Things I Broke My Spending Ban For

After having a bit of fun in the January sales, I put myself on a rather strict spending ban a few weeks ago in an attempt to pay off what’s left of Christmas, January birthdays and stuff for my holiday in April. I mentioned in Wednesday’s post that it’s inevitable that whenever I go on a spending ban, I always end up spotting things that I want more than when I’m free to spend what I like, so of course in the last month there have been a few little exceptions to the ban.

Disney Store picked the most unfortunate time (for me) to release the first month of their limited edition Mickey Memories collection, and it was just my luck that January’s release was the one I wanted to get my hands on the most. I thought maybe I could wait to buy this adorable little Steamboat Willie Mickey, but FOMO got the better of me and I was there on the website at 7:55am waiting for the launch to drop online, and I’m so glad I did because I know a lot of people who missed out on this limited edition cutie, and I’ve already seen some going on eBay for £50-60, when he was only £25. What I am happy about, however, is that I paid for him using some of my Etsy earnings from January, so my bank account didn’t actually see the effects of this spend at all!

My friend Rachel makes the sweetest fandom inspired coffee cozies, and having bought my first one back in December and loved it, I was keen for more. Then she brought out a Porg cozy and I was absolutely sold, plus I bought it when she was running a buy one, get a surprise one free offer, so I also got another design that is also been eyeing up, this little Mickey glove. I love supporting small businesses, so this was well worth breaking the ban. You can buy her darling creations here!

I actually popped into Clintons looking for the next item, not knowing it hadn’t actually been released in stores yet, but while I was nosing around the store I found this amazing vintage Disney poster patterned notebook and I couldn’t not get it.. But the bonus was when I got to the checkout, it actually scanned up cheaper than the label – winner!

Last, but certainly not least, I have been waiting to get this amazing Winnie the Pooh dish for months. Clintons dropped spoilers for this collection back in November and I’ve patiently waited since then to buy it, but as soon as it released on the website it sold out, and I just knew how unlikely it was that my local stores would stock it. Luckily, the lovely Clintons Twitter team were nice enough to notify me when it came back in stock online, and I snapped it up within minutes! This was also paid for with Etsy earnings, so another little victory!

Worth breaking the ban? I think so..

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How Disney Vacation Club Actually Works

So back in November I shared the massively exciting news that on our recent trip to Walt Disney World, Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, and since then there’s been a lot of interest in me writing this post, so here goes!

Simply put, DVC is a timeshare, but its so much more than your typical 2 weeks in Spain every summer kinda thing. Yes, its a proper deed so officially you own the land and there’s a lot of official documents to sign, but essentially what you pay for is points.

Points

Getting points

So the price you pay for your membership depends the number of points you get. We own Disney’s Polynesian Resort, so this becomes our ‘home resort’, and our contract is for 130 points, which means every year we get 130 points to use within its allotted timeframe.

Using points

Every room at every DVC resort has a certain number of points, which varies based on the resort, the room size and the season – typically the bigger the room, the more expensive the resort if paid cash, and the higher peak seasons = more points. We chose 130 points per year as that’s the number of points it takes to have Deluxe Studio in Poly for 1 week during the season that we would typically travel, which is Oct-Nov time, but for the same amount of time in a Savannah View Deluxe Studio in Animal Kingdom Lodge, its only 88 points, so there’s a lot of variation which means we can be really flexible too.

Points do not have to be used every year, but if you aren’t going to use them, you have to ‘bank’ them by a certain time within your use year, and that means that if you want to do a longer or more expensive trip in 2 years time, you could bank this year’s points, and then use them on top of next year’s. You can also borrow points from the following year, for example, for our Aulani trip this April, we’ve borrowed 10 points from next year’s allocation, and then if you do need any extra points on top of banking and borrowing, members have the option of purchasing up to 24 extra points for a cash value.

Selling off

Your contract length varies depending on when you buy it, but if you’re purchasing direct from Disney, you’re looking at about 50 years. However, if its not working out for you, you can sell your contract back to Disney or sell it privately, as well as being able to transfer it into other people’s names, for example if you wanted to pass the contract onto your children.

Resorts

DVC covers every Deluxe resort or villas in Walt Disney World, plus Grand Californian in Disneyland, and also Disney’s Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island and Aulani resorts, so you can use your points at any of these places, plus they also have the RCI Network of thousands of hotels all over the world that you can use your points to pay for.

