If you’ve ever taken a WDW vacation or are planning one now, you know how expensive it can be. Since our family of four visits WDW every couple of years, it’s important that we plan ahead to save as much money as possible.
BTW, this is the second post in my two part series. After you read how to save $$$ at WDW, hop on over to How to Have a Relaxing Disney World Vacation for more tips.
To avoid information overload (because there are so many tips I could give), I will be brief and stick to my top tips to on how to Save $$$ on your Disney World Vacation.
1. Save Up
I like to get the kids involved in saving money for our next trip. There are ton’s of things you can do to save money for your WDW vacation. Right now we’re doing the dime challenge. If you have time to fill a soda bottle with dimes, you can save about $400-500. If you want to do more, there’s the 52-week savings challenge or just have a set amount automatically transferred each week/month to a saving account.
2. Don’t Buy New Clothes for Your Trip
If you’re willing to do laundry midweek then you really don’t need to bring a ton of clothes with you and you certainly don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes. I pack light, about 4 outfits (usually shorts and tees) and a sweatshirt for each family member. About midweek I do a load of laundry and wait for the spin cycle while I chill with a drink at the pool. They have laundry facilities at most WDW Resorts, just check where you’re staying to be sure. Then use the extra space in your suitcase for essentials mentioned in #5.
3. Take Advantage of WDW Special Offers
Disney runs different promotions throughout the year. Sometimes you can save up to 30% on your hotel stay or get a deep discount on the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re not on the mailing list, give Disney Destinations a call at 407-939-7903 to keep up on the latest offers or just visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers/
4. Don’t Shop on Vacation
I know everyone wants to come home from their magical trip with lovely keepsakes, but don’t! This may sound harsh but you can get swept up in the moment and shop your way right over your budget. A better plan would be to buy a few things (on sale of course) for the kids on Amazon or visit the Disney Store and bring them along as surprises. You save money and the kids are happy. A few things my kids always want during our stay at WDW are light up wands, glow sticks, bubble guns, tee-shirts, Star Wars souvenirs (I have 2 boys :-), Disney lanyard and trading pins, autograph books and keepsake pens, pirate costumes or princess dresses for the girls and Disney plush characters.
5. Bring Essentials
Besides bringing souvenirs, you may want to think about what essentials you’ll need. Here’s a list of essentials that I recommend bringing. These items can be quite costly if you have to buy them at the DW Resort or Parks:
– Bottled Water (if your driving of course)
– Snacks (if your driving or can fit them into your suitcase)
– sweatshirts (yes, even in warm months it gets down right chilly in the evening!)
– portable battery phone charger
– ponchos (we bought these on Amazon, they’re really well made – children and adult ponchos)
– sunscreen (I highly recommend this sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun all day)
6. Get the Most for Your Dining $$$
There are differing opinions on whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is a better deal then paying for meals out-of-pocket. Disney Dining Plans are included if you book one of the Magic Your Way Vacation Packages. Sometimes you can get Free Dining if there’s a promo running. I’ve ran the numbers from previous trips and I believe it has saved us money. I also like the fact that everything is paid ahead of my trip. If you’re not staying at a Disney Resort, have a family of light eaters or you have small children, you may be able to save more money by pay out-of-pocket for meals.
7. Fly or Drive?
It’s about a 24-hour drive to Disney World for our family. We’ve driven it and flown and for us the price is about the same, usually within a couple hundred dollars. When we drive we include the cost of a rental car and gas. When we fly the airline tickets can be costly but we use Disney’s transportation to and from the airport and to all the parks and Downtown Disney. I totally prefer flying but we’re talking about saving money here. If you live close (or closer than we do), check out all your options. Don’t assume driving will cost less. Sometimes you can snag a great deal on airline tickets so it’s always worth comparing costs.
8. Visit a Travel Agent
In the past, I’ve spent numerous hours trying to plan every nook and cranny of my vacation À la carte only to end up going with a great package that I got from a local travel agent. Travel agents sometimes have options you may not have thought of and they often have access to specials set aside just for their clients. Now I get a quote from a local travel agent and Disney Destination (Disney’s travel agency) to determine the best price.
9. Drop the Extras
I you’re trying to cut cost, ask yourself if you have any extras in your vacation package that you really don’t need. Extras that can sneak into your package are things like the Disney PhotoPass, Water Park tickets or Park Hoppers. Cut the Park Hoppers and plan to visit one park per day or opt to take your own photos and pass on Disney PhotoPass. In my opinion some of the extras really aren’t worth the extra money. For instance, we had Disney Water Park tickets on our last two trips and either ran out of time to use them or one or both water parks were closed during our stay. Honestly, our family just prefers to skip the crazy lines at the water parks and just relax by the hotel pool.
That’s it. Don’t forget to check out my first post in this two part series, How to have a Relaxing Disney World Vacation. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about WDW. If you liked this post, please share.