Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth....

We have been gearing up for a trip to Disneyland for months--even longer really. It has been our plan to go this year for a couple of years but we started our hard-core planning a few months ago. Just as we were beginning to plan this trip we went out to dinner with a mission buddy whom we haven't seen since, well, the last day of our mission--so that would be about 15 years or so and it just turns out that his wife books Disney Vacations!!! How lucky is that!? She totally helped us book our dream vacation and gave us lots of tips and pointers along the way.

With 5 kids, things can add up very quickly so we looked for ways to cut costs while still having an amazing Disney experience. There were 2 things that I am so glad that I did before our vacation and those were buying them autograph books ahead of time and buying Disney trading pins at eBay for a huge discount.

The autograph books offered at Disneyland were $12.95 each for a size similiar to the ones I bought my children. Once I bought 2 it would have come pretty close to what I spent for all their books plus a little bit more. I got them landscape bare books at $1.75 each I also got clear covers for them to protect the covers. The minimum order at Treetop publishing was $25 so I bought 10 bare books and 10 covers so the kids could use them as journals as well. 10 books for the price of 2 at Disneyland. The kids got to design their own covers and my one daughter who LOVES Pluto was able to get Pluto to sign the cover of her book just like she wanted! Very cool! The other benefit of purchasing these books BEFORE we got to Disneyland was that the kids were able to get autographs from the characters the very first morning!

At Disneyland, the kids also majorly got into pin trading. I had first heard of this concept as an idea when reading Design Mom. And then our Travel Agent friend told us that we could buy them inexpensively on or eBay. We found a seller with good reviews on eBay and bought a lot of 60 pins for a fraction of the cost they'd have been at the Disneyland Parks (the cheapest ones started at $6.95--we paid about $1.25 each.) The pin trading was such a hit. The kids loved finding cast members to trade pins with and came home with some really fun finds. Each of them had a goal in mind as they traded--one daughter wanted all the baby princess pins, another daughter only wanted large pins--if it was big she traded for it and if it was big and had Tinkerbell on it--even better. One son started a quest for Star Wars themed pins and then changed to the baby prince collection to match his sister. On the last day trading pins was their main focus and desire. It was a lot of fun and we were able to allow each child to have 10 pins to trade compared to the 2 they would have gotten for the same price had we purchased them at the park.

The last little tip we were given which was really great was to buy each of the children a gift card of a set amount for souvenirs. We told them that as soon as the money was gone it was gone so they really had to think about their purchases. Since we were at the park for 5 days we also told them they wouldn't be allowed to buy anything with their gift cards until the 3rd day. They were so good about their purchases. They thought them through and were happy with their purchases, because they had seen multiple options before deciding on what they truly wanted to bring home with them.

Our trip to Disneyland was truly "magical." We had a great time, the kids all got along for the week and we made meories to last us a lifetime.