Help A Family Of 5 Budget Staying On Property

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by MO Nurse, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. MO Nurse

    MO Nurse DizFamily

    Apr 25, 2008
    We are a family of 5 staying March 3-14. We are currently booked at POR with the dining plan. My husband is having a heart attack about how much this is costing us and wants to either cut things down or cancel the trip all together. I know we can drop the dining plan and only eat at a couple restaurants we really want to do. How else can we make this trip on a budget and still have a good time and not worry about money. I am more concerned with the food and feeding 5 people daily at least 2 meals. I am considering staying onsite 7 days and offsite the rest of the trip but I don't want to do this if I can keep from it.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. luvmikids

    luvmikids DIS Veteran

    May 27, 2006
    we are also a family of 5 and we stay on site but without the dining plan. Unless you are all big eaters we did not spend nearly as much money on food as the cost of the dining plan. We try to do 2 character meals and eat at the parks and our hotel. I think my kids wasted more food than they actually ate. My kids are picky so the food court at POR worked out. good luck I will sprinkle some pixie dust for ya:wizard:
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  4. brymolmom

    brymolmom DIS Veteran

    Jun 8, 2005
    Just make sure to pack one suitcase with food and you should be fine with the 2 meals/day (or order from gardengrocer). Eat breakfast in your room - bagels, muffins, and a few snacks from the food court (donuts, milk, juice). Also, share cs meals - especially if you bring some 'snacks' with you and order ice water for your drinks - you can stretch many c/s meals - 2 meals per 3 people in many cases.

    One other huge saver - do you have park hopping on your tickets? If you want to save some $ it is not at all necessary and with a party that size will save you a small bundle.

    I would give everyone their 'spending money' for a day or for the whole trip and let them know - when it's gone, it's gone. A trip to WDW is gift/luxury enough without spending hundreds more on souveniers.
  5. Ellester

    Ellester DIS Veteran

    Nov 5, 2003
    Eating breakfast in the room is definitely a cost saver. If your kids are adult age by Disney standards (10 or older) it makes much more sense to drop the dining plan. If they are under 10, it may be a different story. Keep in mind that once you have your tickets, pretty much all entertainment is paid for. When we go to the beach or somewhere else on vacation, it ends up not being that much cheaper than Disney once you add in what you pay a la carte for. We don't pay for hoppers, that can save quite a bit. You could also look at how many park days you want. You'll be there 11 days, so you may only need a 7 or 8 day park pass and spend a few down days relaxing at the pool, Downtown Disney, or whatever.
  6. blessedby3

    blessedby3 Actually Blessedby4 now, but cant change my userna

    Mar 7, 2003
    We are a family of 6 and have gone many times to WDW and have never used the dining plan. I would never pay for it as we can come out much cheaper by ordering and splitting meals between us. We always eat breakfast in the room except for one day when we go to Ohanas. On that day we are so stuffed that we dont eat lunch. The days we eat breakfast in the room we also take snacks into the parks and let the kids snack whenever they want. We then eat a late lunch/early dinner at a counter service place. We split things because the portions are so large. We also only order a couple of large drinks and split them or get water instead. On other nights we will head back to the room and order pizza from Papa Johns or Dominos. A very cheap meal. We just dont do any TS-especially for dinner as its more expensive.
  7. ilovemyjj

    ilovemyjj DawndoesDisney2007

    Feb 17, 2007
    well, first of all my 1st thought why POR? why not all star resorts?? Second of all especially with kids, i think the dining plan is too much food! You can bring or have shipped depending on weather your driving or form the green grocer, or bring it with you. Especially breakfast. My family is not big bfast we bring bowls, spoons, a box of cereal, we buy a pint of milk in the store at the hotel. PLus we get soda, or 12 pks for the hotel room, so we never get drinks, we bring a cooler and keep it fresh with ice form the hotel..its free.. we bring granola bars, raisins, juice boxes, trail mix..pop tarts.
    Believe me there are many ways to do Disney cheap, but still have fun!!
    I also have a family of 5, and i know how hard it is!
    Talk to the other DIS'rs, i know they got tons of more ideas!!
  8. JackJack08

    JackJack08 DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2008
    I also second the all star. No need for a moderate really.
    We actually took sandwiches with us as well to the parks. Use buns instead of bread and it works great. Small cooler pack put in with it, to keep everything cool. Fill up the backpack with these and a few snacks and you will be good to go. Take the kids to Downtown Disney a couple of times, to go to Goofy's for an awesome/inexpensive treat. (Build your much fun!!) Then, they have something to look forward to as well. Snacking at all of the parks can be a HUGE budget breaker. We didn't even do any character meals. There is too much to do and see, that the kids didn't even want to stop for an hour to hour and a half for a sit down meal.
  9. MickeyMomOfThree

