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So, I hope you have already read all about how to save when planning your trip in my first Disney post. If not HERE is that post and I would start there first. And here is another fun Disney money saving post! Yay!!! This post is geared more towards savings tips and ideas once you are actually arrive in Orlando and your trip has begun! As I sit here wrapping this up I can not stop looking down at this silly leftover WDW ticket I have that is seriously giving me the stink eye. I am having to use ALL my responsibility I posess ( not too much most days) and will power to resist the urge to throw Pierce in the back of the car and strike out to Orlando ta-now i.e. tonight !
If you are reading this blog and you are the kind of Disney goer that likes to go and blow HUGE bucks and pays little to no attention to cost, let me save you a longgggg read. Go on with your bad self and I am so jelly girlie!! BUT this might not be the article for you 😉 !!! IF you are maybe more cost conscious, always looking for ways to trim the cost, save some dough, and maybe allow yourself to squeeze in another trip to WDW just by being frugal- then I hope this will HELP YOU little mama and you will enjoy it. These are all just basic tip of the iceberg ideas but they are a start. Sometimes the smallest changes can really add up to a surprising amount of money. Maybe they won’t all work for you and that is ok, but if you can adopt a few and save some money then my work here is done. Without further adieu…
1. Take your own stroller Honey (and save up to $155 if applicable).
We got all the way to Orlando a few years ago before we realized we forgot the most important thing and no I do not mean the kid…… THE STROLLER 🙁 My husband said “well, no problem we will just rent one”… after checking out the prices at WDW online- off to Super Target we went! We scored a jogger for around $100 and 3 years later we are still using this stroller every time we go. This seems like a no brainer but you would not believe how many people do not bring in their own stroller or like me- forget! The strollers in the park run $15 per day for a single and $31 per day for a double. Additionally you can not take the WDW stroller out of the park so that means you will actually have to literally carry that sleeping child that feels like 200 lbs out of the park at the end of the day. You will also have to drag said child through security and the “black friday shopping esq” crowds into the park again the next morning. No bueno. Even worse you will have to wait in two additional lines with this option in order to pick up and to return the stroller each day. I have seen this line. You do not want to be in this line. Take away the kid, you also can use the stroller to haul your bookbag, cooler, and any purchases ALL DAY LONG. We will in essence be that family with their ten year old in a stroller one day is what I am getting around to. Renting the single stroller for 5 days will run about $75 and for the double option $155 plus tax I am sure as I am breathing. Having a stroller especially with a small child is a non negotiable in my opinion and I definitely recommend borrowing, taking, or buying your own at these prices. If you don’t own a stroller for everyday use I recommend picking up one second hand on craigs list, thrift store, consignment sales ect if for no other reason than saving yourself a TON here.
2. Potential “FREE” Uber rides vs $$$ Self Parking!!!!!
This is really more for those of us staying OFF the property. IF you are staying off property, like we often do, you will be faced with the cost of parking. The cost is currently $20 per car per day where you are certain to be forced to park in practically the middle east while tackling traffic similar to times square on NYE OR preferred which really doesn’t look that much closer IMO and costs $40 per day. Either way you have to deal with a. traffic, b. figuring out where you parked at the end of a day resembling a very expensive marathon where everything looks the same IN THE DARK, c. probably walking a very far distance while you and mini humans are both very tired and very cranky, d. navigate orlando traffic. INSERT UBER HERE. Uber for me is one perk or extra I am HAPPY to pay for and it’s quite economical. In Orlando market they have Uber with carseats as well as Uber XL which will accommodate larger parties in an expedition or something similar!!!!! They pick you up at your room and typically they drop you off right by where the buses drop off. This is MILES closer than where you will have to park. Let me put it this way, you park SO FAR out that they have a mini trolley ( with a LONGGGGG LINE) that you can catch once you park that will drop you off closer. Uber prices vary with a variety of factors based on which uber type you select, how busy they are, time of day, how long the ride lasts, miles traveled ect and so on. It’s basically similar to the quadratic formula from 9th grade more or less. I could rave on and on here because I am a HUGE fan of UBER in general but especially at WDW but I will just summarize by saying this, in the last 5-6 times we have been once we have parked the car on arrival we did not go anywhere without UBER. I love letting them figure out where the heck we are going and I just sit in the back and schedule fast passes. Amen. If you can get by with the basic uber the rides have been as cheap as $8 bucks to the park. My rides are on average around $16-17 bucks a ride with the carseat which is more expensive. Now to the FREE PART!! This can be FREE for you IF you create a uber account which is free and share your promo code!!!!!! My promo code is here if you want to get started, We will BOTH get a $20 credit once you download the app, use my code to take your FREE RIDE. You will recieve:
-$20 worth of Uber credit code for each new friend that you refer to Uber, they download the app and take a ride.
