Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Frugal Mouse

A day at Walt Disney World doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, even after all trip planning discounts are accounted for (hotel deals, flight deals, Tables In Wonderland discounts for ADRs, Dining Plan considerations, etc.), you can still save money after you arrive. Little things add up, and at The Mouse, they add up quickly. Here are are few recommendations for how to save addition pennies during your trip.

Bring your own breakfast. This is a BIG money-saver. Eat breakfast before heading out (in your room, or at home). I know that unless you're in a DVC Villa, you probably don't have access to a stove that will allow you to make that egg sandwich in the morning. Most of the breakfast items that are served around The Mouse are very overpriced and generic in nature: oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, waffles (even though those are in the shape of our favorite mouse). Not a lot special here, so why spend several times the amount you would if you were to just buy something similar at the store or bring it from home? If you're going to be on the Dining Plan, I'd also not use any points on table service breakfasts either - use those for more expensive table service lunches and dinners and spend money on your own breakfast food instead. If you have a room with a mircowave, we can personally recommend a healthy and delicious oatmeal, Quaker Oats Weight Control Instant Oatmeal. They come in individual packets that you just throw in a bowl with some water and into the microwave for 1:45 and you're done! Not eating a Disney breakfast can save you major $$$ for a day, and it can be much healthier, too.

Bring A Water Bottle.
Re-fill all day long. Prices of bottles of water at Disney are outrageous; there's no need to purchase any water there when you can buy a dozen bottles at a supermarket for the price of 4 bottles inside the parks/resorts. For the really hot days, you may even want to freeze the bottle the night before and have it melt as you walk around the next day - guaranteed ice-cold bottled water!

Free Cups Of Ice
Ask for a cups of ice from counter service restaurants - they'll always give it to you. I find the ice chips perfect to keep in my mouth while I'm burning away in the middle of August. I've been known to put a few on the top of my head as well! Don't knock it 'til you try it!

The Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney
Eat lunch or dinner at The Earl. We've sung the praises of the Earl before... for $5.95, you can get a whole sandwich, and the variety they offer is outstanding. The bottom line is that the food quality is very good (unlike many Disney counter service offerings), and the price is very reasonable (unlike nearly ALL Disney counter service offerings). Consider this against most counter service restaurants, and it's a great deal. In addition, they have free refills on their fountain drinks.

Bring Snacks With You
WDW has let their hair down and relaxed about this a little. We've brought snacks in my sling bag for almost every trip we've made in recent months, and they haven't stopped us once. We'll pop microwave popcorn and divvy it up in ziplock bags and throw those in there. Crackers. Cookies. Apples. Bananas. Pistachios. Little Clementines. Pretzels. I'll even bring protein powder on the days I need to fuel up if I worked out that morning. Another idea is the Larabar, which is another great and healthy snack (made from pure and natural ingredients, minimal processing and no preservatives - I feel like a Biggest Loser commercial!) In other words, if it doesn't need to be refrigerated, we've brought it as a snack in a sack. Security check has never said a thing. They seem to know if they force people to buy their food exclusively inside the park, they will soon be losing out on people actually coming inside the park...

Disney Transportation
Save gas if you brought a car - ride the monorail or ferry boats or buses to get around between parks, resorts or Downtown Disney. It takes a little longer, but gas can add up quickly. Plus, there is SO MUCH to see and experience using Disney Transportation that you'll miss if you take a car. Don't get me wrong, as a local, I love the freedom of having the car available. But there is just something about taking Disney transportation that makes it Plus the experience most of the time.

Club Cool, Epcot
For a free treat, try Club Cool. Most of us know all about this wonderful place in the Future World section of Epcot just outside the Fountain of Nations. When those in your party crave something little more than water, go here. Free samples of international Coca Cola products are in abundance.

Rain Ponchos
Bring your own rain ponchos. They are several times more expensive if they are bought inside of The Mouse than they are if purchased at Walmart or Target. Disney knows that if people are poncho-less during one of Florida's patented afternoon downpours, LOTS of guests will feel compelled to go buy a poncho. Don't be one of those people spending $50 on ponchos for your family when you could have gotten them for $8 and just threw them in your backpack's side pocket instead.

An Option For Photopass
Don't get me wrong - we love Photopass. It's a great service - it's just expensive if you decide to purchase it afterward. So don't be afraid to ask the Photopass people to snap a few of your party with YOUR camera. They will do this every time. To buy your photopass photos after your trip can run you big time, so allow them to capture the same image with your personal digital camera. Sure, you won't have Stitch popping up through the sidewalk in your photos, but you'll also save $100+ dollars as well.

Free Things
If you have kids, take advantage of several of the FREE things that are available throughout the World. Some of these free souvenirs can take the place of incredibly expensive store merchandise. See one of our early Tip Of The Tail articles (October 2, 2009) for a comprehensive list of our favorite free things at The Mouse.

The Penny Press Machines
These can also be an inexpensive souvenir for kids. Stash a few quarters and pennies away and it might very well quench that desire to buy something else - something expensive.

Kidcot Stations in World Showcase, Epcot
Kidcot Stations are a gift to parents. There is something magical in the spell they cast over kids. It gives them a creative outlet as they color the mask that was given to them by CM from that country. Countless magic markers are available (a kid's favorite past time) for them to decorate their own mask and the CM will gladly write a message on the mask in their native language if you ask them.

The economy has indeed touched many of us loyal Mouse fans. And as we've cut back and taken advantage of these money-saving techniques, we've found that we really don't miss the other stuff all that much...and actually allows us to appreciate the occassional ADR all the more.

No comments:

Post a Comment