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Weekends at Disney: Overcoming Objections

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Guest Blogger Ryan Kilpatrick started his life long love of Disney when he visited Walt Disney World with his grandparents in 1982, just a week after Epcot opened, and got his picture in Communicore printed in Southern Living magazine.  Since then, he’s drafted his wife and kids into the mix! Between Disney trips he started his blog, The Disney Film Project, where he is starting the adventure of watching all the Disney shorts and features in chronological order.  You can find him on his blog or on Twitter.

When I wrote my last blog about Disney Weekends, I noticed an unfortunate trend. Everyone seemed to be coming up with reasons why they couldn’t do a Disney trip.  “I live too far away,” said one.  “It’s too expensive,” said another.  “I’m busy on weekends,” was a common refrain.  So, I sat down and looked at how to overcome those common objections people have to going down to the World!

“It’s too expensive.”

This is the one I always hear, when people are asking, “Why are you going AGAIN?”  No denying, Disney can be an expensive trip.  Stay a couple days at the Poly, and you might need a second mortgage.  But it doesn’t have to be.  Planning ahead can save you a lot of money.  Knowing when sales are, looking at off property hotels, grabbing dining discounts, and you can easily take a family of four for under $2,000.

Also, if someone says this to you, ask them what they spent on their last family trip.  Most people don’t realize what they’re spending.  I’m taking the family on a trip through the Midwest, and that trip of a week is costing me $500 more than my last trip to Disney.  A week at a beach house, with travel, meals and accommodations can easily top $2,000 for a family of four.  Disney trips aren’t as bad as a lot of people think.

“It’s for kids.”

This is another big one.  This was my father’s objection. He would go with us, to see the joy on my children’s faces, but thought there was no reason for he and my Mom to go by themselves.  The best way to overcome this objection?  Plan an adults only trip for them.

I suggested to my parents that they should go down for Mom’s birthday, which was October 1, during the Food and Wine Festival.  They stayed at Pop Century, got the Dining Plan, and I planned all their meals for them.  After a week of dining at places like Le Cellier, Yachtsman Steakhouse, ‘Ohana and California Grill, they were very happy.  Top it off with Food and Wine strolling, Wishes dessert party, and low crowds.  Now, they’re planning a trip with their friends for this October.

“My kids are too young.”

A number of my friends have young children, and they always ask me when their kids will be ready to go to Disney World.  My answer?  Whenever you’re ready, the kids will be too.

Turn the question around – if you don’t take your young children to Disney, where will you go on vacation? In my house, we investigated several other places to go, but none had as much to do for toddlers and infants as Disney.  All of us could enjoy the sights and sounds, and the grown ups were in a place we loved.  Trust me, parents of young kids need a vacation, and Disney World is the most accommodating place in the world for babies and toddlers.

Those are three of the common objections I hear.  What about you?  Are there things your friends tell you are the reasons they can’t go to Disney?  What do you say back to them?

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33 thoughts on “Weekends at Disney: Overcoming Objections

  • Our family(CDN)went to Chicago for 4 days a few years ago and we were shell-shocked by the cost of that trip compared to WDW. Food was at least as expensive, our hotel was more expensive and not half as nice, and city-passes cost an arm and a leg- not to mention 35/day parking. We really loved the city, but driving home my husband finally joined team-Disney. He realized that it was cheeper and easier with enough for ALL of us to enjoy that it just made more sense to go to WDW. We have done a few non-Disney trips, but we always feel the same way at the end… “where for art thou Mickey?” 🙂

  • As a successful software geek and businesswoman, I do not bother to explain. 😉 I just go when I want to, or need to. Disney escapism is a big reason I can manage the pressure and churn of my work. I’ve been going to WDW since 1971 and working as a software engineer/manager/director since 1979 without a major burnout. Not many can say that–39 years of WDW OR 31 years without a burnout.

  • I use Small World Travels and Disney is one of our less expensive trips. I found out several years ago they could get deals that I did not even know about. We can drive which helps on the cost, but flying from Atlanta is reasonable as well. A trip to the beach is more and I end up doing the bulk of the cooking, dishes etc – other words a relocation not a vacation. My only concern with Disney’s dining plan is making choices so that I don’t gain weight 🙂 I went to Disney for the first time when it opened and I think I’ve gone almost every year since.

  • We are 23 hrs driving door to door so weekend trips are not really an option. Flight alone is over $2300 for all of us. We drive down every 2nd yr or so. And really the cost including the gas, hotels, food, Disney park hopper tickets and extras isn’t that bad really. Last trip for 6 of us ( 2 adults, kids 21, 19, 17 and 15) at a moderate without the dining plan for 10 days plus 4 days traveling came to only $5400. It is all about what you want most. Most people can’t believe how cheap it really is. We are heading back this Nov. for an adult only trip. It should be fun but different. We are really looking forward to seeing and doing things that didn’t interest the kids. People who complain haven’t done their research into it. Great website. First time here.

