 nights and 7 days
  3. Where do you want to stay?  Anywhere on property – Value is fine
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?  We like to eat one big sit down meal and the other meals we will eat on the go.

Given the information above the Hotel (Pop Century), Meals (Dining Plan with 24 Table service, 24 Counter Service, 24 Snacks & 4 refillable mugs) and Tickets (7 day base tickets) would cost just about $3,000 before any discounts that might be released.

 So how do I save $3000? 

Here are some ways the DWDads recommend saving:

Simple budgeting 

Put $250 per month or $60 a week in a separate account = $3,000 after 1 year

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  • *Better yet each month go to Target and purchase $250 in Disney entertainment cards with your Target REDCARD (saving 5% on each purchase) – By the end you’ll have spent $2,850 on $3,000 in Disney Cards a $150 SAVINGS – Stack the REDCARD with a 5% Pharmacy Rewards Card (not valid in NJ) and you will save $300 on the $3,000 in cards.

Use your income tax refund

Many people receive a tax refund when they file their yearly taxes.  What better way to use this “found money” than on a family trip.tax-refund

  • In 2012 my federal and state return totaled – $3,248

Use your credit card cash back or miles balances

  • Disney Visa Card gives you 1%-2% (depending on the card) on all purchases and also saves you 10% on purchases of $50 or more at select locations including the Disneystore and Disneystore.com – Current Disney Visa Balance – $126
  • Discover Cash Back Credit Card – (2% on all purchases and 5% on select purchases each quarter) – Current Discover CASH BACK balance – $1,204

Save pocket change or even every $1 or $5 bills when you break a large bill

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  • Every time you come home, empty your pockets into a jar or milk jug.  You’d be surprised how much you can save over time.
  • DO NOT use Coinstar machines that charge a fee or spend your time rolling your change – many banks (TD Bank in my area) have FREE coin sorting machines and you do not even need to have an account there to use these machines.

Make a sacrifice for Disney

  • Quit smoking – $8 per pack per day = $2,920 in one year. Not only can you save the money, but you’ll be healthier and touring the parks will be easier too.
  • Give up Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks for daily coffee – $3-$5 or more per day
  • Pack your lunch daily – Lunch can cost you $5-$10 or more per day and those savings add up

The Coldest Places in Walt Disney World

It’s 7 outside right now.  Not 7:00 AM, not 70. 7 degrees. And on the ground, there is a foot of snow, which refuses to leave. This may be Disney’s most intricate marketing plan ever: somehow they’ve learned to control the weather in order to keep their main Oscar contender, Frozen, in the forefront of everyone’s minds.  I have no problem believing that snow and ice will be on the ground straight through the movie’s Blu-ray release at the end of February.

There was one thing that happened this week that warmed me up, though. We booked our summer visit to Disney World.  Disney World in the summer; it’s a bittersweet experience. On one hand, as teachers, my wife and I don’t have to deal with the angst of requesting vacation or personal time, taking the kids out of school, or fitting the trip into a specified week. On the other hand, it’s crowded and hot. Really, really hot. Eating-a-Dole-Whip-in-the-fiery-halls-of-Hades hot. Luckily, we’ve been to Disney enough to know where the best places in each park are to avoid being oven-roasted.

Magic Kingdom
As great as the attraction is, has there ever been a person who has visited The Hall of Presidents in the summer and not fallen asleep? It’s dark, the audio and visuals are relatively soothing and, most importantly, it’s cold. Not cool, not refreshing. Cold. I’m pretty sure they store the Mickey Bars in the back in the auditorium. Don’t get me wrong, Carousel of Progress is pretty cold, too.  So is Mickey’s Philharmagic. But The Hall of Presidents is cold enough to be considered a suitable candidate for an overlay featuring Anna and Elsa.

Epcot
Well, the first place that came to mind was the cold weather testing room at Test Track. While it is cold in there, you’re not really in there long enough to enjoy it.  Sometimes, it almost makes me angry. The good news is, as soon as I get off Test Track, I can head right to Epcot’s true cold-weather utopia: Club Cool.  Let’s see what Club Cool, Coke’s sampling station and company store, has going for it: it’s freezing, there is never a line, and you get free samples of soda, some of which have cult-like followings. Would anyone like a Beverly?

Animal Kingdom
(Author’s note: I usually list the theme parks, like most do,  in order based on the year they opened, meaning Animal Kingdom would be last; however, last year Animal Kingdom’s attendance finally surpassed Hollywood Studio’s. So, consider this change-in-order my version of a protest: Disney, fix Hollywood Studios! OK, who needs the soapbox next?…)
This one is tough. Animal Kingdom holds onto heat so much, you could be working in the kitchen of the Yak and Yeti and it would be more refreshing than standing in Harambe watching the afternoon parade.  Then it dawned on me: Finding Nemo – The Musical.  Maybe it’s the fact that you are sitting for 45 minutes (a la Hall of Presidents), maybe it’s the time of day I usually attend the show (late afternoon, after a full day of being barbecued). Whatever the reason, the Theater in the Wild (Nemo’s home) takes its place as the coddest, er-coldest, spot in the Animal Kingdom (#dadjoke).

Hollywood Studios
My first instinct was The American Idol Experience, but I’m not even sure if that will still exist by the time you read this.  Honestly, the coldest spot for me always seems to bee the Sci-fi Dine-in Theater.  It’s dark, it’s cold, there’s a video playing.  I’m sort of surprised more people don’t curl up on one of the car seats and take an afternoon nap. The food may not be the best in the World, but the experience is fun and the temperature can’t be beat.

