If you’re one of the many people who’d love to take the kids to Disney World in Florida but just can’t afford the high price tag, you’re not alone. While plenty of people would love to take a trip to Disney World at some point – especially if they’ve got young kids – it’s a trip that can cost thousands.
Luckily, there are ways you can save on your Disney holiday. Start planning your trip to Walt Disney World well in advance, so you can shop for the best deals on airfare and accommodation. If you have a large family of five or more members, you may want to consider booking non-Disney accommodations to cut costs. Unless you’re a big eater, plan to dine à la carte, instead of investing in the Dining Plan. Travel in the off-season and keep your eyes peeled for discounts to save even more.
Plan Your Trip in Advance
Start your cut-rate Disney adventure by planning your trip at least a year in advance. This gives you plenty of time to watch for the best rates on flights and accommodations, and it gives you a chance to save the money you’ll need to have a great time with your family. Use flight tracking websites to keep your eyes peeled for the best rates on flights as they come up.
Cut Accommodation Costs
If you want to stay in a Disney hotel, book your room 11 to 12 months prior to your arrival date. If you want the full authentic Disney experience, and you’re a family of four or fewer, this is the way to go. You can reserve your room with a deposit now and pay for the rest when you arrive.
If you’re a family of five or more members, however, you may want to consider staying in an off-site hotel. Disney has a limit of four people per hotel room, and area hotels offer free shuttles to and from the resort and the airport.
Another accommodation option is to book a Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Villa from a timeshare owner through a third-party broker. This is a fairly pricey option, but it’s still pretty reasonable for deluxe on-site accommodations, and it’s a great option if you’ve a large family. You’re going to have to pay for the whole thing at least a year in advance, however – which is another reason to start planning early. Local rental agencies also offer off-site vacation house rentals.
Dine à la Carte
The Disney Dining Plan gets you two meals and a snack each day, but that might not be the best deal unless you’re the sort of person who never skips a meal. Even if you’re not inclined to carry a cooler full of your own food through the park – and who could blame you – buying your meals à la carte gives you the option to skip a few of those expensive sit-down restaurant meals in favor of food counter fare or off-site restaurants.
Travel in the Off-Season
Visiting Walt Disney World in the off-season – September, January and August – will not only save you a bundle, but it’ll let you enjoy the park without the crowds. Whether you’re staying in a Disney resort hotel or off-site, you’ll find drastically lower prices during these slower months. Make up for taking the kids out of school by putting them into the Youth Education Series (YES). In exchange for putting them through a short edutainment tour in one of the parks, you’ll get discounted Park Hopper tickets.
Snag Special Offers
There’s no shortage of special offers on Walt Disney World holiday packages. Check the Disney website for package deals that include free dining plans or free tickets. Find out if your bank or employer belongs to the Magic Kingdom Club – you could get discounts on hotels, souvenirs and meals. AAA members are also entitled to discounts on lodging and tickets. Go to VisitOrlando.com to get the free Orlando Magicard discount card.
A trip to Walt Disney World isn’t the cheapest vacation, but it’s not hard to cut costs while still enjoying a first-rate Disney holiday. Begin planning your trip well in advance, watch out for special offers, travel during the slow season, eat your meals à la carte, and consider staying in off-site accommodation to make your Disney trip more affordable.
Image by Express Monorail from Flickr’s Creative Commons