The ultimate budget trip to WDW!! Pre-trip report for May 2010

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by stacy347, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    Per the usual, we'll start off with the cast:

    Myself (Stacy) lets just say late-30s~ collector of all things Disney and just a teensy bit obsessed with WDW :lovestruc

    DD16 (Nicole) will be turning 17 halfway through the trip :dance3: ~ loves Beauty and the Beast and has been collecting related items for years

    DD15 (Chelsea) sassy, stylish and sensitive would be the best description for Chels...she is not so much into the characters as she is the rides and attractions but she does have a soft-spot for Alice and the Mad Hatter

    DD12 (Paige) very much a princess but downplays it these days so as not to get teased by older sisters ;)

    DD11 (Amanda) is in the autism spectrum and has a Stitch collection that seriously rivals the gift shop at WDW! I will take some pics of it and post them here ~ it is unbelievable!


    A little WDW family history:

    We (the DDs and I) have been to the World twice now. Our first trip was in August 2006 and we were lucky enough to do Free Dining popcorn::! I planned that trip for approx. 2 years and that is how I found this board.
    I had started a trip report after that trip but sadly, life got in the way and I left it undone ~ NOT going to happen this time! Here are links to the old one if anyone wants to get a little more info on us:
    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1202574 (Day 1)
    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1230384 (Day 2)

    That first trip had us hooked! I was already planning the next one on the way back to MI, LOL. :cool1:

    We did go back in June 2007. While we once again had an amazing time, I don't believe we would ever go back in June. We just didn't care for the crowds or the weather (we got pretty lucky weatherwise for our Aug. 2006 trip ~ or maybe Free Dining just made it more bearable, LOL).

    I know it won't be a lot cooler in May than June but I'm hoping since we'll be there during school time, the crowd situation will make it more comfortable.
    The girls will be missing one week of school for this trip which we discussed at length and decided it would be worth it to do that just once!

    This trip is going to be a much more "budget" trip than we have done before. Along with pretty much everyone else we know, our lifestyle has had to change quite a bit over the last few years. Our area of MI has taken quite a hit and we have definitely felt the effects of that. DH used to work for Ford (for almost 13 years) and then awhile back we found out his entire dept. was shutting down. :( We were able to get a buyout package but there just wasn't anything else in his field to replace that income so of course the buyout money only went so far and big changes had to be made. He is in a steady job now and we are grateful for sure, but we now live on about 40% of the income that we had before. Suffice it to say, no extravagant spending for us! ;) This trip is going to be a real treat for us and the first time we've had a vacation in 3 years ~ we're very excited!!

    DH will not be joining us as he has collapsed discs in his back and can not do that kind of travel without a lot of pain. My DSis treated us to a daytrip to Cedar Point recently and even after just that 2 hour drive each way, he could barely walk.

    Now, I know some people don't consider it a WDW vacation unless you're on property and at a park everyday, but if you came from Michigan and were surrounded by businesses shutting down around you everyday and friends having to move away because they just can't make it anymore ~ you'd realize what a treat it really is just to be able to do a week in Florida and experience WDW in whatever way that you can.

    OK, time to move on to the fun stuff ~ the planning!!

    I had been trying to come up with a nice little getaway for us that we could fit into the budget (you'll be seeing that word a lot in this report, LOL). We looked into a lot of different things and added up costs for each. I was in shock at the cost of going almost anywhere these days. Honestly, I get that WDW is NOT a cheap place to go. However, it is definitely comparable with the alternatives and IMO, a much better value for the money!

    Like many of you, I go way overboard when planning a trip to the World. The first time we went, I planned for 2 years as I mentioned above and I drove everyone crazy. I am trying to restrain myself this time around and it's probably a good thing I only have about 4 months to go till this trip. ;)

    I currently have a file going on the computer that is labeled WDW docs. Inside said file are 19 documents keeping track of my plans for this trip. A little excessive? Maybe, LOL. But, it works for me and it gives me something cheerful to look forward to each day. :surfweb:
    I've got pages of tips for each park, DTD, resorts that we want to visit, waterparks and restaurants. I also have an itinerary for the week we go and separate itineraries for each day we'll be there. My current document that I'm working on is our food budget and restaurant list for the week. This might just be my favorite part because while I do love taking care of my family, I can not begin to explain how nice it is not to have cook for a whole week!! :cloud9:

    We will be heading down Saturday, May 15 and arrive May 16. I am planning on staying in Florida six nights, getting on the road Saturday, May 22 and getting home the 23rd.


    Next up ~ Details!! :woohoo:
     
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  3. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    The details so far:

    We will be driving down. I have a really good code for a rental and have decided that would be the wisest thing to do as my vehicle has been having some issues and it wouldn't be budget friendly to break down 1200 miles from home, LOL.
    We will break it up over 2 days like we did before since I will be the only driver (oldest DD will have her license but the rental companies have a minimum age for drivers).

    Our nights on the road will be at hotels that I get with my point rewards. I have been saving up my rewards for just this reason and I love being able to get stuff that I don't have to pay for!

    Once we get there, the plan is to either stay at the Regal Sun in DTD (they have an awesome rate for the week we're going) or if there is a really good deal, possibly POR in one of the trundle rooms. I'm not sure they will offer a good enough deal for that to be in the budget but I'll be watching.
    We were lucky on our first 2 trips that my DSis and her family went with us and we were able to split 2 value rooms since my niece was under 3 at the time ~ since it will just be the girls and I this time, we need a room that sleeps 5 and I need to do it as budget-friendly as possible.

    The girls and I are going to do the Give a Day, Get a Day promo. We are just waiting to see what volunteer events are gong to be in our area. This is a double bonus for me as I was just telling the girls that we needed to do more stuff like this as a family. Gotta love the fact that Disney is offering the perfect opportunity to get kids involved.
    So, that takes care of one park day. I read on the Dis that the tickets from the promo will be upgradeable. If that turns out to be true, then the plan is to at least add on the Waterpark and More option ($50 each) which will be used for a day at Blizzard Beach and a day at DisneyQuest.

    The girls agreed to give up some of the usual Christmas gift lists to free up spending money for the trip. With that being saved and doing mostly homemade gifts for extended family, we can take care of the hotel portion down there.
    As far as food, we will have a room with a fridge so we'll bring breakfast food with us to keep in the room (bagels, honey buns, cereal) and when we get there, we'll pop into WalMart and grab some milk, water and whatnot to keep in the fridge.
    I've also started a new household budget and what we save each month will go onto a Disney GC until we go.
    We will also have a free dinner at Applebee's one night thanks to a GC from MyPoints combined with a GC from Christmas.
    I did schedule 2 ADRs for this trip that I will be saving up for:
    Chefs de France lunch on 5/19 for oldest DD's 17th birthday
    and
    Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare with Alice, Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins because we just really wanted to have some guaranteed character time and with our park days being so limited, this seemed like a good choice (however, if the budget is too tight, this one will be the first to go).

    Next up ~ how much can you do at WDW on a budget? ;)
     
  4. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    First off, I will be ordering an Orlando Entertainment Book soon to hopefully get some discounts at a couple of the places we hope to go.


    Sunday, May 16 ~ we are just going to get settled in at the resort, do a little grocery shopping and let the kids swim.

    Monday, May 17 ~ this day will be spent resort hopping. I have a file full of things that I want to see and do at the resorts so it will be a very busy day!

    Tuesday, May 18 ~ we'll be spending this day at DisneyQuest and I'm not planning anything else for this day because I know my girls and once they get in there, I'll probably not get them out until it closes, LOL. ;)

    Wednesday, May 19 ~ this is oldest DD's 17th birthday and we will be spending the day at Magic Kingdom (I just need her to pick out a new ADR for her b-day lunch since we will most likely not be going to Epcot at all now).

    Thursday, May 20 ~ Blizzard Beach day!! We have never done a WDW waterpark and we are really excited about this one! They do close at 5:00 p.m. this day, so my plan is to head over to the Poly afterwards, walk around, take some pictures and grab a snack, head down to the beach and catch Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant.

    Friday, May 21 ~ I would like to head over to Gatorland or Central Florida Zoo on this day. I was told that the Entertainment Book has coupons for Gatorland...not sure about the zoo so we'll see which one ends up being more economical for us.

