Packing a Carry on Like a Disney Pro!

Going to Disney World or Disneyland can be very expensive. In fact, many of us budget and save constantly in order to afford a trip. There are certainly many ways to save on your vacation, but there is one area where I hate to see people waste money and that is on luggage fees with the airlines. Many airlines are now charging a fee for checked baggage. If you have a family of four and each of you checks a bag this could mean $100 leaving your pocket before you even touchdown in Orlando! That 100 bucks is best used at the parks on a meal or on souvenirs and should not be thrown away to get your clothing to your destination. It is good to search out an airline such as JetBlue or Southwest that will not charge for your first checked bag. However, if you are flying on a different airline, listen up! I am going to teach you how to pack a carry on like a Disney Pro!

The average family stays at the Walt Disney Resort for 5-6 night, but you can likely pack a carry on for up to ten nights! Don’t believe me? I am going to prove it!

Here is what we are packing:

1. 6-7 tops including 4 T-Shirts, 1 Dress Top, 1 Long Sleeve Shirt, 1 Jacket

2. Poncho in Pouch

3.  5 Bottoms including 3 Shorts and 2 pants

4. 6 pairs of Socks

5. 6 pairs of unmentionables

6. Flip Flops

7. Bathroom Supplies including: Deodorant, Sample sized shampoo, razor, make up, hairbrush and toothbrush and toothpaste, sunscreen, and any medications

8. Bathing Suit

9. Travel Documents including ID, Magical Express Vouchers, itinerary with resort confirmation numbers and restaurant reservation times.

10. Cell phone with Charger.

Now to get it all in a carry on! First of all get a bag that has two sides that you can pack into. Mine is a hard shelled back with two packable sides.

Step 1: Grab a Pillowcase and lay it on your bed flat. Take your shirts (Except the Jacket) and lay them on the pillow case. I lay them one on top of another. Now take the pillow case and roll it up creating a shirt burrito! Put this burrito in the far corner of your bag!

Step 2. Lay out a second pillowcase and follow the same protocol with your shorts and pants. Roll up a pants burrito and place this next to the shirts.

BONUS: If you are staying for a longer time, you can use the pillowcases as laundry bags to tote your clothes to and from the laundry rooms!

Step 3. Pack your make up and bathroom supplies into a plastic zip lock bag. I pack two zip locks; one for my liquids that I stow in the front pocket of the bag for easy access during screening and one for everything else that I put next to my clothing cases. A make up bag also works fine!

Step 4. Throw your flip flops and ponch0 in any unused space. You will notice you also have room for your phone, charger, and a few other items. I always bring a hair straightner and have plenty of space for this.

Step 5. Put your unmentionables, bathing suits, and socks into the other side of the carry on. My bag has a zippered pouch for this purpose.

Step 6. Pack a personal item bag such as large tote that has your wallet, ID, and all Travel Documents that can be easily accessed.

Step 7: Dress for the airport in layers. I wear a comfortable also Florida appropriate pair of pants often of the light cotton variety, a tee shirt with a zip up sweater over it and a jacket. This way you have a jacket and an extra warm shirt to wear if it gets a little chilly!

Finished Product!

Jess is a vacation planner with Pixie Vacations. You can read more from her at and

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Ringing in the New Year at Walt Disney World

New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World

The holidays are in full swing at Walt Disney World Resort, with festive decorations, spirited shows, and holiday parades and parties to bah away any scrooge’s humbugs. Celebrations continue as the year draws to a close, ringing in 2013 with fireworks, dining, and dancing.