This list is, of course, subjective.  A lot of these places may only seem like the coldest on property because of my own circumstances at the time of me visiting.  If you’re looking for a place to cool off, though, you won’t go wrong stopping in any of these attractions or restaurants.  Oh, and please try to forget you read this article when I re-run it a couple of weeks from now under the title “The Best Places to Nap in Disney World.”  Thanks!

One last author’s note: All kidding aside, staying cool in the parks is a legitimate concern when you are visiting during the year’s hottest months. Click here to check out our article on ways to stay cool and safe when you visit.  Thanks for reading, and contact us if you’d like some FREE help in planning your 2014 Disney vacation.

Disney Offically Breaks Ground on Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-inspired land

Last week, Disney officially broke ground on  the largest Animal Kingdom expansion in the Park’s history, an AVATAR-insprired land, with a ceremony which included large blue Na’vi-inspired shovels.

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Check out the video:

Still not excited about the AVATARland expansion – read below:

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

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Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

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In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

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Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23

Disney World Spring 2014 Discounts

Disney just released a new discount that is valid for a good chunk of this spring. Check out the details below, then check out our homepage or request a quote to find out how we can help you book your last-minute Disney vacation!

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Walt Disney World Spring 2014 Room-Only Discount

The discount is considered room-only and the bulk of the discount will be on the room portion of any stay that you book; however, there is also a ticket discount that can be combined to make this a vacation package.

The dates for the discount are 2/24/14 – 3/5/14, 3/14/14 – 4/12/14 and 4/20/14 – 6/15/14.

The room discounts are:

Value resorts: 20 % (except All-Star Movies: 5%, Art of Animation Suites: 15%, and Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms: excluded)

Moderate resorts: 25% (except Port Orleans French Quarter: 5%, Coronado Springs: 5%, and campsite: excluded)

Deluxe resorts: 30% (except suites: 5%, Animal Kingdom Lodge Club Level or Savanna View: 20%, Contemporary Resort: 20 %, Grand Floridian: 20%, and Wilderness Lodge Club Level and Courtyard View: 20%)

Villas:
30% (Boardwalk Villas, Old Key West Villas, and Saratoga Springs)
20% (Animal Kingdom Villas, Beach Club Villas, and Villas at Wilderness Lodge)
5% (Bay Lake Tower)
(excludes Villas at Grand Floridian and 3-bedroom villas)

If you add a ticket  (of at least 4 days), you will get one more day free, making your reservation a vacation package (room plus tickets).

Here is a link to an article with general information about Disney World discounts.

As much of the country deals with record low temperatures, doesn’t a vacation to balmy Florida sound like a good idea? Let us know how DW Dads can help you make it happen!

Ways to do Halloween “Disney-style”

Disney Costumes

Halloween provides us all with a great opportunity each year to enter a world of make-believe and dress up like our favorite characters from books, movies and television. Disney provides a wide array of characters to transform into every Halloween.  For costume inspiration you can look to characters from Disney’s traditional animation, Pixar, Disney Channel/Disney Junior cartoons as well as the newly acquired franchises such as Star Wars and Marvel. Here are some examples of Disney inspired costumes that the Dolewhiplets have worn over the years.

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Sully and Mike Wazowski ("Monsters Inc" - Pixar) &  Dipper Pines ("Gravity Falls" - Disney Channel)

Sully and Mike Wazowski (“Monsters Inc” – Pixar) & Dipper Pines (“Gravity Falls” – Disney Channel)

Phineas & Ferb with Woody ("Phineas & Ferb" - Disney Channel) and Jessie ("Toy Story" - Pixar)

Phineas & Ferb with Woody (“Phineas & Ferb” – Disney Channel) and Jessie (“Toy Story” – Pixar)

Darth Vader (Star Wars)

Darth Vader (Star Wars)

Donald Duck (Disney animation)

Donald Duck (Disney animation)

Aladdin ("Aladdin" - Disney animation)

Aladdin (“Aladdin” – Disney animation)

COSTUME POLL

Check out the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood tonight and try to keep track of how many Disney-themed trick-or-treaters came to your house tonight?

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

If you are lucky enough to be in the DisneyParks throughout parts of September and all of October, Halloween is celebrated with special Halloween lighting and decorations.  There is even a special ticketed Halloween-themed party called Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) which Disney hosts at the Magic Kingdom on various nights in September-November.  This party lasts from 7pm to midnight includes a special Halloween parade (twice per night), a special fireworks display over the castle, Halloween-themed stage shows and dance parties as well as meet and greets with characters that are only available during these parties.  There are also trick or treat stations set up throughout the park where guests can collect treats.  Costumes are encouraged during these parties for children and adults, although in Disney Parks, you really don’t need an excuse to dress up at any time throughout the year.

Juliet & Sylvie got to trick-or-treat through the Magic Kingdom this year!

Juliet & Sylvie got to trick-or-treat through the Magic Kingdom this year!

Carve a Disney Pumpkin

One more way to bring a little Disney into your Halloween is to carve your pumpkin with a Disney theme.  Just tape a stencil onto your pumpin and score the shaded areas with a point.  Then carve the marked areas out of the face of the pumpkin.  Drop in a tea light candle or an LED candle and watch your character come to life.

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A quick google search for FREE + DISNEY + PUMPKIN + STENCILS and I was able to find hundreds of free templates to use.

AVATARLAND to Bring Big Changes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

346036092_f2946f4ce4_z disneysignanimal08 4976254805_3bde565104_z

Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

dtnemail-1Avatar_1-13876

dtnemail-Avatar_2-05dd5
In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

dtnemail-1Avatar_3-736fc

Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23