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The $6500 Disney Diaries Part 1: The Vision

Posted by Rachel R. Vanderveen on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 at 8:30am.

Mickey Mouse at DisneylandWell, the Disneyland trip is over and done. I set a goal to take 8.5 people to Southern California, do Disney, Universal, Sea World, and Legoland for $6,500 or less. These are the blogs that will flesh out how the trip went and if I met my budgeting goal.

About the Disney experience, I will say this: it is more than I ever imagined. Everything is so over the top. The parks are so carefully thought-out and geared to be an amazing experience for kids. We were there for 3 days, and we could not get it all in. Not even close. I was so impressed with Disney as a brand; I don’t have enough good things to say about it.

Welcome to our Disney adventure!

The Plan

Here was the nuts and bolts of our trip:

Over the course of two weeks and traveling in an RV, we planned to visit the following attractions:

  • Disneyland
  • Universal Studios
  • SeaWorld (Don’t hate me)
  • Lego Land
  • Lego Land Water Park
  • Silver Strand Beach
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Las Vegas Strip (day trip)

Crucial Strategy: Learn to Say "No!"

First of all, let’s just get one thing straight: Disney is no vacation, or maybe it is, but not when you have 6.5 kids. It’s a labour of love. Every day I woke up feeling like a giant pregnant (over 7 months), sweaty, amazon bent on bringing the Disney experience I never had to my kids while they were all young enough to enjoy it. You sweat your way from one ride to the next, and you stand there in the heat of California weather learning new ways to say, “No.”

“Mommy, can I have a churro?”


“Mommy can I have cotton candy?”


“Mommy can I have a $35 picture with a minion even though you are holding a camera in your hand and could provide me with multiple pictures of myself and said Minion for free?”


All of this is even harder when you have the voices of skeptics in your ear saying, “Rachel, you know you can’t do it for $6500, right? Like you know that’s impossible.” So I doubled down my efforts and determined to say, “No,” to every conceivable un-free thing I encountered.

Luckily we do make our kids earn their own money. We do not give them allowances just for existing. That is not how the real world works (our opinion). They each have a bank card with their own hard-earned money loaded there upon, and saying, “No,” is a lot easier when you invite them to spend their own money on it. Hilarious how a $7 hot dog or $4 churro is that much less attractive when they have to pay out of their own pockets.

In the coming blogs, I will go through how I saved money on each of our excursions and you will find out if I actually hit my target of $6,500. Stay tuned!

Next: The 6,500 Disney Diaries Part 2: 6.5 Kids & the Las Vegas Strip

Rachel Vanderveen

The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736

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