Could use some input on this budget

brownhaired_girl

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Good afternoon, all! This is my first post, but I've been a long time lurker of the forums. I am planning a trip to Walt Disney World next year for either 8 or 9 days, beginning on Saturday, May 16th, 2020.

While I grew up in Orlando and have been to Disney many times, it has (a) been many years and (b) never been with a family. Those attending are myself, my wife, and our 5 year old daughter. We are both CPA's, so please excuse the banality of the specifics of this post.

Can anyone give me any insight as to the budget listed below? Please note that airfare is free due to points and we plan on using the Magical Express from MCO and will not be renting a car. In addition, my wife is South African and we travel to South Africa every year - of which my daughter loves. We are leaning towards Animal Kingdom Lodge even though it is 'bus only' to the parts. Budget has some minimal flexibility in it (+/- a few hundred bucks), but is otherwise pretty tight.

Any pointers? Our max planned budget is about $4,500. Main question is thoughts on the daily expenses and thoughts on cheaper hotel to stay 8 nights vs more expensive resort for 7 nights.

------------------------------------

HotelTransportNightsCostPark
Days
CostSub
Total
ExpensesTotal
Cost
DVC Points Rental
Grand Floridian Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 3,186.005 1,399.39 4,585.39 807.00 5,392.39Too Expensive
Polynesian Villas Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 3,186.005 1,399.39 4,585.39 807.00 5,392.39Too Expensive
Contemporary BLT Lakeview RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)8 2,952.005 1,399.39 4,351.39 807.00 5,158.39Too Expensive
Riviera Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 2,700.005 1,399.39 4,099.39 807.00 4,906.39Too Expensive
Boardwalk Villas Garden RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)8 2,610.005 1,399.39 4,009.39 807.00 4,816.39Too Expensive
Beach Club Villas Standard RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)8 2,520.005 1,399.39 3,919.39 807.00 4,726.39
Wilderness Lodge Standard RoomBoat (MK) Bus (EC AK HS DS)8 2,520.005 1,399.39 3,919.39 807.00 4,726.39
Saratoga Springs Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 2,088.005 1,399.39 3,487.39 807.00 4,294.39
Animal Kingdom Standard RoomBus Only8 1,980.005 1,399.39 3,379.39 807.00 4,186.39
Old Key West Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 1,972.005 1,399.39 3,371.39 807.00 4,178.39
Standard Disney Hotel
Caribbean Beach Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 3,139.905 1,399.39 4,539.29 807.00 5,346.29Too Expensive
Port Orleans Royal Guest RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 3,031.735 1,399.39 4,431.12 807.00 5,238.12Too Expensive
Coronado Gran Destino Tower RoomBus Only8 2,569.145 1,399.39 3,968.53 807.00 4,775.53Too Expensive
Port Orleans Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)8 2,459.295 1,399.39 3,858.68 807.00 4,665.68
Caribbean Beach Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 2,403.015 1,399.39 3,802.40 807.00 4,609.40
Coronado Springs Resort Standard RoomBus Only8 2,257.885 1,399.39 3,657.27 807.00 4,464.27
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 1,918.155 1,399.39 3,317.54 807.00 4,124.54
Pop Century Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)8 1,732.545 1,399.39 3,131.93 807.00 3,938.93

HotelTransportNightsCostPark
Days
CostSub
Total
ExpensesTotal
Cost
DVC Points Rental
Grand Floridian Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,754.004 1,346.41 4,100.41 729.00 4,829.41Too Expensive
Polynesian Villas Standard RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,754.004 1,346.41 4,100.41 729.00 4,829.41Too Expensive
Contemporary BLT Lakeview RoomMonorail (MK EC) Bus (AK HS DS)7 2,538.004 1,346.41 3,884.41 729.00 4,613.41
Riviera Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,340.004 1,346.41 3,686.41 729.00 4,415.41
Boardwalk Villas Garden RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)7 2,250.004 1,346.41 3,596.41 729.00 4,325.41
Wilderness Lodge Standard RoomBoat (MK) Bus (EC AK HS DS)7 2,160.004 1,346.41 3,506.41 729.00 4,235.41
Beach Club Villas Standard RoomBoat (EC HS) Bus (AK MK DS)7 2,160.004 1,346.41 3,506.41 729.00 4,235.41
Saratoga Springs Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 1,782.004 1,346.41 3,128.41 729.00 3,857.41
Animal Kingdom Standard RoomBus Only7 1,710.004 1,346.41 3,056.41 729.00 3,785.41
Old Key West Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 1,683.004 1,346.41 3,029.41 729.00 3,758.41
Standard Disney Hotel
Caribbean Beach Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,747.414 1,346.41 4,093.82 729.00 4,822.82Too Expensive
Port Orleans Royal Guest RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 2,652.764 1,346.41 3,999.17 729.00 4,728.17Too Expensive
Coronado Gran Destino Tower RoomBus Only7 2,248.004 1,346.41 3,594.41 729.00 4,323.41
Port Orleans Standard RoomBoat (DS) Bus (MK EC AK HS)7 2,151.884 1,346.41 3,498.29 729.00 4,227.29
Caribbean Beach Resort Standard RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 2,072.264 1,346.41 3,418.67 729.00 4,147.67
Coronado Gran Destino Standard RoomBus Only7 1,975.654 1,346.41 3,322.06 729.00 4,051.06
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 1,688.384 1,346.41 3,034.79 729.00 3,763.79
Pop Century Resort Preferred RoomSkyliner (EC HS) Bus (MK AK DS)7 1,515.974 1,346.41 2,862.38 729.00 3,591.38

