It’s hard sometimes to save up for Disney, or anywhere else for that matter. Someone gets sick, the price of groceries go up again, three school fundraisers (per kid!) come home in one day, and it just goes on and on! Everything is going up, except for most people’s pay!
What can you do then, to squeeze a little extra savings in your every day budget to stick away those Disney Dollars for later down the road?
We’ve got a few suggestions that you might not have thought of, or maybe you already knew about them, but never tried. First up!
Stop wasting food
We are awful about this. Half eaten boxes of crackers that pushed to the back of the pantry, partial bags of chips that never got eaten, fruit that goes moldy, you name it, it’s happened. I blame our weird pantry design for park of it (the tiny closet shares space with a massive hot water heater, so things get shoved, and crammed, and dropped into the black hole…) but every time I find a box of graham crackers hopelessly beyond use, that’s $2 in the trash! The chips? $1. The sack of potatoes that only got half used, then grew alien tentacles and turned watery? $4. Ugh! That’s not only $7 wasted on food, it’s $7 that could have gone towards something else. Factor in the food that gets left on plates, when just an hour later a kid is rummaging around (knocking things into the black hole!) because they are hungry, well, you are paying twice for your food! Once to throw it away, and then again to fill up a tummy!
We’ve been trying not to waste as much the last few weeks. It’s hard, but I keep telling my kids you can always come back for more, but you can’t give it back once it’s on your plate. I’m trying to find ways to use up things that have gotten shoved into the depths of the black hole, but it’s sometimes a little hard. Thank goodness for Google. (On that note, anyone know what to do with 3 boxes of just past date Cheese Its they HAD to have, and then promptly started to dislike?!)
Try to have less wasted food, and not only will your bill shrink, but you’ll stop feeling guilty about all the waste!
Stop buying (new) clothes
The first place I check when one of the kids or I need something, is Goodwill. Not only can you find brand new with the tags on it clothes, I can also find all the brands that fit my kids best, like The Children’s Place, or Apt 9 fr me, at a fraction of the cost. If I can’t find it there, after a few weeks, I’ll give in and start looking for what they need new, but at a heavy discount. It’s rare I can’t find it, and saves a lot of money, because we all know if you want your clothes to last, you’re going to have to get a fairly good brand.
Next time you need something, go take a peek at your Goodwill! I’ll bet you find treasures there that you never guessed would be there!
Change your eating out habits
This one can be hard, I totally get at the end of a long day, you are tired and ordering pizza is a great idea, but it can really add up. I’m not saying you have to do without, because if you really want that pizza, nothing is going to change your craving, right? But try this! Call around and see who’s got the best price, or maybe what the carry out special is. You’ll get what you wanted, but for less. In our area, there’s usually a big price difference between the various pizza places, and I’m willing to bet in your area there is too! Specials don’t always run the same time, so why be brand loyal if it doesn’t matter to you, and saves $10?
Shop your Library instead of Amazon
If you love to listen to music, watch movies or read books, I’ll bet you often browse Amazon. I know I do. But then, I go and check my local library's site to see if they have the ebook, or real book, movie or cd that I can borrow. I;d say 75% of the time they do, and even if I have to wait a few weeks to get it, usually I have so much other stuff going on, or other things to read and watch, it’s not a big deal.
Trying, before buying, is a great way to determine if that movie is going to be on that gets watched over and over, or if it’s a one hit wonder. We’ve bought some stinkers, and regretted it, and now we try and be more careful. Check your library first, and you’re going to save a lot! If you’ve never tried your local library, jump on their online catalog and start browsing. It may surprise you that even small libraries in rural areas get the latest movies and books!
Do at Home Movie Nights
Ahh the movies! Who doesn’t love to go? But by the time you get tickets $12 each here in our town, plus a large popcorn and drink at $20, it’s gotten very expensive. We don’t have a cheap theatre in our area, but we do have the patience to wait for most movies to come out onto DVD, and then either buy or borrow them. I personally prefer my own couch, with no one on their cell phone the whole time, and the treats I like (brownie sundaes and popcorn!) plus the ability to go back and rewind when I missed something.
If you have the patience to wait for some movies (or tell your kids to wait, when they want to go see something) a time or two, you’ll not only save big, you could save up enough to get yourself your own projector and soundbar, and do backyard movie nights where you have your private screen. We did that about 2 years ago and it’s really fun to do that, and invite people over, or just watch it ourselves! It turns any movie into more of an event.
Maybe some of these ideas will spark some new ideas for you, and you’ll find a way to put a few more dollars into your Disney account! Have any others you’d like to share?
Be Our Guest is about to undergo some changes. Starting at the end of July, dinner will now be a 2 credit meal, meaning Be Our Guest will be a Signature Dining Experience. Additionally, the menu will be changing, becoming prix fixe, which for those of us who don't speak fancy (like me!) means fixed price. No matter what you order, or your age, if you are there, you are charged the flat rate. $55 for adults, $35 for kids.
