8 Ways to Save for Your Next Disney Vacation

If you are anything like me, you would take any chance you had to visit Walt Disney World or any other Disney destination in the world. You dream about it day and night, plan out dream trips that you may not really take, and count down the days until you can visit again. Unfortunately, if you are still anything like me, you can’t always afford it! Disney vacations can be expensive, especially if you are traveling during the peak seasons. I usually plan my vacations a year or more ahead of time giving me time to scrimp and save as much as possible to make those dreams a reality. As soon as Disney releases the rates on the dates I want to travel, I go into planning and saving mode. I have found the following 8 ways extremely effective over my many years of Walt Disney World vacation saving. Every little penny adds up when trying to get yourself just one step closer to the Mouse.

1. Spare Change
This is one of my most successful ways of saving money. Whenever I have cash on me and I buy something I ALWAYS break the dollar. I never use change to pay for anything, even if my bill comes out to $6.01. If you put all of that change in a jar, over time it will really add up! Even more fun is to decorate a “Walt Disney World Vacation Jar.” It will make it all the better to throw the change in there when you can get really excited about what it is going towards. I roll it up every couple of months and deposit it into my special vacation savings. Which brings me to money saving tip #2.

2. Vacation Savings Account
Open a savings account specifically for vacations. Make sure it is an account that does not charge fees if you have too low of a balance or when you take the money out to use for your vacation. When it’s all in this special account you won’t dip into it as much as if it is just money in your everyday savings or checking account. If your work offers direct deposit for their payroll and they allow you the option to deposit into more than one account, that is an easy way to put a little aside each payroll check. I have mine set up for a small amount of my check each week to go directly into the vacation savings account. It’s small as to where it doesn’t affect my life but nice to see the account grow over time. I also put all of the change that I’ve collected into the account each month. Instead of letting it all sit around in jar, I deposit it as soon as I have a good amount so I can also receive interest. The interest really is not much depending on the type of account you have opened but hey, it’s something!

3. Disney Gift Cards
Lots of retailers sell Disney gift cards and you can actually use these gift cards towards the payment of your vacation. Places like Target or Costco even discount the price of the gift card. For example at Target if you have their credit card you will receive 5% off the purchase of a Disney gift card. So if you buy one for $50, you will pay end up paying $47.50. Usually if I am in one of these stores and my budget allows, I will grab a gift card either to put towards the payment of my trip or to use as spending money while there.

4. Popular Grocery/Shopping Apps
There are several grocery and shopping apps that I have become obsessed with in the last year. They actually pay you to shop for items you already are most likely shopping for. Best of all, these apps are completely free and typically deposit the money directly into your paypal account (some still send paper checks). My absolute favorite right now is Ibotta. If you purchase any of the items shown on the Ibotta app, you simply scan the barcode, upload a picture of your receipt and they put the rebate into your account. For example, a bottle of Yellowtail wine will earn you a $1.00 rebate. Once you have earned $10 you are able to redeem it and send it to your Paypal account. I have already earned $125.00 in rebates just about 5 months of using the app. Other favorites of mine are Shrink, Checkout 51, and Ebates. Ebates so far has been my best earner. It is not grocery related, it is all shopping. I do a ton of online shopping and if you click through their app to go to your online store of choice, you earn a percentage back on all of your spending. For example, Old Navy frequently runs 8% back on purchases. They deposit any earnings to your paypal account about once a month no matter how much you have earned.

5. Bottle Returns
In the good ole state of Michigan, I have the privilege to return bottles/cans for cash. It is only 10 cents per bottle or can, but if you never spend any of that money and put it immediately away into your savings it will add up nicely.

6. Yard Sale & Auction Sites
Get all of your old stuff together that you no longer want and have a yard/garage sale. Not nice enough outside to do that yet? Try selling your things on Ebay. Most auctions will not be charged an insertion fee and you will only have to pay a small fee if the item sells. You can also use Half.com if you have books or media to sell. Unlike Ebay, you can list your books or media on Half.com for as long as it takes them to sell. The site will take a small percentage of the final value but there are no fees to list.

7. Extra Money
Any extra money that I receive other than my work paycheck, I will normally throw into the vacation savings. For example, when I switched phone service providers, I had a credit on my account from my old phone. They sent me a check for the balance that was remaining on my account. Before I began these saving techniques I would have put that into my checking account where most of my everyday spending money would go. Since this is money that I wouldn’t normally have, it makes much more sense to put it towards your vacation. I use this mentality with any type of “extra” money I receive. Other examples of this would be money from birthday cards/Christmas gifts, extra work you do for someone that they may pay you for, mail-in rebates, a bonus from work, etc.

