A couple of months back, it looked like my wife might have to have some minor surgery; nothing too serious, but it would require some recovery time before she could return to work. As a result, she would have to use the vacation time she would need for our Disney World trip. We probably weren’t going to get to go to our favorite vacation spot this year.
I was explaining this to my son, then 9, when he had a stroke of genius. “Well, maybe if we can’t go to Disney World this year, we can have our vacation here. We could play Toy Story Mania on the Wii on the day we were going to go to Hollywood Studios.”
I liked this idea, and he, my wife and I brainstormed some more. What we came up with is something low-cost you can do to keep the Disney magic going between trips, without the cost and time required of a full-fledged vacation.
We decided that if we weren’t able to make our trip, then each day that we would’ve been at Disney World, we would do things here at the house to remind us of the particular park we had planned to visit that day. For example, as mentioned before, on our Hollywood Studios day, we would play Toy Story Mania and watch a couple of DVDs related to our favorite attractions, probably a Muppet movie and one of the original Star Wars episodes.
For our Magic Kingdom days, we were going to watch DVDs based on our favorite attractions, like Buzz Lightyear and Swiss Family Robinson. We also have a Magic Kingdom board game we bought at Toys R Us a few years ago, where players try be the first to visit an attraction in each land.
There aren’t as many attractions in Epcot as Magic Kingdom that lend themselves to a movie night. But on our Epcot days, we thought we could get some recipes online for some of the dishes served in the World Showcase restaurants and make a few of our favorites for dinner. If cooking a big meal doesn’t fit into your idea of a vacation (or staycation), you could also eat out and combine dinner with an Epcot theme. For instance, eat Mexican and watch “Three Caballeros,” have take-out Chinese with “Mulan,” or eat seafood and watch “Finding Nemo.” Okay, maybe the last one was a bad idea.
We came up with a lot of ideas to celebrate the Animal Kingdom while not actually being there. A hike through the woods around our house or at a local park would help us appreciate nature, as would a visit to a natural wildlife center that’s not too far from our home. There may be a zoo near you that would work. We have all four of the True Life Adventures DVD sets, and any of those would be ideal to watch, as would Disneynature‘s “Earth.” The Lion King and The Jungle Book would also be good picks.
We enjoy finding Hidden Mickeys in the parks, and I’ll frequently hide them throughout the house for the others to find. Home Depot has Disney paint, and the sample cards are shaped like classic Mickey heads. I’ll stop by sometimes and get a handful, cut the Mickey head out of the card, and hide them when everyone else is asleep or away.
Another big part of our Disney vacations is the resort itself. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything approaching the theming of a Disney hotel outside the World, it still doesn’t really seem like a vacation if you’re staying at home. We had planned to spend at least one night in a local hotel, just to get out of the house. My kids love staying in hotels, as long as it has a pool.
Even if you don’t stay at a hotel, nothing says vacation like a pool. When vacationing during the summer, we always take a mid-day break back at the resort with a quick dip in the pool. Had we not been able to go to Disney World this summer, we would’ve made it a point to go swimming in our local watering holes as much as possible during our staycation.
As it turned out, fortunately my wife didn’t require the surgery and our vacation went ahead as planned. But I’m still glad my son came up with this idea. Vacation is as much a state of mind as it is a place. We may have a mini-staycation this winter, when we’re missing Disney World the most. I’d like to hear if anyone else has any ideas we might try.
Contributed by: Mark (NDD #102). Mark is our resident “how to save money while living the Disney Driven Life” expert.