DOING DISNEY on a Budget
Can you put a price on Disney magic? The truth is that although Disney is not cheap, there are definitely ways to save money and maximize your vacation dollars.
1. Save money on food. Disney will allow you to bring food into the parks, so bring snacks from home along with refillable water bottles. Most restaurants and snack kiosks will give you complimentary ice water, and you can pour that into your water bottle. Some resort rooms have kitchenettes where you can prepare breakfast or lunch. If you would like to cook, consider a villa with a full kitchen. A number of grocers deliver to the Disney resorts. If you’re interested in character meals or dining at the nicer restaurants, purchasing a dining plan can save you money.
2. Stay on-site. Disney resort hotels are available at value, moderate, and deluxe levels and provide a number of perks that make it worth staying in the midst of the magic. Purchasing a resort package with hotel and tickets can save you money and allows you to book dining six months in advance and fast passes sixty days in advance, giving you a much better chance of reserving a spot on the most popular attractions. Disney’s Magical Express provides complimentary transportation to and from the airport, so you won’t even need to rent a car.
3. Shop before your trip. You can get great deals on Disney t-shirts at Kohl’s, and Target has a good selection of Disney toys and trinkets. Purchase princess costumes online at prices lower than in Disney park stores. You can also save money by buying light-up necklaces at the dollar store for your children to wear at night as they watch the parades. Wal-Mart has good prices on ponchos, which are a must with Florida’s rainy climate.
4. Take a day off from the parks. Unless your trip is very short, you might benefit from taking a day off from the parks, and you can save money as well. Enjoy taking time to play miniature golf at one of the courses on property or relaxing at your resort pool. Visit the newly-remodeled World of Disney at Disney Springs and check out the other dining and shopping available there. I also love visiting the different resorts on property. Rest up, and the next day you’ll be ready to hit the parks at rope drop again.
5. Make a note of Disney freebies. There are a number of opportunities at Walt Disney World that are free to guests. Take the Disney bus to Fort Wilderness and enjoy a sing-along with Chip and Dale as well as a movie. Watch the water parade from Wilderness Lodge. In the parks, buttons wishing guests a happy birthday or announcing their first visit are available at no charge in guest services. Don’t pack bandaids in your park bag – Disney will give those to you for free. And photopass photographers will be happy to take your picture with your camera or mobile phone, so you won’t need to purchase that family picture in front of the castle.
6. Use a travel agent who knows Disney and book early. This is honestly the best tip! A travel agent can help you take advantage of any special offers, and if one becomes available after you’ve booked, they can make sure it’s applied to your package. Booking early allows you to get the best room or resort for your budget. A travel agent can help you plan your trip so that you spend your valuable vacation time most efficiently and get the most magic for your money!