Sometimes there's a kind of gut punch feeling when you get your Disney vacation quote. Maybe it's because financially, it was a hard year. (Or two.) It could be the fact that Disney never seems to get cheaper. Whatever the reason, it's possible you wonder, "Well, can we do it? Should we do it?"
I've talked before about not going into debt for a Disney vacation. I've also talked about ways to get FREE Disney money! You know I'm all about enjoying the same magic, but for less!
But what do you do, when year after year, the price goes up, and you aren't sure you are getting the same value? Let's talk about the four elements of a Disney trip. Hotels, food, souvenirs, and tickets. How can we cut costs but still enjoy ourselves?
Without a doubt, hotels can be the most expensive part of your trip! Part of that is because if you are a family of five or more, to stay on property, you'll need a suite or else two rooms. That REALLY adds up. But, let's be honest. Staying on property is pretty expensive. With less perks now for those who do stay on property, you might just be able to save a LOT of money by looking for a resort elsewhere.
The amazing thing about Disney, is there are tons of resorts by Hilton and Holiday Inn and others, that cost half (or less!) than a Disney Value Resort, and you get a resort that usually comes with a fantastic pool area (think mini water park!) and other great resort activities, that might include games, breakfast, and transportation, to name a few.
If you don't spend much time in your resort room, or if you don't care if your walls are decorated in Mickey Mouse, this might be perfect for your family.
Comparing prices between an off property resort, and an All Stars room saved over $1,000 for a week in June. That's a LOT!
Food...now, some people are foodies, others just want to snack. With Disney having such a generous policy letting you bring food into the park, that might be something you want to consider to save big. After all, the average price of a soda is $5! A great compromise might be a resort room breakfast, a snack from your backpack, and then a huge late lunch in the park. Depending on your appetite, you might be able to split a meal, with just buying an extra side. Dinner can be off property or back in your resort room.
We find at the end of the day, we are tired and like to eat light. There's a LOT of stuff you can make or have delivered that would fit that bill!
If you make the majority of your beverages water, you'll save a ton, and prevent possible seriously problems, like dehydration or sunstroke!
Without a budget, it's so easy to spend your money on the amazing Disney goodies. T Shirts can set you back $30 or more! Disney pins start around $8, and there's just so much that looks fun and wonderful and well, you just want!
Define your budget and set limits. Are you wondering how much to bring? Tell yourself, Okay! I can buy something at each park. Or, give yourself a dollar amount. "I can spend $50 at each park." See if you can stick to that! It might be hard but you can still find some great souvenirs. You might not even want to spend that much! Maybe you just want one special thing!
It's easy to overspend!
While Disney has moved into ticket pricing that varies by season and day, there is still a bargain to be found. The longer you stay, the less it costs. It's usually around $10 more for days 6 to 7, which might allow you to extend your stay, especially if you are staying off property, and possibly even skip paying for Genie+, since you'd have an extra day or two and not be so pressed to do it all.
If you have your heart set on going to Disney, then go for it! There are many ways to save, and the sooner you start, the easier it is. In fact, you might find that frozen pizza really saves your budget!
Start braining storming, involve the whole family, and remember...doing Disney simply, and cutting a few corners isn't going to reduce the magic. It's going to help you get back there quicker!
I admit it...total sucker for a pretty gift card. It could even be empty and a little voice in my head goes Ohhhhhh and it sounds a LOT like the Little Green Men from Toy Story for some reason...
A few years back, I was incredibly disappointed when Disney did away with the pretty gift cards! They completely stopped, and only had the red Mickey. I bet you know which one I mean. The one that everyone sells.
I'm thrilled that a few months back, they brought BACK these amazing gift cards. Best of all? There are SO many incredible designs to choose from. I bought myself the three above. When you order your gift card, it comes in a nice envelope.
And then once you open the envelope...is your gift card, in a beautiful card!
The card tells where you can use it, how you can use it, and the value of the card.
I'll be honest...I'm not sure what I love most! The pretty card, the pretty gift card, or the fact possibilities are endless...you could frame the cards...make ornaments...bookmarks...gift tags...there's a lot of creative possibilities here.
We typically pay off our Disney vacations with gift cards. Here's why! (Hint! I don't pay retail!) And when strolling through the parks, a gift card is how we cover our meals, souvenirs, and etc. The kids also have a souvenir, and one of the ways I like to tell which is the food card, which is Kid #1's card, etc, is by each thing of person having their own separate card. It helps me see if we used all we had budgeted for or not.
As a matter of fact, there are a LOT more ways to use a Disney gift card than you may realize! I've got a list of 11 different ways you can use your Disney gift card while on your vacation.
Our kids loving making their own purchases too, and it's such a time saver to pull out the Iron Man card and know who it belongs to, or the Darth Vader one. I'm never even worried about my kids losing their gift cards. Why? Well, because of the 10 second, less than a dollar way to make sure you kid won't lose it!
When you buy these gift cards from the site, there is a minimum of $25 to get the card. If you are a card collector, Disney Stores and Disney Parks will still let you put as little as $15 on a card. When we vacation, I snag a few of these cards for $15, and gift them along with the kids' birthday cards, or Easter baskets. It's an easy way to help them save. As a matter of fact...one year Santa even dropped some in the stockings! How awesome of him!
We are planning our summer trip to Disney World, and there are droids to be build, saber accessories to buy, and more plushies than our van can likely hold, so the boys know they need to save up!
Stop by Disney's site to browse their gift cards. What's your favorite? I've so many I love!
Photo Copyright Disney
Apologies for not updating sooner. After avoiding covid for so many years, well, it's paid a call. This will be a short post, but we are all doing well, and trying to recover and get caught up!