I wonder if they had a problem with people coming in to order just desert and drinks in the evening, just to meet Beast?
According to the Disney Parks Blog, the menu will consist of an appetizer, entree and dessert. I hate to say it, but most of the menu actually doesn't appeal to me.
The appetizers are: "French Onion Soup in addition to rich new offerings like Charred Octopus with citrus-laced fingerling potatoes, pickled hearts of palm and red pepper coulis; Escargot with herb garlic butter and toasted gremolata; and a selection of assorted meats and artisanal cheeses such as chicken liver pâté, chorizo sausage Manchego, and truffle tremor."
You can click on the link below to see their pictures, and read a little more from the park's blog. At this time, no kids menu is available, but looking at the portion sizes and thinking about how any child from age 2 to 9 is automatically charged $35, and any child 10 and up is charged $55, I just don't know if it's worth it, considering there's a new dinner buffet coming to Magic Kingdom! (More on that, next Sunday!)
Click here to check out the full article, and see the pictures
I sure won't lie! One of my favorite things to do at Disney is to eat! Disney has so many great restaurants, but it's not just IN the parks that have good food, but outside too! Disney Springs, the Resorts, they are all known for having an incredible variety of unique and wonderfully delicious foods.
While that's great, what if you are at the park and want a quick bite? We've got suggestions for you! All of these places are included on the Quick Service Dining Plan, so they aren't going to cut into your budget, but they will provide a nice place to stop, rest and fill up your stomachs! Quick Service doesn't mean fast food! Your portions won't be small, and neither will the value for your meal if you go with one of these favorites!
At a Quick Servace restaurant, entrees will be $14.99 or less, but the average price for a burger and fries (or similar) is $10-12, same as at a fast casual place back home.
These are where we always suggest at Magic Kingdom, and why! We've even got a few suggestions for who this might, or might not, be appropriate for.
Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest is our ultimate favorite. Who wouldn't want to eat a meal in a castle? You can do breakfast or lunch as Quick Service, but we have only ever done breakfast. With food so amazing it makes your taste buds explode with every bite and a pastry platter for every table, this is always a once per trip for us.
Portions aren't overly large, but they are generous enough that with the pastry platter, and refills on beverages allowed, it's always been more than enough.
Why don't we go to lunch since we enjoy breakfast so much? The simple reason is the menu. Neither of our kids would be interested in the kids offerings. Breakfast is pretty standard, but the lunch is definitely on the fancier side, with things like meatloaf with broccoli and zucchini, shrimp with broccoli, pork with green beans and mashed potatoes. Just not stuff our kids would want. We also don't want to take the extra time of a longer sit down meal.
Stop by, (reservations is really the best way) and try at least once, you won't be disappointed at all in the incredible decor or the food, just make sure if you have kids you've looked at the menu ahead of time!
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
Our second favorite, and once we stop at often, is Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. There's a fun, spaceport kind of feel here with tons of indoor, air conditioned seating, though the tables are quite small. We've never had a problem with finding a place to sit, even during the peak times of the day during summer.
The menu portions are quite large. and they offer food that everyone in the family will love. I always get the half chicken, with mashed potatoes and green beans, while Mr. Disney Magic usually gets a burger, beef or vegetarian. They've also got hot dogs, salads and chicken sandwiches. For the kids, there's a salad, mac and cheese, pbj or chicken nuggets, plus your choice of sides. Adults can sub out their sides too, and there's even a toppings bar, with all kinds of things to customize your sandwich.
This is a great place for lunch, or dinner, and we eat here multiple times per trip.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
I'm not going to lie, I prefered the old Pecos Bill menu, but the new one isn't bad either. It's a break from the standard chicken nuggets and burgers that Quick Service gets a bad rap for, by doing Mexican. The portions are large, and once again it's indoor seating, and plenty of it, as well as a restroom. We always try and sit in the far back, and usually have never had too much trouble finding a table. This is a great place for kids, just because you don't have to go far when they need a restroom.
They have a large menu with things like fajitas, taco salads, burritos and rice bowls for the adults. For the kids there are nachos, pbj, mac and cheese or a hamburger. The only thing I wish we had known, is that while it's $4.99 for a small order of nachos, we could have on a kids meal, asked for nachos instead of the cookie or grapes. That was a $5 lesson learned after paying! Pecos Bill also has a toppings bar, and I just love it because you'll find nacho cheese, tons of toppings for your nachos, or burger, like mushrooms, grilled onions, even guacamole!
You really can't go wrong with a meal here. We usually stop in for dinner, because it's a little less crowded then.