Per Disney Parks, here’s a snapshot of the revelry awaiting New Year’s Eve visitors:

  • At Epcot, Guests can dance away 2012 to the beat of the DJs at select pavilions and watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth salute the new year at 7 p.m. and 11:42 p.m. Buffet dining inspired by Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 will take place at World ShowPlace facility, with reservations available from 4:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Priced at $68.67 for adults and $44.37 for children. Park admission is required.
  • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, rock in the New Year with The Mulch, Sweat, and Shears New Year’s Eve Spectacular in front of the Sorcerer Hat icon. The four concert sets will feature pyrotechnics and special effects and will lead up to Mulch, Sweat, and Shears playing live accompaniment to a full scale fireworks spectacular to welcome the start of 2013!
  • At DisneyQuest, located at Downtown Disney, there is a family-friendly cyber celebration from 8 p.m. -1 a.m. Guests are entertained with a DJ Dance Party, character meet and greets, plus unlimited access to games and DisneyQuest attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, Virtual Jungle Cruise, and CyberSpace Mountain. There’s a confetti drop and festive party favors as the clock strikes midnight. Partygoers also get a coupon for a quick service entrée, side, and drink. Purchase tickets at 407-934-7639.
  • At Cirque du Soleil, located at Downtown Disney, all Guests attending the December 31 performances will receive a limited-edition Walt Disney World/Cirque trading pin. Shows are at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. For pricing contact 407/WDW/SEAT.
  • Registered Guests at select Disney resort hotels will be treated to music and entertainment. At Narcoosee’s restaurant (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), for instance, there will be a four-course dining experience for $161.85 for adults and $77.19 for children, plus DJ, balloon artists, and special fireworks viewing.
  • Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort offers a special-ticket New Year’s Eve party from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. with a video DJ and limited viewing of Epcot’s Fireworks.

What better way to start a new year than in Disney style? So let’s hope the Mayan calendar was wrong, lol, so we can celebrate New Year’s Eve with Mickey and his pals!

NOTE: This will be my last article for The Disney Moms. It’s been a fun ride! I wish you all a magical 2013 filled with Disney dreams come true and hope to see you around the blogosphere!

Jodi Whisenhunt is the author of MAGICAL MOUSE SCHOOLHOUSE: Learn While You Play at Walt Disney World Resort, and operates a blog by the same title. Her book is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and  CreateSpace. (Kindle and Nook versions also available.) Come, think outside the textbook and stretch the walls of your home classroom with Walt Disney entertainment!

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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at DHS


From November 9 through January 6, from dusk until park closing you can behold the wonder that is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The amount of lights involved is phenomenal. The display is made up of over 10 miles of rope lighting connected by another 30 miles of extension cords. The extension cords and lights are held together using two million ties. It takes 20,000 man-hours to install the display each holiday season, starting in September and requires 800,000 watts of electricity.

Every 10 minutes or so, the lights dim and then spectacularly spring to life, all beautifully choreographed to traditional holiday music.

On certain nights just to further enhance the magic, the show ends with an enchanted flurry of snow.

When going to visit this attraction, it is worth knowing the story that lead to the exhibit being in Orlando. The Osborne family began their exhibit of lights in Arkansas at the request of their 6-year-old daughter. As the years progressed, they continued to improve the exhibit annually with more features and lights. To aid the display, the Osborne Family even purchased two of the adjacent properties.

At one point the family had over 3 million lights in use. The display lasted for 35 days per year during the Christmas season from sundown to midnight. People from all over traveled to see the spectacle, causing much traffic and congestion. Neighbors grew tired of the chaos and filed an injuction, citing they had concerns emergency vehicles would be unable to access the street. The court case brought about national attention. During this time, Disney contacted the Osbornes requesting that the display be brought to Orlando. The Osbornes, also Disney fans, decided to take Disney up on their offer. In 1995, the display was added to Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios).

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is included with standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park and in my opinion, is not to be missed – keep an eye out for all the Hidden Mickeys and let us know is you spot any new ones this year.

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When Traveling in Disney World, Always Arrive Early!

DSCN9444One thing I always try to be is early.  It doesn’t always happen, but I try hard to arrive early for meetings, appointments or opening times at Disney.  This was particularly important this past weekend when our family was at Walt Disney World.  Sunday morning Disney’s Hollywood Studios was posted to open at 9:00.  We were passing through the turnstiles and in line at Toy Story Mania at 8:52.  There was no rope drop performance or any announcement about the park opening early, it just happened.  We were also surprised with an early opening Saturday morning at EPCOT and were able to get on Soarin’ right at park opening time.

