We have been to Walt Disney World something like 4 or 5 times now. Each time, we learn new ways to save money on vacation. I thought I would list a few here just in case someone is reading this that wants to go to Disney (or another amusement park out of their area).
- Go online for specials or deals for your vacation. You can also find tickets for most amusement parks on Ebay at a much lower rate.
- Try to pay for your airfare and hotel in advance. We put our vacation on our credit card early and tried to pay it off BEFORE going on our trip.
- Go for the rental car option. Having a rental car works wonderfully for many reasons. The most important is to be able to go to a grocery store for snacks/drinks. Our family ALWAYS gets a rental car, drives into town, and buys fruit, snacks, and drinks for our time at the park. This will save you lots of money at the parks. To save on gas for your rental car, you can also take the monorail or bus system. If you prefer not to have a rental car, this is always an option. However, you won’t be able to go to the grocery store for snacks if you do.
- Our family usually has ONE MEAL each day while on vacation. I know that many folks go for the dining plan at Disney. This is a great plan for those that need to eat 3 square meals + snacks daily. Our family doesn’t eat that often. We bring in snacks with us to munch on throughout the day. Usually, we will get a muffin/coffee at the resort cafeteria for breakfast. We will have a nice, sit down lunch at the park, and then a snack dinner. Lunches are cheaper! Let’s put it this way, after running my marathon, I wanted to have spaghetti & meatballs for dinner. The four members in our party had a dinner bill of $130 at the Epcot Italian restaurant. We didn’t have anything extravagant like lobster or prime rib. We had pasta. It pays to snack and have one meal a day. Unless you really want to spend over $100/person a day at the parks just on food.
- Pin Trading: If you trade pins, DON’T buy them at the park. Plan ahead and buy lots of pins to trade on Ebay. This time, we only got 20 pins to trade on Ebay. As each family member collects certain things (mine is Nightmare Before Christmas, my husband is Monorails, my son is Muppets, my mother-in-law is Goofy), it pays to have pins to trade before you go. The pins we bought on Ebay were $2/pin. At the park & Downtown Disney, they are $6+. That is a big hit to your pocketbook. Buy your trading pins from Ebay…that is smart trading. Remember that green lanyards are only for kids to trade with cast members. Don’t be afraid to go up to cast members to trade. That is one of the requirements of their job. Even if you don’t trade with them, remember to thank them for their time!
- If you want souveniers from the park, look at tags. I found an embroidered Pirates of the Caribbean bowling shirt for 50% off. Yes, it cost me $24. However, it is something that I wanted and I was glad to get it for cheaper. My husband and I also found a rack of embroidered windbreakers for $19.99 each. They were normally $60 each!!! It pays to look for sales items.
- Buy the souvenier cup from your resort. I think this time around the cup was $14. That sounds like a bunch until you realize that in a week’s time, you will fill up that cup countless times with coffee, soda, and hot chocolate.
- Enjoy the rides that are included with your park ticket (i.e. Everest, Space Mountain, etc.). DO NOT fall for the carnival games at Animal Kingdom. Just like all carnival games, they are geered to take your money and the odds are against you for winning. Just enjoy the rides.
- If your party is tired, pull up on a curb at any of the parks and watch a street show. We highly recommend the ones at Hollywood Studios or Downtown Disney. Besides, you just might be chosen to be a part of the show!
- If you have small children, bring your stroller. Renting strollers are expensive. Bringing a small, folding stroller with you helps your pocketbook.
- Prepare for the weather! This time, the weather folks said that it was going to be in the high 60s-low 70s. We had a few days that were in the 50s and FROZE our backsides off. To avoid being forced to buy warmer clothes on vacation, bring clothing you can layer. You can always take clothing off if you get warm. Bring only t-shirts when it is in the 50s is asking to break your wallet. Don’t forget a hat & sunscreen too!
- Remember to bring batteries, film, medication, and toiletries that you might need. These things are available at the gift shops at a huge mark-up. Being prepared saves you!
- Bring a backpack for every member of your party. Lockers are available at the parks, but they aren’t cheap. Carrying your water bottle, jacket, etc. with you saves you from getting a locker.
As I think of more things, I will post them. Although a week-long vacation at Disney World can cost you, you don’t have to go broke doing it. Just be prepared and think frugally. Oh…and have a Magical Time!