We have our tickets and the hotel is booked, so now we are in planning mode. Of course I don't want to go crazy on spending where we don't need to, since we are living on one income, but there are certain things that I know we "need".
First is apparel for the girls. L is wearing 2T and we were blessed when M was that age and we received about a zillion hand me downs, some of which were Disney themed t-shirts. We also had a couple that we purchased back then that were still completely usable for L. So, all set there. But M, who is wearing 5T, had absolutely NO Disney themed clothing. Kind of crazy right? I didn't believe it myself. I refused to drop tons of money on Disney clothes though. So where did I head? Burlington Coat Factory. Score!! I was able to buy her 4 shirts, each $5 each. Elsa, Elsa & Anna, Ariel, and Sophia the First. Perfect. We will probably pack one princess dress from our stash of dress up gear so that they each have one of those with them. But there will be no changing of dresses all day long. No thank you.
Now on to the biggie. The autograph books. I'm glad we have friends who have been, because honestly, otherwise I wouldn't have known that this was something that people did. Autographs of people dressed up as make believe characters?? It seems weird to me. But ok, ok, I have two young girls, so I'm not going to question it. I'm just rolling with it. However, I refuse to spend a ton of money on a book for fake characters to sign. Not necessarily because I think there is something wrong with spending money on something that the kids will enjoy, but because I'm not sure ours will see the light of day. My concerns are that L may not even be interested yet (at not quite 2) and that M might be scared of many of these characters. We're talking about a child who HID UNDER THE TABLE AT CHUCK E. CHEESE. Not exaggerating. I was like where is my child?!?! And then I looked down and there she was. She screams her head off when we see Santa and it took her about 30 minutes to warm up to Ariel at her own birthday party. So, do I want to spend $15+ on a couple of books that might very well spend their time at the bottom of the stroller for three days? Nope.
So, the books I found online ranged from $15 and up. I don't yet know the cost of the ones at the park, but I would think the prices are in the same range.
I put our books together for approximately $5 each. I went to Michael's and purchased two simple 4x6 photo albums ($1.99 each). And some stickers, at a total of $7.00. So for the two books, that's about $11, or $5.50 per book. However, I would point out that we used a small fraction of the stickers purchased, so in reality that entire $7 didn't go into these books. I already had white card stock and some colorful scrapbook paper on hand, so these costs aren't necessarily factored in. My thought is that if you back out all the stickers we didn't use and add in some fraction of a cost for the paper I had on hand and the printer ink, let's just say the books cost about $5 and leave it at that.
Here are the supplies and the tools that I used:
My intention is that a photo of my girls with each character will go in the facing page. Each of the girls will has 32 total autograph cards in their book right now, so there are not really empty spaces for pictures. I don't anticipate we will meet and get autographs from this many characters in the time we are there. My thought is that I will finalize these books for this trip, add a printed card with the dates of this trip to the back and then save the rest of the cards for a subsequent trip. That way they'll have separate books for each trip we take. Decisions on these details will be made after the trip, once I see what our situation is.
The last thing you are probably thinking. OK, that's great, you saved $10 or so (per book) by doing this yourself, BUT how much time did this take?!?! I think I spent about 2 hours on the first book. The majority of that time was typing names, changing font colors, figuring out spacing, and finding and re-sizing clip-art. So the time on the second book was negligible. Since we currently have one income and every penny counts, saving $20 or more (factoring both books) is totally worth a couple of hours of work. Not to mention I'm always looking for an excuse to not do housework!! So, I'd say that if you have 2 or more books to prepare, it is worth the small amount of time.
Now to see how many of these characters autographs will we actually score!! And how many characters we will bump into for which we don't have pre-made pages. I'm so excited for this awesome vacation... and that I saved $20!!
Any other Disneyland savings ideas out there? Anyone else make their own autograph books? Who has any kind of Disneyland feedback they would like to share with the world??