Here are a few tips to help you get to the parks on time (or better yet – early!):

  • Lay out your clothes the night before.  This sounds simple but by having things all laid out the night before, things seem to move much more quickly for our family.
  • Pack at night.  In addition to laying out your clothes, pack your bags the night before with things you can.  If you’re taking cold or frozen items, gather them all in one place in the fridge or freezer so you won’t forget anything.
  • Plan for travel time.  Things happen – there’s traffic, the bus is already full, someone forgets something and has to run back to the room.  Plan a few extra minutes in your routine to allow for these things if they happen.  If they don’t, you’re just at the bus stop or park a few minuets earlier which isn’t a bad thing!
  • Set your alarm.  Getting up and moving is one of the best ways to see the parks and attractions in my opinion.
  • Plan breakfast.  If you’re going to have a sit down meal for breakfast, plan it early enough that you’ll be finished in time to still make it to the park.  Most take about an hour from start to finish (the time you sit down until the time you’ve paid).  Servers are very conscious that you’re trying to get to the park for the opening in our experience.  Not having a big meal, grab something you could eat while you’re in line waiting for the park to open.

If you happen to arrive early and need something to do, here are a few ideas:

  • Look for Hidden Mickeys.  These could be anywhere and our family loves looking for them!
  • Check out the details.  One thing Disney does incredibly well is the details.  Take a few minutes and look at the landscaping, decorations or other scenery around you.
  • Take some pictures.  In my opinion you can never have too many pictures! Take some you might not normally take since you have the extra time.  Break out the Mickey ears, take a silly picture or something else you might not stop your busy day for.
  • Chat with the Cast Members.  They’ve got to be there working so why not learn a bit about them or have them answer a question if you need information about the park or a specific attraction.

Do you like to arrive early?  What are your tips for getting up and moving in the mornings?

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History in the Parks: Voice Behind the Cricket

Not long ago I decided that I wanted to take up the ukelele…

I know what you are thinking: “What the heck does that have to do with Jiminey Cricket?  Well, for that we must quit imagining we are in the Disney Parks and instead imagine we are somewhere else in American history.  Let’s go back to the early 1900s where a young man named Cliff Edwards was making some money singing in local movie theatres and saloons.  By 1917 he was living in Chicago making a living as a performer AND he had taken up the ukelele.  He was affectionately nicknamed “Ukelele Ike”.  He recorded classics such as “Singin in the Rain” and “It Had to be You” and starred in movies and vaudville.

This is not the happiest of stories however, because not long after being cast as the voice of everyone’s favorite cricket (who we all know as Pinnochio’s bestie the host for Magic Kingdoms’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show) a series of marriages and divorces left him alone.  Ukelele Ike had his vices too and got caught up in drugs and alcohol.  He never enjoyed the prosperity he did early in his career again, but he could often be found wandering around Walt Disney Studios so that he would always be available to them for voiceovers.  And he would later be the voice of Jim Crow in Dumbo. When he passed away in 1971 it came out that the Walt Disney company had been quietly paying for his medical bills and they paid for his burial expenses as well.

This short sad story isn’t meant to depress or sadden you, though.  It’s to remind you that just like Walt Disney Studios took care of Cliff Edwards when they could and when he needed it, so must all dreamers stick together.  Next time you hear “When You Wish Upon a Star” think of the boy who sang in movie theatres and made his way up to singing in movies… and think of just how life can rise you up it can bring you down. Just as dreams come true they can be taken away so embrace the moment and remember that “the very things that held you down are gonna carry you up”.

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Disney Christmas Movies

Alas, our family will not be traveling to Disney World this year for Christmas. Like you, this time of year is crazy busy with school activities, holiday shopping and family gatherings so we just could not work it into our schedule, or our budget.

Not to worry! Our family will still have a Disney Christmas! We have hung our Disney ornaments, the Princess stockings are hanging from the mantle, and I suspect that Santa will be leaving a few gifts from the “World” under the Christmas tree.

