Could use some input on this budget

usshelena725

Nou gaan ons braai!
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
Good afternoon, all! This is my first post, but I've been a long time lurker of the forums. I am planning a trip to Walt Disney World next year for either 8 or 9 days, beginning on Saturday, May 16th, 2020.

While I grew up in Orlando and have been to Disney many times, it has (a) been many years and (b) never been with a family. Those attending are myself, my wife, and our 5 year old daughter. We are both CPA's, so please excuse the banality of the specifics of this post.

Can anyone give me any insight as to the budget listed below? Please note that airfare is free due to points and we plan on using the Magical Express from MCO and will not be renting a car. In addition, my wife is South African and we travel to South Africa every year - of which my daughter loves. We are leaning towards Animal Kingdom Lodge even though it is 'bus only' to the parts. Budget has some minimal flexibility in it (+/- a few hundred bucks), but is otherwise pretty tight.

Any pointers? Our max planned budget is about $4,500. Main question is thoughts on the daily expenses and thoughts on cheaper hotel to stay 8 nights vs more expensive resort for 7 nights.

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HotelTransportNightsCostPark
Days
CostSub
Total
ExpensesTotal
Cost
DVC Points Rental
Grand Floridian Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 3,186.005 1,399.39 4,585.39 807.00 5,392.39Too Expensive
Polynesian Villas Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 3,186.005 1,399.39 4,585.39 807.00 5,392.39Too Expensive
Contemporary BLT Lakeview RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 2,952.005 1,399.39 4,351.39 807.00 5,158.39Too Expensive
Riviera Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 2,700.005 1,399.39 4,099.39 807.00 4,906.39Too Expensive
Boardwalk Villas Garden RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)8 2,610.005 1,399.39 4,009.39 807.00 4,816.39Too Expensive
Beach Club Villas Standard RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)8 2,520.005 1,399.39 3,919.39 807.00 4,726.39
Wilderness Lodge Standard RoomBoat (MK) Bus (EC AK HS DS)8 2,520.005 1,399.39 3,919.39 807.00 4,726.39
Saratoga Springs Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 2,088.005 1,399.39 3,487.39 807.00 4,294.39
Animal Kingdom Standard RoomBus Only8 1,980.005 1,399.39 3,379.39 807.00 4,186.39
Old Key West Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 1,972.005 1,399.39 3,371.39 807.00 4,178.39
Standard Disney Hotel
Caribbean Beach Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 3,139.905 1,399.39 4,539.29 807.00 5,346.29Too Expensive
Port Orleans Royal Guest RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 3,031.735 1,399.39 4,431.12 807.00 5,238.12Too Expensive
Coronado Gran Destino Tower RoomBus Only8 2,569.145 1,399.39 3,968.53 807.00 4,775.53Too Expensive
Port Orleans Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 2,459.295 1,399.39 3,858.68 807.00 4,665.68
Caribbean Beach Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 2,403.015 1,399.39 3,802.40 807.00 4,609.40
Coronado Springs Resort Standard RoomBus Only8 2,257.885 1,399.39 3,657.27 807.00 4,464.27
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 1,918.155 1,399.39 3,317.54 807.00 4,124.54
Pop Century Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 1,732.545 1,399.39 3,131.93 807.00 3,938.93
HotelTransportNightsCostPark
Days
CostSub
Total
ExpensesTotal
Cost
DVC Points Rental
Grand Floridian Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,754.004 1,346.41 4,100.41 729.00 4,829.41Too Expensive
Polynesian Villas Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,754.004 1,346.41 4,100.41 729.00 4,829.41Too Expensive
Contemporary BLT Lakeview RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,538.004 1,346.41 3,884.41 729.00 4,613.41
Riviera Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,340.004 1,346.41 3,686.41 729.00 4,415.41
Boardwalk Villas Garden RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)7 2,250.004 1,346.41 3,596.41 729.00 4,325.41
Wilderness Lodge Standard RoomBoat (MK) Bus (EC AK HS DS)7 2,160.004 1,346.41 3,506.41 729.00 4,235.41
Beach Club Villas Standard RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)7 2,160.004 1,346.41 3,506.41 729.00 4,235.41
Saratoga Springs Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 1,782.004 1,346.41 3,128.41 729.00 3,857.41
Animal Kingdom Standard RoomBus Only7 1,710.004 1,346.41 3,056.41 729.00 3,785.41
Old Key West Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 1,683.004 1,346.41 3,029.41 729.00 3,758.41
Standard Disney Hotel
Caribbean Beach Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,747.414 1,346.41 4,093.82 729.00 4,822.82Too Expensive
Port Orleans Royal Guest RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 2,652.764 1,346.41 3,999.17 729.00 4,728.17Too Expensive
Coronado Gran Destino Tower RoomBus Only7 2,248.004 1,346.41 3,594.41 729.00 4,323.41
Port Orleans Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 2,151.884 1,346.41 3,498.29 729.00 4,227.29
Caribbean Beach Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,072.264 1,346.41 3,418.67 729.00 4,147.67
Coronado Gran Destino Standard RoomBus Only7 1,975.654 1,346.41 3,322.06 729.00 4,051.06
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 1,688.384 1,346.41 3,034.79 729.00 3,763.79
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 1,515.974 1,346.41 2,862.38 729.00 3,591.38

