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View Full Version : Ever do Disney on a really tight budget??


NHBelle
06-26-2009, 03:58 PM
Okay, I already have our summer trip booked (to NY), but Disney keeps sending me discount codes, so I checked into it and it would only be around $500 more to go, the problem is that in NY, we would have stayed at a cabin and done our own cooking, now we would have to eat out. Typically we are on the dining plan and eat a lot of sit down meals, BUT our last trip we were so sick of buffets, and we threw away so much food. If we decide to do this we could only afford counter meals and would have no choice but to share (family of 5). I was just wondering if anyone else has done this, any tips, any idea what I should plan to spend, just not sure we can pull this off. :confused3

bootleg89
06-26-2009, 04:13 PM
They have that new counter service dining plan. Maybe that would work for you.

*pixie*dust*
06-26-2009, 04:26 PM
Yes, I have been with a group of 7 that was extremely tight. We had 4 adults and 3 children. We ate only CS meals with the exception of one character meal. We were in a Value resort. We drove, so we took a cooler and had cereal, milk, poptarts, etc for breakfast. We drank free ice water in the parks and added those mix in lemonade mixes at times. We split meals and brought snacks such as trail mix, granola bars, fruit snacks, gold fish crackers and microwave popcorn for snacks. Most items on CS menus can be purchased individually at a lower price.
We many times bought a a larger combo meal, (like the chicken at Cosmic Rays, ribs at FlameTree) then just added an additional side dish. It fed two adults and a child that way!

Honestly,it was a great trip even though it was a very tight budget.

shortbun
06-26-2009, 04:45 PM
I could never do it. I'd start out on a great budget and by the end I'd have all the plastic out of my wallet.

MagiKitty
06-26-2009, 04:50 PM
We always do a tight-budget trip. Our big splurge, with the exception of the tickets, is renting a car. That way, we can go to the grocery store and pick up items like bottled water, snack foods, even toiletries (we fly and toiletries are heavy!)

We also go offisite for quickie, cheap meals. We go to the outlets to look for souvenirs and save a ton on stuff to bring back. I search for coupons online and have been able to save on meals and other attractions.

We usually eat CS in the parks for lunch, and more often than not, we split an entree and get extra sides.

We bring a bottle of water each with us into the park and get free ice. We also use those powdered mixes to add variety.

We buy our tickets before heading into the parks, that can save money. We stay at Value resorts but take the time to visit the other resorts. We don't do hoppers or the water parks. We do go to DTD and enjoy the sights there.

Also hope for some pixie dust for a free dining pin! (if not for free dining, we stay offsite)

cjnix29
06-26-2009, 05:00 PM
Our last trip was a tight budget trip. We lucked out on several fronts. We own a timeshare, so we stayed off property at that. We did fly and rent a car, which were the two biggest chunks from our budget. I went with my sister and my son. We were able to cook food in the condo. Between the two of us, we have disney visa cards and had saved about 700 in rewards. Her husband was retired military, so we got our five day tickets for $99 each, which we paid for with our rewards card. The rest of the time, we split counter service meals, or ate kids meals. We didn't feel deprived at all. We also went to Universal one day, but I had won two free tickets, so we just had to pay for the third ticket. Between the two of us, it cost us $1000 for the week, most of which was airfare and rental car. Good luck. I thought it was fun seeing how much we didn't spend to still have a good time! Have fun!

Dallas_Lady
06-26-2009, 05:03 PM
Have you considered staying offsite? You wouldn't get to use the discount codes from Disney, but we are saving more staying offsite this next trip than any Disney code could ever match. We're renting a 3 bedroom condo for less than one room at a Value resort would be. Plus, the condo has a full kitchen so we can cook meals if we want to, but with the money we are saving we won't have to.

singnring
06-26-2009, 05:12 PM
There are ALWAYS ways to save money!! It just depends on whether you are willing to do what it takes to save it!

We are always on a tight budget, and we get the most of every penny we spend. THis is what allows us to take more trips than would otherwise be possible.

If you are driving, take along foods you can prepare in your room.
If you are flying, pack an extra suitcase with those foods. Be sure to pack a collapsible cooler for @ the resort!!

