Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

I cannot believe that Christmas is already less than a week away! And it’s even crazier to think that we were at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party about a month ago!

I thought I would share our experience at the party before Christmas gets here, hoping that this will still help someone who may be going to the party this year.

Arrive earlier than 7pm.
The party doesn’t actually start until 7pm however, guests who have purchased tickets for the event can get into the park starting at 4pm. We were able to make a couple of fast passes before the party started and walk around a bit. If you haven’t been to Magic Kingdom recently, and this is your first visit to the park the week of your vacation, go early! We weren’t planning on spending a full day at Magic Kingdom until later in our vacation, so we didn’t really know our way around. Because we arrived early, we were able to scope out where things were before it got dark. I love Disney and the ambiance at night, but it was so hard to see where things were or what direction we were going in the dark. hahaha, maybe it’s just me but I am so thankful we got there early! If you go to Magic Kingdom a lot, or have gone in the past year or so then this might not apply to you!


Be prepared for the crowds.

We went to Disney the week before Thanksgiving, which was supposed to be a “low-crowd” week. I thought that the Christmas party was still pretty packed for it being one of the earlier parties. I will say that everyone is pretty spread out throughout the park. Ride times are little to none and I feel like most people are on Main Street or waiting in line for characters. Either way, be prepared for Main Street traffic, especially around the times of the parades and fireworks.

 

If you want a photo with a specific character, plan ahead.
Do your research, and see if you can find what characters are going to be at the party and where. I made the mistake of not getting in line for the seven dwarves right away, and by the time the party started and we got to the line, it was already an hour and forty-five minutes long, so we decided to skip it so we could enjoy other parts of the party.

Make an itinerary.
It is impossible to do everything at the party, especially if this is your first time attending. Between meeting the characters, and seeing all of the shows, it’s a busy night.
We decided to see the first showing of Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration at 7:40pm, which takes place right in front of the castle. Then we stayed put until 8:15pm to watch a Frozen Holiday Wish which also takes place in front of the castle. If you plan to follow our itinerary, make sure you try to book it out of the Main Street/Castle area right after the Frozen Holiday Wish. The first parade starts at 8:30pm and there are a ton of people who have camped out or are trying to find last-minute spots for viewing around that area. We went to the right of the castle and went over to Tomorrowland to see the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas that started at 8:35pm. After that, we decided to take it easy and enjoy the free snacks and short wait times for rides until the fireworks and second parade.

Stay for the second parade.
I had heard before going to the party that the second parade is always less crowded and I have to say I agree! I think most folks who have kids decide to go to the first parade before the fireworks, and then usually leave after the fireworks which begin at 10pm. We were pretty spent by the time the fireworks were over and the only thing left on our list was the parade. After the fireworks were over we headed over to Main Street to claim a seat on the curb and waited until the parade started. While we were sitting and waiting, we saw stroller after stroller leaving with sleeping kids in them. If you do plan on going to the second parade, I would suggest keeping an eye out for the forecast before the first parade starts. The last thing you want is to miss a parade due to weather. It would be better to see the first parade even though it may be more crowded than for no parade at all! I would also suggest getting a spot for one of the parades about an hour early, especially if you want a view of the castle in the background.

Ride times overall are super short, so if you can, take advantage of them!
I understand that there is a lot to do during the party, so the actual rides might become an afterthought. If you are going to the party during your Disney vacation, I would pick rides you have fast passes for later in the week, so you could potentially free those up and ride something else later. We rode Space Mountain the night of the party and only had to wait 5-10 minutes so we freed up a fast pass later that week since we already rode it. (We were trying to ride everything we could that week.) It’s also a fun time to ride things you normally wouldn’t ride over and over again.


Purchase party merchandise early on in the night.

When you see it, buy it. I made the mistake of thinking the Ugly Christmas Sweater spirit jerseys were going to be available at the end of the party but I was wrong. I also couldn’t find them the rest of my trip. Also, it’s not a bad idea to get into stores like the Emporium early on, since those tend to fill up later in the party. Fill up as in you have to waddle your way around the store! haha. I also tried to find party pins in the Emporium at the end of the party and there weren’t any left other than the annual pass holder pins. I ordered a pin off of eBay this week, but it still would have been nice to get one at the party. 🙂

That about sums up my tips for the party! Have you ever been before? I would love to hear your tips for the party since this was my first year attending! 🙂

Instagram Q & A

Hey there everyone!

