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Old 03-10-2014, 12:06 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
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Money saving tips for single mom with 2 kids

I'm starting to plan my family's first trip to Disney. I'm a single mom of two kids (almost 5 & almost 7) on a very limited budget and I'd love to know your best tips for saving money - when to visit, how long, best type of ticket to get, must see attractions, etc. I have very reasonable expectations based on my budget like willing to go for only 3 - 4 days and only visiting certain parks. I'm just tired of waiting to be able to go all out. They'll be so excited and overjoyed to be there for the first time that I just want to get planning
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:56 PM   #2
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You'll find a lot of information on the budget board, but generally any time schools are closed will be more expensive. You can skip getting a park hopper to save money, share counter service meals, bring your own snacks, stay at a value resort if staying on WDW property or look into renting points. You can get ice water free at any counter service restaurant and buy the new length of stay mugs that allow refills at any resort food court/area. If you're flexible with dates, planning a trip in the value season will definitely help.

There are lots of ways to save! Happy planning and have a great trip!
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:59 PM   #3
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How exciting for you! Definitely bring your own snacks and eat breakfast in your hotel room, if possible. DH and I always bring our own cereal with disposable bowls and spoons and just buy milk at the gift shop or cafeteria. Granola bars, bagels, and muffins might also travel well.

If you're flying into Orlando, utilize the free Magical Express buses to your resort, and be sure to use the Disney transportation system once you're at WDW. It takes awhile to get around, but the trade off is that it's complimentary.

Also, consider having one free day while you're visiting, to cut down on ticket costs. Take the kids to the pool, enjoy some of the free activities your resort might offer such as movie night, campfires, or pool parties. Remember that your kids will be probably just be thrilled to be at WDW and spend time with you, so no matter what you do, they'll have fun!
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:29 PM   #4
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Yes,do bring your own snacks. If you are flying, you can use amazon to have them delivered to your resort. The hotel will keep them for you until you arrive. And if you have amazon prime, that 2 day shipping is free!

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Old 03-10-2014, 11:39 PM   #5
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My mother was a single mom of two kids as well, and our Disney vacations were the best! We usually stayed off property to save, making sure there was a shuttle offered out the hotel, maybe even free breakfast. We brought snacks, and sometimes lunch; living in Florida makes food transport very easy. We are also go all day vacationers, so mom had us up super early and in bed only after we'd seen the fireworks; makes it easy to do a lot in three days. I know a lot has changed since I was a kid; it's been 20 years! But the basics are still the same, I think,
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:37 AM   #6
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Thanks, everyone! There's such a wealth of info out there and every bit helps. And I agree, they'll be so delighted to be there that every aspect of the trip whether in a park or not will be exciting!
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Old 03-11-2014, 02:21 AM   #7
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I brought disney themed snacks with us for each day. I bought disney themed party treat bags and filled them with fruit snacks, monster's u cheez it's, cars and princess freeze dried apples (babies r us sells them, but my 7 yo loves them and they are not only for little ones) and other snack items. It was easy to put in our day pack and there was no fighting over who ate what. The Disney tummy tickler juice bottles are really good too. I reuse ours all the time, refill with water throughout the day and they don't leak. I also limited shopping to one small item per park day and 1 stuffed animal for trip. I don't need too many extras.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:15 AM   #8
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Keep in mind if you stay off site you will need a rental car to get from the airport to your hotel. None of the hotels near Disney offer shuttles to/from the airport.

It will cost $15 a day to park a car at the parks. No matter how many parks you visit in a day you will only pay $15 once per day.

Once you factor in the cost of a rental car and paying to park it might be cheaper just to stay onsite at a value resort. If you stay onsite Disney provides free shuttle to /from the airport for their resort guest. Plus you won't need a rental car because you can take the Disney buses to the parks.
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Old 03-12-2014, 08:02 PM   #9
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How funny, I am a single mom with two kids (7 & 10) and going by myself for the first time with them next week. Last time we went I was still with my boyfriend at the time and having him around helped a lot, so I am a little anxious, but I hope I can handle them both on my own, they can be a handful at times. But I wanted to go, we all need a break!! lol

Nice to see I am not alone in taking my kids as a single mom. Maybe prince charming will be there when I arrive? lol
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:34 PM   #10
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My best suggestions to save money would be to...

