Bring a Cooler into WDW

Did you know you can bring in a soft sided cooler into the WDW Theme and Water Parks? Yippee! Another way to save money!! It is also a way for those with dietary issues can enjoy without worry.

Here are the official cooler rules:

Theme Parks:

  • Coolers must be smaller than 24″L x 15″W x 18″H
  • Coolers can be stored in lockers (the above size would fit in the large locker)
  • Wheeled coolers are not permitted
  • Must be a soft sided cooler
  • No glass allowed
  • No alcoholic beverages permitted
  • No coolers are allowed at Animal Kingdom for the safety of the animals

Water Parks:

  • Coolers are permitted, including wheeled coolers
  • No glass allowed
  • No alcoholic beverages permitted
  • No cooler storage is available
  • Wagons are not permitted

Some Tips from The Mouse Ear Momma:

  • Make sure you inform the security upon entering the park that you have a guest with food allergies/intolerance, diabetes, or metabolic disorder.
  • Freeze water bottles and use as ice packs in your cooler
  • Remember that Central Florida is steamy (and can be at any point of the year)
  • Pack food that will not spoil; avoid lunch meat, dairy products, and anything that will smash or bruise easily (like bananas). Think PB&J, apple juice, squeeze apple sauce, fruit strips.
  • Pack small portions; you will want to a quick grab and go pick me ups between rides.
  • Don’t forget your Ziploc bags; helpful if you have any leftovers from your stash or a restaurant.
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What you need to know about park tickets…

One of the most common questions is about the different types of park tickets. This can be very confusing for anyone who is not a WDW nut like myself. So here are the answers to those questions!

Theme Park Tickets:

  • These are tickets for admission into the 4 Walt Disney World Parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, & Animal Kingdom)
  • Adult tickets are for ages 10 +, Child’s tickets are ages 3-9, Children under 3 are free of charge for tickets (and dining plan)
  • Base Ticket: Allows entry into ONE park per day. You can leave and reenter later in the day, but you must return to the same park.
  • The ticket cost varies based on how many days you purchase. The per day ticket cost is less per day for each additional day you add. The longer you play, the less you pay! is the tagline used by WDW.
  • Park Hopper option is an add on to your base ticket that allows you to enter more than one park per day.
  • Water Parks and More option is another add on to your base ticket that gives you access to the following: Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, DisneyQuest Indoor theme park, Oak Trail Golf Course, Fantasia Gardens & Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses.
  • WP&M option does have some limitations. You cannot hop between these activities, you can return to the same one. Mini Golf must be played prior to 4pm as well.
  • Each of the add on options are a flat rate per ticket of $62.84/ticket including tax, but if you add both it is $89.46/ticket including tax. This is the cost for both adult and child tickets.
  • Tickets expire 14 days after the first use.
  • Tickets cannot be used by more than 1 person. Disney uses a biometric finger scan upon entry to guarantee this.
  • This is a great site to look at the prices from www.allears.net

There are reputable discount ticket agents out there, but I prefer to purchase mine through WDW. If you purchase through a second party vendor and there is a problem, Disney is less flexible about assisting you. I have priced AAA as well and when you include the tax, AAA can be more expensive than buying from WDW directly. Now, if you are someone who needs a travel agent to handle the details, then go for it. In this day and age of Internet, it seems much easier to make your own arrangements and do  your own research. I have found that travel agents are happy to make the commission but might not have the knowledge of all the aspects of Disney outside of a training session.

mymagic+What are the MYMagic + bands you ask…Soon there will be wrist bands instead of cards that will contain all of your information for ticketing, dining, room key and charging back to your room. In May, they had the RFID readers at Hollywood Studios and Epcot and you just placed your card in front of the Mickey and waited to the biometric scanner for your finger. It will also include your fastpasses if you so choose, but you will need torfid at pooh schedule your fastpasses prior to leaving for your trip similar to dining. But that is a topic for another article. This is an example of one at the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Words of warning:

  • Do not purchase used tickets! Disney uses biometric scanners to link the ticket to the individual. You can’t use anyone’s ticket but your own. So avoid eBay and Craigslist for discount tickets.
  • If you have old tickets with no expiration, you must trade them in at a ticket window or WDW hotel concierge desk. Disney now uses RFID technology and you need a ticket with a chip to get past the scanners.
  • Your tickets do expire 14 days after the first use, so make sure you use all your days or get the no expiration option. I find the no expiration a waste of money, but I plan my days to utilize them.

