16 Comments

  1. What a great way to take a Disney vacation! We took the kids to Disneyland a few years ago and it was nice to slowly purchase tickets as our budget allowed! It was actually a three week road trip that was full of memories and fun! I’ve been tempted by some of the cards that offer Disney rewards in return. We hope to take the teenagers to Disney World some day too! Great job on planning!

    • Thanks, Jayleen! I bet you guys had so much fun on your road trip! We are planning to drive down and I can’t wait for the road trip part of our vacation. I want to make it fun for everyone. The last time I went to Disney was as a teen, and I loved it! There really is something for everyone no matter your age. Good luck on your future Disney planning, and thanks for reading!

  2. We are toying with the idea of doing the Disney Cruise instead of the park. We need to hurry and make a decision so we can plan the trip the way you planned yours!

  3. Becca

    We took the kids to Disneyland last year. Since we live in Australia it was a very big and very expensive trip! We had a blast. We spent very little money once we were in the park – my parents came with us for one day (I’m from the US and they drove across to meet us for the day) and bought lunch, but it wasn’t any more expensive than normal fast food fare elsewhere; the second day, we bought a soda and that was it; we just ate pb&j for lunch. None of the souvenirs were interesting enough for us to buy, but we did get the kids a few of those squashed pennies. Park admission is expensive, but it is worth every cent; they do a great job with the theme parks. But once you’re in, it really doesn’t have to be expensive. But, it definitely helps that my kids really aren’t into Disney princesses or anything like that – they just wanted to do the rides, which was fine by me. Look for free souvenirs too – they hand out badges at the Customer Service desk for first-timers, and those are great souvenirs for kids.

    We’re off to Universal Studios in Japan at the end of this week and since my daughter loves Harry Potter I doubt we’ll come out of it as cheap; but since the tickets to the park are much cheaper than Florida or California, I’m hoping souvenirs will be too. She’s been saving her pocket money, too. Every year we get the kids a Christmas ornament; I’m hoping they have some fun options there, but since Japan doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, who knows?

    • Wow! Universal Studios in Japan? That is going to be so much fun for you guys, you will have to let me know how it goes.

      I am really grateful that Disney parks allow you to bring food in, and that water is free. It saves a lot of money to pack a cooler. I am glad you had such a great time at Disney – I am going to need to take you up on the tip about squashed pennies and free first-time badges! My son will love that!

      • Becca

        Well, Universal Studios Japan was fun, but extremely crowded – we were there on a slow day and the lines were easily an hour long when the park first opened! Once we got off our first ride (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – wait time, 90 minutes) the longs were 2 and 3 hours long! And forget about cheap souvenirs, a tiny little keychain cost Y1500 (about US$15) and the magic wands were Y5000 (about US $50). Needless to say I didn’t find the kids’ Christmas ornaments at USJ. But I did find them some gorgeous antique glass deer from Nara (home of an amazing deer park) for Y500 (about US $5). Now I just have to tie some fishing line on to them to turn them into ornaments. In all, Japan is an affordable family vacation destination; but USJ is definitely a huge splurge. Food in the park is mega-expensive too. However, although there are signs saying that outside food is prohibited, everybody brings in their own food and none of the staff say anything about it; and there are plenty of drinking fountains all over; so, putting aside the cost of admission, it was still a fairly affordable day; we just didn’t get any souvenirs!

        • Wow! That sounds so amazing and affordable, aside from the airfare! I want to go there one day. It sounds like the souvenirs cost about the same as they do in the US, extremely overpriced! I am glad you had a great trip.

          • Becca

            We had cheap airfare. That’s our #1 rule for travel – we don’t care where we go; we just go where the airfare is cheap. The flights to Japan were $350 return. For a trip to Japan, your biggest expenses will be airfare, accommodation (we paid between $80 and $100 a night for 2 bedroom apartments), and transport (a JR pass which allows you to use any Japan Rail line anywhere in the country is around $350 for a week for adults and $175 for kids). Food is very good and while produce is not cheap, you can get ready-made meals with really good authentic Japanese food for around $2 to $4. I can’t really tell you what we ate because the labels were in Japanese, but it was all so good. Attractions cost what you want them to cost – as in, if you don’t want to pay for something, you just don’t do it. There’s always plenty of free stuff to do – temples and shrines (you have to pay to go inside of some of them, but walking around the grounds is always free), parks and gardens, people-watching (which in Tokyo is endlessly fascinating), window shopping. We aren’t wealthy; we don’t have a lot of debt and we’re very good at saving money; but our income is below the national average. but we prioritise travel, and we know how to do it cheaply.

  4. This is exactly what I’ve been doing! When we made the decision to go to Disney in Summer 2017, we started a count down that was on 1200+ days. We’re now down to 450(ish) days and are getting ready to start booking things over the next couple of months! Having nearly 1000 days to plan and look at things has meant that I’ve found really good deals for a villa, tickets, flights and more! Coming from the UK, we have to budget as best we can as the flights are really expensive, and doing it this far ahead, means I can save loads! Tania xx taniamichele.blogspot.co.uk

    • I am so glad I am not the only one doing this! I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip, and that you find great prices for your plane tickets – I bet you will, you have time to watch the pricing trends. Thanks for reading!

    • Becca

      My entirely unsolicited advice – and please feel free to ignore me: Hands-down the best way to experience the US is with a road trip. Australians love to go to the US but they only ever see LA, Las Vegas, and New York and they think that’s enough for them to really “get” the country. Then they drive me crazy by telling me all about y own freaking country! “Oh, you Americans are all -” and I want to scream, “No, that’s New Yorkers, or people from LA or Las Vegas, but that’s not all of us!” If you visit LA, Las Vegas, and New York, you might have a surface understanding of LA, Las Vegas, and New York, but as any American can tell you, that’s not all the country is about. So, if you can at all afford it, rent a car and visit some places the international tourists just don’t go. You’ll see some awesome things, meet some amazing people (seriously, Americans are some of the nicest, most friendly, lovely, welcoming, and just all-around greatest people you’ll meet!) and get a deeper understanding and appreciation of the US. Because, really truly, it’s a fantastic country. LA, Las Vegas, and New York are all great too – I don’t mean to denigrate three terrific cities – but there are plenty of other gorgeous places too!

  5. Trisha

    I am currently rushing to save every penny for our families first Disney trip which is my dream vacation. We are planning on going with cash/trip fully paid in October over my kids’ fall break from school. We are working with a free Disney travel agent for all the best promotions and if we don’t have the money in time we will just move the trip out another year. I love your 3 year plan which is about $4/day savings over 3 years toward my families next trip. We could take small trips in between Disney but always have a big trip we are saving for. Love the ideas! Thanks!

    • No problem! I have heard that Disney travel agents are amazing at finding the best bundles and promotional offers…so hopefully you will be able to save up the money and go this year! Thanks for reading!

  6. Steph

    I didn’t think you could buy the actual park tickets that far in advance? Although, I’m a FL local so I think since we get a resident discount our tickets expire after 6 months. Our trips have been semi spontaneous and the only thing I wish we could have planned thoroughly was the ADR, Be Our Guest is booked solid and I’m hoping we can be able to eat without one, fingers crossed. They really need a few more table service restaurants in Magic Kingdom that are up to par with Be Our Guest as dining reservations are the most difficult thing to land.

    • I agree with you on that one. Lots of people I know are up at midnight 120 days before their trip just to book ADRs. According to Disney, tickets to the parks never expire. However, if you have a 6 day pass for example, you have 14 days to use it from the time you activate the first day. But if you don’t visit the parks, and you hold onto those passes, they won’t ever expire even when the ticket prices go up.

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