Are you a pressed penny collector? My boys are! I'm a HUGE fan of the medallions though! It shouldn't be any surprise that Disney will make sure there are special things ONLY available during the 50th! Places are sharing that the final machines are in and ready for your pressed coin purchases!
Here's the official Disney Parks Blog Post. Now, just how many pressed pennies are they? Holy mouse, guys! There are SO MANY! Check out these photos!
Photo Copyright Disney
Photo Copyright Disney
Photo Copyright Disney
Which are you most excited about? Those tags are pretty fun looking!
Now, these are scattered all throughout Disney property...that means all four parks, the reports, and Disney Springs. Are you the ambitious sort who wants to collect them all? I know myself...I can be the sort who would want them all, but to be honest, the only ones I want are the generic, 50th anniversary ones. I can't wait to get them in a few months!
Remember...the machines have changed! Very few actually take your pennies and quarters now. Most are credit card. Sure, that's fast and easy...but is it as much fun? While I'm not sure how many of the old locations have the new machines, here's a fantastic list of locations to get you started!
Photo copyright Disney
I cannot imagine that anyone who loves Disney doesn't understand that thrill of magic, that spark of joy at receiving a gift. Amplify that to receiving a gift as a child. While I've been blessed as a child to never not have gifts at Christmas, I know there are many children who do not have gifts.
Gifts for children at Christmas is something I feel strongly about. I help provide toys to local children, but also donate to Toys for Tots, who use that money nationwide to donate toys.
But what does Walt Disney have to do with Toys for Tots? Years ago, I made a blog post about Disney and philanthropy, but I wanted to expand on that a bit this year and focus, as 'tis the season, exclusively on Toys for Tots and Disney.
I bet you are familiar with this logo. Changes are, you've even seen it since you were a young child!
Looks familiar, doesn't it? That logo has been used for more than 70 years! And it was created by none other than Walt Disney and his animators. They also created the first Toys for Tots poster.
I love the story and the idea behind toys for tots, which you can read about here.
This holiday season, I'd encourage each of you, should you see a toy donation box, a tree filled with children's wishes, or a packet in the mail from a place like Toys for Tots, that you donate. Even just a few dollars can make a child's Christmas brighter.
A few days ago, this came in the mail: A small double sided coin and a magnet.
I was thrilled to get them, and sent off a check to help Toys for Tots. If you'd like to help make a child's holiday brighter, without even leaving your house, you can also go to their website and donate. Just like Walt, we can each bring a smile to a child's face. For just a little longer, Disney is also partnering to make your donation go a little further. If you'd like to buy a toy instead of donating money, you can go here to do that. The main link for donations is on the website, too.
I wish each of you the happiest of holiday seasons. One where you experience the wonder and magic of the season, the joy of togetherness, and health and happiness in the new year.
Who remembers the old Disney Stores? The ones in mall that made you feel as if you were stepping into a Disney Park? Between the huge sculptures, endless toys and Mickey Merch, and those amazing displays that often moved running along the near ceiling of the store? I loved those.
But slowly they vanished. Soon, the Disney Store was a memory of the past. It's gotten worse as over the last few years, Disney has done a massive closing of their stores. As of a September 2021 article by USA TODAY, only around 2 dozen stores exist outside of the parks!
If you are lucky enough to stumble across one of these stores, what can you expect? Is there as much Disney magic as at a park store? What will you see for sale? Are the prices cheaper? Is everything retail? Why are some of the tags not in English?
I'm going to give you a quick visual of what you can expect, as well as answer those questions!
While the front of a Disney Store looks pretty blah, the insides are great! Stepping inside, you're greeted with Disney music, smiling faces, and Disney loot everywhere! Toys, clothes, plush friends, and even some park essentials like pins, lanyards, and other trinkets. There's also a big section of light up toys, in case you want to buy now and save.
Just like on ShopDisney, you'll find stuffed animals, but the great thing is getting to pick them out and hold them first, to make sure it's what you want!
Depending on the time of year, you'll also find seasonal merchandise. Right now, expect to see ornaments.
Now, the question is there as much Disney magic as at a park store? Sort of. Expect a greeting and a magical goodbye. But there's no pixie dust being sprinkled around, no one jumping in with a sticker for a crying kiddo.
You will find some unusual items you WON'T find in the park stores. Like, adult size Spiderman PJs. (I tried...my 14 year old wouldn't get them)
When you look at the clothing tags, you will often find that some aren't in English. These are items that come from Tokyo Disney, and Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disney, so watch those sizes! We've bought a few things we thought would fit, but were tight in the chest and long in the torso.
On the racks, you'll find lots of clothes. There is something for everyone from baby to adult.
This is a pretty great place to get gifts! But your next question... Are the prices cheaper? Is everything retail? The Disney Outlets participate in the same sales that ShopDisney does.
So if it's 30% off online, and the store has it, it's 30% off there too.
You are going to find favorites like Disney Princess gear, but also the latest kid show goodies!
There's also my favorite section...the clearance! Usually you'll find several shelves and a clothing rack with items marked down. It can vary as to how much. Usually 30-50% is common, but sometimes you'll really luck out! You'll find both Disney Store and Disney Park merchandise here.
It varries from visit to visit. We live around 3 1/2 hours away from our closes Disney Outlet, so we don't visit too often. In the summer, we bought a TON. We must have hit it just right. Our recent visit, we got almost nothing.
While pins are for sale, there is NO pin trading in the store.
You will be able to purchase the deal of the day though, like you can on ShopDisney.
One great thing about the Disney Store Outlets, is if you have a Disney Visa card, you get 10% off! And you are earning points to spend at Disney!
Hopefully this little tour of the largest Disney Store Outlet I've ever been in tides you over til the day you can get back to your favorite place on Earth!