Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saving Tips for Disney Trips

By Lisa Green

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A Disney vacation is an investment.  It’s an investment of both time and money and, I like to think, an investment in creating family memories that last much longer than things (like the latest video game or the trendiest jeans).  Oh, there are plenty of ways to save money on your Disney vacation (a post on that at a later date), but I want to talk about saving money FOR a Disney vacation.  If you are the kind of Disney fans we are – saving for that all important dose of Disney becomes a way of life.  It doesn’t feel like “doing without” or “making sacrifices” it’s just doing what needs to be done to get where you want to be.

I wish I could say I’ve joined the extreme couponing bandwagon and get all our household goods virtually free.  Yea…no.  Our methods of saving are not of the “extreme” variety but save money they do and here’s a list of a few that come to mind today:

I take my lunch to work everyday – usually leftovers.  No eating out at lunch unless it’s a special occasion.  Raymond works close to home, so he spends his lunch hour at the house – eating leftovers and taking Junior out for a mid-day run around the yard.  If you think about eating lunch on a workday at a modest $5 a lunch for 50 weeks of the year for the two of us, we’re saving about $2,500 a year!!!

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The Mediterranean in the south of France

We rarely eat out in general.  Before launching the Vacation Initiative, we ate at a sit-down restaurant at least once a week (usually every Saturday) – now it’s more like once a month (if that).  I’m not counting our standing Friday night carry-out pizza from the only pizza joint nearby with a drive-through window – it’s Junior’s big night out, going with us to pick up that pie, and I wouldn’t dream of denying him the pleasure.  I enjoy cooking very much and cook enough hearty meals that there are some pretty tasty leftovers to take care of lunches all week long.

We grow our own herbs and vegetables.  I don’t consider myself a “living off the land” kinda girl (hello…I was raised in the city!), but living in Louisiana, married to a dreamy guy who knows agriculture – planting a kitchen garden is so easy, it’d be silly not to do it.  I grow parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (are you singing along?) and also basil, mint, and oregano.  Raymond takes care of the spring and summer supply of things like peppers, mixed salad greens, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, eggplant, and butternut squash.  I don’t do canning, but I do freeze veggies and am so appreciative of being able to reach in my freezer and make butternut squash soup during the winter – it’s great!

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I learned to groom the dog.  Go ahead – I laugh when I think about it too, but the investment in some electric clippers and dog shampoo sure paid off in spades when Junior grew to 60 lbs and it cost $100 per grooming visit.  Because he’s part standard poodle, our little guy must be clipped regularly or he becomes a huge, shaggy, matted mess!  Just today he got a haircut and he looks pretty cute if I do say so myself.  I’d say I’m saving conservatively $600/year.

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Finally – as you’ve seen if you’ve visited my little Disney blog before - I make my own Disney Christmas ornaments and decorations.  And, as I’ve mentioned, I do not buy craft supplies at regular price EVER.  I also like to make scrapbooks of our Disney trips…not super fancy ones like those incredible scrapbook artists make, but simple ones that allow Megan and Joseph to look back at those good times and remember.  Remember how we were as a family through the years, remember the incredible things we saw and the adventures we had and hopefully, dream about the day they can share those happy times with their own children.

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Holidays at Disney World

Share your tips for saving for Disney vacations!

This article was originally posted on the Living a Disney Life Blog.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Decorations Around Walt Disney World

By Nick

I love Christmas. Always have. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I love Christmas decorations.
On our trip to Walt Disney World last week, I took pictures of many of the decorations around Walt Disney World, and thought I'd share some of them.

Let's start with the resorts. We stayed at the Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

The Wilderness Lodge lobby is arguably the most festive and dramatically decorated on property.





Right off the main lobby:


A wreath behind check in:


Even the Wilderness Lodge Mercantile windows get in on the act:



The entrance to Whispering Canyon Cafe:


The decorations in the lobby of the Villas, located a very short walk from the Lodge itself, are the perfect fit for this mush smaller, cozy area.



Over at the Grand Floridian you'll find a pretty impressive display with a large tree and the Gingerbread House.




A Frozen gingerbread display over at the Contemporary.


The Boardwalk Resort has a Gingerbread Cone stand!


The Boardwalk hallways off of the main lobby:


On the Boardwalk's green:


The Yacht Club has a very nice train layout and nautically themed tree.



The Beach Club has a gingerbread carousel.




Now, let's hop on a bus, boat or monorail and head to the Magic Kingdom, where you will of course find Cinderella Castle covered in ice.




Between the night of Thursday the 11th and Friday the 12th, a giant tree miraculously appeared at the entrance of Main Street! 



Just a few of the windows of the Emporium.




On the day we went to the Animal Kingdom, it was drizzling, and I only got a photo of the large tree at the entrance.


Disney's Hollywood Studios also has a large tree at the main entrance, as well as the very popular Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.




All the parks have touches of the holidays in shops and restaurants. This is inside 50's Prime Time Cafe.


Probably the most festive park is Epcot, because of the Holidays Around the World activities at the World Showcase Pavilions.
There are also festive touches at the entrance and through Future World, primarily in character topiaries.




On to World Showcase.
The tree:


The UK:



France:




Germany:


Inside Biergarten


Norway:


At the American Adventure, you'll find Santa and Mrs. Claus.




Please stop back on Christmas day for more about the Epcot Holiday Storytellers.