Go in mid September if you are able to, because that is usually when the free dining promotion is offered (if they decide to offer it again) and the airfare is usually cheaper then.

Stay in a Value Resort.

Bring breakfast food to eat in the room and snacks (that won't melt) with you into the parks.

For the kids, purchase small gifts (glow bracelets, small Disney plushies, t-shirts, etc.) on sale before you leave home and give them as surprises when you are at Disney. They are much cheaper anywhere other than Disney World, but they kids won't know where they came from.
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:24 AM   #11
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You don't have to limit the food you bring to breakfast items either. If you and the children like easy to transport items like peanut butter sandwiches, you can have lunch in the room too. Get a Rubbermaid bread or bagel keeper if you want to bring it from home. Otherwise go to one of the shops (AKL, FW, etc) and buy a loaf there.

For dinner, look for family (and cost) friendly options. Get a whole pizza from the food court and take it back to the room or eat by the pool. Go to Picabu at the Dolphin and get the family meal.

There are also counter service locations that offer meals in rather large portions that are possible to share. Just plan it out a bit and there are savings to be found.

Unless you are going for the food at Disney, or the kids are really picky, you can eat without spending a fortune.

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Old 03-17-2014, 01:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tasmen View Post
Yes,do bring your own snacks. If you are flying, you can use amazon to have them delivered to your resort. The hotel will keep them for you until you arrive. And if you have amazon prime, that 2 day shipping is free!
I am thinking of ordering from Amazon prime for our upcoming trip. We aren't checking bags on our flight, so shipping snack, toiletries, water, , and a few surprises seem like a good way to save money. What are your best amazon prime finds?
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:07 PM   #13
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I guess one question would be Where do you live. Is Disney within driving distance for you? If it is and you wouldn't need to fly and do a rental car that might make a difference in how you plan your trip. There are some very nice timeshares in the area where you could save money on meals and have more room than the value resorts. Most timeshares require a Friday, Saturday or Sunday check in. There are some nice condos like Windsor Hills which are close and have private splash pools which are also very reasonable. I would have to say I love the room and options of offsite, but driving around Disney is not always easy and it doesn't sound like you will have anyone to read maps. My first stay was onsite and I would have to say I think that it was a good choice. Since then I have been back probably 20 times offsite and have been very happy with that choice. I feel that staying offsite saves me enough money so I can do longer trips. With the room and food savings we usually do 10 day stays. I don't believe you would ever be sorry that you stayed longer. With longer stays you don't feel as though you have to get it all done in a short time. If you or the kids are overtired it will take some of the magic away. I think we need more information to give you the best advise.
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Old 03-20-2014, 08:07 PM   #14
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Lodging - if you can find a good deal off property, make sure that it includes transportation to and from the Disney parks. Otherwise, I'd go for a Value resort - no frills but you get all the perks and theming of staying on site.

Food - Disney is fine with you bringing food into the parks as long as there are no glass containers. Bring your own water bottles for sure - they are overpriced in the parks. If you want to eat in a Disney restaurant (and some of them are really fun) try doing it at lunch rather than dinner because it's often less expensive then.

Tickets - to save money just get one park per day tickets. Park hopping is fun, but unless you absolutely KNOW you are going to park hop, you'll save by not purchasing that option.

Souvenirs - go to your local dollar store to pick up Disney stickers, puzzles, toys, books, etc. Each day, give each child one. MUCH less expensive than getting something in the parks!

Transportation - if you have the time and you don't live too far away, you can road trip it and save some money. My parents did this when we were in New York.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful time!
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Old 04-11-2014, 07:05 PM   #15
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I personally think with kids under 10, the regular dining plan can be great if you can swing it. But use it only for character meals, which are really expensive and with the plan it can save you a lot. Then there is no (or almost no) waiting in line to visit characters as you can meet them during your meal. It would be about $100 a day.
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