How do you afford your WDW trips??

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by LegoMom3, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. LegoMom3

    LegoMom3 WDW vet now exploring "Walt's Park!"

    Aug 27, 2004
    Ok, forgive me if this has been discussed previously, but I read so many great threads about folks who go to WDW at least once every year. HOW do you all do it?! I can't imagine there are that many "wealthy" people out there, so there has to be something to it. We don't use plastic much (I'm sure some folks rack up big bills going to Disney that way). I would love to get there once a year but it seems to take us at least a couple years to be able to save the money. We are a family of 5, and because the rooms that are large enough for us are much too expensive, we will tent camp at FW and drive down (airfare for 5 is out of the question, and besides I hate to fly!).

    I'd just love to know how you all do it. TIA!
  2. raysnkaysmom

    raysnkaysmom <font color=coral>I don't think I'd mention I was

    Aug 15, 2004
    My very first trip was half due to the fact I worked at I was free, and I had 2 complimentery tickets, and my little one was under 3... Then..I got 50% off my hotel...
    Soo...then I was addicted. My 2nd trip...again, I had 2 free tickets.. it was just the last trip that we saved for... Basically, took 2 paychecks and just went... dealt with the bills when we got home.
    Now...I'm working on paying on a cruise.. I got a vacation check from the job I quit, so it was 'extra' money... now I'm making payments :) I'm the type of person who will say 'oh well...I'll worry about the bills when I get home" and go with it :) I've been known to have my phone cut off or been late on the car payment... but HEY...> I WENT TO DISNEYWORLD :)
    I wouldn't recommend this mentality...LOL
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  4. dznyacct

    dznyacct DIS Veteran

    May 2, 2000
    Here are a few of the ways that we get to WDW often.

    * joined DVC in 1999 (why, oh, why we didn't do this sooner I don't know!)
    * having breakfast and a few other meals in our DVC villa (with a 15 year old and his best friend this can really add up to be quite a savings!!)
    * buy an Annual Pass and get at least 2 trips out of it
    * use my flex spending reimbursements from work for vacation savings
    * have a vacation savings account at my credit union and have $$ automatically deposited there every payday (after doing this for 10 years, I really don't miss the $$ at all)
    * save all my change for vacation (easy to do and usually adds up to ~ $500/year)
    * any "found" $$ goes in the vacation fund (garage sale, clothing resale shop, rebates, birthday $$, anything received that is unexpected), I paid for my son's best friend to join us on a 7 night DCL cruise last summer with my "found" $$!
    * MOTIVATION!! I have NEVER been more motivated to save for anything like our WDW trips. Our family time together is very important and NOTHING recharges my soul like a trip to Disney World. I always have another trip in the planning stages, which makes going home not quite as painful.

    I'm sure some other DIS members will pass on more valuable tips!
  5. Colinsmom

    Colinsmom DIS Veteran

    Dec 15, 2004
    I have fairly regular conferences in the Orlando area, so our last two trips (plus the upcoming September trips) have been in conjunction with a meeting. That means that my airfare plus the hotel during the conference (longer if I save airfare by staying over a Saturday night) is paid for, and so is my transfer to and from the airport. And some of the parking expense back home (or the full taxi cost to and from home).

    We are staying longer this trip, though, because we cleared out our basement and sold a LOT on eBay last winter. Literally our whole trip was paid for by these eBay funds, and our basement is a little emptier than it was! Not sure how we'll raise funds for the next Disney trip; there's still a lot in our basement!
  6. Lyn5

    Lyn5 <font color=green>If the tag fairy stops by, green

    Jun 30, 2005
    I think I have been doing a lot of the little things that add up. We live far away, so I try to start early and watch for deals, freebies and specials, especially on airfare. I also started to doing some part-time work here and there in my profession and I put some of that money aside for our vacation. I have a Disney Visa and so I use the rewards card for our souvenirs. I have been reading the budget boards and other boards for inspiration on saving money, sometimes it is hard to keep focused. My children and I decorated an old butter container into a change jar...they have enjoyed this greatly and it helps to have them get inspired to save. Also, a big savings for me is that DH doesn't like to eat breakfast, so I usually pack juice, water, instant oatmeal, dry cereal, etc. and when we get to the hotel I can just make DS and DD breakfast in the room while we get ready for the day. I purchase milk from the hotel store and keep it in the fridge.
  7. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    There are a suprising number of "well off" people here.

