Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our First Trip to Disney: A Poor Mom's Testimonial

Back in 1998 I decided to plan our first family trip to Walt Disney World. Actually, it was probably late 1997 that I started to plan. My husband had never been to "the World" and although he admitted that it really held no interest to him, he agreed that we should do it. Our son (we only had one at the time) was 6 years old and we thought he would be the perfect age to take. So I started a journey that started a hobby that has helped us have some awesome vacations.

I was a stay at home mom and my husband was a self-employed painter. We rent our home, we drove a really, really, REALLY old car...we were so not living the dream, but I was totally determined to have this vacation. I took a job cleaning houses once a week, we started a change jar, we booked our trip for five days/four nights at a Disney Value Resort. We even took on the meal plan which, at the time, was not free, you had to pay a set amount in to it and you could spend it as you wanted.

The change jar paid for 25% of our trip that first time. We were very faithful about not dipping in to it and made sure that money went in to it daily. We asked for Disney Dollars for holidays and special occasions. We cut back on some of the spending that we did. That first trip cost us $1,532 and that included our resort/hotel room, theme park tickets with the park hopper plus option and our meals for five days.

We were there from December 1-5; we spent my 30th birthday in the Magic Kingdom. We drove down to Florida from North Carolina and spent a couple of days with friends who lived about 90 minutes south of Disney and then arrived there early on the Tuesday morning. On the Saturday that we checked out, we spent the entire day in the parks and then stayed overnight at a local hotel right in Orlando that cost us something like $49 a night. We packed up a cooler for the drive down, we brought snacks to keep in the room and because we still had money on our meal/food plan account, we filled up our cooler before leaving our resort on that last night and had enough food for the ride home!

We stayed at the All-Star Music Resort in the Rock N Roll complex and it was amazing. The bus service was good, the room was great...I mean, we really were comfortable and pleased with the accommodations.

With the food plan we had an amazing dining experience. We ate the first day at Toy Story Pizza Planet for lunch and The Brown Derby for dinner. Our second day we at breakfast at the Main Street Bake Shop, lunch at the Crystal Palace and dinner in the castle at Cinderella's Royal Table. I got free desert at both places because it was my birthday. Day three we were in the Animal Kingdom and ate lunch at the Flame Tree BBQ...I honestly cannot remember where we ate dinner! Day four we were in Epcot and had lunch at the Garden Grille and had dinner in World Showcase in Japan. On our final day we sort of park hopped around. I remember eating on Tom Sawyer's Island at Aunt Polly's for lunch and then we went back to Hollywood Studios (MGM back then) and ate at the Brown Derby again. The funny thing was, they sat us outside and it was beautiful but they forgot about us and we got dinner for free! It was a problem for us because we wanted to use up our food account because you don't get a refund on unused funds. That $75 that we saved on dinner stocked our cooler for the ride home!

So you see, we didn't skimp on anything. We ate at wonderful restaurants. We went to all of the parks. We stayed on property. Growing up, when I went with my family to Disney, we never stayed on property so this was a HUGE treat for me. I would never opt to stay outside of Disney again.

And so my family's love affair with the Happiest Place on Earth Began...

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