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How much does it really cost for a family to visit Disney World?

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#1 BamaTanya

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:22 PM

I know this is going to vary widely. I know there are bargains and secrets. I know people have different levels of expectation about what a vacation means.

This is a family of 7. This family has taken two "vacations" -- the last was 2 years ago and included flying from Alabama to CT to visit family for a week. We saw Mystic Seaport and spent a day at Lake Compounce and spent most of the rest of the week seeing family. That was when I went back to teaching ps in a year-long interim position.

Other recent vacations have been weekends at the beach with seafood dinners at nice restaurants.

IOW, we're low-key and low-budget.

I am a little familiar with DW because I worked there in college. A lot has been added since then, I know. But I don't want to see or experience it all for two reasons. 1) We have two special needs dss, and while we want a vacation, overload must be avoided. 2) Money is limited. We just purchased my parents' old house with a bigger mortgage/utilities/taxes.

And still . . . . I'm aware that the time we are going to be a family unit in one house is waning. If we're going to do Disney, it needs to be in the next couple of years.

Can we budget for it?

What would it cost for 3 or 4 days in the parks? Are there suites that could accommodate 7? (I'm considering DW resorts since (I think) you can come and go from the parks during the day when someone gets tired and cranky. Right?)

I don't want to be miserly. I don't want to get there and have to say "no" to every souvenir and every sno-cone. OTOH, we don't have to hit the most expensive restaurants -- burgers and fries would do. Sometimes sandwiches and cereal in the hotel room . . . But splurging here and there. A T-shirt for everyone and a nice meal. KWIM?

I really have no idea. I'd like to present a plan to dh to make this happen in a year or so . . . or give up the idea altogether.

I'd appreciate your input.

#2 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:56 PM

Well, we are a family of 5 and do it on the cheap. However, we do not stay on-site. Since we drive down, it isn't a huge deal for us. We have stayed on site before and just didn't feel it was worth the cost.

We use SkyAuction.com condos for between $149-$249 during blowout weeks for a 2 bedroom condo that sleeps 6. It takes research, but we are used to it now.

We also usually get homeschool tickets. Homeschool tickets are about half the price of regular passes. They also allow us into the watermarks and Disney Quest, which we normally wouldn't add in.

We also don't eat all of our meals in the parks. That is huge because Disney food costs a small fortune. We have a backpack cooler and take in our lunches most days. We do buy some food while there, but we find the places where you can get more bang for your buck.

So, in answer to your question, we budget $1,500 for a trip, which includes condo rental, park passes for a week, dog sitting, gas and food.

Dawn

#3 betty

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:05 PM

First, special needs

I know disney is the best place in the world to travel with many special needs kiddos. There's a family in my church that only does disney vacations both Orlando and cruises. Their ds has autism and is not "high functioning" (hate that term). My ds has down syndrome. I got my ped to write a letter saying due to disability ds would need accommodations based on his disability giving examples of what he needed, I forget what it all said. I got a form letter from a disney guide book. They gave us a pass that permitted us to cut in line as a group and go one rides with youngest ds. Ds wore out by lunch so without the pass he would not have go one many rides, even during the low attendance time we visited. After lunch together we split up. dh and youngest ds went back to hotel to rest and enjoy msnbc, oldest ds (13 at the time) was permitted to go where ever disney transportation took him. He felt so grown up exploring on his own. Dd (10 at the time) and I rode coasters and thrill rides the rest of the day. We ate dinner together and dd and I went out again to fireworks shows. If we had stayed together as a family all day the vacation would not have been fun. Oldest has sensory issues and hates most rides, but he found things he really enjoyed doing (he liked Norway in Epcot best for books about Vikings and street music). Our arrangement gave us flexibility to deal with everyone's needs. I think Disney facilitates that well.

Another thing about special needs is special diets. Disney does special diets well. We are GF. Oldest went to many restaurants on his own. I never worried about him finding food that was safe. Dd sometimes went to the restaurant in our hotel on her own. It was the first time I spent a week not constantly thinking about how to feed people. It was an incredible relief.

The food is expensive (like themeparks are). However, we were never charged more for the GF equivalent of something. We were all All Star Music and the chef made GF pancakes. She made huge GF cookies and stuffed them with ice cream and charged us the regular ice cream sandwich price. She made all kinds of things during that short stay.

We arrived Sunday and stayed until Saturday. The first night we went to the Cirque de Soliel show. Then, we had 5 days of parkhopper passes. The parkhopper passes were integral to family members having flexibility. Like I said ds returned to Epcot multiple times. dd and I picked fireworks shows based on which was earliest and that was usually not the park we'd been at all day. It was not cheap, but it was the best vacation we have ever gone on. We will never have that opportunity again. I think we spent 4K (I can't remember if this includes our transportation). Because we are a family of 5, we had to stay in a suite at All Star Music. The way it worked out, each kid had his own bed, which I think was important between the needs of the two boys. That was 4 years ago. Up until that time, I don't think we'd ever had a vacation where everyone remained happy and comfortable the whole time. As for the length of time--I don't think a shorter stay would have worked well for us.

So disney was expensive for us, but it was worth the expense. I put off disney for years. We do not vacation every year or even everyother year and what we do is generally cheap (state parks, low season at the beach). This year I did a couple of minitrips with my younger 2.

ETA: staying on site was key to us for flexibility and meeting everyone's needs.

#4 edelweiss

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:39 PM

We do Disney yearly, but I don't know if I'll be able to help you much because I only have two kids. However, a friend of mine goes yearly as well and she has 4 children (so a family of 6).

I just wanted to respond to you because there is an option that you might want to consider when it comes to lodging that many might not be aware of or think of. If I were you, I would really look into renting points from a DVC member. The DVC (DVC=Disney Vacation Club) resorts are condos/timeshares on Disney property (they are next to other Disney resorts) for instance, Bay Lake Towers, is the closest resort to the Magic Kingdom-- you can walk there.

