When people around you are plunking down $3 for a bottle of water and $8.50 for rain ponchos and between $10-$40 for umbrellas, not to even get started on food - how is a family to even really consider the option of Disney World on a budget?
Our experience this time was very similar in cost even though the way we did it was a little different. You may remember me mentioning when we took Emily that birthday guests were free on their actual birthday - well, that promotion is long over. So, we knew things were going to be a bit different this time.
Right up front, I will say that we live fairly close to Disney World which takes one of the huge expenses out of going: travel. With about a six hour drive and a gifted condo - wow, those were the biggest expenses taken care of.
Our condo had a full kitchen and I scoped out the nearest grocery store and was armed with a list when we arrived so that we did not eat out at all while there. And, our condo included a shuttle to the Magic Kingdom - so that saved us at least $14 in parking alone.
Next, we have a unique situation in that two sets of David's aunts and uncles live about an hour from Orlando and one set agreed to come and stay with us and watch Emily and Samuel for Rachel's big day.
We were offered the opportunity at our condo to listen to their little spiel on time shares and their point system. And, they rewarded us with a $100 gift card and a return two night stay. Hard to turn down!
So, with our cash saved (from garage sales and overtime) in hand and camera ready to capture memories - we headed to the Magic Kingdom.
We used our earned gift card for Rachel's ticket and a little towards ours and once again just paid for the two of us to get in. Our first stop is always to rent a locker to keep our food in. We bring an insulated bag with frozen water bottles, lunch and snacks and rent a locker for $12. At the end of the day when you return your key - you get $5 back. So, it is a $7 cost not to have to buy your food there.
Rachel had birthday money to pick out a gift for herself and we had pre-purchased gifts (or had things on hand already) for Emily and Samuel in other places that she could give them. We spent about $7 total on their gifts which included a Sleeping Beauty doll, princess t-shirt, Lightning McQueen coloring pages and cars from Cars.
I did buy a few postcards to send as her birthday thank you's - but that was absolutely all we spent for an entire day there. Yes, this is an extravagant and bigger than usual gift for us - but with some careful planning and knowing we cannot get drawn into the urge to spend - it becomes almost a game to see how inexpensively we can go.
We came home with cash just like we did last time and that will begin our fund for taking Samuel when he turns five.
One last thought - we spent SO much less time (about 3 hours saved) waiting in line this time - if you are planning a trip, please do check out the Fast Pass system available! It was fantastic!
Do you have any suggestions for doing Disney World (or Land) on a budget?!