Park Ticket Costs
1,033.493 Day Tickets
1,346.414 Day Tickets
1,399.395 Day Tickets
First I want to say I’m REALLY impressed with your spread sheets. I think someone else suggested checking Undercover Tourist for tickets. Last week I purchased 2 adult and 1 child (4 day tickets with 2 extra days free which when entered into my MDE were 6 day tickets) for $1,331.92.
I like short days for kids with pool time every day.
 

Southernmiss

I am hazed everyday
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
My .02.

Add to your food budget.

Don't be locked in to your spreadsheets. That would make me very uptight and no fun to vacation with.

Our almost 5 year old was able to go from early a.m. to closing the parks down on her first visit. Flexibility, afternoon rest were key.

Let your daughter guide what she sees and wants to spontaneously do. You might get there and find she's a ride junky and the princesses are not as important.

For our family of 6, we understand budgets. Dh is an auditor. My background is banking.

We only require a place to stay. No frills accommodations are fine with us. We do love to be onsite at Disney and like Fort Wilderness and the full kitchen for meals. Saves us a ton.

Having said that, I understand that there are wonderful accommodations offsite which are cheaper and offer full kitchens that are very close to Disney. If budget were really tight, we would definitely look into that. Offsite thread can offer insight. Cars can be rented or uber can be used.

I get planning. Just dont over do it. Thousands of people go to Disney and still have a great time with no plans at all.
 
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Cindy's Mom

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Love the spreadsheets, but I have to agree with others....IMO, you food budget is completely unrealistic. I forget the rules here and if we are able to point to you another website, but there is one that has all the menus of all the restaurants in WDW. Rhymes with all mears dot com
 
  • stsomewhere

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2008
    I would stay at POP Century. It gives you an extra $1000 toward your food/ souvenir budget. I would then add a few more days to park ticket. You could just go to the parks for a few hours.
     

    brownhaired_girl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 8, 2004
    I would suggest checking out the “I love Bonnet Creek” thread. 1 bedroom units are reasonable, it is close enough that Uber would be reasonable. Grocery delivery would be an option and having a full kitchen would free up some money for character meals.
     

    toasterstrudel

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2015
    Honestly if your wife is South African, and you visit South Africa yearly - I wouldn't stay at AKL. It is nice and themed very well, but I expect it may fall short of the "real" thing.

    If you are planning on spending a lot of time at the hotel/pool I suggest beach club. My favorite resort and the best pool in all of the disney resorts IMO.

    To echo what others have said the food budget looks low. How often do you eat sandwiches at home? I don't think I could have so many sandwiches in a short period of time.

    One last thought is to switch your resort day around. For us the magic of Disney doesn't start until we hit a park. I (and my kids) would be disappointed to look forward to a Disney trip for so long and not hit a park the first day! I understand about the crowd calendars and the parks being busier on the weekends, but you will probably have more energy day 1, and need a sleep in/relax day more later in the week.

    Hope you have a great trip!
     

