May 30, 2011

Tip of the day—Disney, Part 1

I’m starting a Disney label on the left-hand column to compile the tips and tricks that I learned from our Disney trip.  Below is the first post, and these are some general tips.

First and foremost, GO to Disney!  Go while your children are young or take them when they are older.  Go as an adult or go as a senior citizen, just go.  It really is a magical, wonderful place. 

I’ve been to Disney 4 times now.  I first went when I was around 12 years old with my dad, sister and older cousin.  Then, when I was college my dad worked in Orlando, and I had the opportunity to go with just him and my sister.  Right before Hubby asked me to marry him, he and I went to Orlando to visit my dad.  (Hubby asked for my dad’s blessing on that trip).  I took Hubby for two days to Disney—the first day to the Magic Kingdom and the second day to Epcot.  This most recent visit was with our daughter who is now 5 years old.  Each trip was magical in its own way, but I think that seeing the Magic Kingdom through our daughter’s eyes was the best.

Disney is expensive.  Don’t think that just because you coupon and are frugal that you are going to make a trip to Disney for $100.  If you can, great!  Give me some tips so that we can go more often! 

The recession hit a lot of businesses hard, especially theme parks and entertainment businesses.  Disney is trying to draw in more customers by offering package deals and free theme park admission on your birthday.  Take advantage of those deals to save you some money. 

To save money on our trip we did a few things:

We planned ahead.  We decided what time of the year we wanted to go and could go.  We estimated the cost and added 10% to that estimate in case something changed over that amount of time.  We didn’t spend money on some things (anniversaries, Mother’s Day, birthdays) so that we could go on this trip completely debt free.

Our daughter was responsible for raising $200 to go to Disney (roughly the cost of her admission to the park for the week).  In a little over a year, she raised that money by doing chores, saving her birthday and holiday money from relatives, selling books at a used book store, and earning a little interest through a savings account.  The experience was one of the best learning experiences for her, and I can bet that she appreciated the trip more than someone who had it handed to them.  She learned how to set up a bank account, make deposits, make withdrawals, the concept of interest bearing accounts, and the virtue of hard work.  Out of the  money that she was responsible for earning, we withdrew $50 for her to use on souvenirs over the course of a little more than a week of travels (she didn’t use it all and is already saving for the next adventure).  We kept the rest in her account to build over the years.

We researched the trip to decide where we wanted to stay.  I had stayed on site and off site before, and I decided that for her first trip to the park I wanted to stay on site.  I’ll talk more about weighing the pros and cons of where you stay in a later post. 

We used hotel points and free gift cards to save money on the travel to and from.  We could have flown, but when we did the cost-benefit analysis, it was less expensive to fly.  We had hotel points from business travel that made our stays free.  I had earned a gift card to Cracker Barrel.  With that and packing food, we had all but two of our meals completely paid for on the trip down and back.

Buy smart.  We purchased through AAA and saved a little more than $250 by doing so.  Friends have told me about other sites that they’ve found to buy tickets and packages.  I haven’t had any experience with those and can neither recommend or not recommend them.  If any of you readers have experiences you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments section so that others might benefit.

Stay tuned for more tips on Disney over the next few days!  I hope you’ll find them helpful, and if you have any extra tips to share, I hope you’ll post them in the comments section or e-mail me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very excited to hear about your trip to Disney. We are planning a trip in the fall of the year. Your tips and resources will be very helpful. Did you use the park hopper passes, or the one park/passes? Could you share how you broke up your day with a 5 year old?