    There are people who live close.

    There are people who make a lot of other sacrifices to feed their Disney hobby.

    There are people who are excellent bargain hunters, saving money before Disney with couponing for things like groceries, saving money at Disney through a number of deals - from DVC to staying offsite to packing in meals.

    There are people who aren't a family of five, but a married couple with two incomes and no kids.

    A surprising number of people here have NO debt, not even a mortgage.

    There are people who do all of the above.

    Its hard to compare yourself with someone who makes six figures. Its hard to compare yourself to someone who lives near Atlanta, a long, but drivable drive. Its hard for someone with three kids to compare themselves to someone whose only children have fur (or whose kids are long grown). And its hard to compare yourself to someone without a mortgage.

    So don't compare. Go as often as you wish and can afford to in a style you can comfortably afford. Make the sacrifices you feel comfortable making. Learn the tricks that you can apply - like couponing, or getting the most out of an AP.
  8. mrsgus06

    mrsgus06 <font color=royalblue>Drama Mama<br><font color=da

    Jul 2, 2004
    We are a family of 8. We go often (3 or 4 times a year) so we buy annual passes and renew them within the 30 day deadline, saving about $50.00 a ticket. Due to the large family and the fact that we are 8 hours away, and drive there, we bought a camper instead of paying for 2 rooms or a villa, plus we go camping locally at least once a month. We usually eat every meal at the camper, saving tons of money. My trip this summer to Ft. Wilderness was 8 weeks long. I started last year booking my stay and paying a little each month. With the ap discount I ended up paying about $55.00 a night. The camper has a washer/dryer combo so I saved more money by not having to take clothes to the laundry. Santa delivered a golf cart to us for Christmas so that also saves money. We don't have any other debt except the house (pay cash for everything so says Dave Ramsey) so basically, we only buy groceries (super walmart on 535) and the site. Basically, my 8 weeks cost about $3,300.00 (plus groceries and gas). I have read that people pay that much for one week at the other resorts along with having to buy plane tickets. I don't know where you live, but you may want to look into purchasing a used pop up? Tent camping is nice, but a pop up keeps you off the ground. We had a pop up 4 years ago but have since traded up to a fifth wheel. Plus you can go camping on the weekends locally. My kids love to camp. :love:
  9. Nik's Mom

    Nik's Mom Karl Pilkington is a genius

    Dec 22, 2001
    We normally go every 2 years to give us a chance to save. But we went in May and are going again next year to celebrate our 10th anniversary on DCL. Well, we can't be so close to WDW without visiting, so....
    Anyway, we stay deluxe resorts, but scrimp on other things. Like, we keep ps's to a minimum. We have a bowl of cereal in the hotel room before we head to the parks. We have a set amount for souveniers. We use hotel codes, car rental codes and watch for cheap airfare. The trip we take next year will probably be our last for several years.
  10. bettyann29

    bettyann29 <font color=blue>Heres my contribution for today..

    Dec 30, 2003
    We dont go to WDW all that often.. its ended up coming to about once every 2 to 3 years, but we do go on cruises every year and have been averaging about 2 a year.. we do one cruise as a family vacation and then one cruise without the kids.. there are a total of 5 kids ranging from 7 to 17-- we would probably squeeze in another one if I had more vacation time.. my boyfriend gets approx 30 days vacation a year compared to my 13 days..