    StitchandPooh'sMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2006
    Several things have already been mentioned, but I wanted to put them all in one place so you didn't miss them :goodvibes

    Renting DVC points - we have done this once and it worked out great. However, you will be locked in to your dates, so you will be unable to take advantage of any deals Disney might offer for May. You will also receive limited housekeeping. If you rent a studio, you will have a microwave and a fridge, but no oven (thinking of the frozen pizza dinners, but you might be planning to microwave them). You would need to rent a 1BR or higher to get a full kitchen, ad I don't know if that would actually save you money. I think the food courts at the regular resorts have microwaves that you can use if you go for a regular room.

    You mentioned that you won't book until August for May. Disney released discounts for May 2019 in January 2019, so just because you don't see discounts when you book in August doesn't mean there won't be any. They aren't guaranteed, of course, but they typically have something. You can see historical discount info here:


    Undercover Tourist is a reputable business that can save you money on tickets. You can link them to your MDE account just as you would tickets purchased directly from Disney. If you sign up for the Mousesavers newsletter, which comes out the 15th of each month, there will be a link that will save you a couple of dollars per ticket over the prices on the UT website. I wouldn't buy your tickets too early (unless you are set on renting DVC points) - sometimes Disney releases promotions that require a ticket purchase (like free dining, which is not common in May). I would buy them a couple of weeks before your 60-day FP date just to be sure you have time to link them properly before you need to make FPs. By then you will now if you want to take advantage of a Disney package discount. Disney also offers room-only discounts, so you could still get a discount but buy tickets from somewhere else.

    As many have said, you should consider adding to your food budget. Even if you don't plan any sit-down meals, it's likely that someone will want a drink or a Mickey bar or some popcorn or something that is not necessarily budgeted. Or have a budget for miscellaneous expenses - it is hard to anticipate everything.

    From a general touring standpoint, I recommend reading the FP sticky on the theme parks board and having a general plan of how you want to tour. Will you arrive at rope drop (or before) and take advantage of lower standby lines before it is time for your fastpasses? Will you use your fastpasses first thing in the hopes of getting more? Will the strategy depend on the day and park? You may find that your daughter has a favorite ride that she wants to do over and over again (we rode Peter Pan 31 times in one trip when my older DD was 2, and my younger DD, now 16, insists on riding Pooh at least once per trip) - it's hard to anticipate what will catch their attention :goodvibes
     
  • StitchandPooh'sMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2006
    Honestly if your wife is South African, and you visit South Africa yearly - I wouldn't stay at AKL. It is nice and themed very well, but I expect it may fall short of the "real" thing.

    If you are planning on spending a lot of time at the hotel/pool I suggest beach club. My favorite resort and the best pool in all of the disney resorts IMO.
    This is a very good point. I have only been to Africa once and love how authentic AKL is, but you might want something different (and since you're from the mountains, maybe not Wilderness Lodge or the Fort Wilderness cabins). You might find someplace else more "vacation-y".

    Beach Club is one of our favorites resorts. It does have the best pool, but I didn't like it much when the kids were small - it is very stressful. You can't see the whole pool at one time and you have to cross a walkway outside the resort to get to the slide entrance. If you're planning on being in the water with her the whole time, that might not be a big deal.
     

    easyas123

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 4, 2018
    My .02.

    Add to your food budget.

    Don't be locked in to your spreadsheets. That would make me very uptight and no fun to vacation with.

    Our almost 5 year old was able to go from early a.m. to closing the parks down on her first visit. Flexibility, afternoon rest were key.

    Let your daughter guide what she sees and wants to spontaneously do. You might get there and find she's a ride junky and the princesses are not as important.

    For our family of 6, we understand budgets. Dh is an auditor. My background is banking.

    We only require a place to stay. No frills accommodations are fine with us. We do love to be onsite at Disney and like Fort Wilderness and the full kitchen for meals. Saves us a ton.

    Having said that, I understand that there are wonderful accommodations offsite which are cheaper and offer full kitchens that are very close to Disney. If budget were really tight, we would definitely look into that. Offsite thread can offer insight. Cars can be rented or uber can be used.

    I get planning. Just dont over do it. Thousands of people go to Disney and still have a great time with no plans at all.

    I just wanted to repost what Southernmiss said....I think it's pretty spot on.
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    Thanks everyone - I will reevaluate our food budget - much appreciated. For those that mentioned Bonnet Creek, I can't seem to make that work when you factor in rental car, parking fees, resort fees, etc. Perhaps I am missing something?

    We typically stay at decent hotels when traveling, mostly Marriott. In general, we would find anything below the AC Hotel, or JW Marriott to be a bit 'too rough' so I worry about staying at a value resort.

