Mark J. (NDD#102) (33 Posts)

Mark was born and raised in Fayetteville, WV. He first visited Disney World back in 1975 and was instantly hooked. He returned several times as a child and now brings his own family as often as possible. Being a new lawyer, however, that isn't as often as he'd like. Mark is married to Sherri, NDM#237.



I don’t like to go into debt to feed my Disney World addiction.  I like to plan my trips with a good budget and stay within that budget.  But this past trip, on our last day in the Magic Kingdom, I threw the budget out the window and don’t regret it a bit.

My daughter is 15 and as is typical for that age, thinks her mom and I are exceedingly stupid and at times embarrassing.  When I ask how her day has been at school, I get a one-word answer – either “Good,” or “Awful.”  When she wakes up in the morning, my “Good morning” is answered with “Unnhh.”  She would much rather spend her time with her friends, either in person or over the cell phone, than with her family.

But when we go to Disney World, she loses five years of age and cynicism.  She laughs with us, holds her mother’s hand to avoid getting separated in the crowds, holds my hand when I’m scared on a roller coaster, and hugs her brother.  She smiles and gets excited at the opening of the parks.  She engages with the rest of the family, and to use a cliché, it’s magical.

My wife and I were enjoying having our little girl back on this last trip.  We were in Fantasyland, getting character autographs near the Castle, when my daughter asked about going to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  She had done this a couple of years ago at the Downtown Disney location.  We considered it a one-time splurge, something to check off the list of things to do.  We never dreamed that our teenager would want to be made over into a princess again.  But when she expressed interest, I didn’t hesitate.

I broke out of the line and ran into Cinderella’s Castle.

“Any chance of getting a walk-up appointment?” I asked the lady at the check-in, thinking that there was no way we would be able to get in.  “We have one in about ten minutes,” she replied.  Perfect!  I ran back outside, and as soon as we had the autographs, my wife and daughter went into the Boutique while my son and I did more manly things in Fantasyland, like sit on a bench and have a drink.  Later, my daughter came out looking even more beautiful than usual and sporting a tiara and big smile, with glitter in her hair.

We continued our tour of the park.  Since this was the last day of our vacation, we skipped our usual mid-day break.  We sat down for lunch in El Pirate y el Perico, a favorite counter-service restaurant (when it’s open).  Earlier in the trip, my wife had expressed interest in a pirate makeover from the Pirate’s League.  Since I like to make my wife happy, and since a pirate makeover is only $30, I crossed the street to the Pirate’s League to try my luck again at a walk-up.  Again, it was no problem.

As she was considering her options, my wife asked our 10-year old son if he’d like to get a pirate makeover, too.  He thought about it, and I could see he was wanting to, but was hesitant.  Noah turned to me and asked, “Would you like to get one, too?”

“Sure,” I replied.  “That sounds fun.”

It wasn’t long before the three of us were in chairs being made up while my daughter, the princess, took pictures.  I was amazed at the change in my son.  He has an anxiety disorder.  When someone who’s not a close friend or family member talks to Noah, he usually gives a one-word reply, with his head turned down or away.  But he was engaged in full conversation with the pirate who was painting his face to look like a skull.  When he finished and came over to my chair, he made up a story for the makeup artist about how I got the black eye and scar she was applying to my face.

Later in the afternoon, we came back to Adventureland for the Pirate Parade.  There was my son, marching and singing with everyone else, in front of all the strangers in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop.  After the parade, all the children who had been made up that day got a special Pirate Tutorial from Captain Jack Sparrow.  Noah will usually watch something like this, but when I’ve tried to get him to participate in Turtle Talk with Crush or the Jedi Training Academy, he refuses.  This time, though, he was yelling out, “Yo ho!” while giving the pirate salute.  He raised his hand to get up on stage with Captain Jack.  And after it was all over, he mentioned possibly wanting to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, a movie he’s always considered too frightening.

We returned to our hotel at the end of the last day of our family vacation, three pirates and our captive princess, singing “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me” and laughing as we relived our day.  The makeup has long been washed off, but we’ll have the memories and pictures forever.

All told, we spent $171 on makeovers for our whole family.  Was it in our budget?  No.  Was it worth it?  Every penny.

Contributed by: Mark (NDD #102). Mark is our resident “how to save money while living the Disney Driven Life” expert.

10 thoughts on “IT’S OK TO SPLURGE

  1. I enjoyed your story. I also believe that sometimes it is important to toss out the budget in favor of a memory. Hard to put a price on a great memory.

