Military Disney Tips turns 10 Years Old this month! Let’s take a look at where we are and also back at where it all started.
Wow, It is hard to believe that it has been a decade since Military Disney Tips first appeared!
Military Disney Tips has grown from the humblest of beginnings to the very large, very successful resource for military families that it is today. While I have put quite a lot of time and effort into the site, it’s you the readers who make the site so successful.
I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you. I’m so appreciative of your interest, support, and contributions. It has been my pleasure to try to help you in any way I can to plan for your Disney vacations over the last 10 years.
Hang on to your hats, cause this will be a long post looking back at the last awesome decade, as I feel we have a lot to brag about…
Where We Are Today
The Decade’s Numbers
Military Disney Tips has received over 5,912,225 visitors and over 23,709,870 pageviews during the last 10 years (detailed tracking only goes back to 21 Feb 2009, so the first 10 months of minimal data is missing).
Our Facebook page has grown to over 32,170 followers, and this past December we passed the Official Shades of Green Facebook page in number of followers. Since December we’ve been bouncing back and forth as to who is in the lead (for now). We once were 20,000 followers behind them…
Our Newsletter has grown to almost 12,000 subscribers.
Worldwide Readers – While most of the MDT’s readers during this decade have been from the US, we also serve quite a few readers from overseas locations where our military members are stationed or deployed such as: The UK, Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, Japan, South Korea, Italy, The Netherlands, Kuwait, Australia, Afghanistan, Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain, and Spain to name a few.
The Military Disney Tips Team
Steve Bell – MDT founder and Chief Information Officer. Retired military (31 years), current DoD Civil Service (20+ years, much concurrent with mil service), and prior Walt Disney World Cast Member, has been touring Disney Parks and Resorts since 1971. You can read more about Steve on our About Page.
Kenzie – Our new Disneyland correspondent. She’s a military spouse who loves spending time at the Disneyland Resort. Kenzie came on at the end of 2017 and has contributed lots of great Disneyland posts.
Linda – As mentioned above Linda is why our Pinterest account looks and performs so well! Linda also started at the end of 2017 and has whipped what Steve had started (but not had time to maintain) into shape. Linda is a Pinterest expert who performs this service for many other websites like our friend Dave at YourFirstVisit.net and maintains a huge Disney presence on Pinterest herself.
Helping Our Community – Our #1 Mission
When we first started, we were lucky to get 50 pageviews per month. For years now MDT has received over 1 million visits and over 4 million pageviews per year.
That’s a lot of info going out to help military families with their Disney planning!
Over the years we’ve also successfully engaged with Disney to promote improvements in their military discounts.
When 2010’s Disney Armed Forces Salute started, Disney created a new rule that military members would only be allowed to make a single purchase of Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets. So if you wanted to be able to use all 6 allowed, you would have to buy them all at the same time, even if you might or might not be able to go again later. When MDT pointed out to Disney they were discouraging repeat visits with this rule they dropped it like a hot Mr. Potato Head. This rule didn’t last 2 weeks!
Prior to 2012 there was the issue of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties’ tickets being sold out prior to military families arriving on property to buy their discounted tickets. After discussions with MDT, WDW changed their policy, allowing the military to buy their tickets even if that night’s event was sold out.
In 2013 we got Disneyland to drop their requirement that the military member enter the DLR theme parks with their guests every single time, allowing visits to separate parks or different arrival times.
After FastPass+ was introduced at WDW, MDT pressed for earlier and earlier Disney Armed Forces Salute renewal announcements and ticket availability, so that the military community could make their 60-day FastPasses.
These are what we feel were our big successes with Disney, but there were many other small victories too.
My Great Partners & Military Discounts
This year will be my 9th year partnering with Ears of Experience, an authorized Disney vacation planner and Veteran Owned Business. I’m so proud that over 13,725 of you have contacted Ears of Experience over the years to ask Amy for help making your Disney reservations and plans.
My partnership with Dave at YourFirstvisit.net also started 9 years ago. YourFirstvisit.net is a fantastic Disney World site geared towards the first time visitor. You can read our post on why Your First Visit is a perfect compliment to MDT. We have written posts for each other over the years and I have been the YFV Moderator of Military Family Comments for quite some time.
Others who offer Military Discounts to MDT readers:
Over the years MDT has partnered with companies that are happy to offer military discounts to our readers on services and items for your Disney vacations.
Orlando Shuttle Service – This special offer is exclusive to MDT Readers, you’ll get $15 off the basic round trip pricing of private transportation to ANY Orlando hotel or resort when you book at Orlando Shuttle Service. Just enter the promo code MDT15. Click to Learn More.
Amusement Park Rentals – Stroller and Scooter Rentals.
Special Highlights, Big Stories, and Milestones of the Decade
Over the years MDT has been honored to be featured in many print publications and on websites both Disney and Military oriented. Here are a few:
- The Off Duty section of Military Times, Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times Newspapers
- Stars and Stripes
- Reserve & National Guard Magazine
- Military Families Magazine
- USAA’s Facebook Page
- USMCLife.com, both the website and the Semper Feisty Podcast
- The Orange County Register Newspaper
- WMAZ Channel 13’s Website
- The DisneyFoodBlog.com
- Chip & Co
- The Special Mouse Podcast
- The DisneyDose.com
- The DisneyDispatch.com
This September I’ll be one of the speakers at Florida BlogCon!