    Personally I make my vacation time a priority.. I do without alot of other things that others may not want to not have because family time and vacationing are very important to me.. We dont go out to eat very often, usually eat at home.. we dont go out much.. we pretty much only go to the movies when I get free passes at work.. We do normally buy Six Flags passes as our entertainment for the kids.. I get discounted pricing on the season passes and we go about once or twice every 2 weeks and sometimes more.. Its great money spent as the kids know that this is what they get to do in between vacations and the passes have wayyyyy more than paid for themselves.. we dont rent movies.. I recently downgraded our cable as we were paying for premium and never watch it.. we did just trade our expedition in for a newer one this year and we bought a new car, which means that for the next few years we probably wont be vacationing as much till I can get these paid down.. I work as much overtime as I can.. I do some ebaying, garage saleing, I do flexible spending thru my work for medical expenses and turn my receipts in to get the money back.. I save a little each check (it adds up), I save change which also adds up, I save cans and turn that into change to go into my change jar, I coupon, I do rebates on things that I already use or would like to try.. we also get good income tax returns.. I hear alot of slack about letting the government hold my money, but it works for me.. I have the most amount I can taken out of my check each week and then at income tax time get a large return.. If I had it changed where I had that money avl on my check then I would be more likely to spend it and I prefer it this way.. I also get a bonus check at work each qtr.. its not alot but it adds up... I also get an additional bonus check thru work each February, again not a huge amt, but it adds up.. My boyfriend was getting pretty big bonus checks thru his employer each spring.. last year they were sold to another company and we thought the bonus checks were long gone, but found out last month that this new company also does bonuses, and they get theirs in October.. so he should get one this October!! :banana: Not sure yet how much those average with this company, but will be happy with anything..

    I dont think it necessarily means that you have to have money to go to wdw once a year or more.. it just means that those people either do just have the money or they find ways to do what they love.. Me and my daughter are going to wdw in a few weeks and are staying at ASMo.. some of the people who stay at the higher priced resorts could probably go more often if they went to a cheaper resort but that is their choice..

    Most of our vacations are paid for ahead of time and every now and then may bring a credit card just in case or as in the last cruise we went on I wanted to splurge on a piece of Tanzanite jewelry in Cozumel, so I did , but normally we save our money by the above methods..
  11. pearlieq

    pearlieq <font color=green>They can sit & spin<br><font col

    Aug 3, 2004
    Exactly what I was going to say, but you said it better.

    For the record, put us down as two income, no kids, DVC owning, bargain hunting folks who would rather live on ramen than give up vacations. :teeth:
  12. ThreeMusketeers

    ThreeMusketeers DIS Veteran

    Jul 5, 2005

    Well Said!

    We are a family of 3, my hubby is in his last year of school..getting his Masters in Accounting..and I am a SAHM, I sell things on ebay. Save change, cut coupons and don't go to Target or Walmart nearly as much as I did the first year I was home...LOL..learned that lesson quick!! :rotfl2: But we take a large vacation once a year and a few small ones. Now that DD is old enough we will take her to Disney probobly once every two years...and take a beach or national park vacation inbtwn. We have a Disney Cruise planned for 2006 though... :earboy2: ...okay, so non Disney 2007...I swear!!! :rolleyes1
  13. AlexTina

    AlexTina <font color=purple>I'm glued to the computer<br><f

    Feb 23, 2005

    Very well said! We have been going to Disney every year for a while now and this year we went in May and are going again in September to celebrate DD's 4th Birthday (with an AP room rate). We always stay at the Poly but are going to try the GF this time around. Normally we only take one big vacation a year and a couple of small ones to visit family. My DH is an Electrical Engineer and I was an accountant before DS was born back in December at which time I became a stay at home mom. We only go out to eat once a week sometimes once every two weeks, DH usually takes his lunch with him to work , and DD and I will go to McDonald's for a happy meal about 2 times a month and then that's it, we make dinner at home almost every night. I don't spend a lot on gas anymore either since I am at home with the kids and DH rides a motorcycle to work which gets around 45 miles a gallon so gas is not a big expense for us other than that I shop around, I don't buy everything I want when I want it like I used to when I was working and I'm always looking for a deal. I sell tons of stuff on Ebay which I buy wholesale and usually wind up doubling or tripling my money. That's it we make it work so basically you have to figure out what works for your family, 1 trip a year or 1 trip every 3 years.

