Saturday, January 28, 2017

Easy Ways to Save Money at Disney World

I'm excited to have another post by my Disney expert, MaryFran. Not only is MaryFran an expert on Disney World, she is one of the most frugal people I know. She always manages to do Disney for less, and today she's sharing her expertise.

One question that I get asked frequently is how to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation. These are some simple suggestions that might help you to save a few dollars.

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1. Stay at one of the value resort hotels 

We have had the opportunity to stay at the deluxe, moderate and value resorts. The value resorts have rates that hover around 100 dollars a night, depending on the time of year you travel—comparable to most non-resort hotels. The sheets and pillows were of a higher quality at the deluxe resort, but I am so tired by the end of the evening that I don't really care about the quality of the sheets. All of the resorts are beautiful and each resort has something special to offer.

We personally like the value resorts not only for the cost savings but because they have amenities that are more suited to younger children. There seem to be more activities for the kids in the afternoon and evening at the value resorts. The value resorts have doors that open to the outside (as opposed to a corridor that your family has to try and quietly walk along). We love being able to step right out into the Florida sunshine!

Another money-saving reason to stay in a resort hotel is that it will eliminate the need for a car rental. Disney hotels offer airport pick-up and drop-off and also get you to the parks each day.

See all of the Disney World value resorts and their prices here: Value Resorts

Get Away Today also books Disney World hotels, often at a discount. (If you book through them, be sure to mention that Overstuffed referred you!)

2. Consider getting a Disney Visa

While I do not advocate getting a credit card if you will not pay it off every month (the caveat of 6 months financing for your Disney Vacation), the Disney Visa comes with lots of perks to help you save money on your vacation.

For instance, there are incentives when you use your new card. You can get discounts for certain experiences at the parks and at some shops when you pay with your Disney Visa. When I know that we will be traveling to WDW in the future I switch to using that card for more of my daily purchases to gather more reward points and help fund our vacation.

The Disney Visa rewards apply at Disneyland and on Disney Cruise Lines, too!

Apply for a Disney Visa here: Chase Disney Card (If you have a friend with one, they can refer you and receive reward dollars.)

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3. Go during the off season.  

I consult this chart when planning a trip for my friends or family. It ranks the week of the year based on projected crowds and prices. Since the hotel prices are lower during the off-season, it is a quick way to find out when the prices will be lowest. It also has information about ride closures and peak hurricane season and loads of other great information both for first timers and repeat visitors.

4. Save money on food

In order to save money on food, we eat one large meal per day and eat snacks for the rest of the day. You can bring food items into the park and carry them yourselves or rent a locker if you don't want to carry them around. I usually have a few small items like granola bars in my bag, but you can carry as much as you're willing.

It's a good idea for each of you to have a small string backpack like these colorful ones or this Mickey Mouse one to keep some snacks in. It's easy to get hungry with all that walking, and if you really don't want to pay the Disney prices for food, it's best to be prepared.

When we do eat inside the park, we share meals.

If you are staying on a Disney property, there are no continental breakfasts offered, so you will want to factor that in to your food budget.

You can also investigate the dining plans here: Disney Dining Plans.

5. Stay longer!

The more days you stay, the park ticket price goes down.

Below are the ticket prices according to the Disney World website. 5 days in the parks is only $20 more than 4 days in the park!

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6. Give the experience of a trip to Walt Disney World as a gift. 

We are already used to saving money for Christmas and birthdays. Why not put that budget toward a Disney vacation? This helps to avoid clutter of items that no one will remember in a few years while providing family memories that will last a lifetime.

If you are looking to book a Disney vacation, I highly recommend you book through Get Away Today for the best deals. Bonus: Enter the code STUFFED10 at checkout for any Southern California packages you book and receive an extra $10.00 off. Check out all the packages here: Get Away Today

Disney expert

MaryFran is the Disney expert at She has been to Disneyland once and Disney World a whopping 8 times! MaryFran is a planner by nature, so she is always planning for her next Disney trip with her husband and three daughters. When she isn't planning a Disney trip for her own family, you can bet she is helping a friend plan their trip! Now, she'll be helping you plan your Disney trips here at Overstuffed.

Find out even more about MaryFran and her love for Disney here: Meet MaryFran—Overstuffed's Disney Expert

Read all of MaryFran's articles on Overstuffed: How to do Disney right!

