10) Create a budget
The first step to budgeting any kind of vacation is simply to have a set budget to keep in mind. Without planning on keeping expenses under a certain amount, it will be very difficult to keep from spending lots of extra (and unnecessary) money. Once you determine the limit for the most money you would spend, it will be easier to plan your trip accordingly to the newly set budget.
9) Choose the right resort
Choosing the right resort (and room type) is actually very important for planning and sticking to a budget. Disney conveniently breaks down all of the resorts into different tiers based on price, including value, moderate, and deluxe. Once you have a set budget, you can narrow down which tier to look at and choose a resort from there. When researching the resorts, be sure to also look at the different room types, especially if you’re on a tight budget, so that you do not end up paying more than you need to for the room.
8) Know your ticket options
One of the most expensive parts of paying for a Walt Disney World vacation is purchasing tickets, which is why it’s very important to make sure you’re getting the right tickets for your needs. For instance, before you purchase park hoppers, make sure you’ll actually be going to more than one park each day. If you’re going to Walt Disney World for more than ten days, it can definitely be worth looking into getting an annual pass instead of purchasing Magic Your Way tickets.
7) Make Fastpass selections
Once you have your tickets purchased, it would be helpful to make at least some of your Fastpass selections before your trip. Just make sure that you use your Fastpasses for rides, and not shows, parades, or fireworks. Using a Fastpass on a ride allows you to experience the attraction with little to no wait. Using one at a show or parade/fireworks viewing will get you a guaranteed seat or place to stand, but more often than not you would have had no trouble finding a spot anyway. It’s also included in the price of your tickets, so you might as well take advantage of the service!
6) Make advanced dining reservations
Because Walt Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations, it is no surprise that you might want to make sure you’ve reserved a table at some of your favorite restaurants in advance. While I still typically have luck without making tons of reservations, it really depends on how many people are in your party, and how busy the parks are during your visit. To be on the safe side, I always recommend making at least a couple of dining reservations in advance.
5) Pack all the necessities
Before you leave home, it’s really important to make sure that you’ve packed everything you’ll need for your trip. While some items (umbrellas, ponchos, aspirin, sunscreen, etc…) can easily be replaced with a trip to your resort gift shop, you would be spending more money due to the inflated tourist prices, and time that would be better spent enjoying yourself on vacation. You also need to have things that cannot be replaced easily if you were to forget them, like IDs, and prescription medications, and depending on the time of year that you’re visiting, you may also want to pack for all different kinds of weather.
4) Understand transportation options in advance
If you are staying at a Disney resort, it’s important that you opt in to the Magical Express service before your trip so that you can take advantage of the complimentary luggage delivery service. If you do not book this add on in advance, you are still able to take the bus for free, however you’ll need to pick up your own luggage from baggage claim when you land in Orlando. In addition, doing a little bit of research and understanding how the transportation systems work between the parks and resorts prior to your vacation will be beneficial when planning how to get from one place to another, and estimating how long this will take.
3) Put aside extra money for your trip
So you’ve booked your vacation– your hotel is paid off, you’ve got your tickets, and you’ve even purchased the dining plan so all of your meals are taken care of. But there are still a few more things you’ll want to budget for, primarily tips and spending money. Even with your meals already paid for (with the dining plan) you’ll want to factor in some extra money for tips, for waitstaff, but also for bell services and housekeeping. Extra spending money can also be valuable when it comes to things like shopping, eating extra snacks, enjoying alcoholic beverages, and participating in certain recreational activities.
2) Choose the dining plan, or have a plan for dining costs
Regardless of how you decide to pay for it, dining is a huge part of budgeting and planning for any vacation. The Disney Dining Plan can be a great deal (with a savings of up to 35%) assuming you will take advantage of everything that’s included in the plan. As everyone has individual preferences about what (and how much) they eat, it’s difficult to say that there is one clear answer for whether or not the plan is worth it for you. Thankfully, it’s very easy to determine if the plan is right for you: Compare the cost of the plan with the cost of what you would otherwise pay out of pocket for food, and choose the better deal. If you choose to skip the plan, just be sure to factor in that some spending money will be going towards dining.
1) Research before you go!
There are some vacations (primarily cruises or all inclusive experiences) where in depth and advance research is not quite necessary. Walt Disney World is not one of those vacation destinations. Before your trip, you should really spend some time reading up on the resort and all that it has to offer. Websites like this one can be really helpful, and the best place to start is always the official Disney website. Researching your vacation in advance is not only helpful for budgeting, but it will also help you learn about what there is to do, and make the most out of your time in the parks!