Is a Disney vacation for everyone?

Everyone loves Disney right? Wrong! I have traveled with someone who is a complete Disney downer. Sorry Dad, but its true. You are no fun at theme parks. Disney is not the ideal vacation for everyone, and my father is a good example of that. He doesn’t enjoy rides, crowds annoy him, he doesn’t like to eat out, and he gets hot and tired walking around and waiting in lines with us. He’d rather be at his house, working in his garden or cruising in his boat, relaxing and fishing. There is nothing wrong with that at all, we just don’t ask him to come to Disney with us anymore.

Some people say Disney is just for kids, and that’s not true at all.  Many adults take solo trips, have their honeymoon there, or even get married at a Disney World resort. Some parents do muscle through a trip just for their kids, but others, including yours truly, delight in every minute of the magic and can’t get enough.

We have the people who go once and never want to return, or think a trip to a massive theme park is a nightmare and will never book a trip at all. Some folks have a different idea of the ideal vacation. Maybe it’s a nice relaxing trip to a tropical island, or to experience nature and wildlife in the natural elements hiking or camping. Maybe it’s visiting places rich in history, or travel to other countries.  Personally I think, well I can do all of those things right at Disney World. You can visit a few countries before lunch over in Epcot. Visit Animal Kingdom and take a ride on a Safari where you can experience a giraffe come right up to the vehicle you are riding in.  You can even set up a tent over at Fort Wilderness Campground. However, I do understand that is not exactly what some people are looking for.

The big thing that turns people away are CROWDS, and I totally understand that. Without all the planning that goes into my trips, we could easily be stuck in lines all day. We specifically plan for lower crowd times, there is no “low crowd” time in Disney anymore, and I have my fast passes in place with a daily schedule that helps to avoid the massive crowds. Some people just can’t be bothered with this, and show up and hope for the best. These are the people who may end up not enjoying their trip and never returning. Then you have the people who would never book a trip in the first place because they do not want to spend a vacation standing in lines and dealing with the many many people that visit Disney every day.

The other group you have is people who just don’t enjoy theme parks and rides. While you and I know that there is sooooo much more to Disney than rides, some people don’t realize you can go to the parks, never step foot on a ride, and still have a fabulous time. There are amazing shows and parades to enjoy, snacks, drinks and restaurant experiences that will blow your mind, and nightly fireworks shows that can’t be beat. If you like to shop, there is plenty of that too.

Disney is not for everyone, but it certainly is for me. I enjoy every second of my trips. With a little planning and understanding of what Disney World has to offer, other people might get even more out of their trips. A Disney trip is one of the trips that requires almost as much planning as the time spent in the park. That is not the kind of vacation everyone is looking for. While you can wing it and enjoy your trip, I don’t recommend approaching it that way. You might end up in the category of people who go once and never return and miss out on so much that Disney has to offer.

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I’m Back!

Its been four years since my last blog post. I’m still here in frigid Maine, the dream of moving to Florida has not come to fruition yet. Last night we had a blizzard here, and have about a foot of new snow. This weekend wind chills will be -25. I’m definitely wishing I was in Florida right now!

A lot has happened in four years, I’m a grandmother now, and both of my younger kids are in high school. My husband and I are now actively talking about what kind of life we want when we have an empty nest. While he never wants to move to Florida full time, he is definitely seeing the benefit of spending winters in Florida. This brutal cold is getting to him as well, and he knows how badly winter affects me.

Currently I don’t work, but I volunteer as an assistant director at our local food pantry. Im beginning to look for other ways to fill my days, and ways to make money while staying at home. I want to actively pursue becoming a Disney travel agent again, and really explore ways I can have Disney in my life without moving to Florida full time.

Maybe once we spend a few winters down south we will decide to make the leap, but for now that is pretty far in the future. This blog will be my Disney outlet for now. I would love to use this blog to connect and meet with other like minded Disney fanatics, share my thoughts and encourage others.

