One of the best features of DVC membership is the fact that we have prepaid for our vacations.
Still it can be stressful to ensure we have enough money to pay for all the activities, food and extras. So how can we prepare?
I like paying my dues monthly. It helps me budget and I don’t worry about a big bill in January. I do the same with spending money for my Disney vacations.
Gift Card Budgeting
Every two weeks when I go grocery shopping I purchase a $50 Disney gift card. Cards are available at most retailers who host a gift card display. Typically by the time our vacation is upon us we have $1000 or more already set aside. Of course you could use this method in smaller or larger amounts based on your spending habits.
Why is this better than cash?
When we take cash our instinct is to save as much of it as possible and maybe go home with some. When we use gift cards we know the money is already spent on vacation. We still use them wisely and budget them throughout the trip but we are comfortable with spending the last $22 on the last card at the gift shop while waiting on Magical Express.
It has helped lower our vacation spending stress.
Plan Way Ahead
This year we knew we wanted to let our six year old become a princess at Bibidi Bobidi Boutique. While the Castle Package lists at $189 that does not include shoes ($30), tax or the rings ($2) at the register that we knew the little one would ask for. We budgeted $250 and bundled $250 in Disney Gift cards designated for this one experience. When it was all said and done the bill came to $237.
Disney Parks have systematically begun to remove pricing from their websites, flyers and signage. It has become more difficult to try and budget meals and attractions without making a call to member services or the reservation center.
in 2011 kids meals were under $5, in 2012 they were around $7, this year I saw kids meals in a range from $7- $12.
The reason? Who knows but my guess is that Disney Parks prefers having guests use a dining plan and is complicating budgeting for guests without one. Dining plans however can add several hundred to even thousands of dollars to a trip cost.
DVC members staying in a one bedroom or larger may not want a dining plan because cooking in the room is an option.
To help you plan here are some estimated costs (including tips, tax, drinks and extras) for some items:
Counter service $15 adults, $10 kids
Table Service $30 adults $15 kids
Buffet $45 adults, $25 kids
Character/ Show buffet $45 – $69 Adult $25 – $55 kids
Refillable cup $16
Bibidi Bobidi Boutique $100 – $250
Disney Quest $40- $55
Tours $80 – $225