Our Budget-Friendly Trip to Disney/Universal July 2013 *Link to TR*

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by tiggerfan77, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    :wave2:Helloooo Everyone and welcome to my PTR for a trip that we are going to in July! I know crazy, right?! It's going to HOT and sticky and I'm sure everyone will be cranky but I have gone many a time in the summer and I have adapted and managed to survive them all. So without further ado, here are some introductions....

    I'm Pam (35), your author. By day I am a Graphic Designer and by night a single mom to the best kid in the world!
    Favorite character: Tigger
    Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom/Hollywood Studios (because I just can't pick one)
    Favorite Ride: Splash Mountain
    [​IMG]

    Next up is Tom(27),my boyfriend. He is a printer by day and plays video games at night.
    Favorite Character: Carl (from UP)
    Favorite Park: EPCOT (for the food)
    Favorite Ride: Big Thunder Mountain.
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    And last buy not least is my son, EJ,(7). He is a brainiac by day and enjoys exploring outside and drawing at night.
    Favorite Character: Has been Goofy for a long time and now he has been liking Donald
    Favorite Park: Animal Kingdom
    Favorite Ride: Big Thunder Mountain
    [​IMG]


    Our travel dates are July 13th-20th 2013. We are staying at Wyndham Bonnet Creek thanks to my parents who bought into timeshares in the early nineties. Now as I mentioned I am trying to do a super cheap trip as my paycheck seems to be getting smaller and smaller. So I will have some budget friendly tips on how I saved up for this trip and how much it has cost so far.
    So I hope you enjoy reading my trip report and are excited as much as I am to be going to Disney soon!!:cheer2:
     
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  3. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    I'm posting back to back for 2 reasons, 1-We are at the 3 month mark and I am getting really excited and B-I FINALLY had a weekend free to do some posting! So I may be posting a lot due to the next few weekends and evening I'll be pretty busy.

    So now to get the good part...As I mentioned we will be heading to Orlando in the middle of July and be there for 7nights, 8 days. As far as I know it will just be the 3 of us. When I asked my mom for a space banked week to take EJ to Orlando, she immediately said, "OOoo, can we come too?" Since I usually just get a space-banked week for free or the maintenance fee which usually ends up being the price of one nights stay. (So yes, CHEEP!) I was like, "Sure, the more the merrier." Which turned into her inviting my brother, his girlfriend and my niece along too.:worried:

    Now I love my family and all but when my mom said she got us a 3 bedroom condo for us to share instead of 2 two-bedrooms I went:scared1:
    That means 6 adults (one who is in a wheel chair) and 2 kids to share the condo! But since then my brother and his girlfriend have gone through a personal tragedy and my parents are going through some tough financial times so there is a possibility that it will still just be the three of us. But once it gets closer and everyone has a better idea if they will be up for the trip, I will let you know who is actually going.

    Since this is our super cheap vacation, I'll give you a run down on what we have paid for and purchased so far.
    Booked a 8 day stay at Wyndham Bonnet Creek-FREE (thanks to my parents for being timeshare owners.)
    We are driving down because it is cheaper for us than fly down. I am estimating it will cost about 360 in gas to drive down since that is my usually transportation mode down there.
    I purchased these 3 books for our trip from Amazon for about $28.
    [​IMG]
    I order a Passporter every time we go to keep a record of all my trips. Then I got the Kids book to give EJ something to read on his own and the Universal book because I haven't been to Universal since 2003 so I'm sure there has been some changes since then.
    Next I bought a new backpack as my other one had had it. I found this cute one on Amazon for about $25 that is plastic covered which will come in handy on those sudden downpours.
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    Then it was time for some new Crocs for me and EJ outgrew his ones from last year. Both purchased on Amazon for about $38.
    [​IMG]

    Well that is all for now and I will try to post more goodies when I get them along with our plans for a our funtastic week!! :woohoo:
     
  4. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    I have made my ADR's a while ago so now is the time to sketch out a rough idea of what our itinerary will look like.

    Sat 13th-:drive: We leave about 3am to drive down to Bonnet Creek and be there around Check-In. Possible getting groceries? chill at the pool?

    Sun 14th-:cool:HOPEFULLY sleep in, somewhat just to make sure we are refreshed when we jump into the parks. So I thought we would ease into our trip with a day at Downtown Disney. I scheduled lunch at Rainforest Cafe by sneakily getting some info from EJ. Dinner either at the condo or DD depending on how long we stay. More pool time? (I looove me some pools!)

    Mon 15th-:joker: Universal Studios Day!! (don't ask me why I picked the joker just thought he would make a good US icon) Our meals are not planned for our US and IOA days because #1 they don't do ADRs like Disney and #2 Tom requested to have some spontaneous meal days so we're not locked in to any particular food.

    Tue 16th-popcorn:: Disney Hollywood Studios!! I definitely want a meal at Pizza Planet. EJ likes the Toy Story movies. As far as dinner, I didn't know if we would eat there or head over to Boardwalk for dinner? Any suggestions?