    MickeyMomOfThree DIS Veteran

    Aug 21, 2008
    We do Disney on a budget as well. Our first trip was the best (We spent $1000, we split the cost of the room, went a week before our daughter turned 3, only 2 nice meals, that sort of thing.) We do, however do the dining plan. This is my hubby's doing. I could eat out of my bag and here and there kids meals, he says we live on a budget all year we aren't going to do it at Disney, so as far as food goes, I probably am not going to be too much help. I will say though that pleanty of the meals can be shared, and they give you free water anytime you ask.
    We never get hopper tickets, it is unnecessary for the large pricetag.
    We go for 8 nights but only go in the parks 5 days. There are so many things to do without going in the parks.
    If you do want to do a character meal, do a late breakfast. It is the same characters for a lot less money and you won't need to eat again for hours.
    We stay value, always have, might want to check out the ASM-suites. I am not sure on the price. We too need 2 rooms (3 kids) but grandma and grandpa have been kind enough to go with us every trip and pay for the extra room. I don't know if there would be a huge price difference, but every little bit helps.
    If you don't already have one, get the Disney Visa and charge everything you would normally pay for and then send them that money at the end of the month. Use the reward dollars to help pay for the trip.
    I don't know where you live but we drive (from Western NY). Flights can be a killer for a larger family. The trip ca actually be fun.
    I am sure there is more, but that is some of what we do to keep costs don.
    Hope it helps and you get to go....
  10. StephMK

    StephMK DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2004
    How old are your kids & are you completely set on staying onsite? I can just hear the *gasps* but we've done both (off & POR) & I will never stay onsite again unless it's in a suite or adjoining rooms. It's just not relaxing with 3 kids in a room & very tall DH.

    Our visit offsite was in a 3 bedroom timeshare & that's where I want to stay when we go back. If you're there for 11 days, will you really be ok sleeping everyone in the same room that long? I liked having a kitchen, separate seating area besides the beds, etc. Plus a great deal on a rental car & eating offsite.

    Just another idea but if you're set on staying onsite, breakfast in the room would definitely help. And making the biggest meal lunch w/CS for dinner.
  11. deedeetoo

    deedeetoo DIS Veteran

    May 8, 2003
    You can't put five people in an AllStar unless one is under 3. The OP doesn't mention how old her kids are, but if they are all over 3 then POR is probably her least expensive choice on site.

    I agree with dropping the dining plan. We did it once and enjoyed it but it was a big splurge. You also way overeat and considering how long you are going for, I think you will be so sick of food by the end that you will regret it.

    You also don't mention how you are getting to WDW. If you will have a car, then its easy to hit a supermarket for breakfast and snack items after you get to Orlando. Also going off site for dinners will still get you a nice sit down dinner experience but will cost much less than eating at WDW.

    You could definitely save a lot by staying offsite but that would be a different type of vacation. Its up to you to decide what you really want and what you can afford.
  12. sskem96

    sskem96 DIS Veteran

    Sep 2, 2004
    First of all, how old are the kids in your party? If the youngest is under 3, you could switch to a value resort. Also, watch for discount codes. It's possible that a code could come out for your dates that would save you a bundle since you're staying for so many nights. If only an AP discount is available, you could get an AP for one of the adults in your party if the discount would more than make up the difference in admission cost. Another option would be to stay offsite someplace like Buena Vista Suites that would be much cheaper and include breakfast.

    As far as food, if you stay onsite, I think the dining plan would be worth it if all your kids are under 10. The price is so much more once they turn 10, and if you eat mostly counter service, they can still order off the kids menu (I do!) or share meals.

    You could also consider cutting a couple days off the vacation to save a few hundred dollars. I usually figure that once we fork out the cash for the airfare we might as well stay a while, but that was staying at Pop Century with an AP rate of $69. When you're at a moderate resort and feeding 5 people, each day adds up quite a bit.

    I always pack a suitcase with cereal, snacks, paper plates, etc. so we can eat breakfast in the room and have a snack before bed without spending a fortune at the food court.

