Can you afford a trip to Disney?

Can YOU afford a trip to Disney?

HammFirst let me say that ONLY YOU can really answer this question.  In order to honestly answer this question, however first you must be informed, which is where DWDads hope we can help.

The first step in deciding on whether you can afford a trip is to find out how much it will cost by answering these 4 simple questions:

  1. Who is going [# of Adults + # of Children (with ages)]?
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights?
  3. Where do you want to stay?
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?

By answering these 4 simple questions DWDads can give you a quote (without discounts) so you can begin saving or budgeting for your trip.

**Note – We will often book/quote clients at “rack rates” knowing there is a strong possibility of a discount coming in the future.  When the discount is released, we then apply the discount and the balance due decreases or a refund is issued.

Here is an example:

  1. Who is going?  2 Adults and 2 Children (ages 8 & 5)
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights? October for 6 nights and 7 days
  3. Where do you want to stay?  Anywhere on property – Value is fine
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?  We like to eat one big sit down meal and the other meals we will eat on the go.

Given the information above the Hotel (Pop Century), Meals (Dining Plan with 24 Table service, 24 Counter Service, 24 Snacks & 4 refillable mugs) and Tickets (7 day base tickets) would cost just about $3,000 before any discounts that might be released.

 So how do I save $3000? 

Here are some ways the DWDads recommend saving:

Simple budgeting 

Put $250 per month or $60 a week in a separate account = $3,000 after 1 year

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  • *Better yet each month go to Target and purchase $250 in Disney entertainment cards with your Target REDCARD (saving 5% on each purchase) – By the end you’ll have spent $2,850 on $3,000 in Disney Cards a $150 SAVINGS – Stack the REDCARD with a 5% Pharmacy Rewards Card (not valid in NJ) and you will save $300 on the $3,000 in cards.

Use your income tax refund

Many people receive a tax refund when they file their yearly taxes.  What better way to use this “found money” than on a family trip.tax-refund

  • In 2012 my federal and state return totaled – $3,248

Use your credit card cash back or miles balances

  • Disney Visa Card gives you 1%-2% (depending on the card) on all purchases and also saves you 10% on purchases of $50 or more at select locations including the Disneystore and Disneystore.com – Current Disney Visa Balance – $126
  • Discover Cash Back Credit Card – (2% on all purchases and 5% on select purchases each quarter) – Current Discover CASH BACK balance – $1,204

Save pocket change or even every $1 or $5 bills when you break a large bill

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  • Every time you come home, empty your pockets into a jar or milk jug.  You’d be surprised how much you can save over time.
  • DO NOT use Coinstar machines that charge a fee or spend your time rolling your change – many banks (TD Bank in my area) have FREE coin sorting machines and you do not even need to have an account there to use these machines.

Make a sacrifice for Disney

  • Quit smoking – $8 per pack per day = $2,920 in one year. Not only can you save the money, but you’ll be healthier and touring the parks will be easier too.
  • Give up Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks for daily coffee – $3-$5 or more per day
  • Pack your lunch daily – Lunch can cost you $5-$10 or more per day and those savings add up
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Disney Offically Breaks Ground on Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-inspired land

Last week, Disney officially broke ground on  the largest Animal Kingdom expansion in the Park’s history, an AVATAR-insprired land, with a ceremony which included large blue Na’vi-inspired shovels.

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Check out the video:

Still not excited about the AVATARland expansion – read below:

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

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Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

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In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

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Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23

AVATARLAND to Bring Big Changes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If untitledyou have ever felt that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was incomplete, or “missing” something, it’s probably because the original plans for the park included plans for another land called “Beastly Kingdom”.  The park concept was to have lands for all animals – those that exist in reality today (Safari), those that did exist but are now extinct (Dinoland) and those that only exist in fantasy. When the park opened in April 1998, given budget constraints and concerns over conservation, “Beastly Kingdom” was put on hold and a placeholder “Camp Minnie-Mickey” was put in its place.   If you look closely around the park today however there are several places where you can find leftover elements from the plans for this “Beastly Kingdom”.   Most prominently, a silhouette of a dragon appears in the park’s logo.   Also the next time you are standing in line waiting to enter the park notice the three large heads over the entrance of the park/ticket booths, the Elephant, the Triceratops and the Dragon.

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Disney seemed to put a placeholder for these mythical creatures in place when they constructed Expedition Everest which has been home to the Yeti since 2006.  Over the years concepts and rumors regarding a larger Fantasy inspired expansion have come and gone.  In September 2011 though, an announcement was made that Disney was working with James Cameron on Avatarland which would consist of elements of both his original movie and the subsequent two.   Nearly two years later the plans for that land seem to be moving forward as recently Disney has released some concept art and rough timelines for completion (early 2017). 

dtnemail-1Avatar_1-13876

dtnemail-Avatar_2-05dd5
In the world of AVATAR you will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants found on Pandora (the planet from the film).

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Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee (a mythical winged creature that lives on Pandora)

One of the other major drawbacks to Animal Kingdom since its opening has been the limited park hours.  Since the park was only open during daylight hours and had no nighttime entertainment many guests would refer to this park a “half-day park”.  Along with this expansion of the new AVATAR-inspired land, for the first time ever, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River.  The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.    With these changes on the horizon DWDads are looking forward to spending alot more time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. dtnemail-Avatar_4-92a23

Another option for larger families: Fort Wilderness Campground

After reading the DWDads blog  entry this Tuesday Disney World: The Family of Five Dilemma one of our first fans and avid followers reminded us that there was another resort on Disney property that could accommodate larger families.   Although we mentioned the cabins at Fort Wilderness and quoted a price of $4,850, we did not mention that you could also stay at the campgrounds at Fort Wilderness, where each site can accommodate up to 10 people.

