Author Topic: DisneyWorld on a Dime?  (Read 8248 times)

tomatops

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DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« on: January 18, 2016, 01:25:25 PM »
Hey all,

So I'm a Canadian heading to good old DisneyWorld at the end of February - the most non-peak time of the year apparently.

Staying at an All-Star Disney resort, and with the fall of the Canadian dollar, I'm looking to limit the amount I spend at the park food-wise. Any advice? Where's the cheapest spot to grab a bite in each park? Or do you recommend calling a cab and going to a grocery store?

Blazin

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2016, 01:32:04 PM »
Most of the prices within the park are the same for a given class of restaurants.   I would look into having groceries delivered to the hotel and bring food into the park with you.   We carried in empty water bottles and then filled with water once in the park.

daymare

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2016, 02:02:10 PM »
Have a great trip!

Here's some info that might be useful, as far as buying food from the park restaurants/vendors: http://www.themouseforless.com/walt-disney-world/dining/money-saving-tips/budget-dining-tips/

My husband and I visited Orlando about a month ago, and spent 2 days at the park (didn't stay on the premises, obviously).  We brought chips, goldfish, granola bars, and sandwiches into the park with us.  (We got a bunch of deli meats/bread & snacks from a nearby Target.)  Doing that will definitely save you money!

The other option is to recognize that you/your kids (if you have any) will probably get tired at some point from all the walking/standing in lines/etc you're doing, so perhaps you can just bring snacks and not worry about packing meals, and just eat back at the resort. (No idea what kind of amenities are offered, ie whether you get a fridge.)  If you come to the park early in the morning, you get much shorter lines, and so might be ready for a break and food/nap at the resort by lunch-time.  And then you can still come back and see & do more in the afternoon & evening (plus see the fireworks shows).  Depending on where your resort is, the transportation to-and-from might be fairly painless.

I have to tell you, it's absolutely amazing/appalling how well Disney sets up the experience to get people to buy, buy, buy.  Every cute building is a shop (literally!), every ride has a gift shop you exit into, basically lots of 'experiences' involve spending a ton of money.

Oh and keep your eye out for people with clipboards asking folks to participate in a survey about booking methods/fast pass something.  My husband (being the one who booked our tickets/fast pass stuff) participated in this survey - it took less than 30 minutes, and we got a $50 giftcard, that we put towards our dinner that night.  Totally worth it!  We ran into a clipboard person in the future land area of Epcot, but I'm sure they're all over.

Apparently it's not smart to book your Disney dining just a few days before getting there - we tried that and found most stuff was booked.  We ended up doing the Bier Garden at Epcot for dinner one night - it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, and we both got liters of beer - the food was great and the price not too ridiculous.  There are a lot of buffet options, if that appeals to you.  And apparently most of the places have great food.

Khaetra

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2016, 02:04:12 PM »
First off, I would head over to allears.net and check out the menus.  Not so much for food offerings, but for sticker shock.  Food at the World is quite expensive, even a hot dog will run you close to $9 USD!

Being a local and having gone numerous times over the years, I would suggest to save money that you grab a cab to the grocery store and pick up breakfast, snacks, sandwich fixings and bottled water.  Eating breakfast in the room and carrying snacks and water will save you quite a bit.  Lunch is always cheaper than dinner and depending on how much time you have to spend on vacation leaving to go eat might not be a good idea, especially since they do tend to close earlier in Feb.


tomatops

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2016, 02:20:06 PM »
Have a great trip!

Here's some info that might be useful, as far as buying food from the park restaurants/vendors: http://www.themouseforless.com/walt-disney-world/dining/money-saving-tips/budget-dining-tips/

My husband and I visited Orlando about a month ago, and spent 2 days at the park (didn't stay on the premises, obviously).  We brought chips, goldfish, granola bars, and sandwiches into the park with us.  (We got a bunch of deli meats/bread & snacks from a nearby Target.)  Doing that will definitely save you money!

The other option is to recognize that you/your kids (if you have any) will probably get tired at some point from all the walking/standing in lines/etc you're doing, so perhaps you can just bring snacks and not worry about packing meals, and just eat back at the resort. (No idea what kind of amenities are offered, ie whether you get a fridge.)  If you come to the park early in the morning, you get much shorter lines, and so might be ready for a break and food/nap at the resort by lunch-time.  And then you can still come back and see & do more in the afternoon & evening (plus see the fireworks shows).  Depending on where your resort is, the transportation to-and-from might be fairly painless.

I have to tell you, it's absolutely amazing/appalling how well Disney sets up the experience to get people to buy, buy, buy.  Every cute building is a shop (literally!), every ride has a gift shop you exit into, basically lots of 'experiences' involve spending a ton of money.

Oh and keep your eye out for people with clipboards asking folks to participate in a survey about booking methods/fast pass something.  My husband (being the one who booked our tickets/fast pass stuff) participated in this survey - it took less than 30 minutes, and we got a $50 giftcard, that we put towards our dinner that night.  Totally worth it!  We ran into a clipboard person in the future land area of Epcot, but I'm sure they're all over.

