Tips for New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom

Tips for visiting Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve. Find out about the crowds, how you can get into the park when it closes and the best place to watch the fireworks. Tips for New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Magic Kingdom I surprised by daughter with tickets to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on […]

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Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom (REVIEW)

Is the Disney After Hours event worth the money? Read about my experience at the Disney After Hours Event in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to get the inside scoop. This special event ticket is available to the public and allows you to stay in the park for three extra hours with access to popular attractions with little to no wait times, character greetings and snacks.

Is the Disney After Hours event worth the money? Review for Disney After Hours event in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Inside scoop and Disney travel tips.

Review ~ Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom

While attending my daughter’s cheer competition at Disney’s ESPN Sports Complex, I decided to splurge and purchase Disney After Hours special event tickets for Animal Kingdom. At $125 per ticket, I wasn’t sure it would be worth the money, plus I already had a four day hopper pass to the Disney parks. Adding extra tickets to what I had already spent seemed like a bit much. Since I write about family travel and love anything Disney, I thought I would go ahead and pay the extra money for the tickets to see what it was like to share with you.

Now that we have experienced the after hours event, I can let you know what it’s like and help you decide if it’s right for you. FYI – I was NOT paid by Disney to write this article. I don’t think I’m on Disney’s radar at all, even though I sure wish I was invited to their social media influencer events! After making these adorable Mickey and Minnie Mouse cookies that went viral… they should contact me right??? ha!


What does the Disney After Hours Event Include?

First of all, the Disney After Hours events are only available on certain dates and only one park at a time. The events last from 9pm-12am. When you check in, you get a special wrist band, able to ride select rides, watch select shows, get snacks and meet characters. There are a limited amount of tickets and as of now, I don’t think you need any other kind of park ticket to be allowed to purchase an after hours event ticket. Guests with Disney After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 pm every event night. If you didn’t have a park ticket during the day, you can enjoy the park for a few hours before the special event starts.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW


What we thought of Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom

It seems like the Disney park people are still working out the details of these After Hours Events. I found out about it by the ad on their website while I was picking out my fast passes. I wish I had known about this before buying my hopper tickets – I could have saved money and bought a 3 day pass instead of a 4 day one. I saw some of my blogger friends at one of these events, but assumed it was a special event for just for influencers and not open to the public. When I saw that there was an after hours event while I was at Disney, I jumped on the chance to get a ticket before they were sold out. Animal Kingdom is our favorite!!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW


What We Liked About Animal Kingdom’s After Hours Event

Here are six things we enjoyed about the After Hours event at Animal Kingdom.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW


1. Little to no wait times

Obviously this is the main attraction for going to a Disney After Hours event. The most popular ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, which normally has a wait time of 2 hours, only had a wait of about 15 minutes when the event started. Towards the end of the night, we walked directly on the ride with no line. We rode our other favorite ride, Expedition Everest, over and over with no line and hardly any people around us!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - Flight of Passage Wait Time


2. The parks at night are cooler and way less bugs

While we were in Orlando, there were “love bugs” EVERYWHERE. These bugs don’t bite or harm you in anyway, but they are annoying and you could have 5-100 bugs on and around you at a time. Apparently there is only an infestation of these bugs in Florida for two weeks, twice a year. And sure enough, while we were visiting! We began avoiding the parks during the day because of this and another reason the late night after hours event looked appealing. No love bugs out at night!


3. Endless treats

We loved the grab and go snack and drink stations around the park. I think the smartest thing Disney did was to have had Mickey ice cream, popcorn, juice bar popsicles and bottled water sitting out on a table near the Pandora entrance where you could just grab your snacks and keep walking. If you preferred a soda, you could wait in a line for one. There are other various snack carts open around the parks with snacks included in your ticket and also something for purchase. Cocktails and beer are not included in your ticket, but available for purchase the whole evening.


4. No Crowds

At times, we felt like the only people in the park! If you prefer a loud, party atmosphere, you might not like the after hours events, but we thought it was the coolest thing ever!

I think we only saw 3 strollers the whole time we were there, compared to daytime when there are numerous strollers parked at every ride entrance.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

Comparing the After Hours crowd to a normal night at a park:

A few evenings before, we stayed until closing time (11pm) at Magic Kingdom and saw less strollers and people than during the day. Attractions had much longer wait times on a normal park night though. Some popular rides were still over an hour wait. I have to note the night we stayed late… it had just stormed with hail, plus it rained on and off, so that could have been a big factor for less people, less toddlers in strollers.


