Planning for a Disney Trip! (or any vacation) Visit This New Blog By M.Rivera

Planning for a Disney Trip (or any vacation)

saving and spending
saving and spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)


We took our very first Disney trip in November of 2012 and absolutely LOVED it!  We were completely unprepared for everything there and were definitely exhausted after it all, but have decided to plan our next trip!  Our first trip was 8 days and we tried to cram all four parks into 4 days, with Sea World trips at the beginning and end of the trip, and a day at our rental home for Thanksgiving.

This time, I plan on getting 8 day park passes and adding Universal Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.  These have the really cool rides and aren’t Disney parks.  We didn’t know about these parks until after we left Florida.  Our date is set for November of 2014.  I figured 2 years would be plenty of time to save up.  We have 4 girls, along with myself and my husband…so the trip is definitely not cheap!

I planned on leaving the parks and driving to our rental home for lunch or dinner on our last trip.  That didn’t work!  We didn’t realize how much walking would be involved and how much time is used to get on a trolley and get back to our car to make it back to the house…so the little bit of spending money we had went to food in the parks…leaving us with basically nothing left for souvenirs or anything super cool.  And yet…the kids still had a blast!  BUT…  I’m determined to make our next trip soooo much better!  🙂  8 day park passes will allow us to spend 2 days at each of the 4 Disney parks and we may not need to be there from open to close…although we wouldn’t mind being at Magic Kingdom that long!

I’m new to this whole blogging thing and will add new posts on things like meals, tips/recommendations for each park, finding a place to stay, road trip tips, and anything else that pertains to vacations at Disney.  Planning for our next trip has become a project and my 12 year old daughter is an excellent planner…so she’s my sidekick through this all.  🙂

Time to start saving.  But how much will you need?  Things to consider:

  • How long will you be staying
  • Resort or Rental Home (better yet…have any relatives down there?)
  • Which parks do you want to see (and any other places to visit…there’s so many to choose from!)
  • Character dining?  (We didn’t do this on our last trip, but am planning at least two for our next trip…One will definitely be a dinner at Cinderella’s castle with the princesses. Pricey but worth the look on their faces and the memories!)
  • Meals – packing lunch?  Eating in the park?  Eating outside of the park?  Snacks…Drinks…
  • Parking fees.  If you are driving you will need to pay for parking.  Our last visit was $14 a day at each park.
  • Spending money…for souvenirs…awesome ice cream treats…etc.
  • Gas money (We drove from PA to FL, so this was a nice chunk…about $300 one way)
  • or…The costs of airfare.  (We considered this, but it would be too costly for 6 people and then would have to rent a van to get around afterwards.  If it’s one or two people and you stay at a resort, it might work best for you since Disney has free shuttle transportation between resorts and parks.)
  • Hotel money if you don’t drive straight through.  We stayed in a hotel on the way down and finished our trip the next day, but decided to drive straight home on our way back.  Definitely will NEVER drive straight through again.

Check the Disney website for prices on resort vacations.  Sometimes they have 30% off and offer package deals with park tickets.  You can even choose to add a dining plan to your package, which leaves you with one less thing to worry about.  For 6 of us, it would be cheaper to rent a home.  We rent a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house with a game room and private screened in heated pool about 10 minutes from all the parks for about $125 avg per night!  That’s cheaper than the hotel cost for the Marriott room we stayed in on the way down!

Anyways…I broke down what we needed to save and we came up with different ways to save money for this trip.  Being able to have everything paid for before we go is a must since we have no credit cards.  Everything gets paid for with cash we have put aside for this.

My daughter found this idea on Pinterest.  We are addicted to that site!  Get a 2 liter soda bottle, wash it out, peel off the label and let it dry out.  We added a picture to the front of it from our last Disney trip and it says “DIMES FOR DISNEY”.  Every dime that we get goes into the bottle.  When the bottle is full, it ends up being about $700!  That right there is our gas and hotel money for the drive down and back! This method is great because the girls can see the bottle filling up and it never even affects my budget!