DVC members who aren't going to use their points that year will "rent" them out and you can often get a great deal and spend less on a 2 bedroom "condo" with a kitchen and laundry facilities than you would to book a room in one of the regular Disney resorts. If you go to disboards.com (a large forum for all things Disney), you can find out more about this. Just go to the DVC rental forum. At any rate, check out the areas of the disboards.com. There is a lot of great information about Disney!

#5 abreakfromlife

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:46 PM

I always thought Disney would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to go, so I've never ever thought about it.

So, in answer to your question, we budget $1,500 for a trip, which includes condo rental, park passes for a week, dog sitting, gas and food.

:blink::eek::ohmy: for real??? wow. Now I want to look into it....maybe it isn't out of the realm of possibility!

#6 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:51 PM

Well, PM me if you want our tips and tricks. If we didn't do Disney this way, DH would not agree to go so I have to find bargains.

There are MANY who don't care to do Disney on the cheap like we do. They prefer an all out vacation with all the plush extras. I would feel sick about our finances if we did that and wouldn't enjoy it.

Dawn

I always thought Disney would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to go, so I've never ever thought about it. :blink::eek::ohmy: for real??? wow. Now I want to look into it....maybe it isn't out of the realm of possibility!



#7 BamaTanya

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:52 PM

I always thought Disney would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to go, so I've never ever thought about it. :blink::eek::ohmy: for real??? wow. Now I want to look into it....maybe it isn't out of the realm of possibility!


I know. That's what I was wondering. I mean, if dh or I could possibly work a temp job in the summer (he works in ps), then maybe . . . maybe I should aim for it . . .

#8 Paintedlady

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:04 PM

We went last year in Oct. We're a family of 4, and flew from Chicago to Orlando. We stayed in a moderate resort on property, and got the free dining plan. We stayed 6 nights and spent 5 days in the parks for about $2,500 total for everything.

#9 Misty

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:05 PM

We are planning to go in a few months and we have budgeted at least $5,000. We are driving from the midwest.. We have four kids.... And we plan to stay 3-4 nights in a resort. BUT we have a military discount. So our park hopper passes AND our resort stay will be slightly discounted.

I am figuring in gas money and food money in my $5,000.

Oh, and we are also planning to do Universal Studios.. I think my girls would refuse to leave FL without their Harry Potter fill. So that's $500 for tickets alone right there for the entire family.. Add in souvenirs, dining, etc.. That's nearly $800 for one day of Universal Studios.

But when we lived in FL and went to Disney.. I think it cost us closer to $1500. We only had two kids at that time, we didn't have to drive far, etc..

So I think a lot depends on how many kids you have, how far you have to drive (or fly), etc. We will be paying for hotels and eating out on the way there and on the way back.. So that's an extra 4 nights in hotels.

#10 katilac

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:09 PM

We are going in January and paying $1,900 for four people (no juniors). This includes: 6 nights in a value resort onsite, 7 day no-hopper park pass, and quick-service meal plan - this is 2 counter service meals and one snack per day, per person. We drive ten hours, so maybe another $200 added to that. So, if you stayed in a value resort during the free dining plan, it would be a bit less than $3,800 without transportation (that's two rooms, one with 4 people, one with 3; we have never had a problem getting connecting rooms).

No special needs here, but I have heard again and again that they are very accomodating for both this and food allergies. They dont' always skip you to the head of the line; sometimes, it's getting to wait in a quiet area, then being escorted back to the line when it's your turn.

We LOVE the food plan, and find that it's way more than enough even tho' it's only 2 meals per day. The servings are on the abundant side, and we just order a few different things and share. We always have plenty to eat, plus all the soft drinks, ice cream, funnel cake, and lattes we can manage. We've done the mix of table and quick service dining as well, and it's great for character meals and other fun experiences like Coral Reef, but we don't want to pay the extra when we don't want a table service meal each day. And the quick service meals are NOT all hot dogs/hamburgers; you can get quite a variety, and some would qualify as table service (as far as the food goes) in my mind, the only difference is you order at a counter and carry your own tray.

You have to stay onsite to get the meal plan, and we also love staying onsite! dh loves parking the car and not driving for a week, and we like using early magic hours (when only onsite guests can get in that park). The resorts are lots of fun, too, with all the themed decorations. We've only used value resorts - you pay more for a moderate suite than two value rooms, and half of the beds in the suites aren't beds but pullout couches, etc. We'd rather have two rooms (my mom & sis are always with us).


Souvenirs: if you do the meal plan, each person gets a souvenir mug that is refillable at your resort only. They are nice plastic traveling mugs, decked out Disney style of course, and make a nice souvenir. The other thing we do is order Disney trading pins online before we go; they cost $2 or $2.50, and all of the cast members will trade with you at Disney. They do need to be authentic Disney pins; we have used Mouse Pins Online
for years with no problems.

Time: I know you said 3-4 days, but consider that ticket prices are designed for longer stays. They PLUNGE after the 3 day mark! If you have more days, it's easier for someone to be happy about taking some of the kids back to the resort for some down time, or to skip a day entirely.

If you go to the Disney site, you can play around with reservations and get exact costs on all different scenarios. Once you get an idea, I also recommend talking to a Disney agent rather than booking yourself. IThey have always been VERY helpful, and can answer all kinds of questions, make suggestions, etc.

#11 Blueridge

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:12 PM

Get The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It was a tremendous asset to us. Tons of $$$ saving ideas.

#12 ChristusG

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:13 PM

Disney is AWESOME for special needs families. You can get special passes where you do not have to wait in line.

