Disney on a Budget – Autograph Books

Getting characters autographs is one of the trip highlights for my younger kids. It a big part of the theme parks and something some kids don’t want to miss out on. So, you will need to get an autograph book for each child. I am going to share with you some of your options when it comes to autograph books.

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You can go with the official Disney autograph book, these can be found at the theme parks, or online at the Disney Store. There are different versions of the autograph books and they will run you between $7 – $11. $7.00 doesn’t seem like alot, but when you have 3 kids that want to get autographs that can add up quickly.

Cheaper and more inexpensive alternatives to the official autograph books can be found any Walmart or Target that is located near the Theme Parks.   The above small autograph book ran $1.99.

For an even cheaper and more personalized version, you can actually make your own autograph books. I have made my kids autograph books both years we went. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack them last year, which is why we ended up with the 1.99 Walmart version. Making your own autograph book is relatively easy, and inexpensive.

If you are interested in learning how to make your own autograph book, you can find the instructions here.

Christy is a fellow Disney lover who blogs over at Thrifty and Thriving. Her blog focuses on smart living for a richer life.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Fireworks Pictures in Walt Disney World

I love taking pictures. I am my family’s official picture taker. This gets stepped up when we head to Walt Disney World (usually once or twice a year). I have Digital SLR camera, a Nikon D60. I love it and it is great for getting those perfect shots. Each year when we go to Disney I take thousands of pictures.

Today, however I want to talk about taking pictures of the fireworks. I have rented lens and bought a tripod just to get good fireworks pictures, but you do not need to go that far. A “point and shoot” camera and a trash can work also.

I start with a tripod, you can use a monopod, or a gorillapod.  I like to set up on Main Street right a crossed from Casey’s. But another spot I love is the Tomorrowland Terrace. It helps to get there early (45 minutes or so) and stake out your spot and the surrounding area (so your tripod doesn’t get bumped). I usually use my husband, a book bag, myself and a folded towel (I take the towel to save seats during the parade).

The settings I have found that work best for me are – Aperture: F/8 – F/16; Focus: set to infinity; and the shutter speed 2-4 seconds and ISO 100-200. I use a remote to control the shutter release as to not jar the camera and cause any blur. Make sure your flash is off, since it will do nothing but over expose your photo. If you have a Point and Shoot camera with a fireworks setting use that, if not use the landscape setting.

Here are a few of my favorite “Wishes” photos.

Magic Kingdom fireworks

Some additional tips….

Make sure you have a backup battery and Memory Card ready to go. Remember most fireworks shows build to a big finale you want to make sure you have enough memory to capture this. You also want to change your aperture to F/16-F/20 or so once the big ending starts due to the extra light.

Takes tons of pictures you never know which on with be “The One”!

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Lisa loves all things Disney and truly enjoys capturing all her family’s memories on film.

Disney on a Budget – Pin Trading

Pin Trading is one of the things that my kids find the most fun about a Disney trip.    If your aren’t familiar with Disney Pin Trading, you are allowed to trade pins with any Disney cast member that is wearing a lanyard. You simply ask to see their pins, and the will bring their lanyard closer for you to view.   If you see a pin you want, you may trade one of your pins for one of theirs.  There are some guidelines to pin trading that Disney has posted:

  • The main criteria to judge whether a pin is tradable or not is that it must be a metal pin bearing a “©Disney”mark on the back that represents a Disney Event, Place or Location, Character or Icon.
  • Pins should be in good, undamaged, tradable condition.
  • For a safe trading experience, please trade one pin at a time, hand to hand with pin backs attached.
  • Guests may trade a maximum of two (2) pins per Cast Member, per day.
  • Please refrain from touching a Cast Member’s or Guest’s pins or lanyard. If you need a closer look, kindly ask the Cast Member or Guest wearing the lanyard if she or he can bring it into clearer view for you.
  • Monies, gifts or receipts may not be exchanged or used in trade for a pin.
  • When trading with a Cast Member, Guests should offer a pin that is not currently displayed on the Cast Member’s lanyard.
  • Pins from other business units of The Walt Disney Company (i.e.ABC, ESPN) are accepted for trade.
  • Operating participant pins that show a Disney, Disneyland®Resort, or Walt Disney World®Resort affiliation are accepted for trading.
  • Plastic pins, rubber pins or other non-metal pins are not accepted for trading.
  • “Personalized Name”pins are not accepted for trade.
  • “Broche style”or “clasp pins”are not accepted for trade.
  • Disney Service Award pins, Spirit of Disneyland®Resort pins, Partners in Excellence pins or Cast Member costume pins (i.e. Host/Hostess Badges, Disney Trainer) are not tradable.