Tomorrowland Terrence goes last because while it's got amazing views with covered outdoor seating, and a menu with things you won't find elsewhere, it's only open seasonally, and even then, just at peak times so there's not really a way to plan if you can go there that day other than to walk past and hope. The Terrence is also host to the the special ticket firework desert parties, so you won't be able to snag a table if it gets too late in the day.
The portions are average, and the menu is small but nice. You've got your standard burgers and salads, but also banh mi sandwiches, and home made chips. The kids fare is standard too, nuggets, mac and cheese and pbj.
Of the multiple times we've gone past, they've only been opened once. Perhaps your luck will be better than ours!
Those are our favorite quick serves! As you can see, Quick Service isn't something like McDonalds, when you are at Disney. You still get the quality of a casual restaurant, with the convenience of a quick in and out so a meal doesn't take up half your day, or a ton of your budget!
Did we miss your favorite? Which place do you love to go to?
Want to see our top quick service picks for Animal Kingdom? Click here!
At the start of the new year, everything seems to go up. Gas, groceries, the fries at Mcdonalds (really?! 30 cents more now for the large? Sheesh!) but those little increase don’t usually make the news the way an increase at Disney World does.
Before you let that worry you, or even stop you Disney vacation plans, we are here to tell you that it’s NOT a big deal. Really. Yes, we are all about saving money so we can get to Disney, but few dollar more in theme park admission shouldn’t scare you, because that hike isn’t aimed at YOU specifically.
Let me explain.
A few years back, Disney put their tickets into three tiers. Value, Regular and Peak days. Value would be the off peak times, for example, January, once the Christmas rush is over, or August and early September, when kids are back in school. Regular times are typically the early spring and fall, while Peak times start around spring Break, and go through Summer, and then the fall holidays. Dividing the year into tiers allowed Disney to charge different prices for each time. If you want to go at a slower time of year, you get to pay less. If you want to go (or can only go) during a more crowded time of year, you’ll pay more.
While this may not really sound fair, when you think that in an off peak time, fewer people are needed to, for example, clean the restrooms, or clean hotel rooms and less paper goods are used, of course, Disney’s costs will be lower. When it’s Peak time, and everyone’s sipping a drink, using a little TP in the restroom or requesting using tons of towels at the pool, expenses go up. (Think about it practically and it takes a little of the sting off. That’s what I tell myself anyway!!)
But when Disney does a price increase, people start cringing. They complain about how expensive it already is. Every year I see the people that say “That’s it! It’s too expensive, we have had our last trip!” If you are a Disney lover and have been before, you’ll already know how much value you get for those tickets, but if you don’t go often, or you’ve never been before, let me point out again. This is not really going to effect you much, if any.
This is why.
The price increase is greatest on one day tickets. Those prices are for the, “Hey, while we are in town, let’s stop off,” people. The, “You know, let’s go make a day of it,” gang. The, “Alright, fine. We will go one time,” folks. Not the “Woooo we have been saving now we are going to go live it up!! Lets book our vacations!” people, like you and me! We still get a price increase, but it’s not really going to be $100 plus a day for a ticket.
Look at this!
I’m going to just use regular day prices. It will be a few dollars less during value season, a few dollars more during peak, but day three, my friends, is where the magic starts to happen, and just look at day 5 and 6! It’s worth it to get the longer tickets, even if you just plan to go in, use your fast passes and leave for a pool day.
Day 1 $ 114 / $119 per day (Magic Kingdom single day tickets are $115)
Day 2 $209 ( $104.50 per day)
Day 3 $305 ($101.66 per day)
Day 4 $380 ($95 per day)
Day 5 $395 ($79 per day)
Day 6 $405 ($67.50 per day)
Day 7 $415 ($59.28 per day)
Day 8 $425 ($53.12 per day)
Day 9 $435 ($48.33 per day)
Day 10 $445 ($44.50 per day)
So how does this compare to last years prices? A typical 5 day pass in 2017 cost $370. In 2018 it now costs $395. An increase of $25, or, $5 a day. That’s not really too bad. Use a few of our great tips on the blog, and save that easily! I know I'll either be using my McDonalds app for the BOGO Large fries, or maybe start to cut them out so save a little more on my end!
If you have a few saving money tips we don’t, please share below!
Spotlight Sunday: Mad Tea Party
I think everyone in our family loves this ride. It's gotten too much of a squeeze to ride together though as the kids have gotten bigger, but it's still a must do (several times) each trip. I wish the ride weren't so short! Look at the wonderful details in this ride! The ceiling, the center pole, the tea cups themselves!
A few fun little facts about this ride!
This is one of the original rides from when Disney World opened in 1971. It also, unlike it's Disneyland counterpart, has a roof, which not only provides shade in the hot summers, bur keeps it running, even in the rain! While rumors have it that the purple teacups are fastest at spinning, (and I'm not sure how that started) I've ridden in every color, and haven't noticed a difference, myself. Have you?