New Writers Wanted!

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 withg new articles for the new year! 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 with your name and  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

Mini Bucket List of Tasty Treats

Disney Dole Whip. Disney summer snacks, Disney food, Disney snacks, Dole ice cream

One thing I love to do when planning my next Walt Disney World vacation is to come up with a list of all of the different food and drinks I would like to try on our next trip. It very rarely happens that I can cross them all off and some stay on my list over the course of several trips. There are just so many food locations and so many interesting choices that it seems impossible to try them all. And sometimes it doesn’t always quite make it into our plan or budget. I listen to a lot of different podcasts from week to week, I read a lot of different Disney related blogs, and any time someone mentions a new or interesting food, drink or experience, I immediately plug it into my notes app on my phone. Call it my mini bucket list if you will. My mini bucket list of tasty treats.

It is things like this that help me keep the dream alive while I sit here not so patiently waiting for my next vacation. *sigh*

-Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow: Truth be told, I just need to visit Sleepy Hollow in general. In fact, I am ashamed to call myself a Walt Disney World fan when I have never even stopped here. Those waffle sandwiches are calling my name too!
-Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge: My friends at the Enchanted Tiki Talk podcast talk about this drink all the time, and I want to know and understand what they are talking about. I want to feel like we are still friends and that I can hang! Now with the addition of Trader Sams, I need to make the Polynesian a priority.
-Truffle Mac n Cheese Hot Dog at Fairfax Fare: Truffle was all I really needed to hear in order to be convinced. It seems I’m always searching to find something good to eat while at the Studios. I plan to give this bad boy a try!
-Sugar Cane Mojito at Dawa Bar: Safari Mike from Jambo Everyone is a big fan. And I’m a big fan of him, so I would imagine I will be a big fan of this. That is, if I can bring myself to not order my signature drink, the margarita!
-Cronut at the Refreshment Port: Located right as you enter the World Showcase in Epcot and head towards Canada, I have always just walked past this place completely oblivious. Then I hear all these rave reviews about this croissant donut, or what they call the cronut. I will not walk past this place again, I can promise you that.
-School Bread at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe: I don’t even like coconut but I am probably going to need to get this. Because apparently you aren’t a Disney fan unless you’ve tried School Bread.
-Roasted Pork Shank at Gaston’s Tavern: It’s been too busy inside Gaston’s Tavern the last few times we have been by there. But the pork shank has been on my list for a long time.
-Tamarind Margarita at La Cava: La Cava is pretty much my favorite place in Epcot and I’ve experienced maybe one too many margaritas there. But my love of the Blood Orange margarita makes me think I might also love this one.

Princess Half marathon drink, Disney champagne, Epcot Food and Wine

When in France…drink champagne!

-Cream Cheese Pretzel at Fife and Drum: A pretzel…with cream cheese…sounds like my kind of snack.
-Sliced Beef Brisket at Tortuga Tavern: This menu is completely new as of like yesterday and if Tortuga Tavern is open on our next trip, this will be our lunch destination for sure!

Are any of these items on your mini bucket list of tasty treats to try?



Festival of Fantasy Parade

This week’s “Wordless Wednesday”

is devoted to the Magic Kingdom’s afternoon parade, the Festival of Fantasy.

 All photos were captured by Tracy Hurdle.


Tracy Photo



Tracy Hurdle, Magical Vacations by Tracy,


Photos from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Photos from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Photos by Denny Miller

 epcot 2
epcot 1

epcot 3 epcot 4 epcot 5 epcot 6

Ring in spring at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! From March 2 to May 30, 2016, take in enchanting topiaries, garner gardening tips and savor seasonal foods from the Outdoor Kitchens at World Showcase.


Discounted Universal Orlando Tickets!!

Universal Logo

Yes yes!! You read correctly!! Our friends over at Magical Vacations by me are selling discounted tickets through December 31, 2015 to Universal Studios Orlando!! Tickets must be purchased by December 31, 2015 though they can be used next year for your travels. Ticket pricing and descriptions are below:

Base ticket – Is just that. One park per day until your tickets are used up. You won’t be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between the parks with this ticket.