As for lodging for a family of 7, the most budget friendly way to go is to just rent a home. There are PLENTY in Orlando. Windsor Hills is basically a community where a lot of people rent their homes to Disney guests. It's super nice. No, it's not quite as easy to get to and from the parks (you cannot use Disney's bus or monorail system to go back and forth) but it's really close to the main gate.

By staying in a home, you can bring your own groceries, eat every breakfast in the room, and Disney even allows soft sided (non rolling) coolers so technically you could pack your own lunches if you want.

We do Disney several times a year with our "big" Disney vacation each October. We live 2.5 hours away and do not have to pay for plane tickets or too much gas to get there though.

#13 Misty

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:18 PM

I know disney is the best place in the world to travel with many special needs kiddos. There's a family in my church that only does disney vacations both Orlando and cruises. Their ds has autism and is not "high functioning" (hate that term). .


Good to know.. I have 2 with Asperger's Syndrome.


Another thing about special needs is special diets. Disney does special diets well. We are GF. Oldest went to many restaurants on his own. I never worried about him finding food that was safe. Dd sometimes went to the restaurant in our hotel on her own. It was the first time I spent a week not constantly thinking about how to feed people. It was an incredible relief. .


Also good to know. We are GF.

The food is expensive (like themeparks are). However, we were never charged more for the GF equivalent of something. We were all All Star Music and the chef made GF pancakes. She made huge GF cookies and stuffed them with ice cream and charged us the regular ice cream sandwich price. She made all kinds of things during that short stay. .


Oh my!! I think this will be the best part of the trip for my kids!! My girls will be in heaven! I wonder if it's like this at all the resorts?

#14 katilac

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:18 PM

Get The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It was a tremendous asset to us. Tons of $$$ saving ideas.


Oh, yes, I second this. Actually, get it from the library if you can, and buy the online subscription at Touring Plans. Why yes, we do use the crowd checker for our six-months-away vacation in an obsessed manner! :D

#15 WIS0320

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:18 PM

We went and literally spent less than $1,000.00 and that was for tickets into the parks, food and gas to drive down. My husband travels an insane amount for his job so we stay off site (1.2 miles away!) and use points to stay for free. Getting a kitchenette in your hotel suite is awesome and allows the use of a crockpot for easy, cheap dinner meals. The hotel has complimentary breakfast so we only had to pay for lunch inside the parks.

Our kids are very little so we didn't bother with Park Hopper passes or the water parks. We did spend $ for the Halloween night inside the Magic Kingdom and did the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for my DD.

I know if we paid for lodging it would have been another 1k, but really I think you can do DW for a reasonable cost if you are willing to forgo some of the bells and whistles.

We are getting ready to go back this October and I'm happy with our 1k budget.

#16 sheryl

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:41 PM

Well, we went Nov 2010 for the first time to DW! It was FUN and more FUN! :001_smile:

I started asking months before like you are doing by posting a thread or two on wtm. Many of the people who responded to you responded to me last year with GOOD advice.

You do need to determine your budget now. How much do you have saved up? Some? None? How about no going to those restaurants for awhile BUT putting that money aside in your DW fund?!

You need to buy the "Unofficial Guide to DW"...2012 should be out now. SUCH A GOOD INVESTMENT OF $15! Get it now and read it. It's a BIG book and it will take you time to read/skim through it. You can research restaurants, rides, etc. Pick the parks and the rides (names of rides, events, etc) upfront. Map it out so you are making a circle, not zig zag all over...you'll wear yourself out.

I don't know much about accommodations. We won a special offer and didn't have to pay full price. Have you tried skyauction.com?

Tickets. We decided it wasn't worth park hopping. You have to spend extra money to do this and then the time it takes to leave/re-enter another park is time lost that could have been spent at the park you left...to cover more of that park.

You can take in a small backpack for food and drinks....that will cut down on the cost, but it will weigh you down. You are allowed to take in an umbrella stroller JUST for your backpack!!!

Parking for us was $15/day. That totaled $75 for our 5 days.

Length of stay....how long can you stay. Once you look at their rates, you'll see why 5 and 10 day passes are popular. We couldn't afford any more food out, hotels for days 6-10. We stayed 5 days and it was fine. BUT, I was SUPER organized and had EVERYTHING.MAPPED.OUT. We are a family of 3 and my dd "chose" rides/attractions and we did too.

Check out the weather. Are you going during a rainy season? We didn't. November has the least amt of precipatation. It showered 1 day and only for a bit.

Special needs....my dd is sn. You can call ahead and ask how to get their sn pass. I forget what it's called, but you move to the FRONT of the line WITH.NO.WAIT!! This will squeeze more time out of your schedule each day for each park.

Truly, read these responses. BUY the book Come back and ask more question!! HTH!

AND, HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!

I forgot: family of 3....dh, dd-11 at the time and me. Our cost for every.thing including gas was about $2500.00. That was 3 nights on the road to and from Orlando b/c we spent time in St. Augustine. Really 5 nights lodgin in Orlando and 5 day pass.

Edited by sheryl, 30 August 2011 - 07:43 PM.


#17 Scarymelon

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:43 PM

We are a family of 6 going in November for 3 days as a part of a SouthEast road trip; we are relatively frugal, and I am budgeting about $2000 for the 3 days (which makes me cringe to write).We are staying in the All Stars Family suites, which were about as low cost as a big family could get and still stay in the parks. Because we are only there for 3 days, we are spending more money on getting park hoppers and staying on site. We plan to get our moneys worth out of the trip.

#18 LibraryLover

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:46 PM

We've never spent thousands of dollars and we've been so many times my kids are sick of WDW. ;) I'm not proud. It's a cheap vacation for us, relatively speaking. People don't tend to vacation as we do. We cook a lot of our own food, for one thing. It's not big deal to us. We would rather get away more and be pampered less. Simply not looking at my own sink in my own kitchen is a vacation to me.

