Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trip Budgeting ~ Cost Vs Value

Very often in trip planning, we start with one thought in mind. Cost. What is our budget for this vacation that we've saved for all year, or maybe longer? This is going about it in the wrong way. The most important first question is  "What value do we hope to achieve from this vacation?"

Why are you taking a vacation and what do you hope to achieve?
To define:
Cost: The amount of money required to purchase something (a good or a service.) 
Value: The usefulness or desirability of a good or service, "what it is worth to me".

Vacations seem be one of the few things folks plan for a cost without much consideration to value.
When you buy a car, you generally don't say, "it just needs to be cheap". Ok, but does it need to run? fit your family? have tires that won't blow?

So, first decide what value you place on your vacation. What's the purpose? Family time? Special activities? wonderful food? Then take that budget, the cost you can afford, and make that work together to make it the value you want.
A quick example using Disney, since it's no surprise Disney has a special place in my heart.

We have a semi average family of 2 adults and 2 small children who want to experience a theme park. In my opinion Disney should be on the top of the list. So let's decide that a Disney experience (value) is worth the price (cost).
Let's use Disneyland where a minimum visit should be three days. Why? With 2 parks and tons of attractions, experiences and events you need at least this long. It's a poor value of your time to be in a frantic mess trying to do too much in too short of a time. You want Park Hopper tickets. The two parks are so very close to each other, it would be aggravating to look across that small esplanade and realize today was not a day you could go there, so it's a good value for a bit higher cost to make that happen.

Where should you stay? You could stay far away and either drive to the park (cost) or take local transit (cost + timing) but have a much less per night cost. Are your children young enough or yourself old enough to maybe want a mid day break and some pool time? For better value, stay closer.
What about those incidentals? Like food and drink? If cost is an issue, feel free to bring in some eats and drinks (in non breakable bottles). If food is part of the value you're looking for plan on some special treats (Dole Whip or Churro anyone?) and some nice meals (Flo's Diner? Blue Bayou?)
How about 'stuff'? If cost is the issue, for young kids, parents often bring little goodies from home and surprise the kids with daily small gifts. For older kids, set a budget well in advance, and then make them wait until the final day to choose.  Really find value in that special Haunted Mansion item? Go for it. How about a good cost/value decision...bring in some food and get that free ice water at counter service locations, but plan for a treat a day and one decent meal.
For this imaginary Disney trip, your base cost would be around $2,000 for a nice off site property within easy walking distance. If you don't mind staying further out in a more standard type of chain hotel, your cost is closer to $1,700. If staying onsite for the experience of a themed hotel and pool, immersed in the 'magic' 24/7, then you're looking at closer to $3,000.

There is no right of wrong answer. What's important is that you get the best value for cost experience for you. Let me help!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Disney California Adventure Midway Games

Since the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure has an old time beach pier feel, having some classic midway games to play makes sense. These four little stalls pack a classic punch with a Disneyfied vibe.
First off, of course there's an additional charge. However, being Disney, they've made the whole  thing fairly painless and not all that expensive. You'll need to purchase a Play Card at the kiosk, located right in front of the game stalls. These cards start at $5.00 and go up in five dollar increments., which makes sense since each game play costs $2.50 (or 250 points). The card is then scanned by the cast member at time of play and when empty makes a cute little souvenir. Funds cannot be added to the card, so when it's empty you'll need a new one.

Here's a quick look at the games.

Dumbo's Bucket Brigade. Using a steady stream of water from your squirt gun, you raise your fireman up the ladder.
Goofy About Fishin'. Classic carnival game, where a trough of water flows past you with bobbing fish. You then use your fishing pole with a magnetic end to catch a fish.
Casey at the Bat. Not many folks remember the folk hero Casey, but this is the old throw a ball and win a prize game.

Bullseye's' Stallion Stampede. This is a horse race game where you advance your horse by rolling a ball into holes that produce various speeds. The balls come back slowly, so it's kind of maddening waiting for the ball since you only have the same one to use multiple times.
All but the fishing game take a bit of skill, so for younger kids, try Goofy first. This is also the only game that is guaranteed to win a prize. The prize won is determined by the color on the bottom of the fish you catch, and the smallest prize is a small stuffed sea creature. Still, not bad for $2.50 (in a Disney park). By pure luck, you might win the biggest prize, which is a very cute Mickey fisherman.
The Casey game is an individual challenge, based on throwing a ball at a target that looks like a catcher.

The other two games find you competing against other park visitors. To have a prize awarded at least two must play. How many players playing determine the size of prize won. For example, in the Bullseye horse racing game, every seat must be filled for the biggest prize, a large Bullseye plush, to be won. If your party is large enough, you can stack the deck by filling every seat, meaning someone in your party will win.
All the games are well themed and the prizes mainly Disney characters, so is a fun way to bring home a possibly economical souvenir.