In the mean time, let’s celebrate a Disney Christmas movie night at home! Set aside some time and have the family don their favorite Disney outfits and wear their mouse ears. Gather snacks that remind you of your time in the parks such as Mickey shaped cookies, popcorn, ice cream, or rice crispy treats. Now it’s time to pick a movie!

Disney has released lots of holiday movies starring Mickey and his friends that seldom make it to cable and network television! Here are just a few to choose from:

dchristmas movie a

• Mickey’s Christmas Carol
• Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas
• Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas
• Mickey’s Christmas Carol
• Disney Princesses Christmas of Enchantment
• Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas
• Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse
• Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, too
• Winnie the Pooh Seasons of Giving
• Winnie the Pooh a Very Merry Pooh Year
• Pluto’s Christmas Tree
• Disney Classic Holiday Stories


•Happy Holidays with Dark Wing Duck and Goofy
• Jiminy Cricket’s Christmas
• A Disney Christmas Gift
• 101 Dalmatians Christmas
• Alvin and the Chipmunks: Alvin’s Christmas Carol
• A Chipmunk Celebration
• Disney Celebrates Christmas with Mickey
• A Walt Disney Christmas
• A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa
• A Muppet Christmas Carol
• Countdown to Christmas

mickey clubhouse

If you have pre-school kids, consider a movie featuring Disney Playhouse/Disney Channel characters:

• Prep and Landing
• Rolie Polie Olie – A Rolie Polie Christmas
• Rolie Polie Olie – Olie’s winter wonderland
• Disney Channel Holiday
• Recess Christmas: Miracle on 3rd Street
• Spots Magical Christmas
• Phineas and Pherb: A Very Perry Christmas
• Doug’s Secret Christmas
• A Very Playhouse Disney Holiday
• Very Merry Christmas Sing Along Songs
• Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa

babes in toyland_

If your family prefers something that is not animated, there are plenty to choose from:

•One Magic Christmas
•Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure
•I’ll be home for Christmas
• A Mom for Christmas
• The Christmas Star
• Eloise at Christmas Time
• The Small One
• Santa Who?
• Snowball Express
• Santa Paws
• Santa Buddies
• A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carry
• Nightmare Before Christmas
• The Santa Clause 1, 2, 3
•Babe’s In Toyland


Last but not least, don’t forget the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade! The parade will air on Christmas Day on the ABC Television Network from 10 a.m.-noon in the Eastern time zone, and 9-11 a.m. in the Central, Mountain, Pacific time zones. The show also will air in Canada on CBC Network, and around the globe on the American Forces Network.

A Disney movie is the perfect opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle and spend quality time with the family.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

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The Guest Assistance Card: For Guests with Special Needs


By Frances.

When you have a special need no matter how small or large, it can infringe on your vacation. It takes extra planning to make sure that you don’t have unknown stress. One way Disney does this is with a Guest Accommodation Pass.

Some  special needs that allow you to receive  a GAC for is: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADD/ADHA, foot, knee or back problems, heat and sun problems, claustrophobia and crowd phobias. There could also be others but you would need to contact someone at Guest Relations to find out specifics. This card is also given at the sole discretion of Disney Cast Members.  Please be considerate. If you can stand in line, please do so. This card shouldn’t be abused by able bodies.

How Do I get a Guest Assistance Card? Getting a GAC is simple if you or your child has special needs:

  • Visit Guest Relations in one of the four theme parks with the child or person that needs the GAC.

Guest Relations Locations: ~ Magic Kingdom: Inside Town Hall on Main Street  ~ EPCOT: To the left of Spaceship Earth after the restrooms & gift shop ~ Animal Kingdom: After you enter the park, it’s immediately to your left near locker rentals ~ Hollywood Studios: After you enter the park, it’s immediately to the left

  • Explain to the cast member that you or your child has special needs and you would like to know about the Guest Assistance Card. The cast member can’t ask you for documentation but can ask kind of condition
  • If the medical condition is visible, medical documentation can help make aquiring the GAC easier.
  • The cast member will ask for the your or your child’s name, dates of your vacation and the number in your party (up to six guests in total). The pass is good for the lenghth of your star at the Disney Resorts.
  • Be sure to take the person who needs the GAC with you to Guest Relations. This way cast Members know this person is actual in the park, as people have taken advantge of the system.