If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I opened up one of my posts for you guys to ask me any questions that you may have. I did get a few, so I wanted to post them here rather than doing a story.

Here we go!

When did you start loving Disney so much?
I grew up as your typical 90’s Disney kid. I loved watching all of the movies growing up and every year I had a different themed Disney birthday party. I grew up going to the parks in Orlando, (Disney, Sea World and Universal) since I have family in Florida. We usually only went to Magic Kingdom and I was too young to remember going. I went to the parks in high school for a band trip and was able to park hop all four parks in one week. Fast forward to ‘growing up’ and my husband and I went to Animal Kingdom last year for one day, and upon returning home I realized there was a community for people like myself on Instagram, who are obsessed with Disney. So, I have always been a Disney fan, but since becoming an adult, it has only been the past year or two that I have embraced my love for the movies and parks again! 🙂

 

How do you keep your marriage fun (while life can be so busy and comfort sets in) and how would you coordinate your faith in it, if your husband doesn’t necessarily believe in anything?
I have to admit that this is tough question since I don’t claim to have the perfect life. I think one way to keep marriage fun is to revisit some of the things that you used to do together when you were dating or first married. Favorite dinner spot? First date? Movie spot? Go visit! I also think that continuing to do nice things for the other person is also key to keeping things fun. For example, there’s something super sweet about my husband bringing me a cup of coffee every morning that we have off together (aka weekends). He doesn’t have to do that small gesture, but it sure is sweet!
I also think going out of your comfort zone a bit and doing new activities together or even traveling to new places is a great way to keep your marriage fun. I would suggest going on ‘date nights’, but when you are married and don’t have kids, every night is practically a date night, if you have that mentality. I think making sure you go out and do something (whether it’s a movie, dinner or other activity) is one way to keep things fun as well. Sometime I love movie nights at home, and after a long week of working and volunteering that’s all we feel like doing, but going out every once in a while is fun!

If your husband isn’t a believer, I would pray for him. I know it sounds like such a typical answer, but I think it’s the right one. Maybe don’t even let him know you’re praying for him at first. Not only pray for his salvation, but pray for his day at work, his thoughts, etc. I think that could be more beneficial than pressuring him to become a believer and go to church (if he’s not). I actually just picked up a book while browsing the sale section at Hobby Lobby the other day. It’s called The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I have not cracked it open yet, but it seems like a great resource for anyone who wants to pray for their husband, which should be all of us who are wives! 🙂 There’s even a section on praying for his faith!
Also, while you are praying for him and you start to see fruit in his life, you may be able to gauge when would be a good time to suggest going to church for a holiday or for an event. But don’t forget about yourself! Make sure you are doing your part to stay close to God and making sure your life is fruitful. After all, you may be the only Christian your husband may come in contact with, so you are a walking billboard in a sense.

 

Have you guys ever thought about adopting a child?
Yes, we actually have! We are still sort of in the wait with our current situation, but we have talked briefly about adopting. I’m not sure if we would consider that more before or after we potentially pursue help from a fertility specialist, but we are definitely open to it and have talked about it. 🙂 We are continually evaluating our lives and making sure we are being obedient to the Lord and praying that He shows us His will through this experience.

 

How long have you been a fur mama?
I grew up with two Chihuahuas, but I officially became a fur mama 3 years ago. We adopted Max the week of Christmas in 2014 and he has been the best Christmas gift EVER! 🙂 As a couple who is struggling to have human children, having our sweet pup changed a lot for us. We rescued him only a year into our wait, but we know our home wouldn’t feel the same without having our little guy. 🙂

 

Thanks for stopping by and thanks to everyone who asked a question! If you have any other questions be sure to comment below and I will do my best to get back to you! 🙂
Hope you all have a great day! 🙂

How We Saved $1500+ On Our Disney Vacation

We have officially been back from our Disney vacation for two weeks now and it already seems like we went a lifetime ago!