Apparently it's not smart to book your Disney dining just a few days before getting there - we tried that and found most stuff was booked.  We ended up doing the Bier Garden at Epcot for dinner one night - it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, and we both got liters of beer - the food was great and the price not too ridiculous.  There are a lot of buffet options, if that appeals to you.  And apparently most of the places have great food.

This is great advice! I'm taking my parents, so yes, I imagine nap time will be in order. Not a bad idea to nap during the peak hours and come back in the evening - we're there for 7 days, so plenty of time to hit everything I imagine. Apparently, the food court at the All-star resort is the cheapest in the park, so I suppose knowing that is more tolerable.

And good call on the survey. $50 USD Disney gift card is a lot! I'll definitely hunt them out... maybe get my parents to also both do one with different people and get $150! =)

StarBright

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2016, 02:25:22 PM »
There are several grocery delivery services that deliver to most of the property resorts (just double check with them that they deliver to All-Star)  - these will probably be cheaper than a cab. I think the one we used was called Garden Grocer dot com. Food really is the budget buster at WDW.

Another food suggestion is to venture off property if you can.  There is a small shopping complex right just across the road from official park property near the Marketplace (I think it is called "Crossroads"). Lots of chain restaurants there and lots of happy hour food deals. My parents always eat at the Chevy's and do apps for dinner. It is their frugal happy secret :)

Have fun at the world!


jeromedawg

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2016, 02:29:47 PM »
Hey all,

So I'm a Canadian heading to good old DisneyWorld at the end of February - the most non-peak time of the year apparently.

Staying at an All-Star Disney resort, and with the fall of the Canadian dollar, I'm looking to limit the amount I spend at the park food-wise. Any advice? Where's the cheapest spot to grab a bite in each park? Or do you recommend calling a cab and going to a grocery store?

Here are more ideas:
http://wdwprepschool.com/8-ways-to-get-groceries-for-your-disney-world-trip/

https://disneyparksmomspanel.disney.go.com/questions.aspx?pgm=2&pid=80&cid=82&qid=181427

http://roadnow.com/us/fl/i_service.php?la=28.34481&ln=-81.57592&r=3&n=Disney%27s+All-Star+Sports+Resort&service=Grocery+Store

BTW: it doesn't sound like you're planning to rent a car?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2016, 02:35:31 PM by jplee3 »

pbkmaine

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2016, 02:55:04 PM »
I live not far from Disney World and have the annual pass for Florida residents. Above tips are good. Recommend the Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld. It should be at your library; if not, it's worth buying. Use FastPass to get reservations for rides. Something that's fun for the kids - buy a bunch of Disney Trading Pins on Ebay (they should be about 50 cents each). Put them on a lanyard, and the kids will be able to trade with any of the employees (also known as cast members). We did that for my oldest granddaughter, who is 7. I thought I was going to need to teach her what to do, but after one sentence of explanation, she started trading. It was fun to watch, and she loved it. She got some beautiful pins that would have run her poor parents $8 each if they'd bought them in the park. I never eat at the park if I can help it. Instead, I bring a peanut butter sandwich and an apple and use the drinking fountains. My stepdaughter used a grocery delivery service to have food delivered to their hotel room, and that worked great for them.

Villanelle

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2016, 03:01:52 PM »
If you are set on buying food at the Park look at gift card resellers like Card cash, and buy discounted cards.  Just make sure you check to see whether the card you get is good for park expenses. There are different cards (stores vs parks, I believe), and I'm not sure which one (if any) applies to park restaurants, but if one of them does, that should save you at least a few percent.

I'm only familiar with Disneyland, not World, but at DL there are lockers near the entrance.  Renting one and keeping your packed lunches and dinners in to can help.  Also, any place that sells fountain drinks should give you free water.

crispy

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2016, 05:27:04 PM »
I love Disney World! Here are some ideas that might help:

1) Don't buy water. Any counter service restaurant or kiosk will give you a free cup of ice water.
 
2) Share meals -Most of the servings are huge and can be shared easily.

3) Don't buy breakfast - We usually bring fresh fruit, granola bars, cereals, etc., with us for a quick breakfast. You can buy milk at the resort.

4) Eat kid's meals at counter service locations. I find that a kid's meal usually includes an entree,fries, grapes and a drink which is plenty of food.

5) Carry some high protein snacks with you. You will walk a lot so carrying nuts, beef sticks,  and protein bars are good pick-me-ups.

6) Don't order a meal. You can get items a la carte at counter service locations, but they don't advertise that fact.

7) Here are a list of bargain meals throughout the World:
 - Resort pizza - you can get a large pizza at any of the resorts for around $15. Not the best pizza, but okay and good for a quick meal.
- Take out at Fort Wilderness - We like to head over and go to the take out window at Trail's End and get a bucket of chicken, biscuits, and two sides for $24. We visit the petting zoo and go to chip n' Dale's sing along.
- Yak and Yeti takeout at Animal Kingdom - Huge portion of chicken fried rice for $4
- Boulanger Patisserie at France in Epcot - lots of savory pastries and soups for under $5....really tasty, too.
- Liberty Square Market at Magic Kingdom - Delicious roasted corn and baked potatoes for under $4
- Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney/Disney Springs - great sandwiches, fairly low prices.