    Wed 17th-:beach: We head over to B&YC for breakfast at Cape May Cafe! This one will be a new character meal for us. I have done Ohana's character meal since it was Minnie's Luau so I am ready to try something new plus it has EJ's two favorite characters-Goofy and Donald! Maybe hang out at the BW afterwards?

    Thur 18th-pixiedust: Islands of Adventure Day!! I thought EJ might like to eat at Jurassic park but no plans for dinner. Any suggestions?

    Fri 19th-pirate: Magic Kingdom Day!! I don't have lunch plans, I've eaten at all the CS places in MK so I guess we figure out what we are in the mood for. Dinner will be at Ohana;'s and let me tell you I am PUMPED!:banana: I have tried the last several trips to get an ADR and they are either full or I have to eat at 9pm which does not work for me or EJ. SO we are finally doing this!!

    Sat 20th-:sad1: Our leaving day...We pack up and drive back to reality.

    So there is my rough draft. What do you all think?
     
  5. happybelle

    happybelle DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! :goodvibes
     
  6. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    Thank you and welcome!:wave2:
     
  7. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    So with less than two months to go I have a final headcount, new reservation and some flashback photos! Here we go...

    So on this particular trip it will be the three of us you met previously, with the added bonus of my parents and my niece.:woohoo:

    Here are some pictures was from a trip in 2009 when I was living in Orlando and was in the process of moving back to Virginia.

    [​IMG]
    My Parents, who we will call Mom and Dad since we are all family, right? With the kiddos EJ and my niece Trinity.

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    Climbing on the dalmatian that used to be in the Winnie the Pooh store.

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    Trinity with her pixie dust sprinkled hair.

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    And the famous Downtown Disney train with a moment of sass from Trinity.:rotfl2:

    So now that we have had a fun trip down memory lane, here is what I have been busy with for the last month. I ordered my Landry's Select card for our lunch at Rainforest Cafe. See when you order one of these cards it cost $25 which basically goes on the card but you get a bonus $25 on the month of your birthday. My birthday just happens to be in July so I'll have 50 bucks to use toward our lunch at Rainforest! Score! I also added a new reservation to 50's Prime Time Cafe on our day at Hollywood Studios.:cheer2: I am super excited about this restaurant because I love the hilarious wait staff plus you can't go wrong with good old comfort food!

    Has anyone eaten there and had some funny stories? I only at there one time in 2002 and when I went to order dessert our "Aunt" saw that I had not finished my green beans so she feed them to me airplane style. LOL! So I can't wait to take my boyfriend because he is such a ham and I think he's going to LOVE it!

    Well that's all the updates for now! I am almost to my food budget goal and I have a few more pay weeks before we go so I should have no problem making our goal!
     
  8. Blessedwithboys

    Blessedwithboys Mouseketeer

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    Cute!! I am following along! Your plan looks great! We love Cosmic Rays for CS in MK or BOG if you feel like waiting it just looks so pretty!!!
     
  9. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    Hello! Thanks for following along! :wave2:
    Cosmic Rays would make a good for lunch since it has a little bit of everything. I wasn't planning on going to BOG this year because I knew how crowded it was going to be but now that my niece is coming with us, I might consider having an early lunch there. I've heard alot of good things and my nieces favorite princess is Belle so we might end up there.
    ;)
     
  10. happybelle

    happybelle DIS Veteran

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    I would have to at least try to get in BOG. I love Belle can you tell?
     
  11. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    How early should I get there with us being there in the summer? I looked at the menu and it looks delicious!
    My niece loves Belle because she is a reader like her:goodvibes so pictures with Belle is a must!
     
  12. OrangeJuice

    OrangeJuice Mouseketeer

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    Hey Tiggerfan :) Joining in here. Your trip is coming up fast. I like your itinerary (especially love all the Ohana on there!). It sounds like its going to be a great time! I don't have any good stories about 50's, it seems like most CM's assume we want boring supper experiences. Both of our times at 50's were funny antics free. We were disappointed. This doesn't seem to be the norm, most people seem to have a blast.
     
  13. happybelle

    happybelle DIS Veteran

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    I honestly can't answer this question, but it is a good one! I hope someone else can help us out with that info.
     
  14. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    YAY! Thanks for joining in to my lil' old PTR. I know I'm a newbie here so I thought it was just going to be me, happybelle and Blessedwithboys! :rotfl:
    Thanks for the thumbs up on my itinerary. I thought that going to Ohana's for dinner then going back into the park for Spectromagic and Wishes would be a nice kiss goodnight for our last full day.

    That sucks that both of your trips to 50's Prime Time have been on the boring side. Hopefully I'll have a funny story to tell when we get back.


    Thanks happybelle, hopefully I can find out soon and add it to our touring plan:thumbsup2
     
  15. Blessedwithboys

    Blessedwithboys Mouseketeer

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    We really loved 50's!! So much that we are going back again (better not give all my PTR away) the food was super yummy and our server did just enough fun stuff that we did not feel totally uncomfortable but where entertained!