Mousekeeping & Tipping

I have written a previous article about the cast members at Disney. Now it is time to focus on the people who make your hotel room your home.

Mousekeeping is the term WDW uses for its housekeeping staff. These people work very hard every day to make sure you come back from the park to a clean room full of surprises. They are happy to leave extra towels, coffee, or shampoo if you ask. They set up the kids toys in a fun way to make coming back to the room magical. The mousekeeping staff deserves a tip and is allowed to take it. One way to make your mornings go more smoothly is to put your tips for each day into an envelope before you leave for your trip. Make enough envelopes for each day of your trip and write your little housekeeping thank you note on them. Continue reading

Update: Disney’s Photopass Service

I love Disney’s Photopass Service. I think that it is totally worth the money if you utilize it correctly and plan ahead. Our first few trips, we didn’t use photopass and I regret that because we have so few pictures of our whole family. The photographers will take pictures with your camera, but their photos will be better!

To get the most bang for your buck, stop at every photographer you see in all the parks. Let’s be honest, you can’t have too many pictures of your family in front of the castle! There are photgraphers in every park. Here is a map and some tips of all the photopass photographers. Disney Photopass Map

Continue reading

The Importance of Dining Reservations

If you are new to WDW, you will see all sorts of information on Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). If character meals & where you eat are important to you then I would highly recommend doing your dining reservations as soon as you book your trip. You can book dining without being on property and even before you book your trip.

Here is how it works: Continue reading

Disney is increasing ticket prices!

Disney is increasing the prices on park tickets, park hoppers, etc. tomorrow June 3rd! If you have a trip coming up and are planning on buying the tickets when you get there, it might be a good idea to do it today. Here is more info on the price increase.

Update: Disney’s Photopass Service

I love Disney’s Photopass Service. I think that it is totally worth the money if you utilize it correctly and plan ahead. Our first few trips, we didn’t use photopass and I regret that because we have so few pictures of our whole family. The photographers will take pictures with your camera, but their photos will be better!

To get the most bang for your buck, stop at every photographer you see in all the parks. Let’s be honest, you can’t have too many pictures of your family in front of the castle! There are photgraphers in every park. Here is a map and some tips of all the photopass photographers. Disney Photopass Map Continue reading

Disney Dining Plan – Updated 2013

Disney Dining Plan can be confusing. If you don’t do the background research, you definitely will not get the best value for your money. It can be a very positive experience and save you a ton of money on an already expensive trip. I like the Dining plan because our meals are paid for before we leave. We don’t come home from a trip having spent more money that we wanted to spend (except on drinking maybe).

Disney Dining standard plan costs $58.66 per adult and $18.88 per child (3-9) for each night of your stay. Yes, Disney considers children “adults” from age 10.  There is a less expensive quick service plan, which doesn’t include table service restaurants. The Deluxe plan gives you 3 meals each day, either quick or table service, but this is upwards of $100 per person. Continue reading

Strollers

Renting strollers in the parks can be very expensive. It is $15/day for a single stroller and $31/day for a double. You cannot take these out of the park which can make a long walk back the hotel transportation.

I have traveled with 2 umbrella strollers and had success but my kids are getting too big for these now:(

I have also used outside sources for stroller rental. You sign up and pay online, they drop the jogging stroller off at bell services and you have it for the entirety of your trip. I loved this but you do have to drag them onto buses and boats. When you have a full bus at closing, standing with a folded double jogging stroller is a little tiresome (especially for my hubby). Continue reading