Park Ticket Costs
1,033.493 Day Tickets
1,346.414 Day Tickets
1,399.395 Day Tickets
 

usshelena725

Nou gaan ons braai!
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
DayDay #EventsFood & Meals $$$ Other Expense $$$ Total $
Saturday1Flight & ArrivalATL airport snacks $ 15.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00Bread, sandwich items, Snacks, water, drinks for room $ 40.00 $ 75.00
Sunday2Hotel DayBreakfast bars in room $ - Disney Springs gift for Keira $ 20.00
Morning at pool $ -
Lunch in room - sandwiches and chips $ -
Disney Springs for Dinner $ 80.00 $ 100.00
Monday3Magic KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ -
Lunch at theme park (Gastons Tavern?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00 $ 80.00
Tuesday4EpcotBreakfast bars in room $ - Gifts at world showcase $ 10.00
Lunch at theme park (England or Paris?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner in room - sandwiches and chips $ - $ 70.00
Wednesday5Hotel DayBreakfast bars in room $ -
Morning at pool $ -
Lunch at Animal Kingdom hotel - South African $ 40.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00 $ 60.00
Thursday6Animal KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ - African gift for Keira $ 20.00
Lunch at theme park $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner in room - sandwiches and chips $ - $ 80.00
Friday7Hollywood StudiosBreakfast bars in room $ - Bread, sandwich items, Snacks, water, drinks for room $ 20.00
Lunch at theme park $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner in room - sandwiches and chips $ - $ 80.00
Saturday8Magic KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ -
Lunch at theme park (Be Our Guest?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner at hotel restaurant $ 60.00 $ 120.00
Sunday9Flight & ReturnBreakfast pastries at hotel $ 20.00
Dinner at One Flew South $ 50.00
Airport Parking $ 72.00 $ 142.00
Grand Total: $ 807.00

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DayDay #EventsFood & Meals $$$ Other Expense $$$ Total $
Saturday1Flight & ArrivalATL airport snacks $ 15.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00Bread, sandwich items, Snacks, water, drinks for room $ 50.00 $ 85.00
Sunday2Hotel DayBreakfast bars in room $ - Disney Springs gift for Keira $ 20.00
Morning at pool $ -
Lunch in room - sandwiches and chips $ -
Disney Springs for Dinner $ 80.00 $ 100.00
Monday3Magic KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ -
Lunch at theme park (Gastons Tavern?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00 $ 80.00
Tuesday4EpcotBreakfast bars in room $ - Gifts at world showcase $ 10.00
Lunch at theme park (England or Paris?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner in room - sandwiches and chips $ - $ 70.00
Wednesday5Hotel DayBreakfast bars in room $ -
Morning at pool $ -
Lunch at Animal Kingdom hotel - South African $ 40.00
Market dinner at hotel (frozen pizza, sandwiches,etc) $ 20.00 $ 60.00
Thursday6Animal KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ - African gift for Keira $ 20.00
Lunch at theme park $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner in room - sandwiches and chips $ - $ 80.00
Friday7Magic KingdomBreakfast bars in room $ -
Lunch at theme park (Be Our Guest?) $ 40.00
snacks at theme park $ 20.00
Dinner at hotel restaurant $ 60.00 $ 120.00
Saturday8Flight & ReturnBreakfast pastries at hotel $ 20.00
Dinner at One Flew South $ 50.00
Airport Parking $ 64.00 $ 134.00
Grand Total: $ 729.00

