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Disney World on the cheap

About four years ago, I decided I was going to “go to Disney World in four years.” Fuck! Time goes faster than I thought!

So we have a plan to get there for mostly free: free resort stay, free park tickets, and I think a bunch of free Disney gift cards to pay for meals. That leaves souvenirs and gas to get there. I’m not going to fly, because I’ve taken three kids through an airport before and I am a person who learns lessons.

But the thing is, kids are kids and they want tchotchkes, and I am a sucker who wants to see joy spread across her children’s faces when they get tchotchkes. My goal is for everybody to leave the parks feeling like they have had the experience that can only come with spending $4,000 per person, but by only spending like $20 per person.

Our plan is to have clothing that we bring to the park beforehand – t-shirts and hoodies that we can give to the kids each morning. A $6 t-shirt from Kohl’s is highly, highly preferable to a $17 t-shirt from a gift shop, especially when there are 5 days’ worth of gift shops and four girls (we are going with a friend). GOOD GOD CHILDREN ARE EXPENSIVE.

So, at this point, I have collected 12 short-sleeved shirts, 8 long-sleeved shirts, and three hoodies (I still need one for Sonya), for $200 total, or about $50 per kid. Here they are in all their glory:

We’re going to do the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique for all the girls because of course we are. The basic makeover package is $70 a pop; to get a dress along with that would bring it up to $200 each. We’re doing the basic package but bringing our own dresses, which I got in the mail today. I paid $54 total for three of these bad girls:

I also want to have trinkets on-hand so that we can also defray the “please please please special bracelet it’s special” conversations. The thing is, the shit that we bought last time at Disney World was just that: shit. Cheap plastic bullshit with a huge markup. I’d prefer to not have any cheap plastic bullshit around, but if I’m going to have it, I want it without the markup, thankyouverymuch. So, I bought a bunch (a BUNCH) of stuff from Alibaba, for about $87. 8 keychains, 8 bracelets, 8 necklaces, 4 tiaras (for the boutique), 8 rings, and 4 wallets with mouse ears. Oh, and for whatever reason, Kohl’s had those “Kohl’s Cares” Minnie Mouse stuffed animals, for $3 each. I’ve gotten most of it in the mail by now, although there are a few things still being shipped. I am not a good picture-taker, but good enough to give you an overview. Here you go:

I’ve spent about $355 on this stuff, and folded it into our budget now, so it’s going to feel free later. We could have just done the “get a dress” package at the boutique, and that would have cost us more than all of this swag. In theory, my friend will pay me back for about 25% of all of this, but in practice, she’s been behind the scenes, ordering personalized water bottles and an extra hoodie for each kid, and paying for apps so that we have the Best Experience Ever, so it’ll all probably even out in the end.

We’re certainly going to still buy stupid shit at the gift shop because we’re red-blooded Americans, but I’m hoping to keep it to a real minimum. Plus, some of the jewelry is very simple and cute and I might steal it from my kids once they forget about it. For example, one of the rings looks an awful lot like this one, except it’s not $1200:

Here’s the one we have, which I am 100% stealing from my kids when the figurative but not literal sheen has worn off:

And a couple more closeups, because shiny:

Now that I’ve got most of the little ticket stuff squared away, I just have to hit my bonuses on the credit cards so that the big ticket stuff is free!

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