    Take laundry detergent and dryer sheets so you don't have to pack too many clothes. Since it's a long trip, if you don't do laundry while you're there you'll likely end up with more than one bag per person and incur extra luggage fees with the airline.
  13. amandaraye

    amandaraye Mouseketeer

    Aug 9, 2008
    First of all...are you married to my husband? Seirously, as you can see in my siggy he's really not looking forward to our trip in April and thinks its all a terrible waste of money.

    Seriously, though. I have done a LOT of research to assure him we're getting the most bang for our buck. Here are some things I took into consideration.

    1. We're flying Tuesday to Tuesday to save on airfare. We're staying in a value resort so minimize lodging.
    2. We are arriving in Disney the day before our DDs 3rd birthday so we can take advantage of her being two (Disney's poilcy is the child is the age they were when they arrive for the entire trip).
    3. We're doing the basic dining plan. (I actually printed out about 40 menus from many of the WDW restaurants and had my family "order" from them and added it up and it turned out to be more economical for us to do dining.)
    4. I'm bringing quick-to-eat breackfasts for morning for those who wants something to munch on before we head out.
    5. Instead of spending lots of extra money in the parks, I'm going to do some free things there to make it extra special. I'm going to alert the hotel we're celebrating birthdays so they get a free birthday card and greeting. My kids will wear free birthday buttons at the parks to make their days more special. I'm going to have the customized menus at Coral Reef and if the divers are available I'll have them hold a sign for my family. Things that are free but will add entertainment value.

    I hope your DH (and mine) comes areound and feels the magic right along with you! :hug:
  14. imthatgirl

    imthatgirl DIS Veteran

    Jul 5, 2008
    a great way to save money is to rent a car and eat off property.
  15. bartleby1

    bartleby1 DIS Veteran

    Jun 1, 2001
    I don't think that the OP stated her kids ages, but if the youngest is 3 or older, they cannot stay at a value resort (unless they do a family suite which would be more expensive than POR).

    I would drop the dining plan if you are looking to save money. Counter service lunch or dinner usually ran our family around $35/$40. Sometimes we grabbed a pizza at POR food court which was less, although I don't remember the amount. We drove down so we had a car to go offsite a few times for dinner and stopped at the supermarket for water, snacks, soda, and breakfast foods. You will have a small fridge but we also kept a cooler full of ice in our room, loaded with drinks. Breakfast in the room is a huge time saver and money saver. If you won't have a car, consider placing an order through on of the local grocers that are often talked about on here. I think gardengrocer is one of them? I've never done it, but I'm sure it will help save.

    Also, if you drop the dining plan, you might be able to change your ressie to a room only and order your tickets through a discount broker like Many dissers have used them, as well as myself, and have been very happy with them. If you sign up for the newsletter and order thru the link in the newsletter that comes out on the 15th of the month, it will save you even a little more. I would also consider dropping the parkhopping option if you really need to save. With the length of your trip and some planning, you can do the parks without hopping. A 10 day non hopping ticket will save you money.

    SIMMSMOUSE Mouseketeer

    Sep 11, 2008
    I know this is probably not an option but change you dates if possible. I am pretty sure that is not value season. I just saw a rate of 59 dollars a night at a value resort from 9/28-10/11. You could get two rooms at a value for what you will pay for a mod at that time. I just came back after getting the free dining promotion during Labor day week and it was great. I have also paid for the dining plan and thought it was worth it. My DD is 8 now and will be 9 in April so 2009 will be the last year for her at the child rates "bummer". So in the future we will have to think about wheteher the Dining plan is worth it next time we go. Also Mousesavers is great for info and specials about offsite hotels and tickets. I subscribe to the newsletter just to get the special link to for discount tickets. If your kids are all under 10 I think the dining plan is worth it. If not who knows. Check the websites frequently to find out about all the specials. I also agree you can save $200 by not park hopping.princess:
  17. kileybeth

    kileybeth DIS Veteran

    Oct 6, 2001
    You CAN do this. I love onsite and you will too and your husband will definitely get the whole immersion/convenience factor once it is all said and done. Just keep up the planning.

    I LOVE that you are going for 12 nights. Plenty of time for relaxing and fitting in a little of everything that is already included. No need for lots of extras that simply add $$.

    And really? What husband ( I know there are some!) loves spending money anyway on things he can't play with later?

    We would love to hear your kids ages. And yes, POR-AB is the least expensive on site for family of 5.