8) if you are doing table service, try to eat at lunch. It is usually (but not always) cheaper.

9) Focus on snacks instead of meals. There are lots of great snacks so indulge in those instead of large meals - Dole Whips, Mickey bars,  seasonal cupcakes, etc. Starring Rolls has amazing cupcakes, Karamel Kuche has amazing caramels, etc.

MsPeacock

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2016, 06:04:56 PM »
I love All Star Sports. There is a big football field. Bring a ball with you if your kids want to play, because otherwise you will be stuck buying an overpriced mini  one at the gift shop. The field can be a bit loud at night, but we always get a room on the field because my kids love it.

There is a mini fridge in the room. I would suggest a grocery delivery or short cab ride to get supplies. Breakfast at the restaurant in the resort will run you about $10 per adult, maybe $7 per kid. I found it better to get some muffins, juice, etc and have it in the room. Same with snacks in the park. You are allowed to bring food in, so just toss it in the backpack. As a PP noted, they will refill your water bottle anywhere they have water (some snack kiosks only have bottled drinks, not running water). There is also a MCDonalds right outside the All Star Sports, but a bit of a walk.

In the parks there are table service restaurants requiring reservations and expensive. There are also quick service places with meals in the $10-15 range for adults and about $7 per kid. The food is good, often basically the same, as the table service restaurants. Agree with PP that snacks are the way to go. There are some amazing cupcakes, I think in Hollywood Studios, that are maybe $4-5 and are huge and just gorgeous and decadent.

Disboards is a good online forum for figuring out all things Disney.

I give the kids an allotment for souvenirs, generally around $20 for the whole trip.

Not sure how old your kids are, but if either of them wants to do the Jedi experience at Hollywood Studios, get there early and get signed up right away.

I actually like it in the parks because I don't feel nickeled and dimed over every last thing. Food is more expensive at other parks, and the quality is better at Disney. The rides, shows, activities, etc are included and there aren't midway games and such.

Get your fast pass rides reserved as early as possible! Particularly the A category rides, like Soaring. Look at the map and lay out your day and ride times as efficiently as possible. The default times they offer may not be the best for your schedule, sending you for one end of the park to another each hour.

StarBright

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2016, 07:15:47 AM »
pbkmaine - the trading pins from Ebay is a spectacular idea! My oldest will be five and a half the next time we go and this sounds perfect! Thanks.

I'm a red panda

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2016, 07:40:28 AM »
I know some people have used amazon or other grocery delivery services to have food there when they arrive. I remember cabs in Orlando being very pricey, so that might be a good way to get food.

Disney lets you bring food into the parks, so if you pack a lunch or snacks you don't even have to try to hide it :)

If you buy pins from Ebay- make sure you get real ones. It sucks to go and trade and find out that the cast member only has fakes because that's what people traded to them.

I highly recommend checking out disboards.com 
Although their budget board often has a different idea of what a budget is, there are some tips- but the theme parks board and the restaurant board are  very helpful.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 07:42:00 AM by iowajes »

rubybeth

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2016, 07:49:37 AM »
A lot of the tips here are great. I just wanted to add a few memories from the two times I've been to DisneyWorld (once when I was 5, again at age 15). My mom had the insider guide both times, which helped avoid some lines for the most popular rides. She also brought in a lot of snacks in her bag (a big mom-style tote bag or backpack would be good for this), things we didn't normally get at home (Fruit roll-ups, granola bars with chocolate, packets of peanut M&Ms, etc.), and as kids, we also got a daily "budget" of spending money. My sister would use her budget to buy ice cream or whatever other treat she wanted, but I was allowed to save my daily budget and buy larger items (a stuffed animal, a t-shirt). It worked really well, and I have really fond memories of being able to decide. I can't recall what we did for lunch (I'm now in my 30s) but I'm guessing we brought sandwiches/crackers/fruit, or picked the lowest cost restaurants and shared meals, when possible--my parents still do this when traveling.

We also left the park and went back to the hotel for naps or pool time in the mid-day, just to avoid some of the chaos and also have a breather. It was a really great way of breaking up the day and avoiding whining from tired kids.

