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$40 a Disney Day Real Life Challenge Pt 2

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Last month I took a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland. I’ve recently shared part one of my trip report, and today I am doing to conclude the report by playing the same game, with far different results.The game, of course is $40 a Disney Day, where I have only $40 cash available in my food budget to last me the full day. And full day it was, as I was in Disneyland Park before Rope Drop, and I would not leave Disney California Adventure until just before park closing. Unlike Saturday, where I had no meals planned, I had both meal locations mapped out for me, which would add to my eating/grazing challenge. As I had done on Saturday, the plan was to eat my complementary continental breakfast offered at the Best Western I was staying at, and bringing my snacks of beef jerky, cheese crackers and jelly beans with me, along with my two water bottles that had been placed in the room refrigerator the night before.


After Rope Drop occurred, I had one hour to myself before I was to meet my friends for an adventure on The Jungle Cruise, so in an effort to save footsteps, I started my day on the west side of the park, riding Pirates of the Caribbean (for the fourth time), before doing some souvenir shopping for myself. It was during my shopping adventure that I realized I had made a vital mistake putting my entire budget in peril. Those precious money-saving chilled water bottles? Still chilling in my hotel fridge. The forecast? Low to mid 90s with high humidity.

As I was thirsty at this point, and knowing I had to stay hydrated if I was going to survive the day, I splurged for one of my guilty pleasures, the Mint Julep. Cool and refreshing, quite simply the best beverage offering in the park, bar none. Plus it comes with a sword pierced cherry! I then grabbed a FastPass for Indiana Jones, as it would be available within five-ten minutes of the Jungle Cruise that I was about to embarked on. My water bottle blunder set me back $3.55 (for now).


Following Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, I separated from my group until lunch time. I hopped parks to DCA, where I was able to score an after-dinner FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers. I had been on the ride the day before but had heard the ride is even better at night; and being in the park hours after it opened, I didn’t expect to score one for this day. Disney Karma was smiling on me though. I then grabbed a FastPass for World of Color seating for that night before gliding over to Soarin’ Over California. Being a single rider, I was able to get on within 10 minutes.

It was then time to return to Disneyland Park, and to lunch at The Hungry Bear Restaurant in the remote corner of Critter Country. Like I mentioned, lunch was pre-planned, as my group (of 40) had a guest speaker we would be interacting with. No complaints from me, as this is one of my favorite places to eat. As its in Critter Country it is well shaded, and there are two levels to the restaurant, giving plenty of room to sit.


Again, it was a hot day, and the heat was really starting to be felt, so I decided to go the cool and refreshing route instead of the standard burger and onion rings that I would normally get. I ordered Big Al’s Chicken Salad, which was described as “smoked chicken on top of romaine and iceberg lettuce with watermelon, candied pecans, dried cherries, pickled red onions and honey-lime vinaigrette.” I can hear the questions now. Watermelon and onion? Cherries?? Honestly? This was one of the best salads I’ve had, inside or outside of parks (I do have salad from time to time). And it was a very generous portion and quite filling. Instead of doing the wise thing and spending an extra dollar with my lunch for a bottle of water, I chose to drink a milk with my meal. The milk penalized me another $1.79 (plus tax) for my water bottle blunder, and the meal cost me $12.18 overall.

After lunch it was more free time away from my large group. I picked up my customized souvenir from earlier then headed off to Fantasyland to take in the sites. I enjoyed a Walk-through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle  before enjoying more Disney karma as I won (along with nine others) won a scavenger hunt one of my friends was hosting. In exchange for a photo of Olaf, I received a Boysen-Apple Freeze from Maurice’s Treats in Fantasy Faire. Frozen apple juice with a hint of wild berries and a passion fruit flavored foam. I could have done without foam, but it was cold, liquid and FREE.