    As for AKL and my South African wife - your comments are spot on to how I felt.....funny thing is that she is the one who was excited to stay there. Who knows? Lol.

    As for rides, we go to Dollywood each year up in this area and our daughter and my wife are very much not ride people. As such, not too worried about fast passes for the big rides. Again though, who knows, lol.
     

    mcurran

    Off to never land...
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    Thanks everyone - I will reevaluate our food budget - much appreciated. For those that mentioned Bonnet Creek, I can't seem to make that work when you factor in rental car, parking fees, resort fees, etc. Perhaps I am missing something?

    We typically stay at decent hotels when traveling, mostly Marriott. In general, we would find anything below the AC Hotel, or JW Marriott to be a bit 'too rough' so I worry about staying at a value resort.

    As for AKL and my South African wife - your comments are spot on to how I felt.....funny thing is that she is the one who was excited to stay there. Who knows? Lol.

    As for rides, we go to Dollywood each year up in this area and our daughter and my wife are very much not ride people. As such, not too worried about fast passes for the big rides. Again though, who knows, lol.
    Lots mentioned already but echoing to book when you can and revise booking closer if discount is available. It only costs 200 down to reserve a trip and it’s totally refundable if your plans change if you book with Disney direct.

    You can save a bit of you get discounted gift cards - lots of posts on that but I like the $500 Disney cards at samsclub using my Disney visa - At least 5% back. Kroger has points are good too. I don’t want to recreate lists but check it out.

    As others eluded to Disney’s core business is separating you from your money and they are good at it. Give a good budget pad so you aren’t a Debbie downer.
     
  • yaya74

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2006
    We typically stay at decent hotels when traveling, mostly Marriott. In general, we would find anything below the AC Hotel, or JW Marriott to be a bit 'too rough' so I worry about staying at a value resort.
    Just for the record about Disney’s Value resort. Value at Disney are NOT the same as Super 8 or Motel 6. I stayed at Pop and Grand Floridian Club Level during my trip last summer. I enjoyed both resorts equally. There is nothing rough nor run down about Pop, especially the resort was just renovated within the last two years. Same thing with All Stars and Art of Animation.

    Also, Don’t forget the newest Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. Rooms with Club Level Access at Gran Destino cost the same as a standard room at AKL. But with club level access at Gran Destino, room rate will include breakfast, afternoon snacks, dinner appetizers, evening dessert plus beverage, coffees and alcohol beverages all offered in the club lounge. My family don’t eat much and we enjoy the food offering at Club Level. With a 25% discount, a Club Level STandard View room at Gran Destino Tower would cost about $2900 for your length of stay but will also include majority cost of your food. Do check it out!!
     
    Last edited:

    neatokimmo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2006
    First, love those spreadsheets.

    I don’t know how old you are, or if you remember the sky buckets in the magic kingdom. When we saw Disney testing them last week, I absolutely lost it.

    They are fantastic and I would only choose a resort that uses them.8B04FBB9-7289-4443-9A3E-B3E6BD915F9A.jpeg
     

    mommajo143

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2013
    I would stay at POP Century. It gives you an extra $1000 toward your food/ souvenir budget. I would then add a few more days to park ticket. You could just go to the parks for a few hours.
    Thanks everyone - I will reevaluate our food budget - much appreciated. For those that mentioned Bonnet Creek, I can't seem to make that work when you factor in rental car, parking fees, resort fees, etc. Perhaps I am missing something?

    We typically stay at decent hotels when traveling, mostly Marriott. In general, we would find anything below the AC Hotel, or JW Marriott to be a bit 'too rough' so I worry about staying at a value resort.

    As for AKL and my South African wife - your comments are spot on to how I felt.....funny thing is that she is the one who was excited to stay there. Who knows? Lol.

    As for rides, we go to Dollywood each year up in this area and our daughter and my wife are very much not ride people. As such, not too worried about fast passes for the big rides. Again though, who knows, lol.
    We just returned from 10 days at Pop. We also stay in nicer hotels & have always stayed moderate at WDW. We loved it. Really ~ we took the chance on it since the rooms had been redone & to allow us budget flexibility to try the TSL early morning magic, water park passes (PH+), and upgrade our dining plan from QSDP to a DDP. I was blown away by the rooms, cast members & facilities. Exceeded my expectations in every single way... the larger than life theming around the resort would be fun for your daughter & the Murphy bed would give your family a nice area for in room meals.