We always have spare change.  I find change in our washer or dryer almost every time I wash a load.  This goes straight into the jar…  but make sure you drop your dimes in your DIMES FOR DISNEY BOTTLE first!  We started a change jar about 6 weeks ago, and already have about $60 in it.  Spare change adds up fast!  It’s also good motivation for who’s going to help clean…”Let’s see who can find the most change to add to our jar?!”  My girls love any kind of challenge!  🙂

Savings tip #3…THE 52 WEEK SAVINGS PLAN
This works great if you can afford to go past the $52 dollar mark.  We’ve just started this.  Another great idea found on Pinterest!  Here’s how it works…Week 1, you save $1 towards your trip.  Week #2, you save $2, Week #3, you save $3…so on and so on.  By the time you reach week 52, you will have $1,378!  We are going to start back at 1 after we reach the 52 mark.  I think we have about 86 weeks left til our trip.  (I wish we could leave tomorrow!)  This is our ticket money.  Our Disney passes come out to close to $1800 for a family of 6 with 8 day passes.  BUY YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME ONLINE TO SAVE MONEY!  Tickets always seem to cost more when you buy them at the window.  Buy the passes ahead of time. (DON’T FORGET TO BRING THEM WITH YOU ON YOUR TRIP!) If you don’t use them right away, it’s ok…They don’t expire unless you visit a park, then you have 14 days before they expire.

Now, the smaller amounts won’t really make a dent in my budget; but as we get to the higher amounts, I will notice.  I am sacrificing my Starbucks, Saladworks wraps for lunch, and daily fountain sodas to save money for this trip.  Instead of spending $6 on a coffee every day, I’m making a pot of coffee at home and at work and buying some yummy creamers.  That’s $30 saved in a week!  I eat 2-3 wraps a week normally.  Switching that for a packed lunch from home…$18/wk saved!  Fountain sodas…I have officially been soda free for over 4 weeks!  It’s full of sugar and makes you bloated anyways. 🙂  So technically, I’m not breaking the bank with this savings plan… just swapping a few things to help save money.

If you smoke, quit smoking!  Every pack you don’t buy, add $6 to your vacation fund!  You’ll be healthier and you’ll be saving towards a trip you will definitely love!  A pack a day at $6 is $2190 a year!

Savings tip #5…Ask for cash and gift cards for birthdays, holidays, etc…
My kids have started asking for cash, Disney gift cards (can be used at parks), or Visa/MasterCard gift cards to use as their own spending money for our trip.  This definitely helps us out!  Every little bit counts!

Savings tip #6…  Join paid survey sites like
You can earn points by watching short videos, answering daily polls, searching the web, filling out surveys,etc… and then you trade them in for gift cards!  Paypal gift cards, Amazon gift cards, restaurant gift cards… you choose from a variety of places and amounts based on how many points you have.  I’m not sure how long it takes to receive these, but I know of people who verify this is legit…and it doesn’t cost you anything!  So, when my face is stuck in front of the computer or on my iphone…I log in and do a few things to earn points.  This will help buy the lanyards with coin purse on it from Amazon so we have something to keep our phones and park tickets in without losing them.  Paypal gift cards can help contribute to the cost of our rental home.

Savings tip #7… Direct Deposit!
You won’t miss it if you don’t see it!  Have a small amount of your paycheck direct deposited into an account when you are paid.

Savings tip #8…  Have a separate vacation savings account.
You won’t be tempted to spend the money if it’s in a separate account than your normal “have to pay bills with this” account.  It also helps if your vacation bank account is for a bank that is out of your way, so you can’t “conveniently” stop by for a small withdrawal here and there.  You want to save this money, so if it’s not convenient to get to that bank, you have a way better chance of saving!

Savings tip #9…  Those extra weeks in a year
I get paid biweekly.  There is usually 2 months each year where I end up with an extra paycheck since there are 5 weeks instead of 4.  This is GREAT!  I plan my budget based on 2 paychecks a month, so the months with an extra check, I plan on putting 60% of it into my vacation savings.  The rest is left there for the inevitable need to pay/buy something.

Savings tip #10… INCOME TAX REFUND!!!
Some people don’t get an income tax refund….some may need to pay taxes…while others get back a pretty nice chunk.  We usually get back a pretty nice chunk, so most of that is planned on going towards our trip.

Savings tips #11… Sell what you don’t need
With four girls, they are constantly outgrowing clothes, toys, room decor, etc…  We usually have 1-2 yard sales each summer to clear out some space and sell a few items on eBay or craigslist throughout the year. Any money made from these things is set into our Disney-stache jar.  (My daughter saw that on Pinterest and made a jar with a big mustache on it!  Very cute)

Saving for a Disney trip is definitely doable!  We are a family of six living off of about $28,000 a year and can manage this trip.  You can too!  Well…that’s it for today.  I’ll be adding more when I get some more time to sit.  😉

M. Rivera at 6:53 PM


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