Hey, hey. Hope that you guys have a had a great week. Aren’t you glad that it’s the weekend? I am.
Today we are going to be talking about ways to save some money on the “big” expenses while at Disney. Notice that I said …some money. Things cost. Prices were similar to other vacation spots -in my opinion. Inflated, yes, but not shocking.
Staying in a Disney Resort would have been wonderful, but for us it was not an option. Why? We have too many children. It would have meant purchasing another room. Major expense. And simply not an option with our children’s ages -even if we did have the money.
**The current Disney resorts only allow up to five occupants per room. However, Walt Disney World is putting the finishing touches on a new economy resort featuring Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid and Cars. These new suites will accommodate up to 6 guests and boasts of fairly good rates. We looked into these (obviously not for this trip but for the future) and found that our hotel rates saved us nearly $1,000 over this new economy Disney suite. We had booked our hotel in advance and received some really good rates. We could have gotten even better rates a few months earlier but we were not ready to purchase them yet. So weigh your options and then book in advance.
We did our research and found that it had many, great reviews.
We LOVED it.
- it was very clean
- the staff was wonderful
- the HUGE continental breakfast was delicious.
Our hotel was quite close to the Disney parks, so we opted to drive the short distance to and from the parks everyday. Traffic was surprisingly never an issue. This allowed us the freedom to come and go according to the needs of our little ones and not be regimented by the hotel’s shuttle schedule. If you do not have little ones though, definitely save yourself the daily parking fare.
- Go early. Depending on how quickly you are able to leave your hotel, you may or may not be able to get good parking. Things start getting really busy shortly after the park opens.
- Parking attendants are EVERYWHERE to help direct you to closest available parking. They are great.
- Always, always take note (literally!) what parking lot you parked in and also what row. Write it down on the back of your parking ticket and stick it in a safe, dry place on your person or in your bags before going into the park.
- Hang onto your parking ticket so you can get back into that park throughout the day. We would leave each park after lunch (with the exception of Animal Kingdom) and head back to the hotel for naptime. When we would return in the early evening, we would simply hand over our morning parking ticket to enter. Otherwise we would have had to pay parking twice if we had chosen to leave and had misplaced/lost our ticket.
So word to the wise, check for your parking ticket before you leave the park in the afternoon.
If you are like us, strollers were a must. Bringing our own stroller could have posed an issue with using the hotel shuttle if we had opted for that route. (We had read online that the hotel shuttle did not allow double strollers- wasn’t sure what that meant for our Sit-n-Stand.)
Renting strollers at the parks is an option for those who don’t want the hassle or those who flew to DW. Yet there were several cons that I felt outweighed the pros of renting their strollers.
- The Disney strollers are MAMMOTH in size. I noticed some people getting frustrated as they tried to navigate their wide load through crowds. Not easy.
- They are expensive to rent.
- They also have zero storage. No place for drinks or storage underneath the seats. So if a rented stroller is your only option, make sure that you and those in your family all bring back packs to store food and necessities. Shoulder bags would be irritating and uncomfortable after awhile.
- Also when renting, once you’ve returned the stroller, you would then be on your own to get yourself, the babies, older kiddos, back packs, and any purchases corralled and safely out of the park. (I admit- it would be a bit easier if you were staying in a resort- simply request at the time of purchases to have them sent to your resort for pick-up at your convenience. You also would have the ease of hopping on a resort bus at the gate and not having to lug kids and loot by hand through the parking lots. So that would definitely be a perk for residing at the DW resorts.)
All-in-all using our own stroller worked really well for us. It was way more comfortable for the babies (DW are made of solid plastic for ease of cleaning/sanitizing), smaller to navigate, easier to spot in the “endless sea” of stroller parking (required for specific attractions), made walking to our van a breeze and saved us a boatload of cash.
This can be a huge expense. Yet it doesn’t have to be. Disney lifted the ban on bringing in your own food and beverages which allows people to save mega bucks in their budget.
**You are not allowed to bring drinks with straws or caps into the park-for the safety of the animals. This ruled out pretty much everything but filling your own water bottles. On the other hand, we read that Florida water doesn’t taste very well, so we opted for spending some money.
Not buying meals for our small kids was an easy decision. You see, we have found out over the years that our children simply do not do well eating in stimulating, public places. Eating is the last thing on their mind and we have wasted a LOT of food and money in the past. Was not gonna happen at Disney.
They can also be picky at times. What to do?
Well, our kids have a special love for peanut butter sandwiches. Plain. So that’s what we did. We packed lunches every day. (And no, it wasn’t always PB.)
And snacks. And drinks. And we were all happy.
So was our wallet. =)
However, we would allow the girls to pick one treat each evening. They really looked forward to this and would spend the day discussing what they would choose. Too cute
Hubs and I would split a meal at one of the quick service/fast food counters. This was another tremendous savings each day. With all the walking, the stress of keeping track of four little kiddos and the fatigue (oh, the fatigue!), sharing a meal was more than enough. The portions were certainly big enough to do this.
All the same, if we were still hungry, we’d grab another appetizer, snack or just munch on the kids’ packed treats later on in the day.
Memories vs. Money
We were definitely touring Disney on a Dime, but then again, so were most of the families there. And you know what, we had a blast in spite of being frugal. Years down the road, we won’t remember the areas where we had to pinch pennies or that we had to drink bottled water all week instead of soda or lemonade. We were making memories with our children and that’s what we’ll remember- the smiles, the looks of wonder and the laughter.
And those, to me, are priceless.
I will share some more details about snacks/foods next week as we discuss saving money on “little” things. So stay tuned.