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Magic KingdomEpcotAnimal KingdomHollywood Studios
Must Do AttractionsMust Do AttractionsMust Do AttractionsMust Do Attractions
Enchanted Tales with BelleFrozen Ever AfterFestival of the Lion KingFor the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Liberty Square RiverboatMeet Anna and Elsa at Royal SommerhusKilimanjaro SafarisCelebrity Spotlight - Hugs with Olaf
Tom Sawyer IslandMeet Baymax at the Epcot Character SpotNa'vi River JourneyMillennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Under the Sea Journey of the Little MermaidTurtle Talk with CrushThe BoneyardCelebrate with the Incredibles at Pixar Place
Meet Ariel at Her GrottoRemy’s Ratatouille Adventure Wilderness ExplorersBeauty and the Beast - Live on Stage
Meet Cinderella & Elena at Princess Fairytale Hall
Meet Rapunzel and Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall
Jungle Cruise
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Walt Disney World Railroad
Should Do AttractionsShould Do AttractionsShould Do AttractionsShould Do Attractions
Country Bear JamboreeThe Seas with Nemo & FriendsAnimal Encounters: Up-Close InteractionsIndiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
It's a small worldGran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three CaballerosGorilla Falls Exploration TrailStar Wars Launch Bay: Meet Chewbacca
The Haunted MansionThe Seas Main Tank and ExhibitsHakuna Matata Time Dance PartyDisney Junior Dance Party!
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger SpinUP! A Great Bird AdventureVoyage of the Little Mermaid
Peter Pan's Flight
Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater
If We Have TimeIf We Have TimeIf We Have TimeIf We Have Time
The Many Adventures of Winnie the PoohBeauty and the Beast Sing-AlongAffection SectionToy Story Mania!
Tomorrowland SpeedwaySpaceship EarthWildlife Express Train: Africa Station
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki RoomJourney Into Imagination With FigmentFinding Nemo - The Musical
Pirates of the CaribbeanLiving with the LandMaharajah Jungle Trek
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
 

davper

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
We accountants love our spreadsheets.

I budget $100 per day per adult for food and souvenirs. I have no children but you can adjust accordingly.
a quick service meal is going to cost an adult between $15 and $20. Sometimes, they are big enough or you are just not hungry enough 2 feed 2 adults. Definitely can feed a 5yo by sharing off your plate.
A sit down meal will cost between $30 and $50 adult. Children $15+. Again you could feed the 5 yo from your plates. If you are not on the dining plan, the restaurant should not prevent you from doing so.
You can save money by eating breakfast in room. Bring snacks with into the park if you need to hold off eating a meal for an hour or 2. This is allowed.
Unless you stay in DVC, you will not be able to cook in the room. Cold cuts make a great option here for lunch or dinner to save a few more bucks. But after being in the park all day, many people hate preparing food and just want to eat and go to bed.
New Orleans Riverside is a great moderate resort and one of my favorites.

I am assuming you are renting DVC to stay in those resorts. But have you looked into seasonal deals to stay in non-DVC resorts. One of them is Free Dining, allowing you more freedom in your budget.

I would also think about adding a day or more onto your ticket. The cost is not that much more and will give you more flexibility on things to do during the day. My wife insists on making plans for non-park days. But inevitably, we end up in the parks near everyday.
 
