We took the kids to see Disney on Ice this weekend and managed to do it on a super low budget - less than $45 for five of us. It could have been done for less than $20 if we hadn't fed them dinner, but we did that pretty inexpensively as well!
My husband always says that shows like that are money pits - and they are. They were selling toys for as much as $18 - and people were buying them! We were very excited to go see the show, but I am always worried about the bottom line. With a little planning I was able to keep that bottom line low enough for my comfort level - so I had a great time along with everyone else and didn't have that constant nagging feeling that we'd just spent money that was designated for something else. By considering all the areas in which we would potentially be spending money, I could figure out how to get the most out of the event by spending the least amount of money.
- Tickets. To begin with, the only reason we were even going to the show is that we were given the tickets for free. Our one-year-old didn't need a ticket, so we were able to let our four-year-old bring a friend. If we had paid for all those seats, it could have cost $80 or more. Our total cost: $0.
- Parking. Another serious cost pitfall can be parking. It all depends on where you park. If we had gone on Sunday (football day), we would have paid as much as $25 to park in the arena garage. We parked behind the arena at the public landing next to the river. We walked up four flights of stairs right to the main entrance. Our total cost: $0.
- Food. I brought a few light snacks along to keep the kids occupied without having to spend a fortune on carnival food. It's definitely not easy to completely avoid the temptation of all the cotton candy, sno cones and candy floating around. We did spring for a large tub of popcorn that kept them happy, in addition to the snacks I brought along. The arena did allow one sealed bottle of water per person (which we brought but never even opened). Our total cost: $4.00. The snacks I brought were already part of my grocery budget, but if I had to put a price on them I'd say I paid less than $3 for the Cheerios mix, raisins and M&Ms.
- Souvenirs. As anyone would expect, there were lots and lots of ridiculously overpriced goodies available for purchase. Why pay that much for a toy that's going to end up in the corner of the toy box and never played with again? To completely avoid the begging, I went to KB Toys the day before the show in search of some Disney items. I found these little Mickey Mouse cell phones that light up and make noises, which I gave them when we got to our seats. I didn't think they were anything special, but the kids were so excited about them! They were such a hit. I also used a $5 coupon which the store told me won't be available after Oct. 25th, so get yours now! Our total cost: $12.00.
- Dinner. This is an area that could have been skipped. But we went to a Saturday afternoon show that got out just in time for dinner. If I hadn't planned it, it would have happened anyway. A few months ago we purchased gift certificates from Restaurant.com at an 80% discount when they were having a special promotion. I found a restaurant in the area that only required a $35 minimum purchase for a $25 gift card. We ended up coming pretty close to that with 3 kids and 2 adults. Our total cost: $26.00.
When we first found out we were able to get free tickets to this event, I thought it was going to just be a good time doing something that we never would have been able to afford otherwise. But adding in all those extras that really are involved in the process can easily make something like this cost a lot, even without the price of tickets! But with a little advanced planning, you can definitely do even a Disney show without spending a fortune!