Mamasource: 50% Off Escape Monthly (Luxury Vacation in a Box) + Free Shipping

mamasource

This is such a fun idea…especially this time of year when we all start longing for vacation. Hurry over to Mamasource  and you can pay just $25 for Escape Monthly Destination-Themed Luxury Product Box + Free Shipping! (a $50 value)

Please note: Limited quantity available and this is an Instant Voucher
escape monthly

Highlights

-Take a break and treat yourself to luxurious, worldwide experiences!

-Every month, Escape Monthly delivers destination-themed boxes containing $100 worth goodies – including local artisan-crafted bath and beauty products, gourmet treats and delicacies, gift certificates, and more to help you relax and unwind

[Read more…]

FREE Disney Vacation Planning DVD

You can request a Free Disney Vacation Planning DVD while supplies last by simply clicking on the banner above.

Below are photos of the DVD I requested when this offer was previously available. My 6 year old son REALLY enjoyed it. 🙂

         dvd         disneydvd

Also, be sure to check on my post: Disney World on a Budget

Other Post You May Enjoy:

Year of the Staycation: Enjoying Over 85 of America’s Cities on a Budget

Chattanooga Staycation: Enjoying The Scenic City on The Cheap

Frugal Tip: Using Daily Deal Sites to Save on Family Activities

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to the Disclosure Policy for more details. Photo Credit: LCOTC

Disney World on a Budget

disneyworld

Guest Post by Megan

At the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, there’s an ideal photo spot where Mickey’s face is landscaped into the hill out of plants. Above this cleverly designed flower bed, there is a banner which states “Let the Memories Begin!” Our family set out to do just that. We tackled our first Disney adventure on a very tight budget. I will not be listing the amount of money we spent on food, accommodations, and souvenirs, however in this post, I will be sharing the tricks we used to cut costs and still make our Disney trip memorable without breaking the bank.

disney1

THE HOTEL

Our accommodations were located in Downtown Disney at the Royal Plaza Hotel. We were fortunate to be able to stay at this hotel for free due to my husband attending a conference there and his employer paying for lodging. If you should choose to stay in the Downtown Disney area, there are pros and cons to this location.

The pros were the close proximity to Downtown Disney itself where there is shopping and restaurants galore! We happened to be there on St. Patrick’s Day and found live music playing almost around every corner. It was really fun! Another bonus to Downtown Disney is that they have buses to shuttle you from your hotel to the various parks. By taking the bus, you avoid paying the parking fee at the Disney theme park. Just be prepared to have a 15-30 minute ride to your destination.

The hotel also offers a pool and hot tub. Since we stayed for 5 days, but only ventured to the theme park one day, the pool was really helpful in filling up our down time. The kids loved swimming and we were pleasantly surprised that it was a saline pool instead of a chlorinated pool. If you have never experienced the difference, let me say that that saline pools are wonderful!!! They are gentle on eyes, hair, and skin and there isn’t that strong, nauseating chlorine smell.

The cons of staying in a hotel in Downtown Disney is that they throw in extra fees. I found them to be pretty sneaky. There was a resort fee (on top of the nightly rate) and refrigerators and microwaves are not included! Seriously?! For a one time fee of $25 per appliance, a refrigerator and a microwave could be brought to the room. Since we were pinching pennies to make this trip happen, we opted to save the $50 and live out of a cooler by making frequent trips to the ice machine and getting creative with the coffee maker. I’ll explain more about that in the food section. If you’re thinking about doing laundry while at the hotel, be prepared to pay around $4 per load in the washing machine.

THE FOOD

Let me begin by sharing how we cut food costs during our 5 day stay at Disney. I think I may have packed our entire pantry!!! I brought 2 loaves of bread, peanut butter, honey, kid-friendly snack food, cereal, paper bowls, plastic spoons, paper towels, sandwich bags, pop-tarts, instant oatmeal, granola bars, bottled water, gatorade, and capri suns. Each morning, we ate breakfast in our room. The Royal Plaza has a restaurant located in the lobby where they say kids eat free at certain times, but for $17/adult for a breakfast buffet, we said NO WAY! We ate cereal in our hotel room, keeping the milk cold in our cooler with a generous supply of ice (FYI: milk is only supposed to be kept for a maximum of 3 days in a cooler). We also were able to make instant oatmeal by heating water in the coffee maker.

The coffee maker at the Royal Plaza was quite different from any other I’ve ever seen. They even made it difficult for you to brew your own coffee! Thankfully, my husband is a coffee guru and was able to carefully fold our coffee into a coffee filter and work it from that angle. We know what we like and were glad to have our preferred brand each morning.

