Showing posts with label Theme Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theme Park. Show all posts

Disney World on a Budget - Transportation

Disney World is massive in size at 40 square miles! How do you maneuver such a large area? Disney World has a wonderful transportation system that will move you around the area.  

Disney Resort Hotel Guests: If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel having a vehicle is not a priority.  Disney will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel using Disney Magical Express. Magical Express will also take you back to the airport at the end of your stay.  Each day Disney transportation will transport you from your hotel to Disney theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Your transportation options range from bus, monorail, and/or boat depending on the resort you choose to stay in. Transportation usually starts 1-2 hours before theme parks open and continue throughout the day up until 1-2 hours after the park closes. Check with your hotel front desk for transportation schedules when you check in. Using this system you will not have to worry about traffic, parking, or remembering where you parked your car! To find out more about the Disney Transportation System click here.
If you choose to drive yourself to a Disney theme park you have FREE parking at any theme park throughout your stay.

Non-Disney Resort Hotel Guests: So you decided not to stay on Disney property? Did you know you can still use the transportation system? Did you know it's FREE? Yes! You can catch any bus, boat, or monorail from any theme park and ride it to a Disney hotel or theme park of your choice. If you are needing to get to Downtown Disney you will select a bus to a Disney hotel and then from the hotel you will catch a bus or boat from the hotel to that Downtown Disney.  This option sounds great right? Well, this trip I just explained will take you between 1 - 2 hours to complete ONE WAY depending on how fast you catch a bus, boat, or monorail. To find out more about the Disney Transportation System click here.
Most hotels in the Disney World area will transport you to a theme park at certain times of the day. You will need to check with that hotel about pick up and drop off times. If you drive your own vehicle, the cost to park at any Disney theme park is currently $17 per day good for all day at any of Disney's theme parks.

Disney World on a Budget - Getting There

We flew AirTran which is now a branch of Southwest Airlines.
Depending on where you live, you can either drive or fly to Disney World. I live in Texas, approximately 1,100 miles from Disney World.  My family has traveled to Disney World both ways.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each method of travel. This posting will give you more details about each method so you can make an informed choice about travel for your family. 

Flying to Disney World
Is your family limited on time off for vacation?  Do your children/spouse struggle riding in cars for long periods of time? Do you want to get to Disney World the fastest way possible? If so, then flying might be the best choice for your family. 

I started watching airline prices to Orlando, Florida 6 months prior to purchasing my tickets so I would know prices and what was a good deal. A good site to keep up with fares is Google Flights. I like Google Flights because I am able to see many different airlines and rates.  It will even tell me if another nearby airport is cheaper to fly out of. Another site I use when searching for airfare deals is Fare Compare . The deals site on the Fare Compare website shows the latest airline sales on many airlines. Everything I read said the best time to buy an airline ticket is 6 weeks before departure. The cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, & Saturday. The first flight out for the day is typically the least expensive.  If you are early birds then this could save you hundreds of dollars. As you are searching for flights, you might consider flying into Tampa International Airport and renting a car.  Sometimes rates are considerably less expensive than flying into Orlando - just don't forget to factor in the cost of the rental car and perhaps parking at your hotel, if it is not a Disney hotel. 
  • Advantages of flying to Disney World:
    1. Disney Magical Express - This is a BIG advantage! If you are staying at a Disney World resort hotel you have the option of using Disney Magical Express. Disney offers FREE transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, meaning you don't have to rent a car.  In addition luggage delivery to your Disney resort hotel is FREE too! You just check your luggage at your home airport and then you don't see them again until you arrive in your room.  It is just MAGICAL!
    2. If you live a substantial distance from Disney World flying is MUCH faster than driving. (Even with the added time it takes to get through airport security these days.)
    3. Your vehicle is not getting added miles on the odometer. 
    4. Disney Magical Express