    Saturday, May 22 ~ just swimming, packing up, lunch at Applebee's with our GCs and probably going to the Disney Character outlet before we hit the road.


    Next up ~ trying to convince DSis and family to go the same week as us yet again...can we do it? :rolleyes1
     
  5. Juanaiguana

    Juanaiguana Mouseketeer

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    Subbing...

    We are also staying offsite, a friend gave us a too-good-to-pass-up deal and made no sense to stay onsite. My kids also really begged to do Discovery Cove this year, which took a very large chunk of my WDW money from me, much to my dismay!! :( But I do what they want to do, right?! :)

    I'll be very interested to hear how u pull it off on a budget! It's easier said than done, for sure. I honestly don't know how anyone does it staying at those Deluxes all the time, but many ppl do it.

    Excited to hear more!
     
  6. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    Welcome aboard! I really did toss around all the options including staying on-site with a room only PIN I ended up with ~ but even with that, I was over budget so here we go. ;)

    There have been just a couple of changes in the plans since I last posted (and I tend to waffle a lot when planning WDW trips so nothing is set in stone yet, LOL).
    I am actually leaning more toward staying at Seralago at this point. I know it is further down than most people would like to stay but they offer a good size room at a much lower rate than what we are getting at Regal Sun. I have read mixed reviews but more positive than negative and the kids really love the look of Seralago (and as Juanaiguana said above, we do what makes the kids happy :lovestruc).
    They have 2 nice size pools, an arcade and a food court that the kids like the look of.
    They also have tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, as well as Free WiFi which the girls are happy about so they can use their laptop and Ipod touch down there.

    If anyone wants to see more info:
    http://www.seralagohotel.com/
    Of course, the best part for me is that it is less than $50/night if you go through BookIt! :woohoo:

    Right now we are trying to convince my DSis, BIL and their DS11 and DD5 to go the same week we do. They were also looking to do something more budget friendly than the usual WDW trip, so I have been sending them all the info I come up with and I'm really hoping to have them on board soon. Both other times we went to WDW they went the same week and it is really nice to see our kids experience Disney together. Of course we all wear on each other a bit but hey, that's what family is for, right? :rotfl:

    I'll be booking the resort and car rental in just a few weeks as soon as I take of care of a few bills so I'm really excited now :hyper:. Once everything is booked, it will finally seem within reach and I'll know I'm going back to the most magical place on earth ~ does it get any better than that? :cloud9:


     
  7. Ghosthost999

    Ghosthost999 Earning My Ears

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    I think your trip sounds absolutely wonderful. :) Being on a budget does not mean the fun of Disney is lessened. The time with your family is what you will take away from this trip.

    And I love hearing about other obsessive types who plan their trips as intensely as I do. It helps to know I'm not alone. :rotfl2:

    Have a wonderful trip and I will be looking for your post trip report.
     
  8. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    Thank you so much! It really is a trip to get us away from a lot of stuff that hasn't been so nice this past year and no matter how little $$ we spend, we're going to enjoy having that week together with no stress over our heads. :goodvibes

    I promised a pic of DD11's Stitch collection ~ here it is:
    [​IMG]

    It is hard to see all of it in the picture, but there are a ton of Stitches along with cousins, Lilos, Pleakely, Jumba (David and Noni got lost somewhere :(), a couple of shirts, socks, books, games, CDs, DVDs, notepad from WDW and more that I can't even think of, LOL. It's a labor of love for her. :lovestruc

     
  9. RachelNinja

    RachelNinja Sometimes I'd rather live in VMK than in real life

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    Hi there! Found you via TokyoDina's PTR! I'm interested in reading about your trip because it's not as "extravagant" as the typical trips on the board. I've grown up going to Florida quite often, but we were always into saving money. Recently we've only been doing one or two parks when we go visit. We don't make ADR's because it's expensive; we always eat before we leave the condo and we always leave the park to eat dinner.

    My father lost his job about a year and a half ago. Then he had cancer this past summer and still isn't in the best of health. He still hasn't gotten a job and probably won't be able to. My mom is searching for a job at the moment. We are still going on this trip because we need to get away considering the stresses of life, but we are definitely going to have to keep a watch on the money spending. We don't buy drinks in the park EVER and the only splurge I'm allowing in terms of a snack is a Dole Whip float.