    • Glad you like it, Pat! Research is the key to any good trip, not just Disney. But it’s especially good in a Disney trip, because you can save a ton of money and time by using the tips on the site.

  • If you plan well and read up on what is going on, when and where Disney is more than doable. My parents went without the children and had a great time. I look forward to going back soon.

    • I think parents, especially older parents, going without kids is a market that Disney has really tapped into in the last few years. It’s so much fun to do and makes a lot of sense when you look at the finances.

  • I’m a HUGE Disney fan and unfortunately I’ve hears many of these same excuses from my loved ones. I will tell you that the first time my family and I went, we went with blinders on and never expected to pay as much as we did. Since that first week at Disney, I’ve done my researched and learned my lesson. I now tackle our Disney trips with a plan in mind and we’ve ended up saving a ton of money.

    With that money we’ve saved, we usually end up splurging on something new (to us) for each trip. That is how I’ve been able to keep the rest of the family interested in the return trips…grin…

    Thanks for a very entertaining post. I think I’m going to “borrow” your advice on the October trip for my in-laws. They have been the only hold-outs on my constant nagging. I think if they could enjoy the trip as adults, they might actually see the magic this place holds for me.

    Have a great week!


    • I think expense is relative to everyone, as you can see. You definitely have to plan, budget and account for lots of things on a Disney trip, and if you let yourself go with blinders on, like you said, it can get out of hand quickly.

      That said, I do think it’s easy to go to Disney for a reasonable price, you just have to be smart about it.

  • Hey, I was one of those people who lives farther away, so weekends are a bit of a stretch, but I’ll take any available opportunity to visit Disney.

    For instance, a Nat’l writer’s conference is at the Disney Swan and Dolphin at the end of this month. I’m going a couple days early just so I can visit DW! Yay!!!

  • It’s funny that when going to a baseball game, football game, or concert, most people don’t bat an eyelash over an $8 beer or a $4 soda…same thing with the movies…but when you talk WDW people ALWAYS complain about how expensive everything is…when compared to the local movie theater or stadium, WDW is a bargain!

    • Absolutely right! My family and I just got back from a trip, and when we tallied up the total of what we spend on food, admissions to museums, souvenirs and the like during the day, we could have gone to Disney. We had a great time, but it’s not like we saved money going somewhere else.

  • Your arguments or responses are certainly logical and well reason out. I’m ready to go.

  • I’m a huge, huge Disney fan. When I was a teenager we lived in Ft. Lauderdale, had the year round pass and went 5 or 6 times a year. Sometimes more. My family and I live in Ga now, but we still go at least once every year.
    Our next trip is a girls only trip, my daughter and I, three of her friends (all teens) and my sister and her 10 year old. Our Disney Diva trip will take place the last week of January. A great time to go by the way!! We can’t wait!!!!
    Excellent info!
    Have an great evening,

    • A Disney Diva trip sounds great. My son and I did a boys only day trip, and it was fantastic. You really have time to focus on enjoying each other’s company. Have a blast!

  • Hi Ryan,

    I’m ready to go to Disney any time…preferably without the kids. (g) We’ve been to Disney LAND and Disney WORLD, and the east coast has the west coast beat hands down.

    In fact, I’m taking hubby & going a few days early to Orlando before a convention I’ll be attending. It’s great for the young ones and the young at heart.

    Excuses? None allowed. You can afford anything you want if you want it bad enough.

    Sandy Elzie

  • Actually, my experience is that Disney *is* more expensive compared to most of the other obvious family trip destinations—and the part that is unavoidable is the entertainment costs.

    We generally either stay offsite, or take a timeshare exchange into a DVC unit. Either way, our per-night lodging costs top out at about $120/night. That’s about the same as anywhere else.

    Food is also similar—you’ll pay about the same for a bad hamburger at Disney as you will in Williamsburg, the Wisconsin Dells, or Gatlinburg. The Disney sit-down restaurants are expensive, but the off-site sit-downs in Orlando are pretty much the same as anywhere else. So, you can keep food costs comparable too.

    The first difference is transportation. Orlando is in the corner of the country, and that makes it difficult to get to unless you live in the southeast. From the midwest or northeast, you pretty much have to fly, or burn a couple extra vacation days getting down and back. That’s a problem with the Dells too, for many people. But, Gatlinburg and Williamsburg are much easier road trips for the bulk of the eastern US thanks to their central location.

    The big difference is entertainment. We paid $375 for Williamsburg Bounce tickets just last week—that covered Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, and Colonial Williamsburg for all four of us, and included parking. Add in the extras (an evening at the redemption arcade, a carriage ride) and it’s still about $475 tops. We spent about $550 for a week in the Wisconsin Dells on various water parks, go kart tracks, amusement parks, horseback riding, etc. We spent about $650 on entertainment for a week in Gatlinburg (passes to Dollywood, Splash Country, a couple afternoons at MagiQuest, mini-golf, more horseback riding). Seven-day base tickets at WDW just for the four theme parks cost our family of four, minimum, $900—and if you add hopping, water parks, or any other non-theme-park entertainment, it goes up from there. And, if you’re not careful, it can go up by a large amount quickly.

