If you can afford to pay for everything prior to your departure, you really find yourself more at ease, enjoying your vacation more, and believe it or not, you seem to spend less money once you arrive at your destination. This is the only way we've ever done it and will hopefully always do it.
Also, If you want to eat at a big or extravagent restaurant, instead of getting four or five big meals that no one will eat in a million years, try ordering an appetizer platter, they'll usually feed a whole family.
Disney hotels are a great way to save money, they are great for kids, and are extremely well priced. You also get perks like extra hours to the parks, and character breakfasts among others.
The lesson is, that if you are really committed to the theme park vacation, and you set your mind to it, you can come up with whatever money neccessary. If a 14 year old could pay for a family of four's trip, you can do it to! Just set aside some money from your paycheck, ask your kids (if theyre old enough) to help the fund with some of their allowance, and you can even hold a garage sale if neccessary!
For our hotel, I pull out a few bucks every month from my husbands check for the same amount of time as above. At the end of the year we usually have close to the amount saved. We book the room while we are there for the next year so I know exactly what we need to save.
My husband enjoys tasting the specialty drinks in EPCOT. They can really run into big money at $5-$8 a piece. So I told him to start saving his own change for it. He has a coconut head monkey that he drops his extra pennies in. By the end of the year he has saved around $70. Not bad for extra change.
Gas became so expensive my dad started saving his change. He saved over $60 which in his car gets him to Daytona from Ringgold, Ga close to 600 miles.
Extra change can really add up and its always fun to see how much you've saved over the year. Of course we do other things like we rent a family size room with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths with my parents instead of 2 rooms. The suite costs $135/night whereas each room would cost $112/night per couple. So each couple is only paying $70/night. Plus we get a full kitchen.
For some out there that don't know websites like MyPoints give you points for reading emails, shopping thru the site etc. You then trade those points for gifts. One of the gift options is gas cards. Last year I saved enough points to cash in for 5 $10 gas cards. Free $50 in gas. I used points earned off my visa (which I pay in full every month) for a $50 visa gift card. That was 3 meals for 2 in Daytona.
My parents save cans and cash them in every so often. They get about $16 at a time and they set that aside for vacation. Over a year it adds up to quiet a bit.
These days you have to try every possible way to save money if you want a vacation. We have gotten pretty good at it.
Since we pre-pay everything before leaving, several weeks out I pay for all the upcoming month's bills. I usually get paid right before we leave and my husband gets paid a day or two after we arrive on vacation. Although we've put away money for our vacation budget in our savings account, we usually don't end up touching it because we're able to use our paychecks for spending money since we prepaid that month's bills. It has worked out wonderfully for us over the years.
Although we could go "luxury style" when it comes to our sleeping arrangements, there's something about staying on site that makes our vacation that much more fun. When we go to WDW, we stay at the value resort because (1) the themes are great, especially when you have children, (2) the cost of the value resorts is so inexpensive compared to the others, and (3) we don't feel that it's worth it to spend $300+ a night for a room that we don't spend much time at. Besides, at the other moderate and deluxe hotels, it's not like you get many more freebies than at the value resorts.
Reported TODAY: LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Walt Disney Co on Thursday said bookings at its theme parks have declined "considerably" in the last month as the global economy has soured, and its shares slid 9 percent in extended trade.
This echoes a post that was offered on October 10th at Jim Hill's site: "Based on what I've been told, the folks who work at Disney's Reservation Centers began raising red flags back in January. Even then, there was enough of a deviation from the way that people typically made their Disney World reservations, the numbers of days that Guests were opting to stay on Property, the types of packages that they were booking to suggest that late 2008 / early 2009 was going to be a real challenge for the Resort. Which is why -- starting in February -- WDW management began getting aggressive about cost containment.
I have ALWAYS been an advocate of the Disney company's inherent understanding of its own product. The Jim Hill report makes it clear that the folks at Disney have been preparing for an economic storm for more than a year. Certainly the "get in free on your birthday" campaign was an aggressive attempt at generating business from local Florida traffic to supplant the absence of traveling guests.
Having said all of this (from a Florida perspective) how will Disney ride the storm out?
1. South American traffic. The economy of Brazil has been relatively strong. Brazilian tour groups continue to populate the parks.
2. A weak U.S. dollar makes Disney an attractive destination for Canadian and UK tourists.
3. The aforementioned birthday promotion.
4. The confidence that comes with the Disney brand and the assurance that no company knows the theme park business better than this company.
The storm has not hit yet. I have been managing a small construction contract at DHS. Let me assure you that even during this odd time of early November weekdays, there are plenty of guests in the park.
Disney may be the only entity other than Kevin Cronin who knows what it takes to ride a storm out.
A final note: while Disney may be able to hold on through a rocky economy, one wonders whether other parks will be able to do the same. Or to put it another way, what are the chances that the Hard Rock Park will still be in business in 2010?
I am optomistic that this upcoming Holiday season will be pretty close to business as usual for Disney World as far as attendance goes, because a lot of people book holiday trips almost a year in advance, in other words, before the economic crisis...and unless their family is in a dire situation, they likely won't cancel those trips...it is next year that I worry about if the economy doesn't get better soon
If I were Disney, I'd be lookin' at a gate-crasher attraction for DHS come 2010.
We are planning our June Disney trip right now and have already been saving for a few months. The kids are excited and contributing as well. Thanks for sharing this series with us, letting us contribute, and doing more than just being a coaster site.