  14. AlaskaMOM

    AlaskaMOM <font color=blue>BL II - Blue Team<br><font color=

    Jul 16, 2005
    I think you have a misconception about all the wealthy people who take trips once a year. There are still plenty of us who go every few years, because of family size, travel distance, or a slew of other reasons. Our family of 5 for instance has to also get larger rooms to fit all of us, we have never been to a value :grouphug: (it just won't fit all of us) And we also have to travel a far distance (there's NO way we could drive, it would take us 7-10 days to get there). So that being said, we a family of 5 who lives in Alaska only go to Disney about every 3 years!! I would love :love: :love: :love: to go more often, but am unable. That is where these boards come into play, I live vicariously through others trip reports and stories awaiting my next trip. So it's okay to go only every couple of years and make the most of the time when you're there! :Pinkbounc :bounce: :Pinkbounc :bounce: and then come home and live on the precious memories and the excitement of planning the next trip a couple years later.
  15. Kimkimba

    Kimkimba Miracles happen to those who believe - I believe,

    Feb 24, 2002
    Since the birth of my 3rd child, I've been a SAHM and I have a self-employed dh whose income varies. Yearly Disney vacations aren't an option, but we do go on vacation somewhere every year.

    I Ebay all the time (Powerseller), I cut and color my own hair and bite my own nails :rotfl2: . I drive a 10 year old mini van with almost 200,000 miles on it :cheer2: (I'm doing a cheer in hoping the van keeps going).

    Growing up, my parents weren't rich - my mom was a SAHM (she had 6 children) and my dad was a farmer who moved to provide better for his family - he was a self taught mechanic who worked his way up for the same company for over 30 years. WE ALWAYS TOOK A VACATION EVERY SUMMER. I can't tell you what I got at Christmastime and for birthdays, but I will always have those awesome memories of our family vacations.

    My oldest is 16 and I know she fondly remembers every vacation we have taken; but she probably can't tell you what she received last Christmas.

    For me, it's about making memories. And even though my 2 yo probably won't remember this Disney trip, she will still have the memories through all the pics we take.
  16. grlpwrd

    grlpwrd <font color="orange">I'm here for the mouse more t

    Jul 28, 2000

    We are a family of 7 and we plan for vacations. Vacations, like savings and retirement, are a priority for us.

    Yes, don't compare - just get there. :wizard:
  17. rockyroad

    rockyroad DIS Veteran

    Apr 27, 2005
    what crisi said.

    Plus there are different levels of "doing" WDW.

    We do it modestly.

    Drive down, not fun, but the only way we can afford it. Breakfast in the room, try to go off season, carry in granola bars and water. I don't buy junk, cokes, or ice cream in the park. I don't eat in the food courts....but don't feel deprived. :) I don't go to WDW to eat, so it really doesn't bother me. I remember that...yes, calories do still count at WDW and that perhaps some of these people must come from places with very few opportunities to experience the great modestly priced restaurants that I kind of take for granted at home.

    I also came to the realization that some people come from areas of the country where the cost of living, and the wages, are much higher. So when they vacation, their money goes much further at WDW than my hard earned little Memphis money does.
  18. Glendamax

    Glendamax <font color=blue>LOVES Old English Roses china at

    Jul 4, 2005
    I am so glad that LegoMom posted this thread! When I found this site, I wondered how people (especially w/kids) were able to go multiple times a year, AND be able to stay at the deluxe resorts. I am single with no kids, and still find it expensive to go. I average about one WDW trip every 2 to 3 years. I would LOVE to stay at a deluxe resort, but I can't imagine shelling out that much money. So thanks to those of you who have told how you do it - especially those of you with children. Because someday, I would like to have a "deluxe" Disney experience as well.

    So keep posting! I'm taking notes! :listen:
  19. beattyfamily

    beattyfamily DIS Cast Member<br><font color="purple">Has Oodles

    Jul 13, 2000
    Our first trip in 1998 we charged everything! :blush:

    We waited till 2000 to go again and this time we didn't charge all of it; we saved money; tax refund, change etc...

    Since our 2000 trip, DH got a big promotion several years ago and we started putting $200 a month aside for our vacations, we always get back a few thousand in our tax refunds and apply about $1500 to our vacation, we save extra change, we apply all rebates, refunds, all unexpected money to our Disney account. Now I also have the Disney Visa reward dollars ($225) to apply to our trip.

