Monday’s Ramblings: Doing Disney Inexpensively with Kids
Disney World: it’s every kids dream. But why isn’t it most kids reality? Unfortunately, too many parents find Disney World to be a budget breaker. Which trust me, it can be. However, with the right tools and knowledge, you can make your kids dreams come true. Seriously. This week I’m putting a bit of a Disney twist on The Naptime Nook, for the sake that I am currently vacationing in Disney World (Yipee! And yes, in fact, I am still five years old…). I realize, when talking to most parents, that their major deterrent from Disney World is costs. Having parents that took me and my siblings nearly every other year, I have a few insider tips on how to keep costs low. Are you ready parents (And nannies who still wish they were five)?
1. Don’t stay in a Disney Hotel - The Disney hotels, while magical, are outrageously priced. Sure, you have free transportation everywhere, but typically this does not make up for the hundreds of dollars you spend each day on your room alone. My suggestion? Go outside of the park area. There are plenty of hotels off premises that are much more affordable. For these, always try to use Priceline. It will get you an even cheaper price than the published one. Another option? Ask around and see if anyone you know has a time share they won’t be using. They might as well sell it to you, right? Still determined to go Disney? Take the kids on an adventure of the lifetime – go camping at Disney! The Disney Campgrounds are $35/day and are just as much themed as all the hotels. It’s all the magic without all the money!
2. Never pay full price for Park Tickets – Does your stomach churn every time you look at a Disney brochure and glace over at the price of tickets? Yea, mine too. There are ways around it. You can check sites like mousesavers.com and Travel Zoo for frequent discounts on Disney Tickets. Is the discount just not cutting it? Then why don’t you donate some of your time away to get free tickets for your entire family? There are tons of newly built timeshares in Kissimmee that offer free Disney tickets for anyone who is willing to sit through their 2 hour tours and info sessions. As a warning, you have to work for those tickets. These people are very pushy, so be sure to stick to your guns!
3. Buy souvenirs ahead of time – Nervous about how pricey the souvenirs will get once your in Disney? Think ahead! Many Targets and WalMarts sell Disney themed toys and clothes. Picture this: you arrive in Disney World and your kids pass out the first night after a full day of traveling. They wake up the next morning to their favorite Disney character next to them in bed with a special note from Mickey himself. After a surprise like that, your contented child won’t feel the need to bug you every other minute about a new toy from Disney World. They already got a better one from Mickey himself!
4. Pack your own meals – Theme park meals can get expensive quickly. If you do your research on mousesavers.com, you can track down the least expensive restaurants in the theme parks, but why bother with that when you can go even cheaper with home made meals? Just don’t forget, it’s not about what the kids are eating, it’s about how magical it is. They surely won’t miss out on the theme park food if they have their very own mickey shaped sandwiches and princess pretzel wands! Here’s a thought – you could make each meal a different Disney movie theme! (Cars shaped everything for lunch, lots of seafood for a Little Mermaid dinner, etc. etc.)
5. Experience all the free things in Disney - One thing that most parents don’t know is that there is a lot of free stuff to do in Disney. Downtown Disney for one is completely free. Another great free thing to do is take your kids on a monorail ride. For those who don’t take public transportation every day, it is very magical. You can even ride up in the front with the pilot! (yes, they call him a pilot, not a conductor….strange, I know). While on the monorail, make some stops at all the Disney Hotels! You may not be staying there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t poke around. Each one has a different theme and therefore all the gift shops and lobbies are completely different. My favorite is the Wilderness Lodge, but the Grand Floridian and the Swan are must sees.
So parents, do your research, and book that long overdue trip to the land where all dreams come true!