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Disney on a Dime: We Survived Disney For One Day

I’m a Florida resident, my family likes to visit me in Florida and take day trips to Orlando to go to Disney World. It seems like a great way to visit Disney and to save some money at the same time but it really isn’t. I live about an hour and forty minutes away from any of the parks and it is still a commute. We purchased a ticket for one park because we were only in Orlando for the day.

It’s actually cheaper for the Park Hopper tickets to visit three parks at $324 per person but not everyone has the means to stay for three days. This is the way to go if you can do it but the tickets are a car payment. It is $130 per person (peak season tickets) and we went to Magic Kingdom during the peak season of spring break. The lines for rides can be two-hours long or more during peak season. Know that there is a line to park your car, to go through security to get in, to purchase your tickets, check-in with your tickets and to ride the monorail or ferry, and all of that before even getting into the park.

Know that there is a line to park your car, to go through security to get in, to purchase your tickets, check-in with your tickets and to ride the monorail or ferry, and all of that before even getting into the park.

Yes, those no-spill bubbles came from the Dollar Store and the Minnie Mouse ears were purchased ahead of time on Amazon.com.

These are my recommendations for one-day visits or for anyone visiting the park.

Souvenir Hack – We all purchased our Disney-licensed mouse ear headbands ahead of time on Amazon.com, which cost much less than in the souvenir shops at the park. We purchase two sets of ears on Amazon for $11 and they were selling for $24.95 for just one pair in the Magic Kingdom’s gift shop. We also went to the Dollar Store before going to Disney and purchase mouse glow bracelets, princess wands, crowns and more toys with the Disney-inspired theme. We kept some of the toys in our bag until we arrived and surprise, gave them out once we were well into the park. Young children won’t recognize if the souvenirs came from the Disney Store or the Dollar Store.

Young children won’t recognize if the souvenirs came from the Disney Store or the Dollar Store.

T-Shirts – When in Disney, you will find families walking around in matching custom t-shirts that read Daddy, Mommy, Big Sister or has the child’s name on the shirt. My favorite shirt that I saw was Fairy Grandmother! You can get inexpensive t-shirts made on Etsy.com before you go to Disney but order them early.

Photo by DeckedOutBaby on Etsy.com

Preferred Parking – Upon arrival, if you want to get into the park quickly, get the Preferred Parking for $20 more. The attendants will give you free cold water for everyone in your car, which at $3 a bottle in the park, can make up for the extra cost of the Preferred Parking.

Water – Saving money by carrying enough water into Disney to stay hydrated all day will be heavy and a burden. Take a bottle with a strap and refill it throughout the day at a water fountain.

Stroller Rental – The lines for renting strollers can be long. Bring your own stroller if you can.

Fast Pass Tickets – Get the app. Purchase your tickets online before you go. Make sure that you get the Fast Pass or you will become frustrated with the long wait times. Small children cannot handle long lines.

Navigating Your Fast Pass – We learned the hard way that your Fast Pass only allows you to reserve three rides at a time and that you have to use all three before you can reserve more. We had our Fast Pass rides spread out throughout the day, which was a mistake because by the time we used our last reservation at 6 pm, we were drained from the sun and there were no more reservations available for any other rides. Here’s how we will do it the next time. Look at the park’s map. Reserve the closest three rides back-to-back, and reserve the one most important to you first. That way when you’re finished with your first set of rides, you can book the next three closest rides immediately and do that working your way throughout the park.

Look at the park’s map. Reserve the closest three rides back-to-back, and reserve the one most important to you first.

Keep the Kids Busy In Lines – Bring bubbles! The kind that is spill-proof. Make sure the children have something to do, that is small and convenient to carry.

Restaurant Lines – There is not an easy way to avoid restaurant lines. If you bring your own stroller, pack a picnic lunch in a small soft cooler with frozen water bottles and put it under the stroller. If you don’t pack a lunch in the cooler at least pack the frozen water bottles. They will quickly defrost and stay nice and cold for a while.

Arrive Late – Floridians know to arrive at Disney about 2 pm during the summer, which is around the time it rains. Use your Fast Pass to book indoor rides until it the rain stops, which it almost always does that time of year. Check the weather report before you go to be sure. The advantage to this is that it is after your young child’s nap time; the rains cool everything off and the sun is beginning to set; all of the people who were there early, which most are, are about to leave; shorter wait times; you can have dinner at the park and stay for the fireworks at the end.

Photos – Take your own photos but you can also use the app and download all of your photos for $70 for photos taken the entire day or $200 for photos from your entire vacation. You can’t just pay for one photo so be sure to take lots of photos with the park’s official photographers to get your money’s worth.

These are just a few suggestions for the park and for parents. Have you been to Disney? Are you a regular? What are your suggestions to make the most of Disney on a dime?

Suggestions For Disney

I’m not a park professional but as an early childhood specialist, mom, and grandmother here are my recommendations:

•  More shaded areas. It’s hot in Florida and we need shade especially in lines.

• Discovery. Long lines are difficult for the little ones. When planning attractions, please build-in discovery items along the route like a please-touch-museum. For instances, use simple solutions such as molding fish scales into the rocks of Ariel’s grotto can occupy small children. Texture is always good!

• Benches. While you are building things, build-in more benches. You can never have enough places to rest.

•  Nap stations. We need an area for adult naps and children to nap that is in the park. Nap pods might be a solution for this.

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