For lunch, we ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches with various other items. On the day we went to the Magic Kingdom, I packed our lunches and took them into the park. While Disney says they don’t allow outside food and beverages, they don’t seem to be strict with that rule. Most people we spoke to at the hotel said they did the same thing and took their lunch into the park.

megandisney

Now, here’s where we did our food splurges:

In Downtown Disney, the food was excellent at each of the places we ate, however it was pricey. I highly recommend asking for a coupon book in the hotel lobby with coupons for the Downtown Disney restaurants. We used them at each place we ate and even at the Lego store to buy a Lego set.

We really enjoyed eating at the T-Rex Cafe. We were seated in the Ice Cave where every 15 minutes, there was a “meteor shower” complete with a light show. My 4 and 6 year olds loved it! My 2 year old found the meteor shower a little scary and was nervous about the robotic dinosaurs. Aside from that, the food was excellent, the service fantastic, and the overall experience was really cool!

We also ate at the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. The food was great and the atmosphere was cool if you like pubs and Irish music (which we do!). While we didn’t eat at Earl of Sandwich, I have heard from a friend that their sandwiches are excellent!

Due to the price of most Downtown Disney restaurants, we were happy to find a Panera Bread down the road where we could opt for simpler meals such as soup.

Inside the Magic Kingdom, there are many food options you can take advantage of if it’s in your budget. We splurged by buying Mickey shaped ice cream for each of our kids (gotta’ buy Mickey shaped ice cream, right?) and ate dinner at a restaurant near Frontier Land called the Columbia Harbour House. It was fast, it was actually VERY affordable, and the food was so good! From my more experienced Disney friends, pretty much all food in the Magic Kingdom is tasty, so I was super happy to feed our entire family of 5 for about $30-$40 at this place. We left with our tummies full!

THE MAGIC KINGDOM

We could only afford to go to the Magic Kingdom for one day, so we made the MOST of that day as we possibly could. I recommend buying your theme park tickets in the hotel lobby (if your hotel offers this service). It saved us from standing in a long line with our 3 little ones. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We started early by taking a complimentary bus from our hotel to the monorail, which then took us into the theme park. Since we had a backpack filled with diapers, wipes, drinks, and lunch, we had to go through the bag check. I was surprised by how quickly they rummaged through our things and gave us the go ahead to be admitted to the park. Lines flowed smoothly and we were inside without too much difficulty.

There are only a few tips I have to offer as to your Magic Kingdom experience. Everyone is different as to what they want to accomplish in their time within the park, so I won’t bore you with the details of each and every ride we went on, however, I do recommend going into the park with a game plan. Studying a map of the park (which can be obtained in most hotel lobbies) is a good idea so that you know where to go once inside. Early morning tends to be less busy when it comes to waiting in line for the rides. Take full advantage and hit the rides you want to do the most when the park is less populated. When the lines get longer and the wait times are 30 minutes or more, I recommend using the Fast Pass system. It’s a free service in which you scan your tickets for the ride and Disney provides you with a time interval in which you can return to the ride without having to wait in the long lines. IT IS A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! To fill in the time while you’re waiting for the fast pass appointment time, you can ride less popular rides OR catch some of the shows Disney offers such as the Pirates of the Caribbean show (big hit with my boys), the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and the Country Bear Jamboree.

We skipped the Disney parade, however that is a good opportunity for children to spot their favorite characters if you don’t want to stand in line to meet them. We tried to stay for the fireworks show, but honestly, our children were begging to go back to the hotel around 6:30pm. They were exhausted! We were happy to oblige.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

Besides there being other theme parks, if you find yourself like us, spending 5 days in Disney but only able to go to the park for one day, there are other things to do around town. I mentioned filling time at the hotel pool, but if the weather isn’t ideal for that, did you know there is outlet shopping nearby? Just be careful which route you take because you may find yourself on one of the many toll roads in the area. Ugh! Tolls…

Also, I found out after we left that there is an IKEA in Orlando! Had we known this, we would have spent some time there. Oh well…

Cocoa Beach is only an hour away, so if you are longing to see some ocean, drive an hour east and go to Cocoa Beach! If you’re more ambitious, the Gulf Of Mexico is 2 and a half hours away. Just beware of Tampa traffic!

Finally…you may have a very different trip in mind for your Disney adventure. Whatever you are planning to do, if you need to cut costs, please visit the website www.mousesavers.com It is so helpful in answering questions about where to stay, where to eat, how to buy tickets, etc. It is an overwhelming amount of information, but it just might be the perfect resource to help you plan your Disney vacation.

megan

******************************************


You can request a Free Customized Disney Map!