    As sad as I am to say it, do cut the dining plan out BUT still make a plan. You can take food into the parks with you. Disney's unofficial policy and we have done it for years. (we generally take hearty snacks for lunch and eat a bigger dinner) Lots of your food budget is in drinks. We find the refillable mugs to be a good deal but we drink lots of soda. Every other thing we drink is carried in (bottle water/can soda/capri suns) from outside the "World". Split meals. Disney gives huge portions. We always split counter service and often table service too. Save your money for the character meals you really want to do. Or a nice "date night" dinner if that works.

    Collect pressed pennies. With so much time your kids will love that and it is ubber cheap to do ($.50 plus the penny) Do the mask in EPcot. Free framable 8.5x11 at end when you get all your stamps. My kids love going back and seeing all the comments on them. Spend a little on a hidden mickey book and make that a fun free activity. Ride Disney transport everywhere and see lots of really cool places (other resorts, all the downtown stuff) Save your souvie buying for the end and spend a few hours at World of Disney before you leave. Unless something is specific to a park/resort you can get it later. (and you can always call merchandising once you get home an dorder anything you regret not getting) Sometimes just waiting a day or two for a treasure changes my kids minds (and mine!) and they are onto the next thing.

    since POR is your resort? You get to use both resorts pools and amenities (POFQ as well) Go over and collect mardi grau beads for free a few times. Make sure to eat a bignet for me. ($3.99 for 6 and great snack to share) .

    hhhmmm, I could go on but make sure you are putting ALL your change in a jar between now and then, you will be amazed at how much it is.

    Make a plan, this can work! We are a family of 6 normally (7 at the moment, college DS home again) so I know about cutting corners and making it work!

    Keep us updated!
  18. MO Nurse

    MO Nurse DizFamily

    Apr 25, 2008
    Sorry I didn't give enough information. My kids are 13, 13, and 16 so POR is the cheapest onsite. We are not doing park hopping because we want to take our time in each park and this is my DH first visit in over 20 years. I plan to buy my soda because no place on property sells Dr. Pepper and that's what I drink. I also plan to have a box of food items shipped down prior to our arrival. We were planning to do Seaworld and Universal Studios which we have cut out. We are flying and our dates aren't flexible. We are arriving on Tuesday March 3 and will return home Saturday March 14. We added an extra day because it was cheaper to fly home on the Saturday 14 as opposed to the Friday 13th. Airtran has our dates for $1185 r/t for the 5 of us and that is a great rate.

    I am researching staying at Bonnet Creek which sits right next to Caribean Beach Resort for 4 nights and then stay 7 nights at POR. I really hate this idea because I want to stay on property for the convenience and of course EMH. The kids and I stayed offsite this past March at a hotel and we hated it. The free shuttle to the parks was horendous to say the least. Thank you all for your suggestions. I guess I will keep planning and trying to find ways to cut back and still have a great vacation.
  19. bartleby1

    bartleby1 DIS Veteran

    Jun 1, 2001
    It sounds like you have done a lot of good budgeting and planning already. Personally, I would really try to stick with POR for the entire stay. I hate spending a day or night of my vacation packing and unpacking. I've never priced out bonnet creek but I can't imagine it being cheap enough to make the move worthwhile. Although, I have heard good things about Bonnet Creek too.

    Skipping Seaworld and Universal sounds like a good plan. As much as I love Seaworld, one day cost us a small fortune the last time we went. You will have plenty to keep you busy at the disney parks.

    Do you currently have any kind of discount at POR or are you paying rack rate? I don't know what kinds of discounts or codes are generally offered for that time of year, but you can probably get an AAA discount if nothing else is available. Even if you are not current members, it may be worth it to join just for the discount. I know that they gave 20% off rack rate for August.

    Since all 5 of you are considered adults for the dining plan, I would definitely consider dropping it if budget is really a concern. You could still have a few nice meals, but food is probably the easiest place to cut from if you don't mind eating counterservice and food court meals.
  20. chrisw127

    chrisw127 <a href="" targ

    May 4, 2007
    Have you considered the Ft. Wilderness cabins? They have a full kitchen and plenty of room for a family of five. The only downside is that you'll probably need a car, although if you have your groceries delivered, you don't even need to worry about that.

    You might also think about giving the kids a few Disney dollars as stocking stuffers, ect. That way, they can "save" for their souveniers.
  21. lucigo

    lucigo DIS Veteran

    Jan 18, 2008
    12 nights with 3 teenagers in one room, you are brave! I'm not going to be any help here, but I say keep the dining plan (because I know what its like feeding teenagers) and get 2 rooms at Pop instead!

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