Happy Six Month Save-A-Versary to me!
You read that right. I have been Saving to Disney for six months. When I started this endeavor back in April, I could not have imagined how much it would change the game for me. I expected my money view to change. It did. Check. I was hoping the course would give me a greater understanding of how to manage my money. Yup. Check and check. I didn’t anticipate how it would completely transform my grocery shopping. Surprise! I couldn’t know that it would help me not only save for Disney, but Christmas, and Birthday Parties, and Father’s Day…When I say Saving for Disney changed my life, I’m not exaggerating. And the proof is in the pudding. Let’s take a look my Disney Fund.
As many of you know, I am Saving to Disney for a 2018 trip, in the early Fall. September not only marks my six months of saving (and these posts), it begins the countdown for a new year (and a lot more posts!) What I’d like to do today is break down how far I’ve come, how far I’ve got to go, and what I plan on spending all that money on. I find it easier to save when I have actual objects in my mind to work towards, not just the abstract concept of “vacation.” It’s a lot easier to say “I don’t need this extravagant cooking pan, even if it is marked down, because what I do need is to do the Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace.”
The B Family’s 2018 Disney Trip
Total Trip Savings Goal: $3500
We travel from the Midwest to MCO, so we get direct flights. This last trip, our little was still under 2, so we only had to pay for three seats. Next year we won’t be so lucky. To anticipate cost for four tickets instead of three, I multiplied what we paid per ticket this year ($166) by four, then rounded up, to give myself wiggle room. If airfare ends up being less than $700, we’ll put the difference towards souvenirs or special experiences… like the Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Our stay will be five nights. We run into the same issues every trip when it comes to a hotel. “Let’s try somewhere else,” we say. “We’ve done Coronado so many times, let’s do something new,” we say. Then we look at all the moderates. We check out the amenities. We debate theming and décor. We look at distance and dining and door knobs, and it never seems to matter. We always come back to Coronado Springs. It is our family’s favorite hotel and probably will be forever. This is a rack rate that Disney is currently advertising. If we don’t get Free Dining (more on that later) we’ll probably qualify for a room discount. My Travel Specialist, the amazing Kari O’Dell, books the trip for me when I am ready and as soon as special offers are released, she hustles to get them applied to my trip.
Our check-in date will be before our little’s 3rd birthday, which means she won’t need a ticket! We’ll get 2 Day Base tickets, since our girls are still small and can’t handle much more than two days. Two day base tickets for three people are clocking in right now at $585. We’re anticipating another price increase, we are budgeting to compensate for that.
Two adults on the Disney Dining Plan for five nights is $755. One child will be $129. We’re looking at $884, and again, budgeting for a slight increase between this year and next year. Our little won’t need the dining plan and between meal sizes and snack credits, she’ll be more than covered. I am not so secretly hoping that Free Dining will be released for our dates, in which case we’ll do that and upgrade from the Quick Service plan to Disney Dining. That will hopefully leave us some cash flow to put towards special experience…like Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Have you picked up what I’m laying down? I really want to do the Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that we have hit our $3500 mark. But there are still things that I haven’t accounted for! What trickery is this?
Here’s what’s missing, in order of importance: Tips (for Table Service Meals, Mousekeeping, and Magical Express), Souvenirs, and Extra Special Experiences…like Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace. Don’t worry, we would never leave those hardworking Cast Members without tips. The week we are at Disney World, we do not use our weekly grocery budget, since our food is already taken care of. Because this money exists in another budget currently (Grocery) we don’t count it towards our Disney Fund. But we know it’s there, earmarked for our trip. Here’s a ball park of how our tips usually shake down:
Magical Express: $10
$5 each way. We have a double stroller. Those drivers are saints.
We tip Mouskeeping every day that we request it, which is every other day. We keep the privacy sign on our door for our pool days. We are in and out so much, that it’s easier to just keep the room to ourselves those days. Parents of small ones, this is a strategy that has served us well the past few years. Our girls are small, and so are their messes. Trying to navigate a nap schedule/potty trip/personal meltdown around someone trying to do their job and clean a room was a little too high stress for us.
Table Service: $100
Check out the menus of the restaurants you plan on making reservations for to figure out how much you need to tip for your party. Even if you are on the Dining Plan, you are expected to tip for table service meals. Prices change between lunch and dinner, and some meals are buffets while others are full service. We are planning on Ohana, Be Our Guest, and Maya Grill for dinner, Crystal Palace for lunch, and one more location, to be determined. Determine a base level for your tip based on this information, but be prepared to tip a little more for Cast Members that go above and beyond.
Souvenir money is usually made up of gift money from grandparents and runoff from budget. We’ll know in the spring if we are getting Free Dining or a room discount. We’ll also have a firm number for plane tickets, as we like to buy 60 days out, minimum. From then we’ll look at the budget and re-access accordingly.
How close am I to the dream?
Total Goal: $3500
Fund Total: $1173.74
Still Need: $2326.26
Ya’ll, I cannot believe those numbers, but I better believe ‘em because they’re real! In six months I have saved a little less than half of our Disney Trip! The vacation will need to be paid off 30 days prior, but that means I still have 11 months to save $2326.26. If I keep the same pace, not only will I hit that goal, but I could potentially go over. And if I go over, you know what that means? All together now: HAPPILY EVER AFTER DESSERT PARTY ON THE TOMORROWLAND TERRACE.
If you are plugging away at Saving to Disney, take a minute to access your fund. Look at how far you’ve come, and get a clearer picture of what you need to do moving forward. You may be surprised (and delighted!) at your progress. Good luck, friends. I know you can do it. To infinity and beyond!
Tell me about how your funds are going! We’re all in this together. Have you been to the Happily Ever After Dessert Party on the Tomorrowland Terrace? I need to hear all about it. Holler at me in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!