Day Adult Price (10+) Child Price (3-9)
Base Ticket
1 day $108.63 $103.31
2 day $157.74 $148.09
3 day $167.39 $157.74
4 day $177.04 $167.39

Park to Park ticket – This allows  you to visit both parks in the same day. This ticket is required to ride Hogwarts Express.

Day Adult Price (10+) Child Price (3-9)
Park to Park
1 day $151.56 $144.31
2 day $196.67 $187.02
3 day $208.32 $197.67
4 day $222.97 $210.32

3 park Unlimited TicketEnjoy unlimited park-to-park admission to Universal Studios Florida®, Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, and Wet ‘n Wild waterpark for up to 14 days. Hint. Wet ‘n Wild will be closed as of January 1, 2016.

Adult Price (10+) Child Price (3-9)
3 park Unlimited $226.63 $219.98

Orlando Flex TicketThe Orlando FlexTicket give you the flexibility of visiting 5 parks with one great ticket. The 5-Park Orlando FlexTicket™ gives you unlimited admission (for up to 14 consecutive days) to Universal Studios Florida®, Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, SeaWorld® Orlando, Aquatica™, and Wet ‘n Wild® – Orlando.  To receive the full fourteen (14) consecutive calendar days of admission, the date of first use must be by 12/31/2015. The ticket will expire in full on 1/13/2016. Unused days shall be forfeited. Additional restrictions may apply.

Adult Price (10+) Child Price (3-9)
Orlando Flex 2015 $322.79 $303.49

Orlando Flex Plus Ticket – The 6-Park Orlando FlexTicket™ Plus gives you unlimited admission (for up to 14 consecutive days) to Universal Studios Florida®, Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, SeaWorld® Orlando, Aquatica™, Wet ‘n Wild® – Orlando, and Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, including Free shuttle to and from Busch Gardens. To receive the full fourteen (14) consecutive calendar days of admission, the date of first use must be by 12/31/2015. The ticket will expire in full on 1/13/2016. Unused days shall be forfeited. Additional restrictions may apply.

Adult Price (10+) Child Price (3-9)
Orlando Flex Plus 2015 $350.09 $329.79


Contact our friends at Magical Vacations by me for you ticket discount!



The Unofficial Guide-Universal Orlando Book Review

Photo provided by

Photo provided by

I just love a good book, don’t you?  I’ve been a pretty voracious reader ever since I was tall enough to slide a library card across the librarian’s desk.  I’ll admit that I don’t seem to find as much time as I once did to devote to reading but I still love it.  Aside from actual travel, there’s no better way to explore new lands and experience new things than we do when we lose ourselves in a book.  Maybe I’ll do a post someday on my absolute favorite travel books….. (back in a sec, making a notation on my blog post to-do list…..).

Anyhoo, today I’m bringing you a quick review of The Unofficial Guide’s new travel tome on Universal Orlando, written by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger & Len Testa.  If you haven’t perused your local bookstore in the travel section, then you may not have come across The Unofficial Guide before.  There are many titles to choose from and one of the most comprehensive (re: thick and heavy) TUG’s out there is The Walt Disney World edition.  There is a new edition published yearly and it is an amazing resource in planning a Walt Disney World vacation.  The 2016 edition devotes a mere 70 pages to Universal Orlando; there is also a book titled “Beyond Disney: The Universal Guide to Universal Orlando, Sea World, and the Best of Central Florida” that is written by the same team.  These and several other books by these writers are available for purchase in most bookstores, and online in both paper and e-doc format.