    5. You do not have to worry about lodging for the trip to and from Orlando.
  • Disadvantages of flying to Disney World:
    1. Flying is EXPENSIVE - especially if you have a large family. The best deals I have been able to find (other than on airlines such as Spirit) in 2015 was $199 per person round trip from Austin, TX to Orlando, FL. If I were to fly from Dallas or Houston the rates are averaging $285 per person round trip.  Oh yeah, you will also have to pay a fee (averaging $25 for the first bag & more for each additional bag) for your checked luggage to fly unless you fly certain airlines like Southwest or JetBlue. Did I mention gas prices are currently hovering around $2.25 per gallon?  My car can go a long way for what it costs for just one person in my family to fly to Orlando. 
    2. Airport security - gone are the days where you walk into the airport and go to your boarding location and then get on the plane.  It is recommended that you arrive at the airport no less than 2 hours before departure for domestic flights. Once at the airport you will be subjected to long lines, rude people, metal detectors, and having to disrobe - well just your shoes but hey it's annoying!
    3. Rules, rules, rules!! Every airline has different policies about the size of checked luggage permitted without an added fee on top of the fee you paid to have your luggage fly. Then of course there are the rules about carry on luggage. Oh and don't let me forget the rules about liquids and carry on bags.  But wait as if there weren't enough rules, don't forget each person is limited to one quart size Ziploc bag for your liquids. Oh yeah, tell your husband NOT to leave his $50 pocket knife in his pocket when he goes through airport security or he will never see it again.
    4. Seat size - in an effort to make more money airlines have been cramming more seats on a plane.  That's great for them and AWFUL for you!  The average airline seat is now between 16.5" and 18" wide with a 32" pitch. Basically you will be sitting right on top of the person next to you. Oh yeah, did I mention that if you want to select which seats your family receives (so you can all sit together on the plane) that will cost you more money on many airlines today?  
    5. Annoying people on the plane - you just want to sleep so you will be rested when you get to Disney World.  HOWEVER, the 2 year old behind you is crying and kicking the back of your seat pushing you into the stranger (who has a flu like cough) sitting next to you. At least if you had driven, you could turn around and yell at the annoying 2 year old because he or she is your child!
Driving to Disney World
Is your family on a budget? Do you enjoy seeing the different parts of the country? Do you have a fear of flying? If so then maybe driving to Disney World is for your family! 

Being the planner that I am I use Google Maps to plot my trip when I am driving to a destination. Google Maps even has a neat feature that will allow you to see street view.  I use this feature to see the neighborhood where the hotel I am considering is located. I learned a long time ago if there are pay day loan & pawn shops within a mile of your hotel you probably want to avoid the hotel. (It was San Antonio... just glad we made it out alive.)

  • Advantages of driving to Disney World:

    1. Cost - For the budget minded family the expense of flying is not a feasible option.  Therefore we are left to drive.  When gas prices are low, as they are in 2015, it makes financial sense to drive IF you have the time to make the drive. 
    2. See the world - You have the opportunity to see parts of the United States you have never seen before at your own pace. You can even visit websites like Road Trip America and plan your road trip so you don't miss the world's largest ball of yarn or some other great adventure you never knew existed. 
    3. Family time - good or bad road trips are memorable family adventures that will be repeated at family gatherings for the next 30 years!
    4. You can pack as much as your vehicle will hold, including food and drinks.  Try doing that on an airplane!
    5. Did I mention NO AIRPORT HASSLES - see my posting above...
    6. The only smelly & annoying people you will be traveling with are your family.

    • Disadvantages of driving to Disney World:
      1. Time - If you live quite a distance from Disney World, you are looking at a lot of time to get there if you drive. 
      2. Lodging expense: Unless your family can drive 15+ hours straight through and still have the energy to maneuver Disney World when you arrive, you will have lodging expenses on your road trip.  I usually avoid hotel costs because I have hotel reward points I have accumulated during my travels during the year. On my Disney World road trip I cash those points in so I get a FREE hotel room. Tip for the budget conscious family: SIGN UP FOR EVERY HOTEL REWARDS PROGRAM YOU CAN.  Hotel rewards programs are FREE and you can accumulate points quickly if you travel during their promotional times.  When I don't have FREE hotels, I use Google Hotel finder to find the best room rates. I don't use online travel agencies such as Expedia,, or Priceline because I have read too many blog posts about how rooms weren't booked as promised or the Priceline room was a real dump or the price was higher than anticipated, etc. I usually try to drive to within 4-5 hours of Disney World to spend the night.  For me that is around Tallahassee, Florida. That way I can be at Disney World by 11 AM the next day and have almost a full day to enjoy the parks. 
      3. If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel you really do not need a car.  Disney will take you where you want to go for FREE! Thankfully you will not be charged a fee to park your car at your Disney resort hotel. 
      4. Some family members just don't ride in a vehicle well. If hours on in with the same people sounds like a new form of torture then maybe the road trip is not for you.

