The reason so many people don’t do Disney is because they think that they can’t afford it. I agree, Disney CAN be expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be. The trick is knowing what you really need and what you don’t need. Why pay for something that you won’t end up using? You could be paying more for your vacation and not even know it!
Evaluate your Needs to see if you could be paying less for your vacation
The time of year you travel makes a big difference in the cost of your vacation. If you plan on traveling during Peak season, which is Holidays, the summer, and basically anytime there is no school, then you will pay more than if you wait. By waiting, you can take advantage of Disney’s many money-saving deals (which is often a substantial discount off of hotels and/or vacation packages), so you need to be on the lookout out for dates and details. Another perk to waiting is dealing with less crowds and (hopefully) milder weather. If you’re not sure of what deals may be out there, just ask a Travel Agent. We can let you know of any and all discounts that have been released.
The hotel is a large portion of your package price. Deciding where you want to lay your head at night is a big decision. It’s your vacation, so you want the best of the best But, when you think about it, there is so much to do at Disney that you’re probably only going to be in the room to shower and sleep. Why spend an arm and a leg for something you’re not going to use very much? You can save a lot of money by choosing one of Disney World’s 5 Value Resorts. While most rooms hold up to 4, there are a few options for larger families, even at a Value Resort. Don’t assume that just because you have a larger family, you have to book a huge suite in an expensive resort.
Staying off property may also be an option for families to POSSIBLY save you some money. I am not trying to discourage families from looking off property because there are some great ones out there. I just want you keep the hidden fees in mind to see if you really are saving any money before you book.
If you fly
- How will you get to your hotel and back to the airport?
- Will you end up renting a car or paying for a shuttle?
- Is there transportation to Disney World (or any other park) from your hotel? And if so, is it free or are there any charges for using this service?
If you drive
- Parking at Disney World will cost you an additional $20 a day in parking.
- Are there any fees associated with parking your (or your rental) car at the hotel?
Some guests think that if they are going to Disney for one week that they have to purchase 7 days worth of Park Tickets. That is not so. We always go for a full week and we have never purchased more than 5 Days worth of Park Tickets. The way we see it, the first and the last days are travel days anyway. And due to all the things that can throw a wrench in your travel plans, you can never really know what time you’ll actually be getting there. So, unless I plan on spending a full day at any of the parks, I will not purchase a ticket for that day. We use non-ticket days to swim, go Resort Hopping, and/or walk around Disney Springs.
Park Hopper vs No Park Hopper
This one is totally up to your family. If you like the freedom to jump from park to park whenever you want, then the Park Hopper is for you. But, if your family is content visiting one park per day, then save yourself a lot of money and skip it. If you’re unsure whether or not you will want to Park Hop, I suggest not getting them and waiting until you are at the parks. If you find yourself wanting to do other parks during the day, you can upgrade your existing tickets. It’s a better option than getting the Park Hopper and halfway into your trip deciding it’s not for you because then you’re out the extra money. Disney will not give you a refund.
The only time that you will be “forced” to get Park Hopper is if you plan on utilizing Disney’s Free Dining Promotion, when it is required that you upgrade your tickets. But, since the savings you will receive is greater than the ticket upgrade, I don’t mind “wasting” the Hopper during this time.
The same goes for the Water Parks. If you do not plan on visiting Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, save your money and just not get them.
The greatest thing about Disney is that they allow you to bring food into the park. If you really want to save money on your trip, Dining is a great place to save. Even if you fly, you have the option to use a Grocery Service, like Orlando Grocery Express, to deliver everything you will need for your stay. Either pack a lunch and dine in the parks or head back to your hotel room for your meal.
If bringing your meals to the parks doesn’t sound appealing, you also have the option to pay out of pocket. This is a savings for some families, especially if you have young children. You save a lot of money by ordering one meal and splitting it between the little ones. Just ask for an extra plate and they will give you one.
The last option is purchasing a Meal Plan. Disney World has 3 Meal Plans to choose from: Quick Service, Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining. Obviously, the Quick Service is the cheapest of the 3. With the Quick Service, you are entitled to 2 Quick Service meals and 2 snacks per day. You also get a beverage with each meal, as well as a Refillable Mug for you to get unlimited Beverages at any Resort during your stay. You will not be able to use any of your QS credits for Table Service Restaurants, besides Be Our Guest. You may use your Quick Service Credits for Breakfast and Lunch ONLY. The Dining Plan (Table Service Credits) are required if you plan on using the Meal Plan at Be Our Guest for Dinner.
For us, the Quick Service has always been the best option for us. As magical as the Table Service Meals are, they take up a lot of time. And, personally, I would rather use my time riding all the amazing rides than sitting in a restaurant. With a Quick Service Meal Plan, you can still book Table Service Reservations, but just be aware that you will have to pay out of pocket for Table Service Meals. But, if you only plan on going to ONE Table Service Restaurant, it will probably still be cheaper than upgrading to a Dining Plan. **1 Table Service credit can be redeemed for 2 Quick Service Credits but NOT vise versa.**
For example: For our next trip we will have the Quick Service Meal Plan, but we will be going to 1 Table Service Meal. We have a reservation for Be Our Guest, but since we are going for Lunch, we can use QS credits for that one. The boys also really want to go to T-REX, so we have reservations to eat there, as well. Since we were making 2 reservations, we had a choice. We could upgrade our Free Dining to the Table Service Plan, which would cost us an additional $600, or we can keep our Quick Service Meal Plan and pay out of pocket for TREX. Guess which one we chose? We will be paying out of pocket for T-REX. However, I earned money on my grocery apps, Swagbucks, and signed up for a Landry’s Select Card to purchase Landry’s Gift Cards, so I will actually not be using any of my own money for that meal, as well. And since we will not be using a QS credit for T-REX, we will use it for Breakfast one day.
If you have any questions about how you can get an amazing vacation for less, please don’t hesitate to ask! Your next vacation may be cheaper than you think!