If you plan carefully, you can make lots of things in your room.
They might not always be the healthiest options, but then you're on vacation, so who cares!! ;)

We always take breakfast foods like cin rolls, microwaveable (MW) br sandwiches, poptarts, cereal, etc.
There is a MW in the food courts you can use to heat stuff up, and the CM's have said we can do this.

Lunch is really easy: sand's, spaghettios, MW soups, salads, etc.

Dinner we usually eat a CS meal, but we also go into town for Ci-CI's pizza buffet (about $5-6/person), breakfast buffets @ Ponderosa and other similar rest's ($3.99/person), occasionally a fastfood joint.

If driving in, we take a frozen casserole along in the cooler and thaw it out for the first or second night's dinner, usually have leftovers for lunch too.

Don't waste money on hopper tickets. Do a park each day and spend time in the resort areas.

Find some of the really neat free things to do on disney property. Esp fun is hidden mickey hunts which can be done outside of the parks.

The key is to be creative!! Good Luck!!

pandora174
06-26-2009, 05:33 PM
Have you considered staying offsite? You wouldn't get to use the discount codes from Disney, but we are saving more staying offsite this next trip than any Disney code could ever match. We're renting a 3 bedroom condo for less than one room at a Value resort would be. Plus, the condo has a full kitchen so we can cook meals if we want to, but with the money we are saving we won't have to.

You know I am planning a 2 day WDW trip for DS 7th b-day & get to use his free ticket. But I checked & agree, we can get a hotel off site through Priceline with shuttle service & save alot of $ vs staying onsite. & yup for us too with that savings alone we can afford to eat out & stay very nicely within budget.

for the OP I also always take every possible thing in my medicine cabinet in a separate bag (just in case) I have had DH get a stomach upset & running to a nearest CVS & paying Orlando prices which I found much higher than at home a very costly stomach ache. I take everything from pepto pills, tylenol for aches & headaches, stuff for fever for my DS, band aids & BATTERIES those cost a fortune at WDW. I also save a lot of of my freebies, (Thanks to the DIS board) so most of my in case are freebies. Definitely we always bring our own water bottles, soda, milk for DS & even beer ! :woohoo: If the hotel doesn't have a fridge we take a collapsible cooler. That saves alot if your driving to WDW like we do. Good luck & have fun !! :banana:

hsmamato2
06-26-2009, 06:07 PM
you could go to Disney, if you fly, order Garden grocer to your room for breakfast foods,paper bowls, napkins,etc.
you can bring along a soft cooler and lunch fixins'-like pb&j,small chips bags,etc. make a lunch and bring it in a backpack for the day,eat cs meals out,share so there's no waste-
get ice daily from hotel,and keep the extra stuff cool in the room-
buy milk from hotel store if needed
If you drive,it's even better b/c you can pack your meals in the car
(think like packing meals for camping,minus the cooking)
i.e.-for our family,2 boxes of cereal,bowls,etc would be the weeks breakfasts
sandwiches/snacks for lunch,cs for dinnertime-
in between any yummy snacks we can afford while touring- we've done it before-and in reality,what's the big diff. between a bag of potato chips(cheap) or french fries(not so cheap) with a sandwich?

Kay1
06-26-2009, 06:10 PM
Have you considered staying offsite? You wouldn't get to use the discount codes from Disney, but we are saving more staying offsite this next trip than any Disney code could ever match. We're renting a 3 bedroom condo for less than one room at a Value resort would be. Plus, the condo has a full kitchen so we can cook meals if we want to, but with the money we are saving we won't have to.

I agree with Dallas Lady. Who needs codes when there are so many wonderful condos and houses offsite?

NeedaVacation03
06-26-2009, 06:21 PM
We are doing a very budget trip for dd's birthday next week. We were able to get the buy 4 get 3, otherwise we were staying offsite. We are also eating off property sometimes, but we will be sharing lunch. There are a lot of great ideas listed here and you can still have a wonderful time. We did splurge on the dessert party for dd's birthday instead of getting a cake.
We know what we are willing to sacrifice and what we really find as important.

englishteacha
06-26-2009, 06:31 PM
For a while, Travelzoo had a special for the Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista at $32 a night. Every room had a fridge and microwave, and they have a shuttle to the parks. You'd have to get there from the airport, though, if you're flying. That's better than any WDW deal I've seen. We rent a condo offsite, usually, for $50-65 a night. That's still cheaper than WDW. Yes, we have to rent a car and we pay to park, but it still ends up cheaper than a value resort. The only time it wouldn't be cheaper was if we went during free dining and our food was included and we didn't get a car. Even then, it would be very close.