As Universal Orlando has grown in size and scope, the writers decided to expand upon their previously written material to offer a more in-depth guide to the other big draw in Central FL.  I wanted to focus on a few of the pros/cons and my general impression of this guidebook.  I’ll start with the Cons first:

  1.  The biggest disappointment I have with this book is the lack of photos.  First let me say that I absolutely understand why photos are not included in this guide.  I believe the writers intend for you to be able to carry this book with you while touring if needed.  The addition of photos would add more pages, more pages equals more heft.  I totally get it.  But, I am a visual person; I learn information better when I can see it so not having any photos as a frame of reference is a little disappointing.  Can I search on Google Images or You Tube?  Sure, but if I’m feeling lazy or don’t have a computer or smart phone, I’m not going to do that.  Minor complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.  I’ll note that there are several drawings of property maps.
  2. As with any travel destination, Universal Orlando is not static; more so than any theme park in recent years, Universal Orlando is ALWAYS changing, always updating in its bid to stay current and exciting.  So, this is a problem that plagues every travel guide out there.  Despite being published in August, some of the information is already dated.  Again, this is a very minor issue that typically a few Google searches can correct (in terms of attraction closures, new attractions, etc.)

There’s very little I have to complain about with this guide.  Let’s get to some of the Pros:

  1. The size is right.  At 12 ounces and 8 inches tall/5 inches wide, there should be little problem in fitting this guide in your back pack or touring bag if you need it.
  2. The ride descriptions are easy to read and informative.  For example, here is a snapshot of the initial ride description for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit:  USO Guide Ride Review  They give stars to indicate not only the popularity of the ride but they also break it down by age group.  I have a 4-year old so I know that our ride selection will be limited (as USO is pretty transparent about its suitability for the 8+ crowd).  With an attraction like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, it’s pretty evident in the title that this will be one to skip with a young kiddo.  But, not all titles are as discernible so I appreciate the heads up so that I can better plan our touring beforehand (the height requirement in the description is a big help also).
  3. An honest review is important for any guide-book.  Granted, everyone is going to have an opinion that may not jibe with yours and services reviewed will have good and bad days so I guess you can take it or leave it.  But, I appreciate a guide-book that will tell me what to explore and what to avoid, particularly when it comes to food.  One of my favorite aspects of travel is dining.  I love reading dining reviews and planning my meals for a vacation.  As the designated cook extraordinaire in my household, I relish the opportunity to spend a week being showered with other’s delectables.  If a restaurant sucks, I want to know about it before I’m $20 into a dish my 4-year old could have made.  Here is an example of the book’s review for Moe’s Tavern:  Moe's Tavern Review  Again, the simple header gives you an idea of the value by telling you the average portion size and a grade.  You can read the full description but when you’re sitting on a bench with a screaming child and/or irritable hungry teens, it helps to have a short, bold reference to refer to quickly to help you make a decision.
  4. The last big pro I want to discuss are the touring plans.  What I believe makes this and the WDW Unofficial Guide truly stand out are the touring plans.  Simply put, they give you a step by step guide on how to spend your day in the theme park.  There’s an explanation in the books about how they developed these plans.  There are formulas, equations, perhaps some crystal ball gazing (not really), but it’s a basic predictor of how the crowds typically manifest during the day and gives you a guide to hopefully avoid standing in line.  Len Testa, a contributor to this book, runs the Touring Plans website (found here), which is another incredible resource in Disney/Universal vacation planning.  I will admit that I use this site in planning vacations both for myself and for my clients.  I believe the touring plans are an indispensable part of touring effectively and can attest to their helpfulness in moving through a park efficiently.

    Touring Plan 2

    One Day Touring Plan for Adults at Universal Studios.

Each touring plan has a map with numbered dots on top of the attractions listed in the order in which they suggest that you tour.  These maps are meant to be “clippable” for even easier portability but keep in mind that there are no perforations so either rip them out or get your scissors to work.

There is so much more to this book than can possibly be covered in a single blog post.  Bottom line, I believe this book is worth your time and cash when planning a Universal Orlando vacation.  I purchased the paperback version of this book for $13.49 from here.  As of this writing, it is listed for $13.27 so you never know with Amazon’s pricing; it could go up or down.

