View Full Version : How to plan a quick trip on a budget?

08-06-2006, 09:58 AM
First let me say, I'm a Disney nut, always wanting to go, but we live in Canada, so there are a few extra costs for us with converting, flying VS. driving, etc. We're due to go on our last summer vacation with our girls 8 & 6, camping in our motorhome somewhere in Michigan. When I decided to check out going to Disney. At FW, it's value season(arriving Aug 18th), so I can get a site for $44, and Maple Leaf tickets are still on sale til Mon. I ran this past my DH and he looked at me like I was crazy, but what did I find on the counter this morning, Mapquest directions to Disney. You have to understand this is HUGE!!!! I usually have to drag my hubby yelling and screaming, but then he's the biggest kid when we get there. I need everything you've got on how to do it as cheap as possible. While we're at it, Dining Plan Vs. Eating at the camper. Please help before he changes his mind! :joker:

08-06-2006, 10:13 AM
If you're going as cheap as possible. . . then you can save a lot of money by eating at the camper. You could probably do breakfast and lunch in the camper, and if you don't want to do three meals a day you could split a couple of meals at either a table service or counter service for dinner. A lot of those meals are just HUGE and you wouldn't leave hungry, even splitting. As much as I love the dining plan, it would be around $100 a day for you and you can certainly eat cheaper than that - plus you'd have to buy tickets through Disney in order to get a package and forego any ticket discount available from Maple Leaf Tickets.

08-06-2006, 10:37 AM
I agree with Mygoofy.. Eating in the camper will definitely be cheaper than eating on the dining plan.. and the sad thing is that with the dining plan you get so much food that you will probably wasting some.. Eating 2 meals in the camper would be best and then as mentioned, buy one meal from the parks and split it if possible because the portions are quite big. Buy tickets thru one of the brokers as if nothing else you will save on taxes. Id also bring some snacks that can be brought in a backpack to the parks as that will save that expense.. Id give the kiddos a set amt for souvenirs or just let them know up front they can get one souvenir (or whatever you set up ahead of time).. If you can get a few Disney related things from a dollar store (not sure if you have one around you) than you can put things under their pillow at night or whatever as a treat.. I bought some glow necklaces at the dollar store before we went in March and I wasnt sure they'd like those over the ones they have at Disney, even my DD14 and DS12 wanted to wear one or two.. To curb the "I wants".. perhaps let the kiddos know they can have one snack a day from the parks such as a mickey icecream bar, etc..

Good luck and congrats on getting him to say yes..

08-06-2006, 12:30 PM

I would eat as much out of your camper as possible. Maybe a counterservice meal in the parks when you are there and when you are at FW eat there. The dining plan was not for our family as we like to come and go as we please and we aren't big on having to be at a certain location for a certain time.
Hopefully you can convince DH to go, have a blast! Please post on the Canadian Boards how your trip was, crowds, weather etc. when you get back. Good Luck!~ pixiedust:
(I was trying to convince my DH of an August trip next summer, but after that week long heat wave last week I think I got my answer.) :rotfl:

08-06-2006, 12:51 PM
You can get an idea of gasoline costs by going to AAA Fuel Cost Calculator (http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com/TripGasPrice.aspx) . You can use the closet U.S. city as your starting point and then add a few dollars more to get an idea of how much it will cost you to travel to Orlando.

I agree that eating 2 meals in the camper will save you a ton of money. But I would encourage you to do breakfast and dinner there and have lunch in the parks (lunch will be cheaper in the parks than dinner will be). My DSis camped at FW a couple of years ago and her biggest regret was that her DH insisted on returning to the camper for all of the meals. By the time they got back to the camper, she prepared the meal, they ate and then cleaned up, they spend close to 4 hours of prime park time doing lunch. Since you're going during value season, the park hours will be shorter anyway.

Take your crockpot along and do dinners in it before you leave for the parks. Add some salad & bread and you'll have dinner ready within minutes of returning to your campsite. Then you can return to the parks afterwards for nighttime parades and fireworks (and maybe a little dessert :) ) Bring what's in your pantry to complete the meals rather than going out to buy extras. Ideally, you should only need to buy milk and bread from the FW store.

I agree with the others about limiting the kids' souvenir selections to a set dollar amount. Bringing a few goodies (like the glo necklaces and light spinners) will reduce the "gimmees" a bit. Bring sunscreen with you because it will be expensive in Disney and you will definitely need it. Drink water from the fountains instead of buying bottled water (at $2.50/bottle), or ask for ice water from any of the CS places. Add mix & go Koolade or Crystal Light to it if the taste of Florida water is just unacceptable to you.

When you eat lunch in the parks, split the meals. Buy a couple of combo meals and split the a large beverage between all of you. Every park has at least one CS location that offers a great combo meal. Try the half slab of ribs w/ corn on the cob at Flametree in AK or the ˝ Rotisserie Chicken w/ mashed potatoes and veggies at Cosmic Ray's in MK. If you're adventurous, the shawarma platters (either lamb or chicken) at the Tangierine Café in EPCOT are very filling. And if an adult would prefer a light meal, they can order a child's meal at any CS.