  2. Oh Mark,

    That is a great story! I am so glad you shared it! my youngest DD has difficulty feeling safe & comfortable like your son, but I can tell you from my own experince to see your child come out of their shell and for your teen age DD to feel like a child again and have inter reaction with her family is “PRICELESS” Thank you for sharing.

  3. I was in tears reading your post. Maybe because we’ve just returned from our vacation on WDW and I’m sure the magic is easier to feel. Our duaghter is 9 and this time (her 5th) I was surprised to watch her sreaming happily at the coasters like Rock’n Roller, Everest and Space Mountain. Also she made those poses for the attractions cameras, and we had lots of fun seeing those pictures at the attratcions exits. And I’ve realized she’s growing up… And she still wanted the face painting at the same time. Once I’ve seen a milk advertising which said: “The two things you want most: that your child grows up a lot and that your child never grows up.” It was in portuguese, so maybe I couldn’t express it well in english. Hope you got it as I did.

    On Sepetember 2 we were at the Royal Table with Cinderella and today we are here in Rio de Janeiro, on our routines – school, work, housekeeping… – hoping that our next vacation at WDW arrives sooner than we expect. In the meantime, we feel Disney through our memories, videos, photos, conversations with friends and, of course, stories like yours. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I loved this article – it gave me chills! It reminded me of my first trip to Disney as an eighth grader with my parents (I am now a mom of 3) back in 1986. Before leaving home, my parents told my brother and I we would never be able to go again because it was just too expensive, so we would be getting up early and staying up late to get everything in. Of course, this was when it was just MK and Epcot. We had such an amazing vacation, that my parents brought us back to Disney every other year until my brother and I were in college and then they started going by themselves! Now when we go to Disney, there are 11 of us (6 adults and 5 kids). On this last trip, we decided to go to a princess dinner. I was not so sure of the cost with the kids being just 5, 3.5 and 2, but we decided to go ahead anyways. It was the best $200 we spent. My daughters (my son not so much) were in their glory and 5 months later are still asking when we are going back to have dinner with Belle. It was even confirmed that is was money well spent when just a few days ago, my son told us next time we do the princess dinner, he would stay with Grammie and Grampa and we could take just the girls. My now 2.5 year old gave him a big pouty lip and a look of shock says, “But Joey, you get to hug the princesses, see Belle and eat hotdogs? It is wonderful!” Then, she asked me if we could eat hot dogs with Belle tomorrow. I will never make the decision not to experience something based on price!

  5. Wel, that was something else we did that was a big splurge, but we did plan it ahead of time and work it into our budget. It was our first time eating in the Castle, and like you, we felt it was worth every penny. We didn’t think our son would like it too much, but he really liked the sword he got and the experience of being in the castle. But the biggest thrill was our teenage daughter. I swear, I think we could’ve got her into a princess dress if we had one! When she was little, she had an Aurora dress that she wore until it fell apart. When Aurora came by the table, Kelsey told her, “You’re my favorite princess.” The kids raved about the lunch. I think next year, we may try the princess meal at Norway.

  6. Wel, that was something else we did that was a big splurge, but we did plan it ahead of time and work it into our budget. It was our first time eating in the Castle, and like you, we felt it was worth every penny. We didn’t think our son would like it too much, but he really liked the sword he got and the experience of being in the castle. But the biggest thrill was our teenage daughter. I swear, I think we could’ve got her into a princess dress if we had one! When she was little, she had an Aurora dress that she wore until it fell apart. When Aurora came by the table, Kelsey told her, “You’re my favorite princess.” The kids raved about the lunch. I think next year, we may try the princess meal at Norway.

  7. I got it. You want your kids to grow up healthy and well, but you hate seeing it happen. Thanks for commenting. We barely missed each other. My wife and I were back at Disney World on September 5.

  8. I got it. You want your kids to grow up healthy and well, but you hate seeing it happen. Thanks for commenting. We barely missed each other. My wife and I were back at Disney World on September 5.

  9. We did the dinner in Norway, but hope to try the castle next trip. My daughter is 4 and Aurora is her absolute favorite too, and Aurora made a big deal about the fact that Hayley was wearing her Sleeping Beauty dress. I must admit I was teary-eyed! I am hoping when my daughters are older, they still love the princesses! It was funny because when I read your story, I pictured my kids in 10 years and I hope they still love Disney as much as they do now! I didn’t mention it above, but thank you for sharing your story.

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