I know that Disney is known as very pricey, expensive vacation. It definitely can be, especially if you don’t do a bit of research and know all of the different tips out there. Disney can also be a very affordable vacation without sacrificing the magical moments and amazing experiences that has Disney guests coming back year after year. If you just followed a few of these tips you would save on the bottom line of your vacation, and the more you can utilize, the more you can save! Here are 7 awesome tips for doing Disney on a budget:
7. Consider value resorts
Value resorts offer just want the name implies… value! These are the Disney resorts that offer all of the same great services and vacation package features, just less amenities at the resort itself. The rooms are also more motel-style with the doors on the exterior of the building as opposed to inside a hallway. The resorts are still immaculate and offer theming that you can’t get at the other resorts. Many people prefer these resorts for the VERY “Disney” theming and the very large character statues and decorations that aren’t present at the moderate or deluxe resorts. There also tend to be a lot of buses going back and forth between these resorts since they are larger in size and sleep more guests. The “value” resorts on property are Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports and Art of Animation. You can still expect the same amazing Disney service and magical moments that you would be offered at any other resort. Keep in mind that while Disney is now charging resort guests an overnight parking fee, the value resorts have the lowest fee cost per night. So, if these resorts better fit within your budget, don’t feel like you and your family will miss out or sacrifice an amazing vacation for choosing these resorts!
6. Book through a travel agent
“Ear-marked” travel agencies/agents are authorized through Disney to book vacations on your behalf directly through Disney. You receive the exact same price on the vacation as you would if you book for yourself, but you receive added perks and knowledge that an experienced travel agent can provide, for NO cost to you. Some agencies will offer promotions and deals, so you may get a slightly discounted trip from what you could book yourself. Agents also watch the various deals and discounts to apply them to your trip if applicable. This is huge! Disney won’t automatically apply deals and last-minute discounts when they are offered unless you call to request it. On these days, thousands of people are trying to call at the same time and sometimes crash the system. Travel agents are used to this, get advanced knowledge and can act quickly to take care of these changes for you while you get to go about your day and save money! They will also help plan itineraries and dining experiences for you based on your budget and can make recommendations so that you know what to expect when you are on property and your budget doesn’t experience sticker shock. If you are newer to Disney vacations, definitely give this a try. Many experienced Disney travelers still prefer to use an agent.
5. Skip the park hopper tickets
This may be an easy way to save a couple hundred dollars (depending on how many tickets/days you are purchasing. Try to play your days so that you only need to attend one park on a particular day, so that you eliminate the need for park hopper. This will help ensure that you spend less time jumping from park to park and more time enjoying the parks anyway. You will still be able to leave and re-enter the same park if you want to go back to the resort for a little bit. So if this will work for you, take advantage of the savings!
4. Set shopping budgets (and suggest saving plans)
Disney souvenirs can get expensive quickly, especially when you and the rest of your family are enticed by everything that you see! Give each person an individual shopping budget of what you will contribute and encourage the family to save or even earn additional dollars to go to their shopping fund. Maybe they can earn dollars for good grades, doing chores, mowing lawns, etc. as a way to learn the value of the dollar and help contribute to their spending fund. It is also helpful to maybe review blogs and articles about different merchandise so that everyone can get an idea of what they may want for their souvenirs and have cost expectations. This will help when they try to make impulse decisions in the many gift shops and can be reminded that they really wanted that certain pair of Mickey ears when they looked before the trip, and they need to be really sure!
3. Bring snacks
There are many ways that you can do this. If you are driving, you can bring snacks with you or run to the grocery store once you arrive. If you flew, you can use one of the grocery delivery services that will still be cheaper than shopping in the parks or in the resort store. There are also many things that you can order from Amazon, like cases of water, chips, etc. and have them delivered to your resort (and Amazon shipping can usually be gotten for free or a small charge depending on what you order) with a planned arrival for your date of arrival or just after. Your resort may charge a $5 holding fee per day, so try to have it delivered the day of your arrival to avoid more than a minimum payment. This will make it easier for you to have snacks and treats on hand to prevent impulse snack purchases when you are hungry between meals or while waiting in lines. This can save tons!
2. Don’t pay for water
One little secret that is extremely important to know is that you can get cups of ice water for FREE! The trick is to look for quick-service locations that sell cups of soda. If they are selling fountain soda by the cup and not by the bottle, then you will be able to get a cup of water and they won’t charge you for it. The water is filtered and does not taste like the water from the fountains. This is a super convenient and free way to get cold water. You can also bring in your own water bottles and refill them from the fountains. It will save you on the over $3 per bottle, and you don’t want to sacrifice staying hydrated since that can ruin your day, quickly in the heat!
1. Utilize various reward program options
Take advantage of different reward options that may be available to you. If you have a Disney Visa, try to best utilize that to earn Disney Reward dollars. If you have a Target Red Card, you may watch for coupons and take advantage of discounts to buy gift cards (which can be used to buy practically EVERYTHING at Disney). You can also watch sites where people resell unused gift cards at a discount of the value and save yourself a few percent on the cost. There are also other apps out there that reward you in gift cards (like Target gift cards, which you can use to buy Disney gift cards) for your normal purchases, answering surveys, etc. so that you can earn a few extra dollars. Every little bit that you can save adds up and may just pay for an extra meal or two on your vacation, so definitely look into what options are out there and what you think you could do.