Get a condo. Windsor Hills is comfortable and close. Windsor Palms is as well, and has a salt water pool for those who don't want to do chlorine.

#19 Tmhearn

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:51 PM

I didn't read all of the responses in detail. So, I'm not sure if this was mentioned already, but one of the most important factors in going (if you're staying on property) is when you go. Disney has 4 different "seasons" - Value, Regular, Peak, and Holiday. The prices for rooms and food fluctuate accordingly.

Disney does offer special promotions on a regular basis - like the free dining plan a pp mentioned. Another good one is a percent off the rack room rate of the hotels (rates off depend on the category of hotel).

There are some great sites for Disney deals out there.

Good luck!

#20 beckyjo

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:55 PM

For a family of 7, I would budget around 3 or 4K for the budget plan. You could rent a condo/house off property or stay 2 rooms at the value resorts on-property. If you stay off property, the bonus is you can eat breakfast at your hotel and bring in lunch. On-site often has free dining plans.

We are going in December with a group of 7. It is not a budget plan (my brother won a trip for 4 & we are splitting the costs for the "extra" 3 members to go). 7 nights/8 days for about $9,000. But that's staying at a Deluxe resort -- something we would never do without having the sweepstakes win paying for most of it!

#21 JulieH

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:09 PM

Good to know.. I have 2 with Asperger's Syndrome.




Also good to know. We are GF.



Oh my!! I think this will be the best part of the trip for my kids!! My girls will be in heaven! I wonder if it's like this at all the resorts?


Just an FYI, I have a special needs son (aspergers and add/adhd and sensory issues) and Disney DOES issue a Guest Assistance Card aka "GAC". We brought a doctors note but they would not look at it.

We got the card, but it is gross misinformation that the card entitles you to get front of the line access. Every GAC card is different based on the person's individual needs and you will find a TON of excellent up to date information on it on the DISabilities board at disboards.com. One of the biggest helps for me when my son was a little bit younger, was the GAC enabled us to use the stroller as a wheelchair. Most lines do not allow strollers..only wheelchairs..but with the card, we had a sign for the stroller so my son could sit in his stroller while we waited in line. We did not get front of the line access and Disney will never write that on a card. It's up to the discretion of the people managing the various rides.

Just please don't think you'll get this card and automatically get front of the line on everything because it is not true. Maybe some things, but not all, and it's changed.

We go to Disney yearly and I've become quite familiar with it.

As far as how much it costs, well...a LOT. We are a family of 5 and I'm all about comfort and convenience, especially because of my special needs son, so a 1 week trip does cost my family several thousand dollars. It's at least 1250 just to fly, plus our park hopper passes, and I try to stay on a monorail resort because it is best for my son to get in and out of the parks quickly as the stimulation is just too much for him. I'd say it costs us anywhere from $5000-7000 for a one week trip to Disney.

This thread at DISabilities on Disboards gives excellent, accurate and up to date information on all kinds of services for those with disabilities at Disney World and explains exactly how a Guest Assistance Card can be used. (post 6 of the FAQ thread)
http://www.disboards...ad.php?t=595713

Edited by JulieH, 30 August 2011 - 08:20 PM.
to add a link


#22 littleWMN

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:22 PM

We've been to Disney in April, May, September (twice), and November. WHEN to go is the most important thing for us. November was by far the best, with September being second. November was great weather. September, April, and May were all HOT but September was less crowded. You will also get in cheaper during the "off" months.

The gluten free food there is wonderful!! If that is important to you, I'd try to go when they are doing the free dining. Make your reservations well in advance and notify the chefs at least a week ahead of time of your dietary needs. They do a wonderful job! Now that I'm GF, that's my favorite part. :D

We've stayed on and off property. My favorite is staying ON property when they are doing the free dining deal. That's harder to do with a large family though.

Children up to age 3 are free and children 10 and over are charged full price. We personally don't do park hopper passes and we've never been to the water parks. We do love Sea World though!

#23 teachermom2834

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:22 PM

We are going for October homeschool days with a family of six.

With the homeschool tickets and a condo from skyauction (3 bedroom) we are up to less than $1500. That is with the premium hopper/ waterparks. Wewill probably eat almost all our big meals in the condo and then bring snacks into the parks. The last time we went we didn't eat in the parks at all but the kids are older now so they probably won't be able to make it without eating something. I still plan to bring in whatever snacks/ drinks we can. We may need to buy some food along the way but I doubt we'll sit down and buy a full dinner for all six of us. Maybe once or twice.

Money is tight and our vacations are much more enjoyable if we do them on the cheap. It takes a little planning to do Disney on the cheap but it can be manageable.

#24 Sandra in FL

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:36 PM

Haven't read the other posts but here goes. Housing - staying off property is probably cheapest. IMO, even if you stay on Disney property, going back and forth from DW to the resort/hotel is not worth the trouble. Better to find a bench and take a nap (if it's cool).

The thing to save the most on is food and beverages. We usually took 2 strollers even when our kids were too old for them and brought along lots of bottled water and snacks. If you have little ones, take as many strollers as possible so that they can nap in them (even the 5-6 year olds will get tired being out the whole day and you don't want to have to carry them). You can go cheap on a few meals with peanut butter sandwiches and carrying fruit in small coolers.

The Starlight Cafe in Magic Kingdom serves a rotisserie chicken that's a good deal. The condiments bar has lots of goodies too - lettuce, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, onions - we load up on those. Turkey legs are also a good deal (by Disney standards). All drinks are expensive - $2.50 for bottled water.

