Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Must Haves for Disney

Top Ten {Tuesday}

We're planning to take the little ones to Disney for the first time.  We haven't been to Disney World in about 8 or 9 years.  My cousins just took their kids and shared lots of wonderful ideas with me to help alleviate some of the budget concerns. Here's what we came up with:

1.  Pack your own lunches.  I don't know about your kids, but every time we're at the store, mine beg for a lunchable.  I don't know what it is about that cute little container, but they want it so bad.  $1 lunchable vs. $6 Disney hamburger

2. Pack your own drinks.  This was a great idea from my cousin Ashley.  She suggested freezing juice boxes to keep the lunchables safe.  My cousin Brenda suggested buying those water mixers (like Crystal Light) to flavor the bottled waters.  I'm not fond of artificial sugar, and found the new Crystal Light Pure Fitness is sweetened with a Stevia plant derivative.  I picked up two boxes of the grape flavored kind during the Kroger sale last week.  $.25 per packet.  I also picked up 2-24 packages of water from Walgreens when it was on sale for $2.58.  That's about $.11 a bottle.  $.36 do-it-yourself flavored bottled water vs $2-3 for Disney bottled water

3.  Pack your own snacks.  Bringing apples, fruit snacks, peanut butter crackers, candy and gum with us to avoid impulse purchases.  There's nothing worse than your child seeing a giant lollipop sucker for $5 when you can make them just as happy buy pulling out their favorite candy like Skittles.  $.50 package of Skittles vs $5 Disney lollipop sucker

4.  Buy Glow Sticks at Dollar Tree.  Ashley told me about this.  During the electric SpectrOmagic parade at night, Disney employees offer glow stick necklaces and bracelets for a lot of money.  I don't know how much yet, but a few weeks ago we went to the Laser Show at Stone Mountain and they offered these same things for $20 a piece!  I went to The Dollar Tree and picked up two glow necklaces and two hand-held glow sticks.  $4 for Dollar Tree glow sticks vs $80+/- Disney glow sticks

5.  Buy Princess Dress Up Costume at home.  There are little princesses walking around Disney in their dress up costumes.  But if you forget to bring yours, the ones they have at Disney can be quite expensive.  Picking up a little costume at Walmart for $20, eBay for $5-10, Craigslist for $5 or The Dollar Tree for $5 (complete with skirt, hair, scepter, crown, shoes) can save you who knows how much.

6.  Pack extra camera batteries.  How many times have you been on vacation and your batteries died?  I know it's happened to me a lot.  The first time it happened to me, we were on a cruise.  I think it was $10 for 2 batteries.  Remember to pack some from home.  You can frequently find good batteries on sale at CVS, 4 pack for $8.99.  Add a coupon and a store reward and you could be paying as little as $1.00.  $1.00 batteries vs $10 Disney batteries

7.  Bring your own ponchos.  Amanda at Oh Amanda is a Disney Mom and she suggested this a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't forget!  I picked up 2-2 packs at The Dollar Tree. $2 Dollar Tree ponchos vs $15 Disney poncho

8.  Bring your own stroller. Again, this is from Amanda.  Don't forget the one you have at home.  Renting one is just another wasted expense.  You could be using that money on something fun later in the day like Mickey Mouse ears!

9.  Pack a lightweight jacket. When I was 11, my parents took us to Disney around December.  The weather made a huge turn from a nice, cool 65 degrees F to a cold, windy 35.  We ended up spending about $150 on 4 sweatshirts.  That was 25 years ago...I'm sure the cost has changed. 

10.  Bring cash with you.  This might sound strange, but I find bringing a set amount of money helps avoid over-spending.  I'm not tempted to whip out my charge card or debit card for something when I know we're trying to maintain a budget. 

*** and just for good measure ***

11.  Make your own autograph book.  Although I haven't scrapbooked in a while, I'm always thinking of layouts as I'm taking pictures.  Creating your own autograph book doesn't take a lot of time or money.  Some Disney sites even have templates you can print out to help you organize them.