New Disney articles will be published monthly.

photo credit: chris.alcoran Welcome | Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade via photopin (license)

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

10 Reasons to Visit Heber Valley in the Winter

This is a sponsored post for Heber Valley Tourism

I have always thought a vacation should include sunshine, beaches, and flip flops. But the longer we live in our Michigan Winter Wonderland, I have realized that winter has a lot to offer, too! While I will probably never be a true winter lover, my children are slowly converting me to the fact that snow is a lot of fun, and maybe some of our winter vacations should include more of the white stuff.

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Heber Valley, Utah is a pretty cool place to visit in the winter—it has just about everything you would want for a family friendly winter vacation, plus everything you didn't even know you wanted. Here are some awesome ideas for what to do in Heber Valley, Utah during the winter months.

10 Reasons to Visit Heber Valley in the Winter

1. The Zermatt Resort

winter vacation | zermatt resort | Heber Valley Utah

The Zermatt Resort will make you feel like you are in Switzerland instead of Utah due to its architecture and setting in the snowy Rocky Mountains. It's the perfect place to stay for a wintery adventure and includes a spa, restaurant, pool, and more.

2. Tubing at Soldier Hollow

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Soldier Hollow was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics and has an amazing tubing run that kids and adults will love. You can tube in 2-hour sessions during the day on their 1200 foot sled runs. Or you can choose to go tubing at night which would be especially fun if you have teenagers.

3. The Midway Ice Castles

Every year during the winter I see my Utah friends post amazing photos of their visits to the Midway Ice Castles. I was so hoping we would get to see them while we were in Utah on our Sabbatical, but alas, we just missed them.

Midway Ice castles | Utah | winter activities in Utah

The Ice Castles are made by placing a single icicle which then is watered and joined with other icicles to create the unique ice castle formations. The ice artists mold the ice into towers and tunnels, archways and thrones, and slides and canyons. They are absolutely beautiful, and they're still on my bucket list—if you are in Heber Valley during the winter time they are a must see.

Plus, you can take a sleigh ride from Rocky Mountain Outfitters to the Ice Castles—talk about a magical experience that your kids will remember forever!

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4. Midway Ice Rink

An outdoor ice rink is a perfectly idyllic way to celebrate winter. Midway Ice Rink is an affordable place to take your entire family to enjoy ice skating outside.

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5. Snowmobiling

Utah's Wasatch Front has many places to go snowmobiling, and many of them are in the Heber/Midway area. There are several places to rent snowmobiles, so there is no excuse not to get out on the mountain and enjoy some of the greatest snow on earth.

snowmobile | winter sports | Utah

6. Snowshoeing

I admit, snowmobiles scare me a little bit, and my balance on skis is iffy now that I'm over 40. But snowshoeing is something I really enjoy doing. Soldier Hollow allows you to snowshoe along the edges of the groomed cross country ski trails.

7. Cross Country Skiing

Soldier Hollow offers miles of groomed Cross Country ski trails. There are trails perfect for beginners and trails suitable for Olympic-level skiers. Perfect for a family vacation.

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8. Heber Valley Railroad

One of my childhood memories includes riding the Heber Valley Railroad (then called the "Heber Creeper") with my parents and grandparents. It wasn't during the winter, but I thought it was so much fun to be on a real train!

The historic Heber Valley Railroad keeps running during the winter and you can even ride the specialty North Pole Express or the Tube 'n' Train which includes tubing with your train travel. You can't beat that kind of fun!

Heber Creeper | Heber Valley Railroad | winter activities

9. The Homestead Crater

This is something I heard about often in college but never actually got around to doing myself. The Homestead Crater is a geothermal underground spring located at the Homestead Resort. Once you're inside the spring you can go scuba diving, snorkel, swim, or take a paddleboard yoga class! Nature's hot tub is the perfect way to warm up after a day out in the snow!

Homestead resort | Heber Utah | Hot springs

10. Downhill Skiing

If you prefer downhill skiing to cross country, there are two ski resorts that are very close to Heber Valley: Sundance and Deer Valley. Most winter vacations in Utah really should include at least one day of downhill skiing! I learned to ski at Sundance as a kid, and it is still one of my favorite ski resorts.

Winter shouldn't be spent hibernating indoors on electronics (believe me, I need this advice just as much as anyone!). Heber Valley is the perfect place to get your family to unplug and really enjoy the winter. Not only does it have a ton of winter activities available for every member of the family, it's only 45 minutes away from Salt Lake City.

