Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: 102 Ways to Save Money for and at Walt Disney World

This review for 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World by Lou Mongello is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign. Copies of the book were received free of charge for a review. Opinions are those of the reviewer and do not represent those of the author.  Your opinion may vary.

I am honored to have the opportunity today to review "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World" by Lou Mongello. On a personal note, I first "discovered" Lou Mongello back in the day when I used to download Walt Disney World ride audio from Napster. I had no idea a Disney fan community actually existed until I purchased Lou's awesome Walt Disney World trivia books one trip in Virgin Megastore at Downtown Disney. Since then, I've been a loyal listener of WDW Radio, a podcast that Lou has been the host and producer of since early 2005. I remember this time well, because I had just finished my fall 2004 Walt Disney World College Program, and I was hungry for any and all WDW info!

About "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World"

First of all, as a former cast member, I had to chuckle when I saw the title of the book. While most informational books have 101 ways, I immediately knew the reason why picked 102. Any cast member will tell you, when an attraction breaks down we say it's "101." When it is back up and running, it's "102." I was only a few pages in and I already LOVED the book!

Lou Mongello
Beside that little bit of Disney-geekdom, 102 Ways is a terrific way to prepare for a Walt Disney World vacation. As most people know (Disney fan or not) Walt Disney World can be extraordinarily expensive and the price tag can seem insurmountable. I have found that even with a Disney Vacation Club membership that is paid off, I have a difficult time coming up with money for even just the flight and park tickets. However, by following Lou's simple but genius tips, you can save money for your trip and even during your trip.

What I liked most about the book is that it's broken down into easy-to-comprehend and read sections. Need resort tips? They are all together. Already paid off your trip but need some free things to keep you occupied? There's a section for that. Lou's tips are foolproof and all legitimate. You don't have to worry about getting scammed on fake tickets on 192! 

Noteworthy "Ways" to Save
As a Disney fan, there were some ways that I learned along the way. Others, however, were so creative and on the point that I wanted to mention them to you here:

  • As you probably know, I like to eat. As a loyal listener of WDW Radio, I am confident that Lou would tell you that he likes to eat too. But sometimes after a big breakfast and walking around in the lovely Florida heat and humidity, I am not in the mood for a massive lunch. One of Lou's best tips: You can save nearly $8 per meal by skipping the sides! I'm sure you're aware of the combo platters in the quick service restaurant. Just because it's packaged that way for your ease doesn't mean that you need to buy it that way. I really never thought of that, and that's what makes it such a great tip!
  • Did you know that if you book a vacation package with Disney you can order free, personalized maps? I did. I've ordered them pretty much on every trip I've been on because they are really beautiful. One of Lou's tips was to have the characters autograph the maps instead of spending money on a book. I just love this tip because it must make such a great keepsake and decorative piece at the end of your vacation.
  • Free water. I know I've mentioned it before on this blog, but it's worth mentioning again. Do not dehydrate yourself because bottled water is expensive. Any quick service restaurant will give you a cup of ice water if you request it, for free.
How Can You Save on a Walt Disney World Vacation?
1. Open up your wallet.
2. Purchase Lou Mongello's "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World."
3. Read it, and follow his advice.

Unsure about the book? I highly recommend you take a listen to the WDW Radio show podcast or participate in one of Lou's monthly meets. I know you'll be a dedicated as I am, especially after you save a boatload of money on your next vacation!

Disney expert and podcasting pioneer, Lou Mongello, shares 102 ways you can have the most magical Disney vacation without breaking the bank in this comprehensive, detailed, 197-page guide.  102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World guide is a MUST HAVE for any family planning toward a Disney vacation.

Purchase the Book Here 


Enter to Win a Copy of Your Own + a Walt Disney World Audio Tour from Lou Mongello

If you would like a copy of Lou Mongello's 102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World please enter to win our giveaway below.  Please click here if the entry widget is not shown below.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Disney's Magical Express

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Red. Enjoy the ride as we discuss different types of Disney transportation.

