Our (Not So) Frugal Disney World Vacation

Yes we did! Like I mentioned in earlier posts, Mr. MMM has done really well with contracted work this year. We have paid off all but one debt, invested a huge chunk of change, and spent only on things we value (think: our home renovation!). We also decided this was the year we should make the pilgrimage to Disney. So, although this is not a blog post about how frugal our Disney trip was – being frugal and financially responsible helped us be not so frugal when taking our once-in-a-lifetime trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.

The Suggestion

Mini turned 7 years old in May and as we were planning a long weekend to the beach with her cousin, someone suggested that we should think about going to Disney instead. Her cousin is also 7, hence, they’re old enough to remember it and young enough to still think it’s the most magical place on earth. I hesitated. I started sweating. I said I needed time to think about it. As I took my couple of weeks to think about it I realized that this is one of those times where you bite the bullet and spend the money. After all, we didn’t cut out buying tissues for no reason! I ultimately decided we should Go. For. It. Road trip anyone?

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Mr. and Mini hanging by the beach.

First Stop: Virginia Beach

Interestingly enough, I’m not a big fly-on-an-airplane kinda girl. I’ll do it, but I definitely prefer not to. Hmmm…Pennsylvania to Orlando isn’t such a long drive, right? Right! And with that, we packed our bags and headed south. First stop, Virginia Beach for some fun in the sun. We had a fabulous time digging for sand crabs and jumping waves. We also had a delicious seafood dinner in the restaurant in our hotel. Yum. Yum. Yum. Our hotel was also apparently The Hub of Virginia Beach (where King Neptune resides) with live bands every night on the lawn. All beach goers eventually gravitate to the area to enjoy the music. Mini loves live music so she was having a blast. And she didn’t even know we were on our way to meet her cousin for a week in Disney. Ha!

Second Stop: Savannah, Georgia

The next day we hit the highway on our way to Savannah, Georgia. Oh, did I mention we did this trip after school ended in June? Yeah, not my first choice, but it was the only time we could coordinate the trip with Mini’s cousin. Ultimately we had to decide between baking in the Florida summer sun or heading to Disney with no playmate for Mini. Obviously we chose the first evil.  said, we told Mini we were going on a vacation and stopping at different places along the way. She didn’t know we were hitting Disney until we drove under the entrance sign. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, she didn’t know her cousin was going to be staying in the adjoining hotel room when we arrived.

Remember I Said It Was June?

All was good until we pulled into a gas station in Savannah to the tune of 104 degrees! What?! I think my sunglasses melted off my face. No matter, this was our vacation so I hopped back in the car as quick as the needle pegged and we sped away to our trendy little boutique hotel downtown. What a relief it was to be ever so closer to our final destination. We even got to see a dead alligator (sad but still kinda cool?) along the road! After we checked into our hotel all Mini wanted was crab legs. So we set about finding the best (and hopefully cheapest) crab legs in town! Score! We found a great little place down by the river and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Naturally it started to rain cats and dogs during dinner, so we had to run back to our hotel with trash bags over our heads (courtesy of the restaurant). What fun! And what a GREAT memory!

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All set with our Magic Bands!

Last Stop: Welcome To Disney!

The next morning we drove under the Disney sign and Mini was ecstatic. our GPS proceeded to robotically and unemotionally inform us we had Arrived at our Destination. But that wasn’t all. Mini’s cousin had already arrived and was waiting for her. As we walked down the terrace to our room he was waiting at the door. Her eyes became as big as saucers as she called his name and ran to give him a hug. It was one of the best surprises I have ever pulled off. Proud mama here!

I Immediately Regretted Our Decision

After settling in we quickly hopped a boat to Disney Springs for a bite to eat. I immediately regretted the decision to go to Florida in late June. I’m rather a big baby when it comes to being comfortable in extreme temperatures. See post about that here. The afternoon sun and the crowds made Savannah look good. I swear it was 120 degrees the day we arrived in Disney. Of course it wasn’t. It was probably about the same as Savannah – it’s just that I was stuck outside with no escape. Fortunately, it rained again like cats and dogs (whatever that means 🙂 and it cooled things off to a reasonable 90 degrees for the next few days.

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Disney’s Fantasmic Show – I actually took this pkic from our seats!

4 Theme Parks And Our Resort Pool

We arrived on Saturday and managed to see all 4 theme parks, as well as Disney Springs by the end of the day on Tuesday. The rest of the week was spent revisiting some of our favorite parks and rides, with plenty of time leftover for the resort pool. The sun continued to shine after that first rain and the temperatures continued to rise with each passing day that week. By the time Wednesday rolled around, the kids were more interested in playing at the resort pool than sweltering in any of the theme park. Ultimately, we made the most of our Disney trip. We rode all the must-see rides, we had dinner in Cinderella’s Castle, we enjoyed the Hoop-dee-doo-Revue dinner show, and caught other amazing shows to boot.See Fantasmic pic at right. Consensus – money well spent.

The Damage

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Last stop: Ocean City, MD on our way home 🙂

Yikes. It was expensive. It was really expensive. But the memories will last a lifetime. And THIS is why we put our finances first and do everything possible to live responsibly, purposefully, and frugally the rest of the time. We spend only on things that we value. Family is one of those things. This was one of those times we loosened our financial belts without feeling the least bit guilty about it. Trips like this make cutting the cord, coffees at home, and engaging in a clothes-buying ban all worth it! In the end, no debt was incurred, hence, no damage was done, and we gained a lifetime of fun memories…and photos to prove it!

What did you spend money on this summer that you value?

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Mad Money Cat Reflecting on a relaxing summer and enjoying a fall beer

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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11 comments… add one
  • Mike Feb 12, 2017, 6:25 pm

    As a floridian who lives not too far from Disney – I often tell my family/friends to not venture here in the summer. Some people love it in the summer, but not me. It’s miserable hot. And this is coming from a guy who has spent July in Iraq…wearing full body armor! That being said, I think you have a great attitude – they are memories that will last a lifetime, so who cares if it was warm, or if it was expensive?

    Really glad you had a great time and you should definitely come back!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 12, 2017, 9:02 pm

      I never wanted to come in the summer. But we couldn’t get our daughter to go with her cousin without going in the summer. We opted to deal with the heat so she could have a buddy; not sure if I put that in the post or not. We will definitely not be coming back during the summer months, but we will likely come back at some point in the future 🙂

  • Amy Oct 4, 2016, 3:47 am

    We just paid over $3000 to book a cruise for March 2017. I think it will be worth it, but man, that was quite the hit to our savings!

  • youmeanme Oct 3, 2016, 6:23 am

    That sounds fantastic! I love that you tie it into frugal living. For me frugality is about making a clear choice about how you spend your money and not climbing into debt.

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