Cheap and Fun

My brother and sister-in-law are planning a trip to Disney World and asked my advice (I love that!), specifically about how to make it less expensive.  As we all know, Disney World is not cheap.  Our favorite saying is that you can throw $20 bills around that place pretty easily.  I had to think about some cost-saving tips and here is what I have come up with.

  1. Book a package.  Disney bundles in some pretty good deals with accommodations, the dining plan and park tickets.  Ala carte is more expensive.  If you book value hotels such as the All Star Resorts and Pop Century, the price is about $80 per person/per day.  Be careful because the park tickets that you get with this are 1 park per day and do not allow you to park hop.
  2. Off season is always less expensive- Don’t go during the summer or around any holidays as you’ll pay premium prices.  Not only that, the crowds do not make for a magical experience.
  3. Off property, non-Disney hotels are tempting due to the prices, but don’t do it.  Transportation to the parks is less convenient and you are missing out on the magic of staying on property. (exception- Swan and Dolphin which are non-Disney hotels but are on property)
  4. If you can swing it, book a “home away from home” resort- the DVC properties where you’ll have a kitchen and can eat meals in.  Dining out at Disney can get pricey and making meals in your room can cut some of that cost.
  5. Disney Dining Plan- I have mixed feelings about the Dining Plan.  It’s a good deal if you want to do the sit-down meals.  Character Breakfast for 2 can run $65.00.  You would pay $90 for one day of the Dining Plan, but in addition to the breakfast, you also get a counter service meal and snack for the day.  Counter service meals per person average about $15-$20(pp) and a snack adds in another $5 or so.  If you like the idea of not having to shell out money for food at Disney World, this is a good way to go.  We’re going to try the Counter Service Dining Plan next trip- 2 CS meals and a snack for $35 (pp) per day.  We’ll see if that works for us.  The regular Dining Plan is just too much food to eat.
  6. Not that’s it’s any cheaper, but if you plan your trip well in advance you can cut the sting of the upfront cost of park tickets by staggering the purchase.  Last year we bought (2) 7-Day Park Hoppers, but purchased them several months apart so that I had enough time to save the money.  They were about $450 each, so one was purchased in May and the other in September.  (Undercover has discounted tickets)
  7. Magical Express- to save the cost of a rental car, book this no-cost service with your reservation.  You are picked up at the airport and delivered to your hotel and Disney takes care of all the baggage transfers too.  With the on-property transportation system you’ll never need a car to get around the World.
  8. AAA- if you are a member AAA offers some pretty good discounts on packages.
  9. site for hotel discount codes.  If you subscribe to the newsletter, you also can get some unpublished discount links.

That’s what I have to share today.  I would love to hear of any money saving tips that you may have.  Let’s add to the list!


Filed under Travel

4 responses to “Cheap and Fun

  1. We’re biug devotees of the dining plan- we usually save about $300 a trip using it- especially if it’s F&W- we do deluxe and use all the snack credits there.

  2. wdwalone

    I’d just caution to do your research with packages – make sure you’ll actually use all the “perks” included so that you’re not wasting money on things you have no intention of using.

    You might also want to check on renting DVC points. Sometimes you can rent the points pretty inexpensively and stay at a great DVC resort!

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