Magic Kingdom made my money disappear: Tips for saving money in Disneyworld
We are currently on our first family trip with our little boy Grayson and are fortunate enough to be spending it in beautiful sunny, Florida. Actually ,I should say beautiful, ridiculously hot and sunny Florida as I didn’t actually check ahead what the weather would be like in June. Turns out, this is the hottest time of the year and the temperature has been fluctuating between 36C and 40C for the past few days, making it a bit difficult to enjoy the sunshine. But, I promise you I WILL have a tan by the time I return to rainy Victoria! (and yes, I will wear my sunscreen at all times too!)
We’re staying in Orlando, so of course we had to go to at least one park at Disneyworld even though our ride options were limited with a one-year-old. I admit I am a hypocrite as pre-child, I used to judge those parents who would bring babies to amusement parks thinking, “What’s the point? The child won’t remember anything and are they really even going to enjoy it?” I will officially eat my dish of crow now because I can honestly say that our little guy had an absolute blast at the Magic Kingdom, especially when he met Mickey Mouse. I actually teared up as he started squealing and grinning from ear to ear as Mickey Mouse gave him a hug. Absolutely priceless!
What isn’t priceless is the cost of visiting this family holiday destination of the world. I assumed that things like food and entertainment would be cheaper as usually this is the case in the States. I was really wrong. Things are about the same price in Orlando as they are in Western Canada if not more, specifically when it comes to food and tickets for the attractions. Turns out they call it the Magic Kingdom because it magically makes your money disappear! Luckily I’ve learned some ways to save money here so I thought I’d pass on these hints to you in case you’re planning a trip to “the happiest place on earth.” Hopefully they’ll help make your trip even happier than happiest (if there is actually another level of happiness that’s higher than “happiest”…how about happiestest?” Okay, obviously I’ve been out in the sun a bit too long!)
If you are able to rent accommodation with a kitchen, do it! Food costs can make up for half of your total vacation budget. Think about it… A family of four spends an average of $100 a day eating out while on vacation so that comes to $700 spent on food in one week. We’re renting this beautiful townhouse and on the first day we arrived, we stopped off at a grocery store and stocked up. By eating our meals at the townhouse rather than out, we’re saving over $600! Plus, I don’t know about you but I get sick of eating at restaurants really quickly when it’s for three meals a day!
Of course, it is nice to go out every once in a while and take a break from cooking because, let’s face it, you’re on vacation and you want to relax. Before you leave for your trip, do some research and try to find coupons for local restaurants close to where you’re vacationing and print them off before you go. It’s amazing how many of places offer you free meals for your first visit just by signing up on their web sites and online newsletters. For instance, I signed up for IHOP’s loyalty club and they sent me a coupon for a free breakfast. Two other restaurants did the same thing—plus, I scored coupons for free appetizers, desserts, drinks and money off our bill. This has definitely helped with our vacation budget.
Lastly, we tried something that I swore I would never do….we went to a timeshare pitch in order to get discounts on our Disneyworld tickets! I know, crazy right? Well actually I have to say that the experience wasn’t all that bad and we saved about 50% off of our park passes which is substantial as it costs $100 a ticket per person!
Basically, we went to this resort where they gave us this buffet breakfast (not that great but was still a free breakfast) and then this nice guy named Dale showed us around the property to entice us into purchasing a time share property. The spiel took about 90 minutes and then afterwards he showed us the prices of the condos and wanted us to sign on the dotted line right there. The hilarious part about this (besides the fact that they think you will make such a financially huge decision in two minutes!) is that the price decreased by 75% by the time we finished saying no about 10 times. At first, the price was $29,000 and we said no! Magically the price dropped and we could purchase the same condo for $14,000…and yet we still said no. Finally, he tells us that his manager wants to speak to us and this smooth talking guy comes over and explains that he is authorized to give us an even better deal because, and I quote, “We don’t just give this deal to anyone. For instance, we don’t give this deal to people from Alaska because we can’t get the same referrals from them as we can get from people in Canada!” Okay, what the heck does that even mean??? Do people in Alaska not have friends or something?
Anyways, suddenly the last price is only $7000 for a condo although this will be a different one than the one we say but he swears it’s beautiful and can show us the pictures on his iPad. Really? Do people actually fall for this? As my mother taught me, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true!
But after the song and dance, we wound up with awesome discount passes to the Magic Kingdom and it only cost us a couple of hours of our time and the learning experience of finding twenty different ways to say no to a person without being completely rude and losing it!
Hopefully these ideas can help save you a few bucks on your travels…although realistically you’ll probably end up spending all your savings on Mickey Mouse apparel for your kids. Boy, did Grayson get spoiled but that’s what us parents do, right?