If you have any questions about this post or would like assistance in planning a Universal Orlando vacation, feel free to comment below and/or contact me at any time for more information!  You can find me on Facebook at Magical Vacations by Tracy or email at  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.

Disney Magic Your Way

This article is not about Disney Magic My Way. It is about Disney Magic Your way! What do I mean by that? Well Disney fans are passionate. Sometimes they are too passionate. They will insist that you must stay the same place they stay, wait in line for the same things they wait in line for and eat the same things they eat. If you do not it is implied you are at best doing something wrong. At worst, you may be ruining your vacation!

But what do you do when two Disney lovers disagree? (And when they disagree do they ever disagree!) This article is here to help you figure out that very thing.

Disney magic your way

Disney Magic Your Way

Let’s start by establishing a few very important principles:

  1. There is more than one way to have a great Walt Disney World Vacation
  2. There is no best way that fits everyone.
  3. You want to find what is best for your travel party!

You can find all kinds of lists with titles that run something like “Must Do”. “Best Attractions at Disney”. and “Top Five Disney”.  There are even articles that focus on the worst attractions at Walt Disney World.

There is nothing wrong with articles like that. I encourage you to read them. But read them critically. If someone says the best attraction at Walt Disney World is Toy Story Midway Mania and does not take the time to explain why just file that little piece of advice in the trash can.

I am not saying the author is completely wrong. Obviously to that person it is the best. But unless that person is paying for your vacation their opinion does not count. You are looking for what is best for you! It’s Magic Your Way. Remember that.

What you need are the details. What makes this so great? What makes that so bad? Maybe what the writer thinks is great you will think is terrible. And maybe what you love the author hates.

Let’s take these principles a little farther as we look at where you should stay and which parks you should visit.

Where To Stay

When it comes to where to stay there are two types of hotels, On Property and Off Property. On Property hotels have a lot of benefits that Off Property Hotels do not. But Off Property hotels are normally less expensive (sometimes a lot less expensive!)

Some people swear by the benefits of On Property hotels. Those benefits include getting into parks early or staying late and free transportation to the parks. Those can be great benefits but can you still have a great Walt Disney World trip and stay Off Property? YES you can!

Other people swear by the money you save by staying Off Property. To them the extra hours in the parks and the free transportation are not worth the extra money spent.

So who is right? They both are! They are planning their vacation not yours.

Keep in mind if you decide to stay On Property there are still some decisions to be made. Disney divides its resort hotels into categories ranging from Deluxe Villas to Value. Deluxe Villas offer a lot more space and service. They also are built, decorated and landscaped to immerse you in different times and places from turn of the century Florida to Africa. Value resorts are also heavy on architecture and decorations but lack the elegance of the more expensive resorts.

You have to decide, is it worth the extra money to see a giraffe at breakfast (yes that is possible) or watch Wishes from my balcony or is it just a place to crash.

Which Parks Do You Go To?

Once you have settled the question of where to sleep it is time to determine which parks you want to see. Disney has four theme parks and two water parks.

Each theme park has both its lovers and haters. Take a look at the attractions that each theme park has and compare them to your travel party. Just because someone hates an attraction does not mean you will. The same is true of an attraction someone loves.

The Magic Kingdom has the most attractions and most of the attractions are very kid friendly. Animal Kingdom has been accused of being a zoo. Does that mean if you are taking kids that you have to skip the Animal Kingdom and only do the Magic Kingdom? Depends on your children. Make the decision that suits your family! But do not let someone else decide for you. Remember it is Magic  Your Way!

So Where Should You Stay and Which Parks Should  You Visit?

I don’t know! I don’t know you. If I did I would be glad to make suggestions but that is all they would be. At this point you have two options, do some research or contact an Authorized Disney Vacation planning agency (like the one that sponsors this page!) If you do contact an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner find one that takes time to get to know you, your family and your dreams.