For now I’ll leave you with a picture of how you have to dress when the windchill temperature is -25. As I’m out shoveling, I listen to my Disney podcasts and pretend I’m out in the warm sun. It helps, just a little, but it helps.

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Kindle Unlimited and Disney Books

My daughter begged me to sign up for Kindle Unlimited so she could get a bunch of books she wanted to read, and I said “YES!” I love to read and anything that encourages my kids to read gets a big yes from me. At only 9.99 it is the same we pay for Netflix and I would much rather encourage reading. We are on our first month free trial, so we will see how we like it,

First thing I did was look up Disney books and there are so many free Kindle Unlimited books. I have about 15 in my wishlist right now and there were a lot more to choose from. Biographies of Walt, fiction, and park secret books are all on my list. I can not wait to get reading!

If you like to read about Disney and love your Kindle this may be the plan for you.

Disney Trivia and Scene It Games

I own both the Disney Trivia and Disney original Scene It DVD game. I love playing these and challenging my Disney knowledge. I win almost every time playing Scene It but the Disney Trivia stumps me frequently. It is basically a Disney version of Trivial Pursuit.

I realize how little I know of the Classic Disney movie and songs and the actors who play in them. I hate to admit this but I have never seen Mary Poppins or Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

I play this with my daughter who hadn’t even watched Lion King until this past week when she figured out she could probably beat me if she actually watched the movies they were asking questions about! I have been picking up VHS movies at goodwill for both of us to watch so we can both compete in these games. I’d sure love to meet some other Disney fans for us to play with.

Where I have been all summer.

It has been a long time since I last updated this blog. Summer with teens and Tweens in the house has kept me beyond busy. I have also been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out what to do with my life.

I have been reading lots of self help books, writing out my goals and dreams and making plans. I have been changing my life priorities and discovering who I really am and who I want to be. I really want to simplify my life and focus on what is truly important. In the past two months over 30 garbage bags full of stuff has left my house. I have been cleaning out my physical space and mental space.

I disconnected from Facebook and took my computer out of the main living area. I would love to get rid of cable but my football loving husband will have none of that!! Just getting off Facebook has freed up tons of time and cleared my mind immensely. It does limit my social interaction and knowledge of what is going on in the community, but I’m ok with that for now.

In the midst of all the clean out I have downsized my Disney collection and stopped thrift store shopping for now. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff in my house so I am in the process of paring down to just the things I use and love.

I will be working on redoing this blog as well. I have discovered I am just too lazy and not creative enough to do family movie nights on a regular basis and blog about it, so I will be removing that entire section. Same with the recipes. There are already many websites that cover that arena over and over.

This blog will be more of an outlet for me to bounce ideas off readers about my Plans and ideas to someday get myself closer to Disney, plan trips on the cheap, and immerse myself in my Disney addiction with others who appreciate it.

I hope you will come along for the ride.

How badly do you want it???

For the longest time I thought “We can’t afford to go somewhere like Disney.” The real problem was a lack of wanting it badly enough. Then my husband had a very scary health event and was in the hospital for almost a month and out of work for over 6 months. I busted my tail the whole time he was out of work to keep us afloat and realized I can do what it takes if I want or need it badly enough.

I also realized it was time to start living life to the fullest and not putting things off until we can “afford it”.  I just needed to make it happen. Disney was one of the first things we did after my husband was recovered enough to travel.

Pick the date you want to travel and start counting down, estimate $1000 per person for the trip and use that as a goal. Break that number down into monthly amounts, weekly amounts and even daily amounts. Strive to hit that goal of savings or earnings every day or week. For a quick example. A family of four would be a $4000 goal. To make this easy I will choose a year from today. 52 weeks. Just about $333 a month, $77 dollars a week or $11 a day. Do everything you can to hit that daily goal. Do you usually go out for lunch? Take a bag lunch and save the difference. Call every single one of your monthly bill providers and work with them. For an hours worth of calls you may save $20 a month.  Cut cable for an easy $60 or so a month. I could go on and on on ways to save, but there are so many websites dedicated to this I won’t go into it here. My personal favorite is http://moneysavingmom.com/ , but there are tons of others.

