Listen to Timon and Pumba when they say, “Hakuna Matata!” Even though we made some mistakes during our trip, they didn’t overshadow all the victories and memories we made. We were able to visit each park and ride almost every attraction in four days. I followed a lot of suggestions that I found through the SavEars, but here are some additional tips! Hopefully by sharing these points, your trips will be your best yet!
What NOT to do:
1.) Forget to activate military tickets. The first day we got to Epcot at the perfect time and brought an easy breakfast to eat in line before the park opened. We were about 20 people back from the front and listening to the Jamminators. When the park opened we got up to the front to scan the tickets and NOTHING!! In all the excitement we forgot that the military tickets have to be activated at the ticket counter by showing a military ID. I was SO disappointed! We had to get out of line then wait at the ticket counter to get the tickets activated. Luckily we went back in through the dining reservation line so we didn’t have to get behind the giant throng of people. We only lost about 20 minutes but it was such a silly mistake.
2.) Get disappointed when park plan doesn’t work out. I spent a lot of time preparing and tweaking the park plan for each day. When we were already 20 min. behind at Epcot AND Test Track was not opened yet, I about lost it! I put so much effort into making sure we were going to have time for everything and had the whole day all planned out. It put a damper on my morning, but I soon realized that everything would be okay (my husband helped me with this!) We were able to just swap things around and still made it to all the attractions we planned on doing. I am glad this happened on day one so I could relax the plans for days 2-5!
3.) Venture to other resorts for dinner. We thought it would be a great idea to take a ferry from MK to have a QS dinner at another resort. We wanted to see how other places were decorated and wanted a change of scenery (and cuisine) for dinner. We decided to go to the Polynesian. It was great until we tried to get back to our resort. The monorail was down and the ferry line was backed up (it was also a MVMCP night). We decided to take a bus. They were few and far between! Plus there was some sort of power outage and we were redirected a longer way. All in all it took us almost two hours to finally get back to our resort and we didn’t arrive until 11:00pm.
4.) Not getting the Disney Dining Plan. We would have saved a couple hundred bucks if we had bought the Disney Dining Plan instead of the Quick Service Dining. Only 3 table service meals was enough to justify the extra expense of the Disney Dining Plan. If we were on the Disney Dining Plan we would not have had to go to the Polynesian for a QS meal… It would have definitely opened up some options for us!
5.) Getting a huge cake for after a buffet. We ordered a specialty cake for my son’s birthday that we celebrated at Cape May Café. There were 13 of us all together. After stuffing ourselves silly with the breakfast buffet, we barely had room for cake. I ordered a 10 inch since the 8 inch only served 6-8 people. The smaller would have been plenty and it would have been much cheaper to get the smaller cake!
6.) Not having a rain plan. If there is a forecast for rain, familiarize yourself with where indoor rides and shows are located. We were under a shelter for about 15 minutes during a downpour. If we would have walked another 100 yds we could have been in a show during the rain.
7.) Not checking in for our dining reservation when we arrived. Our reservation at Cape May was for a late brunch. Our whole party was present and just wandering around the resort looking at the decorations (and smelling the giant chocolate carousel). Not one of us went to the restaurant to say that we were there until our actual reservation time. It took another 30 minutes for them to set up a table. We could have told them we were there much earlier to get the process started and saved some time.
8.) Not keeping track of the amount on your gift cards! With four families in attendance, there were a lot of gift cards among us. Somehow we got all mixed up paying with gift cards at Cape May. I thought we had two gift cards left with money on the last day so we ate another sit down meal instead of a QS. Turns out the two gift cards were one in the same and we paid out of pocket for most of the meal. Use www.disneygiftcard.com to help keep track of your money. Tracking the money also helps if someone loses a card (or forgets it at the resort)- you can transfer the balance to another card right away (we actually took advantage of this a couple times).
Things we did right:
1.) Check back often for dining openings. I was up at the crack of dawn trying to make dining reservations at 180 days. It was so hard to find good times. I checked back regularly and was finally able to get all the times we wanted. I also learned that lots of things open up the week of your trip. People hoard the reservations then drop them once their plans firm up. We were able to land 8 am reservations for 7 people at Be Our Guest! It was perfect.
2.) Save a screen shot of your park plan and set it as your lock screen. This was an amazing battery saver! I didn’t have to unlock my phone and pull up my park plan. I could just glance at the screen and know where to go next and see when our FP+ times were.
3.) Splitting memory maker cost. As I mentioned before, we had four families on our trip. We had one person purchase the Memory Maker package and then all linked to her account. All of our ride photos, photo pass shots and photo booth pics showed up in her account. You have more photos to sort through at the end but it helped with the cost!
4.) Renting a nice stroller. We rented a nice double jogging stroller for the trip. It was one of the best splurge purchases of the trip. It was delivered right to the resort and we had full use of it until we turned it back in. It was great for tired feet, nap time, storage, etc. and we could walk so much faster pushing the kids in the stroller, rather than dragging them by the hand. I thought it was going to be mostly for my 1 yr old and 4 year old, but instead it was for the 6 yr old and 4 yr old. I used my carrier for the 1 yr old more than I expected. It was surprising how fast a 6 yr old could tire out!
5.) Using Disney Savings Account. It doesn’t save you a lot of money by itself but when you are stacking savings every little bit helps! We combined all four families into one DSA as well. That way we could hit $1000 more often than if it was just four individual accounts.