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I went to Disney World...

...and it just might be the happiest place on Earth. I know I was particularly happy when I realized how much we saved due to Disney's Armed Forces Salute. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time Disney has offered something like this to the military and it ends December 23. I sincerely hope they will offer this again.

Our family of four saved $682 ($734 when you consider that my husband's ticket actually included the water park option) on the tickets. If our kids had been older, the savings would have been even greater (kids 10 and older are charged at the adult rate). We could have shaved another $75 off our ticket prices if we hadn't opted for the Park Hopper option (which we used the last 2 days of our stay). We stayed at Shades of Green, the Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) on the Disney property. Compared to staying at comparable Disney resorts, this also saved us a significant amount of money. Besides, our ticket savings almost paid for our lodging expenses!

We got our vacation off to a good start on the very first day. My husband had activated our tickets the night before because we had an early reservation for breakfast at the Magic Kingdom. Being the typical Type A personalities that we are, we were supremely early getting there. So we sat on a bench in front of the bag check area regrouping and wondering what we should do for the next 45 minutes before the park opened. Everyone else around us was getting their bag checked and stationing themselves for the park opening. Maybe that's what made us stand out? The lack of frenzied movement? We were picked to be the First Family that day and open the park! Our kids were given complimentary autograph books and we were whisked away to Toon Town where we met a cast of characters (who had all signed the girls' books) and got to hang out with Mickey Mouse before opening the park for the day.

Now, I'm not saying this was an inexpensive vacation. But it was a memorable and wonderful vacation. And it cost a lot less than it might have.

Thanks, Disney!

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