Disney on a dime? Well, no. Not really. If you could go to Disney on a dime, then everyone would do it, because everyone could do it. So I can’t really tell you how to get to Disney for next to free, but I can help you budget and I can share a ton of money saving tips with you.
I will admit it, I am a self-proclaimed penny pincher. I coupon. I am always on the hunt for a bargain. It is just how I do life. And my approach to planning a family vacation to Disney is no different. Where is the best deal I can get on every aspect of my vacation? Here are some of the top of the list things that I do to make sure I get the most for my money while spending the least of it I can!
1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING! If you don’t believe me, let me price the exact same vacation for you during both the peak season, and the off season. Let’s face it. Disney isn’t dumb. They know when you’re most likely looking to travel, and they’re cashing in on it. What successful business entity wouldn’t? Money saving tip? Travel in the OFF SEASON! Don’t be afraid to take your kids out of school. More people are traveling when school is not is session than when it is not in session. Therefore, at times when less people are traveling, rates will drop, and most of the time better discount specials are released. Worried about missing tests and stuff? Just speak with your child’s teacher before you pick a date. They might not know exactly when, but they’ll have a good idea of times that it would not be okay to miss school. And added plus – less vacationers equals cheaper prices AND shorter lines!
2. TAKE YOUR OWN SNACKS! Even if you purchase a meal plan, sometimes the snack credits run out. I promise you that a $2.50 box of 8 granola bars will add up to a lot less money than 4 Mickey shaped pretzels at $4.50 each. Don’t get me wrong, I do indulge in Disney snacks. You’ll miss out if you don’t. But that doesn’t mean that I need 3 of them a day. Single serving packs of goldfish crackers or fruit snacks make excellent boredom busters for small children waiting for a parade! Are you flying to Disney and worried about limiting luggage? Did you know you can UPS a package to your resort with your name and reservation number on it, and they will hold it for your arrival? Pre-packaged dry goods ship easy and typically don’t weigh much!
3. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES! One of my favorite tips! Bring along reusable water bottles. Did you realize that in any of the quick service restaurants you can fill a water bottle for FREE? That’s right. I said free. Cold water to drink, no charge. Kids don’t like plain water? Before you leave home, buy a couple of boxes of those individual size drink mixes. Everyone makes them now – Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, even Ocean Spray. And if you visit the quick service restaurant in your resort, they have cup washing stations next to the drink machines. You can clean your bottle daily and not even have to pack dish detergent!
4. CREATIVE AUTOGRAPHS! These days an autograph book with Mickey Mouse’s picture on it will run you $12 or more, depending on the style of book you choose. Instead of a book, pack your child a white t-shirt or pillowcase and a fabric marker. Instead of signing pages, have the characters sign the shirt or pillowcase. Not only can you purchase these for less money than the autograph book, you will have a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring home, and your child will have a story to tell every time they wear the shirt or go to a sleep over. Make sure to pack a gallon size zip lock bag in your backpack though, to put it in to protect it from water rides or the imminent rain shower you didn’t expect.
5. PRE-PURCHASE TRADING PINS! Kids LOVE to participate in pin trading. Only problem is, those pins are expensive! And if you’re allowing them to pick them out, they end up having a hard time deciding which pins to trade, because they don’t want to trade the ones they picked out to purchase. Check out the auctions on ebay. Search for “Disney Pin Lot”. You can buy tons of pins this way, for very little cost. Load the kids lanyards up with the inexpensive pins and let them seek out people to trade with. You save money and they don’t mind trading pins they didn’t specifically ask for. A couple of trading tips though: 1. Make sure to purchase the locking backs. These do not come standard with the pin, it is an additional cost. 2. Do not allow your child to wear any pins they do not want to trade. This way no one will ask them for one they don’t want to part with. 3. When purchasing online, make sure you are purchasing Disney licensed pins. Park employees are not allowed to trade Disney pins for non-Disney pins.
6. BOOK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT! Booking with a travel agent has many, many rewards. You don’t have to do all of the work yourself. You won’t spend countless hours trying to understand all there is to know about Disney so that you can make the most informed choices. Your travel agent should be able to answer any question you have, and help direct you to the best time to go, the most economical resort for your family size and needs, and what discounts and specials are out there for the time you want to travel. Disney travel is pretty complex, and there are a ton of variables that can factor into a reservation that can make the reservation price go way up or way down. My suggestion is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. But please make sure you find a travel agent that you trust. Ask friends and family for recommendations. People you know personally will give you the most accurate review of their experiences with a travel agent. If an any point in working with an agent you do not feel comfortable, do not continue with that agent. And do not give any credit card information to an agent that you aren’t 100% comfortable with.
If you are interested in more ways to save money when traveling to Walt Disney World, please contact me and we’ll get to planning your family vacation!