Highlight your family’s favorite Park activities and attractions and then have them delivered to your door! Create special keepsake Maps of all 4 Parks that highlight your favorite attractions and entertainment.

Just Click on the Image above (the link is in the image) and it will take you to the request form. (US ONLY)

You can request a Free Disney Planning DVD while supplies last! (NO LONGER AVAILABLE)

Here is a photo of the DVD I requested when this offer was previously available:

         dvd         disneydvd

Other Post You May Enjoy:

Year of the Staycation: Enjoying Over 85 of America’s Cities on a Budget
Chattanooga Staycation: Enjoying The Scenic City on The Cheap
Frugal Tip: Using Daily Deal Sites to Save on Family Activities

Disney Cruise Line

 This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to the Disclosure Policy for more details. Photo Credit:

Year of the Staycation: Enjoying Over 85 of America’s Cities on a Budget

staycationnational

Welcome to “Year of the Staycation”!

Looking to entertain your family on a budget this Summer? Yesterday I featured my hometown-  Chattanooga Staycation: Enjoying The Scenic City on The Cheap

 Below you will find a link to more than 85 cities. Bloggers from around the Country are showcasing frugal, family fun that can be enjoying right in their hometowns! So be sure to see if your city is on the list! (or even a city you would like to visit)

Mid Atlantic

NW (or all), Connecticut :: Parenting Miracles

Boston (or all), Massachusetts :: Maven of Savin

Central, New Jersey :: Our Good LIfe

Adirondak Mountains and Central, New York :: For This Season

Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York :: Ann’s Entitled Life

Syracuse, New York :: I am THAT lady

Erie, Pennsylvania :: Growing Kids Ministry

Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania :: Family Balance Sheet

Hershey, Pennsylvania :: Good Deal Mama

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania :: Beyond the Cover

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania :: The Coupon “High”

Poconos, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains

Scranton, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains

Midwest

Des Moines, Iowa :: Make the best of everything

Aurora, Illinois :: A Savings WOW!

Central, Illinois :: The Homeschool Scientist

Chicago, Illinois :: Chicagoland Homeschool Network

Naperville, Illinois :: The Sensible Mom

[Read more…]

Chattanooga Staycation: Enjoying The Scenic City on The Cheap

staycation

Looking for enjoy the Scenic City on the Cheap this Summer? Below are a few family friendly ideas that will keep the family entertained without breaking the bank.

pointe

Historical Sites

Chattanooga and North Georgia feature some great Historic Parks and Battle Fields. The entry fee to these sites is typically free or very low.

pointe2point4

Point Park
One of our favorites- Point Park is at the top of Lookout Mountain.
Point Park at Lookout Mountain Battlefield admission is $3.00 Per Person (Age 16 +) and Children 15 and under are FREE. Cravens House on historic Lookout Mountain does not charge an admission.
.
Chickamauga Battlefield does not charge an Entrance Fee.  Also be sure to check out Signal Point and Sunset Rock
.

Art, Music & Cultural

Bluff View Art District

Bluff View Art District is a historic neighborhood filled  of gardens, courtyards, restaurants, a coffee house, an art gallery, and more.

The Bluff View Art District also features the River Gallery Sculpture Garden. The Garden is open to the public every day from 9 a.m. until dusk, year-round. There is no admission charge.

Hunter Art Museum Free First Sundays

The Hunter Museum focuses on American art from the Colonial period to the present day. The museum is located in an historical mansion and a sleek contemporary building on the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River.

FREE FIRST SUNDAYS

Admission to the Hunter Museum is free on the first Sunday of every month.  Hours are noon to 5 p.m., with the last admission at 4:30 p.m.

Otherwise admission is $9.95 per adult and $4.95 for children 3 and up.

Nightfall Outdoor Concert Series

Nightfall is a FREE concert series is held every Friday Evening downtown at Miller Plaza from 7pm-10pm

It is family friendly and Runs Fridays May 3rd- August 30th. Schedule Details here and Concert rules and info here

Also check out River Front Nights and Pops on the River

Chattanooga Public Library

The Chattanooga Library has some great Summer Activities Scheduled- Adventure Club, Lego Club, Saturday Story time and more. Programs are age specific and most are Free to Chattanooga residents. Schedules and Activities vary by branch location.

You can find out how to get your Library Card here

Collegedale Library

Collegedale Library also offers some great Summer programs and non-residents can get a 3 month library card for only $10. You can find out more here

They will also be featuring First Thursday Free Family Film at 4! Details here.