5. After Hours Shopping

Our favorite shop was open when we arrived and we were able buy the last few of the much sought after lollipop Mickey ears. It’s really fun to shop with little to no people in the stores!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - Amy Locurto Travel Influencer Blogger


6. Fun Entertainment

We didn’t know about the entertainment as we were focused on what rides were open and where to find food. Here is what we did:

DJ Dance Party: In DinoLand U.S.A, we accidentally walked into the dance party with bubbles, fun music and a photo booth. We were the only ones dancing, but that is what we liked about it! ha!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - DJ Dance Party


Entertainment We Missed:

Apparently there were character greetings and shows, but we missed them all together on our race to ride the attractions and eat all the food!  I’m sad we missed these things and wish I had known ahead of time to plan better:

Character greeting and photos: Meet Mickey and Minnie in Discovery Island

Rivers of Light : Show starts at 10 pm in Asia

Pandora Drummers: 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm in Pandora


What we did at the Animal Kingdom After Hours Event:

  • Shopped for about 15 minutes before the event officially started.
  • Walked to Pandora to be there at 9pm.
  • Rode Avatar Flight of Passage 2 times in a row (about a 10-15 minute wait both times)
  • Rode the Na’vi River Journey (walked right on)
  • Got fruit bars and water in Pandora
  • Walked towards Tree of Life and grabbed ice cream and popcorn to take on the way
  • Watched the Tree of Life for a bit
  • Stopped for lemonade and more popcorn on the walk to Asia
  • Rode Expedition Everest 3 times in a row (walked right on)
  • Stopped for more snacks and drinks in Asia
  • Walked to Dinoland, rode TriceraTop Spin
  • Danced and took photos at the DJ dance party
  • Rode DINOSAUR (walked right on)
  • Walked back to Pandora to ride Flight of Passage (walked right on)

Once we left Pandora the first time, we only saw 2-20 people at a time around the park the rest of the night.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - DJ Dance Party Amy Locurto Travel Influencer Blog


What we did NOT like:

Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast and enjoyed the park after hours, but here are a few things I didn’t like.

Not enough time:  We wish the event was at least 30-60 minutes longer so we could have done more. If they can’t make the event longer, then it would have been great to have gotten the option to skip the Avatar Flight of Passage pre-show to save time.

Not knowing what was going to happen until we got there: I wish we could have been emailed the event plans, what shops were open and the show times for the evening. I feel we missed out on activities, not being able to plan ahead.

Not many characters: I would have liked more characters around the park. Having another photo spot with a character out in the open where we could have seen them would have been great. I also wish they had a character at the dance party, especially since there was a photo booth there.

The park seemed closed: It seemed more like the park was closed and we were just there walking around as they were closing up. I would have enjoyed a more catered feeling to those of us who bought the pricey after hours tickets. I’ve been to special events at parks where we were treated like VIPS – I think Disney needs to add more of a special treatment touch. I would have liked having more cast members welcoming us and answering our questions. We would have enjoyed some fun music throughout the park so it didn’t seem closed.  Special gifts such as glow stick necklaces or glowing drinks would have been nice.

Was it worth the money?

Let me break it down by what we ate and drank. Note I’m on a diet and with a 12 year old girl who doesn’t eat much. If my son was with us, he would have eaten a LOT more.

  • Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar $5.75 x 2
  • Mickey’s Ice Cream Sandwich $5.75 x 1
  • Fruits of Mo’ara Fruit Bar 4.50 x 3
  • Popcorn 4.50 x 2
  • Bottled Soft Drinks  4.50 x 1
  • Water: $3.50 x 5

2 tickets + tax was $266.26. Take out our total food: $61.75 and the price was actually $102.25 per ticket for no crowds and to ride our favorite rides over and over.

After experiencing high crowds, Florida heat, 2 hour wait times and the infestation of bugs, I definitely think it was worth the price of admission and would do it again next time if it was offered.

Overall, I we had a BLAST at the Disney After Hours event. It will be a memory that my daughter and I will talk about for years to come!

Tips for Riding Avatar Flight of Passage After Hours

1. Take account for time spent walking the path and the pre-show:

For those of you wanting to plan to ride Flight of Passage numerous times, take note of your time. From the ride’s gate entrance where you show your wrist band, it will take at least 5 minutes to walk the path  to the ride entrance point. Then another 7 minutes to watch the two pre-show videos, 6 minutes to ride the ride and another 3-5 minutes to walk the path out of the ride and back to the main entrance. Total time for riding Avatar Flight of Passage is around 22 minutes with no wait time.

2. Enjoy a different experience each time:

When possible, we made sure to switch up where we were in line at the pre-show. If you are with a big group, switch spots with someone else you know. We sat somewhere different each time we rode the ride and it was a totally different experience each time! When I sat on the far outside, I felt like I was flipping upside down, a feeling I didn’t get when in the middle. So be sure to try to change it up while you’re at the after hours event if you can!