    Will you fly or will you drive? 

    Disney World On A Budget - FastPass+

    In 1999 Disney created the best system ever and it was called the FastPass! For years,  Disney vacationers could run to a kiosk near an attraction they wanted to ride and get a FastPass that would enable them to jump to the front of a really long line at a scheduled time that day. The best part of it all was that this service was FREE (well, included in the price of admission.) Disney is an ever changing company and in 2013 the FastPass+ system began rolling out.  With this new system Disney vacationers no longer had to wait until they got into the park to make FastPass+ selections.  An entire vacation could be planned from the comfort of home! Oh, and did I mention it's still FREE (with the purchase of a theme park ticket)? Listed below I have information about the system and how it works.

    What is the FastPass+
    A queuing system  that allows you to schedule ahead of time (up to 60 days before arrival) when you would like to ride up to three of the most popular rides at Disney World. The purpose of FastPass+ is to limit the amount of time you wait in lines for popular attractions thereby making your trip even more magical!

    How do I sign up for FastPass+?
    In order to sign up for FasttPass+ selections you will need to either go to the My Disney Experience website and/or download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone/tablet. Make sure your theme park tickets are linked to your My Disney Experience website before you try to make FastPass+ selections.

    When can I select my FastPass+ attractions?
    FastPass+ attractions can be selected up to 60 days in prior to arrival at Disney World IF you are staying at a Disney resort. FastPass+ attractions can be selected up to 30 days prior to arrival at Disney World for non-Disney resort guests. I recommend you book your FastPass+ selection as early as possible.

    What if I tried booking the first day I could book and there are no available times for the day I am visiting the park?  
    Apparently this has been a problem for some people. It is suggested that you keep checking back to My Disney Experience because people frequently change selections up to the day of visiting the park.

    How does the selection process work?
    To make FastPass+ selections you will first need to be within the time frame allowed based on where you are staying.  I made my selections the very first day I was permitted to do so. Even with that some attractions FastPass+ availability was already into the afternoon as the earliest time available - and I was scheduling it 60 days in advance! I digress.. Once you login to My Disney Experience then you will select the theme park and date as well as whom you would like to make FastPass+ selections for. Then you choose the 3 attractions for FastPass+. Once your attractions have been selected for the given day then Disney gives you 4 options from which to choose for those 3 attractions.  I noticed at the time of my selection the options are varied as far as the times available. Disney will not let you overlap any FastPass+ selection with another.  Therefore your times are scattered out over a minimum of 3 hours. NOTE: You do have the option to pick a specific ride at a specific time. However, that option was done after the initial selection of options.  When you log back in to My Disney Experience you will have the option to "Select A New Time".  Once you select this option then you have several choices of times, at least in the beginning you do.  I can see where as the day gets closer to my arrival there will be fewer FastPass+ options available.  My suggestion is to plan which day you would like to be in each park BEFORE scheduling your FastPass+ selection - it makes it much easier. Then again, I am a planner. Either way, book as soon as possible.  You can always go back and change your plans if need be.

    Can I change my FastPass+ selections?
    Yes! You can change your selections up to and including the day you are visiting Disney. It is common for people to change selections frequently.

    What happens when I use all 3 of my FastPass+ selections?
    You get to select more! Yes that's right.  You are not limited to only 3 FastPass+ selections. However, in order to get your next FastPass+ you will have to go to the kiosk that is located near the ride/attraction you would like to get a FastPass+ for. See my list below for kiosk locations. 

