Planning a surprise trip - in over my head

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Joined: 01/02/2013
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Planning a surprise trip - in over my head

Me and my big mouth... I asked my sisters if they would be interested in putting together a "girls only" trip for our Mom's 60th birthday next year. They both said yes, and it looks like I'm stuck. Don't get me wrong, I'll take any excuse to hop a flight and spend some quality time at WDW, but I'm not sure how this is going to work. One sister is unemployed, the other just got her first job out of trade school, and I know from past experience that these vacation costs can get out of hand quickly.

Any thoughts on how to plan a fun trip for which I refuse to foot the entire bill? I know free dining is usually offered at some point during fall Value Season, are there other possibilities I should look for? Thanks!

crazycatperson's picture
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Joined: 09/19/2011
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First thing I would do is research the cost per person for this trip. Figure the total cost for all of you, including transportation (airfare, gas for the car, whatever), park tickets, hotel, food (mostly tips and incidentals if you get free dining), tips for bellhops and housekeeping, and anything else you can think of. Divide it by three if you expect your sisters to help foot the bill for Mom's share, or by four if you plan to pay Mom's portion entirely by yourself. Tell your sisters what their share is and tell them this IS what they need to pay, and if they can't handle it you'll understand and they don't have to come. If they agree to pay their share, book the trip through Disney and when the payments start coming due, tell your sisters that they must start paying their share THEN. And if they don't, revise the reservation to exclude them. This may sound harsh, but I had some experience back in the day with siblings who wanted to participate in events or pitch in on group gifts, but somehow their money never materialized and I ended up footing more of the bill than I could afford.

Consider the possibility that Mom would be willing to pay a portion of the cost so your sisters can come along.

Be prepared to stay at a Value resort to save money. I can vouch for Pop Century; we usually stay DVC but I love Pop and would happily stay there any time. Also, look for room discounts on the various hotel booking websites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) You can sometimes get a better deal through these sites, but then you would not be eligible for free dining, so you'd need to do a cost/benefit analysis of some kind to figure out your most economical option.

If you do stay Value and can get free dining, it will be quick service dining. Don't upgrade. There are enough good counter-service restaurants that you won't feel horribly deprived.

If you fly to Orlando, skip the rental car and use Disney transportation. That will save you a nice chunk of change.

Or consider staying off-site. Your money will go a lot further in a non-Disney hotel. But then you will need a car, so do another cost/benefit analysis.

Consider getting the bare-bones ticket option - no park hopping, no water parks - to save money. Or, YOU can get all the bells and whistles for yourself and Mom and let your sisters get the less pricey tickets.

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Joined: 01/02/2013
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My sisters, at ages 37 and 20, have finally learned that I say what I mean and mean what I say. I've told them that I'm neither willing nor able to pay for the entire trip. My twin has a habit of blaming me for "sucking the fun out of things" because I expect her to pay her own way, so I'm prepared to leave her out. The 20-year-old is fully in love with the idea of this trip because she'll be 21 when it happens, and can therefore enjoy an adult beverage while we're there. Drunk I plan on leaving the bar bill out of my estimated costs...

I'm OK with quick service dining - DH and & I used that plan on our 2012 trip. As for the hotels, well, that's where my sisters have been a bit difficult. Neither of them have given me a dollar amount they're willing to spend on the room/rooms. I've stayed at the Treehouse Villas ('98), OKW ('06), CB ('07), and Contemporary ('12), and in Kissimmee for 2 trips. I prefer the on-site convenience, mostly because of Disney transportation and I hate dealing with rental cars.

Thank you! Time to go digging for spreadsheets and my travel agent's phone number Smile

AnnielovesDisney's picture
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Joined: 09/12/2013
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crazycatperson really covered a lot of great ways to save money. We have AP and these are the best ways I've found to save money through the years. My husband and I always take our own coffee and pastries for breakfast in the room(we even take our own coffee pot to make espresso.) We take ponchos that cost us .88 cents a piece, versus the $14-$20 a piece you would spend in the parks. We take our own water to the parks, and sometimes we take flavored water enhancers like MIO flavors.