The Disney pins can be very expensive. The individual pins can range in price from $6.95 – $19.95. Wow! Can you imagine paying $19.95 for a pin? Here are some pointers to help you get started pin trading (on a budget).

  1. You can buy starter sets at the Disney theme parks, the starter sets are priced at $24.95, they contain a lanyard and 4 pins. This is a great value compared to buying everything individually.
  2. You can buy mystery grab bags of pins at a discounted price, the pins in these are usually less desirable, but that way it makes it easy to trade. The kids don’t want to hold onto them.
  3. You can find pins marked down online at the Disney Store. Remember, you don’t have to buy pins you like, because the plan is to trade them anyway.
  4. My best (and cheapest) advice for pin trading is to check out ebay. You can buy misc. pins in lots.

Now, all of my kids are starting out with pins to trade for our trip to Disney world, and it won’t be costing an arm an a leg.   They are thrilled (and so is Mom)!

If you want to learn all there is to know about Disney pin trading visit their official pin trading site. Do you kids love the pin trading experience too? I would love to hear your thoughts, and any money saving tips you may have.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Christy is a fellow Disney lover who blogs over at Thrifty and Thriving. Her blog focuses on smart living for a richer life.


5 Tips To Save On Souvenirs At Walt Disney World


If you are heading on vacation soon, don’t miss these 5 tips to save on souvenirs at Walt Disney World.

Instead of springing for a trip to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirate’s League, visit one of the face painting stations instead. For about $20, your child can have their face painted. There are multiple designs to pick from too!

Use your Disney Chase Visa Card to get 10% off purchases of $50 or more at various stores throughout Walt Disney World. Always ask before you pay if they offer the discount. Some stores won’t even require you to spend $50 to use it.

Learn how to make your own Disney shirts. They aren’t hard and it can save your family a ton of money. Just search online for a tutorial (my favorites are videos on YouTube).

Instead of aimlessly browsing the stores, schedule a time to shop for souvenirs. Make a list of anyone that you plan to purchase a souvenir for and stick to your budget.

Make “coupons” for your kids before you head to the parks. They can redeem them for specific souvenirs. Ideas would include a coupon for an autograph book, a pair of Mickey ears, a stuffed animal and/or a toy priced under $20.00.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Where To Purchase Mickey Ears At Walt Disney World


Personalized Mickey Ears are the most popular souvenir at Walt Disney World. With multiple designs (and new ones added all the time), you can buy a different one for each trip! Here is everything you need to know about where to purchase Mickey Ears at Walt Disney World.

The classic Mickey Ear Hat at is $13.95. Specialty designed hats range start at $15.95. Monogramming is $3 for basic fonts and $7 for fun or script fonts.

The Chapeau in the Magic Kingdom is the place to purchase your ears. This shop is located on your right as you enter Main Street U.S.A.. The only thing this the Chapeau carries is Mickey ears and they have multiple designs to choose from. You can add your name to the back of the ears and even watch as they monogram it. Be sure to walk up the ramp and pick up the old fashioned phone for a fun surprise.

Sir Mickey’s in Fantasyland and Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus also sell and embroider Mickey Ears.

Mouse Gears in Epcot has a large selection of Mickey Ears and they also offer embroidery. While you wait for your ears to be ready, you can browse the rest of this gigantic store for other souvenirs that you need.

Adrian & Edith’s Head to Toe shop in Hollywood Studios carries a selection of Mickey Ears and you can have them embroidered here with your name.

World of Disney in Disney Springs also carries Mickey Ears. You can head to this store without a park ticket, making it a great place to purchase your ears on the day you arrive.

Many other stores throughout Walt Disney World carry Mickey Ears. I have had no issues taking a set of Mickey ears that I had previously purchased to one of the embroidery shops and having them put a name on it. They charge for monograming is the same regardless of if you have it done at the time of purchase or at a later date.

If you want to purchase them before your trip, DisneyStore.com sells a selection of Mickey Ears. You can also have them sent to your room from Disney Floral and Gifts.

