Family travel tips
Affordable Disney Vacation – It Is Possible
Who said a Disney vacation had to be expensive? Get the best of both world’s with these steps to an affordable Disney vacation. Remember the most important part of having a wonderful vacation is planning. With planning you can make sure you stay within your budget. And a quick tip. Disney is seasonal so plan to go when the park is not at its peak as that is when they offer their value tickets which for a family four can save you a bundle.
Article originally written on Aug 19, 2014. Updated on Aug 16, 2019.
Step one: Drive, don’t fly.
If at all possible, drive. We understand flying if you’re coming from across the country, across the pond or across the world, but if you can make it happen, driving the family can be 3-5 times cheaper than buying plane tickets for everyone. Of course, you have to factor in the lost time, but if we’re talking about pure cost, driving is your best bet when you’re on a budget. Not to mention, Orlando isn’t a very compact city, which means a car will be necessary. You’ll also be saving money on car rental costs. If you’re in a situation where you MUST fly, don’t worry, an affordable Disney vacation can still be yours! We’ve got some more money saving tips coming your way.
Step two: Say no to hotels.
If you’re like most people who come to Disney, you’ll be coming with family. And if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation sleeping next to your kids, hotel costs can add up quickly. There are thousands of vacation home rentals in the Orlando area, some over 60% cheaper than similar hotel accommodations, and they often come with game rooms, private pools and full kitchens so you can save money by cooking at home. One example: Let’s say you’re a family of four or five. Two hotel rooms at a very average 3-star hotel in the Disney area can cost around $1,700 for seven days. These are bare bones hotel rooms with very limited amenities.
A three bedroom vacation home just 3 miles from Disney, with a private pool and spa, kitchen, washer and dryer can cost as little as $760 including taxes and fees for that same seven days! That’s a 55% savings, and you get an extra bedroom, space for the whole family and all the comforts of home. An affordable Disney vacation doesn’t have to bare-bones one after all.
Step three: Find a Disney ticket deal.
Finding discounted Disney tickets anywhere is a tough task, but wherever you go, remember this: buying tickets directly from Disney, especially at the gate, is going to be the most costly option. And, never, ever buy your tickets from anyone on eBay or Craigslist. Disney scans the fingerprints of all park guests, so if the ticket you buy on Craigslist has already been assigned to someone else’s finger, you aren’t getting in, and you don’t get your money back. Another idea: try checking with your vacation rental provider. Vacation rental companies like VillaDirect sell Disney tickets at slightly discounted prices through exclusive Disney partnerships, and sometimes even offer specials where you can buy 4 days and get the 5th day free, an over $100 value.
Step Four: Get your money’s worth.
Remember, when you buy a Disney ticket, you’re paying for every minute you spend inside the park. Part of an affordable Disney vacation is getting your money’s worth, which means whether you’re using the bathroom, applying sunscreen, waiting in line or calming a screaming child, remember that you’re paying for it. Get to the park early in the morning to avoid lengthy lines and blazing temperatures, then at mid-day, when lines and the sun are both the most intense, go back to your vacation home and take a break. When things calm down later in the day, get back to the fun!
Another quick money saving-tip: if you can bring it into the park, don’t buy it inside the park. Sunscreen, Band-Aids, re-usable water bottles, small snacks, and umbrellas are just a few examples of things you might need throughout the day that you can bring with you rather than buy inside.
Step Five: Food and Drink
This portion of an affordable trip can vary the most. But think about it. Who spends more money? The person packing their lunch or the person buying their lunch inside the park. It is a no brainer. But Disney of course offers you 3 choices if you do not bring your food in which are:
- Fast food counter service ($8 to $12 per person)
- Sit down restaurants ($20 to $60 per person and do not forget to include the tip)
- Special event meals (same as sit down restaurants)
As you can see if you do not plan properly, food and drink will destroy your budget.
TIP: Instead of drinking soft drinks all day you can ask for ice water free of charge everywhere inside the park. Saving your health and your money.
Follow these steps, and you’ll squeeze every last inch out of your hard-earned dollars during your next Disney vacation. Who knows, you might save so much that you start thinking of next year’s trip already!
What do you think of our steps to an affordable Disney vacation? Do you have any other tips to share?