Michelle Craig’s Disney dreams started in 1975, since then she has been back 53 times seeking ever more magic.  Now, Michelle, with her mom, her husband Dennis and their  two children, Alex and MacKenzie age, she eagerly await for their next visit.  Magic pixie dust transports their family to the happiest place on earth.  Anyone can spend money to make a trip but the Craig family finds pixie tricks to enjoy many visits without the regret of big expenses.

One day Walt Disney had a vision. It was a vision of a place where children and parents could have fun together. The more Walt dreamed of a “magical park,” the more imaginative and elaborate it became.  This vision was born first in timeless books he brought to life in cartoons.  His creation inspired him to create a magical park where families could step inside most loved classic stories.   Let’s begin to plan how you can enjoy a little magic on a budget.

Before you go, find these books in age appropriate editions and read together these classics.  Swing through the giant treehouse with the Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.  Sail around with Mowgli through the jungle meeting the curious world of animals created by Rudyard Kipling who wrote the Jungle Book. 

Look for the hidden paint brush that always gets left by Tom Sawyer to give way to an adventurous way down the river which was written by Mark Twain.   Take a splash with a retelling of Aesop’s Fables by Uncle Remus who tells stories of the likeable Br’er Rabbit, prone to tricks and trouble-making who is often clashes with Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear in the Briar Patch. 

Turn the pages of any fairy tale to witness the beautiful maiden being whisked away by a handsome prince or fly away with a boy who never wants to grow up by J.M. Barrie.  Try to sip tea as you are whisked out the Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland by Charles Dodgson.  Grab a friend and hop along with Winnie the Pooh and Tiger too by A. A. Milne.

Now you are ready for the trip of a life time Where Dreams Come True.  

Pick your time when the park is at Value season from January 1 to February 11 then July 5 to September 29 or October 31 to December 19.  Crowds are lower at these times and the cost of Disney properties are at the lowest. 

1.     Once your time is selected, the cheapest option for lodging is hotels just outside the gates of Disney.  Use internet sites to find the best prices.  The Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista has been consistently in the range of $49-59 plus taxes for many years.  Factor in to this price a daily parking fee of $17 a day. My tired children did much better crawling into a quiet car than crammed into an after park bus which parks right in front of our hotel door.   

2. When we arrive in Orlando we make a stop at the Walmart and shop for Disney goodies.  New Disney pajamas make night time fun and feeling special in the morning. They have pens and scrapbooks for character encounters.  Pin trading begins by your first purchase at Walmart, then swap with guests at the parks. Don’t forget to pick up rain ponchos for Florida’s daily rain. 

Pick snacks and  treats which you can take in the park along with drinks.  Also buy small frozen dinners and breakfast cereal and a Disney character bowl, to add a bit of magic to your meal.

 3.If your arrival day is not a day you have a ticket to the park, enjoy the prelude of Disney at Downtown Disney which is free to all to window shop. 

 4, If this is your first trip with little children, I suggest only going to Magic Kingdom for three days to enjoy all that Walt had planned for you. “For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of grandfather’s youth.”  Just sit on Main Street and enjoy the music, attractions, and games of the turn of the century.  My children look forward to getting a haircut at the old fashion barber shop, making them camera ready.

Then slowly meander thru the other lands enjoying the architecture and just being in those worlds of literature.

5. For lunch, a large ham sandwich from the Main Street Bakery can feed two people.  Even a hot dog from Casey at the Bat, named after famous poem, can be shared with a side of fries.  All fountain water is free at the park.  The cheapest snacks can be purchased at Fantasy Land Big Tent Storybook Treats.  A cold pickle is only $1.75 and is the most refreshing on a hot day. For a hefty dinner Cosmic rays has large meals that can be shared.  It is cheaper for two children or an adult and child to share a chicken leg and thigh meal with two sides, than to order two children’s meals.  Plus the fixing bar adds more calories to the shared meal.  Remember to get a free water.  Once we are settled back in the hotel if we are still hungry then we heat up our frozen meals we bought at Walmart.

6. All this ( food, tickets, stay) for an estimated per person price of $183.50 per day plus taxes.  If you stay longer your daily ticket prices decreases in price allowing you to venture to other parks. For real serious Disney goers, you can get a limited seasonal pass which gives you free parking and pays for itself in three future visits.

 7. Once the magic of the parks is over, check into a Disney Value Resort on property for an average price of $133 plus taxes. This allows you access to amenities to all Disney Resorts using Disney Transportation to transfer to all hotels via the parks. Make a plan and begin an adventure hopping to different pools*, character dinning or free hotel guest activities at any resort.  All  activates for adults and children at various hotels are free.   *except Polynesian pool open only to their hotel guests

To plan many resort activities go to http://www.mousesavers.com/free-and-cheap-stuff-to-do-at-walt-disney-world/

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Making memories with family without the hype of Disney marketing is what has allowed my family to enjoy the Magic of Walt Disney World. 

I hope your next family vacation is Magical…even on a budget!

 *Internet deals with condo rentals allows larger families two suite rooms for as low as $49 a night or on average $79.  These condos are usually located a little farther from the Magic Kingdom. Orlando vacation homes offers three to four room houses priced as low as $150 a night.