I really don't remember feeling deprived in any way on these trips, since going to Disney was a big deal and quite a luxury.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2016, 07:59:43 AM »
The tips so far have been great.  Here are a few more general tips for increasing your enjoyment:

--Use RideMax (third party program/web site) to plan your day.  You pay a one-time fee ($15 IIRC) and you can plan your whole stay.  They have tons of data about when certain rides have shorter wait times, and it'll generate an optimized schedule to minimize the time you spend waiting in line.
--Get to the park at least 30 minutes before the scheduled opening time every day.  The first couple hours always have lighter crowds.
--If you can, schedule your fast passes, longer attractions (like shows), and low-demand rides for the afternoon.  This is when the parks are the most full (and the temperatures highest)
--If the park stays open after the fireworks, that's another great time to hit a bunch of attractions.  Lots of people leave immediately after the fireworks.
--You don't need water bottles--crispy is right.  Just walk up to any place that serves soft drinks, and ask for a cup of ice water, and you'll get it for free.
--Sometimes, Disney offer "free dining" if you stay at one of their resorts.  I've heard they've not been doing it as often lately, but you might want to look into it.

MandalayVA

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2016, 09:13:27 AM »
Since I have family in Florida I've done Mouse Hole East Disney World a load of times.  It's good that the All Star resorts are now providing fridges free of charge--it used to be $10/day.  The tips below are good, but I suggest that you do one meal at a Disney restaurant just because it can be so much fun.  Disney Food Blog is a great resource for information and menus.  Two of my favorites are Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (African-themed buffet for the win) and 50s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios, which is like stepping into a fifties sitcom.  Enjoy your trip!

jeromedawg

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2016, 09:46:51 AM »
I didn't see this mentioned but perhaps it is implied. I'm assuming you're fine with bringing packaged snacks with you, yes? If that's the case, then I'd strongly consider packing plenty of  packaged snacks in your luggage... as others have mentioned: granola bars, trail-mix, trail-mix bars, chips, cookies, Goldfish, Cheezits, fruit rollups, tortillas, bread, etc (mostly stuff that won't melt and doesn't need refrigeration unless you can help it). Granola bars and fruit rollups would take up very little space even in checked luggage and likely wouldn't have issues with melting (well, avoid chocolate of course). Chips and cookies might require more delicate handling to avoid crushing but either way try to get stuff into your carry-ons if that's the case. Even apples,  oranges, grapefruit and any fruit that doesn't require refrigeration and that doesn't easily bruise (e.g. bananas) would be good. This way you could potentially avoid a trip to the grocery store completely (unless there's something you specifically needed). This especially isn't a huge deal if you're going to be there for just a few days.

MsPeacock

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2016, 10:12:44 AM »
Oh and don't forget the fireworks!. They aren't on every night at every park, so plan accordingly unless you have park hopper tickets! They are all amazing. I can't choose a favorite.

+1 to the planned downtime during the middle of the day. The parks are exhausting!

jeromedawg

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2016, 10:52:08 AM »
Here are more great sites we referenced for help with planning:

http://www.easywdw.com/easy/
http://www.wdwinfo.com/
http://www.wdwinfo.com/resortmaps/


I'm a red panda

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2016, 11:04:02 AM »

I really don't remember feeling deprived in any way on these trips, since going to Disney was a big deal and quite a luxury.

This is such a big thing to remember. It seems so many people feel like they have to do everything: have to eat in the castle, have to go to the bibbidi bobbiti boutique, have to go on a pirates and pals cruise- and it adds up fast.  But just going to disney is awesome. Unless you go there so often it isn't special, you really don't need to add all the extras.

jeromedawg

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2016, 11:11:45 AM »

I really don't remember feeling deprived in any way on these trips, since going to Disney was a big deal and quite a luxury.

This is such a big thing to remember. It seems so many people feel like they have to do everything: have to eat in the castle, have to go to the bibbidi bobbiti boutique, have to go on a pirates and pals cruise- and it adds up fast.  But just going to disney is awesome. Unless you go there so often it isn't special, you really don't need to add all the extras.

LOL yea it's quite an experience... except, you just *have* to get the blue cheese mac n cheese (Friar's Nook) and chicken waffle sandwich (Sleepy Hollow) hahahaha j/k (half-jokingly of course). Those were certainly guilty pleasures for us :) I think the mac n cheese is around $10 (not sure if they still have it) and the chicken sandwich was around $7-8

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2016, 11:15:55 AM »
+1 for easywdw.com.   Josh's crowd calendars are terrific, and help you avoid the line ups.  His cheat sheets for planning your days at the park are also super for first timers.  If you follow his advice, you will have a great trip, and not one where you stood in line and did 3 rides in an entire day.

Sharing meals is a great way to save.   Some of the portions are huge!  Although slightly more expensive, you can buy milk, bread, etc. at the store attached to the food court.   We always bought breakfast items - it saves time in the mornings, plus is way cheaper than buying breakfast at a restaurant or kiosk every day.   Iced water from the quick service is great - the water is filtered, so you don't get the swamp taste that is the normal Orlando water.   You can also bring flavor packets (lemonade, etc.), and just add those if you want something other than plain water.

You can get free cards at the fire station in the Magic Kingdom for the Sorcerors game.  They make great keepsakes.  Also, boat captains sometimes have special cards to give out to children, also free.   Sign up for My Disney Experience, and definitely book some Fast Passes each day.

tomatops

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2016, 11:29:07 AM »

I really don't remember feeling deprived in any way on these trips, since going to Disney was a big deal and quite a luxury.

