Friday, June 10, 2016

Disney on a Dollar

Seriously... $1 and some gas on our day at Disney.  Mind you we have a 4yr old, 2 yr old, and 6 month old.  All of whom are very easy to please.  My husband and I decided we wanted to do Disney, but not go into the parks...say WHAT?!?!?!  With our kids so young, even with a military discount we couldn't justify dropping over $500 on tickets for something none of them will remember.  Not to mention it's insanely hot, they still take naps midday and two of the three kids are too short to ride a LOT of rides.  Don't get me wrong, the parks offer plenty for my 3 little monkeys, but we decided to hold off for a few years.  So I started doing some research on how to make the best of our FREE day at Disney.

We attempted this 3 years ago when we only had one munchkin and it was way easier to just wing it, but this time I wanted a plan.  Plans are essential for me to avoid tantrums, mine...not the kids...OK maybe the kids too.  So this is what we did.  I've added some links to great resources at the bottom of this blog for reference.

We started out at Disney Springs (AKA Downtown Disney, they seem to change the name every few years).  FREE parking at Disney springs...even parking for our beast of a vehicle with a kayak strapped to the top.  (**For you RV folks, if you need to bring the house with, they do have over-sized parking on the west side.)  Disney Springs has some great activities, street performers, the Lego store (with interactive Lego building), T-Rex restaurant, and my personal favorite, Ghirardelli!!  We attempted T-Rex on a previous evening, waited the 20 minutes for a table, were seated and then ended up leaving a tip for our water and high-tailing it out of there when we had a terrified 2 yr old and a 4 yr old who wouln't remove his hands from his ears, claiming it was too loud.

Anyhow, back to our day.  We left our vehicle at Disney Springs for the day and hopped on a bus to the Polynesian.  It's been years since I've been there but it's GREAT!!  In the lobby they were giving out free pineapple ice cream samples and had a coloring table for the kids.  We knocked out a couple coloring sheets before heading to the pool to see the awesome "volcano" and waterfall.  While Dad changed Baby A's diaper the boys and I spent our first 51 cents.  I like to call it the Cheapest Disney Souvenir.  In the lobby they have one of those penny press machines. So for 51 cents the boys got a Buzz Lightyear Penny.  (You can collect these all over Disney.  Do it as a fun scavenger hunt, who can collect the most pennies??)

We left the Polynesian via the monorail, or train as my boys called it, to the Grand Floridian.  I had read on a different blog about the flooring at the Grand Floridian, but had never noticed it.  As we approached I told the boys to watch the floors for anything they recognized.  They immediately found Mickey and Dog (Pluto) meticulously crafted into the marble flooring at the entrance.  You can also find Tinker Bell, Cinderella and Mrs. Potts in different areas.  Not to mention the "hidden mickeys" everywhere.  (Check out the manhole covers, electrical poles and above the children's TV in the Grand Floridian lobby, just to get you started)  The boys got to watch a few minutes of a classic Mickey cartoon and we headed off to our next adventure.

By monorail we hit the Contemporary Resort.  After collecting our Finding Nemo penny (the other 51 cents)  we admired the artwork and walked out to the pool area.  They have a neat set of Mickey ears the kids immediately climbed on.  They also have covered tables by the splash pad that made a great spot for a stop.  I had packed a pasta salad in a cooler bag with a gallon of cold water and pretzels to keep us going.  We enjoyed our meal and headed to the dock.

From the dock we caught the boat over to Fort Wilderness.  It's a really neat spot with a beach, nature trails and a couple of horse ranches.  The pony rides were $8, which seemed to be a great deal looking at how long the ride actually was, but if you are like us we just walked through the horse ranch and admired the ponies while LJ cried, "The horses are going to get me!".  We aren't sure when this fear of horses started, or why, but the poor guy was without a nap and just about distraught over being forced to be around such terrifying creatures.  So we left.  The plan was to walk the mile trail to Wilderness Lodge and catch a bus back to Disney Springs, but the 90 degree heat, 200% humidity and lack of naps pushed us in the direction of an air conditioned bus from Fort Wilderness to our car back at Disney Springs.

*The last time we attempted this we hit up Animal Kingdom Lodge.  It was a great spot, especially since my kids LOVE animals.  The lobby is fun, the playground is awesome and the animal sightings are great!!

**I've read that you can actually park at a Disney resort for free for 3 hours, but we didn't think we would be done in that time limit.

We had a great time and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.  We think AJ is catching on to us though.  On our way home he informed us that, "We went to Disney, but we didn't really go to Disney World."   Sorry kid, it's not worth liquidating your college savings right now.  Maybe in a few years when Baby A will be old enough to ride a few rides and we can talk a Grandparent into babysitting at night so Dad and I can hit up the fireworks and roller-coasters.  We'll see.

What amazed me the most about our day, while we didn't have to stand in any long lines for hours in the blazing June heat we returned home exhausted and overdue for bed.  But hey! We got to see and do some fun stuff and only spent $1.02 at Disney World. That has got to be some sort of record.

1 comment:

  1. When driving home we realized a couple of things. While we had a good time, it wasn't something fun enough to repeat in the same way. Bringing bathing suits for the kids to enjoy resort pools and splash pads throughout the day would up the fun factor quite a bit for them, but we have some qualms about going that far with the "freebies." The resort pools aren't "free", they are for paying guests. And while we could probably get away with it, we'd rather not feel like we are cheating Disney out of money.
    Second, we figure we may be able to find some balance on our next visit (in a couple of years?) between this $1 Disney and the full blown experience costing many many hundreds. Perhaps we would stay one night at a resort (2 full days of resort fun) combined with a Chef Mickey meal with Disney character encounters. Expensive, but not as expensive as Magic Kingdom tickets, and the kids will certainly have a good, if not better, time. But I'm reminded of AJs first Disney character meeting, over dinner in Epcot when he was 2 1/2. Boy did he cry! That mouse had better keep his distance, or we were going to have some serious problems. So spending $50 a plate at Chef Mickey for our kids to be terrified maybe isn't the best idea.