#25 DianeW88

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:40 PM

Well....hmmm. We go to WDW every year and since it's our big vacation...I splurge. The quote I have from Disney right now for the end of April (which is the rack rate..no discounts are available yet, but they will be) for a 13 night, 14 day stay at POP Century (2 rooms, we have 5 people), plus 10 day ParkHoppers with waterpark add-ons and the regular Disney dining plan (1 table service, 1 counter service and 1 snack per person, per day) is around $7,500. Our airfare is $2,500 from Salt Lake to Orlando. We stay on property and don't rent a car, so that saves something (not really, but it makes me feel better saying that :lol:).

I expect the discounts to bring the overall price down at least $1,000-$2,000, maybe more if we get lucky. I usually budget $10,000 for two weeks there, just to make sure, but we always come in under that.

I am frugal everywhere else in my life so we can do this every year, but I refuse to be cheap on my vacations. Personally, WDW is a "yes" place to me, and I hate being there and constantly telling my kids "you can't do this" or "you can't have that". Like I said, I do that all the time in the real world...but Disney is magic for us. We have the most amazing family memories that I could never put a price on.

#26 Pamela H in Texas

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:50 PM

I want to thank you sooooo much for asking this! I was thinking this myself. I know what my mom said it was for her and me to take my two (she paid everything) when we drove from TX to Orlando. We did see family and went to a couple other places also.

But this time, we'd be paying. We're figuring it is the four of us now plus "the three" (assuming nothing goes wrong in the next couple months) and possibly a foster child or two.

Gonna go read above :)

ETA: My son is on the spectrum and it was much more obvious when we went. He was 6½. We kept in mind that ANYTHING was a lot so EVERYTHING wasn't necessary. We did one particular ride a good 8 or 10 times both days we went to the main park. There were plenty we didn't get to. We mosey'd around and smelled the roses so to speak. We had a GREAT time. You might see about one or two things each person definitely wants to do (ideally, some of them will be the same and some older people could go do it while younger ones were having a picnic snack in a quiet place). That way everyone gets what they want, but you don't feel pressured to be here or there or wherever :)

Edited by 2J5M9K, 30 August 2011 - 08:56 PM.


#27 Trish

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:53 PM

Well, you can look up the costs of the parks, but I have an idea on a suite that will fit 7 for you. The Residence Inn near Seaworld (about a 10 minute drive from Disney) has 2-bedroom suites that sleep 8. (2 queens in one bedroom, one queen in the other, and a pullout sofa in the living area that sleeps two). The suite has two bathrooms. Also it comes with free breakfast!

I think it's a bargain, currently at $149 a night. The pool is nice too.

#28 whitestavern

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:18 PM

We've gone 2x and we're going again in Feb/Mar. We budget about $3500. Tickets alone are about $900 for 4 of us. Once you get past 4 days, the add'l days are super cheap. But those first few days are killers. Transportation is around $800. We take the auto train, so that $800 actually covers our r.t. transportation plus our "rental car" down there (we take our own car on the train with us). We stay offsite because it's not a vacation to me if there are 4 of us in one small hotel room. That costs about $600. The rest of it, about $1000, is food. We eat breakfast and lunch in (or take lunch to the parks) but again, it's a vacation, so I want to eat some meals out. There are some very good/very fun restaurants there. If I had a more limited budget, we'd probably try to drive down, although it's far for us (we're in CT) and I'd do most or all meals at the condo. That would probably cut the costs in half.

#29 Misty

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:39 PM

Just an FYI, I have a special needs son (aspergers and add/adhd and sensory issues) and Disney DOES issue a Guest Assistance Card aka "GAC". We brought a doctors note but they would not look at it.


This thread at DISabilities on Disboards gives excellent, accurate and up to date information on all kinds of services for those with disabilities at Disney World and explains exactly how a Guest Assistance Card can be used. (post 6 of the FAQ thread)
http://www.disboards...d.php?t=595713


Thanks for sharing this! This was VERY helpful! What sort of things did you use your GAC for? My two Aspies have issues with crowds and noise and we need to keep our days short to keep them both from getting too overstimulated, which could potentially ruin an entire day. What sort of "stamp" would I need to ask to be put on their GAC's? I'm planning to bring silicon ear plugs for one daughter who really needs them or she will never make it through a park.. the other daughter is not as sensitive to sound, but has issues with crowds and visual overstimulation and is extremely sensitive to smells. She gets nauseated and dizzy if she gets overstimulated and sometimes takes off running to get away from the overstimulation. She also has ADHD and has a hard time being still. Do I just tell them all this and they decide what stamps to put?

#30 wendybird

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:43 PM

We went as a family of 8 and spent just under $2900. That includes gas driving there, renting a 4 bedroom home with a private pool 10 minutes offsite, 5 days of tickets, 2 home cooked meals and 1 in park meal per day, souvenirs(moderate, we did not go crazy but did do pins , some mickey sweets, and a couple plush toys.) It was an amazing holiday, we spent far less than we budgeted for it but still felt incredibly pampered.We are planning to go back in two years and all literally count the months down.
http://www.homeaway....-rental/p341565
Our vacation home was very similar to this one. We went "off season" but did not need to heat the pool. It was really marvelous.

#31 SewingMom2many

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:51 PM

We try to go every year and some years cost more than others. This year we are going the first week of October (homeschool week) so we are getting discounted tickets and we prefer to stay off site in a rental house. The total is going to be under $2,000 for a 7 day stay for 7 people. The house we rent is much larger than what we really need (6 bedrooms) and has a private heated pool. We could have gone for even less if we went with a smaller house but we like this one and it's actually pretty reasonable at $130 a night (we get a small discount for being returning customers). I don't buy any food at Disney so that's not really a factor since I can cook all of our meals at the rental house and I don't really buy anything different than we would have eaten at home. Since we obviously would have eaten if we weren't on vacation so I don't count the cost of food.