3. Just for fun, shout SIVAKO!

Watch for the part during the ride where your Na’vi guide yells “SIVAKO” (see-vah-ko) meaning, rise to the challenge. Be sure to chant it back! We had fun doing that each time. LOL!

Official Disney World After Hours Event Information:

At the time of my review, you can purchase After Hours event tickets at Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park! Click here to learn more.

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Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

How to make the cutest Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops! An easy Disney party dessert recipe made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine’s Day tags. Perfect treats to make for your Valentine or any time of the year!

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops for Valentine’s Day

I think you’ll love these cute and easy Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops. Ever since these Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cookies, I’m a little obsessed with making these fun no-bake treats for every holiday. I’ve done Mickey Mouse Halloween Cookies and adorable Mickey and Minnie Christmas cookies, now I hope you enjoy the Valentine’s Day version!

With printable Happy Valentine’s Day tags, this makes the cutest Valentine’s Day gift for any Disney fan!

More DIY Disney Ideas You’ll Love


Our Disneyland Trip

My daughter and I went to California during the holiday break. We love to travel and I especially love our mother/daughter trips, because we like doing the same things and she is the perfect age right now for being my travel buddy. We were lucky to have a few days in Disneyland and California Adventure!

Disney is pure magic at Christmas and of course we had to wait in line for a photo with Minnie Mouse!

 Minnie Mouse at Disneyland during Christmas. Cute Cookie Pops by Disney food blogger Amy Locurto.

My Favorite Disneyland Ride

One of my favorite rides at Disneyland is It’s a Small World! The best time is during Christmas when the lights are so beautiful and everything inside is decorated for Christmas. They sing Jingle Bells in every language and it’s adorable!!!

—> If you want to see it, CLICK HERE to watch my Instagram Story from our Disney trip. I share a lot of this ride on that story and I guarantee it will bring back childhood memories:-)

Disneyland It's a Small World ride at Christmas and a Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe.

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pop Inspiration

I found this super cute Nemo Cake Pop at Pixar Pier in California Adventure which inspired today’s cookie pops. Since we love all things Minnie Mouse, I planned to make Valentine’s Day cookies around her. Then when I saw so many cute pops at Disneyland, the cookies turned into pops!

Nemo Cake Pop from Disneyland Pixar Pier in California Adventure. Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe.

Keep these treats as cookies or turn into pops. Either way, anyone would love getting a Minnie Mouse Cookie this Valentine’s Day! I made the bows this time with jumbo heart sprinkles. Then I found the cutest edible polka dot heart wafers by Wilton at Michaels to place on top of the candy hearts. I think the cookies turned out super cute!

Easy Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe!


How to Make Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

These cute cookie pops are super easy and fun for any Disney fan! Watch my video below for directions. Be sure to watch until the end to see the fun Mickey Ears we just bought on our trip to Disneyland.

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel HERE for more fun recipes and party ideas.


Print the Minnie Mouse Valentine’s Day Tags

You can print the Valentine’s Day Tags below along with the directions for these Minnie Mouse Cookies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops are an easy Disney party dessert made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine's Day tags.

Print Disney Minnie Mouse Valentine's Day tags.

Print the Valentine’s Day Tags Here


Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops are an easy Disney party dessert made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine’s Day tags.

  • 12 Double Stuf OREO cookies
  • 6 Mini OREO cookies
  • 1/4 cup White Candy Melts
  • 1/2 cup Red Candy Melts
  • 1/2 cup Red, Pink and White Nonpareils
  • 1/4 cup Jumbo Heart Sprinkles
  • Wilton Edible Accents Hearts (optional)
  • 12 Lollipop Sticks
  • Wax Paper
  • Printable Tags (optional)
  1. Gently open and remove the filling from a handful of Mini OREO cookies with a knife.
  2. Melt white candy melts in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until candy is smooth and creamy.
  3. Make Minnie’s ears by using the melted white candy as the glue to stick the mini cookies inside of the larger cookies. Let candy dry before decorating.
  4. In a small glass bowl, melt pink candy in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until candy is smooth and creamy.
  5. Dip one half of a cookie into the melted candy, gently shake cookie to smooth any rough edges and sprinkle with red, pink and white nonpareils.
  6. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy, then gently hold it on the bottom of the cookie. You don’t need to press it into the cookie as it might break.
  7. Hold stick to the cookie until a bond is made, then place on a piece of wax paper to cool and harden.
  8. Add Minnie’s bow by placing a small bit of melted candy on two jumbo candy hearts. Gently stick them to the top of the cookie to form a bow.
  9. If you can find the edible polka dot heart wafers by Wilton, add them to the top of the hearts buy using melted candy as glue. This step is optional.
  10. Print the Valentine’s Day tags, trim and punch a hole in the top and bottom. After the candy has completely hardened on the cookies, slide the tag onto the lollipop stick. Wrap as gifts or display on your party table.