More free time in the heat of the day followed, so off I went to see a preview of Guardians of the Galaxy, an amazing 4-D air conditioned experience. Afterwards I joined Tracey from the Disney Indiana Podcast for a couple of rides on the Matterhorn before rejoining my large group for a journey in a StarSpeeder 3000. And yes, we did fill an entire StarSpeeder on our own, with some overflow in a second car. The next planned meet for my group was to be at DCA for dinner, so I had just enough time to do the thing I hate to do. This was my last day in the parks, so it was time to make my last trek up Main Street and say “See Ya Real Soon” to the park Walt walked in. I know I’ll be back, but saying good bye is always hard.

Thank You, Walt.

Thank You, Walt.

Upon my sad farewell and a journey across the Esplanade, it was time for a new dining experience. Dinner was at Flo’s V8 Cafe. While it was my first time, the meal decision was easy, based on recommendations from friends and online reviews. I had the Pork Loin with sides of mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Instead of gravy I asked for two sides of the Coca-Cola BBQ sauce, as was suggested to me. My friends didn’t lie, it was fantastic, and I encourage others to bypass the gravy as well. Tip: ask for butter for your roll at the counter, its not available elsewhere in Flo’s. I also gave in to my parched needs and purchased a bottle of water to get me through the rest of the day. Hindsight suggests the water wasn’t needed at this point, as the sun was starting to go down, and the temperatures were cooling. However, another $2.79 (plus tax) charged to my forgetfulness, and $15.96 total for the meal. By combining my totals thus far, I still have $8.31 available for a late evening snack before the day ends.


Post dinner came the Neon Lighting of Carsland, which happens right at dusk every night. Sh-Boom plays throughout Carsland as each building lights up one at a time, creating an amazing recreation from the movie. This needs to be one everyone’s to do list at least once. I then cashed in my FastPass to ride Radiator Springs Racers for the second time of my trip. Alas, I went 0-2, never winning a race, it is a great ride. Unknowingly, this was also the last ride of my trip.

I said good bye and left my group to ride California Screamin’ for the first time on my trip, yet I was too late. The line had just been closed off to prepare the Boardwalk for World of Color; as I walked through the Boardwalk I had the same luck at Toy Story Mania and Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I had used up all my Disney Karma.

To make up for this, I decided to grab a sweet treat from Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream Parlor. I decided to order The Oswald, a frozen tribute to Walt’s first cartoon character. Chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, cherries and mini chocolate chips, complete with two chocolate dipped banana slices for ears, served in a souvenir Mickey’s Kitchen Sink. Yum. Just pass the napkins. $12.95 post tax.


Enjoying this sweet treat during World of Color was a wonderful way to end my Disney vacation. I walked through Downtown Disney to do some shopping before calling it a night, as I wasn’t flying out until the next afternoon. So, how did the $40 Disney Dining Challenge turn out? It depends on how you look at it.


Budgetary-wise, I failed. By less than the cost of a bottle of water and a carton of milk, I failed. Had I remembered the water bottles from the hotel room I’d celebrate a victory. However, when it comes to food, Disneyland IS a vacation after all, and indulging is quit acceptable. I missed the goal, but I made great memories with my friends. Truth be told, aside from the mint julep to start the day, I’ve never had any of the items that I ate this day. And it was worth it. Every single bit. Regardless of the budget goals, I would do it all over again the same way.

Speaking of indulging, thank you for letting me share my trip and food report with all of you. I hope you enjoyed these trip reports, and I look forward to doing more food challenges again in the future. I thank you for taking the time to read this today. I ask you would please leave comments.  You may contact me directly on Twitter @Quest4VaultDisn, and you may also subscribe to be alerted by email when new postings are published. Quest for Vault Disney is now on Facebook. Please visit Have a great rest of your day. See ya real soon…



  1. jake says:

    im sure you know the food establishments offer free water.

  2. Tim says:

    Toy story midway mania does not close with the boardwalk for world of color.

    It’s the only ride that stays open the entire time.

    This 1 lie in your story makes me question what else you could be lying about?

  3. […] dried cranberries and a side of raspberry vinaigrette, with a bread stick. Having learned my lesson last year, I paired this meal with a cup of complimentary ice water and decided to splurge and try the Honey […]

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