How to stretch a dollar


Earning My Ears
Feb 5, 2001
Hello all,
Me and my wife are trying to go to wdw as a once in a lifetime treat. We are not rich, and have tried different ideas. We both work ft but dont make much. We have one car and though I could go on disability, I feel if i can work i should. So i do and we are happy. we could qualify for section 8 housing, but feel there are people who need it more than us and many people take advantage of the sustem. dont feel sorry for us, jsut wnted to give you some backround.
With all the awesome people here, i figured i may be able to pick up few tips how everyone stretches a dollar. i figure that there are many different people with various economic statuses that come to these boards, so i figure there may be different great ideas. my wife has asmtha and have a tough time walking for more than an hour or two( she has a small disability,..1 leg shorter than the other). anyway, any ideas are welcome, we are coming from the detroit area and have saved anbout 600 bucks for the trip. we will be driving down, ifwe go. thanx frt the help,
I am so excited for you guys. I know that you are excited too. I have read lots on these boards and a few ideas come to mind.
1. Bring snacks from home. Pack them for hotel and pack them in a backpack to take with you into parks.
If you are like me, If I eat something for breakfast it will hold me over for a long while.
2. Share meals. They say that lots of the meals are large, so you can share them.
3. Bring water with you also. You can try and freeze them the night before and they should stay cold for most of the day. You can always refill them at water spots and I have heard that some places will give you water for free. Someone said that the carts that have the ice in them have to drain the water off into a bucket. They suggest that you drain some into your water bottle instead of their bucket.

As you notice, I have not yet been to WDW. I have learned all these tips and so many more from these WONDERFUL boards.

Keep searching this budget board and you wil find so much informations. It is a great place to find lots of tips.

Have a wonderful trip. I know it will be magical.
Here is a tip that has always worked for me. Eat your largest meal of the day at lunch. The portions are a good size and they are less expensive. If we are going to eat a sit-down meal we do it at lunch-time. In the evening you can use one of the counter service restaurants. If you go to Deb's Site, you will find menu's with prices for all most of the eating places at WDW. I found the prices to be mostly current. This will help you budget.

You also might want to try doing some Rewards Programs for Gift Certificates to places like McDonalds and Planet Hollwood (at the Downtown Disney), and Rainforest Cafe (at Downton Disney and Animal Kingdom. There are also programs that offer cash and Disney Dollars.

If you want to know more about Rewards Programs, there is a board here that discusses them or you can go to There is a board there too and alot of people are earning rewards to go to WDW. You can find good travel tips there also at the Travel board.

This is the link to the Rewards Board on this site. Rewards Board

Enjoy your trip! Hope this helps, :cool:

Proud Survivor of the Space Mountain Morning-Mini Marathon and Splash Mountain Rapid Rampage
'00-PO/3-day Wonder
'02 - Magic 7 day/PO
2003-Family Reunion-Probably at Safari Logde
You didn't say where you were staying (on or off site) If at the all stars, I would say the refillable mug is a good value. Driving down is an advantage here, you can save alot of money by bringing a cooler full of lunch meats, potatoe salad, fried chicken, etc. Pack ice in waterproof ziplocks. You can refill your ice from the hotel ice bin. A small toaster and/or coffee pot will come in handy. Breakfast in the room, pack a lunch in your back pack, and dinner at the food court can save you so much money. Also buy your passes carefully, don't buy options you will not use, a regular hopper pass may be just fine. Hope you get the chance to go, enjoy every second of your trip. :) :) :)

You have found the right place!

Keep reading this board and you will find a ton of ideas to make this trip happen.

First - stay offsite. Staying onsite is a wonderful experience but expensive. You could likely find a nice hotel for $40 per night. How many nights are you planning on going?

Second - your passes are going to be a big expense. Get the least amount of days you can work with. You might want to skip the water parks/Pleasure Island if it saves a few dollars.

Third - when are you planning to go? Certain times of the year are much less expensive. Avoid the spring like the plague. Everything costs more. You can snag some great deals in September and January.

Forth - do breakfast and some lunches/dinners in the room if possbile. You can bring a cooler since you are driving and bring some food from home. Bring bottles of water, cereal, bagels, bread, tuna, peanut butter, etc. You could also bring a small microwave or hot pot to heat up food in the room. Maybe treat yourselves to one meal out each day - but stick to counter service and you can probably do it for $25 or less.

One last thought - if family is looking for gifts for your birthdays/holidays tell them all you want is Disney dollars. Really drill it into them that if they want to get you something, get Disney dollars. You can only spend them at the Disney Store or at WDW so they will be earmarked for the trip and can't be used for anything else. We have told my parents/husband's parents to buy us Disney Dollars and so far we have about $125 to use toward our next trip.