-They will get a complimentary $20 Uber promo credit when they create an account on the Uber app and use an Uber promo code.
-You and they will potentially have a free ride up to $20 for each person for each ride for every person who signs up with your code.
And you have HOW many friends on Facebook??
So basically get to work in advance and you can arrive both hassle free and literally free all week at Disney.
Girl BYE. Thank me later.
****UBER PRO TIP: When you are ubering to the magic kingdom have your driver drop you off just inside the guard hut at Bay Lake Towers. You will get dropped off A HECK of a lot closer to the front than you will if they drop you off at main magic kingdom drop off AND guest walking up from Bay Lake Towers have a separate security line so you will be like the only person in line for security as opposed to the main security for magic kingdom which is frankly very scary!! This is the only way just trust me here.
Whew I could really talk about this all night. I talked in my last post a lot about considering staying off the property to score some savings, same principal here with food! One thing I recommend looking for IF you can find it- is off property accommodations that include a free continental breakfast. My husband always rolls his eyes when I get excited about free breakfast BUT if you have a large family and you get free breakfast for 5 people for 5 days that really adds up to a HUGE savings versus what you would pay for 5 people for 5 days in the park ( I shudder). SO, if you can find a hotel with this option, and I strongly recommend that you do look for it because I have still seen this in Orlando, that will save you $50+ bucks a day alone not to mention a potential $250+ over the course of a week. If you are unable to find this option or your hotel doesn’t have it you can very easily and cheaply pick up options at the local Super Target when you arrive ( MY JAM). This brings me to another topic. The literal FIRST thing we do when we pull into Orlando is hit Super Target. I get breakfast items ( burritos, eggos, pop tarts ect), drinks ( water, juices that can be frozen, and sodas), TONS OF SNACKS (see below), and maybe a few easy meal options like stuff for sandwiches, frozen lasagna ect. This is another benefit to picking a hotel with mini kitchen or full size gourmet kitchen with ALL you need to cook like Magic Village. Just purchasing your own breakfast, snacks, and possibly dinner outside the park will save you CRAZY money. Some moms even haul down the crockpot and set it up in the morning before they leave the room and when they return voila! Cheap, healthy, and easy dinner with little to no effort. Go on Super Mommie with your bad self. I have not even come close to that level of supermomdom and awesomeness but honey I am not just a friend I am a FAN! I have found lunch in the park is usually a lot cheaper than dinner in the park and therefore I am much more likely to splurge for lunch on a character meal ( still $$$) or sit-down restaurant as opposed to quick service because I know I am saving a lot by opting lunch over dinner and by eating breakfast and dinner out of the park for the most part. I have found by the time dinner roles around everyone is so tired they don’t really care what they eat so we usually do quick service, a heavy snack, sandwich at the room ( thanks super target), or dinner at a restaurant outside the park IF you feel up to it. I usually don’t. I think the crockpot mamas are on to something though ya’ll…..