  • StitchandPooh'sMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2006
    :welcome:to the DIS! Not knowing exactly how you want to tour or how/what you like to eat, I'm not sure how helpful the following will be:

    I think your food budget is a little light, even if you are planning to drink only water at each meal. Adult entrees at Be Our Guest, for example, range from $15-20, so I wouldn't expect two adults and a child to be able to eat for $40 unless you don't all order entrees. Snacks range from $5 to $7 per item, so $20 a day might not be enough unless you are only planning one snack per person and no drinks. It will be hot in May, but you can get free cups of ice water if you don't want to buy drinks. I would look at the menus on this site or on allears.net to see if you are estimating costs well.

    We generally eat breakfast in the room, but my crew gets tired of that after a few days, so we do budget for two character breakfasts just to change things up.

    Hotel - AKL is a great choice and we have found the transportation to be fine. If you rent DVC points for a studio, be aware that most have one queen bed and one sofa bed (OKW is an exception with two queen beds, and some of the newer ones might have murphy beds?). Dining at AKL is excellent, so you might consider budgeting for Boma, Sanaa or Jiko - all are excellent. I think a 5 year old would be happy almost anywhere, so I would choose what appeals to you as adults - I have enjoyed everything from 2 BR villas to the Polynesian to Pop Century and Art of Animation.

    I would normally opt for more nights whenever possible, but seven nights is a good amount of time as well. I would plan two days at Magic Kingdom either way. A day off in the middle of the week is nice to be able to explore your resort and have some pool time, but I wouldn't schedule your first full day as a resort day unless you are coming a very long way and arriving very late at night. Even a half day at the parks would help you accomplish seeing what you want.

    You have a lot of time devoted to characters, which makes sense with a five-year old girl. Disney offers several character meals that could eliminate some time standing in lines for autographs, but they are not inexpensive. Not all characters are available at the character meals, but you could meet some in a more relaxed setting if you opted for a character meal or two.

    You don't have any evenings in the park scheduled and that might be best for your family, but evenings are usually cooler and less crowded, along with the possibility of fireworks or other nighttime entertainment.

    With a five-year old (or anyone, really), I would bump Peter Pan, Pooh and Toy Story Mania to the "must-do" category. I'm not sure when Remy is supposed to open, but hopefully it will be before you arrive.

    Hope you have a wonderful time!
     

    katmatry

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2014
    I would choose AKL for 7 nights with a 5 day ticket (without hopper option). With a 4500.00 budget you'd be left with 1390.61 for other expenses. If you want to spend more then you have listed for your other expenses then I'd suggest a couple of sit down meals. Tusker House in AK is a great character meal. Check out menus on Allears.net
     

    easyas123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 4, 2018
    Wow - I'm impressed with your spreadsheets! I've never even come anywhere near that close to getting down to the nitty gritty of it! I just wanted to add, if it helps, that I think you are under estimating your food budget by a fair bit, in my opinion.
    I also am in favor of renting DVC points, and we do it almost every trip. It's a great way to stay at some of the nicer resorts - but you need to be careful and commit to a set of dates and then that is it vs. playing with dates and maybe changing things up depending on airfare & or other discounts that may or may not apply. It's not for everyone, although we really like it and it works for us. Also, as a parent to kids who were once 5....I humbly suggest that your days may take on a different look once you get there and you may want to plan appropriately in your budget for that, but it extra meals out or counter service by the pool. A little bit of a "go-with-the-flow" attitude can help out A LOT when hitting WDW w/ a kid!

    Have fun, enjoy your planning!
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    I budget $100 per day per adult for food and souvenirs.

    a quick service meal is going to cost an adult between $15 and $20. Sometimes, they are big enough or you are just not hungry enough 2 feed 2 adults. Definitely can feed a 5yo by sharing off your plate.

    A sit down meal will cost between $30 and $50 adult. Children $15+. Again you could feed the 5 yo from your plates. If you are not on the dining plan, the restaurant should not prevent you from doing so.

    You can save money by eating breakfast in room. Bring snacks with into the park if you need to hold off eating a meal for an hour or 2. This is allowed.

