Posted by: skourasfam | June 25, 2010

Everything I Know About How To Plan a Disney Vacation {Part 3}

It’s my final post on my Disney knowledge and I hope it has helped!   Go HERE for Planning, Costs/Budget, Hotel, Parks & Food Advice and go HERE for information on Dining Plan Tips and go HERE for Must Do’s, Extra Magic Hours & Character Greetings.

My last post covers Photo Pass, Pin Trading, Gifts, Other/Misc

Photo Pass:  If you’ve been to Disney before, you may remember the stores in each of the parks where you could buy the pictures that the “Disney Photographers” took.  Those days are pretty long gone and it’s on to a bigger, easier and better way of doing things.   The photo pass is a card that you are given by the Disney Photo Pass photographers.  You keep the same one throughout your visit {or they’ll give you another one if you forget yours at your hotel or in your car}.  It stores all your photos and then you can go to a local “photo pass” printing shop or you can view them online and buy them any way you’d like.  My recommendation is to buy the Photo CD, this way you get all the photos that were taken of you for your entire trip by any of the photo pass photographers.  Disney is smart because they station these photographers everywhere and it’s a great opportunity to get a picture with your WHOLE family.  They have cool borders and characters you can add to the pictures as part of the deal.  I have found a LINK to “pre purchase” the CD for a $30 savings or $100.  The last time we went, we stopped at most every Photo Pass location and we ended up with about 250 pictures on our CD.   They are allowed closer to the characters during the greetings and they take more pictures than you & generally have their cameras on the best setting for that particular location.   I have gotten some great pictures from their CD’s and find that it is well worth it.   One tip:  The photo pass has an individual code on the back that you will have to type into the photo pass web site to view your pictures.  If you lose the card, you’ve lost the code and more than likely, you’ve lost the pictures too.  I am not even sure how they would go about locating them.  I always take a picture of the back of the card with my own camera, this way, I don’t lose the code if I lose the card.  {learned that the hard way}

Pin Trading:  I have to say this is one thing that I have not “completely” gotten into yet.  Our friends’ kids were into it last year when we went and it seemed that they had a lot of fun doing it.  Disney sells pins representing every single aspect of “Disney magic” and they are collectors items.  You wear them on a lanyard and you can trade pins with other people but mostly you can trade with ANY Disney employee.  It’s great for kids because they’ll get a yes every time.  The first time we went, we bought a lanyard and filled it with pins as reminders of all the places we’ve gone and the events we’ve experienced.  We had no intention of trading them.  From what I understand the ones you want to trade go on a different lanyard that you wear into the parks {kind of reminds me of silly bands but more expensive}  If you go HERE, I am sure you can get all the information that you need to make your “trading experience” complete.

Gifts:  Don’t we all want everything we see when we are in the mall Disney Store?  I know I do.  Add about $10 to every one of those things if you want to buy them at Disney World.   We certainly budget money to buy a thing or two don’t get me wrong, but to buy in excess and have the kiddos begging for things in every store can get old and expensive real fast.  So, I kill two birds with one stone and use “mickey mouse” gifts as a way to not only buy the items in advance for WAY less, but also get good behavior on a daily basis.  I stole this from a friend and we’ve done it the last two times we’ve gone and it’s worked beautifully.  Basically we buy one or two little things in advance for each day we are there.  We tell Abbey that Mickey Mouse is watching her in the parks and if she has good behavior, Mickey might “bring” her something and leave it in the room as a thank you for being good.  I pack these “gifts” in a big duffel bag and take them along.   To give you an idea of what I mean by gift, Disney has a semi-annual sale where most everything in the store is on sale at a deep clearance price.  One of the days where we go to the magic kingdom, I’ll plan on giving a mickey gift that’s maybe a $5 T-Shirt with a princess on it or maybe a coloring book and crayons from the dollar store.   Last year, we went for seven days and the gifts in all were $50.  One stuffed animal at a park is $29.50, so I think I did pretty well.  Abbey rarely asked for presents because she was always waiting to see what her “surprise” was from Mickey back at the hotel.  When things got a little cranky we had the option of gently reminding her that “mickey is watching” and when used, it usually got some attention and corrected behavior.   To perfect the surprise part, Brian would let me off near the room at the end of the day and then he’d go “park” the car – luckily abbey was zonked out most of the time from the car ride {five minutes} but it gave me that time to put the gift out.  She never caught on that it was me doing it – but if you have kids even one year older, you might want to get more tricky or just tell them you have something for them as a surprise at the end of a fun day.  Either way – you save money and they get the same amount of stuff.

Disney World Wal Mart:  If you didn’t bring enough stuff or need something for your stay, there’s a wal mart right near the Gaylord Casino that has a “Disney Department” no lie.  They have everything you want and more and it’s half the price of the parks for the same merchandise.  Give it a thought.

Misc./Other Stuff:  We’ve not done the Disney Quest at Downtown Disney or any of the water parks, but we hear they are great {like most everything else at Disney}.   If you take one of those “days off the parks” you may want to check out the put put golf that you’ll get a free coupon for if you buy a Disney vacation package.   

“Refillable Mug” information.  If you purchase a vacation package, it will come with a refillable mug for each person on the meal plan.  It can be purchased as well for about $13 and can be refilled at all of the hotel vending machines as many times as you want for the length of your stay.  People get VERY touchy about bringing “outdated” refillable mugs and getting drinks for free.  {as in you got one last year and now you’re bringing it back for the second year and using it again without paying again}  If you get the free mug, just use that one instead of bringing back your old ones.   If you dont’ get a package, buy the cup for $13, it’s worth the money.  If you want to see the cat fight over the mug story – there are some on mouse buzz that will make you laugh. 

I love following Blogs and I have found a Disney Food Blog that I like.  Go HERE to check it out.  You can even sign up to receive a newsletter.   Click on Best Disney World Restaurants and see someone elses opinion.  This blogger even put the Dole Whip Floats that I talked about in the dining post as one of the top five things in Disney to use your snack credits for.   You can take in your own drinks {which is a new thing for Disney} so don’t use your snack credits on water, use them on well… go HERE and feast your eyes. 

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival:  If you go during that time of year – it’s a MUST.  There are food vendors set up in every country around the world showcase.  They are little snack size portions and they pack a powerful punch.  Amazing food, made fresh by chef’s from all around the world.  Downside?  Each item is between $3 – $5 which can get pretty expensive if you like to eat.  The trick is to save up your “snack” credits from your meal plan.  Not sure how it is now but last year {2009} they allowed us to use our snack credits for the festival.  It was an amazing time!  I’d plan a trip to be there during that time just for the festival.  It’s just that good.

I am even surprised at how much information I have about Disney.  Sharing it all has gotten me all worked up to go back.  May 2011, here we come!


  1. […] HERE to read about Photo Pass, Pin Trading, Gifts & […]

  2. […] HERE to read about Photo Pass, Pin Trading, Gifts & […]

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