And here are 9 reasons you need Memory Maker.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

(Thanks Hannah!)

Hidden Mickey Hunt

Hidden Mickeys at Disney
What exactly is a Hidden Mickey?   A Hidden Mickey can be a silhouette or head and ears of Mickey Mouse.   The easier ones to find are usually the ones with one large circle and two smaller circles.   Some are hard to spot at first, but if you look just right they will POP out at you!   Hidden Mickey’s are placed in rides, attractions, and all around the Walt Disney World Resort by the Disney Imagineers.   It is so much fun to search for the Hidden Mickey’s around Disney World.  We make it a family game on our trips, whoever can find the most hidden Mickey’s gets a special treat at the end of the trip!

Written by Tabitha Candebat: Tabitha’s obsession with a little mouse named Mickey began at age 4 when she received her first set of “Mouse Ears”. With over 50 trips to Disney World, she loves to share her knowledge and passion by Planning Disney vacations for other guests. Catch the Disney fever with Tabitha! Email, Request a Quote or Call her at (504)296-6637 today! It’s time to book your next Disney World vacation. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

9 Reasons You Need Memory Maker


Here are 9 reasons you need Memory Maker for your next Walt Disney World vacation directly from the readers:

1. You should definitely get the Memory Maker. Even though the cast members will take your photo with your camera, having the Memory Maker gives you pictures that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Once you go through your pictures, you will find Disney frames that you can put around the pictures, character signatures, etc. We love the Memory Maker! – Diane

2. I’m all about pictures so Memory Maker was a no brainer for me! I’m usually the one taking the pictures so I’m usual MIA. I love the ability to get family shots, magic shots & ride photos. – Jami

3.  We have gotten it the last three times we went and haven’t regretted it at all. Yes the photographers will take pictures with your camera and no you don’t have to pay for them to do that but it isn’t the same as the memory maker. You get special photos such as holding Tinkerbelle in your hands, you get all the ride pictures included…I believe there are about 10 rides that take pictures now. To buy those pictures alone cost a minimum of $20 each. If you do a character dining all the pictures taken there are included. Plus, when you get home, you can go through all the pictures and add borders and make enhancements for free. All pictures including changes will be included on your disc. Sorry for the novel but I love the memory maker! – Vicky

4. Definitely worth it!! Usually we would walk away from the cast member with the camera because we wouldn’t be buying the picture, but with the memory maker we actually sought them out. The magic shots and the ride pictures are ones we would never have gotten before, now we have all of them. The amount of great pictures we have is amazing! – Jen

5. We did this past winter and I am so glad we did! We had so many group shots instead of the usual pictures always missing someone. And the magic shots are pretty neat too! We did lots of character meet and greets, and they turned out awesome! – Kate

6. If you want pics of the whole group… yes. If you want excellent quality pics…yes. If you want to walk up to a character, enjoy the moment and be absolutely amazed at the shots the photog will capture….moments you’ll look at and be like, I didn’t even see that at the time….yes. Cannot say enough good about it. And in the grand scheme of the total cost of the trip….the $170 is nothing! Sooooo worth it! – Shannon

7. If you are going for a good period of time get it. We did and so worth it. Got about 350+ photos…all great….don’t forget about Magic Shots! Even got a surprise….riding the 7 Dwarves mine train video with us in it!

8. It was wonderful not to have to take pictures during character meets. We just got yo stand and enjoy the moment. And we were much more willing to grab a photo everywhere. Loved it. – Laura

9. Do it! Even though the photographers will take photos with your camera, they captured lots of moments I didn’t catch. The first character we saw was Donald Duck and they got the most precious picture of my son embracing him. Turned out to be one of my favorite photos of my son from the trip. You also get the ride photos. Worth it 110%! – Janelle

Be sure to purchase Memory Maker ahead of time so that you can save your family $30!

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

PhotoPass Pictures Now Available on My Disney Experience App


The My Disney Experience app just got a new option. You can now view your PhotoPass pictures right on your app just minutes after they are taken! You can also view your videos from Tower of Terror and Seven Dwarfs, but viewing those will begin your 30 day period you have to design and edit your photos before you have to download them. So I suggest you wait to watch the videos until you are home from your trip.


You can also edit your photos from the app including adding borders and other magical touches. Keep in mind that the watermark will appear until you download your purchased photos.

