Planning Your 2016 Disney World VacationAre you planning your 2016 Disney World Vacation and don’t know where to start?  You are not alone.  Those who have never been to Disney can easily get overwhelmed by all the information out there. Disney Insider Tips is designed to be a one stop source for all things related to Disney.

You can find pretty much everything you need to plan your 2016 Disney World vacation on Disney Insider Tips.  Use our navigation menu at the top of the site for reviews on Disney Resorts, Disney Restaurants, and information on all the Disney World Theme Parks.  We even have tips to save you time & money!   Use the search bar on the right to look for more specific items. Have questions and you can’t find the answers? Feel free to contact us or ask us a question on Facebook.

For your convenience, you will find a list below of the posts readers find most valuable when planning a 2016 Disney World Vacation:

Disney TIcketsTICKETS

Current Disney World Ticket Prices

What You Should Know Before Buying “Discount Disney Tickets”

Pink Magic BandMAGICBANDS

How MagicBands Work

FastPass+ Rides & Attractions

FastPass+ Kiosk Locations

Disney RestaurantsDINING AT DISNEY

What you want to know about the Disney Dining Plan

Dining at Disney on a Budget

Character Meals

Mickey Mouse LuggagePACKING FOR YOUR TRIP

Packing List for a Disney Vacation

Packing List for a Day at the Parks

Best Shoes to Wear to Disney

Mickey Mouse EarsAT THE PARKS

Free Disney World Souvenirs

Disney Character Meet & Greets

Disney World Parades

Please know that we don’t get paid for our advice (just our advertisements), so you are getting an honest perspective from a real Disney insider!

The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Pop Star MinnieMickey Mouse Clubhouse: Pop Star Minnie is the newest set of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series to come out on DVD. In the featured episode Pop Star Minnie, Minnie’s dream of singing onstage is about to come true — until her Clubhouse back-up band pals discover that their musical instruments are gone!
It is up to the gang  to find the missing instruments.  And even once they do,  they are going to need Mouseketools and help from you.   How can you help? Well, each DVD comes with an inflatable guitar that you can use to help Minnie and the gang Rock it out!

Also on the DVD are these Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Episodes:

Mickey’s Clubhouse Rocks
Minnie & Daisy’s Flower Shower
Minnie’s Mouseke-Calendar
Mickey’s Big Band ConcertPLUS Bonus Episodes from Minnie’s Bow Toons
• Rooftop Repair
• Alarm Clocked Out
We just love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and this DVD is full of fun songs and adventures that your kids are sure to love!  This DVD is focused around music and kids will have the chance to learn about different types of music as well as instruments.  The free inflatable guitar is a nice bonus accessory that will provide endless hours of imaginative play.
Here is your chance to win a copy of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Pop Star Minnie

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You might find that your kids will also enjoy some of these free activities that go along with the movie:

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Disney Magazine DealsRight now you can get a great deal on your favorite Disney magazine  from Groupon.  Shipping is FREE!  Choose one title for only $14.99 a year.

Here are the Disney magazines you can choose from:

Disney Junior
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 2–7
  • Storytelling from Mickey, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and more
  • Filled with playful activities, games, and coloring pages
Marvel Super Heroes
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 6–12
  • Challenging activities, puzzles, and games, with exciting comic strip stories to read
  • Each issue themed to a different hero and villain
Peppa Pig
  • One-year, six issue subscription
  • Kid’s magazine for ages 2-7
  • Each issue contains short stories, educational workbook and a poster
  • Based on the popular TV show Peppa Pig featured on Nick Jr.
Thomas & Friends
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 3 and up
  • Features charming stories, a collectible poster, and an activity workbook
  • Familiar faces from the Island of Sodor
Fun to Learn Friends
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 3 and up
  • Familiar friends like Curious George, Clifford’s Puppy Days, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, and more
  • Stories, collectible poster, and activity workbook in every issue
Ultimate Spider-Man
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 6–12
  • Features an action-packed comic strip
  • Challenging activities, puzzles, and games
  • Collectible Spider-Man pull-out poster
Scooby-Doo!
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 6–12
  • Challenging 14-page Scooby-Doo! workbook with bonus collectible pull-out poster
  • Spooky mystery stories featuring Scooby-Doo! and the gang
Disney Princess
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 3–9
  • Filled with stories, coloring pages, and activities
  • Read along with Belle, Cinderella, and more
Frozen
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids’ magazine for ages 3–9
  • Features beloved characters Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and more
  • Filled with fairy-tale stories and fun, challenging activities
  • Includes a collectible poster
Sparkle World
  • One-year, six-issue subscription
  • Kids magazine for ages 3 and up
  • Features familiar characters as My Little Pony, Rainbow Magic, Care Bears, Dora and Friends, Barbie, and Mia and Me
  • Stickers, games, crafts, puzzles, and posters
Which Disney Magazine deal will you choose?
The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Pecos Bill Tall Tale CafeLocated in the heart of Frontierland is Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.  This quick service restaurant is a nice air conditioned spot for your family to grab a bite to eat.  You will find that there is plenty of seating both inside & out along with bathrooms for your convenience.

