People often ask me if Disney is worth it? Well, I am a major cheap skate, I never like to pay full price for anything and I am always bargain shopping. But you know what? Disney is worth it! The memories, the fun, your children’s faces! But it does not have to break the bank either. There are ways to have the Disney vacation of your dreams and still save money while doing it!
Here are some tips to save money at Disney:
- Buy your souvenirs before you go to the parks- There are tons of places outside of the parks, plus the Disney stores and outlets. Why pay top dollar on the same t-shirt or princess dress?
- Look for Sale Prices – If you do not hit the outlets outside of Disney, ask a sales person for the sale section. 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 – 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.
- Travel before your kids turn 3 and 10 – Kids under 3 get in for free. Kids over 10 pay adult prices, so try to time it to go before these age changes.
- Bring your own food – You can bring soft coolers into the parks. No glass beverages or hard coolers are allowed. We always pack sandwiches, cheese sticks, carrot & celery sticks and refillable water bottles in the parks.
- Ask and ye shall receive – 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.
- Bring a refillable Water Bottle- Any of the Quick Service locations will fill them up for you for free.
- Share your meals- If you eat at the quick service restaurants, look at the portion sizes. 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. More information on saving on the Quick Service Dining plan.
- Get the Dining Plan – Surprised? Not if you like to eat! Getting the Disney Dining Plan means you can choose whatever meal you would like without worrying about cost. We always get the meal plan because we love eating at Disney! It is the 5th Theme Park, in my opinion! 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 – 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.
- Bring your own stroller – renting a stroller every day can be pricey. Save money by getting a cheap umbrella stroller and bringing that instead.
- Stay in the Disney hotels – 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.
- Stay outside of the Disney Hotels- yes, you will save money and usually get more space if you stay in a non-Disney hotel for larger parties. There are several hotels right on Disney property that will save you money, 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 – most rooms will have a fridge, so you can store food for your snacks and breakfast. The coffee maker is great for making water for oatmeal. We usually bring our own cereal, bowls, milk and spoons for an easy breakfast with the kids.
- Check out Restaurant.com. - 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.
- Plan your days carefully – adding the Park Hopper passes makes your trip more expensive. But if you plan out your trip (or have a travel agent do it) you can maximize your vacation without the extra cost.
- Drive – 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.
- Get a Disney Visa Card – you earn points with purchases – to use at Disney!
- Use Coupons – Coupons are the best ways to save money on daily necessities while traveling. You can find various coupons on this site coupons.answers.com.
- Get a Target Credit Card – 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!
- Buy a year pass – if you will be in Disney for more than 11 or 12 days it ends up being less expensive to buy a yearly pass to Disney.
- Get a travel planner – save money with discount watching, itinerary planning, and more. Most travel planners can save you time, money and hassle!
Ready for your Disney vacation? I offer free quotes and I can not wait to make your vacation magical! Contact me at 302-745-1790 or Planmagic@hotmail.com.
Patti Persia is a travel planner with Plan a Magic vacation, an affiliate of Destinations in Florida.
Destinations in Florida Travel is your PremEAR Disney World and Orlando Vacation Planners - Top 2009 Disney Destinations Sales Performer and 2010 Universal Studios Travel Agency Partner of the Year