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Every parent has either heard or will hear the dreaded phrase “We want to go to Disney World!” That sounds like fun… until you consider the cost of tickets, hotel rooms and food… OH MY! Here are a few tips for saving at Disney without breaking the bank and killing the magic!
9 Tips for Saving at Disney World
Look for Deals
Disney frequently offers discounts on trip packages, free dining, and tickets. Discounts are also offered to members of certain groups such as active or retired military, Florida residents, Annual Pass holders and AAA members. Before booking check Disney World Deals for the latest discounts.
Go at Non Peak Times
With school-aged children, ideal vacation times are summer, spring break, and holiday seasons. Unfortunately, these are the most expensive times to travel to Disney World. If you can plan to go during the off-season, like September thru and January prices will be much cheaper and the parks will be less crowded. As an added bonus, Disney also tends to offer free dining during these off-season periods. (They are currently offering free dining plans on trips booked for specific dates this fall if you book now).
Consider Staying Off Property
Disney tries to accommodate to all budget levels by having four levels of resort property: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. There are many options to choose from in each category but even the value priced resorts can be exorbitant for some. Disney tries to make up for this by adding perks such as free shuttles to and from parks, extra magic hours and, of course, there is nothing quite like being fully immersed in the experience. However, some families may find that staying at a good neighbor hotel or at a non-Disney hotel is more within their budget. Larger families may find it more beneficial to rent a nearby vacation home rather than a larger Villa at Disney.
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It may seem extending your vacation is against the point for saving money, but it’s a very good point to consider. You won’t find many discounts on tickets into the parks but… the longer the pass you get the cheaper per day it is to be there. Many of the deals offered directly from Disney will also require a 4 night + stay. If staying an extra day saves you on tickets and gets you free food then this could be a no-brainer.
The Dining Plan Could Be A Deal
If you come from a family of big eaters then the dining plan may be a huge savings. Disney has several levels of dining so there is a perfect option for most families. For example, the quick service plan gets you two “fast food” type meals, 2 snacks and 1 refillable resort mug per person per night stay. Since snack credits can be used for things like breakfast pastries and Starbucks this plan is good for three meals and a snack per day per person. Plus, prepaying for your meals gives you one less thing to stress about on vacation. If your family doesn’t typically eat a lot or if you are willing to pack lunches then the dining plan might not be your best option. Anyone taking their instapot on vacation?
Take Your Own Drinks and Snacks
With all of the yummy treats everywhere in Disney it’s very easy to blow your budget on popcorn and Mickey ice cream bars but this is an excellent area for saving money! As long as you aren’t taking glass bottles or alcoholic beverages, you can take pretty much any food or drink into the parks. Consider packing some chips, trail mix, crackers or other mobile snacks and a refillable water bottle. If you grow tired of drinking fountain water you can ask quick service vendors for a free small ice water.
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
A cute Disney t-shirt or stuffed animals are wonderful reminders of a great trip but they can get pricey. Consider purchasing some of these items before you travel and take them with you to give to the kids throughout the trip. The Orlando outlet stores and Character Warehouse, both located near Disney World, are also great places to get discount merchandise. For a fraction of the cost you’ll bring home very similar items. We’ve had friends that have had fun with this, leaving a surprise every morning for the kids when they get up!
Purchase Discount Gift Cards
You may not realize that you can pay for everything in Disney World with Disney gift cards. This includes merchandise, food, theme park tickets and hotel reservations. Warehouse stores like Sams, Costco and BJs offer Disney gift cards at a discount. A 5% discount may not seem like much but when you are saving 5% off possibly thousands of dollars it becomes a significant amount of money. Also don’t forgot Kroger and other grocery stores for gas saving options with gift cards.
Use a Disney Travel Consultant
Planning a trip to Disney World can be exciting but overwhelming and sometimes the best option is to let someone else do it for you. Disney Travel Consultants offer free services to help you have a dream vacation. If this is your first trip to the Magic Kingdom please consider having someone to guide you. You will feel like you have your own tour guide preparing for you! Contacting an Independent Travel Consultant specializing in Disney Destinations like MickeyVacations. They’ll help you get the best deal on your Disney World, Disney Land, Disney Cruise or Adventures by Disney vacation. Click here to connect with a consultant that can get you on your way.
Patricia took her first trip to Walt Disney World when she was only 8 years old and hasn’t stopped visiting since. She now enjoys sharing Disney adventures with her son and husband. She also enjoys helping others make magical memories as an Independent Travel Consultant with Mickey Vacations!