Tex Mex Food at Magic KingdomThe menu is Tex Mex.  You will find some delicious options such as Burrito and Fajita Platters, all served with Cilantro Rice & Beans.  They also have Burgers &  salads.  Those looking for something besides Chicken Nuggets for the kids will appreciate the kids meal that features Quesadilla’s.   If you are on the dining plan, you will also get a dessert option.  Be sure to get the Churro’s!!

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20 Disney World TipsAre you going to Walt Disney World for the first time? If so, you will want to have the jump on others by knowing some of the best Disney World Tips.  We hope these tips will help you navigate the parks with ease and give you a heads up on things you might not already know about when it comes to Disney!

Here are 20 Walt Disney World Tips you should know about:

  • Snap a picture of the parking lot marker to remember where you left your car.
  • Disney Photographers will take pictures with YOUR camera/phone for FREE.
  • Get a free dusting of pixie dust at the Barber Shop on Main Street USA.
  • Instead of standing in line for hours to meet your child’s favorite characters, choose a character meal. You will pay a premium, but you avoid wasting time in lines and get one on one time with each character!
  • If you stay at a resort, you can have your purchases from gift shops delivered to your resort. If not, you can have them delivered to the front of the park where you can pick them up (given that you shop early in the day).
  • Buy the cheapest Disney pin and then trade with Cast Members for the more expensive ones!
  • Get to Magic Kingdom before the park opens for the Rope Drop Ceremony. It is pure magic.
  • Think outside the box in terms of Disney Souvenirs. There are plenty of FREE ones!
  • If your kids pop their Disney Balloon, they will replace it for FREE.
  • Some rides (like Test Track) have a line for those riding solo. The line is MUCH shorter!
  • Ask for a kids swap if you are traveling with kids who can’t ride. One  adult rides while the other waits (at the front of the line). Then they swap places for the second adult to ride.
  • Adults can eat off the kids menu at quick service counters.
  • Disney Visa card holders get special perks, like FREE photos, discounts at some restaurants & % off your purchase at gift shops!
  • Gift shops stay open 1 hour after the park rides are shut down.
  • You can get a complimentary cup of ice water for FREE at any counter.
  • You can order food a la carte on just about any quick service menu. Just ask and they will accommodate.
  • Just about every Disney World resort does a FREE campfire in the early evening where you can roast marshmallows. They also have FREE Movie nights!
  • Parking is FREE at Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon.
  • You can walk right through the center of Cinderella’s castle. You will find some beautiful mosaic murals telling her story.
  • As you walk into Haunted Mansion, look for the Headstone for Leota. Watch it carefully.

What other Walt Disney World Tips would you share for first time goers?

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Mickey Mouse Anchor MagnetIf you are getting ready for your Disney Cruise, you should definitely think about joining a Disney Fish Extender Exchange group.  While there are plenty of great fish extenders gifts you can buy, you can also make your own gifts.  All staterooms on the Disney Cruise Line ships are magnetic. You will find that many seasoned cruisers will have their doors covered with Disney themed magnets. This is what inspired me to create my own Disney Cruise Line Mickey Mouse Anchor Magnet.

DIY Mickey Mouse Anchor magnetThis DIY is simple enough for a non-crafty person.  You can find these wooden anchors at most craft stores for about 50 cents (I got mine at Michaels) and paints are usually on sale for less than $1 each.  Also, not shown, is a roll of sticker-backed magnetic tape (also found at Michaels).