Be sure to purchase Memory Maker ahead of time so that you can save your family $30!

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

(Thanks Suzanne!)

5 Things You Need To Know About Mailing Letters From Walt Disney World


I love mail! Mail from Walt Disney World is even more magical. Here are 5 things you need to know about mailing letters from Walt Disney World.

Purchase Stamps From Gift Shops – When you select a post card, as the Cast Member if they sell stamps. If they don’t, ask them where the nearest location is that would have stamps in stock. Popular locations that carry stamps are the shops at the Walt Disney World resorts, The Newsstand in the Magic Kingdom, Camera Center in Epcot, Oscar’s Super Service in Hollywood Studios, Garden Gate Gifts in Animal Kingdom and World of Disney in Downtown Disney.

Get A Main Street, U.S.A. Postmark – Visit City Hall on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom to get your postcard stamped with a special Main Street postmark. Your mail will also receive an Orlando, Florida postmark once it arrives at the post office.

Find A Mailbox – Main Street U.S.A. has multiple mailboxes located on posts up and down the street. Located one and mail off your postcard to your loved ones or even yourself back home. You’ll also find mailboxes at other locations throughout the parks and the Cast Members in the lobby at your resort will also be happy to mail your postcards for you.

Have A Character Sign Your Postcard – Instead of just sending a note, have a character autograph the postcard. That will thrill the recipient!

Send Fairy Godmother Mail – If you have friends who will be traveling soon, one thing that is popular among Disney enthusiasts is Fairy Godmother mail. Send a postcard with the Main Street, U.S.A. postmark letting the child know how excited Walt Disney World and Mickey are that they will be visiting soon (even better if you have Mickey Mouse sign the postcard). This is a great way to surprise children with a trip too!

Another great souvenir idea is TinkerBell Gifts.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

8 Things You Need To Know About Memory Maker

If you are planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, here are 8 things you need to know about MemoryMaker:

Be In Your Family’s Photos – Memory Maker lets you be in your family’s photos instead of behind the lens. A PhotoPass photographer will take a picture of your family in front of popular park icons, with the characters or at various other spots around the park.

Purchase MemoryMaker Before You Travel – Before you leave for your Walt Disney World Vacation, you will want to purchase Memory Maker ahead of time. You’ll save $30 by buying it at least 4 days in advance! Just make sure you save your confirmation number in a safe place because you will need it to link the Memory Maker to your MagicBand!

Capture Fun On The Attractions – You’ll get every attraction photo of your party! This includes rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Test Track. As long as MemoryMaker is linked with a MagicBand, the photos will automatically be added. You’ll even get a video of your party on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Capture Dining Experiences – If you dine at a restaurant that takes your photo as you enter, it will be added to your Memory Maker account. Just have the PhotoPass photographer scan your MagicBand. Keep in mind that most restaurants do not have a PhotoPass photographer who browses the restaurant taking photos while you dine including the character meals.

Share MemoryMaker – Be sure to give everyone in your party permission to add photos to Memory Maker. You can do this as long as you are linked as family/friends and you have given permission to everyone to view/purchase photos by clicking edit next to their name in your My Family and Friends list in MyDisneyExperience and scrolling halfway down the page to select the box that says share family photos.

View Your Photos During Vacation – Your photos will be available to view about 24 hours after they were taken. You can view them at MyDisneyPhotopass.com or by clicking View Photos link found on the My Disney Experience homepage. I do not suggest downloading them until after you return home from your vacation.

Take Magic Shots – Some PhotoPass photographers throughout the parks have the ability to create Magic Shots. These are shots that you pose for and Memory Maker automatically adds a magical element to it. This includes photos of you holding Tinker Bell or Baby Simba or maybe your siting on a bench with Stitch or trying to hang onto a bunch of Mickey balloons. The magical touches vary by photographer so be sure to ask yours if he has the capability of doing any.

Capture 100s of Photos – There is no limit to how many photos you can capture with MemoryMaker. If you purchased the package, make sure you stop at every PhotoPass photographer you see and let them know that you have already purchased the package and to snap away! They will usually take more pictures if they know you have already purchased MemoryMaker.

Learn more about souvenirs in the Walt Disney World parks plus Destinations in Florida can help you choose your souvenir purchases on your next Walt Disney World vacation.