Visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World is expensive. More and more people say it’s too expensive. However there are ways you can have a Disney vacation and not necessarily break the bank…or at least not break it too badly. Here are some suggestions…
Before we start – people always want to know if they should use a travel agent or not. Travel agents’ services generally don’t cost you anything extra, and they may know of discounts that you don’t. But they’re still not for everyone. This article might help you decide if you should use one or not.
Anyway, if you’re going to plan a Disney trip as a DIY project, there are 5 broad categories that should be considered when planning a Disney vacation (or any vacation, TBH). Some of the links below are specific to WDW, some are specific to DL, and some will be of use for whichever Resort you’re planning to visit. Obviously, some of the points may not work for your specific situation (i.e. if you live in England, you can’t drive to a Disney Resort) but you may be able to adapt the suggestions (i.e. fly to an airport that has cheaper fares and drive/train to Disney). I also didn’t include any extras like souvenirs, special events, etc. because although fun and nice, they’re not 100% necessary for a vacation.
- Depending on where you’re coming from, it might be more cost effective to drive rather than fly. This post helps explain which might be better when making that decision.
- Nowadays the cheapest price for the major airlines is Basic Economy. Know what Basic Economy entails for each airline and don’t be like this poor lady.
- If you’re looking to find the best flight prices possible, this post might help.
- If you stay on WDW property, you may have access to a Disney Dining Plan or even free dining. Remember that nothing “free” is actually free. Disney gives nothing away for “free” (unless it somehow benefits them) and you’re really paying for it somewhere along the way. These various plans also may or may not work for your family from a financial standpoint. Check out this post from 2019 to see if Free Dining is worth it, and this one from 2018 that explains the other types of Disney Dining Plans.
- It’s not very well known, but there’s a WDW Dining Plan that you can get without staying at a WDW hotel, too.
- Generally speaking, the food at restaurants off Disney property is cheaper than similar fare on property. Added benefits are that you can make reservations for popular places a few days out instead of several months (and if you make reservations with this app, you’ll earn points that can go towards free or discounted meals! The app works for a handful of restaurants on Disney property, as well, but not as many as it used to). These are some of our favorite restaurants in Central Florida that are off theme park property. They vary in price, distance and kid-friendliness.
- Getting a hotel room with a small kitchen, or renting a home (sometimes called a “villa”) allows you to cook some of your meals, which can save a ton on costs!
- The hotels at Disneyland Resort cost, well, a lot. However in our search for an off-site hotel, we discovered a very helpful reference.
- The hotels at Walt Disney World also cost quite a bit. However they offer several perks that you can’t get elsewhere. This article might help in deciding if you should stay onsite or off site.
- If you dabble in hotel points, there are plenty of branded properties for you to do your magic ;-). For example, here are hotels near WDW where you can use your IHG, Marriott and/or Hyatt credit card free nights.
- Some people love having a rental car while on a Disney vacation, some don’t. There are lots of pros and cons to consider but this article might be helpful in helping you decide (it’s admittedly very WDW-centric but a lot of the info can be said for DL, as well).
- If you DO decide to rent a car, these posts might be particularly helpful in how much money you do or don’t spend:
— How to find cheap rental cars
— Signing up for car rental programs and what each program will give you
— Should you get the three types of car rental insurance?
— Should you prepay for gas with your rental car?
— How to avoid crazy toll charges when renting a car in Central Florida
— How to use a debit card for car rentals
- The general rule of thumb when it comes to Disney theme park tickets is the more days in the theme parks you buy, the cheaper it is per day.
- There are some places where you should definitely look for ticket discounts and some where you SHOULD NOT. This article tells you all about both.
- Depending on how long you’re going to be staying, it might make more sense to buy an annual pass. This post may help you decide which is a better deal for you. (again, the post is specific to WDW but the same can easily be said about DL, too.)
- Some employers offer discounts for theme park tickets. Read this article for background info and then check in with your HR Dep’t!
As you can see, you CAN go to Disneyland or Walt Disney World without breaking the bank. It just takes some extra planning (on top of the planning that’s involved in going to WDW or DL). For some people, being able to save that much money on a visit will be the difference between going and not going. For others, it means being able to go sooner than anticipated, or maybe being able to go more than once. For yet others, the money saved can be used for something else. Whatever the case, I hope you have a wonderful vacation!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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