Last month we took a road trip to Walt Disney World and we had a great time. But we also didn’t want to go into debt to experience all the Disney magic the parks have to offer. If you are looking for ways to go to Disney without breaking the bank this round up is for you. These are 10 ways to save on your next Disney vacation.
10 Ways to Save on your next Disney Vacation
- Go off Season – to me this is a no brainer since we don’t usually travel anywhere during high season. But so many people flock to Walt Disney World during the hottest busiest times of the year that I thought I would start off with this tip. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you find the least expensive times to go to Walt Disney World. The easy way to think about it is if kids are out of school (summer, Christmas Break, March Break, Thanksgiving etc) the prices will be higher as will the foot traffic. The best times to go are January, February, the latter part of August (US kids are back in school), most days in September and October. Weekdays are good in November and December as well except for the week of Thanksgiving and the weeks of Christmas and New Years. We went in November the week before Thanksgiving and the crowd level was good and the weather still warm enough for shorts.
- Stay at a Value Resort – most people think the best way to save money on lodging is to stay off of the Walt Disney World resort. But there are resorts that cost less than $100 per night on property. We stayed at All Star Movies and while the rooms aren’t fantastic they are adequate. Especially since we didn’t really spend much time in our room. In fact you can even camp at Disney if that is your thing. With the value options you spend less on accommodations but still get the perks of staying on property like the magic bands and the transportation system.
- Bring your own costumes from home – the Bippity Boppity Boutique offers to transform your kids into princesses for a fee. I saw a number of girls parents who bought into this experience. Packages start at $60 USD and go up from there. Some are $200! That is quite a bit of money dedicated to a dress up session. I have been able to get gorgeous princess dresses at Homesense for $30 around Halloween. Or watch your local Disney store for sales.
- Don’t Eat at the Buffets – we learned this one the hard way. I booked us a reservation at Boma on our first night. I had read rave reviews about the food. However the price was quite high. $45 USD for adults and $25 for kids. Yes it is all you can eat but my kids barely ate one plate of food. Usually they split a meal because they are picky eaters. Even for my husband and I we didn’t nearly eat enough to justify the price. Save your money, regulate your portions and eat a la carte. A la carte options also have kids meal options which cost half the price of the kids buffet price.
- Pack your Lunch – We saved on not eating lunches and breakfasts out. Instead we packed cereal, milk, snacks and sandwiches. This saved us from stopping for meals on our drive down as well as when we were at our hotel. The fridge in All Star Movies was when to hold enough food for a few days at time. Most people don’t know that you can take food into the parks. We had quite a few stares when we pulled out our sandwiches on the Jungle Cruise but I think most people were just jealous. Bringing your own lunches and snacks means that you don’t have to search for a restaurant nor do you have to take much time out of your park day for eating. You also save the disappointment of when your kids eat two bites of a $10 meal.
- Drive Don’t Fly – This might not be a great option for those who say live in the pacific northwest, but for those us that live within reasonable driving distance we can save hundreds on driving over flying. Yes it is a time commitment, but our kids thought staying at a hotel on the drive down just part of the adventure.
- Use Credit Card Points – I am not going to go into detail on Travel Hacking in this space but you can save quite a bit of money on your travel if you use your credit card sign ups strategically. We saved a minimum of $600 using points. In fact we used Marriott points to get free hotel stays on our drive down to Orlando and back. We also used our Marriott Visa exclusively on purchases in Florida to avoid foreign exchange fees.
- Don’t go to the parks every day – Many people feel the lure of a lower average ticket price. In fact many of the promotions that Disney offers do not start until you spend 4 days at the parks. Let me spell this out for you every extra day you add to you Disney Parks tickets costs you more money. So adding more days to your ticket does not save you money, you are spending MORE money at a lower price per day. We spent two days at the parks and since our kids are little this was more than enough. They loved spending their day in the pool and wandering around Disney Springs.
- Use the Free coupons Disney gives you – When we checked in at All Star Movies we got our Magic bands and some other Disney handouts (for lack of a better descriptor). In the handouts were some items about what to do while at Disney and with them came coupons. We were able to go mini golfing for free on one of our non-park days which our kids thought was so fun. There was also coupons to go to the ESPN park.
- Bring Souvenirs form Home – Mouse ears, trading pins, memory makers. All these things cost more money and they aren’t holding clearance sales at the Disney parks. I was able to pick up Mouse ears at Party City and we brought our plush princess dolls from home that I have picked up on sale form the Disney store. I also purchased Mickey and Minnie mouse tees and socks from H&M and Old Navy instead of buying these things at the parks. I was pretty clear before we left that I wasn’t buying toys and tees on this vacation which cut down on most of the whining.
So these are the ways we saved on our Disney vacation. Do you have any more to add to the 10 ways to save on your next Disney Vacation?