I use TouringPlans.com to make sure we go when crowds are low and use their app for our Android phones called "Lines" so we can avoid long lines while there. We get much more in during the day this way and don't feel the need to buy park hopper tickets. When the kids get tired we go back to our rental house and enjoy some time away from the park in our pool which is a real luxury to us since we don't have one at home :)

#32 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:05 PM

Can you tell me which 3 bedroom you have stayed in?

The only 3 bedroom currently showing up is Florida Vacation Villas I. We have stayed in the Florida Vacation Villas main section but haven't even been over to the other area (didn't even know they had it.)

You can PM me if you don't want to post it.

We have been happy with *almost* every SkyAuction condo we have stayed in. However, we had one place that was awful (Westgate Main Gate) so we have been a little more leary of trying new places without checking first.

Dawn

We are going for October homeschool days with a family of six.

With the homeschool tickets and a condo from skyauction (3 bedroom) we are up to less than $1500. That is with the premium hopper/ waterparks. Wewill probably eat almost all our big meals in the condo and then bring snacks into the parks. The last time we went we didn't eat in the parks at all but the kids are older now so they probably won't be able to make it without eating something. I still plan to bring in whatever snacks/ drinks we can. We may need to buy some food along the way but I doubt we'll sit down and buy a full dinner for all six of us. Maybe once or twice.

Money is tight and our vacations are much more enjoyable if we do them on the cheap. It takes a little planning to do Disney on the cheap but it can be manageable.



#33 JulieH

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:10 PM

Thanks for sharing this! This was VERY helpful! What sort of things did you use your GAC for? My two Aspies have issues with crowds and noise and we need to keep our days short to keep them both from getting too overstimulated, which could potentially ruin an entire day. What sort of "stamp" would I need to ask to be put on their GAC's? I'm planning to bring silicon ear plugs for one daughter who really needs them or she will never make it through a park.. the other daughter is not as sensitive to sound, but has issues with crowds and visual overstimulation and is extremely sensitive to smells. She gets nauseated and dizzy if she gets overstimulated and sometimes takes off running to get away from the overstimulation. She also has ADHD and has a hard time being still. Do I just tell them all this and they decide what stamps to put?


Well, I actually planned the whole trip around my son. He sounds very similar to your children.

For starters, I took the initiative and didn't depend on the card because I had already read that board and asked many many questions ahead of time.

1) get to the park first thing at rope drop. It is practically empty and if you really do your homework, you can plan which rides/attractions you'll do in which order and cover a LOT of territory in 2-3 hours with very little to no wait. If you try to do it in the afternoon, or wait till after 10 to get there, its a recipe for disaster.

2) my son simply cannot handle more than 2-3 hours in any given park. We spent a lot of time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. If we stayed at a resort with only bus service, well..in plain english, some of those bus rides suck! Especially when its standing room only. Therefore, I stay at a monorail resort on property. We get up, out, jump on the monorail and are there in 5 minutes. If we need to make an escape (son having a meltdown), it's a quick jaunt to the monorail and to the resort rather than walking ALL the way to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, hoping it's not standing room only, dealing with the turning of the buses (and it seems every year they drive faster and faster)

3) my son, with his sensory issues, craves pool time. So, we go very early, leave just before lunch when everyone and their mother are arriving, go back to the resort, have a bite in the food court and go for a swim. Pool time for an aspie with sensory issues is very comforting.

4) Then, it's family rest time. Each kid has a fun toy or game or something and we'll play a game, or ds will play with Lego's while dd plays dolls or draws..just for a bit

5) Then we freshen up and head out to dinner. I always book dinners WAY in advance and try to get it for 5-6 hour before the restaurants are a zoo. That way, we have a nice dinner as a family before it's a super long wait. Even with an ADR, you can wait a long time at peak hours. If you arrive at a restaurant when they open, you can usually get seated right away (we've even managed that without an ADR, though I don't recommend it)

6) I like to stay at the Polynesian. Why? Well, my son likes the fireworks but try taking an aspie to the Magic Kingdom at night for the parade and fireworks..NOT. Mom and child will have a nervous breakdown. LOL At the polynesian, you can sit with the kids on the beach..get them a nice snack, and watch the beautiful fireworks over the castle and they pipe in the music!! When fireworks are over? You walk five minutes to your hotel room rather than 2 hours shoulder to shoulder people and getting run over by scooters, and waiting forever for the transportation. BTDT..never again.

It did cost so much more $$ than trying to do a budget trip, but it was important to me that my children and entire family had a great trip..and part of that happening was making sure my little boy was comfortable.

When you go to Guest Relations, you ask for the GAC card. They will ask you what your son's needs are. You just talk to them like you'd talk to us...they don't care about a "diagnosis"...they need to know what his needs are. Because I knew using stroller as a wheelchair was very important, I asked for that because they give you a sticker for it. Also, waiting is tough for him and he needs an alternate waiting area. Example, an attraction that has a preshow..not gonna happen for him.

The only time a GAC gives automatic front of the line access is to very very ill children on Make a Wish trips and such.

If you PLAN your time well, like getting their first time, you won't even need it because there will be no wait for anything. Do not even attempt to do an entire day with this type of child. They can't handle it. Many adults can't..a midday break is a necessity.

I just cannot stress it enough. More important than ANY stamp you can get on your GAC is how YOU plan your days and time. The park hopper is very well worth it when you're dealing with special needs. I know you're trying to keep costs down, but I'm just telling you based on the many years we've done this.

*Get there early* and you'll do well with the crowds. Use the awesome iphone apps for wait times. Utilize the Fastpass system strategically. Spend the few bucks for Tour Guide Mike touringplans.com and get awesome tips. You don't need to be a Disney Nazi...but having a general plan makes all the difference.

