Every kid wants to go to Walt Disney World. It’s like the desire is hardwired into them from birth, as primal as the joy that washes over their faces when they cross the gates into the park and step into the waiting arms of Mickey Mouse and Co. And as parents, there’s nothing better than making those moments happen. You could say that it’s hardwired into us. But let’s face it: planning the vacation of your family’s dreams can be a nightmare for your wallet.
Accommodations, food, park tickets, transportation to and from the parks, souvenirs – all these costs add up quicker than you can say “Bippity boppity boo.” A weeklong trip to Disney World for a family of four can often cost as much as a trip overseas! Still, with a little bit of planning, some savvy resource use, and a bit of luck, you and your family will be able to enjoy your fairytale adventure without having to dread your return to reality.
Visit Disney World during the “off-season”
Disney World offers more than two dozen resorts and hotels for guests to enjoy, with prices fluctuating wildly between resorts and between room levels at specific resorts. To maximize your savings, try to plan your family’s visit so that it falls during the “off-season,” which occurs during late August, September, and January. Right now, Disney is offering discounts of 15-30% on rooms in all its resorts if they’re booked between August 26th – October 1st, and 15-25% on rooms booked during October 2nd – November 5th. If you can manage to take a trip right before the winter holidays, you’ll be saving a bundle right off the bat!
You can always ask your concierge, upon check-in, if there are any free room upgrades available. This depends on luck and the discretion of the concierge, but even if they can’t upgrade you for free, they might give you a discounted upgrade fee that would be cheaper than what you would pay for the room at booking. It never hurts to ask!
Skip the dining plan
The Disney Dining Plan, which is an add-on prepaid meal plan that allows guests to purchase credits beforehand that can be used for a number of fixed dining options, is a mixed bag. You can definitely save money using it, but with the Standard option (which comes with one counter-service meal, one sit-down meal, and one snack per day) costing over 60 bucks a day a person, it really requires guests to plan out where and when they’re going to eat, and to consume a lot of food, to see any real value. If spending a lot of your valuable vacation time in restaurants doesn’t appeal to you, or if your family members are all light eaters, Disney Dining might not be the best option for you.
One option is to do grocery shopping, either venturing out into Orlando if you have a car or having them delivered to your room if you don’t. You can create delicious, economical, and healthy breakfasts/lunches every day before you head out to the parks, and you can have snacks waiting for you when you get back from your long day. You’ll also save money by not buying from the overpriced Disney markets located in the resorts.
Have a freebie day
Believe it or not, there a number of activities that you can do that don’t require a cent, all while letting you recharge from the hectic chaos of the parks. Spend an afternoon swimming in your resort’s luxurious pool, and then take a resort tour so that you can take in all the sights. Take a walk on the wild side by exploring the woods around Trail’s End, a secluded nature enclave in Fort Wilderness. Ride the Epcot Monorail and marvel at the way technology and nature coexist. Your kids will love watching the beautiful nightly fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian, where you can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant. All you’ll really be on the hook for is food, but if you bought groceries like we suggested, there’s no reason why you can’t pack a lunch for yourself and your family. With all the delicious restaurants at the resorts — which are usually more economical, too — don’t be surprised if you can’t help but splurge!
There are countless ways to save when you’re planning your family vacation to Disney World. A quick Google search will give you tons of ideas that you can mix and match to fit your family’s needs. Before you start planning on all the ways you’ll save, get acquainted with the resorts by requesting of one Disney’s FREE Disney Parks vacation planning videos. They are offer great and useful information for planning your trip, covering attractions, accommodations, rides, restaurants and dining options, and anything else you can think of when it comes to the House of the Mouse.
The videos include a complete tour of the 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and 20+ resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a tour of the Disneyland Resort in California, including 2 theme parks and 3 resort hotels, and tips on affordable ways to play and stay during your Disney vacation. It’s absolutely free, and a great way to get the ball rolling on planning your family’s vacation. It makes a great keepsake, too, since the DVD is personalized with your family’s name on them. Fun and useful, too, it’ll give you a little taste of the magic you and your family will experience when you embark on your dream vacation!