My husband and I both grew up going to the parks during family vacations. I have family in New Smyrna Beach which is about an hour outside of Orlando. Every year when my family and I would visit, we would choose one park from Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World to visit during our stay. We usually only went to one of the Disney World parks, not all 4 in one week. I wasn’t able to experience a 4 park vacation until I was a freshman in high school and we visited for a concert band trip and performed at Disney.

Before we left for this trip, I intended to write this post on tips that helped us save, so I am very excited to finally tell you guys how we saved so much on our Disney vacation.

I want to preface this post with a couple of things:

  1. For our Disney vacation, we did NOT stay on property, which also means we did not participate in the Disney dining plan. I will explain why below.
  2. I am not a savvy couponer, so if you implemented these simple strategies with other couponing methods out there, you could potentially save even more!

As you may know, we went to Orlando last summer, but we only went to one of the parks since we were planning on going to Universal and doing other things in town. Once we got back I started following a few Disney Instagram accounts which then led to Disney Youtube channels and my love for going back grew! I had “joked” with my husband about going back to Orlando but this time, making it a full-fledged, all 4 parks vacation. I knew it was going to take some convincing since we had just visited Orlando the summer before. I secretly started seeking out tips from Disney couponers. One of the tips, as I’m sure many of you know, is to use gift cards to then purchase Disney gift cards. That is my first tip!

Search weekly ads to see if you can earn gift cards on purchases you’re already making.
I’m a frequent Target shopper, so I started skimming ads for ways I could rack up those $5 and $10 gift cards. Well, in April I was looking and realized I could buy all of my laundry cleaning products and score a gift card and thought “that’s it, I’m onto something!”…. until I saw THE deal of the year. (like all the drama? haha)
Both my husband and I had iPhone 4s at the time and mine was still going strong but my husband had cracked his screen on a boat while on a fishing trip with friends. It was still usable, but almost to the point where it wasn’t functioning properly. He was holding out for the spring when Apple usually announces a new phone.
Target was giving away $300 gift cards if you upgraded to the iPhone 7. Yes, you read that correctly, $300 PER LINE. It was also supposed to be buy one, get one free through AT&T, but later we found out it was only if you were activating a new line, which in our case didn’t fit our scenario. My husband was a little bummed about not getting a newly released phone, but was game for putting the $600 gift cards towards Disney tickets and not using a cracked iPhone anymore. I was thrilled that we were able to take advantage of this deal. Not only were we in need of new phones, but we also had $600 to put towards tickets, just like that! We went back and forth for a while debating how many days to actually go to the parks, but we ended up deciding on 5 days. No park hopper passes, just 5 regular days. At the time of our vacation, that was a total of $740, so we only paid $188 out of pocket (with taxes) for our park tickets. *I have not seen the $300 deal for iPhones again since April, but I have seen some $250 offers, so hold out until you see those!

We purchased 6, $100 Disney gift cards (not Disney Store) and combined those onto one card which you can do online at www.disneygiftcard.com.

$600 Disney gift cards

 

Save other gift cards.
We didn’t start out by doing this intentionally, but we had a little bowl of gift cards in our home from birthdays and other holidays and occasions. I had an unused $100 hotels.com gift card my mother in law gave me for Christmas, and once we knew we were going to Florida I decided to save it and use it towards our weekly stay, or on our way back since we were planning on driving. Once we had $75 in our bowl of gift cards to use towards food and coffee, we figured why not save them for our trip? We also had a couple of opportunities to take surveys, in which we were rewarded Amazon gift cards. Those were mainly through my husband’s job. We put those Amazon gift cards towards Starbucks, the T-Rex Cafe (which is at Disney Springs, but is a bit pricey for what it is) and Yard House (which is by the Orlando Eye). By the time our trip came we had the following gift cards saved:

$245 gift cards for food & coffee
$100 hotels.com gift card
$20 Target gift card (we ended up using for road trip snacks before we left)

Even if you are not planning on getting gift cards as gifts or saving them, I would recommend that you purchase gift cards leading up to your trip, so that way some of your expenses are spread out among different pay periods rather than the pay period you’re in when you’re on vacation.

