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|
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|