Editor’s note: Please welcome our newest writer, Jolie, to The Affordable Mouse writing staff. Jolie is planning a Disney vacation as a single mom, and will be sharing her planning experiences here in a new monthly column. She has some great stories to tell and…well…I think I’ll let her tell you herself. 🙂 Take it away Jolie!
Happy Friday, my Disney friends…or friends-to-be, I should say. Hi, I’m Jolie, the newest writer for The Affordable Mouse, and I am just thrilled to be here, sharing what I know and what I’m learning!
I’ve had a lifelong love of Disney. I was fortunate enough to go as a child, and again as a teen with a musical theatre group. I grew up with the dream of becoming a character at Walt Disney World, and my parents, being the wonderful, amazing people they are, gave me that opportunity when I was barely 20. I flew down (my super-supportive Dad came along, of course!), auditioned, even made it to the costume fittings (I was JUST the right size for Tweedle-Dum and Dee, go figure), and in my final dance, wearing the costume…FELL. FELL! On my Tweedle-Dum bum. Not only did I FALL, but I fell right on top of a giant Mickey-ears hat, and of course…it broke. Thank goodness my faithful father was there to support the mass of tears that came out of the audition room! I was offered a wonderful position at the Boardwalk’s ESPN Club, and I just loved it there.
Now, I’m a single mom of three beautiful children. Andrew (6), Isabelle (15 months), and Anabelle (Izzie’s identical twin, and yes, they’re adorable, and yes, sometimes I have a hard time telling them apart). So, I don’t exactly fit the mold that’s talked about in those touching Disney commercials, you know, the traditional family of four. (I have a family of four, all right, and again, thank goodness for that wonderful, supportive family I mentioned earlier!) Lately, I’ve come to realize, that I’m not really in the minority anymore. There are more non-traditional families than traditional families, and while not “Disney”-esque, it’s reality, and there’s hardly any information out there about doing Disney as a single parent! Only a few of the guidebooks I’ve read, and I’ve read plenty, even mention it. Those that do suggest bringing another adult or teaming up with another single parent you meet there. I can’t afford to bring another adult! And I don’t really want to share my vacation with people I don’t know, if we’re being honest.
So, here I am, trying to figure out how to make a Disney vacation work…both logistically AND financially. Now I’m not crazy enough to take my babies to Disney this year, but my son will be 7 in August, and I feel the need to give him that magically perfect first Disney vacation…without his younger sisters in tow.
Financially, I am just loving this “Kids Stay and Play Free” package from Disney’s very own “Special Offers” page of their website. My son and I can “Stay and Play” at Disney’s Caribbean Beach for under $800.00, or at Pop Century for around $650!. That includes five days of base tickets, folks. The kicker with this package is the “Play Free.” Kids already stay in their parents’ rooms at no extra charge. The theme park ticketing discount saves me about $250, which is enough to cover our Dining Plan, which means I don’t have to worry about carrying a lot of money around with me!
The “Kids Stay and Play Free” package can also be used with more than one child per adult. So, if you’re a single parent of two or three children between ages 3 to 9, you really can rack up the savings! The cost of your room and tickets would not increase for each additional child, but if you chose to include a dining plan, you would pay the going rate for yourself and each child.
Also, if you choose a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun and More ticket upgrade, you will pay for those upgrades on each ticket. For our upcoming trip, my son’s first, I know we won’t use the Park Hopper, especially since we’re only staying four nights. If we choose to go to a water park or DisneyQuest, which I doubt we will, we’ll only do one and pay the admission price at the gate.
Logistically, I’m actually dealing with major guilt for not taking my twins to Disney (who will be almost two at the time of our trip), however, I think this guilt is the lesser of two evils. I can’t imagine trying to take my son on his first trip to Disney with his two baby sisters in tow, keeping me from being able to ride the rides with him. “Baby Swap” does NOT work if you’re a single parent, understandably…you have to have someone to “swap” with! A cast member can NOT watch your child for you. We’re celebrating my son’s birthday at Disney, and while I’m sure he’d still have fun, I know it will be much better for him as a Mommy/Son Trip.
So, since I’ve decided not to take the babies, that leaves them home, finding a caregiver for them while we’re gone for almost a week. I am blessed enough to have a wonderfully large family, those super-supportive parents I mentioned earlier, and ex-in-laws (I never know exactly how to refer to them!) willing and (importantly) able to care for my other children while we’re away. This way, my son can have a wonderful first Disney vacation, and when my girls are a little older, they, too, will have an amazing first Disney experience!
Now I just have to think about…where to stay…the Pop or the Beach!!!
Keep wishing and dreaming,
Jolie is a South Louisiana native, who bleeds purple and gold (Geaux Tigers!). She is a single mom of three children, ages 6, 15 months and 15 months (no, that’s not a typo–they’re twins), and they keep her on her toes, especially when it comes to time and money. She has traveled the world, including our favorite…Walt Disney World, even following a childhood dream and working there in her early 20’s! When Jolie grows up (or not!), she would love to work for Disney again, and her dream is to live happily ever after in Celebration, Florida.