    How many FastPass+ selections can I have at the same time of day?
    One. You are only permitted to have 1 FastPass+ selection at a given time of day.

    How long do I have to redeem my FastPass+ selection?
    Each FastPass+ selection has 1 hour to redeem the selection.  For example: If you have a FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania from 1:30-2:30 PM you have until 2:30 PM to use your selection or you lose it.  Note there is a 15 minute grace period whereby you will still be permitted to use the FastPass+.
    How do I select my first 3 FastPass+ attractions?
    Selection of attractions for Fastpass+ is based on from which park you are selecting passes. Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom have a list of attractions from which to choose in any order.(See my list below of eligible attractions/rides)  Epcot & Hollywood Studios have a tier system when selecting FastPass+. At Epcot & Hollywood Studios, you must select one attraction from Tier 1 category and choose 2 from Tier 2 category. Once those 3 FastPass+ have been redeemed then you can visit the kiosk and make further selections. 

    Can I park hop and use FastPass+?
    Yes. HOWEVER, you must first use up your initial 3 FastPass+ selections from a single park BEFORE you can hop to the next park.  At the new park you can get 1 FastPass+ selection at a time until park closing.

    What if I arrive at a FastPass+ reservation and the standby line is less than 10 minutes?
    Don't waste a FastPass+ reservation.  Get in the standby line & while you are in line, use your smartphone to change to a different FastPass+ reservation at a later time. 

    Kiosk Locations: Note: The kiosks in the front of the park are always the busiest.  Walk to one of the other kiosks to save time.
    Magic Kingdom:
    1. At Guest Relations - City Hall on Main Street
    2. In the Town Square Theater - Main Street
    3. The walkway between Adventureland and Liberty Square, near The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon in Liberty Square
    4. In the brick building outside the exit to Hall of Presidents - Liberty Square
    5. Outside Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland
    6. At the Storybook Circus FastPass+ area, across from The Barnstormer in Fantasyland
    7. At Splash Mountain's FastPass+ area, just past the entrance, in Frontierland.
    Animal Kingdom:
    1. Expedition Everest
    2. Kali River Rapids
    3. Primeval Whirl
    4. In front of the Disney Outfitters store on Discovery Island
    5. In front of the FastPass+ Service Center near Creature Comforts on Discovery Island.
    Hollywood Studios:
    1. FastPass+ service center, immediately to the left once you get past the entrance turnstiles
    2. At the "wait times" board on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset boulevards
    3. Outside Voyage of The Little Mermaid, in Animation Courtyard
    4. Outside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror entrance
    5. At Guest Relations outside the park
    1. Outside the Mission: SPACE entrance
    2. At the Soarin' entrance, downstairs at The Land Pavilion
    3. At Guest Relations in Future World
    4. At the digital "tip board" in the middle of Future World Plaza (behind Spaceship Earth and the Future World fountain)
    5. At the International Gateway entrance to the park
    6. In the Future World West walkway, on the way to The Land pavilion
    FastPass+ Available Attractions: (As of January 2015) 
    Click the following links to research attractions at each park: Magic Kingdom - Animal Kingdom - Hollywood Studios - Epcot
    Click here for an interactive map of Disney World.

    Animal Kingdom
    Hollywood Studios
    1. It’s a Small World
    2. Big Thunder Mountain
    3. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger
    4. Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
    5. Dumbo
    6. Enchanted Tales with Belle
    7. Haunted Mansion
    8. Jungle Cruise
    9. Mad Tea Party
    10. Main Street Electrical Parade
    11. Meet Anna & Elsa at Princess Hall
    12. Meet Ariel at Her Grotto
    13. Meet Cinderella & Rapunzel at Princess Hall
    14. Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
    15. Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater
    16. Mickey’s PhilhaarMagic
    17. Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
    18. Peter Pan’s Flight
    19. Pirates of the Caribbean
    20. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
    21. Space Mountain
    22. Splash Mountain
    23. The Barnstormer
    24. The Magic Carpets of Alladin
    25. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    26. Tomorrowland Speedway
    27. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
    28. Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