Booking resorts

Earlier I mentioned Polynesian being our ‘home resort’, and not only does this mean that this is the resort we actually own, but it also gives us the opportunity to book this up to 11 months in advance, while every other resort becomes available to us at the 7 month mark, and vice versa, those members who own other resorts cannot book Polynesian until the 7 month mark, so we sorta get a head start. Booking can be done directly through the DVC website, similar to the WDW website, or over the phone with DVC cast members.

DVC members can also book stays for anyone, so if for example we weren’t going to go one year, but my parents wanted to go, we book the stay for them using our points and our name doesn’t have to be on the booking at all, so gifting points is really easy. A lot of members also use this perk as a way of renting points out for monetary value, and there are a lot of Facebook groups and pages dedicated to point rental.

Staying in resorts

There’s no real difference between staying in a resort as a member or a regular guest, however while the rubbish is collected daily, the rooms are only serviced every 4 days, although you can request extra visits for a surcharge. However, DVC members do have the added perk of being able to use the pools in any DVC resort, even those that are normally off limits to guests not staying at that resort.

Paying for DVC

Membership cost

The cost of membership can be paid in full or Disney also offer financing, although there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from finding finance elsewhere. For US residents, finance is offered depending on credit searches, but if you’re from the UK, you’re automatically approved for finance through Disney at a rate of 12.5%. One of the great things about this, however, is that while it is a loan, because they cannot set up a direct debit with a UK bank account, the payments have to be made from a credit or debit card, and this means that it will not show up on any credit searches done in the UK, so this loan will not affect your credit score or affect your ability to get other loans of mortgages.

Dues

On top of membership fees, every year members pay resort dues, which is a one off payment in January that goes towards the upkeep of your home resort. Again, the amount of these dues varies depending on your resort, and typically the newer resorts have higher dues, but the dues also vary from year to year based on the work that’s predicted to need doing.

Member benefits

There are a tonne of perks that come along with being a DVC member. From the moment you sign your contract, you have access to a digital membership card to keep you going until your real one arrives, and that means that you can start to take advantage of the 20% discount off all WDW merchandise, 10% off dining and access to the exclusive DVC lounges such as Bay Lake Tower’s Top of the World Lounge straight away.

There’s also a whole bunch of other discounts available at other shopping and dining locations in Disney Springs, discounted park tickets, DVC exclusive events such as Moonlight Magic, and exclusive merchandise, plus early registration to RunDisney events.

Don’t worry folks, you’ve come to the end of my ramblings now! I hope this has been informative to anyone curious about DVC, but I’ll leave you with one little nugget of wisdom before you go. If you’re considering Disney Vacation Club, I thoroughly recommend that you go to a DVC open house and hear all this again from the experts – I’ve been to two open houses and I can honestly say that there is no one more knowledgeable or passionate about what they sell than the DVC reps, plus they do not pressure you in any way. If you have any more questions for me, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

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The Disney Favourites of my Childhood

I was born in 1994, which was the year that The Lion King was released, and my first Disney trip was actually while my mum was still pregnant with me, so its pretty safe to say that Disney has been ingrained in me from birth.

I was lucky enough to be born at a time that meant my childhood was filled with some absolute Disney bangers, and I remember watching so many of them, although at that time it was all VHS. The films and the characters from this time all still hold a really special place in my heart, and many of them are still firm favourites of mine, but there are a few in particular that stand out for me.

Sleeping Beauty

Aurora was my favourite princess while I was a kid. I let this slip from my memory a little but my mum reminded me a few years ago and it all came back to me. I remember having a Sleeping Beauty towel (which may still be in our garage somewhere) and I had an Aurora doll, in the pink dress, although I’m firmly Team Blue, and think I may have been as a child as well. Aurora may have been replaced as my favourite princess (oh hey, Rapunzel) but I’ll always remember this.

101 Dalmatians

Animal lover from the start, those spotty pups were particular favourites of mine, and I even had 101 Dalmatian wall stickers all over my bedroom walls and door – in fact, the ones on my door stayed there right up until I redecorated in 2009.

Esmeralda

I loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a child, and I had a playset that had the festival tent and various other props, as well as an Esmeralda doll which I adored. Of course at that age I had no idea about some of the darker aspects of the story, I just thought Esmeralda was the best.

