Kelly the Culinarian: How We Saved Money at Disney With Kids

Monday, January 30, 2017

How We Saved Money at Disney With Kids

It's been almost a year since we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney. Now, there is no way to do Disney on the cheap. It is a Bremuda Triangle for your bank account. Just walk in the door and *poof*, you're $800 lighter than when you started. That said, there are a few things we did to take the sting out of the pricetag of Disney so that we could focus on enjoying the experience rather than dissecting how much we were spending.

First, we chose the low-point of the season. I'd love to say it was intentional, but it wasn't. First, we found cheap airfare, and then we looked to see if we could do two days at Disney. We went right around Martin Luther King Day, which was cold, but the parks were empty and hotels nearby were cheaper.

Next, we ordered gift cards for both kids in advanced through Disney. Each card had $25 on it. The kids could spend it any way they wanted, but when it was gone, it was gone. This eliminating the kids constantly asking for stuff from street vendors or the gift shops that were ubiquitous. We would ask, is that how you want to spend your gift card? It also took the pressure off our family, too, because when you're swept up into the manufactured magic of the moment, it's hard to say no.

B spent his giftcard on this sword
The note from Mickey
Then, we went to WalMart and bought a bunch of Disney stuff in advance. When we arrived at our hotel, we went down to the pool and the kids returned to a note from Mickey Mouse and two small trinkets that were purchased without the Disney mark up. It was a fun memory and gave them T-shirts to wear and souvenirs to remember the trip. They didn't know it was 1/3 the price of everything at the park. I found Disney shirts, notebooks, a kids' handbag and stickers for a grand total of $15.

We packed a bag into the park wisely as well. Each day, I carried into the park a backpack with an empty water bottle, glow sticks, snacks, bandaids, suncreen, ponchos, extra socks, another set of clothes for the youngest and several ziploc bags. Most things are obvious, but the dollar store glow sticks were crucial. When the kids asked for a balloon or some knick knack during the parade for $8 a pop, we gave them 10-cent glow sticks instead. It worked like a charm. And the ziploc bags were great for wet clothes or in the event we bought a snack and couldn't finish it (Mickey pretzels or whatever).

10-cent ponchos in action!

We chose our food splurges wisely. We ate a few things in the park, but we didn't waste our time and calories on stuff that wasn't notable. If we weren't by waffle sandwiches or roast beef-topped macaroni and cheese, we either filled up on snacks to keep going or ate in our hotel room. We had a room with a kitchenette and bought cereal, milk, yogurt, cheese and beer (believe me, this was critical).

Finally, we took advantage of food delivery. After the first night, we were exhausted and undecided on dinner. After going back and forth and reaching a frenzied state of hangry, I called a pizza delivery company. For 1/6 the price of a character dinner we couldn't get reservations for, we were fed, happy and off to bed for another day of adventure.

Waiting for our pizza delivery
Disney is a financial black hole, but there are ways to cut corners here and there. And I'd say we had a more memorable, pleasurable experience as a result.


Unknown said...

B's face pretty much sums up how I always feel about pizza delivery

Unknown said...

Saving this for later!