Amusements abound at the happiest place on earth, but they don’t come cheap. From funnel cakes to selfies with the Goof Troop, traveling to Disney World is an experience that sits firmly at the top of many a bucket list. So why can’t many folks and their little ones justify visiting the magic kingdom?
Well, for many households, the pandemic has made life rough from an economic perspective. On the park operator side of things, world-class resorts also aren’t cheap to run by any means, so there have been price increases across the board. When factoring in the total cost, encompassing everything from hotel stays to park passes, meals, and so much more, it’s easy to get cold feet.
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Here are some cost-saving tips to help turn your dream vacation to the Florida coast into a reality. Let’s dive in.
Know When to Travel
When visiting theme parks, try to avoid peak periods such as holidays or school vacations. Remember, it is more expensive to stay in a hotel and buy a ticket when the park is crowded. By doing so, you will not only save money but also reduce crowds and delays, as well as enjoy your vacation even more. Before booking a hotel or buying a ticket, check the popularity of the destination and how big the crowds will be. Google can help with this. For example, if you’re traveling to Florida in January, you’ll notice that hotels in the area often fill up quickly, and the crowds are larger.
Look for Hotel Deals
If you stay within Disney World itself, it’s a serious win for transportation savings. This is one of the most renowned resorts on the planet, so rest assured that you and your travel companions will enjoy the finest service and plenty of perks.
Of course, you don’t have to stay at one of the hotels within Disney World if you don’t mind taking a shuttle or public transportation. Doing so may help drive down the cost of your stay, and plenty of premium, incredible experiences are awaiting along the Florida coast if you want some peace and quiet away from the park itself. Orlando alone is home to a wide range of options, with something available for practically every price range.
Not staying at the resort itself is also a great excuse to venture beyond the park’s borders during your visit. Why not hit up nearby Cape Canaveral or, if you’re up for a bit of a drive, an overnight stay in Miami to explore its iconic beachfront? Regardless of whether you plan on staying in the park or outside of it, if planned with care and craftiness, you can enjoy ample savings either way.
Depending on where you stay and what’s available to you, it’s possible that there will be a free shuttle to the park’s entrance. Many hotels in the area, such as the Royale Parc Suites, are relatively close to Disney World and offer a free shuttle. Of course, if you stay at a hotel that’s part of the Disney World resort, you’ll definitely get a quick and free ride to all the attractions.
As tempting as it may be to enjoy all your meals within the park itself, these are often available at higher prices. Alternatives like booking a hotel that offers a filling complimentary breakfast can help but bear in mind that the standard fare of cereal and coffee isn’t really enough for a fun-filled morning of rides and sightseeing, especially for your little ones. Not only that, but you may only need to pay for lunch within Disney World if you choose to have your dinner somewhere within the city. This is a great way to find deals on everything from tacos to fish and chips, burgers, and more, all of which may be relatively close to the location of your hotel. Plus, who doesn’t want to go exploring?
Consider Whether Pay-to-Skip-Lines Options are Worth it
If you time the month and season of your visit right, the lines will be easier to deal with at Disney World. This means that Genie+, Lightning Lanes, and any other paid line-skipping options may not be needed if your little ones can be a little bit patient. Of course, these solutions are awesome for powering through lines and getting to enjoy as many attractions as your family can handle so that they may be worth it to you.
Use Credit Cards with Cashback Options
Do you have a VISA Dividend Platinum or another type of credit card that gives cash back on every purchase? Given that a trip to Disney World and back can cost thousands of dollars if flying from afar, using such a card for every purchase to do with your adventures in Orlando can return a pretty penny in due course.
If you plan on buying park tickets at the gate, you’re going to always pay more. Not only that, but there are different ticket options available and, in the rush of excitement at the gates, you may choose the wrong one. This is where buying discounted tickets online from a reputable and authorized website can help you save money, time, and even potential stress.
Getting into the Park Early
Early park admission not only helps you avoid the midday madness but also ensures you can get on more rides and possibly savor some peaceful moments here and there. Here’s where staying at the resort can come in handy, as guests with suites at Disney World and other select hotels can access the park half an hour early. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to plenty of time saved, with lines being shorter. Plus, if you’re sensitive to the sun, getting in a bit early means that you can enjoy more attractions sooner and easily time a shaded lunch break for the middle of the day.