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5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando

Planning to visit Orlando during the holiday season? Then don’t miss these 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new at the park this year and get some fun travel tips to make your Christmas vacation even more special.

5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special. What's new for Harry Potter fans, parades and more. #harrypotter #universalorlando

What We Loved About Christmas at Universal Orlando

Any chance we get to go to Universal Orlando, we’re there! But in all time times we have visited, we’ve never been during the Christmas holiday season until this year. I’m sharing what we loved and what’s new at the park this year with these 5 great reasons to celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando!

Amy Locurto Travel and Food Blogger | 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

It goes without saying that visiting a theme park with your family during the holidays is going to be a blast. I love the memories we make and not to mention the amazing weather!

When we left Dallas, it was 39 degrees. Brrrr! The next night, we are enjoying a movie in the heated pool at Sapphire Falls Resort. Can’t beat that! Click here for Orlando hotel deals.

Sapphire Falls Pool | 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Beautiful Christmas Decorations

The Christmas decorations are so beautiful all around the park! I shared a lot of video and photos from our Christmas at Universal Orlando trip on Instagram, but if you missed it you can click here to watch it now on my featured Instagram story. We had so much fun and can’t wait to return!

Hogsmeade holiday lights | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Diagon Alley Harry Potter Christmas Decorations | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.


5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando

Christmas at Universal Orlando is amazing! If you are headed to Universal Orlando this holiday, be sure to read through these tips. I hope you have an amazing Christmas vacation!

Universal Orlando Christmas Tree | Living Locurto Cheerleader


1. Merry Grinchmas!

We love The Grinch and thought Grinchmas in Seuss Landing is so adorable!!! The whole area is decorated super cute for the holiday season. You can get your photo taken with the Grinch himself and encounter hilarious people from Who-ville!

Grinchmas | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

The people of Who-ville walk through the park caroling and interacting with people. They found my son in one of the stores and made it their mission to get him to smile by piling candy in his hands. It was so funny! See what they did to him on my featured Instagram story here.

Who-ville | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Live Show

Don’t miss the live show, The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, which tells the Dr. Seuss story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.


2. Hot Butterbeer

I have written several articles about Butterbeer, sharing homemade recipes and where to find the shortest line for it at the park, so I thought I knew it all when it came to Butterbeer. NOT THE CASE… I just discovered you can get Hot Butterbeer during the holiday season! Another great reason to visit the park during Christmas.

Hot Butterbeer | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Where you can find Hot Butterbeer

Hot Butterbeer is only available during the winter months at:

  • The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade
  • The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley


3. Christmas Magic at Hogwarts Castle

After you get your Hot Butterbeer, head over to the Hogwarts Castle to watch the holiday light show. Be ready for big crowds and don’t worry if you miss a show, they happen every 20 minutes starting at 6pm. It’s an amazing show that ends with fireworks. A must see for Harry Potter fans! 

Harry Potter Castle light show | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.


Best place to watch the Hogwarts Holiday light show.

If you want the best spot, go to the bridge that connects Jurassic Park to Hogsmeade. Of course being right in front of the castle is great, but beware of huge crowds.

Best spot to watch the show with very little crowds.

We tried to get to the bridge, but areas of the park were blocked off to form lines and we couldn’t get through. Instead, we sat on the patio of the Three Broomsticks to enjoy our drinks and the show without the crowds. 

Ride Tip: There was no wait time to ride the train from Hogsmeade to London because everyone was trying to get to the castle to watch the light show. After the first show, we walked right on the train!


4. Universal’s Holiday Parade

Santa Macys Parade | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

We’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, so seeing the Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s was a huge treat!  Big balloons featuring your favorite park characters parade through the streets filled with dancers, lights and festive Christmas songs.

Shrek Baby Donkey Macys Parade | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Holiday Parade Tip

Find a spot to stand near the giant Christmas tree across from The Mummy ride. When Santa comes by at the end of the parade, his magic lights up the tree! It’s so beautiful.

