A trip to Disney can break the bank, but with careful planning it is possible to stay within your budget. Here are ten tips to help you save money during your family’s trip to Disney.
1. Go off season. During Disney’s off-season (typically fall through Christmas and early February), lodging & airfare prices drop substantially. As an added bonus, everything will be less crowded.
2. Rent a villa. You won’t be as close to the parks, but you’ll be able to cook some of your own meals and you’ll often have a private pool. Plus, the cost per night is usually substantially less than on-site hotels.
3. Consider camping. If your family likes camping, consider a stay at Fort Wilderness Disney. It has campsites, cabins, and RV hookups for rates starting at around $45 a night.
4. Buy tickets early. If you plan on visiting several parks over a few days, investigate Disney’s “park hopper” passes. You can save quite a bit of money over single admission tickets and the passes allow you to come and go throughout the day. By purchasing them online prior to your trip, you’ll be able to think clearly about which options make sense for your family. Think about how much time you’ll actually spend in the park. For a seven-day trip, days 1 and 7 will probably not yield much park time so a 4 or 5 day pass may be plenty.
5. Skip the rental car. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel and plan on spending all your time at the parks, don’t rent a car. Disney’s Magical Express will pick you and your luggage up at the airport and bring you to your hotel for free. You can get to and from the parks using complimentary bus or monorail service.
6. Focus on what’s important. Don’t try to cram in a visit to every park. Try to spend some time outside of the park too, taking a trip to the beach or just hanging out at the hotel pool. A more relaxed pace usually means money saved.
7. Bring snacks & water. Pack a small cooler with frozen water bottles to provide cold drinks for your family throughout the day at a fraction of concession stand costs. There is some debate over whether or not outside food is technically allowed at Disney, but as long as you aren’t toting in huge coolers you usually won’t have a problem.
8. Eat in. You’ll save money by leaving the parks as often as possible for your meals. Return to your villa or hotel during the hottest part of the day to make sandwiches or cook an early dinner, returning to the park in the evening.
9. Bring supplies. Before you leave in the morning, make sure you have all the basics you’ll need. Buying necessities like bottled water, sunscreen, or diapers in the parks adds up fast. Purchase these before your trip if possible.
10. Set a limit for souvenirs. Give older kids a set amount of money to spend as they choose; when it’s gone it’s gone. Encourage kids to wait until the last day of the trip to get their souvenirs; by then they’ll know what they really want. And remember that a couple of well chosen souvenirs are worth much more than a bevy of impulse purchases.