This can be done!! Keep reading these boards and I know everyone here will find a way to get you there.

Another thought for accomodations -- do you camp? Tent camping can be very cost-effective, and if you go during the fall or early spring, the weather is great for camping.
Good luck with your planning!
But I have to throw in here to make certain that you go to a Character meal. Since it is a trip of a lifetime, (one that you may never get to reapeat again, or for a very long time) I promise that the memories of this will be able to bring a smile to your face anytime you reminese about it! Go for breakfast or lunch, those are the cheaper times. I too know what it's like to have a once in a lifetime trip to WDW. (The only thing was I got hooked and have been saving for two years to go back :) )
You didn't say how long you plan on being there. You might post that for some other tips and hints on how you might save a little. Example, if you are only going to be there for a couple to three days, then you might want to buy bounce back tickets. I'm not sure if you can buy them if you aren't staying at a Disney Resort or not, but Hopper Passes are great. But the unused days will do you no good, nor will they save you any $$ if you don't use them this trip if you don't see a possibility of coming back. JMHO.
I know that bounce back passes are for one park only, but somtimes you do what you have to do. Gerri


Just a thought. If you and your wife would want to stay longer at the parks than her mobility allows, you can rent an ECV for less money from Randys Mobility than from each park. They deliver the ECV right to your hotel, even if you stay off site. You can look into an Entertainment Book discount for a hotel off site too. That helped us. Good luck. I hope it works out for you.
these guys are awesome with all of their ideas on the DIS. no offense to anyone, but maybe the infamous mikamouse, queen of any and all discounts could help also. mika are you out there? poor mika also has had some experience with those electic thingies(ecv?). my own 2 cents, try the all stars during offseason, i think they are around 77 bucks, but i dont know how to get those discounts like some of the other experts here. good luck. :)
You can spend billions of dollars if you want to trust me. But if you have a limited budget Disney has that too. I would try to plan all the meals ahead of time using menus on line so you know exactly how much restaurants cost ahead of time. Counter service is really not all that expensive.

Figure out a budget ahead of time & put each days money in an envelope marked for that day. We tend not to over spend if the money is clearly laid out for each day ahead of time. We decide before we get there how much we will spend on souviners. We are doing a change jar to save money for Disney - it adds up quickly for us maybe $75 per month. I do the reward programs - you would be surprised how much free stuff you can earn. It is awesome.

You didn't mention kids - if you don't have any going with you, you will save alot. I find it harder to say know to my 5 1/2 yr DD then myself. If you have kids get them saving for the trip also. Get them on a budget for spending while on the trip also.


I understand your situation, my husband is self employed and has never earned all that much. We went to Disney for the first time last fall. I researched it to death. I'll share with you all I learned if you want to keep the cost down.

Hotel-- Why pay $40 a night for a 2* when you can get a 3* between $20-$35 a night. Priceline has GREAT deals- the catch? you make "an offer" on a certain quality of hotel, not a particular hotel. Example: I needed 2 nights in the Disney-Universal area the end of Feb. I bid on a 3* hotel and got the rooms for $25. Priceline gave us the hotel Sheraton World. I was thrilled! What a bargain! Here's a link to a website Sheryl hosts about priceline, you will learn tons, and if you deceided to go for the bid, they will help you.

I also recommend Randys mobiliy. My husband has bad knees and can't walk for long, Randys was GREAT, it was $150 for the week(better than $30 a day in the park, and we had it at the hotel too.) Just make sure it will fit in your car. Another option is renting a wheelchair at the parks, I think it's either $5 or $6 a day.

I agree on the meals as said in the other posts. Remember- bring snacks!!! Buy snacks a little each week when you go food shopping, this way it doesn't hurt your pocket as much.

I have been doing rewards programs for almost a year now. I ended up with $90 in gift cert for Rainforest Cafe last Oct with freeride(nomore). And now I have $25 from beenz and $13 from fatshoe that I bought DD. (I second asking for DD for birthdays too, we did and got a couple hundred over the year) It was a treat! Look at the rewards boards here at Dis. They are great.

5 night trip:
Priceline hotel 3* $25 for 5 nights=total about $140
Bring breakfast(bring cooler), make lunch bring into parks, counter service 1 meal $25 day= $160

2-4 day hopper passes @200 each= $400

Total =$700 plus driving costs
You could always get a shorter pass such as 3day 3 park($136 each)Brings total to $550 plus driving

Hope I helped and You will have a GREAT time!!! :D :D

All Star Sports Oct 2000
HIFS & Sheraton World Feb 2001


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