Christmas Tree at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Parade Times:

  • Dec 6, and Dec 14: 5:15pm
  • Nov 17 – 27, Nov 29 – Dec 5, Dec 7 – 13, Dec 15 – 23: 5:30pm
  • Dec 24 – 30: 8:00pm
  • Dec 31 – Jan 6: 5:30pm


5. Universal Orlando Season Passholder Lounge

New this year! Relax and recharge your phones at the new season passholder lounge by Coca-Cola. There are free snacks such as chips and granola bars, but you’ll have to purchase your drinks. That was okay with us because they had a fun Arctic Coke Cooler which turned our drinks into slushes.

Passholder Lounge | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Passholder Lounge Info:

  • Dates: Now – Jan. 31, 2019
  • Times: 11AM – 4PM Daily
  • Location: Universal Studios Florida on Hollywood Boulevard, near Schwab’s Pharmacy


Favorite Part of the Trip

I think our favorite part of this trip were the fun times we had interacting with the characters throughout the park. That’s one thing I love about Universal Orlando! You might be walking through the park and Spiderman drives by on his motorcycle, Betty Boop says hello in her store or you get to meet a live baby dinosaur. They sure make it so much fun!

Jurassic Park Live Baby Dinosaur Meeting | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special. Living Locurto travel blogger

What’s your favorite thing to do at Universal Orlando? Click here for our favorite rides and more.

Leave a Comment on Living Locurto about Christmas at Universal Orlando


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4 Simple Tips to Save Money on Travel

Want help with ideas on how to travel cheap? Check out these 4 simple tips to save money on travel. Money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations!

4 simple tips to save money on travel. Money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations! Best ideas for finding cheap flights, travel hacks and more. #travel #disney #savemoney #vacation #livinglocurto #traveltips

Simple Money Saving Tips for Disney, Cheap Flights and More!

We love to travel and have been all over the world! What’s even better is when we can save money on travel, so we can take more trips later. People always ask me for travel tips and ideas for saving money on family vacations, so I am happy to share some ideas with you today. We have used these tips when traveling to beaches, theme parks, national parks, and cities

With so many great online tools to save money these days, travel can always be done on a budget. It just takes a few simple money saving tips and time! I will keep adding helpful websites and tips to save money on travel to this article as discover new ones. For now, here are my favorite tools for traveling cheap along with some time and money saving tips that will make you jump for joy the next time you plan a vacation!

4 simple tips to save money on travel. Money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations! Best ideas for finding cheap flights and more.

1. Be Smarter When Searching for Cheap Flights

Airfare is often the most expensive part of travel, especially if you have a large family. Driving is not an option to many places I like to visit, so flying it is! Here are a few ways I save money on flights:

Plan Ahead

Finding the best deals on travel takes time. I feel like a private detective digging into the internet to find the best deals when I plan our vacations. Now I save a ton of time by using Airfarewatchdog for flights and hotels. It’s super easy to compare airfare prices on various websites all at once with Airfarewatchdog. My favorite feature of this website is you can set a low fare alert to get an email when the prices go down! If you type in your destination and dates, then scroll down the page, you will see suggested dates for the best time to travel.

Money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations! Best ideas for finding cheap flights and more.


Airfarewatchdog is awesome and searches for both airfare and hotel sites like, Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz all at once which saves a ton of time. Search for hotel deals and set alerts easily here too!  I also like to search here for the best deal on Disney World Hotels.

Money Saving Tips for Travel. Find Cheap Flights - fly more pay less


Be Flexible

Being flexible is a great way to travel cheap! When I feel spontaneous to travel somewhere for a long weekend and not sure where I want to go, I love using Google flights! You can enter your home airport, enter your travel dates, leave the destination blank, then click the map to see what flight prices are for any city on the map! Narrow down your search by stops, price, times, or airline.

When I entered some dates for this summer from Dallas, non-stop under $200 this is what I found. I think the beach is calling me to San Diego or Ft. Lauderdale with these flights!

Google Flights for last minute travel. Money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations! Best ideas for finding cheap flights and more.


2. Compare Theme Park Ticket Options

When planning a trip to a theme park, do your research and compare prices for annual passes vs daily tickets. I just got annual passes to Universal Orlando because it saved me money on our 3 day park ticket preferences! We got extra perks such as discounts at stores and restaurants, plus we could be much more flexible on the days we visited the park. It also made sense, because I feel like we are in Orlando several times a year. Now we can pop over to the park anytime we are in town!


3. Pack Your Own Drinks and Snacks

I really need to be better at doing this. It’s a no brainer that you will save money at hotels if you have snacks in your room, especially if you travel with teenagers! I have friends who will pack an entire suitcase with food when flying to expensive destinations. Then fill the suitcase with dirty clothes for the trip home! Just remember if you travel to tropical islands or southern states, pack things that won’t melt.

4 simple tips to save money on travel. Pack a suitcase with snacks. Get more money saving tips for Disney World, Universal Orlando and other family vacations!