This is such a big thing to remember. It seems so many people feel like they have to do everything: have to eat in the castle, have to go to the bibbidi bobbiti boutique, have to go on a pirates and pals cruise- and it adds up fast.  But just going to disney is awesome. Unless you go there so often it isn't special, you really don't need to add all the extras.

Great advice. As a traveller, I really limit souvenirs. What I will do to compensate usually is buy some exclusive postcards at some of the sites I go to and keep them in a shoebox. They usually don't run more than $1 wherever I go and they're a nice thing to look back on every few years.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2016, 12:10:20 PM »
This is such a big thing to remember. It seems so many people feel like they have to do everything: have to eat in the castle, have to go to the bibbidi bobbiti boutique, have to go on a pirates and pals cruise- and it adds up fast.  But just going to disney is awesome. Unless you go there so often it isn't special, you really don't need to add all the extras.
Agreed.  DW and I spent 6 days in the parks back in November (this time without the kids!) and there was plenty to keep us entertained without spending extra for special events or experiences.  Besides the usual rides, shows, and other attractions, there are lots of short, transient things to see, like the Main Street Philharmonic in Magic Kingdom or the Jamitors in EPCOT.

LOL yea it's quite an experience... except, you just *have* to get the blue cheese mac n cheese (Friar's Nook) and chicken waffle sandwich (Sleepy Hollow) hahahaha j/k (half-jokingly of course). Those were certainly guilty pleasures for us :) I think the mac n cheese is around $10 (not sure if they still have it) and the chicken sandwich was around $7-8
DW and I tried the Mac 'n' Cheese when we went.  It was pretty good, although not as good as DW's homemade stuff. :) I got the pot roast mac 'n' cheese, and it was yummy.

mandy_2002

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2016, 01:17:32 PM »
If you are set on buying food at the Park look at gift card resellers like Card cash, and buy discounted cards.  Just make sure you check to see whether the card you get is good for park expenses. There are different cards (stores vs parks, I believe), and I'm not sure which one (if any) applies to park restaurants, but if one of them does, that should save you at least a few percent.


The Disney gift cards at Target are good for the parks and resorts  (food, room payment, anything else you need). If you have a Target credit or debit card, you can get these for 5% off (at least as of a couple months ago, this is a bit of a glitch in their system, since gift cards aren't supposed to be included).

I'm a red panda

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2016, 01:29:25 PM »
If you are set on buying food at the Park look at gift card resellers like Card cash, and buy discounted cards.  Just make sure you check to see whether the card you get is good for park expenses. There are different cards (stores vs parks, I believe), and I'm not sure which one (if any) applies to park restaurants, but if one of them does, that should save you at least a few percent.


The Disney gift cards at Target are good for the parks and resorts  (food, room payment, anything else you need). If you have a Target credit or debit card, you can get these for 5% off (at least as of a couple months ago, this is a bit of a glitch in their system, since gift cards aren't supposed to be included).

Even better if you use swagbucks to get the Target giftcards.

merula

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2016, 01:54:44 PM »
Lots of great ideas here, just thought I'd throw in a few more:

Buy your park tickets at undercovertourist.com. The savings are great, and you don't have to wait in line. Now with the magicbands you just get a code and add the ticket to your band. (You should get a reminder about ordering your bands since you're staying on premises. The "basic" ones are free, but they try to sell you character-branded ones at the parks. My sister used stickers and glitter nail polish to customize hers. It looked awesome.)

I also don't usually buy tickets for every day I'm at the hotel. I'll take a day or two to hang out at the pool, take advantage of the hotel amenities (or a different hotel's amenities! you can usually use any pool or guest services at any on-premises hotel), go to Downtown Disney (it's called something different now but I can't remember the new name), ride the monorail, ride the ferries, etc.

If your kids are little and likely to want souvenirs without being able to manage a budget as described above, I'd suggest buying some toys on the cheap at home (my goodwill always has souvenir-type stuff) and bringing them with you. If the kids are young enough, they'll never know their gift didn't come from the park.

If your kids are older, an activity that isn't browsing the shops can be fun. My family does a bingo game every day, where you win by seeing the things on your board (family in matching t-shirts, meet a character, Hidden Mickey, etc.). We play as adults and it's a lot of fun.

Another thing for older kids is to do the new scavenger hunts offered in the parks. I know they're at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, not sure about anywhere else. Or search for hidden Mickeys (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Mickey).

There are a whole bunch of Disney giftcards up on Gift Card Granny for 8% off the face value, and those cards can be used for anything in the parks or to pay for hotels.

Hope this helps! Good luck with your trip and here's hoping the exchange rate improves for you. (Unless you're involved in Canada's manufacturing or tourist sectors, in which case, yay low exchange rate.)

I'm a red panda

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #27 on: January 19, 2016, 01:59:21 PM »
(or a different hotel's amenities! you can usually use any pool or guest services at any on-premises hotel),
Just a note- this used to be true (quite awhile ago, really) but isn't anymore.  You can't pool hop, and many pools are now gated to where you must scan your magic band (others you have to flash it to an attendant, others are honor system.)