Thanks to my cousins Ashley and Brenda for sharing most of these ideas.  I think we're going to have a great time.  I can't wait to share the pictures with y'all!

In the end, having fun at Disney World is the goal.  We just don't want to completely break the bank doing it!  Saving a few dollars here and there really adds up.  Just doing the few things listed above can save you about $250.  That's about the cost of one day's worth of tickets for our family.

Anyone else have a suggestion I could use to save a few dollars?  

Also linked to:
Life as Mom - Frugal Friday


Mommy Hates Cooking said...

Great post, we are planning to go this summer with all our family. We are doing a condo, so we plan to go to the store and load up on groceries for breakfast/lunches and make them there.
Can't wait to hear more tips!

Susie said...

Love this! I am bookmarking this because someday soon we are going to get there:-)

Marsha said...

This isn't necessarily a money-saving tip, but it will save you some aggravation! Buy a tube of Monistat Soothing Care Chafing gel - it's in the feminine products aisle at any Walmart or Target. Put a little on your heels before putting on socks and shoes each day. No blisters from all the walking! Also, be sure to pack a small first-aid kit with pain reliever, bandaids, Tums, etc. And don't forget the sunscreen.

ohAmanda said...

Great tips! (Ugh, especially the PONCHOS!)

One other thing about drinks--most of the counter service restaurants in the parks will give you a free cup of ice or ice water. I bought bottled water and didn't refrigerate/freeze/ice it in the hotel. So, when I got to the park and wanted something cold to drink I'd just ask for a cup of ice & poured my bottled water in. They didn't think twice about it!


Judy said...

I'm a professional Disney planner-- so my perspective is a bit different. I'm looking at big ticket savings.

I'd start saving by picking the cheapest time to go. Christmas is most expensive. Do some hunting and find when the Value Season is.

THen-- I'd decide where you want to stay. You can stay off property and rent a car for cheaper than staying on property without one. For example-- you can rent a 4 bedroom house with your own pool and hot tub for $100 a night off property within 5 minutes of Disney. Or, pay $125 a night for a tiny hotel room on property in the cheapest resort. It's your call. I do both. My point is don't automatically think you have to stay in a Disney resort to have a great time.

If you do stay on property-- NEVER pay rack rate for a room!!!! There are discounts ALL the time. Get one! If your travel agent isn't on top of those, you need to find another travel agent. (I'm not a travel agent.. just a planner)

Don't buy your theme park tickets until you know exactly what you need. Disney prices it's tickets according to what your will do. So-- plan what you will do, and then buy your tickets-- makes sense, right?

If your kids are under 10, (disney adult) it is hard to go wrong with the Dining Plan. (Have to stay on property to get it). It cost under $15 a day for kids. Pretty cheap for 2 meals and a snack! If they are 10 or over, it's a tougher call. Almost $50 a day for a 10 yr old to eat? Hmmm... maybe not.

Don't assume that a travel agent or a Disney agent will give you the best deal. Disney agents, no matter how nice they are, have a job to do. They won't tell you if there's a cheaper way to do things unless you ask them. They aren't allowed to.

And a travel agent gets paid by commission. Some are great... but some will sell you everything they can because the more they sell you, the more they will be paid.

That is just a start. Remember-- Disney exists to make it's share holders money. And, they are very good at it. You need to do some research and be smart.

These are ways to save bigger amounts of money. Might as well do that first, right? If you want some guidance, I'd be happy to give it. No... you won't have to pay me. Happy to help! HelpAroundtheMouse.com

Sarah said...

If you forget something don't be afraid to leave the Disney World and resort areas and find yourself a Publix. Great Deals :) Regular people do live in the area so shop where they shop.

Anonymous said...

Instead of lugging in extra water bottles for the whole day we only took in 1 per person. There are plenty of water fountains with really cold water. We would just refill out bottle and add drink mix. Helped cut down the weight of our backpacks and no one complained that drink was hot. We also shared lots of meals at the parks. For instance me and husband would cut a burger in half and the kids would also. 1 large fry was usually enough for everyone. You are so busy a heavy meal would just make everyone feel lousy.


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