Military Disney Tips Was Voted Best Travel Blog in the 2015 Brighthouse Networks Sunshine Blog Awards.
Military Disney Tips was honored to be the Florida Blog Con’s Featured Blogger for the month of December 2015. The Florida Blogger & Social Media Conference (FLBlogCon)
Military Disney Tips was selected as one of 80 Military Entrepreneurs selected for the 2013 Inc. 500/5000 Military Entrepreneur Program.
You can read a more expanded version of our brag list on our Roll Call Page.
Disney Guide Books by MDT
In 2013 I dipped my toe into the world of Guide Book authoring with my first ever Disney related book meant just for the military community, The Essential Guide to Shades of Green. The response was phenomenal, so much so that I created the even more ambitious Walt Disney World for Military Families in 2015, and then Disneyland for Military Families in 2016.
Writing these books is very labor intensive but they have been so helpful to so many (or so I’ve been told).
They are available in Print, Amazon Kindle, and Digital PDF formats. You can check them out on their individual sites:
- The Essential Guide to Shades of Green
- Walt Disney World for Military Families
- Disneyland for Military Families
Big Stories of the Decade
In 2010, the restoration of the original 2009 Disney Armed Forces Salute after a 22 day break.
In May 2011 the surprise extension of the 1-year long Oct 2010-Sept 2011 salute through Sept 2012, with the addition of 6 additional tickets to use.
Then in 2013 Disney invited me along with National News Media to cover their Veterans Institute event, where Disney shared the lessons learned hiring over 2,300 veterans with other companies, big and small.
Of course each Disney Armed Forces Salute renewal announcement each year is big news that year! As well as the switch from Fiscal Year Salute offers to Calendar Year offers in 2016.
The Rest Of The Web
Because of the one of a kind content found on this site, many sites including other great Disney sites on the internet sent visitors our way.
I’d like to thank the top referring sites for their support over the last Decade!
Yourfirstvisit.net over 39,000 referred readers, Dave you rock!
MouseSavers.com over 36,000 referred readers
Army Wife 101 almost 19,000 referred readers, thanks Krystel.
WDW Prep School almost 13,000 referred readers, thanks Shannon!
Dis Boards almost 8,000 referred readers
The Disney Tourist Blog Thanks Tom! almost 6,000 referred readers
Military One Click 2,000 referred readers
Military Disney Tips Through the Years
I thought it would be fun to look back at the evolution of MDT’s look.
When we started in 2008 we had a really basic HTML design and not really a lot of content (yet), something like only 8 pages to start…
Not much changed for 2010, we lost the blue background.
Then in 2011 we got our new (and current) logo.
Big changes came in 2013 with all new coding for a responsive, mobile friendly design. This one had the topic areas in grid system on the home page.
In 2015 we switched to a sliding tab system on the home page.
Then finally in 2016 we switched to the long-form home page you see today. We now have about 900 posts and pages of content.
Now, it’s time to start thinking about the next 10 years!!!
Sometime in the not to distance future will come my second government retirement, and then I’ll be free to dedicate much more time to MDT.
I can’t wait for that day. In the mean time I’ll keep plugging along part-time as I have been so far, bringing you all the info I can.
On the horizon, we’ll be keeping an eye out for new military discounts and cautiously watch Disney to see if the Disney Armed Forces Salutes will continue in the new improving economy with the huge attendance draw (Star Wars) coming soon to WDW in 2019. When Harry Potter opened at Universal (a huge attendance draw), they dropped their highly discounted military tickets for a number of years!
Remember all discounts (military or otherwise) are offered to draw extra bodies, if there are too many bodies, there is no need to discount (such as during Disney Salute Blockout Dates). In the past Disney has publicly stated their desire to eventually eliminate all discounts.
A Wonderful Experience
Besides all of the hard work that goes into producing all of the content for our readers, there is also that tasking, monotonous, tiring, research that we have to do in Disney’s parks and Resorts. Just kidding of course!
I’m so thankful for all of wonderful times that I’ve been able to spend at Disney, gathering information and taking pictures to share with you. Since starting MDT there have been roughly 35 trips to WDW or DLR. This has afforded me the opportunity to stay at many of Disney’s wonderful resorts, eat at many diverse Disney restaurants, all while having a great time.
I’ve met both virtually and in person (at the occasional “meet up” in the parks) so many great people!
Thanks for letting me do this (for you)!
Thanks so much, Steve
Post your thoughts about the last 10 years and or the future in the comments section below!
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused? See our:
Learn about the Disney Armed Forces Salute the best military discount that there is for Disney. For where to stay see our Resorts/Hotel Overview Page. Disney doesn’t discount dining for the military, but there are a few places on property that do, see the Dining Overview Page to learn where plus more dining info. You can also learn about Transportation Options. Be sure to check out our Technology Overview to learn about Magic Bands and My Disney Experience to see how they work with military tickets. Walt Disney World visitors might be interested in staying at Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort.