How a family of four does Disney on a budget


Welcome to Money Talks, a collection wherein we interview folks about their relationships with cash, their relationships with one another, and the way these relationships inform each other.

Walt Disney World is poised as a once-in-a-lifetime go to for many households, however for others, it’s residence base. With new rides opening, seasonal meals abounding, and accommodations debuting consistently, there’s at all times a cause to return — and in case you’re a fan, it may be a slippery slope towards turning into wholly obsessed.

Rocio de la O Peña, her spouse Lenise Kryk, and their twin Three-year-old sons are wholly obsessed. Hooked on the utopian glee of a Disney trip, the couple has spent the previous few years eschewing a single blowout journey in favor of feeling that Happiest Place on Earth glow as usually as potential. They go for the rides, leisure, nighttime reveals and points of interest which are typically included with their admission, however there’s a lot of merchandise, seasonal meals, and add-ons to splurge for as properly.

“Going to Disney” isn’t at all times synonymous with the California and Florida theme parks. The firm operates a cruise line, a Hawaiian resort, and even one thing referred to as the Disney Vacation Club, a time-share program that provides part-ownership in Disney accommodations and the chance of visiting worldwide resorts like Disneyland Paris and Tokyo.

Rocio and Lenise do all of this — and extra. Based in Las Vegas, the family of four visited Walt Disney World and Disneyland, took a Disney Cruise, traveled to Disneyland Paris, and even joined Disney Vacation Club up to now two years, all with out breaking the financial institution. Rocio, who works part-time for an autism remedy assistant program, and Lenise, the medical director of an company that gives in-home behavioral providers for autistic kids and youngsters, make it work on a low-six-figure wage by method of setting their very own guidelines, snapping up a deal after they see it, and consuming a lot of cold-cut sandwiches.

With Disney holidays as the final word monetary precedence — and one more worldwide theme park, Tokyo Disneyland, on the horizon for 2021 — right here’s how they make it work.

The following dialog has been condensed and edited for readability.


Rocio: Because we had been Florida residents [until recently], we received our Florida Weekday Select annual passes in 2018. We had been in a position to take each 2018 and 2019 Walt Disney World journeys with these annual passes. It price $690 for each of us, and the boys had been free. [Children age 3 and under do not need to pay admission for Walt Disney World and Disneyland parks.]

Lenise: Their birthday is March third, so we went mid-February to rejoice their 2nd birthday. The twins had a free flight there; not needing tickets for them has been a saver.

Rocio: The final two years we’ve been to Walt Disney World one time every year. We stayed with the identical associates each instances, on property as a result of of their Disney Vacation Club, so we didn’t must pay for a resort.

Lenise: We’ve by no means accomplished a Disney Dining Plan, [which allows you to pay for your meals in advance.] We eat 80 p.c of our meals that we deliver with us, and it’s truly fairly doable for four of us. When we stayed at Old Key West — it was a big two-bedroom condo type of deal — we went to the grocery retailer on the way in which up.

We sometimes purchase meals for breakfast if we keep someplace on property — yogurt, some waffles for the children — after which we pack sandwiches, fruit, and a lot of snacks. It’s kinda like while you go to the film theatre, you simply need to eat all day. When you stroll by churros, pretzels, and cookies all day lengthy, you gotta have a substitute. We’ve received a cooler that matches very nice with the stroller; we’ve received all of it dialed out. It’s an additional bag and a cooler, that’s actually all it finally ends up being. And then we purchase one meal within the park.


Rocio: On the 2019 Walt Disney World journey, I used to be in a position to e book all four of us for $510 on Frontier Airlines to Orlando International Airport

Lenise: Rocio is wonderful, I don’t understand how she finds the flight offers she finds. Sometimes we’ll fly into Ft. Lauderdale or Miami after which lease a automobile and make our method up the coast to Orlando.

Rocio: We don’t name them holidays, we name them journeys. Vacation is while you loosen up.

Lenise: Traveling with kids is a journey. I work with children with autism — I’m a behavioral interventionist, so coping with behaviors and shaping behaviors is what I do day-after-day. It’s like a life-style; it’s not one of these issues you’ll be able to simply flip on and switch off. They are, you understand, not angels of course — they’re Three — however I feel we’ve been fairly according to guidelines and expectations, so I feel that helps. Souvenirs might be very costly — I’ll get Disneybranded Pez dispensers or random different Disney trinkets we discover [at home] to place within the stroller and randomly give to [the kids] like, “Here’s a Disney treat!” They might care much less if it’s from Disney World or not, and that positively saves fairly a bit of cash.