Lastly, there are some REALLY neat ideas for using social stories for Disney to help prepare your aspie child or adhd child..let them know ahead of time. Also, you can order a FREE dvd from Disney World that showcases what's at the parks and the attractions. These kids like to know what to expect. At least mine does.

Get the GAC to use and fall back on, but your planning will make a much bigger impact. I hate hearing people think all they have to do is get the card and it will be easy. It's not that simple.

Walt Disney World With Kids is an awesome book and I've bought it each year since my oldest was 3! It gives you the scare factors of each ride and everything, restaurant reviews, kids favs...best restrooms, where to meet characters. You can also find that info and more on Disboards.

Because of that board, I learned of so many fun things. One thing I did for the kids to make it extra special, and to help with the "souvenire" thing was to use Memories by Betsy to have a special basket waiting for each kid when we arrived. She is really reasonable and also shops for some of the stuff at the Disney outlet or Target. In it I had things I would have bought anyway like a lanyard for the room card and collectors pins, passport for World Showcase, Mickey Ears, pen, autograph book etc. The kids thought Mickey left it for them.

I'm sorry to ramble on but as you can tell, I'm a passionate Disney fan! LOL

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions at all or of course just ask here.

#34 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:13 PM

Julie,

I thought the app was not an iphone app but a Verizon app. Do you have Verizon?

Dawn

#35 mandymom

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:15 PM

We are going at the end of September/beginning of Oct for Homeschool Days, and tickets are significantly cheaper this way...almost half off (and with a family of 7 it really adds up). We are also staying in a 4 bdr/4 bath house 3 miles from Disney with its own private pool, hot tub, game room, etc. For us, it was cheaper than staying on property because we would have to have 2 rooms or stay in a deluxe resort (which was MUCH more expensive). Even when you figured in the fact that we could get free dining that time of year and we would have to pay for parking every day at the parks, it was STILL cheaper. We plan to eat breakfast at the house, bring one meal into the park, and then either eat dinner at the park or eat back it the house if the park closes relatively early (like the day that we are at Animal Kingdom, it closes at 5pm).

Our 6 day non-hopper passes were right around $1000 (Homeschool Days rates) for 7 people

Our rental house was right at $1000 for 7 night (includes the extra insurance we added as well as tax)

then we will have food (mostly groceries), gas, and parking.

I have already bought several disney shirts for all the kids (on eBay and on sale at the Disney store) as well as quite a few Disney things at the Dollar Store to hopefully cut down on all the souvenir desire :001_smile:

ETA: We used http://www.floridasu...ationhomes.com/ to book our house.

Edited by mandymom, 30 August 2011 - 10:19 PM.


#36 JulieH

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:23 PM

Julie,

I thought the app was not an iphone app but a Verizon app. Do you have Verizon?

Dawn


no, I have att iphone and I had two different apps I used. One I *think* was from touringplans.com and I can't remember the other but I KNOW if you ask on the them park attractions/strategies board at disboards.com you'll get answers. One is free from the app store and is called "lines". the one from touringplans.com is good because it gives a lot more info than just wait times.

#37 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:25 PM

Just an FYI.

If you go to SkyAuction.com and type in "Vacation Certificates" in the keyword area, you can see what we are talking about.

You purchase the certificate and book later. These range from $149/wk to $249/wk. This includes taxes.

You must read the fine print!!!!!!! You MUST book by the deadline, BUT, you can book up to 12 months in advance.

So, right now, they are $249 and must be booked by the end of November, 2011, but you can travel up to Nov. of 2012.

Right now, I have 2 weeks saved up that I am trying to book. I haven't found exactly what I am looking for yet because I need back to back weeks and I am being picky......so you may have to keep looking at the website to what is being offered, it changes often.

I go to Resort Certs to see what is available and if I haven't heard of the condo units I go to Trip Advisor to read about it before booking.

I will list the one I have stayed in sometime this week with my opinions on them.

We have been using SkyAuction for about 6 years now and will never go back as long as we can get 2 bedroom condos for $149-$249 per week!!!!!! These last ones were $149. I have never, ever seen it for that cheap before or since, but you never know.

Please also be aware that this does NOT work during peak season, these are units they can't fill which means off-season. I have never had a problem during homeschool days.

Dawn

#38 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:26 PM

Well, I don't have an iphone! :tongue_smilie: But I know I have seen ads for Verizon and some program they offer for $9.99 or something.

Dawn

no, I have att iphone and I had two different apps I used. One I *think* was from touringplans.com and I can't remember the other but I KNOW if you ask on the them park attractions/strategies board at disboards.com you'll get answers. One is free from the app store and is called "lines". the one from touringplans.com is good because it gives a lot more info than just wait times.



#39 Dustybug

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:33 PM

I always thought Disney would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to go, so I've never ever thought about it. :blink::eek::ohmy: for real??? wow. Now I want to look into it....maybe it isn't out of the realm of possibility!


:iagree:

I would never have dreamed that we could go for that price! Maybe we'll get our chance afterall!

AND I had NO clue that they had "homeschool days." Thanks for all the tips everyone!

#40 DawnM

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:54 PM

Just so you know, Disney officially offers 2 homeschool weeks per year, however, there is a 3rd one that is usually offered through Carolina Homeschool Group based in Lancaster, SC. You don't have to live in SC to go on their trips.

This year they are going the 2nd week of November, which works for us, so we are joining them.

Dawn

:iagree:

I would never have dreamed that we could go for that price! Maybe we'll get our chance afterall!

AND I had NO clue that they had "homeschool days." Thanks for all the tips everyone!



#41 lovelaughs_times_three

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:25 PM

Just so you know, Disney officially offers 2 homeschool weeks per year, however, there is a 3rd one that is usually offered through Carolina Homeschool Group based in Lancaster, SC. You don't have to live in SC to go on their trips.

