Ok, we all know it: a vacation to Disney World can be expensive. It is expensive to get there, to stay there, and to play there. Of course, a Disney vacation is worth it and truly offers a good value, but Disney knows how to stretch the budget of even the best planners and the most frugal vacationers.
I think that when you are on vacation, you should be able to splurge. But just how much splurging your budget allows will vary by person. I know that some people have to save every penny just to allow the trip to happen.
Here are some of the more unique ways you can save money on your Disney vacation. And saving money on your trip might just allow for a little splurge somewhere else along the way:
1 – Buy Your Tickets Off-Site
First, I do not recommend that you purchase used tickets from the shabby little huts scattered around Orlando, just off Disney property. This is a good way to get ripped off, or tricked into a high pressure time share presentation. I also do not recommend that you purchase used tickets, either on eBay or even from friends. Disney tickets are tied to each owner’s biometric fingerprint readings and are not transferable, so they probably won’t work for you. Meanwhile, buying your ticket at a Disney ticket office will guarantee that you pay the highest price, and that you begin your vacation by waiting in line. Instead, check out your local American Automobile Club (AAA / CAA) club to get a slight discount (every dollar counts), and perhaps as importantly, save some time.
2 – Eliminate The Park Hopper Ticket Option
In addition to purchasing an admission for each day you want to visit a park, Disney offers add-on options for your tickets (at extra cost). One of those options is the “park hopper.” With this option, you can visit one (or even more) parks in a single day. That can be helpful if your vacation is very short and you want to hit the highlights. But visiting multiple parks in a single day costs you both real money for the ticket option as well as time spent in transit between parks. All the Disney parks have more to do than you could possibly take in during a single day. So consider skipping the park hopper option and stick to visiting one park each day.
3 – Eliminate The Water Park Ticket Option
Another Disney ticket add-on is the Water Park & More option, which allows you to visit the two Disney water parks (Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach), DisneyQuest, ESPN Wide World Of Sports, and the Oak Trail golf course. Unless you are a regular visitor to Disney World, you probably will spend most of your time in the Disney parks – so you can skip this option. It is also something you can add on to your tickets any time before they expire should you decide you want to explore these areas.
4 – Skip The Disney Dining Plan
So many people see the occasional “Free Disney Dining” promotions and think that they are in heaven. What could be better than free? The secret truth, however, is that Disney offers the free dining plan when you pay the full price (and therefore the highest price) for a Disney resort hotel. In addition, the cost of the dining plan (whether you pay by getting it ‘free’ and paying a higher room rate, or pay for it directly) is normally more than the cost of the food you eat. You are basically buying convenience. And that convenience can be expensive. Skip the Dining Plan, eat sensibly, and you will very likely save money.
5 – Drink Water
Selling drinks, especially soda and alcohol, is where many restaurants – at Disney and everywhere else – make most of their profits since drinks are inexpensive to make and cost diners plenty of money. While it seems that saving $3 on a soda isn’t a big deal, a family of four people eating three meals a day for a week easily means spending $250 on drinks. All Disney restaurants, including the quick service locations, will give you a free cup of water if you request it. It will also help keep you hydrated in the hot Florida weather.
6 – Bring Your Own Souvenirs
Disney makes and offers very high quality and, quite frankly, fun souvenirs. And they know how to display them in interesting shops in a way that makes you want to buy them. But with quality merchandise and a fun shopping experience comes a high cost. You can purchase plenty of Disney merchandise at your local Walmart and on eBay. Consider purchasing your souvenirs before your tip, and then bring them along to pass out during your vacation.
7 – Watch For Air Fare Sales
Many people travel to Disney World on airplanes. And the cost of air fares vary daily, and are based on a million different factors that are basically impossible to understand or predict. The best thing you can do is watch air fare prices for a period of time and make your best guess on when you might get the best price. Allow yourself at least several months before your trip to monitor the prices over time.
8 – Watch Your Timing
We saved the best for last. Perhaps the biggest factor that will impact the cost of your trip is timing. If you go at high season, like the period between Christmas and New Years, you will face the highest costs (and biggest crowds). Times like mid-January, before Thanksgiving week, and after Thanksgiving week tend to be cheaper.
Save And Have Fun
Your Disney vacation is a time to have fun. The tips above can help you save money to make a trip possible.
What is your favorite tip for saving money at Disney World?