It’s the most magical place on earth for very good reason. Walt Disney World is a land of magic, adventure, imagination and giddy excitement. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how mature, how sophisticated; the feeling of magic and childlike excitement that fills your body the moment you walk through the gates and onto Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is indescribable. I’ve lived an hour from Disney my entire life, and despite hundreds of visits to the parks over the years, I still feel it. I still feel the magic and the adventure; and seeing it now through the eyes of my children only makes it that much more exciting. The only thing that might put a damper on the experience is the price. Disney is expensive, and there is just nothing you can do to get around that.
Fortunately, most of the splurges at Disney are completely worth the price. They might seem expensive, but the amount of time you will save and the memories you will make are priceless in comparison to the monetary value of each splurge. Read on to find out which Disney expenses are worth it every single time.
The Grand Floridian
If you’re going to stay on Disney property, you’ll want to stay here despite the $500 average nightly price tag. Sure, there are other nice hotels on the Disney property (the Four Seasons, naturally) but the Grand Floridian is the only one that connects to the park via monorail that’s worth staying in. The price is high, but the experience is well worth the money you’ll spend to stay here and never use your car.
Dinner at Cinderella’s Castle
If you plan on splurging for a meal, make it this one. A meal with all the famous princesses is always worth the money, and there is nothing more exciting than seeing the excitement on the faces of your children as they get to dine with their favorite characters. Additionally, it’s a lot more fun that waiting in line to see the Princesses.
Dinner at 1900 Park Fare
Located in the Grand Floridian, this is our kids’ favorite Orlando meal. It’s dinner with Cinderella, the Prince, the evil stepmother and the evil stepsisters. There is dancing, dessert, hugs, love, pictures and an atmosphere of complete and total magic. We don’t even mind the fact that dinner costs us well over $300 despite our kids being too excited to eat because of their happiness for months afterward.
Breakfast with Mickey and Minnie
My advice is to book this one well in advance and at the Contemporary Resort. You can stop in on your way to the park via the monorail, have breakfast with Mickey and Minnie and all their friends and see nothing but complete happiness on the faces of your children. They will love every second of this meal, and it’s going to go down in history as the best thing you’ve ever given them.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Our older girls love the BBB. We, personally, enjoy the BBB in Downtown Disney more than one in Cinderella’s castle, but only because it’s less crowded. You have to be 3 to take the kids in here for a princess makeover by their fairy godmothers, but you can also take your little boys and have them dressed up as their favorite characters, too, and the kids get a wonderful experience. If you want to minimize the expense just a bit, bring your own Disney princess dresses.
But let me just tell you; your kids will never be happier than they are dressed as their favorite princess after a ‘spa’ experience with their fairy godmothers. Glittery and sparkly and beautiful, they will be addressed as their princess of choice by everyone all day long, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you are a Florida resident and you’re looking to go to the park more than twice a year, this is the way to go. Not only do you get free parking, but two or three visits pretty much pays for your ticket, since you get to go into all the parks, park free of charge and you get dining and shopping discounts. Additionally, if you’re like us, you prefer to go in the evenings when it’s a bit cooler thanks to the absence of the sun, and you don’t feel bad if you decide after an hour that you’re ready to go. There are have been numerous times our kids lasted about two hours in the park – long enough to ride a ride and see their favorite princesses before they were tired and ready to go home. But you won’t mind, because you really didn’t pay to get in.
The Mickey and Minnie Hats (Personalized, Please)
No trip to Disney is complete without these awesome hats. I have mine from when I was a kid, and my kids each have their own, too. It’s an expense well worth it, in our opinions, and you will love that your kids get to have the same kind of childhood memories you had.
Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival
Epcot, in my opinion, is the most boring and least interesting of the Disney parks – and never worth the money. With annual passes, however, we love to go to the Food and Wine Fest each year without the kids. Sure, you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on your Food and Wine Fest card, but that’s where things get fun. Totally worth the expense – but bring a camera so you remember.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
This is a separate party that is not free for annual passholders, but it should tell you how good this party is that we are happy to pay $65 per person to get into this 5 hour party every single year (and we have a family of 6…though the babies are still free being under 2). Paying $260 to get into this party is so worth it because it’s the best night of the year in our kids’ opinions. We like to go in September when it’s not so busy. The kids get to dress up, the parents get to dress up, there is trick or treating at every corner and characters that are not normally out at Disney get to come out and say hi – such as the princes, whom you typically only see in shows and in parades. The Halloween parade is beyond awesome and the entire evening is magical.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Refer to the above; just like the Halloween party, the Christmas party is an additional expense. Even if you already have an annual pass or you paid to get into the park for the day, you still have to buy a ticket to this party, but it’s well worth it. I’m pretty positive (I mean, so positive) that Disney has the REAL Santa and Mrs. Claus because you will never see a couple more perfect for the role. It’s the most amazing experience. There is nothing as magical as Disney dressed up for Christmas, and I promise you will go back year after year.
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