Save an Extra 10% on Every Disney Vacation

Frequent Disney travelers have become accustomed to Disney running regular special offers throughout the year.  With the right amount of planning, patience and luck, most visitors will not need to pay rack rate for their vacation. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to save a few extra bucks? Here is a relatively easy way to save an extra 10% on your Disney vacations.

The key to your savings is that you live near a Target store.  One of the items that Target sells by the registers is Disney gift cards; they are usually sold in $50 and $25 amounts.

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These cards can essentially be used for anything related to Disney, including at the Disney Store, Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line.  Since Target technically categorizes these as “entertainment” cards, there are a couple of discounts that can be used to purchase them:

1. Target REDCard 5% Discount

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If you use a Target REDCard on any purchases at Target, you get an automatic 5% discount.  The REDCard is available as both a Debit card and a Credit card, and you can use it as soon as you apply in store for it and are approved. While this 5% discount does NOT apply to Target gift cards, it will apply to the other gift cards (“entertainment” cards) that Target sells, including the Disney cards.

EDITED – Target still allows the 5% discount using a REDCard, but has changed it’s policy regarding the Pharmacy Rewards Coupon, originally posted below.

2. Target Pharmacy Rewards 5% Coupon

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Target runs a Pharmacy Rewards program that offers an additional 5% savings, if you’ve earned it.  To earn the 5%, you must enroll in the program and get 5 prescriptions filled. Once your fifth prescription is filled, you will receive a coupon for 5% off a shopping trip.  This coupon can be combined with the REDCard discount, effectively saving you 10%.

Since the cards are in $50 increments, you will need quite a few to pay off an entire vacation.  While it is certainly possible to purchase thousands of dollars worth of these cards, it may require several trips to Target, which in turn would necessitate several pharmacy reward coupons. So, it is best to give yourself plenty of time to purchase all the cards.  Then, it’s the fun part: paying for your trip with dozens of gift cards.  Disney cast members will sit patiently on the phone with you while you read each gift card number, but here’ s a better idea: let DW Dads book your trip and we can take care of this part for you!

There are certain risks associated with this plan. For example, while you should be able to return the gift cards (as they are considered merchandise), you will have abide by the Target return policy.  If you are outside of the return window, and you have to cancel your Disney trip, you may be stuck with hundreds or thousands of dollars in Disney gift cards.  Some guests have started small, only buying enough gift cards to pay for souvenirs and food.  Even that is a great way to save a little extra money on your next Disney vacation.

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“The View” inside Walt Disney’s Apartment in Disneyland

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DWDads are not regular watchers of “the View” on ABC, but this week we have had a good reason for tuning in. All week, November 18-22, ABC’s “the View” has been broadcasting LIVE at 11am eastern or 10am central/pacific from The Disneyland Resort with a variety of guests and entertainers in order to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 85th birthday (November 18).  Although all of the programming on “the View” was in some way linked to ABC/Disney this week, the espisode I am looking forward to seeing most, is on Friday, November 22nd.

Fri., Nov. 22:  Kurt Russell, who had a 10 year contract in the 1970s with the Walt Disney Company, takes Barbara Walters on a magical walk in Walt Disney’s footsteps as they take a “step in time” into the past and tour never-before-seen places including Disney’s private apartment and a private club. Music sensation Pitbull appears. Singer and co-host Demi Lovato performs.  The hosts bid farewell to the Disneyland Resort during a magical finale celebration.

Since the show hasn’t aired, I can only assume Barbara will document the highlights of a tour that is offered daily at Disneyland called  “A Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps”.  This 3½-hour guided tour covers the life of Walt Disney and how his vision became reality.  Basically, this tour tells you stories about the man behind the magic and you will learn some behind-the-scenes secrets to the theme of the various lands, and special touches by the Imagineers and Walt himself. This show might give you a taste of what that tour has to offer or it may leave you wanting the to experience it on your own.  So if you want to book this tour as part of your Disneyland vacation or you would like a quote please contact us.

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 Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps:

  • Passage on the Disney Railroad and two other attractions
  • An exclusive look at the lobby of the famed Club 33
  • An exclusive look at Walt Disney’s private apartment
  • A private Lunch on Main Street USA
  • An exclusive collectible trading pin

Price:

$109.00 per person; Discounted to $87.20 per person for Annual Pass holders, AAA, Disney Visa, DVC members.

Tours are available every day at 9:30am and have a capacity of 15 people per tour. Not recommended for small children.

My Disney Bucket List

This coming weekend (November 1-3) is the first weekend in an often-mentioned, but rarely understood week at Walt Disney World: Jersey Week.

