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The $6500 Disney Diaries Part 3: Disneyland!

Posted by Rachel R. Vanderveen on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 11:15am.

Minnie Mouse at DisneylandAs I mentioned in earlier blogs, we did our entire trip to Southern California in an RV. It was a challenge. There’s no question about it. Let just clarify for a moment that the Vanderveens do not drive a big huge Class A bus. We are in a 28 foot C Class sandwich truck, as I call it. Just kidding, it IS super-cute. We bought an ex rental and then renovated it. You can see pictures of it here. But it was tight quarters, no lie. Even though Clint and I felt the pinch, the kids thought it was an adventure, and that’s all that mattered.

The Motorhome

The motorhome was a key part of my money-saving strategy. This is because it lent itself to being a place to stay for super-cheap (when you have a family our size, hotels usually force you to buy a suite) but also because it lent itself to being a place to eat. So instead of spending roughly $350/night on a hotel room (or 2 depending on the policy) and another huge chunk on eating out 3 meals a day for 18 days, we paid roughly $50/night for campsites with full hookups.

Our days in Disney were exhausting. I was warned of how taxing they would be, but I didn’t take the warnings as seriously as I should have. The lines were actually really great for Disney as we intentionally picked one of the slowest times of the year. Many of the rides had 5-15 minute waits and for the ones that had more, we had the Fastpass for, or we budgeted the long wait to compliment a Fastpass swipe. But the lines were hot places where you become deeply acquainted with people’s personal hygiene or lack thereof. We actually left a line because I just couldn’t take the smell of one person for one second longer.

I am so glad that the warnings of the exhaustion made me make the decision to pack the crock pot. I threw things into the crock pot before we left in the morning and by the time we got back, it was all ready. That was a dream come true because I didn’t have another shred of energy once we stepped back in the motorhome. In the morning before we left, we had cereal and we packed a cooler full of sandwiches and plenty of fruit for snacking throughout the day.

I had originally planned to park for free in as many places as we could, but a broken fuel pump in the motorhome generator made that impossible. (Clint fixed it himself while we were in San Diego for a cool $84! My hubby is so handy!). But prior to that we still had to park somewhere, so I just found places nearest to the resort. We realized too late that walking (day 1) was too torturous. Taking the shuttle (day 2) was also too torturous and $1 more expensive than just parking (day3) on site for the day. The last option made crock potting impossible.

Frozen Temptations & Mickey Mouse Ears

There is so much to say “no” to in Disneyland, and on any other given day, I don’t have a problem at all saying “No,” to my kids, but I have to admit that it’s really hard to do that at Disneyland. Frozen stuff was a huge problem. First of all, you can’t get it in Calgary, and what you can get is crap. Well, there, they have everything and I mean every kind of cool Frozen thing any little girl could want. I was so grateful that she had $150 saved up in her account. I let her blow the whole wad.

Then there was the Mickey ears. It’s a thing down there to wear the Mickey ears, and we thought it would be one good thing to let them take home. Those suckers start at $17! But, we relented and bought ears for everyone because we loved the pictures they would take and we planned to keep them once we got home for our next Disney trip and not allow them to become ruined like all of their other toys.

Character Dining

Character dining was the big question of the trip: would we or wouldn’t we? The price is so outrageous that it really requires some thought: $40 for adults and $21 for kids 3 to 9. This would have amounted to $216 for our family plus tip, but the waitress allowed me to order from the kids menu for the older boys which was great and dropped our total down to $217 tip in. Ultimately the character dining was a good choice, you get to meet 4 princesses plus Ariel (we went to Ariel’s Grotto) and you get photos with each one.

This is kind of priceless because waiting in line all over the park to get photos with characters is just not doable. Each line is a good half hour because those characters take their time with each kid, which I appreciate. I can’t say enough about the costumes and the actors themselves. These people are in full perfect costume and character at all times. The gal that played Merida was amazing. She really looked and sounded like her. Faith still talks about what Merida said to her at the table.

All in all, good experience and I would pay again just to save the time of waiting in lines. But let’s get one thing straight: you’re paying for the characters, not the food. The food is so-so at best.

Disney Cost Breakdown

So here is the breakdown of everything we spent at Disney.

  • Mouse Ears $19
  • More Mouse Ears $58
  • Churros $24
  • Shuttle Passes $23
  • Walmart $110
  • More Ears $60
  • Donuts $20
  • Walmart $78
  • Parking $22
  • Character Dining $217
  • Laundry $15
  • SoCal Tickets for the whole family $1,769 (3 days Disney, 1 Day Universal, 1 day Seaworld)

Total for Disney $2415.00

Stay tuned for the next excerpt: the "Disney Diaries - Part 4: And Then There Was Spew"

Rachel Vanderveen

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

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