For many families, finally taking that magical trip to Disney World will seem like a dream come true — until they realize how much it’s going to cost. But while it’s certainly not going to be the cheapest vacation option, there are ways to save money without sacrificing on fun. If you’re considering meeting up with Mickey and Minnie Mouse for some Disney-themed adventures in the near future, be sure to follow these tips before you book your stay.
Look For Discounts
First and foremost, never pay full price for your trip! Disney does release discounts on packages and reservations, and the news just broke that the 2018 deals are now available. Restrictions do apply (for instance, certain hotels are excluded from these deals and you have to book your trip within a certain time window), but they can be pretty significant for a lot of families. You may also be able to get a deal on a dining plan or obtain discounts by booking through an agent. Put some time into researching and take advantage of deals like this as early as possible, as they are limited.
Book A Shorter Stay
If you aren’t able to go to Disney during those specific discounted times, there are still some ways to save. Choosing to go for a shorter period of time may seem like a bummer, but it’s actually a more cost-effective option. If you stay four or five nights instead of six or seven, you can save quite a bit of money and can still afford to spend money on a special splurge. When Disney vacations are too long, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or feel like you’ve done it all. You can feasibly experience most of what the parks have to offer in less than a week, so don’t be tempted to overspend out of worry.
We know that 40% of leisure travelers feel more romantic while on vacation, but you’re unlikely to feel that way if you’re stressing out about finances and busted budgets during your trip to the happiest place on earth. If that means shortening your stay by a day or two, then that’s what you should do!
Rethink Your Meals
A lot of families will purchase a Disney dining plan when they book their trip. For some, it can be a great way to make mealtime easier. However, keep in mind that many Disney restaurants aren’t included in your plan and you may have to pay more out of pocket. Alternatively, if you buy one of the top-tier plans, you may end up paying for meals you don’t get to enjoy. Some experts suggest that you head off-site to purchase breakfast and snacks to keep everyone full during the first part of the day. Within the park, food can really add up (especially at sit-down restaurants). For lunch, grab-and-go fare may be your best bet for eating on the cheap. With the money you’ll save there, you can enjoy a nice dinner together at one of Disney’s great restaurants and not feel guilty about overspending.
Take The Pup Along
Much to the pleasure of many of the 46.3 million U.S. households that own a dog, Disney recently announced that four of their Florida resorts are now pet-friendly! This isn’t going to necessarily save you money (unless you board your dog at an expensive facility under normal circumstances), but it may please your kiddos or keep you from worrying about your pup’s welfare while you’re away. At Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, you can bring your dog to stay with you. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in the parks (unless they are service animals) and you will need to pay extra for doggy daycare and cleaning fees. Again, this may not exactly help your budget, but if your pets are part of the family, it may be something to consider.
Bring Disney To You
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to travel to Florida to get your Disney fix. Although timeshares aren’t very popular anymore (only 3% of U.S. households have one), the Disney Vacation Club does offer properties that have the potential to gain value over time. Still, on the inexpensive end, you’ll pay around $17,000 for a Disney timeshare, so unless you’re planning on using it for the next two decades as your sole vacation spot, you’ll have to think very carefully about this one.
But if you want to indulge your love of Disney without ever leaving home, bring the family to see Goodbye Christopher Robin, the new film about A.A. Milne and his son (who inspired the Winnie the Pooh series), which is now showing in Twin Cities movie theaters.
Let’s face it: Disney vacations aren’t necessarily ideal for spendthrifts, but there are definitely some ways to cut back on the splurge.