After my initial panic about planning a[n unbudgeted] Walt Disney World trip in a month, and reading everything I could get my hands on about Disney (thanks for sharing your Pinterest board, Amy, and your packing list, Jen), I figured out how to do Disney on a dime. But, what about all of the little, additional things that tend to add up? Well, my friends, that’s where I’m currently at with my Disney planning.
Almost everything you read about Disney World warns against tackling the parks without a plan. With just a month until we leave, the planning part was causing me the most stress. Not only did I need to figure out how to do this trip without breaking the bank, I need to plan for our time in the parks and for, well, the unplannable.
Let’s tackle some of the easiest things first.
Now, you can spend the money to purchase the Disney Memory Maker — $169 or $149 if purchased in advance — or you can save that money for a nice meal while at the parks by taking your own photos. I absolutely love photography, and especially hate posed photos, so this is a no-brainer for me. I have a decent camera — a Nikon D3100 — so there’s no reason for me not to take our own photos throughout the trip.
While I can shoot in auto mode and still grab great pics, I really want to up my photography game to get the most out of my camera and the best shots I can to preserve memories of this trip. I’ll fully admit that I’ve had this camera for 6 years or so, and have not taken the time to really learn about all of the features and functions. With a few weeks to prepare, I’m using the book many Disney guides recommend — Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. And while I can easily buy this book from Amazon for $15, I’m looking to save on potentially unnecessary expenditures. I was pleased to find that my library system had a copy, and I’m currently working my way through it — for free. I’ll come back to the public library momentarily.
My camera case is bulky, and definitely not something I’d want to bring into the parks, but I still want some protection for the camera I spent I pretty penny for years ago (it was around $800 when I purchased it). A brief look at camera cases, slings and backpacks on Amazon — and how expensive they are — made me look for another option.
I came across Camera Coats on Etsy, the perfect solution for my camera-protection dilemma. For $35 you can get a padded camera coat, which slips over the housing to protect when not in use; you can also add a matching padded strap and lens case, in one of their many fun patterns. In an effort to cut costs, I just purchased the housing cover, or “coat”, and will get an inexpensive padded cover for my strap. So, for $35, you have a stylish, protective cover for your camera, and the ability to use it over and over (I don’t know about you, but I likely wouldn’t have used one of those expensive camera slings after the park because I already have a camera bag). Oh, and because of my Ebates extension, I was able to receive 1% back on my purchase in the form of an electronic rebate – score!
So much can be found online these days, and I didn’t even venture into Disney travel guides until I’d already spent hours perusing different Disney travel sites. I will, however, say that the Birnbaum’s Official Disney Guide that I got from the library (another $20 saved), concisely summarizes everything that I spent hours surfing the Internet to learn. It’s handy, and I definitely recommend grabbing a copy, or getting one through your library, to help cut your Disney planning time down drastically.
I will say that I’m still contemplating purchasing one of the two hidden Mickey guides available on the market — Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets or The Hidden Mickeys of Walt Disney World — as a way to occupy my little guy while waiting in long attraction lines.
So, here’s the thing. We’ve not indoctrinated our son with all things Disney (we’re more of a Disney-Pixar family), and I rarely, if ever, buy graphic or character clothing for my son. That being said, I thought it would be fun for the kiddo to have an all-Disney wardrobe for our vacation in the parks. Granted, this is a completely unnecessary expense — I know that kids will have tons of fun no matter what they’re wearing — but I have a little secret to share: Swap.com
I’ve consigned through Swap.com — was able to sell all of my maternity clothing and a box of my son’s outgrown clothing — and I’ve been purchasing from the site for almost two years now. I love consignment sales, and I love the fact that I don’t have to wait for twice-yearly sales to purchase clothing and other items for my son (he recently went through a pant size in two months – Swap saved me a lot of $$!).
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I was able to purchase the clothing you see above — 3 short-sleeve tees, 2 long-sleeve tees, a Mickey windbreaker and a Toy Story sweatshirt — all like-new and brand-new licensed Disney clothing — for the grand total of $31.70. Yep.
Because of the time of year we’re going, weather can be warm or chilly, and even both in the same day, so I’m packing a variety of different clothing for the trip. I have my own Swap.com order of clothing arriving any day now — I purchased a Gap denim jacket, two pairs of nice capris, a Tinkerbell tee, a Mickey Mouse hoodie and a Mickey Mouse tee for my husband — for $48. So, that’s Disney clothing for the entire family, for under $100 – not bad, eh?
You can save 20% off of your first Swap.com order & get FREE shipping when you shop with my referral link
Well, what about souvenirs and keepsakes, you ask? That’s a topic for another post, but I rest assured, I have some amazing money-saving tips there, too!
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