    2. Expedition Everest
    3. Festival of the Lion King
    4. Finding Nemo – The Musical
    5. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
    6. Kali River Rapids
    7. Kilimanjaro Safaris
    8. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
    9. Primeval Whirl

    Tier 1: (Select 1)
    1. Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage
    2. Fantasmic!
    3. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
    4. The Great Movie Ride
    5. Toy Story Mania

    Tier 2: (Select 2)
    1. Disney Jr. Live on Stage
    2. A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
    3. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
    4. Lights, Motor, Action!
    5. MuppetVision 3D
    6. Star Tours
    7. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
    8. Voyage of the Little Mermaid

    Tier 1: (Select 1)
    1. Illuminations
    2. Living with the Land
    3. Soarin’
    4. Test Track

    Tier 2: (Select 2)
    1. Captain EO
    2. Journey Into Imagination with Figment
    3. Meet Disney Pals at Epcot Character Spot
    4. Mission: Space
    5. Spaceship Earth
    6. The Seas with Nemo & Friends
    7. Turtle Talk with Crush

    Disney World On A Budget - Food

    Chef Mickey's located in Disney's Contemporary Resort
    You have chosen your travel dates, made reservations at an Orlando area hotel, and decided how you would get to Disney World. Now you need to tackle the question how much money will I need to budget for food during my trip? Aside from lodging and airfare the most amount of money you will spend on your Disney World trip will be on food. Listed below I have information about food costs based on where you choose to stay while visiting Disney World. No matter where you choose to stay, if you want to eat at good table service restaurants you will need to make your reservations as early as possible. Disney starts taking reservations 180 days in advance of your visit.  Most of the good table service restaurants start filling up that early. Planning will get you the meals you want. Reservations are not available at quick service restaurants with the exception of Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. To make reservations you can call 407 939-3463 or visit the Disney Dining Reservation website.

    Disney Dining Plan For Guests Staying At A Disney World Hotel: If you choose to stay at a Disney World hotel you will have the option of purchasing the Disney Dining Plan. Basically Disney offers 3 meal plans from which to choose. You can choose the Disney Quick Service, Disney Dining Plan, or the Disney Deluxe Dining plan. Only Disney resort guests have the option to purchase meal plans. We chose the Disney Dining Plan for our trip in 2013. Listed here I have each plan option and the cost:

    Quick Service
    Dining Plan
    Dining Plan
    Deluxe Dining Plan
    What types of meals do I get with this plan?
    2 quick service** meals + 1 snack per night per person + a refillable resort mug. Meal includes an entrée, non-alcoholic beverage, & dessert.
    1 quick service**,       1 table service***, + 1 snack per night per person + a refillable resort mug.  Meal includes an entrée, non-alcoholic beverage, & dessert OR 1 full buffet.
    2 snacks per night, 3 meals of your choosing (quick** or table service***) per night per person. A meal consists of appetizer, entrée, dessert, & a non-alcoholic beverage OR 1 full buffet.
    Cost per adult per night (Ages 10 & Up)
    $41.99*  per adult per night
    $60.04*  per adult per night
    $109.53*  per adult per night
    Cost per child per night (Ages 3 – 9)
    $16.03* per child per night.
    Children must order from Child’s Menu.
    $19.23* per child per night.
    Children must order from Child’s Menu.
    $29.86* per child per night.
    Children must order from the Child’s Menu.

    *The cost as of 2015 for dining plans are in addition to the cost of your Disney World Magic Your Way package.
    ** Quick service meals may consist of an entree or a combo meal at a Quick service location. Quick service meals are often referred to as counter service meals and are similar to fast food options such as McDonald's.
    *** Table service is a sit down restaurant. 

