In this time of financial uncertainty, it is always helpful to know a few ways to save some money. Now I am not condoning the extreme low budget vacation where you get water with lemon and add sugar to make free lemonade. I am going to talk about real ways to have an enjoyable vacation and save a lot of money by making some simple choices and decisions.
- Plan your trip to ideally be 7 days long. Disney World has set their pricing structure such that you get the greatest benefit at about 7 days. The tickets are the most expensive part of your trip and choosing 7 days will help you maximize your value for ticket purchases. Also consider purchasing your tickets ahead of time at the Disney World website or a reputable dealer like Undercover Tourist (see links on this page!)
- Take advantage of the Buy 4 and Get 3 Free Deal from Disney. (learn more about the deal here: Disney Vacation Discount ). Disney World consistently offers their best discounts on their resorts. It is in your best interest to take advantage of their best resort discounts and stay on Disney property to be able to use all of the amenities that they provide to resort guests. THis particular deal has been extended into August.
- If you are flying, use the MCO airport and take advantage of the Magical Express service. This service can save you well over a hundred dollars or more by not needing to get a rental car or pay for a towncar or shuttle. The added benefit of not having to go to baggage claim in Orlando is also very nice. You may see some good airfare deals to the Sanford Airport, but after you factor in the extra transportation costs, I think you will definitely come out ahead flying into MCO and using the Magical Express.
- Buy 6-7 day Magic Your Way Base Tickets. ( Read here). Whether or not you got the package mentioned in #1 stick to the Base tickets and avoid the temptation to purchase the $50 per person Park Hopper add-on. This is a feature that you can do without. Although it certainly does have its benefits, if you do a good job of planning out your trip ahead of time, the Park Hopper is not necessary. Saving $50/person here and there can really add up over the course of a trip. Remember that with a Base Ticket you can still come and go to the same park multiple times during the same day.
- Stick to the 4 main parks to avoid the "extra expenses". There are more activities in the 4 main parks than you can do in one week's time. In order to minimize costs, skip the Water Parks, Miniature Golf, Bicycle and Watercraft Rentals and all of the extra expense activities that you can do at Disney World. If you want to get beyond the parks visit the Boardwalk or Downtown Disney, or use the Disney World complementary transportation to have dinner at one of the Resort Restaurants. If you have already paid for the admission to the parks use that admission to the fullest. The extras are nice, but can add a lot of cost to your vacation. Don't forget the parades, nightime shows and fireworks. This is where Disney World separates itself from other "parks".
- If you have children in the 3-9 age group most definitely consider one of the Disney Dining Plan options. The $10.99/day fee for children is one of the best deals that you can get at Disney World. If your children are older, but you are concerned about the $39.99/day expense of the regular Dining Plan, you can also consider the Quick Service Dining plan where you get 2 Counter Service Meals plus 2 snacks per day plus a refillable mug for $29.99/day (Maximize Counter Service Value ). You can also utilize your snack credits to buy breakfast items like muffins and danishes to further reduce your food expenditures. Having a known food budget can really help keep expenses on track.
- Set an allowance for souvenirs and impulse purchases ahead of time. Determine your budget for those types of items before your trip and make sure that you and the kids stick to it. There is an endless stream of opportunities to buy items on the Disney World property. Accept the fact that you cannot buy everything and set a budget that you can live with. If you decide after the trip that you really wish you would have made a specific purchase, you can call guest relations and they can connect you with cast members that can take your order and ship the item to you. It is not talked about much, but you can do this. Also make sure you keep copies of the Park Guides and Maps to take home. They make wonderful additions to scrapbooks of your trip.
Times are tough, so take advantage of these money saving tips as you plan your next Walt Disney World vacation. Disney World will never be cheap, but being planful and smart can literally save you hundreds of dollars without sacrificing any vacation fun.
As Disney World announces new special promotions and discounts I will post them here.