    Unless you stay in DVC, you will not be able to cook in the room. Cold cuts make a great option here for lunch or dinner to save a few more bucks. But after being in the park all day, many people hate preparing food and just want to eat and go to bed.

    I am assuming you are renting DVC to stay in those resorts. But have you looked into seasonal deals to stay in non-DVC resorts. One of them is Free Dining, allowing you more freedom in your budget.

    I would also think about adding a day or more onto your ticket. The cost is not that much more and will give you more flexibility on things to do during the day. My wife insists on making plans for non-park days. But inevitably, we end up in the parks near everyday.
    Some responses:

    1. We are very small people and my daughter eats like a bird. Even with this, however, we are trying to be very careful of food costs as they are so overpriced at WDW. The plan is to spend as much of our food budget on eating simple meals in the hotel room for breakfast and dinner, or eating light sandwiches from quick service locations around the parks for lunchtime. That said, do you still feel we are under budgeting for meals?

    2. We are planning no sit down meals at any parks or hotels, with one sit down meal at Disney Springs for the trip.

    3. Ultimately, unless it completely falls through (can't book anything until late August due to work commitments), we will be renting DVC points through one of the major brokers.

    4. Due to jobs, we have nearly no flexibility as to when we go and like to plan way in advance - hence the reason for not using any Disney promotions, as they seem to all require booking too soon for us.

    5. I was planning on more days in the parks, but my wife is not as 'Disney' as me or my daughter, so was trying to accommodate her as well. Plus, with the high costs of accommodations, we felt that staying at the hotel several days would help alleviate some of the 'AH!' relating to hotel costs.
     
  • TwoMisfits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2002
    Some responses:

    1. We are very small people and my daughter eats like a bird. Even with this, however, we are trying to be very careful of food costs as they are so overpriced at WDW. The plan is to spend as much of our food budget on eating simple meals in the hotel room for breakfast and dinner, or eating light sandwiches from quick service locations around the parks for lunchtime. That said, do you still feel we are under budgeting for meals?

    2. We are planning no sit down meals at any parks or hotels, with one sit down meal at Disney Springs for the trip.

    3. Ultimately, unless it completely falls through (can't book anything until late August due to work commitments), we will be renting DVC points through one of the major brokers.

    4. Due to jobs, we have nearly no flexibility as to when we go and like to plan way in advance - hence the reason for not using any Disney promotions, as they seem to all require booking too soon for us.

    5. I was planning on more days in the parks, but my wife is not as 'Disney' as me or my daughter, so was trying to accommodate her as well. Plus, with the high costs of accommodations, we felt that staying at the hotel several days would help alleviate some of the 'AH!' relating to hotel costs.
    With planning so many meals "in the room" and wanting a "good" hotel experience, I would make sure to book a resort with at least a partial kitchen and with decent amenities. If you truly want no sit downs or really any Disney food, do the 2 meals back at your place, and pack snacks/lunch for the park. Spend the $200-300 on good, healthy, and tasty groceries and alcohol and really just ride and watch shows in parks:)...

    Also, don't discount offsite and Uber...you may end up with a cheaper overall stay since you have only 3 folks to transport, but you do want kitchen type facilities...once the $1400 for tickets is gone, you have $3100 left - you may find $1000 for hotel with kitchen and $500 for Ubers everywhere is better, especially if the hotel also has a great breakfast and pool...
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    I would normally opt for more nights whenever possible, but seven nights is a good amount of time as well. I would plan two days at Magic Kingdom either way. A day off in the middle of the week is nice to be able to explore your resort and have some pool time, but I wouldn't schedule your first full day as a resort day unless you are coming a very long way and arriving very late at night. Even a half day at the parks would help you accomplish seeing what you want.

    You have a lot of time devoted to characters, which makes sense with a five-year old girl. Disney offers several character meals that could eliminate some time standing in lines for autographs, but they are not inexpensive. Not all characters are available at the character meals, but you could meet some in a more relaxed setting if you opted for a character meal or two.

    You don't have any evenings in the park scheduled and that might be best for your family, but evenings are usually cooler and less crowded, along with the possibility of fireworks or other nighttime entertainment.
    Thanks so much for the helpful information!