Disney Vacation Club guests can pool hop, but there are a few resorts even they can't do that at and there are blackout dates.

Pigeon

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #28 on: January 19, 2016, 02:11:05 PM »
I've got to say it, "Disneyworld on a Dime" is not going to happen.  There are a few ways to manage some of the cost, but it's going to be pricey any way you look at it.  I happen to love it (probably more than my kids liked it) and would go every year if it wasn't so expensive.  You sort of have to figure you're going to hang up your mustache and go with the flow for the duration.

The Unofficial Guide is awesome, and so helpful about getting the most out of the trip.  It is a vacation where planning does make a huge difference.

The food is way overpriced, and eating in your room and bringing stuff when you can is good advice.  The Value resorts are fine.  We spend almost no time in the room, so it doesn't matter that the rooms are tiny.  You do save more by staying offsite, but part of the joy for us is not having to get a car or drive anywhere. 

We told our kids up front that we weren't buying junk and we weren't doing all those pricey extras.  I hate souvenirs anyway--just more clutter I can't wait to get rid of once I'm home.  There is so much to do that's included in your ticket that you never see it all.  There are little unanticipated things that are so much fun. 

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #29 on: January 19, 2016, 02:14:04 PM »
Lots of great ideas here, just thought I'd throw in a few more:

Buy your park tickets at undercovertourist.com. The savings are great, and you don't have to wait in line. Now with the magicbands you just get a code and add the ticket to your band. (You should get a reminder about ordering your bands since you're staying on premises. The "basic" ones are free, but they try to sell you character-branded ones at the parks. My sister used stickers and glitter nail polish to customize hers. It looked awesome.)

...

If your kids are older, an activity that isn't browsing the shops can be fun. My family does a bingo game every day, where you win by seeing the things on your board (family in matching t-shirts, meet a character, Hidden Mickey, etc.). We play as adults and it's a lot of fun.
I can confirm that undercovertourist.com is legit.

Also fun for the older kids is the Sorcerors of the Magic Kingdom game.

Dicey

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2016, 04:31:34 PM »
I am a huge fan of The Frugal Girl. Kristen took her family of six in 2014, but first solicited her reader's advice. Check out the comments on the first post and then read the after post and comments for more tips from great frugal minds. Please note that it's unusual for both of these posts to have giveaways, as she doesn't do an excessive amount of them.

http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/we-are-going-somewhere-expensive-yup/

http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2014/06/the-frugal-girls-disney-thoughts/

Hope you glean some useful tips and have a great trip!

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2016, 04:41:10 PM »
+1 to going home to rest mid-day and eat a meal of grocery store food. We didn't even stay on the property when we visited yeeeears ago (when I was a kid) and this was a key component of our strategy. We were there in the summer, so it was hot then, too, but I guess you won't have that problem so much :-).

jeromedawg

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #32 on: January 19, 2016, 04:52:53 PM »
+1 to going home to rest mid-day and eat a meal of grocery store food. We didn't even stay on the property when we visited yeeeears ago (when I was a kid) and this was a key component of our strategy. We were there in the summer, so it was hot then, too, but I guess you won't have that problem so much :-).

My wife and I were on an aggressive 2-day schedule where we hit up all four parks in that time (and this was during President's Day wknd!!!). It was madness... but we made sure to get an early start and really maximized our time in the mornings, taking advantage of the extra magic hour at whatever parks we were able to (we stayed at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista). We speed-walked all over the place LOL. Definitely got a good workout from it. And I think we were satisfied with our schedule and plan - we mapped everything out and pretty much got to ride on almost all the rides we wanted to get on. I think we used easywdw to come up with a plan of action and strategized on Fastpass usage. We looked at various sites out there that have historical and real-time data that shows how busy the park(s) were on certain days of the month as well as times of day, and worked around that. Despite how hectic it sounds (and was), it was actually quite a lot of fun :) Oh, I think we used undercovertourist.com and touringplans.com as well to compare and look at the expected wait/busy times.  If you have a good plan lined up, you'll really be able to maximize your day.

There are several Android and iOS apps out there that give "real-time" updates of crowds and wait-times for rides. Just Google or do a search in the app store for "Disney wait times" or "Disney lines" and I'm sure you'll find them.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 05:04:06 PM by jplee3 »

lhamo

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2016, 04:57:16 PM »
mousesavers.com also has some really useful information on saving money and maximizing things like the fast pass system.

crispy

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #34 on: January 19, 2016, 05:07:13 PM »
Forgot to mention the Disney Youth Education classes. Disney offers classes throughout the year that kid's can take, and as a huge bonus, they offer discount tickets for the entire family. We have done this several times and it saves us at least a couple of hundred dollars on tickets. This especially good if Disney is offering room discounts at the same time because you can get both discounts.

The classes are great, too! The website is www.Disneyyouth.com. Look for individual enrollment classes.

ahoy

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2016, 12:09:36 AM »
on a dime?  too funny.