Meeko

I seem to recall Pocahontas being a favourite of both mine and my sister’s, but the love affair with Meeko was all mine. I remember being so incredibly excited meeting him in what I’m guessing must have been Wilderness Lodge, where this iconic photo was taken after I pretty much rugby tackled him to the ground.

To this day I have such a strong attachment to this little raccoon.

Pluto

We did a lot of Disney trips when I was little, and although thinking back on it, it would possibly be construed as animal abuse, every time I met Pluto I had to pull on his big red tongue. He never seemed to mind though!

Hercules (but mainly Meg)

A truly iconic film of my childhood, if you ask me. I wasn’t so interested in Herc himself, but I loved Pegasus and Meg, even if I didn’t appreciate her sass as a kid. Does anyone else remember the Disney Channel Hercules series? I remember being so upset that Meg wasn’t in it!

And of course there’s not a single photo of me and Mickey where I’m not grinning my little dimples off! Are there any characters you remember strongly from your childhood?

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What I Got For Christmas

I’m kinda not over the fact that its already been a week since Christmas, but hey, that means just another 51 weeks til the next one! No? Just me..

Anyway, I know I’m a little late in posting the classic ‘what I got for Christmas’ haul, but as I was having my little Christmas break from blogging, I’m just extending the festive period so that I can share with you all the wonderful gifts I received on the big day.

Let’s start with the present that was too big to fit under the tree – say hello to my new suitcase! Bit of back story here, my current suitcase is about 15 years old and has two wheels, and all these new-fangled suitcase have four, which I’m not a huge fan of but apparently its the thing now. Well Matthew figured that the only way to get my over my dislike of four wheels was to make it Donald themed! Super excited to take this bad-boy to Hawaii in April to test it out!

Matthew also got me the Fitbit Flyer headphones, which I’m already super impressed by but I can’t wait to put them to good use when I start my marathon training, and a book on how to get the best out of my iPad Pro, plus a cute kitty mug, unicorn slippers and a onesie! I hate the phrase ‘boy did good’ but it seems fitting here..

Now I have no idea how she managed it for a second time, but after the incredible surprise of a CoachxDisney wristlet on my birthday, my mum shocked me with another item from the collection, this time a purse. I’m quite jealous as I had no luck finding any of the collection in the outlets, yet she’s done it twice – she also nabbed me this Mickey sweater!

How gorgeous is this Fiorelli gym bag? I actually picked this one out myself but I still had to wait until Christmas to get it.. I suspect my gym will be packed this month with New Years resolution-ers, but I’ll be ready to fight for all the good machines now I’ve got a bag to fit all my kit in.

Other goodies in my stocking included Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls, a little collection of Lush products, a couple of gift cards and a pretty Beauty and the Beast bracelet from Couture Kingdom from Matthew’s mum, so it’s safe to say I’ve been incredibly lucky this year!

I hope everyone else was spoilt rotten, and if you want to share what you got for Christmas please leave me a comment so I can be nosey!

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We’re Going to Aulani!

Someone pinch me, because I can’t believe this is really happening.

Credit: disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com

Disney’s Hawaiian resort has been on my ultimate bucket list for I don’t even know how long, and being able to visit this absolute paradise was a big selling point when Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, so much so we were determined to make it our first DVC trip.

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to familiarise ourselves with the DVC booking system, and checking day in, day out for availability in the weeks we were hoping to make the trip, but it was all starting to look a little impossible. We’d either have to change rooms every other day, or end up having to buy extra points on top of borrowing points from our next year, and suddenly our lovely relaxing holiday was turning into a stressful booking experience.. Until last night, when for some bizarre reason, Matthew was awake at 2am and decided to check the DVC website, and by some miracle a whole week was suddenly open and he booked it on the spot!

So we’re going to be in paradise at the end of April, and as well as doing a week in Aulani, we’re gonna spend a few days in San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. I’m absolutely squealing just thinking about this trip and better still its less than 130 days away!

I’m so ready for another adventure!

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Be Our Guest – Which Meal Is Best?

Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most popular dining spots in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and tomorrow actually marks 5 years since the Beast’s castle opened its doors to guests.

Situated in Fantasyland, the restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and each meal offers guests a different dining experience. I recently ticked breakfast off the list of meals I’ve had here, so now I’ve done the set, here’s the low-down on what each meal offers!