    Disney's Polynesian Resort Ohana Restaurant
    What is the difference in cost between purchasing the dining plan or paying as you go? For the budget conscious family I recommend deciding how much you would like to eat while at Disney World. Once you decide how frequently you would get snacks or eat desserts with a meal, then you will need to start crunching numbers. Go to the Disney World dining web page and check out the menus to get an idea of the cost for places you will eat. For my upcoming trip I had the knowledge of how the meal plan worked and decided I would compare going with the plan versus paying as I go.  For each night of my upcoming stay I selected 2 meals from a variety of quick service and table service locations. Two of the meals I planned were at Ohana's & the Hoop Dee Doo Revue - both are expensive table service options. The Dining Plan meal plan would cost my family of 3 adults (10+ in age) $1,275 for 7 nights/8 days. To pay as I go I anticipate the cost being $775.  That is a savings of $500!  Now understand we do not typically eat desserts or snacks. If we did eat snacks and desserts for every meal then our estimated cost would have been significantly higher. Since I could potentially save $500 on my upcoming trip, I opted NOT to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. The only time I would select the dining plan would be if Disney were offering it FREE with your package.  This usually happens twice per year, in the fall and late winter/early spring when school is still in session. 

    Some families like being able to sit down for dinner and not have to study the menu and prices.  If you enjoy this luxury then maybe the dining plan is for you! If you decide to purchase any one of the dining plans you can use your meals in any order you wish.  If you want to eat 5 times a day for the first 2 days of your trip, you can do that.  However you will not be eating much on the remaining 3 days of your trip because you will have used your credits.  At the same time, whatever meals or snack credits you do not use by midnight on the day you check out of your hotel, you will lose that number of meals or snacks. People almost always have snack credits left over.  Make sure you spend your credits wisely.  Some ideas include purchasing the Mickey shaped cookies or the premium popcorn for souvenirs. Another idea for snack credits is to use them to purchase breakfast items since on all but one dining plan you only get 2 meals per day.  There are even lunch/dinner options that are on the snack credit list. When we had the dining plan we used one of our snack credits to purchase chicken fried rice at Yak & Yeti's in Animal Kingdom. It was plenty big enough for a meal! When you look at a menu you will see SC next to the items that are on the snack list. 

    Paying For Meals As You Go: So you have decided you are not purchasing the meal plan OR you are staying at a non-Disney hotel and you do not have the option.  What do you do about eating in Disney World and not spending every available penny on food?  Listed below are some ideas for saving money on food at Disney World: 
    • Water is FREE from any quick service restaurant.  You just walk up to the counter and ask for water.  When I last went to Disney World in 2013, I received a 20 ounce cup of water with ice.  Prior to my learning this trick I would be a pack mule toting water bottles in the park. Make sure you drink plenty of water if you are visiting during the summer.  It won't take long to dehydrate in the Florida heat. 
    • If you don't like plain water, take Gatorade or Kool-Aid packets with you into the park each day.
    • Share food with members of your family. Instead of ordering 2 combos and throwing away the extra fries order 1 combo and share it.  Cosmic Rays at Magic Kingdom has a rotisserie chicken that could be shared by 2. 
    • If you don't want the side order of fries or a salad ask the cashier for just the entree. You will save money and not waste the side items you would not eat anyway. For example at Hollywood Studios Pizza Planet all personal pizzas come with a side order of a salad. If you do not want the salad tell the cashier and you can save $2.00. 
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios Pizza Planet

    • Look for restaurants such as Magic Kingdom's Cosmic Rays or Tortuga Tavern that have toppings bar. This is a salad bar type area that is available for you to add unlimited toppings to your burgers etc. Examples of toppings included lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, sauteed onions & mushrooms, pickles, or sauerkraut. Other restaurants that have similar spreads include Hollywood Studios Sunset Ranch Market or Epcot's Cantina de San Angel.
    • Surf the condiment selection at your hotel or in the theme park. You will most likely find peanut butter, jelly, and honey among other offerings for FREE. Order 2 slices of bread & you have a cheap PB&J for the picky child (or adult).
    • Eat breakfast in your hotel room.  All Disney hotels and most non-Disney hotels now have a refrigerator in your room. Bring breakfast bars, cereal, & pop tarts from home. When we drive to Disney World, we buy milk from a local Walmart or grocery store before heading to our hotel the first day we arrive.  If you are staying off Disney property select a hotel that offers a free breakfast.  Take some of the fruit and boxed cereal with you to the park each day. 
    • If you fly to Disney World you can order groceries ahead of time.  One such website that will deliver your groceries to you is We Go Shop. I have not personally used this service, but it gets good reviews on other blogs I have read.
    • I highly recommend having a Disney Character Meal if you have never done this or you are travelling with children.  This is a great way for the kids to get to see their favorite characters in a more personal non-rushed setting. However, it costs quite a bit for a family on a budget.  To save you money I recommend you have Character Breakfast meals.  If you make reservations for the last reservation for breakfast it is usually around 11 AM.  The buffets are filled with plenty of meats, fruits, and pastries that you will not be hungry again until dinner time. If you have a Character Lunch or Dinner it cost more than breakfast. My favorite Character breakfast is at Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace. Make sure you make your Character breakfast reservation as soon as you have finalized plans to go to Disney.