Chattanooga Market

The Chattanooga River Market is held weekly on Ross’s Landing in the Tennessee Aquarium plaza. This new market includes live music, fresh produce, a variety of artistic vendors and more. You can get the schedule and find out more here.

Fresh on Fridays

Fresh on Fridays runs April – October, hungry downtown workers and visitors have the opportunity to sample culinary delights, fresh produce and more from local vendors on Fridays from 11a.m. until 2p.m. in City Center at the ‘700 Block’, 728 Market St. You can get the details here.

Movies in the Park

Movie’s in the Park starts July 6th and running each Saturday evening thru July 27th head to Coolidge Park for a FREE Family movie!

The movie starts at sundown, so grab your blankets and lawn chairs and join in the fun! You can find out more details here.

tires

Parks, Playgrounds & Pools

The Pumpkin Patch Playground

The Pumpkin Patch is located on Signal Mountain and features an expansive play beautifully built into the natural landscape which gives it an almost treehouse feel. There are options for older and young children. Every type of play equipment is represented from slides, bridges and zip lines to swings and forts. You can view some great photos over here

Imagination Station

Imagination Station is located in Collegedale and is a full-scale community playground featuring swing and slides. Old train cars and wooden forts encourage children to explore for hours. The Pavilion is available for rental for birthday parties or special events.

Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park is located downtown on the Northshore waterfront and features a beautifully restored 100 year old carousel, a pavilion, an interactive play fountain, the Outdoor Chattanooga Center, and lots of open space. The park itself along with the playground and interactive play fountain are free.

The Carousel SUMMER HOURS (starting the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend): Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 to 6:30 p.m. General Admission: $1.00 for adults, Under 2 Free.

Warner Park Pool and Splash and Play!

Warner Park Pool features both an 1 50 meter outdoor pool , 2 wading pools and a “SPRAY & PLAY” Sprayground Water Area…25 features that spray, splash, bubble, and squirt and 2-covered areas and grassy areas

Admission: 2 and under FREE, 3-13 years $2.00, 14 and over $3.00

You can view the schedule get more info here.

Aquarium Plaza

Aquarium Plaza in downtown Chattanooga is the beautifully landscaped area that is a part of the Tennessee Aquarium Complex.  The plaza features an interactive system of wading pools, elevated walkways with native plants, great river overlooks, and historic markings throughout.

You can find out more about the Tennessee Riverwalk, Ross’s Landing, Walnut Street Bridge and more Chattanooga area parks here

ballgamechattanoogalookouts

Sports & Adventure

Chattanooga Lookouts

The Chattanooga Lookouts is Chattanooga’s Professional Minor League Basball Team. Ticket prices ranging from just $3 – $9.

water2ballkitchen

Museums & Zoos

Creative Discovery Museum Free Family Fun Nights

Creative Discovery Museum is located downtown and offers a Free Family Night typically once a month. You can check the event calendar over here Free Family Night is the second Thursday of most months.

Creative Discovery Museum offers a lots of hands-on, interactive art and science exhibits for children ages 2-10.

Chattanooga Zoo

The Chattanooga Zoo isn’t free, but a great value. The zoo opens daily hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm. Open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission Prices are $8.95 for Adults, $6.95 for Seniors 65+, Kids ages 3+ are $5.95. Seniors 75+ and children under 2 are free.

The Chattanooga Zoo also features an Endangered Species Carousel!

The Zoo is the new home for over thirty hand-carved animals representing rare and endangered species from around the world.

All carousel passes include unlimited carousel rides for that day at the Zoo. Passes are $3 per person ages 2+. Details here.

zoo2chattanoogazoo2

*********************

Below are activities that are not Free or Cheap….but are local and tourist favorites if you want to splurge a bit…

Rock City

Ruby Falls

Tennessee Aquarium

Imax

Raccoon Mountain

Tennessee Valley Railroad

Lookout Mountain Inclined Railway

Southern Belle Riverboat

Chattanooga Ducks

Chattanooga Double Decker Bus

more fun for the family…

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park/SoakYa Waterpark

Sir Gooney’s Family Fun Center

Chucky Cheese

Pin Strikes

Pump it UP

Please note: The information stated above is subject to change at any time without notice. Please confirm schedule and admission prices before planning a trip.

Did I miss something? If you have a Chattanooga Staycation idea not mentioned, you can contact me here.

staycationnational

Don’t ever miss a deal: Find Jessica’s Coupons on Facebook & Follow Jessica’s Coupons Tweets on Twitter. This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to the Disclosure Policy for more details. Photo Credit: LCOTC