You can earn extra money too. Sell anything you don’t use. Not only will you make money, but you will have a cleaner and less cluttered home and bless others who could use exactly what you aren’t. Work extra hours, ask for a raise if you think you deserve it, babysit, tutor, do online surveys, ask everyone who normally gives you gifts at holidays to give you Disney gift cards instead. Tell everyone about your goal of taking your family on a Disney trip and let them know you are willing to barter, work for them and do whatever it takes. Sometimes just getting the word out there will lead you into unexpected opportunities. Again this topic is covered in many websites so I won’t go on and on, but you CAN earn extra money.

If you are thinking you can’t do this because you already work full time, or have kids around all day and just don’t have time to earn extra money or save money you are kidding yourself. You can find time if you really want to. Put up a pictures of Disney all around to remind you of your goals. Get yourself motivated. Read inspirational books, my favorite is “The Secret”. Believe you can get there, and you will!

Anyone Can Afford Disney!!

That is the title of a class I decided to offer for FREE to anyone in my local community who is interested. I think everyone should be able to experience the Magic of a Disney vacation at least once in their lives and I want to help make that happen for as many people as possible. I am working on making up a class outline and handouts and realizing I could do full classes just on eating/dining plan, where to stay, park tickets and entertainment, and other topics. The class I am doing will touch on a lot of subjects, but I could go so far in depth on many of these it is just crazy!

My class is going to focus on how to make the trip affordable and setting financial goals to get there. It will help people decide if they want to stay on site or off, use the dining plan, get a rental car, and the type of park tourist they are. I will be giving out tons of tips and hints, money and time saving advice and so much more that I have learned while planning my own trips and dreaming about future trips.

I have spent at least 500-800 hours of research and trip planning in the past few years because I am a Disney nut and I love it, but I can truly see how planning a trip can be completely overwhelming for someone just starting to look into booking a trip. Forget just the sticker shock, there is so much to learn. I hope to share some of this knowledge with the people in my area and help them have the best most affordable trips ever!

Do they even have catalogs anymore??

At the thrift shop I grabbed this old Disney Store catalog out of the book bin. I remember getting these in the mail and having actual Disney Stores in our local malls. Sadly the closest Disney Store for me is about a two hour drive now. This catalog is from 2000.

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Wow those are some, umm, unique, overalls. But in 2000 they would have been in style, maybe?? I do however LOVE the kids pjs and fashions.

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I love some of the other products in this catalog and realize how much I miss paper catalogs. I don’t like shopping online. I miss the physical Disney Store. I live so far from WDW shopping there was a little bit like being there. Maine needs a Disney Store!!! Bring it back!!!!

Onsite VS Offsite at Disney

There are pros and cons to both staying onsite and offsite at Walt Disney World. I have done both. Right now we prefer offsite, but things may change that as our family changes and grows.  Hopefully this will help anyone considering the options for thier trip and how they may want to plan it all out.

Reasons to stay onsite-

1. You want to be fully immersed in Disney and forget about the outside world, or this may be your one and only trip and you want to get in as much Disney as you can.

2. You do not like driving in unfamiliar places. You can hop on the Magical Express right from the airport and rely on Disney transportation the whole time. You also do not have to pay a daily parking fee, which happens to be going up to $17 per vehicle as of April 1st, 2014.

3. You have younger children. It is easier to go back to the rooms for a break mid day, you don’t have to worry about car seats in a rental car and they will love the decor at the resorts. Younger children can also share a bed much easier than older children and a smaller, less expensive room may work fine for you.

4. You may qualify for free dining and other discounts. For some people Disney is just as much about the food and dining experiences, as it is about the rides. During certain times of the year Disney also offers specials on tickets and complete packages that may work out to be less expensive than staying offsite.