    We joined DVC in 2001 which has made us able to stay in Deluxe. We have AAA and Entertainment card to get discounts. We buy the AP to save on passes in the long run. It isn't always easy but it's a priority for us.

    If we didn't invest in DVC, we wouldn't be able to afford the deluxe resorts.

    We go once or twice a year, but the second "extra" trip is a budget trip, without DH, with APs and DVC room so the only expenses for that trip are airfare and food and without DH, it's even cheaper.

    Everyone is so different, it's really hard to compare; IMHO, it's like comparing apples to oranges in some cases.

    We have 2 DDs, ages 6 and 9. We've gone 7 times so far (DH 6 times) and we're going two times this year thanks to low airfare, no DH, and free dining!!!
  20. 3DisneyKids

    3DisneyKids More Drink, Less Run...Since 2008

    Aug 13, 2005
    I am so glad that you started this thread...when I started joining various Disney sites (here and others) I noticed how people signed off--with a list of all their trips. And it seemed like the majority went to WDW at least every year, if not multiple times each year, even if they lived out of state!

    I thought I must be missing something huge...there must be a way to do this a lot cheaper. So, I started e-mailing and PM'ing people and just asking how they could go so freequently and what was I missing.

    Basically, it all comes down to choices...instead of getting new carpeting for the house, they go to WDW. Instead of ---fill in the blank with whatever else you spend money on--they go to WDW.

    This is something we are struggling with. I woiuld like to vacation more (to WDW and other places to..sorry LOL) and DH likes to put money into our house. Of course, we have savings, etc. as our first priority, but when it comes to "extra" money, I would like to vacation, and he would like to do home improvement.

    My thinking is that when kids are grown, they won't look back and remember how clean the house was or how nice of a couch we had...they'll remember the things we did with them and the places we went as a family.

    We are also a family of five, and the best thing we do to save money and make it more affordable is to rent points from a DVC member. We have always done this through the boards and without actually knowing the person and have never had a problem. very good and honest people. This allows us to stay in a 1-bedroom (which is FINE for a family of 5...all 3 kids sleep in the king bed and DH and I sleep on the queen pull-out in the living room). This costs $160/night (OKW during value season) and that includes tax, etc. Total price.

    We fly as we live so far away, so we often go in early Feb. or late Sept. Fares a very cheap. Right now, we have airfair bokings for $90 per person round trip. Going during value season is a great way to save, I think. Disney is always running some special (like free dining!) plus the crowds are low. Believeitor not, we have not waited for more than 12 minutes for any ride for the last couple of trips because we went off-season.

    But, at the end of the day, it is about do you wish to spend the money you have after you've paid the bills? You can eat out each week (or multiple times) can take the kids to McD's often...or you can go to WDW.

    Here is how I helped my friend go to WDW who said she couldn't afford it...

    She has kids the same ages as mine (6, 4.5 and 3). When she picked the two younger ones up from pre-school at noon, she would automatically go to McD's for luch (like 3 times a week). Also, first thing in the morning she would get a large Dunkin Donuts coffee on her way to drop all the kids off. I told her that she was spending her WDW money. She thought I was crazy b/c "it's only $5 or $7 for McD's" or "my coffe is $2 and Disney costs a whole lot more than that!"

    After going around and around this issue for ages, she finally gave it a try. She was shocked that all of this was adding up to $200 month! It only took that one month for her to be a believer. So, at the end of one year, off they went to WDW (and all a lot thinner because of less fast food!).

    So, look for hidden costs to you get a coffee every day? Do you buy a paper every day? Try going to mousesavers for lots of ways to cut and save.

    But most of all, do what works for you.
  21. swilshire

    swilshire DIS Veteran

    Jan 26, 2004
    There are six of us, so we stay off-site in a timeshare, cook many of our own meals, buy our souvies at the outlet store (and limit them even there). It's all about choice. We take many nice vacations, but we don't have cable TV at home, only have dialup internet, drive older cars, buy our clothes at thrift stores and yard sales, clip coupons and shop the sales for groceries, etc. We drink free water on the rare trip to a restaurant and almost never eat fast food. I carry my lunch to work at least most of the time.


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