    Edited to add : the bus service was better than any service we have ever gotten at the moderates. We never waited long for a bus except on the way back to the hotel after fireworks, but even that wait wasn’t incredibly bad / worse than what we
    observed at other resort bus pickup areas.
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    Thanks all for the feedback.

    We've bumped the total budget up to $5,000 - so that will help to some degree. Wife agrees that the food budget was light, so we are going to re-evaluate that.

    Still shooting for AKL DVC points rental, as this seems to give us the most luxury at the hotel for the least $$$. If the DVC rentals don't work out, then we will proceed with the Disney direct booking and change the reservations if specials pop up, as many have mentioned.

    Will keep everyone posted as to what we end up going with.

    Also considering dropping the trip down from 9days/8nights to 8days/7nights - in order to allow more flexibility in the budget.
     

    usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    Alright - figured I would give everyone an update:

    We are now confirmed and booked at the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House, in a standard view studio suite for 7 nights via renting DVC points.

    We have also purchased 5 day tickets for each of us through one of the popular tourist websites at a small discount, which helped as well.

    Combined total for the hotel and tickets came to $3,179, all in after any taxes or fees. I'm pretty pleased with that, I must say.

    Airfare is free for us, so that leaves us with about $1,500 in spending money for food, uber's, and gifts. I think that is pretty doable, plus a $300 buffer.

    Should be a great trip!
     

    Darcy03231

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 1, 2006
    I have to agree with previous posters - I think your food budget is really tight. I would stay at a more reasonably priced resort and up your food budget.

    FWIW, when my kids were younger I always stayed at the Contemporary. One year we planned a last minute trip and the only resort that had availability for all of the days was All Star Movies. I was hesitant but booked it. My kids loved it! After that when we were trip planning they all begged to stay at the "fun" resort. My pocketbook was happy!
     

    Chickinvic

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    My .02.

    Add to your food budget.

    Don't be locked in to your spreadsheets. That would make me very uptight and no fun to vacation with.

    Our almost 5 year old was able to go from early a.m. to closing the parks down on her first visit. Flexibility, afternoon rest were key.

    Let your daughter guide what she sees and wants to spontaneously do. You might get there and find she's a ride junky and the princesses are not as important.

    For our family of 6, we understand budgets. Dh is an auditor. My background is banking.

    We only require a place to stay. No frills accommodations are fine with us. We do love to be onsite at Disney and like Fort Wilderness and the full kitchen for meals. Saves us a ton.

    Having said that, I understand that there are wonderful accommodations offsite which are cheaper and offer full kitchens that are very close to Disney. If budget were really tight, we would definitely look into that. Offsite thread can offer insight. Cars can be rented or uber can be used.

    I get planning. Just dont over do it. Thousands of people go to Disney and still have a great time with no plans at all.
    Absolutely right about off site. We rent a lovely 4 bedroom/3 bath detached villa with pool and hot tub in the back yard in a gated community about 10 minutes from disney for $100/night when we go. It's a house, so it has a full kitchen if you want to cook meals. It is super nice too so sometimes we just hang out there for the day and chill in the pool. Has 2 themed bedrooms for kids, and 2 master bedrooms.
     
    Last edited:

    blewits

    Wendy
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2002
    I’ve read this all, and aside from being in awe of your spreadsheets, it looks like you have chosen a pretty great plan for your family.

    Do me one solid though. You’re daughter is 5. At travel time? Or 6 at travel time. Whichever, have Disney movie watching nights between then and now semi regularly. Load her up with these awesome movies (we still watch some of them as adults with our college aged kids). So that she will form relationships with the characters and be invested in her favorites. AND YOU GO TO A CHARACTER MEAL WITH THAT SWEET BABY!

    It’s overpriced. It’s not the greatest food always for adults. But you need to do this. I promise. Read up on which ones are best food for adults. Baby girl will be fine with a waffle. I used to love GF Park Faire breakfast but that was quite a while back.

    I’m saying this because you are in the gilded age of taking your child to Disney World. The magic you will see in her eyes will not be forgotten. Even when she’s walking down the aisle. (Just made myself cry a bit LOL). Sounds ridiculous but if you even only go back every two or three years (like we do), it will happen. My kids are well traveled (husband is German) but the excitement they still retain about WDW is endearing. To say the least.

    Be flexible. Have a plan but let the day happen. Take a long rest each day, mid day, to break up the walking and heat.

    You are going to have a fabulous time. Wait until you and mom see it through her eyes!
     

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