Monday, June 10, 2013

Disney on the cheap

Obviously we love going to Disney parks. If we didn't, I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading this. But shit, it gets expensive fast. So what ways do I combat this? Well, that depends on what coast I am on. I'm going to try not to drag this opening statement out too much, so lets get moving, shall we?

Disneyland

Disneyland is actually pretty damn easy to combat prices. It's in an urban environment with a whole lot of other businesses around. So let's start at the first part of a vacation: a place to lay your head. Although it is fairly common to see people camping on bus benches and whatnot on SoCal, I would not recommend this. You could wake with a helluva pain in your neck and a new homeless friend.

This is right outside the gates of Disneyland.
Take your pick of  slumbering and dining establishments.
I would recommend staying in an off property hotel. Don't get me wrong, I love staying at Disney hotels, but damn. Getting gouged so they can gouge me more seems redundant. Stay off property. For the most part the hotels get cheaper the further you get from the main gate. But don't go too far, you could be sharing a hotel room with your new homeless friend. Jake previously made a great post about hotels within walking distance to the parks that might help.

This holds water. Or Captain Morgan. Whatever
you need to survive the crowds.
Eats! We must eat!  Hell, I'm eating at this very moment (that's a straight up lie, I'm typing at this very moment.) I believe I have covered this at Disneyland already, but I'll recap. Eat outside the park, it's easy. There are a shit tons of restaurants right outside of the gates. Grab a cheap bite for breakfast on your walk to the park. I've even left the park for lunch, because, well $5 at McD's or $15 for a similar fast food experience.  If you are eating in the park and there is more than one in your party, the sit down restaurants will split the meal for a small up-charge.  It's worth it.

Drinking is as important as eating.  Do it, for some reason people get mad dehydration if they don't.  That isn't so much fun.  Bring a camel pack.  Buy water at any convenience store and insert into camel pack, throw bottle in any proper receptacle and live another day!

Walt Disney World

Disney World is a little more difficult to survive on the cheap.  I try my damnedest when I go, but holy hell.  Well, lets dive into this.  Rooms, it's been said before, I'll say it again.  Stay ON property. That's right! It's roughly the same price, it's convenient, and there are good amenities.  Off property can be a bit cheaper, but you need a vehicle, gotta pay for parking, and you may not get a cool mug that is refillable in your resort.

Look at that. Split two meals between two adults and
two kids and you're only averaging $20 or so. The portions
are big!
Food! Ah Disney World food!!! (Wipes drool) It's yummy!  And it can get pricey.  The issue is that you can't just jam out the door go to get a McRib, so what do you do to save money?  Well, the dining plan used to be a great value as part of a package and still can be if you happen upon the free dining deals.  Now, it's just a value and a convenience. If you are going minus a dining plan (and not going stag), you can still save money, but you must use forethought. Again, share meals.  It is a little bit easier to do here than at Disneyland. Some of the quick-serve joints have large portions that are way easy to split.  One thing that my wife and I did when my older kids where a bit younger was go to the Mexico pavilion and split a meal each with one of the kids.  It worked well, filled us all adequately, and I didn't have to pawn a child to feed the rest of us. Also, EPCOT has free drinks! I have had a spotter and filled up bottles of my favorite beverages at Club Cool. Side note: if you get caught filling a liter bottle of Beverly they won't say anything, except maybe "weirdo".
Club Cool at Epcot. I've never seen a sign telling me not to
fill my own bottle. And no one has ever stopped me.
But let's stay hush-hush about this.
Avoid this particular fountain at the Magic Kingdom.
It seems to be the "tinniest" of the tin-flavored water.

Speaking of beverages, how does one stay hydrated on the cheap?  Again, camel packs come in handy. Bottled water is just as bloody expensive as soda is in the parks, so bring your water in.  Last time we stayed for a week as a vacation we did rent a car for one day so we could go to Margaritaville and we went to a super market and bought a few gallons of H2O.  I have also went to Downtown Disney, hiked across the street to the Hess Station (one of my favorite gas stations) and bought water cheaper than sold in the resorts.  If it gets to it, you can fill it for free in your hotel sink, but for some reason a lot of the water in the park tastes "tinny" to me.  Oh! The one fountain I have found that lacks the "tinny" flavor is in EPCOT, at the American pavilion.  Fill up there.  It's free.

There are more ways to save on dough that can be hit on later, but all this food and drink talk has made me hungry and thirsty. And kind of sweaty.