There was a discussion the other day on the Magical Blogorail Facebook page on what we deem the official start of a Walt Disney World vacation. Is it when you first go through the turnstiles? When you arrive at your resort hotel? When you see Cinderella Castle for the first time.

For me, the official start of my Walt Disney World vacation is the moment I step foot on Disney's Magical Express. I am a terrible flyer, so I only start relaxing when I'm off the plane. Disney's Magical Express makes flying into Orlando International Airport so incredibly easy, it helps ease any stress.

What's Disney's Magical Express? It's a free airport transportation and luggage service for Walt Disney World Resort guests. It allows you to bypass luggage pickup and head directly to your resort.

How does it work? When you make your resort reservation, provide the Cast Member (or through the website) with your flight information. Don't know your flight information? You can add it later. Just remember, your luggage tags will be sent approximately three weeks before your vacation. Can't get your tags in time? It's still not a problem. You can pick up your own luggage and take it with you.

Arrival at the Airport. When you arrive at your home airport, make sure each piece of checked luggage has a Magical Express luggage tag before checking them with your airline. This will be the last time you'll see your luggage until you are in your resort room later. Do not pack anything that you may need on the bus. I always pack my medication and a bathing suit in my carry on.

Arrival at Orlando International. You've made it! Now simply proceed to Disney’s Magical Express Welcome Center, located on Side B, Level 1. You will need only your voucher OR your Magic Band to check in. An air conditioned motor coach (with restroom on board) awaits you. You'll line up according to resort. Remember, you do not need to get your luggage! (Exception: If your flight arrives before 5:00 AM or after 10:00 PM get your luggage and bring it to the bus.)

On the bus. Welcome to your motor coach! Remember, there may be multiple stops, but you can expect a 30-40 ride. During this ride, you will be entertained with a video. Looking for a photo when you enter the Walt Disney World gates? Sit toward the front on the right side of the bus. Sit back and relax!

Waiting for your luggage. Your luggage will arrive in approximately three hours. You do not need to be in your room to receive your luggage. Go about your magical vacation and have a great time!

Departing Walt Disney World Resort. All good things must come to an end. The night before you check out, there will be a letter and vouchers delivered to your room which will list the pick-up time and place. It will be approximately three hours before your flight.

Certain airlines participate in Resort Airline Check-In, which allows you to check in for your flight and check your luggage right from your resort. You must arrive with your travel documentation (the TSA will screen you) at least three hours before your flight. Here are the participating airlines:
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • AirTran Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways

Have any questions about Disney's Magical Express? Write to me in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your opinion of this service.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Magical Mouse Schoolhouse.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Point (You are here!)
2nd Stop ~ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse
3rd Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts
4th Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
Final Stop ~ Home is Where the Mouse Is

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. Often, even if you start your day at the crack of dawn, time escapes you and before you know it, it's time for the fireworks and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

However, as we are approaching the Fourth of July, I urge all Magic Kingdom guests to stop what they are doing at 4:45 and walk to the front of the park. Why? So you will have the opportunity to witness the most important part of a Magic Kingdom day that virtually nobody knows about - the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony.

Every single day at 5pm, rain or shine, Main Street USA Cast Members, march out in unison, accompanied by the marching band, Dapper Dans and members of Disney security team. They take take down the American flag in a very careful and precise way.

photo credit: Edward Beavers via photopin cc
It's a time of day that the entrance of Main Street isn't crowded at all. Some folks are leaving and very few are coming in for a park hop. But Disney treats this ceremony with the utmost respect.

For me, the best part of the ceremony is the fact that they choose a United States veteran every single day to participate in the ceremony. This veteran salutes the flag as it is retreating, and after the security team folds it respectfully the veteran is presented with the flag.

photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc
This is by no means a flashy ceremony. There's no characters running around and little fan fare. However, I think that this simplicity is what makes it beautiful, touching and perfect.

Next month, take a break from the hustle and bustle and go watch the Flag Retreat Ceremony. You won't be disappointed!