5. You have a pretty big income and can afford to spend more and stay onsite in any hotel with any sized room you would like.

Reasons to stay offsite-

1. You have a larger family or older children. You may want to stay in a rental home or resort that has multiple bedrooms and room to spread out. Off site you can get a place like this for under $100 a night. Anything similar on property can be 3 to 6 times the price per night or more depending on where you choose.

2. You don’t mind driving in Orlando. A rental car can be found fairly inexpensively and will allow you to do so much. You can get groceries, eat offsite, and visit other attractions in Orlando.  However the downside to this is paying a daily parking fee at the parks. This can add up if you stay numerous days.

5. Not relying on Disney Transportation. Some people don’t want to wait for buses that may take up to 20-30 minutes just to pick you up, and then may have multiple stops to get you where you are going.  Then they may possibly be so crowded you can’t sit down or you have to be sitting next to people you don’t know sharing germs…When it is really hot out, those buses may be really.. ummm… stinky…

4. You don’t mind eating offsite and want to save money by bringing food into the parks. This can keep your vacation food budget very low compared to eating in Disney all the time. If budget is a concern, this may be the way to go.

5. Budget. Plain and simple, at certain times of the year, you may save hundreds of dollars or even thousands by staying offsite.

 

When planning a trip you first need to decide what is important to you on your vacation. Being fully immersed in Disney, budget, space to spread out, not having to drive, ect. Make a list of the top ones and go from there. Check into package deals and prices for on or offsite to see what you are dealing with in difference in price. It can change depending on what season you go. It might only save a few hundred to stay offsite at one time of year and a few thousand at another,  depending on the needs of your family.

There is no definitive answer if someone asks “Which is better, onsite or offsite??”, but hopefully this will help you in your decision.

 

Comparison of traveling styles and budgets

Just for kicks I decided to see the difference in cost for different types of Disney vacations. All of them would be for the period of Sept 1-7 2014..

I priced out  a deluxe all in Disney vacation for 6 nights in a 1 bedroom standard view villa at Disney’s Grand Floridian, 6 day park hopper tickets with water parks and more and the Platinum dining plan. Grand total, before flights- $12,1382.16!!!!  And that is not even with 2 bedrooms!

Then I priced out a budget all in Disney vacation using a value resort, Pop Century standard room with 6 day Park hopper tickets and table service dining plan. Grand total before flights $3774.20.

Much better, but my family would not like to be in a room that small for a week, that’s for sure!

Another route is staying offsite. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental home in Windsor Hills Resort is $535. An economy rental car is $105 a week. 6 day park hopper tickets for 4 people at Undercover Tourist is $1533. I would estimate a food budget of about $100 a day for everyone. That is generous enough to allow a nice offsite meals, a few in room meals and a few snacks bought in the park. So $700. 6 days of parking is also $90. The total before flights is-  $2963.

That is pretty close to staying onsite in a value resort and having a nice dining plan. However for my family, we enjoy having our own space. The kids are 11 and 13 and not easy to sleep with in double sized beds. By the end of a week, we need some space from each other, BADLY, especially with two tweenagers! For us it is worth giving up eating in Disney and enjoying table service meals there. We also like to visit the cheapskate souvenir shops and buy our souvenirs off site.

This was our budget for our latest visit  in January 2014-

Timeshare week provided by mom (Thanks mom!!) FREE!! Car was also provided by mom who is lucky enough to live in Florida and picked us up at Pop Century. 1 night at POP- $114, Food for 7 days, about $500, 4 day park hopper Military Salute tickets  $680 Parking times 4- $60,  plus flights which were $235 each…Grand total $2294

This is the only reason we have been able to go twice. My generous parents. (Love you mom and dad!!!) The first trip cost even more because we paid a lot more for tickets, and rented a car as well.

I hope you enjoyed my budget breakdown for different types of trips and this may help you in your planning!