Every year, New Jersey teachers have a conference in early November that takes place during a Thursday and Friday. This offers the families of New Jersey school students a mini-vacation that’s not during a holiday; it’s a perfect time to visit Disney World! Over the years, however, Jersey Week has developed a reputation for being a busier-than-average week to visit the parks.  While it is probably an exaggeration to think that New Jersey visitors alone could effect park crowds all that much, there may be some other contributing factors to this being an out-of-the-ordinary week to visit.  That’s why Jersey Week isn’t a week that I fear going; contrarily, it is item number one on my Disney Bucket List.

Disney Bucket Lists. All Disney fans have them; many contain similar items. Most rely on repeated and frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland (and, more than likely, other parts of the world). Some items probably rely on more than a sprinkling of pixie dust. Regardless of its contents, a Disney Bucket List offers the regular Disney visitor a focused set of vacation-oriented goals; how many other travel destinations can claim that??

My list includes:

Visit during the first week of November

This year’s Jersey Week happens to fall during the first week of November (it usually does, but doesn’t have to).  But it’s not the “Jersey Week” part of this week that lands it on my list; it is the FIVE Disney special events that take place in a 10-day span!  This is the perfect storm of Disney events. If timed properly, a visitor during the first week of November can accomplish all of the following:

  • Visit the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (This year it is taking place on Friday, November 1)
  • Visit the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (November 8)
  • Experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (runs until November 11)
  • Visit the Festival of the Masters, an outdoor arts festival at Downtown Disney (November 8-10)
  • Run in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (November 9)

Whew. For most of us, going this week would help us cross off several of our Bucket List items in one visit!

Four Parks, One Day

There are many online reports from others who attempted this unofficial Disney World game: visit all four parks in one day, making sure to complete a set number of tasks at each park.  These tasks usually include a certain number of attractions and meals.  This seems like a difficult task for those of us with young kids, or those of us who are only in the parks for a regular vacation and would prefer to not spend one of our days running around like a madman.  My hope is that the right trip will come along, and I’ll be able to finally try my hand at this Disney Fanatic’s ritual.

Stay at every Disney World resort/Visit every Disney Park in the World/Go on every type of Disney vacation (cruise, Adventures by Disney, Aulani)

These items are all pretty similar and basically require two things: time and money.  For a while, we weren’t really considering a bucket list when it came time to book the next Disney vacation; we would stay at a resort that fit our budget and that we were familiar and happy with (usually Pop Century); but things have changed.  We have several Disney vacations in mind for the next few years, and if all goes as planned, we’ll be able cross a couple of new resorts off our list.

Club 33/Cinderella Castle Suite/Walt’s Apartment

These are all items that require a little (or a whole bunch) of pixie dust.  Club 33 is an exclusive, members-only restaurant that is in Disneyland.  This one is manageable, since you can get a reservation if you know a member who is willing to help you out,  Walt’s Apartment is located above the Fire Station in Disneyland, and it is actually included in some tours, so this one is also attainable.  The Castle Suite is the ultimate bucket list item.  As of now, Disney claims there is no way for a regular guest to stay in the suite (although, like most things, money talks).  I probably won’t spend a lot of time thinking about this one, but it still deserves a spot on the list.

Be the Mayor of Main Street

OK, world wide web, it’s confession time.

When I retire, I would like to move to Orlando and be the Mayor of Main Street. This is a streetmosphere character who walks around Main Street and greets park guests, shaking hands and taking pictures.  To me, it sounds like the perfect way to spend your golden years.

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{sigh}

If there’s one thing a Disney fan can do, it’s dream.

So, what’s on your Disney Bucket List?

Glow with the Show Ears Debut at Disney World

Glow with the Show Mickey Ears, which made their debut at Disneyland during Summer 2012, have arrived in Orlando.

The ears on these hats are capable of lighting up in a number of colors and they use special technology to sync with Disney’s various nighttime shows.  In Disneyland, this has included World of Color, Fantasmic and the fireworks shows.

In Disney World, the ears have first shown up at Fantasmic!, in time for its 15th anniversary.  To commemorate the event and to show off the new addition, Disney held a special showing of the popular Hollywood Studios show and gave out hundreds of sets of the new hats.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

A few days later, the hats made their debut during Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. They also sync with Celebrate the Magic, the castle projection show.

During the holiday season, the ears will also work with The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and Holiday Wishes.