How Do I use a Guest Assistance Card?

  • If there is a Fast Pass entrance, you would show your pass to the cast member.
  • If there isn’t a Fast Pass for a specific ride, you would go the exit of the ride.
  • The person who’s name is on GAC and their guests (up to 5 guests + themselves) can enter together and ride the ride.
  • Guest Relations can also give you a map of hanicap accessible entrances.

During the busier seasons, you may be given a time to come back and ride the ride. The GAC  doesn’t give you immediate access to the ride.

What happens if I lose my card?

  • All you have to do is repeat the process of it being issued.

Other important things to know

The GAC is the only way you will be allowed to use a stroller as a wheelchair. Without a GAC that specifies this accommodation, the stroller will not be permitted in queues, rides, etc.

stroller GAC

GACs are issued in various formats according to your need. If you are disabled in any way, whether or not you are in a wheelchair, you need to acurately describe your disability and needs to the Guest Relations Cast Member. He or she will issue the most appropriate GAC for your condition. Although they are not medical professionals, Guest Relations Cast Members are highly trained in deciding the most appropriate GAC for each situation.

Make sure that you fully understand exactly what specific accommodations your GAC provides.

On a personal note: Please be considerate. If you can stand in line, please do so. This card shouldn’t be abused by able bodies. My son has autism and this card has allowed us to enjoy our vacation and has actually been a type of therapy for him. I one day hope that I won’t have to use this card for him. If the wait is short, we stand in line with everyone else. It may seem very trivial for most people but it’s a huge accomplishment for him. I would hate for this service to disappear from abuse.

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Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Jazz music is in the air!  There are a few gators playing instruments on your way  the pool, but no worries these guys are friendly!  Oh, watch out!  There’s a sea monster!  Wait, that’s the slide into the pool!

Port Orleans Pool

Port Orleans Pool

Welcome to the Big Easy at Disney!

Port Orleans French Quarter Sign

Port Orleans French Quarter Sign

Here’s the Facts:

The French Quarter is a Moderate Resort.  However, this is the only Moderate Resort without a sit down restaurant.  However, you can head to her “sister” resort (Port Orleans – Riverside) a short walk away to dine at Boatwright’s Dining Hall.

Disney Port Orleans French Quarter Hotel Exterior

Disney Port Orleans French Quarter Hotel Exterior

It’s the smallest resort on the Disney Property.  There’s only 1 big pool, with a great serpent slide!   There’s also a small round wading pool for your tiny ones the water is only about a foot deep.

There are 3 rooms options – Standard, Garden, and Water Views (pool or river).

For a quick bite or quick service meal head to Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside are the only Moderate Resorts with another means of transportation besides a bus.  You can take a lovely boat ride down the Sassagoula River to Downtown Disney.

Port Orleans Boat to Downtown Disney

Port Orleans Boat to Downtown Disney

Laundry Facilities, Mini Fridges in rooms, of course a gift store.

For the kids:
There is a Playground & Game Room, sometimes even Movies out by the pool at night.

For the Adults:
Jacuzzi, Child Care Services,  Horse Drawn Carriage Rides (for an additional cost), or visit the Scat Cat’s Lounge off the lobby, in addition to the poolside bar both offer adult drinks.
I’ve stayed at the French Quarter several times, this is one of my favorite resorts.  I enjoy the cozy environment with it being a small resort.  My daughter (4 years old), loves this resort also.  It is very kid friendly with the gator statues and bright colors.  However, as an adult it is also very romantic at night.  Walking around the cobblestone “street’s” along the river is very relaxing.

Brande Grieder – My crew and I hail from New Jersey.  I love to cook, go to the beach, and of course we are Disney Addicts!  I’m always on the search for best deals and happening for our next trip to Mickey’s House!