Rocio: We don’t have passes to Disneyland or Disney World proper now. We didn’t renew as a result of we had been going to go from two to four passes [because the kids got older]. We knew we wished to do a Disney Cruise and go to Tokyo Disneyland in 2021, so we put that as a precedence. We didn’t need to take care of the crowds of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening, so we figured it was a good yr to take a break.

Lenise: If anybody will get us a present, it’s Disney present playing cards. We save the Christmas ones and use these for the deal with or toy [the kids] select that day. And Starbucks present playing cards — I do know it appears actually foolish, however after we’re driving to Disneyland and even at Walt Disney World, we save these to have our breakfast there.

If folks provide you with money, you’re going to spend it on stuff. If they offer you Disney present playing cards, there’s no choice however to spend it at Disney. Target has Disney present playing cards, and you probably have a Target card or RedCard, you get 5 p.c off. A buddy has a RedCard, and when we have now a greater journey, [they’ll lend it to us to] purchase Disney present playing cards. It retains us inside our budget if I understand how a lot is on that present card. If I simply use a bank card, I’ll neglect how a lot I’m spending.

Rocio: We actually take into consideration issues a lot.

Lenise: This is the one method that we are able to truly do it. I feel our associates both assume we’re similar to multi-millionaires as a result of we go to Disney a lot, however the ones who include us find yourself going, “Okay, I get it.” We know what we wish and we’re keen to sacrifice sure issues.

Rocio: We are very fortunate to have associates which are keen to [let us visit with their points]. We purchased our California Disneyland annual passes the primary yr after which my spouse’s superior boss gave us annual passes the following yr. So, we’re simply very, very fortunate, too. The two instances we had our annual passes from 2017 to 2019, we went to Disneyland 50 instances.

Lenise: We went Disneyland 10 instances in 2019; over 20 days complete.

Rocio: The rule for Disneyland is [to stay in] strolling distance from the park and get free parking. That’s my precedence after I’m taking a look at accommodations. Usually I do HotelTonight or Hotels.com as a result of they’ve the most effective offers. I by no means e book prematurely; I at all times e book two nights earlier than or the day of, as a result of most of the time we have now stayed strolling distance to Disneyland for lower than $100. If we are able to squeeze free breakfast, that’s wonderful, but when not, we deliver it.

Lenise: We max out our time in Disneyland for positive; we begin early and we keep late. There’s a CVS proper by there too, so it’s nonetheless cheaper to go get lunch meat and bread and stuff, however a lot of instances, since we’re driving in, we simply deliver every part we’d like and ensure the place has a fridge. I’d somewhat go 30 instances within the yr and lower your expenses with sandwiches than simply go one time.

Rocio: In Disneyland, I’ve to go to Ghiradelli as soon as a journey to get the Nob Hob Chill shake with a shot of espresso ($10). Ghirardelli does not take Disney present playing cards, so this deal with at all times comes out of our spending cash.

Lenise: The Disneyland corn canine are positively a splurge for me. I at all times just like the apple pie caramel apple ($11.99). I can’t make these and carrying that will be a nightmare.


Rocio: We did the seven-night Very Merry Christmas Cruise in November 2019 on the Disney Fantasy. We booked it by means of Costco as a result of while you e book from them, you get 5 p.c again in case you use the Costco bank card and $250 Costco money, in order that positively brings the associated fee down.

Lenise: The journey, earlier than these rebates, was $5,200. I knew I wished to do a Disney cruise for my 40th birthday, that was no query … however we did it in November as a result of we received three additional days and Christmas theming for nearly the identical worth it will have price us in April. We received our Santa photos there, we received our family Christmas card photos there, so all-in, not too dangerous.

Rocio: We had a objective for final yr for our financial savings, and we knew that we had been going to spend this cash subsequent yr anyway, so we compromised and stated okay, we’re going to take that from our financial savings now, however subsequent yr, we have now to satisfy our objective.

Lenise: We joined Disney Vacation Club this previous November whereas we had been on a Disney cruise. We’ve gone and accomplished the spiel most likely 3 times; we all know the advantages and we kick ourselves within the butt for not getting it earlier. Whenever we seemed it up earlier than, we had been taking a look at a $500-a-month cost and I used to be like, “I can’t, that’s just too much, I’m gonna have a hard time sleeping at night for the next 10 years.” So, [for a smaller funding with fewer “points” that can be utilized to e book rooms] we pay $250 a month and the down cost was $four,300.

Rocio: We do must pay property taxes every year, however the charge was waived as a result of Disney’s Riviera Resort, the property we purchased into, wasn’t but open on the time.

Rocio: We even introduced our popcorn bucket [on the cruise] so we might get $1 popcorn refills. We tried to save lots of.

Lenise: We truly borrowed it from our associates in Florida, took it there and gave it again to them.

Rocio: It’s the little issues.

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Source link Christmas 2019

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