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

There are 4 different campsite options at Disney’s Fort Wilderness:

FW Chart

We ran the quotes above just as we had in Tuesday’s example: a family of 6 with 2 Adults, 3 children (10,7,6) and an infant (under 3) for 7 nights June 21-June 27 with 7 day park hopper tickets. As you can see if you would like to pitch a tent for the week (tent rental is $30/day) or you are lucky enough to own a camper or RV and you are driving to Orlando, the cost you see above would be very affordable.

Photo courtesy of The Disney Company

Photo courtesy of The Disney Company

Photo courtesy of The Disney Company

Photo courtesy of The Disney Company

If you don’t own a camper/RV/trailer or motor home, there are companies like Moores Camping Rentals that can offer you a Fort Wilderness camper package (sleeps 10) for the 7 nights including full service drop-off, set-up and removal for an additional cost of about $1,200 + deposit.   This would make the all in cost for your 7 night vacation package including tickets just under $4,000 (depending on which site you picked).  Not only is the campground in a great location (just short boatride to the Magic Kingdom) but you will find great amenities and plenty of activities which we will detail in future articles. So next time you are looking to book a trip to Disney World contact us and we get you a quote for the best option for you and your party.

The Stroller: Your Disney Parks Base of Operations

If you have ever been to Disney Parks you know that you tend to walk a lot of miles.  While your little ones are full of energy and enthusiasm, the amount of walking is often too much for even children who normally walk at home; therefore, a stroller is necessary.   Some families dread the idea of bringing a stroller or renting one at the parks, but I am here to tell you that it has become a key tool in our touring and our “home base of operations” as we tour Disney Parks.  The benefits of the stroller go far beyond taking your kids along for the ride, and here are some of them.

1) On our Disney vacations the stroller has become the “home base of operations”, which means it’s not only for the kids, but it is a place to hang our backpack and hold our drinks and snacks.

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2) Keeping your children buckled into the stroller keeps them from wandering away from you as you make your way through the crowded parks.

3) Not only does this stroller provide a place to hold our bags while we wait for the afternoon parade, it also provides a place for our 2 year old to nap and a place for our 3 year old to fall asleep at the end of the night.

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4) It provides a seat for your children for outdoor events like parades and shows rather than having them sit on the ground.

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5) You can decorate your stroller to make it stand out – Last trip I used some wire and some portable battery powered EL lighting to provide some fun decorations for night time touring.

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We like to bring our own stroller which easily folds up so we can take with us to gate check at the airplane and easily on all Disney Transportation.  If you do need to rent a stroller however you can do so in the parks (pretty expensive), from outside companies, or even find a stroller exchange online.

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/stroller-rentals/

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/stroller-rental/

Disney’s Hidden Gems : Disney’s Silhouette Artists

Most of us are familiar with the most popular “headliner” rides at Disney’s theme parks; after all they are probably the main reason for visiting the parks.  In this series, however, I focus on some of the lesser known things to do inside the parks.  

There are many different types of talented artists in Disney Parks and watching an artist work is truly a great experience.  One group of artists in the Disney parks make their work come to life not with a brush or a pen, but a pair of scissors.  The Disney Silhouette Artists are some of Disney’s truly hidden gems.  Although they have the ability to complete a silhouette in under a minute, most take a few minutes start to finish.  Given the sentimental value and the talent of the artist, I am always amazed at how inexpensive this is.  Since we are always looking for a great keepsake or souvenir for our trips, this is a must for every Disney vacation.

From our sons first trips (left Charlie 2012; right Jack 2010)

Our sons’ first trips [left Charlie (2012); right Jack (2010)]

Disney World

Walt Disney World has multiple locations to capture these treasures: 2 carts in the Magic Kingdom – Main Street USA  (right side alley) & Liberty Square (behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe); a cart in France in Epcot; and Silhouette Portraits in Downtown Disney Marketplace.  Each session is done is done in just a few minutes, but the result will last a lifetime.  Since each session comes with at least two silhouettes, you can keep one and give the other as a gift (grandparents, maybe).

Nick Silhouette

Luke SilhouettePricing

Epcot/Magic Kingdom : Single silhouettes are $8 per person and you receive 2 silhouettes – mirror images of each other – and you can buy an optional black oval frame for $7.95/each.  Cash or Credit – no room charge

Downtown Disney – Single sitting portraits are $12; doubles are $20; triples are $24; or you can capture a family of four for $27. Each portrait comes with three copies and you can buy an optional black oval frame for $7.95/each.

Disneyland

Disneyland is home to the Silhouette Studio,  which is located on Main Street USA, where it has been since 1956. Two of the artists, Slyvia and Bonnie, have been working at the shop for over 30 years each.  Don’t be concerned if you think this shop is messy; the artists intentionally leave their paper clippings on the floor to add to the experience.  Since this place opened 6 months after the gates of Disneyland, they have produced millions of silhouettes.  So next time you are in a Disney Park, have a seat and have yours done.

Pricing

Disneyland : Single silhouettes are $9 per person and you receive 2 silhouettes – mirror images of each other – and you can have it framed for an additional fee. Cash, credit and room keys with charging privileges are all accepted.