We have several mickey belt clip bottle holders. I've added a picture of the bottle holders so you can see which ones we have. You can get them at the emporium in the MK, and several other stores, and I believe they cost $6.95 a piece. They are very durable and they have saved us hundreds of dollars on bottled water through the years.

My DH puts two on his belt and I usually carry one on my purse. So we start the day with 3 bottles of water that we got from home. We ask for a large cup of ice anywhere that sells fountain drinks. One bottle of water will fill up TWO large fountain drink cups full of ice. So, we get 6 large glasses of ice water for about .50cents TOTAL! We would pay $15.00 for 6 bottles of water in the park.

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crazycatperson's picture
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Oh, yeah! Water! In addition to Annie's idea, you can get a cup of ice water absolutely free at any counter-service food place. However, sometimes the water doesn't taste especially wonderful. I'm sure it's perfectly safe, but it's Florida tap water, so not awesome. Still, it's a way to rehydrate without spending money.

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In terms of where to stay, I would also suggest the Downtown Disney hotels as an option. I have stayed at the Wyndham, the Best Western and the Doubletree and all have been fine...especially if you don't plan to spend a lot of time in your room(Drunk. Both the Wyndham and the Best Western have "Disney View" rooms and they are great for watching the fireworks (with an adult beverage in your hand if you like!!)...it is very cool to see the Epcot and Magic Kingdom fireworks going off at the same time. You can take a Mears shuttle from the airport for not all that much and once you're there, the Downtown Disney hotels run their own bus service and to me, they are comparable to Disney's buses...you just have to walk a little further to get to where they drop off/pick up. If you do decide to rent a car, I think both the Wyndham & the Best Western still offer free parking. Of course you would have to pay to park at one of the Parks if you decided to drive rather than take the bus. Hope you have a great time!Big smile

Kris1971's picture
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Joined: 08/10/2011
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You might also consider a suite at the Art of Animation resort. A suite would certainly fit all of you and the cost to split it might be less than getting two separate hotel rooms at other resorts. Just a thought.

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Thanks for the reminders! I brought lots of those little powdered drink packets with me on the last trip - I was 23 weeks pregnant and drinking water (and refilling my bottle from fountains) like crazy. Didn't think to pack breakfast pastries or stuff like that, I'll have to add that to my checklist!

I didn't know that Wyndham & BW offered those views! After some of the reading I did yesterday, I have to wonder if we should stay off-site, but I also like the idea of those family suites. If my sisters would commit to a price per night they find acceptable, planning will get a lot easier.

I knew y'all would have the answers. muchlove

Ms.Mouse's picture
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Joined: 12/31/2013
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Last year when we went as a family, I booked during the Value Season at All Star Music. They were also offering a discount and I was able to get two connecting rooms for less than the cost of a family suite. You don't get the microwave, but we were OK with that. We drove so I brought snacks from home. We had the dining plan, so we would use our refillable cups at the resort, then if we got our dinner there, we would get a bottled drink and then just take that to the park the next day.

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Joined: 04/10/2013
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My biggest suggestion is to shop around and crunch numbers before you just purchase anything (ESPECIALLY a package) through Disney!!

I booked Pop Century for 5 nights in September of this year for less than $80/night INCLUDING any taxes and fees through Orbitz. They allow you to stack their promo code discounts on top of Disney's room discounts (which are already listed on the site). So if you'd rather be on property and cost is more important than anything, check and see what Orbitz has listed. I know yesterday I was pulling prices for moderates (particularly Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside) for around $120/night.

Going through Orbitz with their promo codes (plus cash back via Ebates... and receiving Orbucks for future bookings), plus purchasing my park tickets through Undercover Tourist (sign up for the Mousesavers newsletter and use their link to save you even more) ended up being way cheaper than booking a package through Disney. And since I don't have the free dining plan, I'll be paying for my own food and I'm still in the green based on the way my sister and I eat.

I also drive so I bring a case or two of bottled water to bring into the parks, and I typically just drink those with my QS meals which save me on drinks.

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Wait, what? I didn't know you could book WDW properties through Orbitz!?! And I think one sister uses Ebates....

Off to research!! Thank you!