    1) Ultimately, I would rather do the 8 nights if we can make it work. Regarding the first day at the hotel - the main reason for this was the 'crowd calendars'. It is showing that it will be quite busy the weekends book-ending our travel dates. As such, I was trying to minimize that as much as possible.

    I do know that tickets for extra days beyond 4 are 'makes as much no difference' essentially free. Do you think it would be worth hitting up MK or DAK for a few hours on our arrival day? Honestly, we are not 'big crowd people' so I am legitimately worried about this.

    We live near Asheville, NC - so it's only about a 2hr plane ride to MCO. We regularly do a 20hr plane trip to Africa, so this isn't really an issue - lol!

    2) Yes! The daughter is absolutely princess crazy. It is essentially a 'must do' to meet the princesses. I like your idea about the character meals and originally we were planning the breakfast at Cinderella's castle - but good grief are those things expensive! Hard to justify spending $150 for a "meh" breakfast to meet the princesses when we can see them free in the parks. We don't mind using our fast passes for princess visits, either, so that is something we planned on doing to minimize lines. What are your thoughts on this?

    3) We do plan on doing some evenings, and I probably should have noted that in the OP. For budgeting sake, I didn't include them - but yes, the plan would be to come back to the hotel at least some days in the mid afternoon - have dinner in the room - and then head back in the early evening, perhaps grabbing a snack in the parks later that night to keep our bellies full. Thoughts on this idea?
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    I would choose AKL for 7 nights with a 5 day ticket (without hopper option). With a 4500.00 budget you'd be left with 1390.61 for other expenses. If you want to spend more then you have listed for your other expenses then I'd suggest a couple of sit down meals. Tusker House in AK is a great character meal. Check out menus on Allears.net
    Right now - this is our most likely scenario - based on alleviating concerns about the buses vs. other transportation options elsewhere.
     

    davper

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2015
    1. We are very small people and my daughter eats like a bird. Even with this, however, we are trying to be very careful of food costs as they are so overpriced at WDW. The plan is to spend as much of our food budget on eating simple meals in the hotel room for breakfast and dinner, or eating light sandwiches from quick service locations around the parks for lunchtime. That said, do you still feel we are under budgeting for meals?
    You will likely be able to split meals amonst the 3 of you. Yes the meals are more expensive, but they are not lacking in food.

    2. We are planning no sit down meals at any parks or hotels, with one sit down meal at Disney Springs for the trip.
    I think this is a mistake. Especially a Princess character meal. You can save several hours of waiting in line by just doing the meal.

    5. I was planning on more days in the parks, but my wife is not as 'Disney' as me or my daughter, so was trying to accommodate her as well. Plus, with the high costs of accommodations, we felt that staying at the hotel several days would help alleviate some of the 'AH!' relating to hotel costs.
    Has your wife been to the park with a 5 yo? I think you will see that the magic of Disney will come through when she sees it through your daughters eyes. Just be prepared. Before you using the last day on your ticket, you can elect to add day(s) which will amount to about $30 per person per day. Also, have you checked out Undercovertourist.com for ticket discounts?

    3. Ultimately, unless it completely falls through (can't book anything until late August due to work commitments), we will be renting DVC points through one of the major brokers.

    4. Due to jobs, we have nearly no flexibility as to when we go and like to plan way in advance - hence the reason for not using any Disney promotions, as they seem to all require booking too soon for us.
    I completely understand about accounting work. There are only about 8 weeks in the year that I can plan for and they are likely to get eaten up buy urgent projects. 2 accountants at different companies only makes this more difficult.
    Once you go the DVC route, you are locked in and won't be able to take advantage of last minute deals.


    Bottom line, go with cheaper accommodations and plan for flexibility. Add to your budget and if you don't use it, you can always bring it home with you. But at least you will have some flexibility which makes for a better time.

    I have done the hard budget at Disney and it was my worst vacation (2007). If I only had some flexibility I could have overcome the issue and had a great time.
     
  • BarlowFamily

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 27, 2019
    Wow! I love your spreadsheets!