We don't cook much on vacation, even though we have a kitchen. We eat breakfast in the condo, and snacks. We get CS meals in the parks and have our sit-down meals offsite. There are many places with good food that are very reasonably priced offsite.

I would pack lunches for a trip if it would save me enough to make the trip happen. Our non-Disney vacations are to parks that don't allow any food in, so we've had to plan creatively sometimes so we can eat within budget. We've gone out to our car to eat sandwiches in the air conditioning before. :)

dopeysgirl01
06-26-2009, 07:47 PM
We just got back last Sunday. We are a family of 5. We saved money by bringing our lunches every day. We stayed in a two bedroom condo with a full kitchen. I made sandwhiches and had lunchables for the kids. I packed snacks and froze juice packs each night so they would be cold at lunch. We put all the lunch stuff in a bag and then put that in a locker. We saved so much doing this. We also ate breakfast in the room, just cereal or bagels.

DISdreamin'
06-26-2009, 08:04 PM
When we went in January, I packed a suitcase with breakfast cereal, paper plates, plastic spoons, filters for the coffee maker, coffee, coffee cups with lids, a small thing of sugar, snack foods (Goldfish, pretzels, gummies, etc.), paper cups (for OJ), and a bunch of Ziploc baggies for portioning out snacks. I then ordered milk, OJ, juice boxes and bottled water from Garden Grocer.

We ate nearly every breakfast in our room, and evening snacks as well. Also, we spent nothing on snacks above what was provided with the meal plan - in fact, we had credits left on the last day we used to get treats for the plane. The kiddies got their Mickey-shaped ice creams to snarf, and Crispie snacks and stuff for travel.

It worked out GREAT! I think we saved quite a bit, although with the airline charges for bags, you'd have to sit down and do the math on it. We got 4 free pieces of luggage at the time, one for each passenger, and I easily fit everything we needed into two of the bags and our carry-ons. Of the two additional bags, one was for the above and the other was for items I picked up at the Disney Store locally on super-duper-discount (t-shirts, big Mickey and Minnie) for DS and DD. They didn't feel deprived because they DID get cool things from the Disney Fairy every few days, but it cost me SO much less than it would have in The World. :thumbsup2

TNKBELL
06-26-2009, 08:50 PM
I agree with Dallas Lady. Who needs codes when there are so many wonderful condos and houses offsite?

Ditto, after staying offsite, I don't think I will ever go back unless Dh and I can stay at GF someday!:cloud9:

lacrosse_lady72
06-27-2009, 03:50 AM
I could never do it. I'd start out on a great budget and by the end I'd have all the plastic out of my wallet.

That sounds like me. I start out saving a certain amount to spend at Disney but EVERYtime I have to tap into my credit card... no biggie, if it means eating top ramen for 4 months to live like a rockstar for 2 weeks at Disney, I'll take it!

debsays
06-27-2009, 07:16 AM
If your planning on doing the counter service only, FIRST I'd advise you to compare the difference between the counter service and the regular dining plan. I find it to be not much of a difference. Also, if you do decide to do counter service only you can get GREAT meals that are like a table service but considered counter service at Coronado Springs Resort. Just a hint.

bratmomma
06-27-2009, 07:34 AM
Our upcoming trip will be on a really tight budget. We had some money put away but on Memorial Day my dog tore a ligament and his meniscus in his knee and needed treatment, medication and surgery that totalled $2200. There goes our Disney money! Luckily we are going with FD, so that is an expense we won't have to bear.

We will still have to pay for gratuity, luggage fees (not for everyone because we are utilizing carryon as much as possible), some souvies, tips for Mousekeeping, we would like to pitch in for gas and tolls on the way to Disney from my BIL's house (MIL rented a car, but we can't have her pay for all of it, that wouldn't be fair!), laundry $ so we can pack less to fit in the carryons, plus a little bit to buy milk and some other small food items for our room, etc.