8. Disney Visa Rewards Credit Card
Lastly, the Disney Visa Rewards credit card from Chase offers several perks to its cardholders. Most notable would be the reward dollars you can earn from everyday purchases. The current rate of reward dollars on the card is $1 per $100 spent. Once you reach an initial rewards amount of $20 you can then redeem for a gift card that can be used at the parks, the Disney Store, and the Disney Store online. Being a cardholder also gives you different perks at each of the theme parks such as private meet and greets, discounts on tours, exclusive pins and 10% discounts on merchandise at the parks, 10% discounts on select dining locations, and more. Now it is true that the rate of reward dollars is not great. There are a ton of other credit cards out there that offer better rewards. With that being said however, one of my favorite things about the card is when you use the card to pay for your Disney vacation, you are given 6 months to pay for the vacation with 0% interest. I do this every time we plan a vacation and then make sure the trip is paid off within the 6 month term. This helps my situation especially because I usually travel with family members who don’t live in my household. I charge the entire vacation and this gives them time to get me their money without demanding it right away. Also the reward dollars earned from the price of the trip are mighty nice! We usually use the gift card we received to pay for tips at our sit down restaurant reservations. Combine that with the free dining promo (if available) and you have actual straight up FREE dining.

Hopefully theses tips will be helpful when you plan your next vacation, and they might even make it a little more fun to save. How do you save for your Disney vacation?


Katy Maxwell

Shop Disney Parks App-Most Dangerous App Ever?

If you have an affinity for Disney merchandise and a smart phone, then the answer is “yes, it just might be”, at least in terms of your wallet.  Disney released the Shop Disney Parks app in mid-August for use on Android and Apple smart phones.  This free app is available in your device’s app store; I initially had a little difficulty downloading the app (an error message about the script) but was successful on the second try.  I thought I would run you through the basics and give you my opinion of its performance.

As the title of the app implies, this little online store gives you access to Disney Parks merchandise.  What I love about this app already is that it features products that I have not been able to find on the regular Disney Store website.  I’ve been working on my family’s costumes for this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  We love the Haunted Mansion attraction and decided to dress in that theme for the party this year.  I was interested in purchasing the Ghost Host tees for my husband and I and was able to easily find the male version of that shirt on the Disney Store online.  However, the female Ghost Host shirt was missing from the site.  A quick Google search revealed the female shirt available for purchase on Amazon if you are a) a size Medium, and b) willing to shell out $65, of which I am neither.  Ebay didn’t fare much better so I was resigned to do without.  Much to my extreme delight, I immediately found the shirt I wanted on the Shop Disney Parks app in both the size I needed and at a much more reasonable price (by Disney merchandise standards, anyway).

When you open the app, you will see this screen:

Opening app screen

Opening app screen

It allows you to scroll down to see 4-5 featured items.  On the top left, you see the little magnifying glass search icon that allows you to enter your search terms.

Search screen

Search screen

For my purchase, I searched for “haunted mansion” items and received 141 options.  You can use the filter key to the top right if you’d like to narrow down your search but I actually scrolled through to check them all out.  When you select a clothing item, you can scroll down to select from the available colors and sizes.


This is where it gets cool.  The three blue buttons below the item allow for you to “Add to bag” which you will do if you have more shopping to do, “Order Now” if this is the only product you need, or “Find on Map.”  This is a really neat feature that I can’t wait to try when I’m at Disney World in October.  When you are in a Walt Disney World park, you may search for your item and then select “Find on Map” to see from which store this item can be purchased.  I’ve seen several posts about guests being so disappointed because they never found such and such after searching all of the stores on their visit.  This app should eliminate those issues.  Your kiddo suddenly has to have that Stitch plush?  Boom, find it on the app, and then use the map to track it down.  Screenshot_2015-08-25-12-31-09

Now, let’s get back to my experience using the app.  I selected my shirt and went to my shopping bag.  I was given the option to “review and purchase.”  At that point, I was instructed to sign in using my ‘My Disney Experience” account information.  You are given the opportunity to create an account if you don’t already have one.  Once you sign in, you can enter your shipping and payment information (or it will automatically enter for you if you have this info saved to your MDE account; you will be asked for your saved credit card’s security code).  The one bummer about this is the shipping.  There are no options to change shipping type (for expedited service, for instance) and there is no discount for purchasing a certain amount of product (like on the Disney Store online, in which you can often receive free shipping if you purchase at least $75 worth of merchandise).  Once you agree to the Merchandise Return Policy, you click the green “Purchase” button and you’re done!