Bring Your Own Lunch
Guests are welcome to bring food and nonalcoholic drinks into Disney World for their own consumption. There are rules, however, including that these aren’t to be carried in glass containers, don’t require any form of processing or temperature changes (heating or refrigeration), and don’t give off unwelcome odors. This is a great way to drive down daily food expenses, especially when traveling with children. Of course, it’s fair to want to give into temptation and grab that themed snack or meal now and then, but you can spread these purchases out, interspersing them with days where you bring your own lunch.
You won’t be left parched when a guest at Disney World. The park offers 16-ounce, insulated plastic cups with unlimited refills for a small cost. You’ll be able to enjoy unlimited refills from designated food courts and other spots for 14 days, which is often longer than the length of most stays. These cups contain RFID technology that automatically interacts with soda fountains to determine whether you still have time left.
Buy Sunscreen and Ponchos in Advance
There’s no need to pay marked-up prices for essential products that are permitted within the park. Ponchos, sunscreen, and other personal care items allowed to be brought in are best purchased within Orlando at one of its many shops. A good trick to bear in mind for day after day of sunscreen application to keep your kids safe from UV rays.
Park Hopper Passes (for Multi-Day Stays)
Most folks who visit Disney World tend to stick around for a little while; there’s so much to see and do, after all. Here’s where buying a Park Hopper pass for multi-day stays can help save on admission fares. This ticket option allows you to leave and re-enter the park as needed without concerns about driving up your vacation expenses. As it happens, the more days that you intend to stay, the more you’ll save – it’s not the other way around, contrary to popular belief.
With a bit of digging and research, you should be able to find a cost-effective flight or hotel package option that aligns with your budget and needs. There are also sites dedicated to planning your visit that may be able to point you in the right direction. Quick and direct flights, especially from afar, may cost more than those with slightly longer layovers or connections. With careful planning and respecting your budget, you’ll be able to take to the skies with peace of mind.
Backpacks and Soft-Sided, Insulated Bags
What if you get soaked and need to change your clothes but don’t want to run back to the hotel? Or perhaps your pants got ripped, and you need to slip into a new pair, but you don’t want to have to buy one at a shop in the park? These are just some of the reasons why bringing a backpack is a good idea. You can also bring in your sunscreen, ponchos, and collapsible umbrella this way without having to carry them around in your hands. Not only that, but a backpack can also store your food for the day.
Alternatively, when it comes to lunch plans, you could bring in a soft-sided, insulated bag that contains your food and drinks instead. Again, there are rules governing the acceptance of these – any bag cannot be larger than 24 inches long, 15 wide, and 18 high, respectively – so be sure to read up on the fundamentals before you arrive at the entrance gate with any goodies.
Theme Park Forums
Have you ever used Reddit? It’s one of the few ways to interact with people knowledgeable about specific topics, including theme parks and Disney World. Here, you’ll be able to read through recent and past threads to discover even more ways to save money and time for your vacation experience. You could also share your itinerary and plans to gauge the opinions of seasoned guests who have been to Disney World before; they may be able to identify ways to get more out of your stay for less without skipping any must-see rides or attractions on your checklist.
On that note, what do you want to see? Are there specific rides that you simply must get on as soon as you arrive? While it’s best to have a more open-ended daily itinerary that isn’t too controlling, you should also try to “schedule” time for essential attractions and experiences earlier in the day. Here’s where planning your wake-up and departure times for the park can be super useful, especially if going as a group, not to mention having early access if you stay at one of the resort’s hotels.
Now’s a wonderful time to start planning your dream trip to the magic kingdom. With these suggestions and the help of research and chatting with experts familiar with Disney World’s many offerings and experiences, you’ll be able to enjoy an unforgettable adventure at a considerable discount. Don’t be afraid to familiarize yourself with the park’s attractions, ticket prices at the gate versus online through a discount site, expenses related to food and beverages, and add-on fees for special experiences. The more knowledgeable and informed you are before boarding the plane or arriving at the entrance gate, the more fun you’ll be able to have for less.
With our suggestions in mind and plenty of options for additional planning, it’s possible to get more out of every dollar. Of course, it’s also easier on those traveling with you if things are organized, budgeted, and set up in advance.