Save change the old-fashioned way.
This wasn’t a huge hit for us since we normally don’t keep a ton of cash on us, but we were still able to save $33 worth of change. That’s just shy of 2 Mickey pretzels w/ cheese, 2 churros w/ dipping sauces, and two Mickey ice cream bars! haha

$33 worth of change

 

Weigh out the pros and cons of staying on and off property. If staying off property, research how much hotels typically run, and then look on Groupon.
To be honest, when I first started researching prices for rooms on Disney property, I was a little disappointed. I felt like the prices for the most basic rooms were outrageous. We also wanted to bring Maximus along with us and we were booking our trip before Disney had implemented a new pet policy (which is still a little pricey). So, we decided to go for off-property. That meant no dining plan, and that we would have to pay for parking each day we went to the parks, which was a total of 6 separate times. (We decided to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party one night on top of our 5-day passes). I still think that staying off property and eating outside of the parks (for the most part) saved us money. Once we officially decided we wanted to stay off property, we researched and came across a couple of hotels we loved, but were waiting on vacation time to get approved. It ended up working out perfectly. When we got the okay from work, the hotel we were going to book was on Groupon for $200 less than we would have paid through a standard booking site. Unfortunately, the king rooms were all booked, but we were still able to book a room below our price range which actually ended up being a room upgrade! We were able to get a family suite (full kitchen, living room area, two twin beds, pull out sofa, king bed, free continental breakfast) for the price of the king room we originally wanted on Groupon. Plus there was a promo code and we saved an additional $50. It was only $850 with taxes for our hotel room for 8 nights! We could have saved money on parking by taking the free shuttle the hotel had offered, but we wanted to come back in the middle of our days to relax and let Max out to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, our hotel only had a few shuttles in the morning and at night, so that wasn’t possible, but I would stay at our hotel again in a heartbeat! We stayed at the Residence Inn Lake Buena Vista. They are also a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor hotel! This hotel was only 10-15 minutes from the Disney parks, so getting there was a breeze. They even serve fresh Mickey waffles for breakfast every morning! 🙂

$250 savings

 

Consider using the Disney Chase Credit Card.
I will admit that I feel funny recommending you to go get a credit card, but this actually did help us. I would suggest getting a card only if you have the money to pay off the card right away. When we signed up for this card, the welcome offer was that if you spent $500 within the first three months of opening the card, they would give you a $200 statement credit back. We didn’t apply for the card until we had our vacation time approved from work, and had an idea where we were going to be staying. This allowed us to stay in the three-month window. Once we saw the $200 statement credit get applied to our account, we paid off the amount we used for the hotel right away. Easy as that! If you decide to stay on property, this card is interest-free for Disney vacation packages. Another cool thing about this card is that you can earn 1% and even 2% on purchases. That is a saving tip in of itself. I have heard people put bills on their card and pay it off right away just so they can rack up those reward dollars (I am not suggesting that). You can use these reward dollars in the parks, towards food or merchandise and can even redeem a card the day you get there so you can accrue dollars up until you leave. I loaded/redeemed my card at Disney Springs and used it at the World of Disney towards my Alex and Ani bracelet.

$200 statement credit
$33 reward dollars

 

Start using Ebates when purchasing online.
I will admit that sometimes it seems like you need to spend a decent amount of money online to see a benefit from using cash back services. But ultimately, I think that it’s a no-brainer. If you are going to purchase something online anyway, why not get a few dollars back every time you shop? It will eventually add up and you can get cash back or a gift card towards a store you like to shop at. We used Ebates to get cash back on booking our hotel through Groupon, and that alone got us $21 cash back. I also was able to accrue a few extra dollars by shopping for vacation clothes online. If you are new to Ebates, you can sign up for free and get a $10 bonus by clicking on my link here!

$32 cash back


Total saved: $1513

I hope you have found some of these tips helpful! How do you save for your Disney trips? I’m really wanting another Disney vacation in my near future, whether that be Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Aulani or a Disney cruise! haha 🙂

Let me know if you found this post to be helpful, or if you have any other tips for saving!

Have a great day! xoxo