My Disney World Story

Top 3 Things List

If you’ve been a subscriber to my platinum newsletter, you’ll remember that taking my family to Disney World in Orlando was on my Top 3 Things list.

My wife and I have always wanted to go, but making sure my kids experienced the magic – while they were still kids – was a major priority for me. It was just one of those things that I could never seem to make happen.

We all have things in life that we want to do, dreams we dream, but they frustrate us because there seems to be so many insurmountable obstacles standing in the way. You can think of a hundred reasons why it won’t work out, but you have trouble coming up with more than a handful or reasons why it will work.

For me, the obstacles in getting my family to Disney seemed to be overwhelming:

Disney is Expensive

Getting a family of 4 from Texas to Florida, and back home again, is expensive.

The Opportunity Cost

There are times of the year where $1 of effort can make you $5 of profit, and other times when your $1 investment is worth about a Nickel. You have to know your seasons, and invest wisely if you’re going to make a living in roofing.

Taking off for Disney during the kids’ Summer break is ideal for the family, but it’s also when your investment in roofing pays it’s biggest returns.

Obviously, the wisest thing to do would be to save the money and go when roofing is slow. That would just make sense, wouldn’t it?

The problem with that strategy is when roofing gets slow, I’m already dipping into my savings to cover unexpected expenses (e.g. doctor bills, vehicle repair, etc.) and sometimes even expected expenses (e.g. eating, electricity, mortgage, etc.)

Since roofing is such an Up & Down business, feast or famine, it’s more difficult to budget extra expenses in the off-season. Normal people, those with steady paychecks, know exactly how much money is coming in every week, month, even year. We don’t. It’s as simple as that.

What we do know for sure is things can be good when the opportunity is good. We may not know when the next opportunity will come along, but generally speaking Summer is a much better opportunity to make money in roofing than Late-Fall, Winter, or Early-Spring.

We Could Drive

Driving non-stop straight through to Orlando would take 17 hours.

Now that I’m older, I hit the driving wall at about 8 hours. My wife could drive a few more hours, but even together we wouldn’t be able to drive it non-stop. First of all, nobody in my family is on the same bathroom schedule. If they aren’t all sleeping, there’s at least somebody needing to go potty every hour or two. Second, we would end up having to stay in a hotel at least once there and once back. The hotel stays would add even more expense.

The biggest problem with driving was that it would take 4 days – 2 days there, and 2 days back. I’ve always wanted to go for a full week to Disney. If we had to take 4 days off our trip, that would only give us 3 days at Disney. If we added the drive time on top of our 7-day stay in Orlando, that would be 4 extra days when I wasn’t back home working during the best time of the year for me to make money.

The problem with driving wasn’t so much the cost to drive; it was what it would cost me to drive.

Gas would only be about $400 round-trip, and two nights in a good hotel would be another $300. So, for $700 we could drive to Orlando, but being away from work 4 extra days could potentially cost me a lot more than $700 in lost revenue. As you know, 4 good days in roofing can sometimes be better than what “Normal” people make in a month with their steady paycheck.

Yes, it could also be worse.

We all know that, too.

We Could Fly

Flying would solve the problem of being off work an extra 4 days.

Unfortunately, flying 4 people from Dallas to Orlando, and back again, is also expensive. On average, it works out to about $500 per person, per flight. You can find cheaper flights if you plan in advance, watch for specials, and have the money to pull the trigger when the time is just right. You might be able to get it down to $300 per person, per flight. Sure, the airlines advertise lower rates, but the catch is in the taxes, fees, and upgrades for available seating.

So, flying out would cost us $4,000 total round-trip. Flying would also mean renting a vehicle for the week. Again, mo’ money.

If you can make up the extra $4,000 in airline tickets by working the 4 days you save from not driving, flying is basically a wash financially. Either way, $4,000 is still $4,000. It’s expensive.

Disney Tickets

Listen, there’s no way around it, if you’re going to Disney, you’re going to pay big money for tickets.

A one-day ticket is about $100 per person. They get a little cheaper when you buy multiple days, but they’re still expensive.

For a family of four, basic tickets for 5 days runs a little over $1,300. That’s one Disney park per day, per ticket.

If you add the “Park Hopper” option, where you can go from park-to-park during the same day, your tickets will run a little over $1,600. It’s about the same price if you add in the option to also visit the two Disney water parks. However, if you want to also include the water parks and more option, your tickets jump to over $1,700 for a family of four.

Everybody I’ve talked to has told me to add the “Park Hopper” option because you want to be able to see different attractions at the parks during different times of the day. Disney has a great transportation system that will get you from park to park by tram, or monorail, once you’ve paid for parking that day ($17). By the way, once you’ve paid for parking for the day, you don’t have to pay parking again if you drive to a different park instead of taking the Disney transportation.

Lodging is Expensive

There are places to stay in Orlando that are fairly reasonable.

However, who wants to go on their dream vacation to Disney World and live in the roach motel for a week?

The Disney resorts and hotels look really nice, but they’re also really expensive. They have cheaper motels, but they would still be $100 – $150 plus tax. Their nicer resort hotels run about $300 per night plus tax. Either way, it’s expensive. At the low end, Disney lodging would run $700 – $1,200 for a week. On the high end, you could pay $2,300 and up for a week.

Don’t Forget Food

Bottom line, you’re going to spend more money on food when you’re on vacation.

