Disney For All Budgets

June 2, 2011
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It’s no secret that a vacation to Walt Disney World can be expensive, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be! As a family of three, we’ve taken both budget and luxury vacations to the World.  How much we spend on each vacation depends on how many times we’ve already visited  that year and what’s in our budget at the time.

 Even when we’re on one of our less expensive Disney trips, we still manage to have a great vacation. For this month’s article, I decided to share some of my top money saving tips for a fantastic vacation at Disney!

1. Stay off-site. To be clear, I’m a HUGE fan of staying on Disney property and the Contemporary is by far my favorite resort to stay in. A Disney resort is always my top pick above any other accommodations. Their resorts are wonderfully themed and staying on Disney property just adds to the Magic. Of course, you can always stay at a Value or Moderate resort at Disney, but I’ll be honest: I’m not a value or moderate type of girl. There, I said it! I need deluxe accommodations or I tend to become very cranky, very quickly! If our budget won’t allow a Disney Deluxe, I would rather stay at a really nice off-site hotel in the Downtown Disney area for the same price as a Value. If the value or moderate resorts aren’t an issue and that’s all your budget will allow at the time, by all means: stay on Disney property! Disney also offers periodic discounts throughout the year for select dates and resorts.

2. Save on transportation. If you’re flying and are staying at a Disney resort, utilize Disney’s Magical Express to get to your hotel. Then use the Disney buses, monorail or boats to get to the parks and other resorts. If you want your own rental car, sign up to have the latest deals emailed or tweeted to you or try a lesser known car rental company. Rates for rental cars have skyrocketed in the past few years, so this can be one of the more difficult ways to save money, but with careful planning and research, it can be done.

3. Save on food. Dining at Disney can be very expensive, but there are several ways to save money on food if you just plan ahead. One of the most popular promotions that Disney runs periodically is the free dining plan when you book a vacation package on select dates. This is not a year round promotion so you have to be on the lookout for it! Even if you don’t book a package with free dining, purchasing the dining plan can be a HUGE money saver depending on how much you eat and where you want to dine. For my family, the dining plan isn’t usually the best option because none of us are very big eaters and it just ends up being way too much food for us in the end, but I know others who swear by it! One of the quickest ways to drop a ton of cash at Disney is character dining. These meals give children (or adults) an opportunity to dine with the characters and get photos and autographs without waiting in a long line. And get yummy food while you’re there! If you want to meet characters, I highly recommend these meals but I suggest booking a character breakfast if you’re on a limited budget since they are quite a bit less expensive than a lunch or dinner. We have also dined off Disney property during certain vacations.  There is a wide variety of options right outside the entrance to Walt Disney World. I also frequently see many people bringing their own food or snacks into the park

4. Set a souvenir budget.  This is where I tend to get in T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Mouse ears,
Vinylmations, toys, clothes, Christmas ornaments/decorations and everything in between are all so hard to resist! I recommend setting a souvenir budget for all members of your family before you depart on vacation. DD blew through her budget the first day on the first trip we did this and ended up not being able to purchase things she really wanted, but she learned her lesson and now carefully considers each purchase. Set a budget and stick to it!

5. Check out other discounts.  Sign up for the Mousesavers newsletter or the Orlando Magicard. These offer great discounts on everything from hotels to dining and recreational activities!

These are just a few of the ways to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation. I’ll admit that if I could have my perfect vacation, I would choose to stay on site in Deluxe accommodations every time we visit, have our own rental car and eat most of our meals at Disney restaurants, but that’s not an option for everyone all of the time. You can do Disney on a budget and still have a fantastic vacation where you make memories that will last a lifetime!

Tiffany G. is a mom, wife and attorney. When she’s not practicing law, she can be found daydreaming with her family of vacations past or planning their next trip to see the Mouse. You can find her on Twitter @TTownTiffany , on Facebook and at http://ttowntiffany.blogspot.com

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2 Responses to Disney For All Budgets

  1. Lynn (lynnsc08) on June 3, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Love all these tips!! :)

  2. Mark D. on June 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    For tip #4, we make the kids wait until the last couple of days to get any souvenirs. When they want something, we just tell them to remember where it was and what they wanted so that at the end of the trip, they can choose from everything they saw.

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