A Disney vacation is not cheap by any means. However, there are ways to pinch pennies before and on your trip.
Saving during the planning phase. Here is where you will have to make your toughest decisions. These questions are where to stay, how are we getting there and what park ticket do we need. In my opinion you first need to figure out how you are getting there. This may sound funny but is important when you pick a hotel. Getting there is sometimes a question of time, money and convenience. Flying, although quicker is typically more expensive. For example, my family of six to fly would be approximately $2400 round trip. To drive however, cost us approximately $400 and that is driving 1200 miles from Connecticut. With regards to where to stay, this is a little trickier. Staying at the cheapest place isn’t always the best. If you stay within the confines of the Disney property value resorts are the cheapest. There is also the hotel’s off property too. Hotels off property may be significantly cheaper but you are also going to get what you pay for. For a family of four, the options are abound, however for my family of six this changes things. For those of you who read this blog frequently, you know both bloggers are DVC owners. That being said, there are still times where we need to squeeze in that extra Disney trip and don’t necessarily have the points for it. When this happens it’s time to start searching for places to stay. We have found that the Hilton Doubletree Suites next to Disney Springs works for us. The rooms will fit all six of us and have a kitchenette and not much more than a Disney value resorts. The Doubletree offers a shuttle service to the ticket and transportation center from which you can get a bus or monorail to the parks, resorts and Disney Springs. The shuttle is not reliable so having our van is important. Since we are annual pass holders we get free parking, otherwise it would be about $20 a day. Staying off property also has the disadvantages of not being able to book fast passes in advance or make dining reservations 180 days prior to check in. The easiest decision for cost savings is park tickets. The lowest cost ticket is multi day one park per day ticket.
Once you are on vacation you can still save. Starting with breakfast, just eat in your room. We do this to save a little and to help us speed up getting out the door in the morning. It’s not a big breakfast, just cereal or oatmeal. Lunch has a few more factors to it. In some restaurants in the parks and resorts lunch is cheaper than dinner. Then there is packing a lunch and bringing it to the parks or you could also return to your resort and make a lunch. We have never brought lunch to the parks but we are big fans of making lunch at the hotel and doing a big lunch in the parks. The big sit down meal for lunch allows us to sit and relax in air conditioning for a bit. Depending on where we are going for dinner sometimes we will feed the kids before going to dinner. When we get there, my wife and I will order our dinners and the kids will get dessert. It’s a cost cutter and the kids think it’s great.
Souvenirs can be tricky but not impossible. The way we keep the over spending at bay is telling the kids they can pick one item and we typically keep a limit of about $20. There are also free items at Disney too.
What are your cost cutting tips? Leave them here, on Facebook at Disney Perspective or on Twitter @disneyhelp.