While there may not be a best way to do Disney World there is almost no wrong way to do it either. Just relax the point is to have fun!

Remvbm dpiady to plan your own Magic  Your Way vacation to any of the great Disney destinations? My name is Christopher and I offer complimentary travel planning services.  Click here to get started!


The Dark Side is not so dark afterall….

Be Universal

  We had gone through the process of picking a hotel and looking over and over the food choices and now it was time to pack the minivan and drive down. I think that is the true torture of any vacation for us waking up early and driving 7 and a half hours to the Magical Destinations of Central Florida. We were heading down with my sister and child who was 6 which added a new dynamic of not tall enough to ride certain things to our trip. We were determined this would be a fun experience for the 7 of us.

We arrived at Cabana Bay just after noon. The older kids took the younger one out to check out the pool while we checked in. The lobby was retro 60’s with the cute little chairs and funny looking tables. It’s a very large lobby with lots of natural light. Walking around talking to people was Lucille Ball. That was refreshing and rather funny as she sounded very much like the real deal. Check in is the same as at Disney, you wait in a line to go to a desk and speak with a pleasant person to get your room keys and information. We were surprised as a guest we had to pay to park our car. We asked our attendant about that and she explained that at all Lowe’s properties they charge for parking so to keep it universal they charged at Universal. That was a hit to the wallet right off the bat.

All checked in we rounded up the rug rats and back to the minivan to get to our room. We had one of the family suites in the Tower. Perfect since the 5 year old liked to run and this way he wouldn’t be running into the street or down stairs without one of us. cabana bay family suiteThe view to the left is what greeted us as we walked in. It was amazing and fresh. It was indeed a very retro look. The kids ran through checking the beds, sliding the doors for the separation and the bathroom. We always have to check out the bathroom. Again surprising as there’s the toilet has it’s own area and door closing it off from the the dressing area and then the tub and a sink are in their own area with a door so in all theories three people could be in different stages of getting ready at the same time.

Everything was thrown into the rooms and beds were claimed and we were flying out to get our tickets and head to Islands of Adventure for the afternoon. This was another difference than Disney. Cabana Bay only has bus transportation to the entrance of City Walk while the other three resorts also offer water taxi. With Disney you rarely get lucky to walk up to the bus stop and get right onto the bus, but that’s exactly what we did. Woohooo we were lucky! We spent our first afternoon in Islands of Adventure. Spiderman had an ally in my nephew and I since I was riding with him while the teenagers and my sister rode the Hulk a few times in a row.

The lines moved fairly quickly and we were able to accomplish many of the popular rides before they closed at 8pm. We were able to get our pictures taken with Megatron and Bumble Bee. Many of the attractions have photo booths at the end of them as Disney and you can purchase them individually or purchase a Universal Photo Pass. Family treasures for forever. We ended our first night with Men in Black and then dinner at Mel’s Drive-In and a half viewing of their nightly spectacular.


horror show

This was her happy place! Being chopped up🙂

Something we found as our vacation rolled on. We weren’t dead on our feet exhausted as we moved through the two parks and City Walk. We attended shows and attractions all seemed to have good air conditioned que lines. As I mentioned in part one I have a drama major and we experienced the Horror Makeup Show more than once. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was AMAZING! But fair warning this is the most crowded area of the parks especially since the opening in both parks. The best drink also occurs in this area. BUTTER BEER!!! You can get it in a plastic cup (think red solo cup) or you can spend a little more and purchase an actual mug which can be refilled though not at a discounted price. This drink is better than any cola product you can give your child to help get them over the I didn’t get a nap and am getting crabby hump. A few sips and the nephew was wand fighting ready.

