I have been to Disney World more than 20 times. Not many women in their early 30s can say this…unless they work there or something. Growing up, every Christmas, every year my family went to Disney World. And I loved it. I actually grew up thinking that it was normal to visit the same destination year after year. We don’t celebrate Christmas but I thought even so, that EVERYONE listened to Christmas music…and liked it. No?
Although there is something comforting about visiting the same place like clockwork, I think this might be what planted the seed for my need to travel and see the world. Be that as it may, I believe my sheer attendance at Disney World qualifies me as an expert. I truly think I covered every inch of the Disney World grounds from top to bottom. You may think I never want to go back, but you’d be wrong. I truly love Disney and still go back every few years. That said, Disney can get pretty pricey and that always made me a little sad. Sad for those less privileged kids whose parents had to save for years to bring them. It hurt my soul when I saw them blowing money on silly things. Things they could do differently and save alot of money So that’s where I come in. I am going to share with you my tricks that I’ve learned over the years so you can enjoy Disney every bit but save a few bucks and not be missing anything.
Don’t let anyone fool you, Disney’s highest quality hotels are truly as nice as the top luxury brands. I am even impressed by the quality of the Disney budget hotels. To me though, in Disney World, unless you’re planning to spend a lot of time in your room, I say don’t spend too much on your budget on the hotel? My friends & readers know me, I’m a Ritz-Carlton/Four Seasons girl by choice but even the Value Resorts are somewhat acceptable in Disney World. I’m not a huge fan of the Motel layout where you have to enter your room from the outdoors but the rooms themselves are clean and totally adequate. If there is one thing Disney is, it’s immaculate. If you’re looking for affoedable luxury, you may want to consider Disney’s Starwood properties, (especially if you have points) The Dolphin and The Swan are both really nice and extremely well-located. These properties are conveniently located and accessible to the parks by a lovely Ferry. Also inquire about the Teacher’s discount. It is pretty big! If you’re looking to really splurge though and go for the highest luxury, check out the Villas at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and see a sneak preview of the Four Seasons Orlando Resort Walt Disney World Resort.
Do not waste your money on a rental car. Take the Magical Express (Free shuttle from the airport) and the shuttle buses that can get you between every Disney property locale. I can’t believe I’m saying that after years of tortured youth spent complaining about taking public transportation (I grew up in Cleveland, we had cars) but it is insanely convenient and it’s free! As a drinker now, I also appreciate the fact that you won’t need a designated driver. If you’re planning to stay on the Disney property there is no reason you should waste your money on a rental car. The buses run frequently, even late!
Figure out exactly how many days you need in each park and exactly the parks you want to visit. Check out what nights each park has extended “Magic Hours” and try to squeeze a couple parks into one day. This can get a bit exhausting but there are days where Epcot Opens early and the Magic Kingdom is open late and you could reasonably squish both parks into one day and save yourself the cost of another ticket. This can really add up for a large family. Also, the parks can get busy so make sure to strategically get Fast Passes for the popular rides. Certain rides may even “sell” out on them so be sure to go to busy rides early to snag them.
A Day at the Beach
…or the pool. One of my fave parts of visiting Disney World is hotel-hopping! Take the monorail around and check out all the other food courts, game rooms, restaurants, activities and POOLS! Yep, no need to spend money at the water parks when you can merely take a bus to another hotel and try out a new pool every day for free! The Yacht Club and Beach Club have really fun pools for kids but go on an adventure and find your favorite!
Love Don’t Cost a Thing
There are so many fun and free places to visit on the Disney grounds that you don’t have to pay for. Different characters visit different hotels each day. You can check out the Boardwalk or Downtown Disney. There are often characters and street performances to entertain. Also check out special activities at your hotel like cookie making during theholidays!
Growing up when we went to Disney, we would always get there a few days before Christmas, it was calm and wonderful. And then the day after Christmas it was like all hell broke loose. The hotels were flooded and we no longer had peace and quiet. You don’t know crowds until you’ve seen ‘em at Disney. They are to be avoided at all costs, seriously. Plus, if you go at a bit of an off-time you can save a bundle. Disney is pretty cheap when they’re not in their busy season. Rates usually go down after New Years until the end of February. Then if you go in summer, it’ll be hot as hell but the crowds sure will have died down. Also from about Thanksgiving until Christmas as I said it’s nice and calm. Or as calm as Disney World gets!
Scour the Internet
Check out websites like Mousesavers.com and TheMouseForLess.com to see about current discounts or coupon codes. As I mentioned above, these will be easier to find during off season.
Room Key Credit Cards Are Not Your Friend
I know it may sound silly but do not use these for anything other than food. It is absolutely a convenience but you’d be surprised how quickly beers and souvenirs add up. You’ll have a panic attack at check out if you don’t keep your spending on these cards down. Use cash that you alot beforehand for impulse purchases like snacks and souvies so you have a better idea of what you’re spending.
Lunch is Now the Most Important Meal of the Day
If you’re like my family you want to rush to get to the parks! Wake up early and grab breakfast to go. Not only will this bring costs down but you will get to spend some extra time in the parks. Lunch should be your biggest meal in Disney World. Go to the nice restaurants and enjoy virtually the same menu as dinner for half the price. This way you can experience the fun ambiance but for a lower price. Then for dinner grab a burger counter service when sit-down restaurants up their prices. Plus, the parks clear out a little more at night and then you’ll have time to visit the crowded attractions.
Have More Questions about Disney World? I’ve stayed at almost every hotel and eaten at every restaurant! Leave me a note in the comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you soon!
Also, be sure to check out a virtual tour of the new luxury resort community at Disney’s Golden Oak