Here are some of the basics to saving money on a Walt Disney World vacation:
1) Vacation packages DO NOT always save you the most money--they are designed for convenience not savings. It is usually cheaper to book everything separately.
2) There are five seasons at Disney Resorts: Regular, Summer, Peak, Holiday, & VALUE seasons. As you can guess, Value Season is the cheapest time to go. There are no specific dates, but generally it is January, February, last three weeks of October, first three weeks of November, and the first three weeks of December. These are the least expensive and least crowded dates!
3) Continuing the previous points, according to MouseSavers.com here are the dates to avoid, ranked from most expensive down (to see these times ranked in order from least to most crowded CLICK HERE):
- Holiday Season (especially weekends) - December 19-31
- Presidents Day - February 15-17
- Easter Week - March 16-27
- Peak Season (especially weekends) - February 14 - March 29
- Independence Day Weekend - July 4-5
- Summer Season at the Value and Moderate resorts (especially weekends) - May 22 - August 2
- Thanksgiving Weekend - November 26-29
5) Stay in hotels nearby, not in the really expensive hotels on the resort. Again, thanks to our friends at MouseSavers.com for a list of preferred hotels nearby. CLICK HERE for details.
6) Buy discounted tickets. This is the trickiest part as discounts on passes are rare. Check out my previous post on discount Disney World tickets (CLICK HERE) for more information. Also, check out the MouseSavers.com discount list.
7) Don't eat at the park! You will find most of your budget sucked away just in food. In my family we pack lunches and eat them in the car so little ones can nap, and give the kids fanny packs with snacks. Another tip is just to eat off-site at close-by restaurants or fast-food, you'll save a bunch.
8) Maximize your fun by planning ahead. The best way to do this is use the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable and cost-effective your trip will be! CLICK HERE to get it from Amazon. You can also check out the special links to the right for other Unofficial Guides to help make your trip enjoyable. I HIGHLY recommend these books.
9) Get discounts on traveling to, from, and around the park. The best resources is MouseSavers.com list of transportation discounts - CLICK HERE.
And that's it. Just as a final note, in my experience Disney vacations are so much more enjoyable if you're not going into debt to have one. Save the money in advance! Make it a family activity--fill a savings jar, open a special savings account and write the balance on a dry-erase board as everyone contributes--just be creative! Then you can enjoy it before, during, AND after!
Walt Disney World Resort Savings: The Basics