Here is another great guest post from Patti at Destinations in Florida.
You know that there is a difference between cost and value. Many people look at only the final number for their vacation and forget about the value they are getting from it. When you stay in a Disney resort you are on a Disney vacation 24 hours a day. From the hotel, the resort grounds, the food, even the transportation. It is all Disney all the time! However, many people feel that staying on site at Disney is too much money and they will save by staying off site. That is not really the case when you look at your vacation VALUE. However, I understand, you like to save money!!!
Here are some ways to have the Disney vacation of your dreams and still save money while doing it!
- Plan your days and you will not need to splurge on the Park Hopper passes. Adding them makes your trip more expensive, but if you plan out your trip carefully (or have a travel agent like me do it) you can maximize your vacation without the added cost.
- We drive the 14 hours to Disney to not only save the thousands on airfare, but also so we have our car if we need anything. It is a real savings over flying and renting a car or having to have things delivered.
- Get a Disney Visa Card to earn points with purchases to use at Disney!
- Get a Target Credit Card and you can buy gift cards at target and get an extra 5% off when you use your target card! This is a great way to save a little bit more on your trip. If you are spending $2000 on your trip you can buy $2000 worth of Disney gift cards at Target and save an extra $100! You can use them when you book your trip or at the parks.
- Buy a year pass if you will be in Disney for more than 11 days, it ends up being less expensive to buy a yearly pass to Disney.
- Buy your souvenirs before you go to the parks. Look year round even to catch the after season sales. There are also tons of places outside of the parks. Why pay top dollar on the same t-shirt or princess dress?
- Get the Dining Plan. No, really! Getting the Disney Dining Plan means you can choose whatever meal you would like without worrying about cost. We always get the dining plan because we love eating the amazing food at Disney! It is the 5th Theme Park! So, getting the meal plan can save you up to 30% on your meals, though when we go I swear it saves us more.
- Stay in the off-season to save on your hotel and dining plan. Mid August to October the prices are a bit less to stay in the parks. Try to plan your trip for less busy and less expensive times to save some money. plus these are time there are typically really good room discounts or free dining offers.
- Bring your own stroller because renting a stroller every day can be pricey. Save money just by getting a cheap umbrella stroller and bringing that instead.
- Staying in a Disney Hotel means you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, the Dining Plan and Disney transportation. Parking is also free if you stay in the resort and so is your transportation to and from the airport. Disney is the only resort in Orlando that offers free airport transportation. This alone can save you over $200. Sometimes getting more value for your money is a bonus too.
- There are also several hotels right on Disney property that will save you money that are not Disney hotels, but you can not get the dining plan or the extra magic hours. If you are there for a short trip staying in a Disney hotel may be a better bet. Also, keep in mind you will have to pay for airport transportation or parking.
- Make breakfast in your room, you will have a fridge, so you can store food for your snacks and breakfast. The coffee maker is great for making hot water for oatmeal. We usually bring our own cereal, bowls, milk and spoons for an easy breakfast with the kids.
- Ask a sales person for the sale section in the Disney stores. We were able to get hats, shirts and jewelry for better than half price right in the parks just by asking.
- Take advantage of all the FREE stuff at Disney! There is lots. You do not have to pay to get into Downtown Disney. Walk around and check out all the great gift shops and the new Lego store. Make sure to go into the Rainforest Cafe for the animals and look for shops giving out free samples (word on the street is you can score some free chocolate!) Watch for the street performers, check out the cool movie memorabilia at Planet Hollywood. Also don’t miss The Boardwalk for the street performers. Ride the boats around the resorts near Magic Kingdom, you can see the MK fireworks from them if you time it right.
- Kids under 3 get in for free. Kids over 10 pay adult prices, so try to time it to go before these age changes.
- You can bring soft coolers into the parks so bring some of your own food. No glass beverages or hard coolers are allowed. We always pack sandwiches, cheese sticks, carrot & celery sticks and refillable water bottles in the parks.
- I always ask for cups of ice water from the quick service spots, and if I am getting a meal I ask for extra kids apples or veggies. 9 times out of 10 they give me the extras so just ask.
- Bring a refillable Water Bottle, the Quick Service locations will fill them up for you for free.
- If you eat at the quick service restaurants, look at the portion sizes, you can probably share meals. In MK you can get a half rotisserie chicken that fed me and my 3 kids! Plus, there are condiment stations with tomatoes, pickles and more so you can add some extras to your meal at no cost.
- Check out Restaurant.com for deals. Sometimes you can get $25 gift certificates for restaurants in Downtown Disney and surrounding areas for just $2! This can save you tons on food. The Disney restaurants will not be available though.
- Get a travel planner like me to help (you can reach me through Destinations in Florida)! You can save money with discount watching, itinerary planning, and more. Travel planners can save you time, money and hassle!
Disney World is the Most Magical Place On Earth. Be sure to learn how to make the most of your trip by reading the Disney World Training series. You can also browse all the articles I have written in an easy to use outline. And if you are ready to book your trip, be sure to read about the perks of using an authorized Disney vacation planner (plus it’s FREE!).