4. Just throw it in the bag.
I. GET. HANGRY. Like need a new word for hangry kind of hungry. WDW is NOT the place you want to get hangry at. That is downright dangerous for many reasons. Forget the price, have you SEEN the food and snack lines at Disney. Okay now go back and forget the what I said about price and lets go there. I am terribly embarrassed to admit in a moment of weakness, amid a four year old tantrum from a tiny dictator, I caved and purchased 3 (!!!!) small chocolate chip cookies at a staggering $4 bucks a cookie. Twelve mickey bucks later- I about died. It’s just plain silly how much it’s marked up ya’ll and it can get MUCH worse from there. Insert MORE waiting in lines every 10 minutes for a different snack and cost might NOT ACTUALLY be the worst of it. I think I had everything in my Northface to snack on EXCEPT darn chocolate chip cookies. I bet Pierce doesn’t catch me at WDW again without my chips ahoy… But the moral to my story is this. Pack. Snacks. This is the time to buy the stuff maybe you normally wouldn’t give them for a snack and splurge. No matter what you buy or pay at the Super Target girls you will still come out ahead. One week of treats will not in fact kill them or ruin their teeth. You will need to make these GOOD treats to complete with those $4 dollar cookies so this is not the time to pack hummus ( I love hummus incidentally). I usually get fruit snacks, maybe some bananas, goldfish, and just whatever else will hold up well in my book bag and is pretty easy to eat in the stroller, lines ect. A well planned menagerie of snack is going to save you a fortune and a meltdown ( you and the baby) I promise you. Also, wanted to throw in that I have never had a problem bringing in food and I have watched smart ( and health conscious) mamas bring in entire meal in their bags 🙂
Side note: we usually choose one snack a day like an ice cream, dole whip ( MY FAV!!!!!) or some other treat but if you can narrow it down to one per day you have still saved a fortune by bringing your own for the other 10 various snack requests that will inevitably come up during the day.
Side note 2: buy the $10 popcorn bucket. It seems counterintuitive but once you die alittle inside and buy the silly bucket the first time you can get as many refills as you want over the course of the rest of the week for $1.50 a refill. There are NO other snacks in WDW for $1.50. NONE. When I divide how many times we refilled that bucket over the course of the week that i hauled it around there is no way they beat me. I made sure.
5. Take a small cooler with drinks.
See previous note about Super Target because the mothership is your BFF. The night before we go into the park I always freeze several bottles of water and several juice packs ( must be capri sun type with slick material or plastic, paper boxes will not work here) and throw them into my small bag style cooler which then goes into the bottom of the stroller. My favorite is Honest kids because they are organic and freeze well 🙂 No need for messy/leaking ice, the frozen drinks serves that purpose. Throw in a few sodas and you are all set! When we were at Disney in December, bottled waters were $4 dollars and sodas are worse. Let that sink in. If you have five kids and every hour someone wants a drink and you aren’t prepared you. are. in. trouble. Spend $5-10 dollars at Target and a cooler from the dollar store and you are in business mama.
6. Buy merchandise in advance.
This is probably one of my favorite ways to save! Have any of you been into the Disney Stores lately???? Oh my gosh. That place is a budgets WORST nightmare! I try to avoid them like the bubonic plague if possible. Because everything is CUTE, your kid will inevitably want EVERYTHING, and most of what you see is crazy expensive. SO, I can not take the credit for this next tip because they goes to our dear Aunt Cheri BUT she let me in on little secret that got me thinking. ALLLLLLL throughout the year the disneystore.com has HUGE and SUPER fruitful sales. I mean I have gotten some crazy steals like $80 costume for $7 ect and so on. Sale is currently going on right now up to 70% off with an additional 25% off with code savemore, link is HERE . So what I have started doing is all throughout the year when these sales come up I pick up things for my “gift closet”. I stash said DEEPLY discounted items as I accumulate them in my “gift closet” and when it comes time to go to Disney, they get packed up as well. I give Pierce the items once we get down to Orlando usually all at once and then tell him that is it! It gives him things to play with in the room, keeps me from getting anahilated in the Disney store, and he is still happy as a clam. Hallejuah! The other option is you could space the items out an give them a new thing or two each day to give something new and exciting to look forward to 🙂 Items are usually disney plates, cups, fun straws, pjs, small toys ect basically whatever I see throughout the year on Disneystore.com that is a good deal. I occasionally also find Disney items at Amazon, DG, dollar tree, Old Navy, and Target for a fraction of the “Disney” cost. Which brings me to another point!! S U P E R T A R G E T in Orlando!!!! The holy grail of cheap Disney is here ya’ll. The location off of Pantanal Lane has an ENORMOUS entire department the size of our local Target’s women’s dept of nothing but mickey for the entire family. They have every mickey mouse item you can imagine at a fraction of the cost of the parks. I highly recommend hitting this place up and stocking up before you check in the first day. I was able to find all of my Mickey shirts at my local Target but the selection was very small. The Target in Orlando’s clothing options are unreal. It can save you serious bucks girls!!!!