We have a collection pail left over from the Arthritis Walk in May (I have RA and we had a team walking) that I put paper and tape over and wrote on it "Florida Fund". We have all be trying to put any loose change we find around the house (and I steal a few coins from DH's pile of pocket change each night when he isn't looking hehhehe) in the bucket. Also, I put any money I got for my birthday in the bucket and recently had some of it converted to Disney Dollars. Its easier to save it that way so I don't grab a few bucks out of there to run to the store for groceries. I am also trying to sell some things on Craigslist. I might have a yard sale between now and then as well!

Good luck planning your budget trip!! I am sure WDW will be JUST as magical no matter where you stay or what you eat for meals!

mom2luncate
06-27-2009, 08:37 AM
[QUOTE=hsmamato2;32452660]you could go to Disney, if you fly, order Garden grocer to your room for breakfast foods,paper bowls, napkins,etc.
you can bring along a soft cooler and lunch fixins'-like pb&j,small chips bags,etc. make a lunch and bring it in a backpack for the day,eat cs meals out,share so there's no waste-

On our last trip we were on an extremely tight budget. We used Garden Grocer and it was great. We had all of our breakfast, lunch and snack food delivered. They deliver it at a time that is convenient for you to the bell service who then brings it to your room! If you're not there the bell service staff refrigerates it for you!!!! :thumbsup2We ate cereal in the room every morning. We made sandwiches and brought them into the park in a soft cooler I brought with me. We also brought our own snacks and drinks (juice boxes for the kids and waters or us). You can order a refridgerator (and other items like a coffee maker) from A Baby's Best Friend. They mostly rent baby supplies but you can get a small fridge and regular size coffee maker for 7 days for $60. They also bring the items to bell services who then deliver them to your room. Or, there's always ice from the ice machine. For dinner we always did CS and tried to split as often as possible.

We stayed at a value resort and got a really good discount using our AAA membership. Also, they drop the rates in August so if you can deal with the heat you can save even more money.

It is doable so I say go for it. Make a budget and stick to it. Good luck!:cool1:

Teacher03
06-27-2009, 01:05 PM
Have you considered staying offsite? You wouldn't get to use the discount codes from Disney, but we are saving more staying offsite this next trip than any Disney code could ever match. We're renting a 3 bedroom condo for less than one room at a Value resort would be. Plus, the condo has a full kitchen so we can cook meals if we want to, but with the money we are saving we won't have to.

ITA. We just stayed offsite at Windsor Hills and saved so much money. The condo was beautiful and much more inexpensive than staying at a value. The drive to the parks was quicker than many of the Disney busses. We ate breakfast and sometimes lunch at our condo and ate at a couple of great restaurants offsite. The biggest expense was our tickets; we had the park hopper and water parks for 7 days, which adds up. I actually came home under budget.

treeface
06-27-2009, 05:56 PM
It can be done. We were just there last month and had a pretty small budget to work with. We stayed 6 nights (1 at Pop and 5 at SSR in a 1BR b/c we're DVC members) and our total expenses at WDW were $440. That was 4 CS meals and 4 TS meals plus a couple pins. It was 3 of us, 2 adults and DS7. We also had AP's that we purchased at Christmas last year. It was actually more enjoyable as we spent more time enjoying the resorts and free things than in past trips. We ordered groceries from Garden Grocer and cooked other meals in the room (worked out perfect since it was raining almost everytime we were in the room). We had to keep the trip under $1500 and just made it after airfare ($477) and the kennel for the 4 dogs ($482).

We will be going back at Christmas, will be on the same budget but with 4 people and will use the DDP this time and no kennel or airfare (will have a housesitter and drive).

stahshee
06-27-2009, 06:58 PM
Ditto, after staying offsite, I don't think I will ever go back unless Dh and I can stay at GF someday!:cloud9:

tnk when will you be planning your next budget trip for us to follow?:thumbsup2

mum4jenn
06-27-2009, 08:09 PM
We found a great deal on Hotwire for $26 a night for July. We already have tickets but we are not even going to the parks because it will be too hot. We plan on going to DTD and stay by the pool and hit the outlet stores. We got two restaurant.com certificates worth $25 off meals for $4 each!! Lunch will be in our room and breakfast at a buffet.