    We rented points for a stay at AKL, such a good deal. This would be my choice. The resort is fantastic, tons to do. A Resort Day here is time well spent out of the parks!

    I agree that you're food budget is tight. We estimate $150 a day for food/extras for our family of three. I completely understand not wanting many sit down meals, but I do agree with the suggestion to splurge at Akershus for a nice Princess meal.

    A 5 day ticket is so close in price to 4 day, its hard to know what would be best for your family. A day in each park and second day in MK makes for a great visit, but you could still do so much with just 4 days. Do you use Touring Plans? If not, I think you would enjoy creating your Touring Plans and seeing that you really could "do it all" in 5 days, and be surprised at how great 4 days would be!

    Enjoy your planning! We'll be there around the same time, camping at the fort!
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    You will likely be able to split meals amonst the 3 of you. Yes the meals are more expensive, but they are not lacking in food.

    I think this is a mistake. Especially a Princess character meal. You can save several hours of waiting in line by just doing the meal.
    So just to confirm?

    - Are you saying that splitting meals, et al, might work with respect to our food budget? Or is it still too small?

    - So you and a few others have really hyped up the character meals and I went ahead and looked at them again. Goodness! Looking like a realistic number of around $200 for 'meh' breakfast and meeting the princesses. This seem right? If so, I just cannot stomach that, no matter the time savings, it is just too much. Plus, my wife would literally have a conniption fit. Just a non-starter at that $$$.

    - I agree with it being less fun if stressed about the budget and this is why we are really leaning towards doing the AKL in order to allow some flexibility. We don't borrow money - ever - so this is just coming out of our vacation fund, which has a finite amount (we put about $450 per month into it). I guess the ultimate question, since MK and Epcot are likely to be the main events, is do we book 7 nights at the Contemporary or 8 nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
     

    natfrac

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 18, 2011
    If you're looking for cost savings, have you priced renting a Boardwalk Standard View? It's one of the most affordable options and the location is great. Boardwalk also has a take-out pizza window and a bakery, which have some expensive dining options. ESPN on the boardwalk is also fairly affordable.

    Back when my budget was tighter and checked luggage was free, I used to dedicate a suitcase to food items. We'd pack cold cereal or oatmeal packets, bring our own coffee and tea, protein bars, etc. One year, I threw in a couple of packages of frozen burritos. Salsa from the gift shop and we were set :) My mom, who loves the challenge of eating in her hotel room, would make a couple of dishes that hold up well and freeze in Tupperware before putting in her checked luggage.

    Ah, those were the days!
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    If you're looking for cost savings, have you priced renting a Boardwalk Standard View? It's one of the most affordable options and the location is great. Boardwalk also has a take-out pizza window and a bakery, which have some expensive dining options. ESPN on the boardwalk is also fairly affordable.

    Back when my budget was tighter and checked luggage was free, I used to dedicate a suitcase to food items. We'd pack cold cereal or oatmeal packets, bring our own coffee and tea, protein bars, etc. One year, I threw in a couple of packages of frozen burritos. Salsa from the gift shop and we were set :) My mom, who loves the challenge of eating in her hotel room, would make a couple of dishes that hold up well and freeze in Tupperware before putting in her checked luggage.

    Ah, those were the days!
    Thank you for the comments. Yes - due to airline status, our bags are free - so we might so something like a smaller bag with additional food items. Good idea!

    Boardwalk is on the list - but only garden rooms are available - making it much too expensive (only $25/night cheaper than the Contemporary lake view room! ).

    The AKL quick service location has many dishes that are South African (wife is from South Africa) so that was another big plus for us with respect to staying there.
     

    StitchandPooh'sMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2006
    Thanks so much for the helpful information!

    1) Ultimately, I would rather do the 8 nights if we can make it work. Regarding the first day at the hotel - the main reason for this was the 'crowd calendars'. It is showing that it will be quite busy the weekends book-ending our travel dates. As such, I was trying to minimize that as much as possible.