    Listed below is a list of some of our favorite restaurants and some we are going to try.  I also have the average per person menu prices as of 2015.

    Restaurants - highlighted ones are our favorites. Some of the non-highlighted ones we are trying for the first time this year but they get good reviews.Avg Meal Cost
    per Person
    Boatwrights @ Disney's Port of Orleans Riverside - UPDATE: Food was bland & not good.$20.00
    Ohana @ Disney's Polynesian Hotel - We LOVE Ohana's. This is our favorite restaurant in all of Disney. . UPDATE: Food, service, & atmosphere was good as always!$30.00
    Hoop Dee Doo Revue dinner AND a show all you can drink beer and sangria as well as down home good food while watching a good ole family fun show. We are trying this trip - gets great reviews online.UPDATE: Great food & entertainment - highly recommend worth every penny!$58.00
    Animal Kingdom Flame Tree - good BBQ with a nice view @ the tables around back of the restaurant Closed for refurbishment when we visited.$11.00
    Animal Kingdom Pizzafari Did not eat there this trip.$9.00
    Animal Kingdom Yak & Yeti Local Foods - Asian food. We really like the chicken fried rice which is a snack on dining plan UPDATE; Food was good.$10.00
    Downtown Disney Earl of Sandwich - The BEST use of a counter service meal. Great food! UPDATE: Great sandwich - worth the wait in the long line.$8.00
    Downtown Disney Cooks of Dublin (Behind Raglan Road) Serves food similar to Raglan Road but is less expensive.Did not eat there this trip.$12.00
    Downtown Disney Raglan Road - It's pricey but if you like authentic Irish food & drink - it's a must! UPDATE: Excellent food, service, & atmosphere.$22.00
    Epcot Sunshine Grill Future World - like a food court serving Asian food, burgers, chicken, etc one of the few places that give FREE drink refills. Our favorite quick service restaurant.UPDATE: Great food & still has FREE drink refills.$10.00
    Epcot Japan Katsura Grill$11.00
    Epcot France Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie Sandwiches & Pastries$8.00
    Epcot America Liberty Inn UPDATE: Food was average.$10.00
    Hollywood Studios ABC Commissary UPDATE: Food was good for counter service.$11.00
    Hollywood Studios 50s Dinner - Our fav. restaurant @ Hollywood Studios downhome food & fun! The waiters are in character from the 1950s. UPDATE: Food was good as usual, service was slow & not as themed as in years past... Maybe I just had a bad waitress.$20.00
    Magic Kingdom Sleepy Hollow (behind castle) Must try Waffle Chicken Sand. $7.49 UPDATE: We did not like the waffle chicken OR ham sandwich - would not recommend.$8.00
    Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace great character meal we always had the breakfast late in the morning. My favorite character meal restaurant.$20.00
    Magic Kingdom Be Our Guest Lunch supposed to be the best counter service restaurant in Disney - I haven't tried it- yet.$12.00
    Magic Kingdom Columbia Harbor House - Serves food similar to Liberty Tree Tavern but less expensive. UPDATE: Good counter service restaurant - highly recommend especially if you do not want a burger.$11.00
    Magic Kingdom Cosmic Rays - set up like a food court with burgers, chicken, or sub sandwiches.$11.00
    Port Orleans Riverside Hotel Boatwrights - Cajun food gets good reviews we will be eating there this trip for 1st time.$20.00