When I think of a “frugal” family vacation, going to Walt Disney World in Florida is not even close to the top of my list, but my daughter wanted to go for her tenth birthday, and I was determined to make it happen. As frugally as possible of course. Her birthday is mid-June, so of course that is the peak of travel season for families, but we still managed to have a fun, frugal, Disney World / Florida vacation.
On previous trips, we had always stayed at a resort, but a friend told me about a trip they took with their family where they rented a house with its own enclosed patio with pool. This sounded like a great idea, so I decided to research it. I began my search on http://www.vrbo.com and found an abundance of houses to choose from in the area. We ended up booking with a really nice couple who were locals to the area. Their website is http://www.sleepnearthemouse.com. We had a wonderful experience booking through them, and I highly recommend them. We booked a week long stay in a four bedroom, two bath house, and splitting the cost between two families, we paid approximately $450. Not bad, huh? The house was beautiful. The furnishings were very nice, and it was well appointed with video game equipment and games, dvd’s, books, and board games. The highlight of the house, of course, was the pool. The kids loved being able to go out and jump in the pool when they wanted, and I didn’t mind floating around, starring up at the stars, after they had gone to bed. The house also had a gas grill, so most of our meals were prepared at the house. We only ate out three times the entire trip.
There of course are so many theme parks, water parks, and shows that cost a pretty penny, but we had decided to only visit The Magic Kingdom on this trip. It was mid June, and really hot, so we didn’t want to spend a ton of money on theme park tickets, to wait in long lines, and die of heat exhaustion.
We did however, visit Downtown Disney, which is an Entertainment Complex, that houses theme restaurants, such as Rainforest Cafe, Fulton’s Crab House, T-Rex, and Planet Hollywood, to name a few. We decided to have lunch at Planet Hollywood, while the boys caught a movie at the huge AMC Movie Theater complex. We also spent time at the Lego Store and the World of Disney retail store. Frugal tip: You can find a lot of the same items from the World of Disney store at local gift shops. In the pictures below, my daughter tried on a sun hat at the Disney store, but I deemed it too expensive. A couple days later while exploring Old Town Kissimmee, we found the same sun hat at half the cost, so scooped it up. She did however sweet talk me into purchasing the stuffed Marie in the picture below 🙂
We went to The Magic Kingdom on a Tuesday, hoping the crowds wouldn’t be so bad mid-week, but as usual, it was pretty crowded. We road the tram in from the parking lot, and arrived about 10:00 a.m., just in time for the first parade down Mainstreet, USA. It was a great way to kick off the day.
We followed the parade down Mainstreet, to Cinderella’s Castle, where the performers took to the stage for a song and dance number. It was really upbeat and fun. The girls were loving it. Some of the characters also danced and mingled with the crowd for pictures.
It was really hot, but one of the nice things about Disney World is they have a lot of shaded areas, and a majority of the rides are indoors and air conditioned. My favorite rides were The Haunted Mansion, The Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain. My favorite show was Mickey’s Philhar Magic 4D Film.
If you ask my daughter what her favorite part of the day was, it would be getting to meet Tink!
At the end of the day we made our way back to Mainstreet, where we found our spots and waited for the Electrical Parade, which is such a wonderful experience leading up to and setting the stage for the finale fireworks over the castle.
I went to Disney World for the first time when I was 10, and I have never forgotten it. It truly is such a magical place, and I am so blessed to have been able to take my daughter for her 10th birthday. To say the least, she was a happy girl, and we created a memory that she will hopefully, always remember!
Of course, our trip was far from over! We still had three days! Wednesday, we hung around the house and rested from our Disney day. Thursday we were up and at it again. We took the kids to The World’s Largest McDonald’s Playland in Orlando. They played arcade games, and we got ice cream. We also explored some gift shops.
Our final day, we explored Old Town Kissimmee. This is a quaint area with shops, restaurants, pubs, and an arcade. There was a large go-kart, arcade area also, but we decided to play putt-putt golf instead (I had coupons, found in a local discount coupon book). It was a fun day, and we wrapped it up with a nice dinner at a local steakhouse.
It was a great trip, that I hope the kids will always look back on and smile. And the best part, it didn’t break the bank!!