As someone who loves going to Disney World and who has been there quite a bit, I am well aware of how much it can cost. But never fear, there are ways to still experience all that the Happiest Place on Earth has to offer without breaking the bank. In my experience, these are the best ways to cut costs:
- Go during the off-season – During the peak times of the year such as Christmas vacation and Spring Break, the prices for the hotels and parks is higher. Disney recently enacted a change in ticket prices, making them more expensive during busier times of the year, and cheaper during slower times. In addition, the hotel prices for the resorts on Disney property fluctuate with the seasons. By going during an off-season time of the year, you will not only pay less for park tickets, but for your hotel as well. The off-season times tend to be:
- Mid-January – February
- May – Early June
- Late August – Mid-November
- Early December
- Stay in Value Resorts or off property – Disney World has three different resort tiers, the most affordable being the Value Resorts. The Value Resorts tend to range from $100-$140/night depending on the season. These are a great option for those on a budget who are looking to stay on property. Check out my post on my favorite Disney resorts for help choosing the best one. Another great budget option is to look at hotels or Airbnb’s off property. There are tons of places to stay around Disney World that offer cheaper prices than the Disney resorts. There are downsides to staying off property, however. The Disney resorts offer free busing and transportation to and from the parks and Disney Springs. There are very few resorts off property that offer shuttle services to the parks so most off property locations would require you to have access to a car. Also, if you are driving to the parks, parking is $25 per day. If you are considering staying off property versus staying on property, be sure to compare prices taking into account how much the extra parking and transportation would cost you. Also with Disney resorts, you have access to Disney’s dining plan, which you cannot take advantage of at off-property resorts. Which brings me to my next tip:
- Get the Disney Dining Plan – When you stay at a Disney resort, you have the option to book a dining plan. There are different dining plans that you can choose from based on you and your family’s needs. Each one offers a certain number of meals per day and a certain number of snacks per day. The meals that they offer are specific to the types of restaurants that Disney has: quick-service ($10-$15/person), table service ($15-$35/person), character dining ($35-$60/person), and signature restaurants (more than $60/person). The dining plans range from about $50-$100/person per day. In my experience, I have found that getting the dining plan gives me the most food for the least amount of money. In addition, Disney offers free dining plans during certain times of the year.
- How to get the free dining plan: You must be staying at certain Disney resorts during the specific times of the year that Disney offers the discount. It can be tricky to pinpoint exactly when that will be since Disney historically releases the dates randomly about six months in advance and only offers a certain number of free dining packages. For summer of 2019, free dining has already been released for check-in dates from 7/5 – 9/30 at select Disney resorts. You must book your trip by 2/10 or while supplies lasts though, so hurry if you want to take advantage of that. When Nick and I got the free dining package, I followed Disney newsletters and blogs that have predicted the dates that Disney releases the promotion in the past such as Disney Tourist Blog and Disney Food Blog. They each recommended similar dates so I was able to stay alert and frequently check the Disney website around those times. Disney usually has released it early in the morning and when I booked it, it was no different. They released it at 5 am and I had to scramble to get our trip booked. Be sure to pay attention to the resorts that Disney offers it at, as they do not offer it at every one of their resorts. Because of all the rules that apply and how much of a hassle it can be, speaking to a travel agent may be in your best interest if it is your first time planning a Disney trip. If you’re a seasoned Disney vacationer like I am, stay alert and get up early. 2019 will also be a tricky year for the Free Dining Package, however, most likely due to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening in the fall. Rumors that more free dining dates for the late fall/early winter have been circulating, but nothing set in stone as of yet.
- Drive to Disney – If you are within a reasonable driving distance and have the extra vacation time to spare, driving is always a cheaper option. Nick and I have driven from Michigan to Florida several times. While that sounds like a nightmare, it can actually be quite pleasant if you plan ahead and have a reliable car. Driving has saved us hundreds of dollars each vacation. It also gives you access to a car while on vacation, which is helpful if you’re staying off property.
Disney can be expensive, but following these tips can cut the cost significantly. Does anyone else have experiences doing Disney cheap? Let me know in the comments below!