Wednesday, July 14, 2010

FREE Dining!!!

Okay, this is absolutely the BEST program that Disney has to offer and although it keeps changing every couple of years, it's still the best deal around.  Disney has extended their FREE Dining promotion through selected dates in December.  

For those of you who are not familiar with the Disney dining program, let me give you a little bit of a history.  Back in 1998 when we first went on our family trip, we booked our package deal with our hotel (All-Star Music), our passes (Park Hopper Plus) and then were given the option to add food.  Now back then, you paid in to the plan with a certain dollar amount per person, per day.  I think it was $34 per adult and maybe $15 per child.  No matter what, we paid in to it and then could spend it no matter how we wanted; if we wanted to eat at fast food style places for all of our meal, we could.  If we wanted to starve all day and then eat at the most expensive restaurants for dinner, we could.  The only down side was that if you did NOT use all of your money, you lost it.  

So we went, we spent, we ate like royalty!  Literally, we ate at the castle!  We had budgeted it down to the last penny and on our last night we went for a late dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios (then, MGM).  We sat outside, the park was near closing so it was quiet, we ordered and then...they forgot about us!  Seriously, for 45 minutes we were invisible!  So when our server FINALLY remembered us, they comped the meal!  Sure it was a sweet deal but now I was left with $75 in my food account that I was going to lose because we were leaving after dinner to go home!  Thinking fast, we went back to All-Star Music, went to the food court and LOADED our cooler up with food and drinks for the ride home and some snacks for a later date.  Sweet!

But I digress, so back then you paid in to the plan, then Disney changed it and you got dining credits and every year at some point, Disney offers free dining to it's resort guests.  You would get one counter service meal, one table service meal and one snack per person in your group, per NIGHT.  That is a tricky little catch but if you think about it, you are there say five days but only four NIGHTS!  So you end up short a day.  

Now, the food plan has changed again and depending on the TYPE of resort you stay at (Value, Moderate, Deluxe) will depend on what kind of food plan you are eligible for.  So Value resort guests get the quick-service plan which includes 2 counter service meals and 2 snacks per person in your party per NIGHT.  If you are staying at a moderate or deluxe resort you get the other package of one counter, one table, one snack per night.

Either way, the dining is FREE when  you book right now for most dates for the rest of 2010.  You can save close to $600 on a family of four with a deal like that!  Don't miss it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mouse for Less

Many, many, many years ago (maybe 1997?) when I was planning our family's very first trip to Walt Disney World, I was amazed at the amount of information I could find on the internet.  Yes, back in 1997 it was all pretty new to me!  So through my searchings I found a group through Yahoo Groups called "Disney Dollarless".  Well, this was a WONDER for me because it was a group of people just like me who wanted to go to WDW and didn't have a lot of money.  

I became a member of this group and over the years I have seen it evolve and grow in to something so much bigger than those early days.  Now under the name of "The Mouse for Less", this group is not only a yahoo group, but they now have a web-site and some of it's members have gone on to start their own travel company called "The Magic for Less" - which is who I use every time we book and Ric is my go-to travel guy!
 Honestly, in all of my years of going to Walt Disney World and booking our trips and helping so many others book and plan their trips, I could not have done it without the help of these great sites.  

The Mouse for Less website is full of information to help you plan your trip and get information, but if you join them on Yahoo Groups, you can actually interact with other Disney fanatics and ask questions and get honest answers on what's good, what's not, what's worth doing and what's not.  One of the best programs that they offer to their members is their postcard program.  I love this...I know it has another, more magical name, but for right now it has escaped me!  Sorry!  Anyway, you put in a request with them (on the yahoo group) and say when you are going to WDW, who your favorite Disney character is and something that you would like said.  So what they do is, one of the members who is actually AT Disney will get a postcard and send it to you FROM the character of your choice.

For example, on our family reunion trip back in 2001, it was our first trip with our now-ten year old and the second trip for our now-18 year old.  Well, back then our older son was overcoming his fear of the Haunted Mansion and his favorite characters at the time were Pooh and Tigger.  So we got a postcard FROM Pooh and Tigger telling him that they couldn't wait to see him and look forward to him riding the Haunted Mansion!  He loved it!  On the first trip that I had taken with my mom since 1981, I had Minnie Mouse send her a postcard telling her how excited she was to see her again.  It was priceless!

Disney fans are some of the sweetest people I know and we all share that sense of joy, wonder and excitement and really, The Mouse for Less group has just blessed the masses with it's wisdom.  Check them out!