****Pro Tip: Buy mickey ears on amazon for next to nothing and give kids ( and adults) the opportunity to decorate them if they want. Pinterest has TONS of ideas and FYI ears in the park can range $20-30 a pair!! Ouch!
7. Don’t get caught unprepared.
It is amazing when you are cold, hot, wet, or tired what you will pay for something. By purchasing and packing a few essentials you can prevent having to pay out the YING YANG!!!!!!! Let me give you a few examples of when this personally happened to me. We went down one trip in the dead of summer and the last thing we thought we would need was a long sleeved shirt or jacket. At the magic kingdom at night, even in summer, it gets cold. We ended up forking out well over $100 bucks trying to track down some sleeves so we could stand it enough to watch the fireworks. Ow. We got into a similar situation on this most recent trip when an unexpected cold front moved in and I had not worn enough layers into the park. I ended up forking over $48 dollars for a sweatshirt that was almost identical to the one I had considered the previous night at Super Target for $15. Be prepared. I recommend picking up ponchos at the local dollar store in advance because those can run in the $8-10 neighborhood in the park or worse. I watched a lot of frantic adults snatching up ponchos like candy outside of splash mountain at the last minute and gosh only knows what small fortune they cost. I snagged a mickey ones at Target the night before for a buck or so. Also, Grab a cheap fan if you are going when it is hot. We have fallen into that trap to and while we paid $20 for the sweet water squirting relief we probably would have paid $50 if we had to so waltz on down to the local DG and invest in $5 fan. Weather is unpredictable and I realize that but lets say you get down to Orlando and the moody Florida weather has changed as it so often has a tendency to do, don’t wait until you get to the park and get miserable and desperate to address this. Stop and spend a few minutes and a fraction of the cost and go get what you need beforehand. You will so glad and your wallet definitely will. Also, pick up some glow stick toys, necklaces, bracelets ect at dollar tree ( HUGE SELECTION) and ” the spot” at target. I found one of the buzz lightyear light up toys like they sell at night for under $10 in an online sale which was a good reduction from what the park sells them for which I believe is around $24. Sounds silly but you will not believe how fast $5 dollars here, $8 dollars there ect and so on can add up on that AMEX.
8. The tickets.
Okay, let me start with the best case scenario. Do you have a second home, vacation home, condo, hunting shack, tent or a property in Florida where you can receive mail? If you have a “Florida Residence” and receive mail at that address , EVEN IF you have a for example Georgia DL, then you can use this mail ( you will need to read here because it has to be bank statement, mortgage, utility bills ect and dated within the last 60 days) and your current ID to get the “Florida Resident” rate!!!!! For several years I had a place down in Salt Springs and I have done this numerous times (6-7). Trust me. I always order FL resident tickets online and pay. Take my documents to Disney Springs Guest Services the night before our first day in the park and pick up my tickets. I have found the customer service at this location to be smooth and flawless compared to what you might get in the line at the parks themselves, not to mention waiting in the ridiculously long lines while the kids are raring at the bit to see their favorite mouse….. Currently they have a special for 4 days for $179 for FL residents, info is HERE . Additional information about getting the Florida Resident discount can be found HERE . If you don’t think the above applies to you then I strongly recommend that you look at the Undercover Tourist, link is HERE as they are showing savings of around $30 per ticket which would add up easily with multiple tickets. I also saw where there is currently 1% back on ebates for this site. You can also explore eBay for savings and I have purchased tickets from there just please be very careful and ONLY use paypal. I only recommend eBay if you are pretty familiar with it as it can easy to fall into a scam if you aren’t very careful and only purchase from verified individuals with high ratings and feedback.
