Tuesday, September 25, 2012

magic isn't cheap

Next Wednesday, the hubs and I are traveling to the Most Magical Place on Earth (I feel the need to capitalize that, for some reason), as his cross country team is competing in the ESPN Cross Country Classic. Back when we first found out about the trip, we were both pretty psyched. I say we, because I was invited to attend as a chaperone. Sidenote: There are few words in the English language that make you feel old than chaperone.

Before you get your undies in a bunch about taxpayer money being wasted on a non-district employee such as myself (like my Mom), you should know we were responsible for paying our own way. Additionally, the girls cross country coach decided this year, the team would "upgrade" from a value resort to a moderate resort. For those of you who don't know, here are the differences:

Value Resort: Your basic amenities - food court, gift shop, pools (but no water slides), a lot of walking, sometimes long waits for the shuttles. Basically, we would be at the Wide World of Sports hotel (or other Value priced hotel) with every other cross country team attending.
Moderate Resort: A bit more upscale. There's a food court AND a table service restaurant and there are more pools (and some have water slides). The walking is about the same as well as the transportation (Disney shuttle).

I stayed in the Port Orleans Moderate resort when I went to Disney at 17. Honestly, I don't remember anything special about it. The two times the =hubs and I have gone to Disney as adults, we've stayed near Downtown Disney (because we're drunks). Personally, I would've been fine with spending less money on a Value resort this time around. But then again, when there aren't 500 obnoxious high schoolers around our resort while I'm trying to sleep - I'll be grateful.

Granted, I'm sure we saved some money by traveling in a large group, but some things are expensive in Disney no matter which way you look at it. The biggest of these is food. I did some research the other night on this and there are a few websites with helpful suggestions, but the most informative one is Mouse Savers. Every tip you could ever imagine for any Disney vacation is there.

The number #1 tip I found was that you can now bring your own water into the theme parks and fill up at the water fountains as your day goes on. Considering bottle of water usually cost at least $2, this is definitely going to come in handy. You can also bring snacks into the park as well. This weekend, we'll be picking up some travel-friendly snack packs to bring in with us.

The hubs and I also agreed to keep our meals light. He's decided to stick with two meals a day, so if he eats breakfast, he'll skip lunch, and munch on the snacks until dinner. I can't skip meals without turning into an angry bear, so my plan is to bring oatmeal that I can mix up in the room to eat for breakfast then hit the produce stand of whatever park we're in that day (there's one in every park) for a cheap, nutritious filler. Hopefully, when our day starts to wind down I'll be able to grab a few pieces of fruit for the next day as well.

For times that we have to eat in the park, Mouse Savers points out a few money-saving options:
  1. Split a large meal between the two of us. For example, you can get half a rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes & vegetables for about $10 in at least one restaurant at all the different parks
  2. Buy kids meal portions at counter service restaurant - no kid required!
  3. Anything offered as a combination meal you can actually get a la carte. So instead of buying a sandwich, fries, salad, and drink, we can pick & chose what we'll actually eat. No wasted food OR money.
A little planning, I think, is going to go a long way here. Does anyone have any other tips I can use? Anything I definitely should or should not bring with me? You think, after three other vacations, I would know what I'm doing!

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