The Glow with the Show Ears cost $25 and are available at select merchandise locations in the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Top 5: Reasons Disney World Veterans Will Love Disneyland

If you’ve spent any considerable amount of time visiting Walt Disney World, the thought has likely crossed your mind of visiting the original Disney Park, Disneyland, in California.  Like others, you may be hesitant to make the trek out West. Maybe it seems too far, maybe it seems too small to be worth the effort, or maybe you are simply too comfortable at Disney World and you don’t want to feel out of your element.

I’m here today to tell you: stop making excuses and start planning your Disneyland trip.  It will be every bit as magical as the Disney World vacations that you cherish. Here are a few reasons Disney World frequent visitors will love Disneyland.

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5. The California Weather

California July weather calls for sweatshirts in the morning (whereas Florida July weather usually calls for an I.V.).

California July weather calls for sweatshirts in the morning (whereas Florida July weather usually calls for an I.V.).

My family usually has to visit the parks in the summer.  Anyone who has visited Florida in the summer knows how hot and uncomfortable it can be.  Even at rope drop, you’re likely to be sweaty and in need of air conditioning. This is not the case in California. When we visited in July, we needed sweatshirts in the morning and evening and just t-shirts during the day.  It is amazing how much energy you have for touring when you’re not being taxed by the heat.

4a. Disneyland Attractions That Are Also in Disney World

They said: "Disney characters in small world? Blasphemy!" But, it's fun and the characters look great.

They said: “Disney characters in small world? Blasphemy!” But, it’s fun and the characters look great.

There are a number of attractions that both coasts share, such as: Pirates, Haunted Mansion, small world, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and several others.  And these are just the attractions in the Magic Kingdoms.  The thing is, many of these are slightly (or, in some cases, more than slightly) different from their East Coast alternative.  You’ll still prefer the WDW versions of some of these, but at least you’ll be able to be part of the debate of which doppelganger is superior!

4b. Disneyland Attractions That Are Unique To Disneyland

This nice family has taken the matching t-shirt tradition to a new level.

This nice family has taken the matching t-shirt tradition to a new level.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland. There are many attractions that can only be found in California, so why wouldn’t a Disney junkie like you want to experience them all?

4c. Disneyland Attractions That Were Once In Disney World, But Are Gone Now

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I’m talking specifically of one attraction and one land: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Toontown.  Mr. Toad holds a special spot in the hearts of many Disney fans, so it is nice to know you can still experience his Ride somewhere in America.  Toontown in Florida may have never been anyone’s favorite land, but the Disneyland version will illustrate how great that land could have been.

3. California Adventure is Actually Pretty Great

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This was not the case a few years ago, but things have changed since the re-imagining of the park. Buena Vista Street is probably the best “main street” besides Main Street, USA; all of your favorite Disney World rides (Soarin’, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania – with hardly a wait!) are all within walking distance of one another, and a whole lot of new attractions are there for you to experience.  And The World of Color is about as perfect as fireworks over the castle as a way to end your Disney day.

2. Cars Land

This is really reason enough to want to visit DLR.

This is really reason enough to want to visit DLR.

Even though this one could have been included above, it deserves its own category.  Cars Land is the greatest accomplishment to come out of Walt Disney Imagineering in years.  You’ve heard others say it, so let me echo their thoughts: walking into Cars Land is like walking into the movie, and Radiator Springs Racers may be the perfect Disney attraction.

1. It’s Walt’s Park

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This has become a bit of a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Disneyland is the only park that Walt actually experienced, and that is palpable when you are touring the park.  Furthermore, California Adventure – especially Buena Vista Street – also emphasizes the connection between the man and our happiness. I’m not going to go as far as to say that a trip out west is a pilgrimage for Disney fans, but…

Well, maybe I am saying that.

Disney’s Hidden Gems: The Pirates League

Ahoy! Welcome to another edition of Disney’s Hidden Gems. Today’s focus, The Pirates League, has been around for several years, but is still not a commonly known experience.

The Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique has quickly become a must-do for so many guests travelling with little princesses.  But what about the pirates travelling with them? Or what if your little princess is less interested in tiaras and is more into bandanas and eye patches? The Pirates League – located in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom and New Orleans Square in Disneyland Park – is your answer.

Upon entering, soon-to-be-swashbucklers are welcomed and given their new pirate name, which is retrieved from a large leather-bound book.  This is a fun and interactive beginning to the experience and it is memorialized with a certificate proclaiming the new moniker.

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After the naming ceremony, the buccaneer makes his or her way into the main room, where pirate specialists are on hand to transform your little one (or you – adults are welcome as well!) into the newest member of Captain Jack’s crew.