Almost immediately after my purchase, I received my confirmation email.  Three days later, I received an email indicating my shirt had shipped and the tracking link so I could obsess about my package.  Five days after that, I had my shirt in my hands!  Not a bad turn around time if you ask me.  My package arrived in the typical brown, nondescript box.  The shirt itself was wrapped in cutie-patootie Disney tissue paper.  The box also contained a note thanking me for the purchase and the larger merchandise return form.  A separate shipping receipt was also included.  Overall, this was a super easy process and I was beyond excited to receive my shirt after previously thinking I would be missing out.

My cute little package all wrapped up in Disney tissue.

My cute little package all wrapped up in Disney tissue.

Thank you note

Thank you note

Return form

Return form

My shirt, My shirt!

My shirt, My shirt!

One last thing:  The other super cool feature that I can’t wait to try out is the barcode scanner.  On the home page of the app, you’ll notice at the top a small barcode. Screenshot_2015-08-25-09-09-54Once opened, this will allow you to scan an item you find in the park and purchase the item in the app.  Why is this useful? Have you ever been inside a park store and saw THE souvenir, but it was fragile, huge, or otherwise inappropriate for air travel?  This feature on the app will allow you to purchase THE souvenir and have it shipped directly to your home.  Bypass the awkward packing dilemma and get that baby on its way to you before you even leave Orlando.  Eureka!

My plan is to do a follow up to this article after my visit in October so that I can update you on both the “Find on Map” feature and the barcode scanner.  In the meantime, feel free to contact me at any time for more information or to assist you in booking your next vacation!  You can find me on Facebook at Magical Vacations by Tracy or email at tracy@magicalvacationsbyme.com.  You can also follow me on Instagram HERE.  See you soon!

Tracy PhotoTracy Hurdle is a work-at-home mother of one and a former social worker turned travel agent.  She’s always had a love of travel planning and couldn’t be happier at being given the opportunity to do so on a broader scale with families just like yours.





LOVE DOING THINGS FROM YOUR PHONE!!!!!!mickey cell phone cover

Have a passion for writing?

Hey Howdy Hey!!! Have a passion for writing and looking for a blog to join? Mouze Kateerz is looking for new writers as we gear up to start posting new articles on September 1st! Our writers have a love for Disney and traveling. Looking for energetic new writing with possible perks that are still in the works for those who write on a regular basis for Mouze… If you are interested please contact us at Dreammaker1974@gmail.com with your name and email with a sampling of your writing on Disney, Universal or family vacationing and one of our Administrator’s will review it and be back in touch with you.

Happy writing!!

quill and ink

ARGH! Save your doubloons or join the crew at The Pirates League?

The Pirates League

Pirate flags decorate the walls of The Pirates League

If you didn’t know it was there it would be easy to walk right by The Pirates League. It is tucked away in the Magic Kingdom between Pirates of the Caribbean ride entrance and the gift shop. Even worse, while everyone seems to know about Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with all their ball gowns and glitter, it seems that The Pirates League does a pretty good job of keeping a low profile. Just like with the princess counter-part, The Pirates League is a chance for kids to dress up, only here – it’s the pirate life for them. They can choose to add costumes or simply the face painting and accessories. But is it worth the money? Here are three reasons you should part with your doubloons for this experience.

Yo-ho, a pirate's life for me

The Pirates League offers options for boys who want to get dressed up but don’t want to spend their time in the castle with pixie dust!

1. Boys go to Disney too! This one should also include, not all girls want to be princesses all the time. Disney has absolutely cornered the market on the “Happily Ever After” princess tale. From meet and greets to meals to expensive makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. But for a long time that left boys feeling a little left out of all the dress up fun. Most boys I know love to dress up it’s just that most of them don’t want to dress up as Prince Charming – a black eye and a sword, now you are talking their language! The Pirates League gives them an escape from all the pink and glitter. Not to be forgotten are the little girls who want to sign up for the pirate’s life. There is the Empress package or the Mermaid package that gives them a makeover with pirate accessories necessary to go plunder the Magic Kingdom.

The Empress package

A great alternative for the girls who would rather be a pirate than a princess!

2. The Pirates Oath and your pirate name. Before you head back to get made over and join the crew – you have to pick out a pirate name. And in true pirate fashion – you must stick to the code. Based on your birthday and letters of your name you are given your new pirate name. Learn it because for as long as you are there, that is your name! Kids love getting their new name and the older ones will tend to remember their pirate name long after the experience is over. And to me that is what part of the Disney magic is all about – remembering those magical moments long after the vacation is over and “real life” has set in again. And the pirate oath is one of my favorite things that they do at The Pirates League. Once your new pirates makeover is complete, he or she will have to say the pirates oath (with the help of the veteran pirate who is initiating them to the crew). And since it is one big crew, of course all new pirates must be announced as having joined the crew – usually with the clanging of bells, some yelling and shouting and a whole lot of fanfare. (What do you expect, these are pirates after all!)

