I’ll spare you all the boring [to everyone else] details of our [very fun] trip to Disney and share just one very humorous anecdote:
This trip we were staying at the Contemporary Resort (thanks to some awesome Florida Resident deals), and on Saturday evening we left the park around 11:30pm and took the monorail back to the hotel. By then both girls were asleep in our double stroller and we wanted to keep them asleep at all costs. Unfortunately, when we got off the monorail at the hotel, we were told that the [only] elevator was out-of-order. We asked how long it would be, since at that point, waiting was preferable to waking the kids, and the very nice Cast Member said, “look, I’ll be honest with you, someone urinated in the elevator and we’re waiting for it to get cleaned up. However, if you don’t mind the urine, I’ll let you go down.”
Now, we’re parents. We deal with kids’ bodily fluids on a daily basis. A little pee in the elevator wasn’t going to kill us. So the very accommodating Cast Member opened the door and boarded the elevator with our stroller, taking care to avoid the puddle in the corner. Unfortunately, however, the elevator was equipped with doors on both sides, and when the poor man turned the key to turn the elevator back on, the opposite doors opened automatically.
As if it were happening in slow motion, a young boy ran onto the elevator, straight into the only space left: the puddle as simultaneously the Cast Member, C. and I, and the boy’s mom yelled “NO!” But it was too late. As we watched in horror, he slipped on the puddle and landed with his back and head smack dab in the middle of the pee. There was dead silence for a few seconds and you could see the wheels turning in the poor Cast Member’s mind as he weighed his options. Finally, he turned to the boy’s mom and said. “That was urine.” Her look of utter horror was all we saw as the doors slammed shut, and we went on our way.
It was one of those moments that you don’t even realize are funny until afterwards. At least the girls stayed sound asleep!
There are so many fantastic Disney planning resources out there that I almost feel silly giving you my advice, but here are some of my favorite tips for planning a great trip and saving a little money along the way.
- Bring an “emergency kit.” Pack a small bag with first aid supplies, sunscreen, diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, batteries, cameras, snacks, & pens (for autographs.) This may not seem like a budget tip, but trust me, it is! If you forget something and have to buy it at the park, it will way more expensive than bringing it from home. I like using an inexpensive reusable canvas shopping bag because I can leave it hooked on the stroller the whole time without worrying that someone might steal it.
- Bring your own snacks and water. Food at WDW is ridiculously expensive, so the more you can save on this category, the better. Even better, bringing some of your own food also saves a lot of time, which is nice when you are trying to maximize every moment of your trip or when you are trying to make it to a park before it opens. The “official” rule is that no outside food or drinks are allowed in the park, but this rule is not enforced. If you are flying to WDW, pack food along in your suitcase. The extra room will be handy on the way home for the inevitable souveniers.
- Make the most of the food you do have to pay for. Not all dining experiences at WDW are equal. Many of the character dining experiences cost about the same as non-character full-service dining restaurants, so if you have small kids (or you just like the characters) it is worth trying to reserve a few character meals during your trip. Read reviews of the restaurants to see which ones are worth eating at. Our girls loved the smoked turkey leg sold at a vendor cart in Frontierland. It was so big it filled up both girls and my husband, which made it a steal for $8.
- Don’t wing it. Granted, I am a little obsessive about planning everything, but to really make the most out of your trip, do at least a little planning! Study the maps of the parks to learn the lay of the land. Figure out which attractions you really want to see, and which ones you only want to see if you have time for them. Chances are, you won’t be able to do everything. My absolute favorite Disney resource (and I have an embarrassing number of Disney books) is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. I buy it every year, not just because I love it (which I do, but also because it comes with a one-year subscription to their corresponding website, TouringPlans.com, which is an amazing resource for planning your trip. And trust me, their park touring plans really work. Our last trip to WDW was in June with my niece, and we never stood in line for longer than 20 minutes, even though the park was so busy you could barely move. The Unofficial Guide also has detailed descriptions and reviews of all the restaurants and hotels at WDW, which allows you to make the most of the money you do have to spend. (And let’s face it, you WILL spend money at WDW!)
- Be sure to ASK for discounts and upgrades. You might be surprised at what you get. Reservation agents are trained to not offer any discounts or specials, so it is up to you to ask for specific discounts. Florida residents, annual passholders, military, and AAA are just a few of the discounts offered, but you have to ask for them! Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask to be upgraded. Just this weekend, for instance, we were upgraded from the most basic room at the Contemporary resort to a suite overlooking the beach and lake. It was amazing! The staff at every resort are generally very accommodating, so to save money, book the cheapest room available and keep your fingers crossed at check-in!
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