Raise your hands if you’re planning on visiting Walt Disney World in 2018? We love WDW and learn something new about this Magical after every visit. But, vacationing a the “Happiest Place on Earth” can get expensive. So, before you begin planning your next family vacation, here’s my “Top 10 ways to save money at WDW.” Please feel free to add any tips to the list. –Dot
1. Start Planning in Advance
When you book a Walt Disney World vacation, you can start planning 499 days in advance. That gives you almost a year and a half to start saving up. Your Travel Agent can set up your package and you only need $200 down to book your vacation. You can make payments along the way but your full amount must be paid 30 days in advance. So, that gives you the luxury to decide how much you want to pay each month.
2. Use a “Earmarked” Travel Agent
What does “Earmarked” mean? It’s a Travel Agency or Agent who’s gone through the College of Disney! Seriously, if someone would have told me this years ago, I would have done it sooner. LOL! Your Travel Agent will be able to tell you when the promotions that Disney are offering and when the best time to visit. The best part is, if a promotion comes out before your trip, they can apply the discount to your package. Did I tell you their services are FREE?
3. Don’t Buy Soft Drinks
A large soft drink at WDW is $3.69 as of today. Multiply that per person multiple times a day and you’re spending a fortune just on a soda. You have different options, either bring your own soft drinks and keep them in your back pack or just drink your soft drinks when you order your combo meal. Since it’s so hot in Florida, I would encourage the kids to drink water throughout the day!
4. Use a Disney Chase Vise Credit Card
When we signed up for our Disney Credit Card, they offered a $200 credit to our account. So, we automatically saved money just by using it. They also have other advantages. Each month you can accumulate points depending on how much you spend. You can then trade in those points for Gift Cards to WDW. Also, during our last vacation WDW, they offered a “meet and greet” to ONLY Disney Chase Visa Credit Card holders. The lines were a lot shorter for those meet and greet and you had to show your Credit Card. We did this at Epcot to meet “Mikey Mouse” and “Kylo Ren” at Hollywood Studios.
5. Stay at a Disney Value Resort
We have stayed offsite before and found the customer service and hotels to be mediocre. Disney offers Resorts to fit almost every budget. But, staying at a Disney Value Resort gives you the same advantages as staying at all the other Resorts but less expensive. What are those advantages you ask? Well.. the main one is Extra Magic Hours. That means either the theme park opens up Early or stays open Late for those ONLY staying at a Disney Resort. They also offer free transportation to/from the airport and to/from their theme park and Resorts. Even though we drove to WDW on our last trip. We loved knowing we can park our car and not worry about knowing how to get to any of the theme parks or remembering where we parked. As a Disney Resort guest, you can sign up for your fast passes 60 days in advance while, those who stay on site can pick their fast passes 30 days in advance. That’s a whole month before the other people! Since we spend most of our time at the theme park we rather spend our money on other things!
6. Don’t Buy the Dining Plan The 2018 Quick Service Meals include 2 Quick Service Meals and 2 Snacks per day per person. For some, this is the perfect amount of food but not for us. My husband and 16-year-old son could eat 2 quick service meals easily but my youngest son and I couldn’t so it didn’t make any sense. It would cost us less money if we eat smaller meals and weren’t restricted to the amount we were allotted.
7. Purchase Kids Meals or Share an Adult Meal
My husband Brady says I eat like a bird so eating off the kid’s menu was the perfect choice for me! With your kid’s meal you get a drink, a side and sometimes a small desert like a cookie. A perfect amount of food for myself and my youngest Daniel loves them as well. My oldest Christian and Daniel eat off the Adult Menu and they even those meals can be too much for them to finish. BTW, Disney doesn’t mind if adults eat off the kids menu, I asked!
8. Plan a Day or Two to Relax Between the Theme Parks
Number 1 rookie mistake is to go to the Theme Park everyday and not take a day off between them. We’ve done this a couple of time and needed a vacation from our vacation. Because of this, our new rule is to plan 2 “relax” days between the theme parks. The boys love playing in the Resort pool while the adults relax in their hot tubs. At night, we take the bus to Disney Springs, and walk around (remember free transportation). The kids love the Lego store at Disney Springs and the Ghirardelli Ice cream shop. O’h I forgot to tell you, another advantage of staying at a Disney Resort is they send your purchase from their theme parks to your Resort room at no charge. That way you don’t have to worry about walking around and forgetting your stuff. I purchased a beautiful ornament at their Disney’s Days of Christmas store at Disney Springs and they delivered it to our resort room. Since it was so fragile, I was afraid someone would step on it or would break it!
9. Buy your Own Groceries
One of the first things we do once we arrive in Orlando is go grocery shopping. We eat at the parks for lunch and dinner but eat breakfast in our resort room. Every room has a mini fridge and it’s the perfect size to hold a half-gallon milk, some yogurt, and some coke cans. Since we always drive to WDW, we bring a cooler and keep our soda in there as well. Every resort has an ice machine so we can fill it up when needed. Disney even offers Resorts with kitchenette inside so you can cook meals instead of eating at the parks.
10. Bring your Own Stroller
We always bring our own stroller to save money and the kids are used to it as well. I love the strollers at WDW because they are long and the kids could take a nap but they all looked the same so it was hard to keep track of which one was yours. As of today a stroller rental is $15 a day or $31 a day for a double stroller. That’s a lot of money to waste on something you already own.