I've been to DL about 5 times and Disney World twice.  My DH and I took our two girls to DW when they were 3 and 6 yrs.  Last time we were there was 2013 and they were then 7 and 10 yrs.   We have only ever bought one day tickets (madness I know) because its a very high cost.  However, we just can't justify spending an entire week there.  So, its just the Magic Kingdom one day and Typhoon Lagoon the next day for us.  Both times we have stayed in Kissimee paying something like $45 / night.  We take our own food in and buy a couple of snacks while there.  There's a fast food style restaurant in tomorrowland which is not to bad considering.

I'm sure you''ll have a load of fun.  The outside world just doesn't exist when you in the Mouse's house.

LouLou

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2016, 05:02:51 PM »
+1 to going home to rest mid-day and eat a meal of grocery store food. We didn't even stay on the property when we visited yeeeears ago (when I was a kid) and this was a key component of our strategy. We were there in the summer, so it was hot then, too, but I guess you won't have that problem so much :-).

I had a very inexpensive Disney/Universal trip, but it was so cheap because we rented a condo, and ate grocery food all week except for a single meal.  We even packed our lunches in a giant cooler and left it in the rental car.

eliza

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2016, 07:47:30 PM »
Amazing advice from the thread thus far.  But, as a crazy Disney-phile I needed to add my 10 cents.  I went a few times as a kid, but have really started going to Disney much more as an adult (since family moved nearby).   I've done it on a dime, on a moderate budget, and on a who cares what I spend budget (pre-MMM obvi).  So, here's my personal take.

Bare Bones Budget
  • Carry a Refillable Water Bottle and Fill up at Fountains or at any Counter Service Restaurant (they will give you free water).  The fountain water has a taste to it -- if you are sensitive, consider carrying powdered drink mix to add to mask the flavor.
  • Bring prepacked food with you in your luggage for snacks and light meals (breakfast?).  Granola bars, prepacked nuts, peanut butter, a loaf of bread.  There will be a microwave in the food court that you can use if you want to go one step further and bring packets of oatmeal, ramen cups, etc.
  • Stay away from table service restaurants in favor of quick service restaurants and snack huts (some of my favorite Disney foods are snack-y items anyway)
  • Buy lanyards from the dollar store and bulk pins from ebay.  Kids and many adults love pin trading and they are quite expensive to buy in Disney
  • Skip the alcohol.  Drinks are very expensive.  (I've never gone quite this far, but depends on what your habits are)
  • Depending on your kid's ages, you might want to consider finding and buying some small Disney treats at home and giving them to them once they are there to preempt some of the souvenir envy.  You can often find Disney items in stores at home (Target, Walmart, etc) for half or less than what similar items would cost in the parks.
  • If you haven't bought park tickets yet, go with the cheapest option.  No park hoppers, no waterparks and more.  I'm personally a park hopper, but think that for a big Disney vacation for a family non-hoppers would be sufficient
  • I'd even consider five day tickets to be ideal for a seven day stay.  For a family with young children, I'd do two days at Magic Kingdom, and one day each at EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.   But let your interests be your guide --- there is no right answer just whatever suits your family best.  On my off days, I would hang out at my hotel, explore Downtown Disney, the Boardwalk area, and even check out other Disney hotels (the themeing in some is spectacular).
  • If your children are going to want to get autographs from characters - buy or make an autograph book before you go and buy think pen (not a standard writing pen as they are hard for many characters in costume to use).  Once again something that kids love that is ridiculously overpriced to buy in Disney

Moderate Splurges to Consider
  • Character Dining - The cheapest character dining (that I know of) is Saturday and Sunday brunch at Garden Grove at the Swan/Dolphin.   The buffet is around $29 per adult for a nice selection.  Or I believe that you can order off the menu for much cheaper.  (I have Starwood Plat status so I get free breakfast here when I stay so I'm not sure).  The characters are usually Chip and Dale and either Pluto or Goofy.   Compared to $50 - 60 per adult at Cinderella's Royal Table or Askerhaus, it's a real bargain.  But if you want Princess dining, you have to pay.
  • Table Service - I don't tend to eat a ton of Table Service meals because I don't plan in advance enough to get reservations usually.   But, I would focus on restaurants that have additional entertainment included.  Ones that come to mind are: Raglan Road (Downtown Disney) - Irish Step Dancing and Irish Music; the Biergarten Restaurant (EPCOT) - German music; Sci-Fi Dine In (Hollywood Studios) - Tables Shaped Like Cars and Movies Playing; 50's Prime Time Cafe (Hollywood Studios) - the servers are the entertainment, it's like going to your grandmothers for Sunday dinner if your grandmother was sassy about wanting you to eat all of your vegetables.
  • Lunch at Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom) - You have to get reservations for this, but lunch is much cheaper than dinner and the themeing inside the castle is AMAZING.  Make sure you check out each room.  You can even pre-order your food to speed up the lag time in your visit
  • Alcohol - The resort stores or food court (depending on resort) sell six packs of beer and bottles of wine.  This isn't grocery store prices, but much cheaper than by the drink.   I believe it's around $15 for a six pack of bud/bud light and around $25-30 for a bottle of white, red, or sparkling.
  • There is also a Hess Gas station that you can walk to from the Swan/Dolphin or Boardwalk area that sells some food and alcohol options that are cheaper than the resort stores, but more expensive than regular grocery stores.
  • Eating and Drinking Around the World - Spend an afternoon and evening sharing small plates/snacks from the various vendors around World Showcase in EPCOT.  And, for the adults, sampling the drink offerings.  It can add up but is quite a fun experience.