Another great idea if you can’t get to a grocery store to fill up your mini fridge with drinks and snacks, order online from Amazon Fresh or Instacart. Set the order to be delivered when you arrive.

If you don’t trust your kids to not eat and drink the expensive items in hotel rooms, ask the hotel to remove them before you get there.

Did you know most theme parks let you bring snacks?

Disney Rules say this:

“Guests are allowed to bring food items—such as snacks or foods that do not require heating—into Disney theme parks.” Small ice chests are allowed in Disney Parks, but they have size requirements. Make sure to read the rules before you bring an ice chest with you. I suggest getting a backpack ice chest to easily carry it all.

Don’t buy water at Disney. Both Disneyland and Disney World’s counter service restaurants will give you a free cup of water or a free cup of hot water. Ask for a large cup!

Universal Orlando Rules say this:

Acceptable items: Bottled water (maximum 2 liters), Small snacks, Any food required for special dietary needs, Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements, Baby food/baby formula and Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep.

4. Buy Souvenirs Ahead of Time

We go to theme parks a lot and I save so much money by getting t-shirts, mouse ear hats and trinkets ahead of time online. This way the kids can use their own money however they want when visiting the parks. On our last trip to Universal Orlando, my son used his park money on only food and it saved us arguing about me spending $10 on a cookie!!!

Pack a small bag full of dollar store pencils, stickers, lollipops, light up toys, etc with the park theme to hand out at the hotel when you arrive. Young kids won’t know where you got the gifts and think you bought it for them at the park!

Money saving tips for Disney World and other family vacations!


Here is a list of popular parks and their themes to help you shop for souvenir gifts ahead of time…

Universal Orlando

Universal Studios: Minions, Harry Potter, Men in Black, Jimmy Fallon, Shrek, Simpsons, Transformers, Fast & Furious, Revenge of the Mummy, E.T., Sponge Bob, Curious George, Hello Kitty, Scooby Doo

Island of Adventures: Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Marvel Comics (Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, X-Men, Ant-Man) King Kong, Popeye, Betty Boop


Disney Parks

Magic Kingdom: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Disney Princesses, Finding Nemo, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh

Animal Kingdom: Safari Animals, Dinosaurs, Yeti Monster, Avatar

Hollywood Studios: Star Wars, Toy Story, Muppets, Frozen, Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones, Twilight Zone

Epcot: Frozen, Race Cars, Space, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, America, Morocco, Canada, United Kingdom

Disneyland: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Disney Princesses, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars, Peter Pan, Toy Story, Dumbo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland

California Adventure: Cars, Toy Story, Black Panther, It’s a Bug’s Life, Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Guardians of the Galaxy


Other Theme Parks

Six Flags: DC Comics (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern) and Looney Toons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Porky Pig, Tasmanian Devil)

Sea World: Shamu, Sesame Street and ocean inspired

Busch Gardens: Sesame Street, Madagascar, safari and jungle animals

Legoland: LEGO toys

Silver Dollar City: Old fashion toys and candy, mining, wild west inspired

Dollywood: Old fashion toys and candy, black bears, Smokey Mountains inspired


I hope you enjoyed these money saving tips for traveling.

How do you save money on vacations?

Let me know in the comments below.


This post contains affiliate referral links to travel partners and Amazon. All come highly recommended by Living Locurto!

The post 4 Simple Tips to Save Money on Travel appeared first on Living Locurto.

Magical Disney Giveaway

Spreading joy this Holiday season with a magical Disney giveaway for Free Disney World or Disneyland Park Tickets!

Spreading joy this Holiday season with a magical giveaway for Free Disney World or Disneyland Park Tickets!

What do you do to keep the magic alive? Go to Disney!

You know those days your heart aches as a parent? I had one a few days ago with my 11 year old daughter. She walked into the living room and looked at her Elf on the Shelf back from the North Pole who was holding a cool new Elf Phone powered by candy. Instead of the huge smile that I was expecting, there were big buckets of tears streaming down her face.

Turns out my daughter had seen my elf video online and thought just because I assembled the candy phone in the video that I also moved the elf all of these years. WAIT… HE WASN’T REAL???? As her world came tumbling down. I about lost it too. But, I kept it together and explained that Peter, our elf, has always come much earlier than she thought to bring me these fun elf ideas from the North Pole to share with my readers. I might assemble some of the printables to show everyone, but the rest is magic. Then her eyes got HUGE when she thought of Santa and more tears gushed out. Instead of the happy morning I had planned, it ended up being a very sad morning seeing the magic disappear in my little girl’s eyes. In our family, no matter how old you get, you never stop believing in the magic of Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, but during this time, there is always wonderful magic in the air! We can’t explain a lot, but have faith. I told my daughter there is magic by giving, by coming together with friends and family and doing good deeds for those in need. You can’t deny this is a magical time of year. I hope she continues to believe, but understand that as you grow up it’s not as strong.

