Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Disney in a Day

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a friend who was going to Disney thanks to the "Give a Day, Get a Day" promotion. Her main concern was only having a day and how much could they do, realistically, and while on a budget. Some told her that it could not be done, others told her that she could not do it without bringing at least $500 with her. I reassured her that it could be done and it could be done on a budget.

Okay, if you only had a single day in Disney, how would you do it? For starters, you have to have a plan. Decide on the ONE park that you are going to go to. I've seen it done where people actually hit all four parks in one day but your are basically SPRINTING around and only hitting the main rides and then running to the next. That is not fun or relaxing. My friend is going as part of a family of 4 - herself, her husband and two teenage sons. They are each getting their tickets for free thanks to the Disney promotion but if you were going to buy your tickets, you are saving money by only purchasing the one park/one day tickets. Park hopper passes are considerably more money.

They decided that they wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. Excellent choice. They are staying with friends outside of Disney so they will be driving in that morning. First thing to do is check the park hours and get there 30-45 minutes before opening time so that you have time to park. Magic Kingdom's parking lot is the furthest away so you will have to park, then, depending on how far away you are, grab a tram to get you to the platform where you will choose either the ferry or the Monorail to get across to the park entrance. You want to try and beat at least some of the crowds.

They are packing a cooler and keeping it in their car to save money on food and they are each bringing either a fanny pack or back pack in to the park that will have some snacks in it to hold them over. You can dine well in the park without going to a sit down restaurant, however. With places like the Main Street Bakery or Cosmic Ray's you can dine counter-service style without breaking the bank. A great way to figure out your dining options and cost in advance is to go to and click on dining. You will find all of the menus there and you will be able to find places to eat within your budget.

When you decide what park you are going to go to, it will be handy to have a Disney guide book available so that you and your family can go over what that particular park has to offer. The reason? Know in advance what everyone WANTS to ride and what you can skip. For example: On our first trip back in 1998, none of us were in to thrill rides of any kind. So when we planned our days, we knew that we could skip the biggest attractions like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc. because none of us wanted to ride them. We discussed it as a family so that at the end of the trip, no one was disappointed because the did not get to ride something that they wanted to. This makes for less confusion once you hit the parks so that you're not standing around going "What do you want to ride next?" "I don't know, what do you want to ride next?" This could take way too much time and then before you know it, you are out of time!

When I sat down with my friend, not only did I have a guide book to show her, but I also had a park map of the Magic Kingdom. You can order these for free from the Walt Disney World website or by clicking HERE. Since she had never been to Disney before, being able to look at a map and seeing the lay of the land, really helped.

Have a budget and be prepared to stick to it. With a cooler in the car, snacks in their bags, and bringing in water to drink, a family of four could get by with only spending maybe $50 on food for the day. You can limit the kids spending money for souvenirs, as well, and remember, you have to be firm and stick with it if you are on a budget. Of course you are going to see things and want things because Walt Disney World merchandise is amazing. But you can be strong and reel yourself back in before breaking the bank.

So can it be done in a day? YES! The key is to plan, plan, plan!! Know your budget, know your times and know exactly what you want to do and you won't be disappointed.

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