    I can not wait to hear about your trip to Universal. We might do an Orlando trip in June with a side of Star Wars weekends.. can you believe I have not even went on my trip this year yet and I am already planning for 2014!!! LOL
     
  16. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    Yes, I can believe it! It's the Disney addiction that keeps up coming back for more! LoL!
    We try to get it budget-friendly by only choosing a few table service places but I think I did a good job picking out some good ones so I am really excited about them. I will do my best to give as much info on Universal Orlando. I have not been since 2003 and Tom & Ej have never been so it will be an experience for us all!
     
  17. glaserjm

    glaserjm DIS Veteran

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    Hi! I decided to follow along. I love budget concious travel as it makes me feel like I can still do the things I love (i.e. Disney) without breaking the bank.

    We are also doing 50s PTC for lunch on our upcoming trip! DH isn't always that big into antics, but he is big into fried chicken...so I'm sure he'll manage!
     
  18. Blessedwithboys

    Blessedwithboys Mouseketeer

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    :goodvibes
    Yes we have been blessed to get free dining the last trip and this trip. Without it ie. our June trip we will be doing maybe 1 or 2 sit downs and ditching the dining plan!
     
  19. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    I would love to do free dining sometime. I think that is a really great deal, I just get nervous about taking Ej out of school for that long. Maybe I'll have to take an adult trip sometime so I can actually enjoy some of the fancy restaurants!

    Hello and welcome!:wave2: Thanks for joining in! Just about every trip to Disney has been a budget-friendly one. We can only afford to have a "nice" vacation every other year so I try to make my money go as far as it can. You know your on a budget-friendly vacation when you consider a Hopper Pass to be a luxury! :lmao: But the nice thing about Disney is that even if your not in the parks your still surrounded by Magic pixiedust:

    Also 50's does have some fantastic fried chicken so your husband won't be disappointed!
     
  20. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    My trip is getting closer!! Are you getting excited? Cause I surely am!:cool1:So this post will be about how I am paying for this trip as well as some budget tips that I have learned over the years.
    Growing up in a one income family with that income being a teachers salary, my mom is the best at making every dollar stretch. I have done Disney trips as a struggling college student, one half of a young couple just starting out, as a stay-at-home mom with one income and now that I am a single mom back in the work field this trip is no different. One day I may be able to experience what life is like in Splurgville but for now we will still take my frugal vacations and we will LOVE them! (Although I do dream about what it would be like to stay in the Poly or AKL for a week but for now it just goes on my One Day... list.)

    So how am I paying for this trip?
    This trip is paid for by the combination of Christmas bonus, Disney Visa reward dollars, Landry's Select card, a royalty check from side work and cash from couponing. and Yes, I am that Crazy coupon lady who spends time on her weekends planning out the meals based on what is on sale and/or has a coupon for. Although there are methods to extreme couponing that people can pay entire trips for, I just have not mastered that. Nor do I have to time that is required for it or the space for 54 tubes of toothpaste. But my couponing money is paying for our food so it's worth it for me.

    How do I save money on tickets?
    Like I have mentioned previously in an earlier post, I bought my tickets from Undercover Tourist which so far has the cheapest tickets online. They even beat out AAA which I am a member of. Base or Hopper? Both my Universal and Disney tickets are base tickets. I have not purchased hopper passes this time in order to save money and also hopper passes are just better when you stay at a Disney hotel. Also I am not a park every single day person. I like to enjoy my vacation by slowing down and taking in all the sites and sounds and be able to relax. So I add free days (which means no admission required) to our schedule such as Downtown Disney, Boardwalk and just resort pool time. Always fun and can still as magical as a park day.

    Since this post is a bit wordy, I will continue the rest of my tips in another post and fill you in on what we were up too last week. My niece stayed with my the entire Memorial weekend so we had a lot of fun and Tom decided that we should tell the kids about the trip since they were together. I wanted to wait a bit but decided to just go for it! They were both excited about it even though in this picture EJ is making a sad face. He told me he wanted to make a weird face so that's what I got.:confused3
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    Trinity has only been to MK and Epcot and that was when she was like 6 or something so she was really excited to get to go back. Also she is a big Harry Potter fan so when we told her we were going to IOA, her eyes lit up! EJ is so excited to do Jurassic Park and to go back to MK and ride Big Thunder Mountain. So in less than 24hrs, I was asked when our trip was multiple times as well as a slight meltdown when EJ thought that the trip was next week. (Which why I was hesitated to tell them) So we solved that problem by doing our own Vacation Countdown calendar. I designed the main body in Photoshop and printed it out then used a mickey cookie cutter to make the mickey heads.
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    EJ cut out the Mickey's and wrote the numbers on them. Then I put tape on the back of them...
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    And like magic pixiedust:, no more asking when our trip is!!
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    In the next post I will give my budget tips on food and travel as well as some pics of some more stuff I bought for the trip!
     
  21. tiggerfan77

    tiggerfan77 I clearly do not make it to WDW enough

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    I know that it has been FOREVER since I did an update but I promise I have not forgotten! I just got a little lazy and busy with the end of the school year stuff. I will have an update for you all this weekend. I PROMISE! But for now I just wanted to wish you all a Happy 4th of July and will you join me in a single digits dance because we are 9 days away from our trip!!!:cool1::dance3::banana::banana:
     

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