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Minnie-Mizing the Mouse
Binnie's Budget Tips Can Help You Savefor that Magical WDW Trip!
This Article Appeared in ALL EARS® Issue #69 January 23, 2001
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.
NOTE: The MouseforLess is the current name for the old Disney Dollarless list.
Face it -- you love going to Walt Disney World, or else you probably wouldn't be reading this newsletter. But we have to admit that going there isn't getting any cheaper. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the admission prices increased again. We're all looking for ways to trim expenses, ways to save a few bucks here and there. Well, Binnie Betten makes it easy for folks to help each other.
A self-proclaimed "Disney addict," Binnie, who hails from Pittsburgh, PA, established "The Disney Dollarless List" on the former OneList (now called egroups), an email mailing list.
Subscribers to this mailing list (who opt in of their own accord) share tips and ideas for ways to make that magical Disney vacation happen sooner, or, in some cases, happen at all.
Binnie, with the help of her friend Stacy Fultz (founder of the Disney Dieters, a cyber-support group), started the list in early 1999, after her ninth trip to Walt Disney World. Binnie had been active in the Disney Dieters, a group of people who shared two objectives: 1) to lose weight and 2) to visit WDW more often. Through cyber-friendships she made on the Disney Dieter list, Binnie was able to afford a trip to WDW in December 1998 -- a fellow Disney Dieter and she shared a room.
"Although I've made several high-end trips to 'the World,' a number of my past trips to WDW were 'economy' versions," she explains. "In order to go to WDW, I once hitched a ride with a friend who was visiting his sisters in Jacksonville, and once I traveled to WDW from Pittsburgh completely alone."
Binnie realized she wasn't alone in her desire to save money for Disney trips, and got the idea to start another support group, similar to the Disney Dieter list. This was the birth of Disney Dollarless.
Calling it the "I want to go to WDW, but I'm broke" Support Group, Binnie says, "This list is a vacation support network where we will exchange coupons before they expire, set up room-sharing, and support each other in money-making ventures, as we endeavor to find new and creative ways to finance our Disney addiction."
The group quickly swelled to its current size of 120 members, and Binnie and Stacy enlisted the help of another cyber-friend and Disney fanatic, Jane (Sneezy) Hollon to help moderate the list.
Some tips shared on the list are of the extremely practical, common-sense variety, others are so ingenious, you wish you'd thought of them yourself.
One recent money-saving example:
Order things such as breakfast items (cereal, milk, muffins), snacks, etc. from NetGrocer before leaving home, and have them delivered to your resort. Pack paper bowls and plastic spoons and eat breakfast in your room (always *way* cheaper than at the food court!) Remember to pack a collapsible cooler. (Be sure to look for NetGrocer coupons floating around the 'net before you order.) -- from DisneyDollarless subscriber Gina Peterson
The internet can be used to help folks save in other ways as well. Binnie notes that many folks participate in programs that earn them "bonus points" that can be used toward purchasing airfare or other travel-related products.
One popular program is called "Freeride," a site that gives points just for surfing their sponsors' websites. Binnie notes, however, that many of the reward programs no longer payoff as lucratively as they have in the past. For this reason, she says that she is always looking for new ideas and suggestions to keep the list fresh and informative.
The range of the tips and ideas tossed around on the DisneyDollarless list is unrestricted -- some focus on tips for the trip itself, whether by car or plane, others have to do with how to save money before you vacation, and a good number of them center specifically around how to squeeze the most magic out of your Walt Disney World vacation for the least amount of money.
Here's a random sample of ideas gleaned from the DisneyDollarless archives that Binnie calls "Pixie Dust for (almost) Free":
When visiting Epcot, make sure to let your kids stop at the Kidcot stations in World Showcase where they can participate in a free activity for each country and the Cast Member representatives teach your child to say a phrase such as "hello" or "thank you" in their language.
Don't forget that Disney offers lots of "magic" in unexpected places. Search for the talking garbage can in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. Check out the "Singing in the Rain" umbrella that is attached to one of the street lights near the Hunchback theater at MGM. Attend the seasonal Lady Bug release at the Polynesian Resort. Visit the petting zoo at Fort Wilderness where you might find a real cow with a spot shaped like Mickey on its side. And keep an eye open for all of those Hidden Mickeys!
To help your children remember their trip, buy postcards at each of the parks or attractions. On the back of each one, have each child write down specific things that he or she would like to remember about the experience. At the end of the trip, punch a hole in the corner of the postcards and put them on a ring so that they have their own special mementos of the vacation.
If you'll be going to the park before checking into your room, try requesting at the front desk that the gift shop send a small Minnie or Mickey up to your room with a note from the character welcoming your child to WDW. The cost can be added to your room bill.
Collect quarters and pennies before your trip. Place them in empty film canisters and give them to each child to be used when they encounter the pressed penny machines at WDW.
Another tip to help your children pass the time in the car or on the plane is to have them make "edible jewelry." Provide each child with sweetened cereal rings, lifesavers, and candies with a hole. These items can be strung on string or licorice ropes to make edible bracelets and necklaces. Use your imagination, dried fruits and popcorn could be strung with a plastic needle. Give each child one of their creations to wear to the park each day, and save money on snacks in the process.
Pack an empty water bottle for each of your children, along with pre-sweetened packages of Koolaid or lemonade powder in baggies. You can fill the bottles with water in the parks or at restaurants each day, and add the Koolaid to save a bundle on soft drinks.
Although check-out time is 11am, you can sometimes have it extended to 1pm at no extra charge simply by asking.
If you forget to pack your hair dryer or your iron, don't buy one when you arrive in Florida. The resorts will usually supply them free of charge if you ask.
Let the resort operator dial other WDW hotels, a taxi, Mears, or any "local" call, and avoid that 75¢ charge to your resort room account.
When eating meals at resorts or in the park, make lunch your big meal of the day. The portions are basically the same size, but the prices are less.
Binnie confides that the camaraderie formed through the Disney Dollarless list hasn't quite achieved the level she had anticipated. She is pleased, though, that the group has settled into its own unique niche among the many Disney-related emailing lists. She hopes that the list will continue to attract both enterprising members with creative financing ideas to share (solicitation is not permitted), as well as those seeking a few money-saving tips to help supplement what can often be a costly vacation.
Does the DisneyDollarless list sound right for you? Do you have some ideas you'd like to share? It's free to join, and the email list names are NOT sold to any outside concerns.
To join the MouseforLess List was DisneyDollarless) go to http://mouseforless.com