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There are various pirate packages available, and they range in price from $29.95 to $74.95. They include:

At $29.95, the Empress and First Mate packages include the facial effects (make-up), bandana, eye patch, sword, and various other goodies.

At $44.95, the Jake and the Neverland Pirates package will transform your little one into the main character of the popular Disney Junior show. This includes faux hair and bandana, Jake facial effect, sword, costume t-shirt and the goodies.

At $74.95, the Mermaid package includes mermaid makeup, hair styling, hair clip, necklace, nail polish, sash and costume t-shirt and tutu.

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After the marauding makeover, the new pirate enters a secret chamber where they pose for a picture, which is available for an additional cost.

The final part of the experience happens later in the day. Every afternoon, there is an Adventureland Pirate Parade and all of that day’s newest crew members are welcome to participate.

Overall, this is a fun and unique experience.  Make sure you call ahead of time to reserve your time: (407)WDW-CREW, or have your travel agent make your reservation.

The Dole Whip

Some of you might be curious about our DW Dads logo with that yellow swirl in the background.  Well, the DW Dads decided to feature our favorite Disney treat the “Dole Whip” in our logo.  Since we consider ourselves both Disney World Dads and Dole Whip Dads – DWDads was a fitting name.

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The Dole Whip is a soft-serve frozen desert traditionally in pineapple flavor with a close relationship with Disney Parks.  At one time you could only find this treat in Disneyland, Disney World and Hawaii.  Today you can find copies at the local fro-yo shop and there are many online recipes to make this treat at home.  You can even order the mix online or in smaller quantities on ebay.  But for the DWDads, there is nothing like enjoying the original Dole Whip inside the parks on a bench in Adventureland, or waiting for a parade to start.

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Becky took this artistic shot to highlight the refreshing color of this tasty treat

You can enjoy the Dole Whip in a variety of flavors (pineapple, vanilla, orange, pineapple/vanilla swirl, or orange/vanilla swirl) and in a variety of ways (in a cup with a spoon, or as a float over juice).  DWDads endorse the traditional Dole Whip float with pineapple soft-serve over pineapple juice as our go-to snack, though you should feel free to mix it up.

This frozen treat is non-dairy because it’s a fruit puree reconstituted with water and then frozen. At only 80 calories for 1/2 a cup, this snack is guilt-free for those watching their weight.  It’s refreshingly cool, which is wonderful when you are trying to catch a break from the hot humid Florida sun.  It is fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free, allergan free and lactose free food, so most individuals can enjoy it without worry.

Another popular and similar treat to the Dole Whip that deserves to be mentioned is the Citrus Swirl, which can be purchased at Sunshine Tree Terrace (across from The Magic Carpets of Aladdin).  This cousin to the Dole Whip had a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century before being brought back to the parks in 2012.  The Citrus Swirl is a refreshing soft-serve ice cream blended with frozen orange juice.

Locations to purchase a Dole Whip:

DisneyWorld  – Aloha Isle in Adventureland (across from the Jungle Cruise) & at Captain Cook’s Snack Co. in the Polynesian Resort (self-serve)

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Aloha Isle in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom      (Photo property of Disney Company)

What a treat by Mr. Niter at Captain Cooks

Check out this masterpiece by Mr. Niter at Captain Cooks

[Tip: If you are dining at Captain Cooks, for dessert they will give you a bowl for you to self serve your Dole Whip.  If you have good technique, you can make yourself quite a snack!!]

 

DisneyLandTiki Juice Bar at the Enchanted Tiki Room

[Tip: If you are on the Disney Dining Plan snack credits are accepted for Dole Whip Floats (valued at $4.99), which is a great value for your credit.]

Hawaii (Oahu)DOLE® Plantation or Lapperts ice cream

Ingredients:

Sugar, Dextrose, Coconut Oil, Stabilizers (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Karaya Gum, Pectin), Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavor (contains Pineapple Juice), Modified Food Starch, Malic Acid, Beta Carotene (Color), Mono & Diglycerides, Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking).

Dietary/Allergy Info:

Vegan Statement:  The ingredients used in this product do not contain dairy, therefore, the product is considered dairy free.  The Rabbinical guidelines classify this product to be kosher-dairy.  Allergen control and sanitation procedures are in place and are strictly followed.  In addition, this product does not contain any animal based ingredients.
Allergens: None – Based on FDA FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004) “Big 8” allergens.
Fat Free:  **Coconut oil contributes a trivial amount of fat.

[http://www.precisionfoods.com/foodservice/product_detail.cfm?wpCatId=52568&skuId=795055]