The pirates oath

Taking the Pirates Oath before being allowed to join the crew

3. The secret room. Again, pirates and their secrets! This is a closely guarded pirate secret, so secret in fact that the new members of the crew are not allowed into the secret room until they have said the oath and been welcomed to the crew. Now, what could a pirate keep in a secret room? Why – treasure of course! (And since it is Disney, a photographer too.) The treasure room is the prop room for the photo shoot at the end of your makeover. This is perhaps my favorite of all Disney photo spaces. Between the lighting and the treasure that lines the room, the photos do look like you have a plundering pirate worthy of the set of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ready to take to the high seas

The pirate portrait in the secret treasure room. It doesn’t get much cooler than that!

And a bonus reason to love The Pirates League, the pirate makeovers won’t leave you feeling like your wallet has been plundered. Without a costume, the packages start at $29.95 + tax and go up to $39.95 + tax. Reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-CREW and they accept reservations up to 180 days prior.

So next time you will be in the Magic Kingdom – consider checking out The Pirates League to have your pirates singing “Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho a Pirate’s Life for Me”.


mel-at-epcotAbout the Author:

Melissa Rhodes is a stay at home mom to two Disney addicts, one princess and one pirate. She is also a Disney Vacation Specialist with Magical Memories Travel, where she helps other families plan the Disney magic that she loves experiencing with her own family. Melissa made her first visit to Disney in 1978 and has made more than 50 trips since.

Melissa would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation. You can reach her at Magical Memories Travel at  703-688-2WDW or 1-888-908-7718 , ext 122.  When she is not dreaming about Disney, Melissa can be found at Mickey By Mel or on Facebook at www.fb.com/mickeybymel

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Getting through Orlando Security at the Airport

English: A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage.

By Amanda C.

I have very rarely given much thought about getting souvenirs through security at the MCO (Orlando International Airport), but as I am going “ OOOOO I’ve got to get one of those!” That one of those is a death star hot potato game. I was describing it at the ball park last night and one of the mom’s said “Good luck getting that through security. It sounds like it looks like a bomb.” I was like woooah hold up! A bomb? No way would I have thought of that. That got me to thinking of what the TSA must see go through the scanners and do they flip out seeing it going through in checked luggage and open your suitcase or do they go ehhh and let it go?
Some of those great souvenirs: From Pirates of the Caribbean: The dagger, scabbard, and ball and chain and the hook. From Star Wars: The Light Saber. From Frontierland: The 3 foot long hunting rifle and pistol. Tomorrowland: Buzz Light years ray gun.
I’m sure Universal and Sea World have some crazy souvenirs as well that would make a normal person go what the heck if it was seen in your luggage. So the question for you readers…. Has the TSA searched your luggage because of the goodies you stashed away?

thumb2 web-RayGun280709 - 005(2) toy-pirate-pistol-zoom lightsaber-300x300

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The Disney Dictionary!

By FrancesChef Mickey photo

As a former Disney Cast Member, I learned there are a lot of terms that you need to learn the meaning of. If you are an avid Disney Fan… it’s cool to talk like a Cast Member. Below you will find some common phrases and their meaning.

The most important thing to remember is that Disney is all about the show! It’s one big performance!

Cast Member: Disney employee. This applies to the custodians all the way to executives.

Guest: You are the cast member’s guest to see their show.

Magic KingdomOnstage: Anywhere a guest can see.

Backstage: Anywhere a guest shouldn’t see.

Intermission: In your everyday life you would call this a break. It may be a 15 minute intermission, 30 minute intermission or an hour intermission.

Box Office: Cash register stand.

Green Room: Restroom

When setting a stage for a performance (setting up displays or creating a show), it’s very common to stay “What kind of story does this tell?”

I hope you enjoy a few select terms of my experience of being a Disney Cast Member.

Thank you for stopping by Mouze Kateerz. We value feedback from our readers and welcome your comments.
Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys is ready to help you plan your next magical vacation. Please visit them at Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys or 404-414-6198 or frances@distinctive-journeys.com

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Autism + Disney= A Great Match

By Frances

Having a child with autism/asperger/any sensory disorder takes special planning for any trip. Of all the places that I have taken my 4 year old son, Disney does special needs best. Here are a few things that I do to prepare my son for the trip and things that I do/take for him during any Disney Vacation.


