My first visit to Walt Disney World was in the early 70s, not long after it opened, when Walt Disney World was just the Magic Kingdom. As a young teenager, I remember having a wonderful time, and knowing that *one day* it would be a wonderful place to return to with my own children.
Then I pretty much forgot all about Disney World….until I became a mom, when I started to think and dream about taking my little girl to that great vacation destination. I could see that it was much more than just the Magic Kingdom and I just knew that when we did finally go, it would be the most wonderful, magical vacation EVER.
And I also knew that it would be a “once in a lifetime” trip as well, so it was important to plan it all carefully, and be sure that our daughter was old enough to enjoy it all….because we would never be able to afford to go again.
We took our little girl in 1998, when she was 7 years old, and our trip was everything I dreamed of. All that planning I did paid off as we had an amazing time. There was just one teensy, little problem that came up as we were leaving to go home, something that I had not planned on at all.
We wanted to go back again.
Well now. We had just had the “trip of a lifetime”. How do you go on TWO trips of a lifetime? Or, as we all wished now, probably not two….but MANY trips of a lifetime?
I realized that if we wanted to make it happen regularly, I was going to have to find ways to make a Disney World vacation more affordable than our first trip was. So I started to read: books, magazines, the internet, anything I could find…..researching every aspect of a Disney World vacation.
And guess what? I found out that with a little research, planning, and flexibility, we would be able to save quite a bit of money….and so make it possible to visit far more often than I had ever dreamed of! Now that is what I call magic!
So with all that research, what do I know now that I didn’t know back on that first trip? What do I tell folks who are trying to plan a Disney World vacation and make it as affordable as possible? Basically this: A Disney trip has many variables, and changing one…or several…of them can result in saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on your vacation.
Here are five things that everyone planning a trip to Walt Disney World should look at when trying to save money:
- Be as flexible as you can when deciding when you will visit. Certain times of year are simply more expensive than others, so consider non-holidays, or seasons when kids are in school in order to get the best rates. An additional benefit to this? Probably lower crowds, meaning you see more…and get more for your money.
- Always take a look at the current Disney promotions to see if they work to your benefit. You may even want to consider getting some quotes from a travel agent: their services are free and they typically know how to get you the best Disney rates possible…even if it means re-booking you at a lower rate than you originally got. Don’t just assume that booking with Disney will cost you more. It may…but it may not.
- With this in mind, have an open mind about where you stay. While staying with Disney has its benefits, so does staying off property in some circumstances. And look at different kinds of properties other than other hotels: sometimes the best deals are found by renting vacation condos or houses.
- Research travel options early in the process and sign up for loyalty programs for various websites like Expedia, or Travelocity, as well as for airlines that you may use. If possible, consider driving as an affordable option. Become fans on Facebook for additional, unadvertised specials. Again, have an open mind and consider everything.
- Allow yourself one luxury: the luxury of plenty of time to plan. You will save the most money by planning at least 6 months in advance. Plus, this gives you plenty of time to save in other areas of your life to fund your trip.
For me, with a dozen plus trips to Walt Disney World now, one of the biggest parts of the Disney magic is that I can actually afford to go back. And that is magic that I get to create!
While she and her family currently live in the Baltimore, MD area, Nancy considers Walt Disney World to be a “second home”. Wanting to share what she has learned about how to save money at Walt Disney World with others, she started her own blog, The Affordable Mouse in 2009, in order to help people plan their own affordable Disney vacations.Share