We made many happy memories as a family that we still talk about a year after the original vacation. The one that tends to send the teenagers into giggles is the fountain story. We were waiting for The Eight Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show to start so were out in front of it watching  the Mystic Fountain. This is an ingenious little time taker as the fountain spouts knowledge and jokes and occasionally squirts the smaller patrons standing to close. Well the boy (15 year old) decided to get a little feisty and made a smart comment and the fountain squirted at him and missed. Well the boy being a teenager says as we’re starting to head into the show ” HAHA You missed”. These words would later get him DiNozzo’ed in the back of the head, because the fountain proceeds to unleash all of it’s water in a huge spray and says “Teenager I never miss!” No he missed the teenager and drenched me!! Of course this is when the DiNozzo happened as the boy was doubled over in laughter along with the other kids. It is funny and we laugh.. Just be forwarned🙂

Thank you for following the three part series!!!

DSCF9246Amanda Casey Travel Specialist

Planning Magical Vacations one guest at a time.


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 if you have books or media to sell. Unlike Ebay, you can list your books or media on 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

The Dark side……… Part 2

the dark side

So With Islands of Adventure sufficiently looked at and a map of how to tackle the park in their heads we clicked the link for Universal Studios itself. I know I heard Duh Duh DUHHHHHHH when I clicked it (at least in my head). At the time we started looking The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley had not opened though it was previewed all over the page. What we did see again had the oooh’s and aaahhh’s going with three Disneyfied teenagers.

Transformers!! Oh did we geek out on this as they fell in love with Bumble Bee in the original movies so that went on the must do list (not a coaster, but a simulation 3D ride), along with Revenge of the Mummy and Rip Rocket Roller Coaster. It was all about the coaster factor again I said I’d wave and wait in the kid swap area.

I saw ET Adventure and said yup this is the one I’d be torturing them with at this park. I have at least one at every park. By far the ride that got the most hooting and hollering was Men In Black Alien Attack. MIB-Universal2Who wouldn’t love to shoot Aliens in a car that spins on it’s own!!

When you think Universal Studios you think Hollywood and shows and with one drama major both in school and in life we took a peak at a few of the descriptions of shows. She spotted Horror Makeup Show lick split. Myself I noticed another blast from my childhood The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. Sweet a couple of shows to get us out of one of Orlando’s sudden rain storm or crazy heat, because lets face it we’re in Florida and it’s going to rain at some point and it’s going to be warmer than home. The boy found Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Review and then asked me who the Blues Brothers were. I thought holy cow I’ve failed as a parent in not having my child sit down and watch this classic, score another Mom torture tool!!

Food is always a necessity with teenagers as if they are awake they are hungry. Click and a look at Universal Dining revealed amazingly food!! Burgers, dogs, pizza, the standard fair for quick service as at Disney. Happy teenagers! But along with those quick places I notice Margaritaville, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co and a place called Methos. Again a margaritavilleplace to get in out of the weather and into the a/c for something other than a burger and fries. At this point they were happy with thoughts of food and it was time to find a place to lay our heads. Being Disney experts we wanted a nice place but our expectations weren’t high as after all this was Universal and it couldn’t beat Disney.

There are 4 hotels on the Universal property : Cabana Bay, Lowe’s Royal Pacific, Lowe’s Portofino Bay and Hard Rock Hotel. Of course they ogled over Hard Rock and I being the Mom said “This is our budget” which at the time Hard Rock did not fall into. We looked at Portofino Bay and Royal Pacific next. Both beautiful resorts with amazing theming and within our budget. We looked at Cabana Bay last. We looked through the pictures of the resort 010-cabana-bay-beach-resort-entrance-lobby-1957-oiand the kids were like book it as the resort has a funky 50’s and 60’s theme with two pools and a lazy river!! “Mom Disney Value Resorts doesn’t have a lazy river!!” I didn’t tell them that there is a lazy river at the Yacht and Beach Club pool. They were sold and so was I. I kissed them goodnight and pulled out the credit card to book the vacation package with a few extra surprises. What’s a vacation without a few happy surprises?

To find out how our adventure to the dark side went stay tuned for part 3…..

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Amanda Casey Travel Specialist

Planning Magical Vacations one guest at a time.