9. The wonderful world of gift cards.
Another quick and EASY way to save some serious bucks is by purchasing WDW gift cards to take with you. These cards can be used at the resort, parks, disneystore.com, and a myriad of other Disney locations. If you buy a $500 dollars worth of gift cards at target.com and use your target red card (either target credit card or my preference is the target debit card which is FREE) to buy the gift card you will save $25 bucks in other words you will get $500 worth of gift cards for $475. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot but you will blow through $500 like water in a desert at Disney so in reality you will probably need closer in the range of $1000+ for tickets alone so now that $25 savings just became $50 savings and IF you are staying at the property or going to eat or buy a lot that number can become much more for example with $3,000 dollars worth of these gift cards this can be $150. Hey that’s lunch at Disney for a family! Now this is all money you are going to spend regardless however saving the money is up to you. I also found where Sam’s Club ( one of my favs) has $500 Disney gift cards for $479 currently. Not quite as good as Target but still pretty good! You can purchase the Sam’s Disney Gift card with your Sam’s Credit card to get additional cash back on that purchase further reducing the price in theory. There are also sites like raise.com, giftcardgranny.com, and cardpool.com and you may have success there as well but you will have to look for it and more than likely the increments will be smaller, $25 or $50. I say a Disney dollar saved is a Disney dollar earned but you have to be willing to put forth alittle effort with these tricks. This is the tip of the iceberg with the gift cards and there are tons of moms who get into kroger gas point conversion and so on. That’s all a little above my head and time I have to spend. But just know there is more out there depending on your willingness to learn and time you have to spend.
10. I saved the best for last.
Anyone interested in making $200 today for your next trip from the comfort of your home? Yea me too… but seriously. I have to give my Dad the creds for this sweet little savings trick!! We lovingly tease him about being cheap but really he is not cheap however he IS very smart and frugal!!! The last time we went to Disney with my folks they were telling me about this great offer on a Disney Visa where you got a nice chunk of money when you opened a new card and used it. I thought it sounded cool but really didn’t give it much more thought at the time. However, I noticed we kept receiving offers in the mail about this card. Finally I decided to sit down and read about it for a change. Seriously regretting not doing this sooner. Right now when you open a new Disney card and spend $500 on the card anywhere ( not just Disney) in the first three months you get a $200 statement credit!! This is a tremendous and easy savings! My thought was that I will probably combine this offer with the Sam’s club offer by using this card to purchase the Sam’s club $500 gift card for $479.00. I will add on another small purchase to get my total to $500 and then ULTIMATELY I will have received a $500 Disney gift card for $300 once the statement credit has been applied. I love it. Where has this been all my Disney life??????
AND- it gets better. You ALSO get 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations AND also earn 1% on all your other card purchases. There is no limit to the rewards dollars you can earn and you can redeem these for tickets, merchandise ect. at Disney. You can get special financing on select Disney vacation packages ( I need to read more on this), 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations, 10% off select dining locations most days at Walt Disney World Resort, exclusive photo opportunities with Disney or Star Wars characters in private locations at Walt Disney World, and 10% on select merchandise purchases at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com. If you are able to discipline yourself ( preaching to myself here) to put monthly expenses you have anyways on this card and then promptly pay off then this could be an excellent way to earn even more additional money for the next visit to WDW.
I plan to start using this pretty soon to see what I can earn with it so I will be updating everyone on my progress. Get more details on the card HERE .
PLEASE if you have anymore tips or money saving suggestions please comment below!! I would love to hear your tips and tricks and maybe add them to the next WDW post.
All my Disney love,