1. YOUTUBE:  I watch videos with him of the rides and shows starting a few months out. This allows him to be more familiar with all of them and I can see what actually catches and keeps his attention.

2.Disney Junior /the Disney Channel/DVDs: The more familiar he is with all of the characters the better he is when meeting them. He has an older sister so he knows all of the “boy” shows and is also fluent in princesses:-)

Minnie Mouse doll3. Plush Characters: He sleeps with at least one stuffed animal each night.

4. Make Reservations for Character Meals:  It gives him a great chance to meet most of his favorite characters in a reduced stress environment. As much as I love Chef Mickey’s. I find that the monorail being above tends to be a little over stimulating for my son. I usually opt for Tusker House inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.  He still gets to meet his main favorites without the “MONORAIL” going over us every 5 minutes.

While we are at the Walt Disney World ResortDisney Guest Assistance Card, how to get a Disney Guest Assistance Card, what is a Disney Guest Assistance card

1. I get a Guest Accommodation Card (GAC) for him at Guest Relations when we enter. It allows us to have reduce wait times in line for rides. This has literally saved our vacations.

2. Go to the Baby Care Centers for a few moments to regroup. When he gets over stimulated and needs a break, I find the baby care centers are my best friend. There is one in each theme park. It is a room with a TV playing classic Disney cartoons. They are set up with chairs/furniture that make it nice for a break.

3. Disney chefs or managers will come out and tell me what is Gluten Free on the menu so I don’t have to guess.

4. My son is almost 5 years old but I still use an umbrella stroller. The cast members even place a “Stroller can be used at wheelchair” tag on it. This allows me to push him all the way to the ride. I get this at the same time as I get the GAC.

I hope you enjoy a few of my tips that have helped me make our Disney vacations more magical.

Thank you for stopping by Mouze Kateerz. We value feedback from our readers and welcome your comments.
Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys is ready to help you plan your next magical vacation. Please visit them at Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys or 404-414-6198 or frances@distinctive-journeys.com

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Saving Pennies for Walt Disney World!

Like most families, we are on a budget. When we go on vacation, there isn’t a lot of extra money for “extras”. We always go when there is a special promotion that is being offered. We usually get the Plus Dining meal plan and find that we save over $200 a trip on food using that. We love the snack credits. We usually get our Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars using them. However, my kids want a new toy (or toys) “to remember” each trip by. Souvenirs can add up very fast and my kids want two of each and three of most toys. Does that sound like your kids?

So here is what my husband & I do. Our kids have to pay for their own toys! Some people might call that cruel but we call it a life lesson! Our children are 8 years old & 4 years old. Loose change in our house is theirs! They have to take it and place it in the piggy bank. Even the 4 year old knows that he is saving for his Disney toys. Of course we encourage our 8 year old to save birthday and tooth fairy money to use for herself.

About two weeks prior to leaving, we uncork the pig and count it up. Our 8 year old has to help us count and roll the coins. This last time, we saved our coins for 5 months. We rarely will spend our coins when paying with cash, so that helps a lot getting to the grand total. We are always surprised at how much it adds up to. When the last pig was counted, we had saved $73.50 plus we have a few coins leftover to help us start saving for next time.

What kind of things do our children pay for?

1. The Arcade

2. Extra Mickey Rice Crispy Treats

3. Hair Accessories

4. Plush Characters

5. Extra Trading Pins (We usually give them 20 to start that we purchase off of EBay)

6. Extra Vinylmations (We usually give them 3-4 to start)

7. Extra swords, daggers, hooks (If he already has one, we make him purchase the extras)

You might not think a 4 year old understands money but they quickly learn. Especially when it’s “All Gone”.

Another general rule that we have is they can’t purchase anything until day 3 or 4 of an 8 day trip. This gives our kids an opportunity to really find something that they will enjoy.

Thank you for stopping by Mouze Kateerz. We value feedback from our readers and welcome your comments.
Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys is ready to help you plan your next magical vacation. Please visit them at Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys or 404-414-6198 or frances@distinctive-journeys.com

How Do You Draw Mickey Mouse? Instructions and Photos for the Beginners

How do you draw Mickey Mouse, learn to draw Mickey Mouse, love Mickey Mouse, draw Disney characters

After sending several hours playing games at DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney, my husband, teenage daughter and I sat down to take a class at the Animation Academy. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea, but drawing Disney characters actually turned out to be a blast, and I took six classes during several visits. I thought teaching you the skills I learned – how to draw Mickey Mouse in particular – might be fun.

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