This year they are going the 2nd week of November, which works for us, so we are joining them.

Dawn


How do you join them? Is it the same deal/price as the homeschooling days?

#42 Satori

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:23 AM

We lucked out and know people who work at Disneyworld and Universal Studios so we get our tickets for free. We stay off-site since my husband travels a lot and gets hotels and airfare for free. Sometime I wish we could stay at a Disney resort, I used to do that before I married DH and I liked the conveniences.

#43 Misty

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:15 AM

I'm sorry to ramble on but as you can tell, I'm a passionate Disney fan! LOL

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions at all or of course just ask here.


Thank you so much Julie! Awesome information!:)

#44 DawnM

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 06:38 AM

You don't have to join them at all. You can just go on their trips.

I do notice she charges a little more for the Disney passes. I think because she is running a business and covers the cost of that. I think the 5 day passes with 5 vouchers for Disney Quest and the watermarks is about $156 through Disney in Oct and Jan and the same pass is about $180 from her.

This particular trip is in November and it just happens to be when DH's work is sending him to Orlando for training, so we lucked out.

We are paying about $30 more per pass than the regular HS passes, but DH's work is paying for gas and some of his food, so I am not complaining. (too much! :lol:)

Here is the link to her website:

http://www.carolinah...atravelwdw.html

There are even folks from Canada going, so you certainly don't have to be local.

Dawn

How do you join them? Is it the same deal/price as the homeschooling days?



#45 betty

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 06:48 AM

About the GAC.

I remember now we didn't officially "jump to the head of the line". Based on what our doctor wrote about our ds's needs our pass permitted us to enter Fast Pass lines. When fast pass was not available, you could enter at the exit. That's what we did at Dumbo. We had almost no waiting in line. But the accommodation you get is based on what the child needs. I had a letter my doc because people warned me Disney wanted documentation beyond me for his needs, especially when the accommodation involves shortening waiting in line.

#46 momtotkbb

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:06 AM

On the GAC we've never been asked for documentation and w/ our GAC we've always had the shorter wait line/fast pass line. I have two sn kiddos and the GAC has been a life-saver for us to be able to do Disney.

We've always stayed onsite and for us it's the only way to go ---oh I do recall we stayed off-site when we went for only a day as a side trip after a gymnastics meet. It really wasn't the same as staying at a Disney resort.

We've tried it doing the dining plan and not having it --we prefer the dining plan. For souveniors we allot our kiddos a certain amt at the beginning of the trip - they bring some of their own money that they can spend if they want. We do park hopper too - depending upon when we go we do the plus version w/ water parks. But, if you only have some members of the party that will do Quest or the water parks it's really cheaper to pay for a one-time thing for those who will use it. I agree w/ staying longer. We've never gone w/ the homeschool days - but I've heard that you get great discounts during that time.

I would join the DISboards.com and check w/ Magic for Less travel agency too.

We went year before last for 10 days w/ a family of 6 for Christmas---kids were 21, 11, 13 and 6 --we stayed in a Moderate resort w/ the moderate dining plan and it was around $6000 which included the Christmas Party for our group, travel from SC, etc.

#47 BamaTanya

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:16 AM

Some of you are posting numbers that make me think it might be a possibility . . .

Here's the thing, though: dh works in ps. He gets 2 personal (vacation) days per year. All of his regular vacation days -- for which I am thankful! -- fall during Disney's peak seasons. Which means, for instance, if we were to go in October or early November, he could tack those 2 days onto a weekend and he'd have 4 days off. It would probably take us 10 hrs or so to drive . . . If we left right after work one day, we'd arrive there at 1:30 (local time) and head into the parks at 8 or 9? Hmmm. That doesn't sound like fun, but I suppose it could be done.

Is a short trip worth it? Or should we wait until we can spend more $$$ (meaning dd will be in college and won't be able to take time off-season either!) and take advantage of the larger packages?

#48 DawnM

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:33 AM

That does put you in a position to not take full advantage of the deals, but it isn't impossible.

Sometimes it is still cheaper to rent a condo for the week, even if you are only there 4 days....so look at cost differences. If you are staying Sun-Sun and won't make it there until Wed, just call ahead and let them know you won't be there until Wed.

Dawn

Some of you are posting numbers that make me think it might be a possibility . . .

Here's the thing, though: dh works in ps. He gets 2 personal (vacation) days per year. All of his regular vacation days -- for which I am thankful! -- fall during Disney's peak seasons. Which means, for instance, if we were to go in October or early November, he could tack those 2 days onto a weekend and he'd have 4 days off. It would probably take us 10 hrs or so to drive . . . If we left right after work one day, we'd arrive there at 1:30 (local time) and head into the parks at 8 or 9? Hmmm. That doesn't sound like fun, but I suppose it could be done.

Is a short trip worth it? Or should we wait until we can spend more $$$ (meaning dd will be in college and won't be able to take time off-season either!) and take advantage of the larger packages?



#49 DianeW88

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:11 AM

Is a short trip worth it? Or should we wait until we can spend more $$$ (meaning dd will be in college and won't be able to take time off-season either!) and take advantage of the larger packages?


Two of mine are in college and their schedule allows for off-season travel. My dd's last day of finals is April 26. We're leaving for Disney on April 27th. And honestly, that's one of the best times to go (as long as it's not a late Easter, which it's not next year). Nice and warm, but not sweltering, and no crowds. It's our favorite time of the year to visit.

#50 Misty

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:43 AM

Has anyone been to WDW in February? That's when we are planning to go. My husband will have the opportunity to take lots of leave at that time. I'm worried about the weather, but dh says it will be around 70 degrees.

I don't mind needing sweaters and long pants, but I DO NOT want to deal with coats and nippy winds!!



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