Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Disney on a Budget

Here is my long awaited post on Disney on a budget. It took Sean and I about 1 year to find the best travel package for our family. We enjoy the 12 hour drive (yes, really enjoy it), so we decided not to fly. We have family and friends along the way, so as we prepare to leave on a Friday, we actually won't be checking into our hotel until Monday night. Visiting family and friends along the way there and back, extended our trip from only 4 days to 9 days. Staying with people definitely helps on the expense side of travel.

Food wise, my husband and I have both experienced the taking of your own food into the park, renting a locker and returning to find hot peanut butter or bologna sandwiches. All the while, coveting the fresh food people around you are eating. We have decided that eating lunch and dinner in the park are just part of the trip and we budget for that even if it means one less day in the park. For breakfast, we pack our own fruit and cereal, bowls, cups and spoons. (The continental breakfast is usually dry donuts or over by the time we get up;) The hotel we stay in has it's own mini-convenience store so we can purchase milk there and keep it in our fridge in our room. Eating at your own pace and time is part of the "vacation" mentality. We also carry a backpack FULL of snacks to last the day. I purchase Disney snacks at Kroger (drink mixes that can be added to bottled water, crackers, fruit snacks, fresh fruit....) and take those with us. Gas stations are another great place to find Disney candy (Gummies, suckers, etc.)

Over the last year, I have been collecting Disney themed toys, trinkets and clothing everywhere I could think of. Once you have a plan in place it is easy to see things you may want/need for less. The rush or urgency you feel to purchase unnecessary items while at the park diminishes significantly. I purchased the toys at Dollar Tree (a store where everything is under $1), Wal-Mart (for under $1) and garage sales. The clothing was purchased by redeeming Disney points from purchased DVDs, Deseret Industries (a thrift store), and Santa (Wal-Mart). Wal-Mart usually has Disney clothes WELL BELOW the cost of them at Disney parks. For example, a hoodie sweatshirt at Disney will range from $35-$65 and at Wal-Mart $9-$16.

My children are also learning the value of a dollar and don't understand why everything is sooo expensive. The toys I purchased all year are taken secretly in a suitcase and "sold" to my children along the way or at night in the hotel. That way they don't ask for toys while we are at Disneyland. The extra toys will be given out to the children of family and friends we see along the way. If you are going to purchase while at the Disney parks, I recommend waiting until your last day in the park. The first day you feel as if you have to have everything. By the last day, it all looks the same.

I have long believed that the best memories are those you "make" and "take". "Take" meaning pictures. Pictures are the only souvenir that I am interested in. Feel free to post any of your Disney ideas as well...we can all learn a lot from each other;)

I wrote an "e-How" article on this same topic that you can link to HERE.


Andrea said...

Those are great tips. We do a lot of the same things. People don't realize the portions you are served in the park can usually feed two adults. We always bring extra food to supplement the meals we buy there, especially drinks. I have a hard time justifying a $4.00 coke anywhere I am.

Janae said...

Janet-- I'm getting Disney anxiety!! I can't believe it's been 3 years almost since our little Disney trip together. That was so fun! I would love to know if you are staying at the same place again!! Enjoy your trip!

Brea Marie said...

Janet, I have enjoyed watching your segments on Studio 5. I wanted to let you know, there is often a Disney wearhouse that comes to Utah. I can't remember their website right know that lets you know their location and dates. I know there is a premanent one in Las Vegas. I love Disney and getting things at a discount is wonderful. When I find the website, I'll let you know. The last two times they have been in Utah, they were located in Midvale in the Fort Union shopping center.

Melanie said...

Great post. We drove to Disney two years ago. I brought little "souvenirs" too. One of the other things I was glad I brought was water bottles with little fans on them. They are sold in the Disney parks for more $$ than I think they are worth. I bought one for each of my children at Walgreen's before we left. The kids loved them even though they were not Disney themed. they kept us cool and were fun to play with. We probably saved close to $30 on just this alone. Melanie

Brea Marie said...

Janet, Sorry it took me so long to find the Disney warehouse website. It looks like there isn't one right now in Midvale, but they do come around every now and then. They do have permanent locations and one isn't far from Disneyland. Well, at last, here is the website. Hope this helps for anyone headed to Disneyland. http://www.ams-liquidation.com/

We are headed to Disney on Ice this month and I am using your advice and I am stocking up on Disney things so that we won't be tempted to buy while at the event. Thanks for all your money saving ideas!