    I do know that tickets for extra days beyond 4 are 'makes as much no difference' essentially free. Do you think it would be worth hitting up MK or DAK for a few hours on our arrival day? Honestly, we are not 'big crowd people' so I am legitimately worried about this.

    We live near Asheville, NC - so it's only about a 2hr plane ride to MCO. We regularly do a 20hr plane trip to Africa, so this isn't really an issue - lol!

    2) Yes! The daughter is absolutely princess crazy. It is essentially a 'must do' to meet the princesses. I like your idea about the character meals and originally we were planning the breakfast at Cinderella's castle - but good grief are those things expensive! Hard to justify spending $150 for a "meh" breakfast to meet the princesses when we can see them free in the parks. We don't mind using our fast passes for princess visits, either, so that is something we planned on doing to minimize lines. What are your thoughts on this?

    3) We do plan on doing some evenings, and I probably should have noted that in the OP. For budgeting sake, I didn't include them - but yes, the plan would be to come back to the hotel at least some days in the mid afternoon - have dinner in the room - and then head back in the early evening, perhaps grabbing a snack in the parks later that night to keep our bellies full. Thoughts on this idea?
    1. Yes, I think it is worth hitting up the parks for a few hours, especially if you are early risers. You can get a tremendous amount done in the morning, and an extra day also means three more fastpasses to plan ;) If you want to go on your arrival day, you can book your FPs for after dinner and enjoy at least a few attractions. I wouldn't worry about the crowd calendars - just arrive early and have a plan. We just got back from fourth of July week and the crowd calendars predicted 10/10 on July 3 and 4 - it wasn't bad at all, but we were in the parks early, out by early afternoon, and back to the parks in the evening.

    2. I think it's fine to use your FPs for princess meets if you don't want to spend the money on a meal (especially if you are not big breakfast eaters). Akershus in Norway and Trattoria at Boardwalk also have princess breakfasts (not just CRT), but they are all expensive. Especially if you add a second day at MK, you will have more fastpasses.

    You might want to check out the FP sticky to see where you can save the most time:


    3. That is how we tour - we always take an afternoon break and come back after dinner :goodvibes

    4. You might check out the menu for Sanaa - it is excellent, and it is a cool experience to see giraffes walking by while you eat:


     

    mommajo143

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2013
    4. Due to jobs, we have nearly no flexibility as to when we go and like to plan way in advance - hence the reason for not using any Disney promotions, as they seem to all require booking too soon for us.
    I would still go ahead and book / place the $200 deposit. You can adjust dates if necessary without losing anything at all & if you have to cancel, as long as you do it in advance of the payment deadline you’ll get your $200 back.
     

    mommajo143

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2013
    .

    Back when my budget was tighter and checked luggage was free, I used to dedicate a suitcase to food items. We'd pack cold cereal or oatmeal packets, bring our own coffee and tea, protein bars, etc. One year, I threw in a couple of packages of frozen burritos. Salsa from the gift shop and we were set :)
    We checked a rolling duffel bag with a case of water & a weeks worth of snacks & breakfasts on our first trip. Those were the days to be sure!
     

    lyshia04

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2013
    I definitely think the food budget is tight.
    The bon voyage breakfast isn’t priced too bad. I’m taking my daughter to that this September.
    Budget wise I think you definitely will enjoy more park time. This year our 7 night vacation is costing $4065. We are a family of 6. We are staying at the Caribbean with free dining.
    Last year we stayed off site. I loved it;full condo we could see Epcot fireworks from our high rise condo and we were like five minutes from Disney springs. It cost $700 for 7 nights. You might like that better if you are wanting cheaper and able to cook.
    You could also plan some Uber eats meals. I know that I got tired of fixing food by the end of the week. You definitely can bring plenty of breakfast food/ snacks. Check out the menus on all ears to get a real idea of what you’d eat where. Going during May is during flower and garden festival at Epcot. That has lots of yummy dishes and drinks to try, but gets expensive quick. $80 for a sit down at Disney springs for three might be tight. My husband and I went in May and ate at rainforest and the total was $65 with tax before tip just for us two and we didn’t order any thing crazy.
     


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