Published: January 15, 2009 at 4:45 PMHi...
These are all great tips but i think that (with WDW trips at least) I would rather scrimp and save at home so that i can splurge when at the parks.
I want the expensive snacks, the stupid t-shirt, the snowglobe, some Christmas tree ornaments, another Mickey watch, pins pins and more pins...
afterall, I don't get to go very often so when i am there, i want to whoop it up and i consider excessive shopping to be an integral part of the experience..
I am leaving on Saturday for my first trip to Orlando in 3 years and i can tell you, i am going to break the bank!
Published: January 15, 2009 at 5:27 PMI agree. I know we're talking about ways to save money inside the parks, but I really like buying the stuff inside the parks, too. It's all part of the experience, so I don't mind tightening things up before I go so I can splurge later.
Published: January 15, 2009 at 8:33 PMThe point about searching for unique experiences is a good one. Do your research ahead of time and note a few places you would like to eat, or shops you would like to visit, then figure up how much $$$ you'll need for those places and save your money ahead of time. Then, if possible, save a few extra bucks so you can feel footloose and fancy free when buying that unplanned trinket or snack.
Another thing about a restaurant focused resort like WDW, it is okay to book reservations at a sit down restaurant and just get appetizers or dessert. For example, maybe you just want to try the Cheddar Cheese soup at Le Cellier...well, by all means get a reservation and do just that. Order the soup, pay your bill, then head out and get a less expensive dinner elsewhere. Same thing with desserts. A perfect example is the Sci Fi Dine In Theater restaurant: that place has the worst food in WDW at tremendously high prices, but the atmosphere is outstanding. So, make reservations for dessert but eat your meal somewhere else.
Robert, the one point you made that cannot be stressed enough: share meals! When my family of five stayed at the Royal Pacific Resort at USF, we split dinners at every Citywalk restaurant we attended. For example, NBA City has huge portions, enough to feed 7-foot tall NBA centers. So, we ordered an appetizer, a dinner salad, an entree, and a dessert. It cost about $50 with tax and tip, but was more than enough food for the whole family! If we would have ordered separately the bill would have been over $100 and there would have been a ton of food left on the table. So, share meals! Then when you hit the unique dining experiences, like Mythos or Raglan Road, you have the extra cash to let everyone just go hog wild! (Pun intended).
One side note: I went to Holiday World last year, and in addition to the free soda and free sunscreen, you get free parking! Not to mention you get to ride The Voyage which is quite possibly the best wooden roller coaster in the world!! Kudos to the small parks and their family-oriented ways!!!
Published: January 16, 2009 at 6:34 AMFood is part of the vacation experience. Much of the food at Disney is world class and the ambiance of the restaurants is incredible.
I definitely agree to eat lighter overall. When you are on vacation your body is thrown in turmoil because you are out of a normal routine. If you eat heavy, rich meals three times a day you are most likely not going to feel well. THAT would hamper your vacation plans!
Review the park you are going to and make meal plans ahead of time. Make reservations whenever possible. That also saves time and while on vacation time is money! There's nothing worse than bouncing around every country in Epcot looking for a place to eat at lunch and getting turned away several times before finding an opening.
While I agree that you should try to make smart, calculated purchases on things, skimping could end up making for a bad trip and that could be a bigger waste of $ than spending more than you planned for.
For example, much of the "Disney" souvenirs you can purchase outside of the parks in Fl on I-Drive or 192 are knock off junk. Poor quality and in the end probably more of an expense than getting a shirt in the parks.
The one big idea that I embrace here is making sure you are well prepared when you get to the parks. Bring pain relievers, sunscreen,ziplock bags, etc. Go to a local store and buy rain ponchos. They are only a $1 outside the park. I can live with a clear one that doesn't have a Mickey on it! Also, when riding water rides it is a good idea to bring another set of clothes with you. Fast dry shorts are a great thing on a Florida vacation!