Disney Mickey Mouse Anchor Fish Extender GiftMaking this magnet is simple enough. Just paint it in the pattern that is shown.  Allow enough time for it to dry and adhere the magnet to the back.  If you are doing multiples (to give as fish extender gifts) then I would suggest painting all anchors with one color at a time.

Do you have a favorite DIY Fish Extender Gift idea? I’d love to hear about it!

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LEGOLAND FloridaIf you are looking to do something other than Disney parks while you are in Orlando, check out LEGOLAND in Winterhaven.  It is a 45 minute drive from Orlando, but if you have a Lego fan(s) in your family, you will want to make the trip!  With over 5o different rides, you can easily spend an entire day at LEGOLAND Florida. If you have two days to spend here, even better.

LEGOLAND LEGO Movie Character meet & greetUnlike other Non-Disney area theme parks,  LEGOLAND Florida is 100% family friendly.  There are things for those that like rides, and those that don’t.  There are short movies you can watch and even shows.  You can build LEGOs and even meet some of your favorite characters from The Lego Movie.

Legoland LEGO TECHNIC Family RollercoasterThere are several roller-coasters at LEGOLAND Florida and they are all designed for fun.  Yes, there are some drops and sharp curves (like on the life-size LEGO TECHNIC), but overall they are built for families with kids.  Each has some size restrictions which range from 40″-44″ & above.

Legoland Florida Chima Water RideChima fans will enjoy the water battles you can have on the Quest for Chi.  Not only do you battle other riders, spectators get in on the squirting action too! Yes, you WILL get wet.

Legoland for ToddlersWorried there might not be anything for your toddler? There is an entire area dedicated solely to little ones… and it is air conditioned. Little ones will also enjoy riding a train or just playing with Duplo Blocks.

Star Wars Exhibit in LEGOLAND

Star War fans will be glad to know that LEGOLAND Floida has a Mini Land section just for Star Wars.  Part of it is even interactive, where you can push buttons to activate sounds and movement. It is very cool!

If you have the time & plan on spending more than one day at LEGOLAND, then I do suggest you visit Cyrus Garden & LEGOLAND’s very own water park!

The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Send Souvenirs to Your Resort If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you may not be aware that one of the perks is being able to send souvenirs to your resort. This means that you don’t have to lug around that HUGE Mickey Mouse Pillow Pet that your child begged you for. When you are paying for your souvenir, just let them know you would like to have the item(s) sent to your resort. You will fill out one sheet with all your information and you will be able to pick it up usually the following day.

Not staying at Disney reosrt? Don’t worry, you don’t have it lug it around the park either. You can have it sent to the front of the park to pick up as you leave. Just be sure to do your shopping early in the day so you can have time to have it sent to the front of the park.

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Free Disney SouvenirsFree Disney World Souvenirs.  I bet the title alone got your attention,right?  If you are taking a trip to Disney, you will want to bring back a few mementos from your trip. Sure, you probably buy something (a t-shirt, a pair of Mickey ears…) but did you know there are FREE Disney World Souvenirs that you can actually take home?

Here is a list of 15 FREE Disney World souvenirs:

Disney MagicBands1. Disney Tickets/Magic Bands. If you are staying on resort, you will get a Disney MagicBand that works as your park admission, credit card, and access to the Fastpass+ system and Dining Reservations at Disney.  At the end of your stay, you get to keep these bands as FREE Disney World Souvenirs!

free disney world souvenir2. Celebratory Buttons.  If you are staying at a Disney World resort, you can get FREE Disney World Souvenirs by requesting buttons at the front desk. If you aren’t staying at a Disney Resort, you can find FREE Celebratory buttons at the customer service / ticket counter.  They have them for such celebrations as Birthday, Anniversary, Family Reunion, First Visit, and Honeymoon. Even if it isn’t your birthday, but it is someone’s in your party, you can get an I’m Celebrating pin! One of the perks of wearing these FREE Souvenir buttons is that Cast Members will make you feel even more special by giving you a more personalized greeting.

3. Stickers. When entering Disney theme parks, many times Cast Members will be passing out Mickey Mouse stickers. When in doubt, ask a greeter or even a photographer! They will give you more than one if you ask and they are great for scrapbooks.