Get more information about all Heber Valley has to offer by clicking the following links:

Heber Valley Website
Winter in Heber Valley on YouTube
Heber Valley on YouTube
Heber Valley Facebook

This is a sponsored post for Heber Valley Tourism

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"I Wish I Had S'more Friends Like You" Valentine Idea

This post is sponsored by Minted—my favorite place to design and order cards for all occasions. Enter BEMINE at checkout and get 15% off all Valentine Cards and Gifts until 1/30/17.

Every year when Valentine's Day rolls around I have to figure out what my kids are going to do for their class valentines. Some years I totally have it together and make adorable class valentines and other years I completely drop the ball. The one thing I do know is that I always want them to be super cute and I want my girls to love whatever they are handing out.

I also love it when someone else does most of the work for me because I am more likely to drop the ball than I am to have a really great plan. So when I found out that Minted had classroom valentine cards, I was thrilled. I have always loved Minted because their designs are gorgeous, and I wasn't disappointed in their selection of Valentine's Day cards at all.

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Sophia is my only daughter left in elementary school, so I had her look at all of the available designs. She narrowed it down to a few and ended up choosing this adorable "I wish I had S'more friends like you" card.

They came the other day and we had fun coming up with a cute S'mores treat to go with them. We thought it would be a lot of fun to put together a S'mores Trail Mix instead of giving each child a large graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow.

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I purchased milk chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and Teddy Grahams. You could also use Golden Graham cereal for the small graham crackers, but Sophia liked the idea of the bears. It was super fast and simple to layer the chocolate chips, marshmallows, and mini graham crackers in plastic bags and tie them up with pink and red curling ribbon.

The Minted cards are about 2x3 inches and are just so cute and tiny. We opted to add a few extras in order to show you what's available there.

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1. We added a shaped border

All the cards come with straight edges by default, but for $6.00 extra you can add shaped borders to many of the designs.

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2. We purchased personalized stickers to go on the envelopes

We couldn't pass up the cute little stickers that go with the valentines! Each design comes with its own matching sticker design that you can personalize with your child's name.

Get 24 free matching stickers with your order by entering the code STICKERS17 at checkout. Good until 1/31/17.

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3. We added a custom backer

The valentines come with a white background by default, but for an extra $6.00 you can add one of the custom backers. Sophia chose to do a personalized note that she typed herself, but you can also choose a cute valentine design, a photo of your child, or a valentine tic-tac-toe game.

Photo courtesy

The extras are all really fun, but even without a single extra you'll have some beautiful valentines for your kids this year! Sophia is so excited for Valentine's Day to roll around so that she can give these valentines out to her class. I have a feeling that her class will love them!

Minted recommends that you order your class valentines by 2/2 in order to have them in time, but I will also say that I had mine in less than a week after ordering. Better safe than sorry, though!

Check out all of the class valentine designs here: Minted Class Valentines.
Get the S'more valentine here: I Wish I Had S'more Friends Like You.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 2017 Visiting Teaching Printable

The January 2017 visiting teaching message is all about the purpose of the Relief Society.

During the summer of 1995, I served a mini music mission to Nauvoo where I was able to visit Sarah Kimball's home many times. There the first members of what was to become the Relief Society gathered to form a women's group intended to help and serve others. My fellow musical sisters and I even got to re-enact the formation of the Relief Society in a musical we performed every single night! I learned an awful lot about the importance and purpose of the Relief Society that summer, that's for sure.

January 2017 visiting teaching printable | visiting teaching handout | purpose of relief society | Linda K. Burton | faith, family, relief | LDS |

I have always loved the way Joseph Smith immediately saw the crucial role a women's society would play in the church. I love that he not only gave his blessing to the Relief Society, but also organized them under the pattern of the priesthood.

For my handout this month, I chose Sister Linda K. Burton's quote:

"The purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life. It is through faith, family, and relief that we engage in our vital part in the work."

I usually purchase an inexpensive 5x7 photo frame for each of the sisters I visit teach. I then print the handout onto photo paper (I print at home, but you can also send to print at a photo center) each month so the sisters can change their frame and display that month's message in their homes.

To download:

Please enter your email into the form below and the printable will be send directly to your email inbox. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.

I am thankful for the Relief Society in my life. I have been both the giver and the recipient of much service and relief. I have made lifelong friendships as I have served and loved my fellow sisters.

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I love what Lucy Mack Smith said at one of the very first Relief Society meetings—it embodies the purpose of the Relief Society perfectly:

"We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together."

I'm excited to focus on the Relief Society this year during Visiting Teaching!

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