We are on our family vacation to Disney World this week, but I didn’t want to give up my Post A Week plan. So, I thought I’d touch briefly on a question that I am asked frequently: How do you guys afford to go to Disney so often?
It’s true, we do love the Disney. Generally, we take some sort of Disney trip every year. The duration and the coast depends on the year. In recent years we have alternated between Disneyland (2008, 2010) and Disney World (2009, 2011). So how do we afford to go so often? When I try to answer that question, people start to tune me out. They want some code, some secret thing that makes the whole trip cost $200. It doesn’t really work that way. I do have a long list of suggestions, but for those who might want to look into a Disney trip, I will just give my very basic steps:
- Plan way in advance. If you don’t want to spend a fortune, you can’t just decide to go to Disney 2 weeks before the plane takes off. Disney, especially Disney World, is not like bopping to the zoo or Six Flags for the day. It is a undertaking. And the more you do your homework, plan, and prepare, generally the better the trip will be. Be spontaneous once you’re there. Prepare like you are invading another country before hand (because you are).
What precisely does that entail? First of all, learn your Disney Speak. Go to http://www.DisneyWorld.com or http://www.Disneyland.com and order the vacation DVD. Figure out what parks there are, how the tickets work, and what options are available from Disney. Use websites like All Ears Net to understand what you and your companions want to do and how much Disney will charge you to do it. Look at the options and decide your priorities: How important is having a hotel close to the parks? Do you plan to visit more than one park per day? Do you want to see anything that isn’t on Disney property? What types of places do you want to eat? What are your must-see, must-do items?
Why is this so important? Because you need to know where your money needs to be spent. For example, if eating at a sit down restaurant every day is important to you, start looking for deals that include the dining plan or look to stay off property. Also, Disney passes are like a buffet–you should only get what you really need to avoid wasting food (or in this case money) on things you don’t really want.
- Once you know the basics, comparison shop. One of the best things you can do is sign up for the Mousesavers newsletter. They will send you updates on specials for everything from tickets to hotels to stuff around the parks. They also provide you with comparisons of different deals. Sometimes there will be great ticket deals through Under Cover Tourist; sometimes they are just the same as Disney. This is where doing your homework pays off because you know what the actual cost is and if the deal is worth it.
- Figure out what it’s worth to you. This is probably the one people least like to hear. Part of the reason we can afford to go to Disney so often? Because we plan for it and don’t spend money in other areas. Our cars are 10+ years old and we plan on driving them until they are beyond repair. We don’t indulge in the latest technology. We have a decent sized TV that was purchased in the early 90s. Until it dies, we see no need to replace it. We don’t care about surround sound, HD, 3D, or the a new car every three years. My husband has an iPhone because we get a discount from his company. The result is that we have a fab family vacation once a year (with mini breaks) because that is a priority for us. Next year, we’re headed to Scotland, so we’ll skip the Disney trip. But again, we can afford it because we are already saving and planning ahead.
Over the coming weeks I will posting more travel tips, stories, and tidbits. Stay tuned.