    I work but get paid very little so what I spend on my own will be on stuff that I have thought about. Can never buy things on a whim!

    Haha, all that to say that I'm really into following your plans!
     
  10. RachelNinja

    RachelNinja Sometimes I'd rather live in VMK than in real life

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    BTW, that picture of all of your DD's Stitch stuff is crazy! Haha, all I can say is WOW!
     
  11. momof2TNboys

    momof2TNboys DIS Veteran

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    I'm jumping onboard. We will be there the same week. We are actually staying 3 nights at the Hyatt before going to WL. It is crazy how huge the rooms are at the Hyatt for under 70 dollars a night. We just could not justify paying at least 20-30 dollars more a night to stay at a Value before transferring to WL. We plan to maybe go to Islands of Adventure for Harry Potter also if it has opened up or just going for a beach day. Can't wait to hear more!
     
  12. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    RachelNinja ~ I'm sorry to hear about everything your family is going through (I hope your dad has a much better year in 2010 :hug:). I'm glad you guys are getting to go to WDW ~ it really does help, doesn't it?

    I have been scouring all the WDW info sites for things that I can do with my girls that are "Disney" but won't break the bank and honestly, I'm not even sure if we can get it all done in a week, LOL! There is a lot of no-cost/low-cost stuff to do and I can't wait to try it all. :cool1: We will also be drinking a lot of ice water (FREE) in the park(s) and I'll bring KoolAid packets to mix it up with. One of our meals is going to be a picnic we bring in (not a full-on picnic basket, LOL) ~ sandwiches, snacks and drinks that we're going to take over to Tom Sawyer Island and just kick back and eat. :cloud9:


    momof2TNboys ~ Welcome aboard and maybe we'll run into each other down there (It's a Small World, right? ;)) ~ I'll be the mom trying to move in 4 directions at once trying to keep all the kids happy. :rotfl2:
     
  13. TokyoDina

    TokyoDina DIS Veteran

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    You are going the same time I am!! We had a sudden change in when we could go and so we pushed it back to the same week. We are going to be doing the parks one different days, but I'm sure if one of your DD sees a girl...because I don't look my age walking around with Stitch ears on their head. That would be me! I hope your trip will be enjoyable! We are going to do all the parks to make up for the rain we got last year. No water parks we don't really have time for it.

    But I can't wait to see your TR~!!

    I love Stitch too! I don't have that many things of course. I've only collected towels and a lamp my DH surprised me with that one! It's uber cute! Maybe we'll bump into each other. I'll be pretty hard to miss my ears bring a lot of attention! Ha!
     
  14. RachelNinja

    RachelNinja Sometimes I'd rather live in VMK than in real life

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    Thank you for the well wishes! :hug: I thought it would be a good year, but unfortunately, my dad had a doctor's appointment yesterday regarding the other kidney and his overall health and the news wasn't good. I hope that my dad will still be able to enjoy the vacation and get away from the stresses that we have here. Disney really helps for me though because I can "get away" from everything that's here when I plan or when I read PTRs/TRs!

    I love your budget ideas! I only recently read about the tip to bring in stuff to mix with the water. I think that'll work wonders especially since my younger brother does NOT drink plain water willingly. We also go down to Florida and get a box of CapriSun or MinuteMaid juice because they freeze very well and last a long time. We use them to cool off and then when the ice is gone entirely, we drink it. That also means we started off the day with heavy bags, but it's nice not to buy such expensive drinks in the park! Those prices are outrageous!

    Your picnic idea is great too! It's not really a special meal to have sandwiches when you're in WDW because you're surrounded by so many choices, but I love love LOVE your Tom Sawyer idea because then it turns a simple sandwich into a planned event! I'll definitely be storing that tip :)
     
  15. weswife

    weswife DIS Veteran

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    Hi, I have enjoyed all of your posts! I love saving a few $$$$, I am a budget girl myself!;)

    My DS 10 wanted me to tell you he :love: the Stitch collection!!!! Stitch is his favorite!!!!!! We are going to O'Hana's for breakfast for his b-day! He always picks O'Hana's because of Stitch!
     