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What Does Your Disney Princess Want For Christmas? Jewelry!

By Amanda of Disney’s Cheapskate Princess.

Christmas will soon be here, and what is the one thing almost all Disney Princesses love? Jewelry! If you can’t make it to Disney for the holidays, then just take a peak at five of the fabulous jewelry pieces available online at the

Birthstone Mickey Mouse Earrings

These Mickey Mouse Icon Earrings give your princess a reason to celebrate every day of the year. With an anti-tarnish finish, these ear rings are $14.95 before shipping.

Mickey Mouse Icon Earrings by Arribas

These Mickey Mouse ear rings feature one half sparkling Swarovski crystals and the other a polished smooth finish, and they are $19.95 before shipping.

Mickey Mouse Key Necklace by Arribas

This elegant key pendant features the famed Mickey icon cutout within a sparkling heart-shaped setting of Swarovski crystals, and it sells for $35.00 before shipping.

Pink Cinderella Slipper Necklace by Arribas

Designed by Arribas Brothers, this elegant enamel slipper is accented with a heart of clear Swarovski crystal so your princess will…sparkle like a princess! This necklace sells for $25 before shipping.

Sparkling Mickey Mouse Earring Set

This sparkling Mickey Mouse ear-ring set features Mickey ear rings adorned with crystals and cubic zirconia studded half-hoops. These stunning silver earrings can be worn separately or together, with a combined price of $34.95 before shipping.

Like to do some Christmas shopping, or just a little window shopping? Use this link to access


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

Come see us at Disney’s Cheapskate Princess on Facebook and Cheapskate Princess on Pinterest.

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Are you from Canada, Eh?

Something curious happens to us every time we travel to Disney, somehow cast members always recognize us as Canadian. It never happens when we travel anywhere else in the U.S., but somehow Cast Members always ask us where in Canada we’re from. It’s not like we drape ourselves in a maple leaf flag as we tackle the parks. Although the occasional “eh” may slip out from time to time, I could not discern anything that obviously sets us apart. I was so curious I began asking Cast Members how they could tell we were from Canada.

The first time it happened I was ordering a yogurt at the yogurt station at Port Orleans Riverside and the young man behind the counter adding the toppings asked me if I was Canadian. Surprised, I asked how he could tell. Much to my surprise, he said because I asked for granola on my yogurt, apparently Canadians always get granola on their yogurt.

Later that day, a photographer taking our picture at Disney Studios, asked me again if we were Canadian. Now, I was starting to get a complex! How could he tell? Apparently my involuntary “eh” had come out when I said, “Thanks a lot, eh!” Okay, that’s an easy one. But then it happened again and again with our servers at restaurants. Sure, we got all the trivia right while waiting for our table at Le Cellier ;o) but surely at other restaurants we would blend right in.

Canadian Chocolate “Moose” at Le Cellier

Interestingly enough, despite our countries being so similar, we use different words for everyday things. Here are some giveaways, that our observant cast members picked up on: We ordered “POP” instead of “SODA” for dinner. We asked for extra “SERVIETTES” instead of “NAPKINS” when my daughter made a mess, and asked where the nearest “WASHROOM” was, instead of a “RESTROOM”.

Really subtle hints, but for people so accustomed to welcoming people from around the world, easy tells. It’s a little thing, but I think it’s a testament to the attention to detail and a sincere interest Cast Members bestow upon us guests and what makes Disney World so special.

While cast members recognize us as Canadians, fellow travelers often mistake us for alumni of various colleges thanks to my husband’s vast college t-shirt and hat collection. Whenever, I’d lose track of him at WDW, I’d ask my oldest daughter where Dad had gone off to, and she’d point to him and say, “Daddy’s made another new friend.” It never fails, almost daily he’d get stopped by someone that happened to go to the college adorned on his hat or t-shirt. What inevitably ensued was a conversation about football and sports.  It was a great way to meet people from all over the U.S ;o)

Notice the University of Buffalo hat and Notre Dame T-shirt!

And while we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back on October 8th, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy American Thanksgiving!

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