People call Walt Disney World the “happiest place on earth”. For families, especially those with young children, the mega-park certainly earns its reputation. It’s a trip that is often long in the planning, and is remembered for a lifetime by all involved.
But with the current state of the economy, many families’ vacation budgets have been drastically reduced. When families do finally splurge enough to take a vacation, they want more vacation for less money. Fortunately, families can still enjoy all the fun of Walt Disney World while on a budget. With these tips, you can save hundreds of dollars and still have the time of your life at Walt Disney World.
Check for Specials and Promotions
The first thing you should do when considering a Walt Disney World vacation is check their official website for any specials or promotions they may be offering. Why is this the first thing you should do? Many advertised specials are date-specific or require a certain length stay, so you need to know before you plan if you can work your vacation so that it falls under promotional pricing.
For instance, Walt Disney World is offering 15-30% off on their resort rates – but the actual percentage off depends on what level resort you want to stay at, and you have to pick dates between May and August. Also, the “slow seasons”, such as January or September, offer some of the cheapest rates available throughout the year, and some of the best deals. If you know ahead of time what parameters are required for the special pricing, you’ll know if you can schedule your vacation to meet them.
Bring Your Own Food
Sounds cheap, right? When you’re on a budget, that’s the point – and you can save a surprising amount of money by bringing some or all of your meals with you. Walt Disney World allows guests to bring in food and drink, as long as nothing is in glass bottles or has to be heated. A regular meal for a family of four within the parks can easily cost $40; if you eat lunch and dinner at the parks, you’re looking at an easy $80 per day on food, not including snacks or drinks between meals.
Also, meals eaten with the characters are a popular attraction, but consider before you go. Those meals can cost $20 or more per person. If your children really want to eat a character meal, schedule it before you go, so it’s included in your budget and you can adjust accordingly. Eat the free breakfast if your hotel offers one, then pack a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks to eat throughout the day. Some Disney hotels charge extra for a refrigerator in your room. It’s worth it.
Plan for Souvenirs
You may intend to limit souvenir spending, but when you’re actually there, it’s a completely different story – and everyone wants something to remember the trip by. In our house, we actually have one whole shelf of the curio dedicated to our Disney World Souvenirs, with a Sorceror’s Apprentice snow globe, “bride” Minnie and “groom” Mickey and more. Staying within a budget is all about planning, and being realistic. Assign each member of the family a souvenir “budget”, from infant to adult. Whether it’s a mouse-eared hat or a t-shirt, everyone will have something to remember the trip by, and your souvenir spending won’t get out of control.
Focusing on cheap or free souvenirs can also save big money. Bring your camera and take plenty of pictures. When you do eat out, many of the restaurants offer free napkins or coasters with the name of the place you ate.
It’s good to know that even in today’s economy, there are many ways to save money and still give your kids the vacation of a lifetime at Walt Disney World. With a lot of planning – and a little self-control – you can enjoy a top-notch vacation and control your spending; and having fun at Walt Disney World without breaking the bank can be the best souvenir of all.