    Disney is cheaper than some vacations—we usually spend about the same at the beach (lodging is more, but the beach is included), and we spent more on a week at a Colorado guest ranch, and our Alaska cruise will cost more, as well. But, Disney *is* expensive compared to the “typical” family vacation that most people would think of.

    Regarding fake: when we went to RMNP for that guest ranch, my kids only other experience with “rocky mountains” was DCA. We had to explain that these mountains were, in fact, real.

    Regarding younger kids: our first ever vacation with kids, when our oldest was a toddler, was a long weekend in Toledo. No kidding! We spent a couple days at the zoo, and a day at the hands-on science museum, splashed in the pool, and played on the playground in a nearby park with a picnic lunch. It was fabulous (and cheap!)

    Don’t get me wrong, we do go to Disney—a lot—and enjoy it. But, we also go other places as well, and we recognize that some of the “objections” do have some merit.

    • I see your point about objections having merit, but I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of expense.

      Sure, flying is expensive no matter where you live, but if you look carefully, it’s not that expensive to fly to Orlando vs. other “typical” places. From Memphis, where my in-laws live, it’s cheaper to fly to Orlando than it would be to Williamsburg. Same goes for Wisconsin, Chicago or even Texas.

      I know it’s not necessarily the same for everyone, but I think if you look around you can really save money at Disney. Like I wrote, we did our last trip for less than $1,800 for a week, and that was tickets, meals and lodging over Easter week. It can be done, and without sacrificing quality.

      • Ah, but from Memphis, the drive time to either Orlando or Williamsburg is about 13-14 hours, doable in a long day or one day plus a very short second. So six of one, half-dozen of the other. The Dells (and of course Gatlinburg) is even closer than either—at 11 hours and 7 hours, respectively.

        As to the expense question: half of that $1800 for the week is tickets for a typical family of four (two adults, one junior, one “Disney child”, with base MYW tickets from Undercover Tourist with the MS discount). That leaves you about $130 per night for lodging plus food, and that’s doable, but at that price point, “sacrificing quality” is definitely getting to be in the eye of the beholder.

        The only way to get it down to less is to go more than twice a year, and get APs. At that point, the “per trip” cost is a bit of a red herring, because the overall outlay for the year is still significant. Mickey will get his pound of cheese, one way or the other.

      • True enough, but my family made it work. We spent the $900 on tickets, got a vacation home rental 10 min from the park for $80/nt (during Easter week mind you) and ate b’fast and dinner in the room, lunch at the parks.

        With children ages 9 and 4, it worked out great. Everyone’s different though, so I see your point that not everyone could make a trip like that.

  • My biggest gripe is when people say to me, “Disney is a trip. Disney is not a vacation.” The problem is that they do not take time to enjoy their resorts. Running from one park to the next and trying to cram in everything in one trip just won’t work. No wonder they’re worn out! Slow down and accept the fact that you can’t do it ALL!

    • That’s right. That’s why we started doing weekend trips, because that way we have certain things we want to do, and the rest of the time is about relaxation. Enjoying the entire resort, meaning the hotel, the pool, the restaurants and recreation is part of a good trip!

  • People do lay on the guilt trip about going to Disney often insinuating that I must be richer than I am or that I’m wasting my money. Well, I just don’t spend asmuch on cars, furniture, clothes, or eating out as other people; I would rather have the photos and the memoriesof fun with the family. Really there is nowhere else you can take an infant and have a place to nurse, and they have the best diaper change facilities.

    • It’s all about priorities. Plus, like I mentioned, it’s not as expensive as most people think.

    • My sister and her friends recently spent almost $200 each on Taylor Swift tickets and all I could think was…hmm..$200 would just about fly me roundtrip to Orlando for a Disney weekend! You’re right – it’s all about priorities!

  • I get the same comments you listed but I respond with “I haven’t taken a VACATION in over 12 years. I an cathing up on lost time.”

    • I bet that ends the conversation! The way I was brought up was with our family taking a big trip every summer, so I just continued that with my family.

  • My most common question is what am I going to do on vacation, or what am I going to a place that’s fake.

    • I imagine you don’t have a problem telling them all that you’re going to do while at Disney. As far as a place being fake, ask them if they’ve ever been to Salem (home of the witch trials) or Hannibal (home of Mark Twain). Both have great historical significance, and have some great history, but also have cheap tourist attractions that take most of the attention. You can find fake anywhere, but at least at Disney you know what you’re in for!

    • I don’t understand why anyone would call Disney fake. Compared to what? Seeing an actual African rain forest? Going to Japan? Taking a real spaceship to Mars? Tell them to add up those costs, compare them to a Disney World vacation, and get back to you.

      • Absolutely right, Matt. Fake is a relative term. Trust me, I’ve seen much more fakery at museums than in some places at Disney.

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