If you’re like I am, you want your family to enjoy eating out while you’re away from home. It’s also nice to be able to eat at the park, even if it does cost 2X-3X more than at a regular restaurant. Don’t forget snacks, bottled water, trinkets, toys, and souvenirs. They all add up to mo’ money!

Disney Was Never Going To Happen

No matter which way I sliced it, Disney always came up to around $10K.

Whenever I would add up the time off work, the cost of driving or flying, tickets, lodging, food, and souvenirs, it always seemed impossible. $10K is a lot of money.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if you worked for $10K, and had it in your pocket right now, aren’t there things in your life more pressing than a family trip to Disney?

Even if Disney World is a lifetime dream, one of your Top 3 Things, the reality of what you could do with the money, maybe even what you should do with the money, makes dropping $10K on a week-long vacation sound silly, doesn’t it?

It just didn’t make sense.

But Then I Remembered…

I moved my family out of the city, to a little country town, back in early 2002. My daughter was still a toddler.

We would both look up in amazement into the clear night sky. In the country, you can see the stars shining brightly, and I would tell her to find the brightest star and make a wish.

She had a lot of wishes, but one of them was to go to Disney World. She loved all the Disney princesses and wore her princess gowns around our home non-stop growing up. To my daughter, Disney was a magical place where dreams come true. Going to Disney would be a dream come true.

My daughter is a teenager now. Those princess dresses were put up a long time ago. Every once in awhile, we’ll both look up into the nighttime stars together, but I wonder if she still wishes for the same things. She enjoys the Disney XD shows on TV, but getting her there has been too hard for Daddy to make happen.

My son is your typical boy. He loves baseball, video games, and Star Wars. When he found out Disney has Star Wars weekends, where Storm Troopers patrol the streets, and real-life action figures roam the park, he let me know just how much he wanted to go to Disney too. That was a couple of years ago.

My Grandma Price used to tell me, “Your kids will always be your kids, but they’ll only be kids for a little while.”

Do It Anyway

I could think of a lot of reasons – ten thousand reasons – to skip Disney, but I couldn’t shake the thought of my kids growing up, leaving home, and my family missing the one trip they’ve always wanted to take together.

Disney is expensive. It’s really expensive. It’s so expensive that it makes my butt tight, but it doesn’t change the fact that, “Time is more valuable than money. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.”

Once your time is gone, it’s gone forever. You can’t go back. You can’t get it back. You can’t buy it back. Time gone is time gone forever.

If you haven’t already guessed it, we all made it to Disney this year. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more.

I haven’t had time to fully digest everything that happened, but I wanted to share a few things I learned about myself, life, and dreams along the way.

Lessons Learned

If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. Back in 2013, I was at the mall with my kids in the Disney store. For the first time, I allowed myself to think about the possibility of getting to Disney World. I picked up a copy of “Birnbaum Guides to Walt Disney World” and thumbed through the pages. Honestly, I didn’t read more than a couple of pages, but I wanted to have it because someday I was going to go to Disney World with my family.

What you think about becomes your reality. Thoughts are real things. Before anything comes into existence, somebody has to create it first in their mind. Walking around Disney World with my family, it was evident that a lot of people have done a lot of thinking about how to make amazing things come to life. I need to allow myself to be more creative in my thinking because my thoughts are creating my world. I don’t want to live in a world of doubt, negativity, and pessimism. Sarcasm and cynicism are entertaining ways to hide a negative attitude, but they aren’t helpful.

Goals Matter. I’ve always been the guy who poo-poo’s the hyper-goal setting crowd. I’ve excused my disdain for the goal talkers by explaining that I’m more of an action-oriented type of guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed in goals, but I just didn’t buy-in to the goal-oriented mindset. Action is important, vitally important, but if you really want to achieve something important you’ve got to set a goal. I wrote about this distinction more in-depth on my Facebook page.

It’s not too expensive, you’re too broke. Good things cost good money. The time I wasted complaining about how expensive things were would have been better spent improving my value so I could afford more of what I really want out of life. After all, I don’t get paid by the hour. I get paid by the value I bring to the hour. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking they can’t afford the things they want. A poverty mindset quickly develops when my kids hear me say, “We can’t afford it.” I’m not going to do that to my kids, and I’m not going to allow my kids to have those thought either. We’ll just have to improve our value to the world in order to make it happen.

Anything big first started small. There’s a quote you’ll find in several places around the Disney World park. It simply says, “It all started with a mouse.” Walt Disney didn’t see everything we see today, but he did see Mickey Mouse. That’s all he had to go on at first, but look where it brought us today. You may not have much right now, but you have a little inspiration. You have a place to start. You never know how big you can grow something if you’ll stick with it.

Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. When you take the first step afraid, the next step is a little easier. Obviously, real courage is best defined by real heroes, but you may need a little courage to be a hero to your kids if you’re going to get to Disney. When we finally decided to go, and took the first step, my niece helped us out with airline tickets. She recently went to work at American Airlines and was able to get my wife and daughter tickets. We still had to pay taxes and fees, but their flights were otherwise free. I only paid for my son and I to fly. That saved us $2K.

“The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting.” – Walt Disney

Obviously, our trip to Disney has inspired me (and my family) to take on even bigger challenges. When you visit a place where anything is possible, you start to get the feeling that anything is possible in your life too. It’s refreshing to think about life could be like if we don’t quit on our dreams.


P.S. If you’ve been to Disney World, I would love to hear your thoughts on how it impacted your life.