Good luck with your plans! You must be so excited!

08-06-2006, 12:58 PM
first of all... :Pinkbounc :Pinkbounc yippee!!!!

Agree with the posters... The only way I find the dining plan is a good deal is if you like to eat atleast one table service meal/character dinner per night. (And personally, I still think its too much food, for me anyway)

There is a Super Walmart on RT. 536, (right near Disney) I would go there and get some food/ water, etc.

Hope you have a great time!!! :yay:

08-07-2006, 06:01 AM
Thanks for all the info re: the dining plan Vs. eating at the camper. We stayed at FW a few years back, and the dining plan wasn't around then, so I wasn't sure if it was a great deal vs. eating at the camper. Thanks also for the AAA fuel calculator link. We found out that by taking our Motorhome it will cost us almost $900 in fuel from here to there, and only $250 in our van. So now it's do we stay in a motel(All Stars) and buy all our meals, or do we pay the difference in gas, and prepare our own food. Any other budget ideas would help :confused3

08-07-2006, 07:28 AM
August 18 is still regular season at the value resorts. There is a discount code available now that would get you $20 off of the rack rate if rooms are available and if you wait until Aug. 19 to check in. That would bring the cost of a standard room down to $79/night plus tax (nearly double what you would pay for campsight). The discount can also be applied to MYW packages, which is what you would need to book if you want the dining package (DDP).

You didn't say how long you would be staying, so I made my cost comparisons using a 7-night stay.

A discount package that includes 7 nights at the ASMu (preferred location) and 7-day MTW base tickets would cost $1521 for your family. Add the dining package and it jumps to $2206. These prices include tax but not trip insurance. So, I guess the question is whether you would spend nearly $100/night to feed your family if you were not on the dining plan. My feelings are that you will eat better on the DDP but not cheaper. There are ways to dine cheaply at WDW when you bring food with you to eat in your room or warm up in the microwaves in the dining court.

I would not book the package unless I was also booking the DDP. You can reserve the discounted room only and purchase your tickets from a ticketbroker for less than the cost of the package.

Another alternative is to stay offsite. You can get more space and a kitchenette for the same price or less than the cost of an AllStar room. You would then have the convenience of a microwave and refrigerator in your room so that you can prepare light meals and snacks. Some hotels even offer a complimentary breakfast buffet with your stay. Since you will have your van anyway, transportation to/from the parks will not be an issue (however, parking will cost you $8/day).

The DIS has a link to the Buena Vista Suites (http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/Resorts/bvsuites/index.htm#hotels-main-bvsuites) in DtD that runs $88/night and offers a full American breakfast buffet. Your stay, with tax, would cost $684 for 7 nights. 7-day base tickets at Mapleleaf would cost you another $762 w/ free pickup in Kissimmee or another $6 to ship to Canada.

It looks like you have a lot of numbers to crunch and just a little time to decide what to do. Good luck with your planning!

08-07-2006, 09:48 AM
Just wanted to remind you that gas is now about twice what it was a couple of years ago - something to remember to build into your budget (it was a bit of a shock to us when we drove down in April).

08-07-2006, 12:18 PM
I vote eat at the camper, or in a room if you go that route. Another consideration is that the free dining program will be in effect during your stay (althought it is too late for you to book this plan). Therefore, the restaurants will be crowded, and may not even have availability. We just came back from a last minute trip, and ate only a few meals in the parks. We brought in drinks, snacks, etc with no problems. It seems to me that the prices for table service have gotten crazy. My husband and I have a saying that table service is 100.00-- and sadly, that's about the cost for our family of four.

08-07-2006, 12:48 PM
We live in Minn. and are dealing with all the questions for our trip. Because when we add in the cost of a rental (we'd need to rent a car or van) and then the gas to get down there, plus the cost of extra food/snacks and hotel down and back, it ends up being close to a wash for us about whether to fly or drive. If we were staying on-site, I'd fly and take advantage of the magic express. Staying off-site, we'd need to get a car for the length of stay, anyway, thus losing in the cost analysis. If you were contemplating staying onsite anyway, why not see if you can get flights that would work for you.
I still think it's perfectly feasible to stay in a hotel and still eat at least breakfast every day and then lunches or dinners pretty frequently. You're just a bit more limited as to what you do. If you drive, bring a cooler full of food that you can keep and eat cold, or just use hot water. For our family, oatmeal, bags of caesar salad with sliced or diced chicken, ramen noodles, soup in a cup (that you just add hot water to), sandwiches. In fact, I've been wanting to start a thread that people could give good examples of meals for the rooms. If you fly, I'd recommend taking advantage of one of the many grocery services and still get food delivered to the hotel so you can make food in the room and save. It will also allow you to get bottled water.
Each day, or spur of the moment, you can decide when you want to go back to the room and eat your "in room" meal. For us, the lunch at the room worked best last time we were there, because we'd eat and then either go to the pool for a bit and then nap, or just nap after lunch. Then we'd be revived for the evening. And, even with little ones, we were at the parks pretty late.
I'd forego the dining plan, it probably won't be a value for you.