Bigger Splurges if You are Feeling Spendy (That I Think Might Be Worth It)
  • Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue - A dinner theater show that runs $65-70/adult and $34-40/Disney kid.  Super pricey.  But super super fun.  Includes live show, all you can eat American Pioneer themed meal, and all you can drink soda, beer, and wine.  One of my favorite memories of Disney as a child was seeing this show and I loved it even more when I did it as an adult.  Plus it's at Fort Wilderness Resort which is beautifully themed and fun to explore.
  • One pricey table service meal - something unique and interesting.  I'm personally a fan of Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge for African food, Narcoosees (Grand Floridian) for steaks and a view of the electric light parade, or California Grill (Contemporary) for innovative fare and a view of the MK fireworks.
  • Depending on what type of ticket you have chosen to purchase, consider upgrading one of the adults to an annual pass (you can do this at the gate by paying the difference between the cost of your ticket and the pass).  This might be worth it if you value the benefits which include: Photopass photos - get downloads of all professional photos taken by the roving photographers and ride photos, 10% discount on merchandise, and the ability to buy a Tables in Wonderland card ($150 gives 20% off food and alcohol at many sit down restaurants and the food courts at value resorts, good for up to eight people your party on the same check --- the break even point on this is $750 on food spending.  So only worth it if you are intending to do some pricey dining...definitely don't buy this unless you know your group will be spending more than that at eligible establishments, but if you end up planning Hoop Dee Doo (late show only) and a pricey table service dining experience for six you could easily be above this point.  Use the menus at AllEars to estimate what you think you will spend once you decide where you intend to eat.

If you have any more details on what kind of experience you are looking for, I would be happy to point you towards my favorite Disney experiences. 

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DisneyWorld on a Dime?
« Reply #38 on: January 20, 2016, 08:38:45 PM »
Amazing advice from the thread thus far.  But, as a crazy Disney-phile I needed to add my 10 cents.  I went a few times as a kid, but have really started going to Disney much more as an adult (since family moved nearby).   I've done it on a dime, on a moderate budget, and on a who cares what I spend budget (pre-MMM obvi).  So, here's my personal take.

Bare Bones Budget
  • Carry a Refillable Water Bottle and Fill up at Fountains or at any Counter Service Restaurant (they will give you free water).  The fountain water has a taste to it -- if you are sensitive, consider carrying powdered drink mix to add to mask the flavor.
  • Bring prepacked food with you in your luggage for snacks and light meals (breakfast?).  Granola bars, prepacked nuts, peanut butter, a loaf of bread.  There will be a microwave in the food court that you can use if you want to go one step further and bring packets of oatmeal, ramen cups, etc.
  • Stay away from table service restaurants in favor of quick service restaurants and snack huts (some of my favorite Disney foods are snack-y items anyway)
  • Buy lanyards from the dollar store and bulk pins from ebay.  Kids and many adults love pin trading and they are quite expensive to buy in Disney
  • Skip the alcohol.  Drinks are very expensive.  (I've never gone quite this far, but depends on what your habits are)
  • Depending on your kid's ages, you might want to consider finding and buying some small Disney treats at home and giving them to them once they are there to preempt some of the souvenir envy.  You can often find Disney items in stores at home (Target, Walmart, etc) for half or less than what similar items would cost in the parks.
  • If you haven't bought park tickets yet, go with the cheapest option.  No park hoppers, no waterparks and more.  I'm personally a park hopper, but think that for a big Disney vacation for a family non-hoppers would be sufficient
  • I'd even consider five day tickets to be ideal for a seven day stay.  For a family with young children, I'd do two days at Magic Kingdom, and one day each at EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.   But let your interests be your guide --- there is no right answer just whatever suits your family best.  On my off days, I would hang out at my hotel, explore Downtown Disney, the Boardwalk area, and even check out other Disney hotels (the themeing in some is spectacular).
  • If your children are going to want to get autographs from characters - buy or make an autograph book before you go and buy think pen (not a standard writing pen as they are hard for many characters in costume to use).  Once again something that kids love that is ridiculously overpriced to buy in Disney

^^^ All very wise advice.  Another thing worth pointing out is that the more days you go to the parks, the cheaper the tickets get.  Day 5 is a LOT cheaper than day 1.  Agreed on the park hoppers and waterparks--the parks are big enough to occupy full days by themselves, and waterparks are not unique to Disney.