Magical Disney Park Tickets Giveaway

After hugging my girl, the only thing to make me feel better was to spread some good cheer to others. I immediately contacted a few of my blog friends and now we’re pitching in to giveaway a $500 Disney Gift Card good for Free Disney Park Tickets to one lucky person! What better place to believe in magic than at the most magical place on earth?

Spreading joy this Holiday season with a magical giveaway for Free Disney World or Disneyland Park Tickets! $500 Disney Gift Card Giveaway

This $500 Disney gift card is good for TWO Adult 2 day hopper park tickets to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. You can also use it to buy presents at the Disney Store. Use this Disney Gift Card however you choose to spread the magic of the holidays with your family! No matter what you believe, or how you celebrate during the holiday season, Disney is always there to spread some joy and of course… magic.

My daughter and I just got back from Disneyland. It was our third time to experience Christmas at a Disney park and it’s always such a fun time! I hope one of you will get to experience it too. Our favorite is California Adventure! Here are a few photos from our time there. The Christmas desserts are incredible! I ate that entire Minnie Mouse treat in a few bites. It’s a rice krispie treat with ginger infused sugar on top. WOW! Find them at the bakeries around Disneyland and California Adventure.

$500 Disney Gift Card Giveaway - Disneyland Christmas Photos

Enter the Magical Disney Park Tickets Giveaway

Follow the directions below to enter to win the Disney Gift Card. I hope it helps you believe in magic this Holiday season. Good luck!


The post Magical Disney Giveaway appeared first on Living Locurto.

What’s New at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2017

Universal Studios Hollywood is already a top family-friendly destination in Southern California. Still, they don’t rest on their laurels. In fact, one of the most exciting things about Universal Studios is their continual roll out of new and exciting features, restaurants, and programs.

Voodoo Donuts is just one of the few new things at Universal Studios Hollywood this 2017. (Courtesy Wonho Lee/Universal CityWalk)

Voodoo Donuts is just one of the few new things at Universal Studios Hollywood this 2017. (Courtesy Wonho Lee/Universal CityWalk)

This upcoming season is already looking particularly exciting. Additions include Dreamworks related programs and the new nighttime Wizarding World of Harry Potter light show. New at Universal Hollywood also includes exciting new food options. Check out Portland’s most famous and eclectic donut shop, Voodoo Doughnut, and the new, breezy Margaritaville location. Don’t forget to take in a movie at the AMC Theatre, which has also gone through an amazing renovation.


Voodoo Doughnut

What’s new at Universal Hollywood is a little taste of Portland in the form of eclectic and iconic Voodoo Doughnut. The bright pink building is hard to miss on the CityWalk where a large Voodoo Doll doughnut (statue) welcomes you in. Come for the iconic Voodoo Doughnut. Stay for the Hollywood Cream, the Bacon Maple Bar, The Loop and many, many more. There are even vegan options for those with said dietary restriction. Don’t forget to grab a cup of Portland’s finest Joe while there, courtesy of renowned Portland roaster Stumptown.



The man himself kicked off the March opening of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville with a performance. The restaurant offers the perfect reprieve from an activity-filled day at Universal Studios. It’s casual, complete with palm trees, thatched enclaves, and surfboard tables. The 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar at the center of the restaurant offers an array of beverages for the adults in the family. Menu offers family favorites as the LandShark Lager Fish & Chips, Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya, and the Volcano Nachos.


AMC Theatre Universal Cinema

AMC Theater’s exciting renovations, new at Universal Hollywood, are sure to pique the interest of film buffs in the family. Lounge in their new deluxe, recliner seating. The split-level structure makes every seat worth sitting in. You’ll be immersed by upgrades such as the Christie RGB 4k Laser projection and Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound. Even the screens are perforated to allow for 360-degree audio. If the technical stuff doesn’t excite you, then maybe the Director’s Lounge Cocktail Bar will. Situated on the second level, the bar offers the perfect pre and post-movie going fun. Best of all, you can take your drinks into the second level theatres. The Marketplace offers more than popcorn, candy, and sodas. Hotdogs, nachos, curly fries, milkshakes and fruit smoothies are on offer as well. As Steven Spielberg said at the unveiling, “moviegoers have the rare opportunity to see movies at the very place where movies are actually made.”


Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter already a star attraction since its opening will offer one more reason to visit. New at Universal Hollywood come late June, “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” will run several times a night. This light display, accompanied by a special John Williams arrangement, highlights the four houses of Hogwarts. The projection fans beams of light into the night sky. So grab your butterbeer and end your night on a magical note.


Dreamworks Programs

Dreamworks Animation is now a part of the Universal family and as such will become a part of the Universal Studios’ landscape. New at Universal Hollywood in 2018, the Dreamworks Theatre will hold several action-packed attractions including one inspired by new Kung Fu Panda. You’ll also be able to meet Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Trolls’ characters as soon as this summer.


James Holland of Another Spur on the Road contributed this to MiniTime.


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Exciting New Attractions Coming to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World just opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Just don’t think the theme park giant will rest on the accolades of this new land.

Bob Chapek announced Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as the name of the previously untitled Star Wars-themed land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Courtesy Disney Parks)

Bob Chapek announced Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as the name of the previously untitled Star Wars-themed land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Courtesy Disney Parks)


Recently, the Disney D23 Expo fan convention was held in the Anaheim Convention Center, July 14-16, adjacent to Disneyland. Called “The Ultimate Disney Fan Event,” the D23 Expo brings together all the worlds of the Walt Disney Company. A host of new attractions at Walt Disney World were announced both in and outside the parks.

Building these new rides will keep Walt Disney Imagineers busy until Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. So when are you planning your next family vacation to Walt Disney World? Between now and 2021, whenever your family decides to visit, there’s bound to be something new.

Here are the latest details on all the new attractions at Walt Disney World in development.


(MORE: What’s New at Walt Disney World in 2017)


Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Land will open in time for summer 2018 welcoming families to Andy’s toy strewn yard. Toy Story Land rides include Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, a spinner ride beneath.. The Claw.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be a ride into and through a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Surprisingly, it’s the first-ever ride through Mickey Mouse themed attraction. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will replace The Great Movie Ride inside the Chinese Theatre. Opening date for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has not yet been announced.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the name for the Star Wars themed land opening in 2019. The land includes two attractions. The first one is a ride on board the Millennium Falcon where your family must work together to complete a mission. The second attraction will simulate the escape from a battle inside the gaping hangar of an Imperial Star Destroyer.



Guardians of the Galaxy will take over the building occupied by Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside the Universe of Energy pavilion. Disney released few details as to what type of ride this “Guardians of the Galaxy” entails. However, it’s sure to involve a classic rock soundtrack. This Guardians attraction will be open by 2021.

Mission: SPACE will receive updated missions including a tamer Green training mission. In addition, a Mission: SPACE themed restaurant will open operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. There is currently not an opening date for the space restaurant.

The China Pavilion receives a new digital Circle-Vision film. Opening date for this new film has not been announced.

Ratatouille will open by 2021 in the France Pavilion of World Showcase. This attraction based on the 2007 Pixar film “Ratatouille” will be similar to the ride at Disneyland Paris Resort. Guests will “shrink” to the size of a rat and will be chased through Gusteau’s Parisian restaurant.


Magic Kingdom

TRON-themed ride similar to Shanghai Disneyland’s TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster will be added to Tomorrowland. Just in time for the Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary in 2021.


(MORE: What’s New at Universal Orlando in 2017)


Outside the Parks

“Star Wars”- themed hotel will house your family of Skywalkers in an all immersive, 24 hour, role-playing type experience. Disney has not yet determined when this hive of scum and villainy will open.

Disney Riviera Resort will be the 15th luxury-level Disney Vacation Club property. Located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the new hotel is expected to open in Fall 2019.

Disney Skyliner will use a gondola system to alter the Walt Disney World skyline. The transportation system will run between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme parks. It will connect four different hotels including the newly announced Disney Riviera Resort. Opening date for Disney Skyliner will be announced later.


Dave Parfitt of Adventures by Daddy contributed this to MiniTime. He is a father of two and a runner with a PhD in neuroscience who chronicles his family adventures as well as offer family travel advice and escapist fun from Dad’s perspective.


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10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando

Fun things you have to do when visiting Universal Orlando on your next family vacation!   10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando My family loves Universal Orlando! We are annual passholders and have traveled to Universal Orlando dozens of times. Not only have we made a ton of great family memories on these […]

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Frozen Dole Whip – Disney Copycat Recipe

A delicious Disney copycat recipe for Animal Kingdom’s famous Dole Whip with rum. This easy frozen pineapple cocktail is perfect for summer! Easy Disney Copycat Pineapple Dole Whip Recipe Imagine you’re at Disney World enjoying a famous Disney Dole Whip. Now you can make one at home with this tasty Frozen Dole Whip copycat recipe! […]

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