4. Park Maps. These are at the entrance of each park and what I find really cool is that they have Disney Park maps in different languages!  Why not pick up one to take home for your scrapbook or put it in a frame as a way to remember your fantastic vacation!

free disney world souvenir5. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Cards. If you stop by the Firehouse (on left as you enter Main Street), you can show them your park ticket (or scan Magic Band) to get a set of FREE Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom cards. Most people get them to play the game, but even if you don’t play, these character cards are collectible and great FREE Disney World Souvenirs!

6. Treasure Map. Go to A Pirate’s Adventure in Magic Kingdom and get a free treasure map to Adventure Land.

7. Mardi Gras Beads or Lei. If you are staying at Port Orleans, French Quarter, you will get free Mardi Gras beads. If you visit Polynesian, you will get a free Lei.

Learn to Draw Disney Characters8. Drawing. If you stop by Disney’s Animation Academy (located inside The Magic of Disney Animation) in Hollywood Studios, you will get the chance to learn how to draw a Disney Character.  You can take this home with you as a memento from your day at Hollywood Studios!

9. Wilderness Explorer Program. At Animal Kingdom, kids can take part in an adventure learning about Animals and their habitat through their Wilderness Explorer Program.  Each guest can pick up a Field Journal at the Wilderness Explorer headquarters (located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island) and gather stickers as they complete various activities through the park.

free disney resort h2o shampoo 10. Shampoos & Soaps. Those staying at resort or taking a Disney Cruise, can get FREE Disney Shampoos, lotions & soap.  Use them and save the shampoo bottles to refill with your favorite shampoo so that you can take a little Disney where ever you go!

11. Pens, Stationary, and Post Cards. On Disney Cruises, you can find FREE Pens, Disney Cruise line Stationary and Post Cards in your stateroom desk! At the parks, if you ask a Cast Member for a pen, 9 times out of 10, they will tell you to keep it.

Free Kids Activity Menu at Disney Restaurants12. Children’s Activity Menus. When you go to a sit down restaurant at Disney, your child will get an activity menu.  If your child is too busy to work on the activity menu during their meal, then be sure to pack it to take home. They can be used later while you are back at your room or on the car/plane ride back home!

13. Jedi Diploma Certificate. While at Hollywood Studios, your child can try to battle Darth Vader at Jedi Academy. If chosen to participate, your child can walk away with an official Jedi Diploma certificate that is perfect for framing!

14. Pixie Dust. Stop by the Disney Store at Disney Springs and ask for a FREE Fairy Dusting from the ladies at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  You can find similar fairy dust at the Barber Shop on Main Street in Magic Kingdom.

Free Duffy Coloring Souvenir at Epcot15. Duffy Bear Coloring. At Epcot, check out the Kidcot Fun Spots to find FREE coloring souvenirs for the kids. They can decorate Duffy Bear at each country in the World Showcase.  When take their Duffy to each country, the cast member at the Kidcot Fun Spot will stamp the back & write their name or a greeting in their native language.

What are some other FREE Disney World Souvenirs?

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Rope Drop CeremonyThere are many hidden gems in Walt Disney World, but one of my favorites is the Rope Drop Ceremony at Magic Kingdom.  If you are standing in front of the Walt Disney Railway Station 10 minutes prior to the Magic Kingdom opening, you will get to see a magical celebration like no other!

The rope drop ceremony begins with  the Mayor’s announcement welcoming all guests to the park. There will be singing and dancing to get you ready for the park opening.  Soon, you will hear the horn of the Main Engine of the Disney Railroad and see a puff of smoke as it pulls near.

It is at this point that the magic really begins because all your favorite Disney characters will get off the train and be standing along the fence line welcoming you in song.   The ceremony is capped off with a count down to “drop the ropes,” where streamers are released and fireworks go off above the Train Station.

Magic Kingdom Rope Drop CeremonyTip: One family is chosen from the crowd to help with the park opening! Be sure to interact with any cast member you meet because you never know which one is going to be choosing the lucky park guests!

Have you attended the Magic Kingdom Rope Drop Ceremony? 

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Disney Cruise Destination: Key West

by Kristi January 22, 2016

Taking a Disney cruise out of Miami? One of your stops might be Key West, Florida. Known as the Conch Republic, Key West is the southernmost point in the United States.  If you happen to stop there, don’t feel like you have to do a Disney Port Adventure. Considering that Key West measures only 4 […]

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