Monday, April 18, 2011

"That's Going to be One Expensive Bag of Candy!"

At Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, we were hanging out in the Harry Potter section- Hogsmeade. I was in Honeydukes's, the candy store (having sticker shock) while Tim was waiting in like to get a butterbeer, when I heard the best quote of the trip.

"That's going to be one expensive bag of candy!" It doesn't sound awesome, but imagine being in Hogsmeade, listening to a preteen british girl berate her father and her little brother as the two males giggle wildly at the dispenser of Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans.

And she was right! 1/4lb of candy was almost $4.00. As the father discovered, when he was ready to turn off the despenser, another large handfull cascaded down before it shut off- adding that much more weight to his already hefty bag. But it is such fun to see the colorful jelly beans drop down through the dispenser, isn't it? The fact is, based on just a naked eye estimate, I'd guess he had a good $15 worth of jelly beans there. That's all they are- jelly beans.

A Chocolate Frog? $9.95. A small glass container of old fashioned candy? $12.95. Don't get me started on the chocolate wands or "candy floss" (cotton candy)... or even worse, the prices of the homemade fudge and handdipped candy apples.

It is SO easy when you're immersed in an experience, like Disney or Universal Studio's Hogsmeade, to want to buy. Buy buy buy buy buy. Chocolate frogs, just like in the book! But they aren't. They don't move. They don't chirp. They are a molded piece of chocolate candy and to be frank, it's probably not even very good tasting chocolate. Yes- the "every flavor beans" really do have some nasty flavors, like in the book. I imagine it's hilarious the first time you get ear wax or vomit...but after that, I imagine it gets very irritating. Not to mention you've paid $4 a quarter pound to be grossed out and toss out handfuls of candy! Chocolate wands- who cares? You're going to eat it and then your $10 will be a distant memory- as will the cleverly molded chocolate. I'm not saying don't go, don't buy, don't enjoy- but recognize why you're buying what you are. Tim wanted to try a butterbeer- well why not? This is the only place you can get them, they aren't bottled and it adds to his experience both on our vacation and in reading the books.

I struggled hard, standing in Honeydukes, with not buying anything. I wanted a chocolate frog so badly. The package was brightly colored and it was a chocolate frog, omg, just like in the books, and I would buy it in Honeydukes and omg.... It's not real. I didn't want the candy, I wanted the experience. I wanted the books to be real. The people that pushed past me with well over $70 in candy (no joke) wanted it to be real as well. I'm sure they'll enjoy the first bite of their candy, but the feeling is going to fade. If it's awful, then what? A waste of money. Even if it's good, is it better than a $0.50 Hershey or Dove chocolate bar? Sometimes, it's best to just step back, remove yourself from the area and seriously consider what you're about to spend. Once I left Honeyduke's, I didn't feel like I had to have a chocolate frog. In fact, as I am sitting here I'm very glad I didn't buy one. There is so much more I'd rather do with my $10- like save up for next year's vacation!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Disney Savings Tips

Well, we returned from Florida last year! I've got some fresh and interesting blogging ideas, but I'm going to cop out today with just a few helpful tips-

Did you know that you can order FREE water at any of the places that sell fountain drinks in Disney? It's true, and I love them for it! I talked Tim in to going with water and saving $2.50 a drink. I had to promise the opportunity for a snack or a special something later on, but hey- $5.00 in our pockets right there and most of the times the "special something" was a strawberry lemonade from McDonalds- only $1.59!

Split meals! Especially if you take kids, split the adult meals either between kids, or one adult and one kid! Tim and I split one meal in the parks a few days- it keeps you going until dinner and we didn't drop $20 on some frankly forgettable food! It was also easier than trying to haul around a cooler all day.

Did you know Disney allows soft-sided coolers? Yup. So feel free to pack your food if you want to! I'd recommend getting a locker and then going back to it later on, unless you have a stroller you can pile it on top of.

Take advantage of free park-reentry. We would go in after eating an early lunch and then leave for dinner. Then we'd just come back in, or park hop! Or, we'd go in before lunch, split a meal, then leave around dinner time. Just make sure you know when each park closes, so you don't do this and miss out on the last few hours at a park, when a snack could have kept you going until closing!

If you head to Universal Studios, I'd take advantage of the free refills cup. It costs $6.00 (at least the one Tim bought as part of the meal plan package did) and you got FREE soda refills all day. We shared the drink and definitely got our money's worth. You also get free locker rentals for each ride, so you don't have to deal with trying to carry a full drink on a roller coaster, or leaving it sitting unattended while you ride.

Speaking of meal plans- you're not supposed to share the one at Universal Studios. IF you are willing to break that rule and IF you are willing to get caught and have to pay for the additional meal... you can share them and make a $20.00 meal plan much more affordable. Just sayin'- that's completely up to you and what you think is right.