Our trip to Disneyland was really fun.
But we are now totally broke and will be living off of rice for the rest of the year.
When we began to plan this trip last week, we had originally intended to stay at the Disneyland Resort. But when Charlie called up and found out that a two night stay at the resort and one day passes to Disneyland would be a whopping $1,567.00 (ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN DOLLARS), we laughed and laughed. Because surely they were kidding. Who charges seven hundred dollars a night for a standard hotel room during a recession?
I'll tell you who: Walt Disney and his little partner, Mickey.
They weren't kidding. They really do charge $700.00 for a standard hotel room at the Resort.
On a weeknight.
In the Fall.
So we made alternative arrangements.
But even with our savvy planning, two nights and one day visit at the Most Magical Place on earth was shockingly expensive. Let's look at some numbers.
Charlie and I had to pay to get in. That was $72.00 each, or $144.00. Henry is under the age of three, so he was free. Since we went on the triplets birthday, they were also free. The 21 buttons that they gave to us were free. (What the heck is up with all the buttons?! Can I smelt them down and make coins??)
Six classic Mickey Mouse ear hats with embroidery, $97.28. While I was forking over five twenties, I tried not to ponder that the material used to create these hats couldn't have cost more than four dollars.
Instead, I tried to fill my mind with how awesome it was that these hats will last a lifetime. Or at least until the children outgrow the youth sizes that I purchased within the next six months. Gah. I should have bought the adult sizes and lined them with cotton balls.
Breakfast at The Inn with Minnie and Friends was $125.00. The chintzy birthday cakes that came in even chintzier plastic treasure chests (two princess and one pirate themed) were $15.00 each, for a total of $45.00. Not including tax.
This "HEY EVERYBODY WE'RE AT DISNEY IN 2009!" family photo was $35.00.
Two salted pretzels and two boxes of popcorn were $18.00.
One Buzz Lightyear toy. One Buzz Lightyear Laser. One box of Monster Inc. figurines. One turtle dude from Finding Nemo. Just a few small miscellaneous toys that we picked up at the Disney Store because it was their birthday (and how could Henry not get something when his siblings did?) $84.00.
Then there were the shuttle passes from the hotel to the park. That only cost $12.00.
One breakfast. One lunch. And two dinners at the hotel. $325.00.
Room service for six hot fudge sundaes with candles. $21.52.
Lodging. $378.00. That included parking.
My calculator is missing or I'd give you a grand total.
It could have been worse. If we had to pay for the kids, that would have added $248.00 to our tab. And, I actually refused the children's requests to buy balloons. They each wanted a Mickey Mouse balloon, but when I found out that helium latex balloons were SEVEN DOLLARS EACH, I had to put my foot down. Like I'm going to pay TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS for four balloons that will either be let go of, or popped, or drive me clinically insane within seconds. I also steered William away from the foam sword and shield, which saved another $20.00.
And when a woman dressed up as a Fairy Godmother walked up to my children, holding a basket of brightly wrapped papers tied with bows, and offered one to each of my children and in a singsong voice told us that this was a solicitation for the Bippidi Boppity Boutique, where the kids could go in and have their faces painted and hair styled - I considered possibly saying yes, until I caught a glimpse of how much these "makeovers" would cost and then, while my children begged, "Please Mommy, PLEASE!" I once again, said NO.
I'm sure my children would love to have makeup applied and their hair highlighted and spiked, but I'm not paying $75.00 for my five-year-olds to look like they are 20, until they take a bubble bath in a few short hours and all the makeup and glitter goes down the drain.
We were there on a Wednesday, middle of the week, school is in session and it was RAINING.
Still, there were lines everywhere. When you consider Disney has a global draw, it should probably have come as no surprise that there was a 45 minute wait for Space Mountain and 70 minute wait for The Matterhorn. But I was surprised.
A bit agitated, even.
Absolutely no one was in a hurry. Everyone went painfully slow. It's almost as if they are doing it intentionally to limit the number of rides that you can fit in on any given day so that you need to come back again. And spend more money. And then, even more money because you'll need to visit the adjacent Park, which requires an entirely separate ticket to enter.
Does it sound like I'm being cheap?
With age, it seems to be getting worse. I've already started scowling at my kids every time we go shopping and whisper through clenched teeth, "You need to get a JOB!" the same way my mother did to me.
How old do you need to be to have a paper route? Six?
While I appreciate that Disney is a business, I don't appreciate feeling like I've been robbed. And it's not just at the Park. Walking through Target yesterday afternoon, my children spotted the new Disney's Snow White movie that has recently been released on DVD. It was $19.99. For a little piece of plastic, $20.00? Oh yes - I know that there are artists and technology and packaging and yadayadayada ... but man, I am in the wrong line of work.
I should be in PLASTICS.
Then there were two separate Disney Princess dress-up doll sets that the girls told me that they REALLY wanted. At $35.00 a piece, that's another $70.00. I didn't buy them, because I just know that within a day of those items being in our house, they would be lost or broken or the itty bitty tiny shoes would be sucked up in to my unforgiving vacuum. But how much do these things really cost to make? I'm guessing no more than pennies.
Even though I don't buy these items myself, Disney is everywhere. It's on toothbrushes, pajamas, cups, plates, cups and underwear. There's no escaping it and kids have gotta have it, like a druggie's gotta gotta gotta have crack.
I'm trying not to dwell on the expense, because we really had a wonderful time. Charlie and I spent a lot of much-needed time talking while we waited in line and since it took us over two hours to meet the Princesses, we got the rest of our lives completely sorted out.
But I think that for anyone who might be planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, my suggestion is to fill your wallet up to the brink with money, and then just PRACTICE opening it and SHAKING EVERY LAST DIME OUT. And then stand around waiting for the money to reappear. Chances are by the time you're ready to give up, it will finally be your turn.
And almost instantly, you'll forget the misery of it all and just bask in the wonder on your children's faces.
Because it's ALL worth it.
It really, really is.
Now just keep cheerfully repeating that to yourself as you review your bank account statement. Soon enough, you will not only believe it - you'll be ready to plan your next trip.