Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Planning A Disney Vacation

We have been planning this Disney Trip for over a year now! When we first started planning it I wasn't into couponing yet and stockpiling. Don't get me wrong I was always trying to save a buck or two, but I would do that by purchasing store brands or going without items if I couldn't afford it. Now to think back to those days I think I was crazy because now we have every brand imaginable in our home and I've gotten it for FREE or nearly FREE! So as I said when we first started planning I wasn't into couponing yet, but we still knew how to plan a trip out and save as much money as possible. Here I hope to give you a few tips that you could use to plan your own vacation! Now keep in mind Disney is pretty expensive anyway, but we are just trying to make it as frugal as possible along the way :-)

Lodging: This is a family trip, my mother in law, father in law, sister in law, brother in law and nephew are all going along with us 4! So we decided the cheapest way to find lodging was to rent a nice roomy house. This serves so many benefits! You get a nice big spacious house versus a hotel, you get a private pool/hot tub, you can cook meals which will save you a TON of money, you will have your own washer/dryer which means less clothes for you to pack and if you have to or want to stay home for the day the kids won't be bored like they would in a small hotel room! We searched all over the web and I liked the VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) Website the best. We found a great house that has 3 master bedroom suites w/ private baths, an outdoor kitchen, huge game room, pool/spa, you name it! Since there are 3 families including us we are all paying $50/per family per night. Not too bad for Disney lodging! Now if you plan on it being just your immediate family you can also find smaller houses or even a condo as a great alternative. It really is much cheaper than staying on Disney or at a surrounding hotel.

Attraction Tickets: As far as purchasing tickets to all the attractions, I recommend signing up for the Mousesavers Newsletter they go out I think once a month and they have some great tips in them, but more importantly they will have a special link for mousesavers readers to Undercover Tourist. At Undercover Tourist you can already find some great prices, but if you click on their link THROUGH the Mousesavers Newsletter you get in your email, you will get even more of a discount! Remember to check their and also the attractions actual website. I know that Seaworld had a better ticket price on their website, so I purchased that ticket directly from them. So even though they look like fantastic deals, always check other resources just to be sure before you actually purchase them!

Travel: Call us crazy but we are all driving down to FL from CT! Yes with 3 small children! lol. We chose this for a couple of reasons, we all like a road trip for one and we knew it would save us money (thankfully the prices of gas have gone down and hopefully they keep on going!) and also we really didn't want to attempt the airport/airplane thing with the kids yet. So we are taking two vehicles between the 3 families and we will have 2 drivers in each vehicle. We plan on driving the whole way and just switching drivers throughout. We are also leaving at night which will be nice because the kids will hopefully sleep through the night which will be most of our driving down! Cross your fingers for us! lol. We are also planning our stops along the way and using the web to find the cheapest gas stations before we leave so we know where to stop!

Food: As I said we are renting a house so it will be great to be able to cook any meal that we want to, that will save us a ton of money versus eating out for EVERY meal. We will probably cook our own breakfast almost the whole time we are down there then try to pack a lunch for the days adventure! Dinner I think will end up being whatever each day. You never know when you will get back to the house or what you will find while you are out, so we'll take that one day at a time. Obviously you will want to go out to eat and enjoy some of the restaurants down there so another great tip is to look up some of the restaurants you may want to eat at and sign up for their e-clubs or whatever they may have online. Hubby's bday was yesterday and he knew he wanted to try this all you can eat lobster place down there, so I went onto the site last month sometime and signed him up for their e-club, we got specials as soon as we signed up, but even better he got a Birthday Special last week, making it even cheaper to eat there! So make sure you sign up for things like that to get an extra discount! By now you have all seen my Shaws posts recently and we have all been lucky enough to get a little stockpile going, so I have already put a few bags of groceries aside that I will take down with me. Which will save us money since I won't have to go to Walmart and buy everything that we need at full price. I'm bringing stuff like snacks, cereal, bread, peanut butter, juice, rice for dinner, etc. All we'll need to really buy down there is refrigerated items, lunch meats, meats for dinner, etc.

I think most of this is common sense but I hope it can help someone along the way. Oh my gosh I almost forgot! The BIGGEST money saver of all....our oldest is only 2 1/2! So we don't have to pay for any of the children yet (nephew will be 2 soon), but they will all still be able to enjoy everything just as much!! He is so excited every morning he asks "Disney Time?" lol. It's cute my Husband actually took those magnetic numbers and letters and wrote on our front door (facing the inside) 10 Night Times Till Disney. So they have been counting down together each morning. They are counting night times because he is telling him that when he wakes up he will be in Disney, meaning the trip down there is 1 night time :-)


Lori S. said...

Hi Ronell,

We're planning a Disney vacation for February, so I am very interested in this post! We will be staying with family, so that helps on food and lodging. Plane tix and car rental are already purchased. So now my biggest concern is the cost of the park and all the things to spend on IN the park! Friends have recommended packing a backpack of snacks, lunch and water bottles each day we go to Disney to save on food costs. We will be taking our 8 and 10 year olds, and we will need to set a spending limit for them on souveniers and extra activities. Please post an update when you return from your vacation with any advice you have and frugal tips you learn while there! Have a great time!

Ronell said...

Thanks Lori! Yes that is our plan too we are going to take a cooler with us each day so that way we aren't spending $4 on a drink! lol. I plan on packing tons of snacks, drinks and a lunch for while we are there that way they will always have something. As far as souveniers go, I have no clue! We joked and said we should go to the big flea market thing they have down there (they sell all the disney souveniers at discount) and just buy a ton of stuff from there and each day bring something with us and give it to them! lol. I have no clue on pricing of the souveniers, but I figure that will be our splurge on them, of course with a limit set! It also helps that they are so young, they probably won't pay much attention to that part of things! I will update when we get back on how things went and how much everything was! lol.

Anonymous said...

Oh, funny timing! I was just getting on the computer to check out Disney vacation ideas (we've been saving for 7 years... a little bit slowly saved each year really adds up!). We are planning on some of the same savings ideas as you (we'll be driving from Vermont... but probably visiting family halfway, in Virginia).

I am really looking forward to a nice break from our New England winters, come February!

Anonymous said...

Why would you take children that small to Disney World? It just doesn't seem worth it. But good luck.

Ronell said...

Anonymous if you have children my son's age you would know that they can still fully enjoy disney and we don't have to pay for them yet! so what's not worth it to you? seeing the joy on their faces as they go through the park excitedly going on all the kiddie rides and meeting mickey mouse himself??

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ronell. We took my oldest son to the park at 2 1/2 -3 and he enjoyed it soo much. I dont regret spending the money taking him when we went at all. My daughter just turned 2 and I cant wait to have the chance to take her as well! Enjoy your youself when you see how excited your lil one is ronell!!

Anne Marie said...

Hi Ronell,
Your article is really helpful. You know I also found a vacation rental website that is really helpful. It is called What is unique about this website is that it allows people to submit a "destination inquiry" meaning you submit a single inquiry to all the properties in the destination of your area that match your criteria. So its a lot time saving and also helps to compare really easy because basically property owners are competing for your inquiry so it makes it really fun and easy. And you don't have to spend tons of time researching. I hope this tip helps and you check it out!

Keep up the good job!

Anne Marie

Lori S. said...


Now that you've done the Disney trip, what did you discover that the rest of us can learn from? What did you end up spending money on that you didn't expect to? Or what did you spend MORE on than you expected to? What would you do differently or the same if you were go again?