  16. wdwgirl03

    wdwgirl03 <font color=red>I'm just a big Disney Freak! :-)<b

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    I'm here! Saw your post on RachelNinja's PTR and decided to join in. May is a great time to go!

    Where in Michigan are you from? My dad went to the University of Michigan for law school. :)
     
  17. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    LOL, we'll keep an eye out for your ears! :stitch2:

    I had read about other people doing this and it just sounded like the perfect way to break up a busy day ~ plus we haven't been over to Tom Sawyer Island yet and I'm really forward it!

    Awww, thank you and that is so cool that your DS gets to be with Stitch on his b-day! I think that meeting Stitch has been the highlight of DD11's life so far.



    Here are some pictures of DD and all things Stitch!
    If anyone knows of other photo ops with Stitch that we could do, please let us know. :flower3:

    DD and Stitch at 'Ohana breakfast
    [​IMG]

    Outside Stitch's Great Escape
    [​IMG]

    Stitch at the Poly in a gift shop display window
    [​IMG]

    DNephew, DD12 and DD11 with Stitch in Animal Kingdom
    [​IMG]

    In the animation building at DHS
    [​IMG]

    With Pleakley in Tomorrowland
    [​IMG]

    With her giant Stitch from the ASMo gift shop
    [​IMG]

    She thought this was so cool to come "home" to one night at ASMu
    [​IMG]

     
  18. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    We are actually in southeast MI, the downriver area. My cousin went to U of M for med school and that's where DD16 wants to go for med school as well ~ awesome school! :thumbsup2

    Thanks for joining us!! :)
     
  19. TokyoDina

    TokyoDina DIS Veteran

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    Please do! I promise I'll be the only one in the park with those on. I've never run into anyone that has them. :P

    Can't wait to see what else is going on for you girls! I think we are pretty squared away. Still trying to decide on plane tickets on our side. Still have to make sure work doesn't change it's mind at the last minute you know?
     
  20. RachelNinja

    RachelNinja Sometimes I'd rather live in VMK than in real life

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    I'm curious to know why your DD loves Stitch so much! Is it just because she's a big fan of the movie? Weird loves Cars and everywhere we go, he immediately spots Lightning! When I told him that we can take a picture with Lightning and Mater at DHS, he got so excited, haha. I'm just curious to know if there's a story behind why your DD loves Stitch!
     
  21. stacy347

    stacy347 I carried a watermelon?

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    That is too cute about Weird and the Cars, LOL!


    And yes, there is a story behind the entire Stitch obsession. Amanda is autistic (PDD/NOS on paper but we'll likely be getting her official Asperger's diagnosis this year).
    Anyway, we knew from the time she was about 6 months old that there was something going on with her ~ she didn't like to be touched, wouldn't mimic like the other girls did early on, no eye contact, etc.
    Lilo and Stitch came out when she was about 4 years old and she immediately became obsessed with it. She would sit with a notepad and draw the characters for hours and anything we could get for her with Stitch instantly became a treasured item. :lovestruc
    This carried on over the next few Stitch movies and the TV series as well (we still have stacks of books that Amanda made of all the "cousins" and long, long stories she wrote about them).
    Anytime she would have a "meltdown" ~ for example if there was a loud noise, someone touched her when she didn't expect it or she was put into a new environment, Stitch became her "familiar". That crazy little alien saved our sanity many times, LOL!
    Even when Amanda went for one of her visits out at U of M with the neuropsychologist and therapists, they wrote up a paper on her fixation with Lilo and Stitch. Every time they tried to get her to talk about something else, she would steer the conversation back ~ they were quite fascinated!

    So, fast forward several years ~ she is now a very bright 11 year old and mostly mainstreamed in 5th grade. She still can't function the same as all of her peers in several areas but she tries so hard. She still loves Stitch and is quite miffed at Disney that there will be no new movies or shows coming out, LOL.

    Wow, that was a lot of rambling, sorry ~ but thank you for asking. I appreciate that you caught something there (you must be a great teacher!). :goodvibes
     

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