Breakfast

BOG is one of the three restaurants in Magic Kingdom that opens for breakfast at 8am, meaning that if you can get a reservation then you get early access to the park, and the perks that come with that AKA empty Main Street and castle photos! Now don’t let the word reservation fool you – while advanced reservations are usually for table service meals, breakfast is actually quick service, so a worthwhile use of a QS credit if you’re on the dining plan! That said, however, while you do visit a counter to pay for your meal, the food is brought directly to you at your table. And to add more magic to the experience, you can actually pre-order your food on the Walt Disney World website so that you don’t have to even worry about deciding what to eat on the day! As for the food..

This is the Croque Madame, which was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in WDW, but there are a few options from classic breakfast dishes to sweet options, and every table also gets a selection of fruit and assorted pastries to tuck into as well!

If you’re not on the dining plan, entrees are $25.

Lunch

Lunch is also a quick service meal, but as with breakfast its highly recommended that you get a reservation, but if you can’t snag one, try to get to the restaurant for when it opens and you stand a good chance of a minimal wait! Again, while being technically classified as a counter service, you order at a booth but the food is brought to you wherever you choose to sit, whether that’s in the West Wing, the Ballroom or the Gallery.

The menu is primarily sandwiches and salads, but there are some soup and other veggie options. I tend to stick to the Croque Monsieur, which is basically a ham and cheese toastie but it comes with a good helping of fries and definitely worth a quick service credit!

Entrees at lunch are all around the $17 mark.

Dinner

I did dinner for the first time here in February this year. Dinner is table service, and as such guests receive a bit more of a magical experience, including each party being given a Lumiere to light their way to the table. The restaurant is a little more packed in during dinner (or at least it felt like it the one time I was there!) so it can be a bit louder.

The food is also a lot fancier, which you’d certainly hope for with a table service meal. I really enjoyed the food – I mean when do I not? – but compared to other amazing meals I’ve had in WDW it was average, so personally I don’t think I’d do dinner here again if I wasn’t on the dining plan.

That said though, once you finish your meal you get to experience the other magical moment that having dinner here gets you, and that’s meeting the Beast himself!

Dinner entrees range from $22-36, appetizers are $10-15 and desserts are $5.

Good things to know

With it being such a popular destination, the restaurant can be pretty noisy, especially during the quick service mealtimes, but if you get breakfast early it can be quite quiet, depending on the time of year. The restaurant is also well set up with plenty of different table sizes, including big round tables that can fit a party of 10.

What I cannot fault about the restaurant in any way is the decor, so be sure to explore each of the three rooms of the restaurant, including seeing the Enchanted Rose in the West Wing! My favourite room is the Grand Ballroom, and I love watching the snow fall outside the window.

Whatever meal you choose, you’re in for a magical meal and its an absolute must for any Beauty and the Beast fans!

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Owning the Magic

So Matthew and I kinda did a crazy thing when we were in Florida..

I’ve been to a Disney Vacation Club presentation before; Dad and I went to one on our trip back in 2016 for the sole reason that we were sucked into talking to a rep, who offered us a $50 gift card and some free fastpasses to give up an hour of our time, and we figured why not?

Well Matthew and I did the same thing. There was a $100 gift card offered this time, and I knew the presentation was quite interesting and not pressured, so when Matthew showed some interest in wanting to go, and we knew we had a day that was relatively unplanned, we let the nice rep at the booth in Epcot talk us into it.

To cut a long story short, we were sold. We crunched a gazillion numbers, double and triple checked all of the information that was given to us, and at the end of it all it seemed like the right decision for us. It was way more affordable than we had originally thought, and we know that with the trips we’d like to make over the next few years, we’d end up saving a LOT of money. We didn’t rush into anything – in fact, we actually walked away from the first meeting and booked to go back another time so we had a few days to properly mull everything over, and that was definitely the right thing for us to do. Everything made sense and now..

WE’RE DISNEY VACATION CLUB MEMBERS!

So we now own something silly like 0.2% of Unit 65 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, yay! Poly will be our home resort, meaning we can book stays 11 month in advance, and stays elsewhere 7 months in advance, but as well as Walt Disney World we have big plans for our membership points, including Disneyland California and my absolute dream of going to Aulani, Disney’s Hawaiian resort!

I’m excited for all the adventures that this will bring for us, as well as the fact that technically this is the first property that Matthew and I own together!

Stay tuned for more!

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