I just arrived home from Disney last week, and really? All I can think about is taking my own family now. After a few long talks with Nick, we've decided to try for it. The last time I 'tried', I got about $2600 saved up and we decided that a better use for the money would be to purchase a home (it was during the down turn in the housing market, so we got a great deal on a large home). That was about 4 years ago exactly.
We started talking money, the cost of going, when we would want to go, etc. This is what we came up with.
Our first big issue is that there are 5 of us, which means we either need 2 cheap rooms, and a suite, which can be pricey. 1 resort offers a regular room for 5, but the 3rd bed is more suitable for younger kids (in fact, they list it being only for children 9 or younger, and our youngest is already 10, and tall for her age).
We settled on renting a cabin at Fort Wilderness - they sleep 6, have their own kitchen, and you don't share walls or floors/ceilings with other people, so no worry about being too loud, or having others be too loud. It's a bit more than renting 2 cheap rooms, but the resort has a lot to do- horseback riding, canoe & paddle boat rentals, bike rentals, 2 arcades, 2 pools, a sandy beach (where you can see the night time electric water parade, and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom), 3 restaurants, boat transportation, and more.
Time frame, we talked about next Spring. That would give us a year to save, and allow our taxes time to be processed and refunded for extra money. BUT, they could also be delayed- they have been held for a LOT of people this year, so that's a concern.
I looked through "Least Crowded" times- we have already decided we'd rather take the kids out of school for a week, than go when the park is super busy. Fall from Labor day until the week of Thanksgiving is listed as least crowded.
We decided on early October of 2013- the parks will be decorated for Halloween, which is one of our favorite times of year, and they have something called Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2-3 nights a week at the Magic Kingdom. It IS an event that has a separate ticket fee, but there are fun parades, live music, trick or treating through out the entire park, and more. Plus, adults are allowed to dress up in costumes (currently, they allow kids to dress up any time, but adults are NOT allowed to come in costumes), and are encouraged to trick or treat as well. There are special fire works, too. The whole thing just sounds like a lot of fun.
And by going in October next year gives us 19 months to save. I currently have $1200 put away towards it, so that's a huge help. Given that there are 5 of us, most of the advertised deals don't work out right, because we have to do different rooms.
Additionally, all 3 kids are over the age of 10, which means they'll be charged "adult" prices for park admission, and meal plans.
With $1200 saved as a start, I came up with a budget. I plan to add $2000 to the savings next Spring with our tax refund, so that will be helpful. If I put away $300 a month from March 2012 to October 2013, that'll give me almost $9000 total, which is probably way more than we need, BUT, I'd rather play it safe in case anything comes up between now and then- like replacing a vehicle (we do have a secondary savings we put money into for unexpected expenses, but still, I'd rather err on the side of caution).
Ideally, I want to do 8 days, 7 nights at Fort Wilderness, with a 5 day park hopper pass. 5 days means we can take 1 day off right in the middle (Our asperger kids will need it), and not do parks on the day we arrive or leave (unless the flight arrives early in the day, and leaves late in the day). But 5 days is still enough to do all the parks we want, and we can always add a 6th day if we want.
1/2 Day at Animal Kingdom, followed by the evening at Mickey's Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom.
1 Full Day at Magic Kingdom
1 Full Day at Epcot
1 Full Day at Hollywood Studios
1/2 Day at Hollywood Studios, followed by 1/2 day at Epcot.
That way, each of the parks I think the kids will like the most gets 1.5 days. Animal Kingdom is smallish, but there's not a ton I think the kids will love- we'll do a few rides, then head back to the cabin to get ready for the party, and head over to MK for the evening.
(Now you'll see just how crazy my mind is- I actually LIKE sitting down and figuring out the potential to save between now and then, and I'll get rather obsessive about it)
Now... I just have to pull off saving the money. I don't think it will be an issue. I make between $400-750 a month online. $300 is a low amount, but honestly, if I have extra set aside in PP, I'd rather just dump it into our savings account, so it may grow by more than $300 a month.
On top of that, we usually put $50 per paycheck into my savings, so $100 a month ($150 a month twice a year when checks are 3x month). We have 42 paychecks between now and then. That will be an additional $2100 set aside.
Plus, Nick is going to put 50% off all bonus checks in there- some of them are really small, like the last one was only $90. But, his annual bonus has been around $1500 take home the past two years, so that's an extra $800ish when they are all factored in.
$300 a month x 19 months - $5700
$1200 already saved + $5700 = $6900
$2100 from paychecks + $6900 = $9000
$2000 from taxes + $9000 = $11,000
Additional $150/month x 19 months = $2850
$2850 + $11,000 = $13,850
Now the expenses- (These are based on NO discount, and THIS year's rates, which obviously will change next year, sadly)
$2410 - Cabin for 6 nights
$1560 - Meal plan for 6 days (which, sadly, is cheaper than paying for each meal out of pocket)
$1625 - Park hopper passes for 5 days, for 5 people
$325 - 5 adult tickets to MNSSHP (Halloween Party)
$1500 - $1800ish - Airfare for 5
This makes it almost $8000 without extra money for spending, but meals 100% covered. Now, tht said? The time frame we're going during, the past 2 years they offered free dining, so we could save over $1500 off that, and eat for free the entire time.
That would make it only $6500.
Of course, prices raise just about yearly, so it will likely rise a bit before we go.
***I fully realize this is an INSANE amount to spend on a vacation. BUT, this would be the ONLY chance to do this before our kids are grown up. Our oldest will be 17, son will be almost 15, and youngest daughter will be almost 12- any longer, and the oldest will be out of the house. It's just one of those things I've wanted to do for a LONG time, and finally feel like we can afford to try.
(I did warn you that I can be obsessive when it comes to figuring out the money aspect, right? This is normal for me when we go on ANY sort of vacation- I factor in every little cost, so I know what is needed exactly, then add in more just in case- that means no surprises).
-sigh- Here's hoping we have no huge catastrophe between now and then, which wipes out our savings. I plan to call Disney tomorrow and see just how far in advance we can actually book the trip. One really nice thing about Disney?
You can book a trip with as little as $200 down, and anything you pay is 100% refundable up to 46 days before the trip. You can also change anything about the trip up to 46 days ahead of time for free, and after that, it's a 1 time $75 fee. SO, if we have to change the dates, we can. If for some reason we have to cancel, we can. We don't lose any money by doing so, but it gives us a safety net in which to cancel should we need to.
Flights are the 1 part I will wait on, because THOSE are NOT refundable.