How to plan a Disney World vacation on a budget
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Disney World might be the happiest place on earth, but it also happens to be pretty expensive. While there isn’t much you can do about the price of park tickets, there are ways to make your Disney dreams come true without breaking the bank.
Here are a few tips any family can use to make their Disney World vacation more affordable.
1. Don’t visit during peak seasons.
Summer break, spring break, and the whole month of December are when everyone and their cousin flocks to Orlando. That means prices for transportation will be higher and the parks will be extra-crowded.
The best times to visit Disney World are during off-season months like January, February, May, or September. This will help you save money on your airfare (see more about this below) and it will prevent you from spending your whole vacation standing in long lines.
2. Get your plane tickets on sale.
Driving to Disney is obviously the cheapest mode of transportation. But if you live more than a day’s drive away, it might not feel very feasible.
Try to score your plane tickets on sale as your first purchase in the planning process. Sign up for emails from your favorite airline and follow their accounts on social media to watch for the best deals, which often occur during Disney’s off-season. Southwest tends to run discounted tickets several times per year.
3. Don’t stay on Disney property.
Once you have selected your travel dates based on your schedule and the best possible plane ticket prices, now you’ll need to figure out where to stay. This might sound liken blasphemy to Disney fans, but don’t stay at a Disney resort if you want to cut back on your expenses for the trip.
For some visitors, this might detract from the experience. But if you plan to spend your whole vacation day in the parks anyway, it’s a small sacrifice that will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
You can find hotels and Airbnb locations that are only a 10- to 15-minute drive from the parks for less than half the cost of a Disney hotel. Plus, you won’t have to worry about paying for parking or Wi-Fi like you must at several of the Disney resorts.
4. Or stay at a Disney resort undergoing renovations.
If you aren’t willing to sacrifice the experience of staying in a Disney hotel, there are still ways to do so for less money. Find out which resorts are under construction. When Disney renovates hotel rooms or resort areas, they keep the resort open but knock down the price temporarily. The renovations (usually) won’t affect your experience much, but they will decrease your costs.
You can find out which resorts are under construction at websites like this one and book your Disney adventure accordingly.
5. Snack wisely.
After you have booked your trip and arrived in the parks for some magic, there is still more you can do to cut back on your expenses. Disney allows visitors to bring snacks into the parks, and this can be a big help to limit your food budget.
Snacking on smaller, Mickey-shaped treats and grabbing a couple of Quick Service meals will still be necessary to sustain yourself during a long day at the parks. But if you supplement your theme park snacks with snacks from home, you will be a little bit less tempted to spend money.
Eating complimentary breakfast at your hotel or stopping for a quick fast food breakfast on your way to the parks can help, too.
6. Snap your own photos.
When you arrive at each Disney park, friendly employees will offer to snap photos of you and your family in front of landmarks or next to characters. These photos will show up in Disney’s cloud database and will be available for purchase for 45 days.
It might be tempting to spend the big bucks on family photos, but here’s a secret: the park employees are more than happy to take your picture with your own camera or cellphone.
If you want the highest possible quality photos, purchasing a Disney Memory Maker package with unlimited photo downloads before your trip might be worth it to you. But if you just want to post a quick photo by the castle on Facebook, save yourself the money and use your iPhone.
Disney Magic for Everyone
You don’t need a fairy godmother to visit the Disney parks — just a new strategy! Doing Disney on a budget is all about determining which luxuries you can and can’t live without and focusing your attention on making memories with your family in the parks.
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