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There is one secret to a successful budget friendly magical Walt Disney World Trip and it is planning. Disney on the cheap does not happen without researching secrets, tips, and ideas that fit your family’s idea of an amazing vacation. I have spent hours researching, reading, and asking other Disney loving Moms for their best tips. This ultimate guide for frugal Disney trip planning is all of that research in one place. You will want to pin this, come back to this each step of your trip planning and you will SAVE money. Who is ready to do Disney On The Cheap?
Disney On The Cheap
Disney Budget Tips We Used On Our Trips To Save $100s to $1000s of dollars
It is amazing seeing Disney through the eyes of your children. Disney is magical! My youngest sees the magic in her favorite characters. Sweet hugs from Minnie, funny conversations with Anna and silly antics with Cinderella’s step sisters color the memories of our Disney trip for her. Kilo Ren loving his t-shirt, hugs from Chewbacca and riding his first big roller coasters excite memories for my son. You can make wonder-filled Disney memories on a budget. It just takes a little planning, a savings strategy, and a big heart open to pixie dust.
Disney Budget Tip For Saving On Water
You DO NOT have to purchase water in the park. If you take in your own water bottle you can refill it at a few water fountains around the parks. You can also get free ice water at any quick service restaurant. Florida is hot and humid most of the year and water consumption is a must. But at $2-$3 per bottle of water, you can quickly blow your budget.
We didn’t know this secret the first time we went to Disney as a family, but we took full advantage of it the second time and really saved money.
Frugal Disney Snack Ideas
Disney allows you to take your own food into the parks. You can take snacks and drinks (no alcohol) into the park as long as they do not have to be reheated. You can also take a soft sided cooler no larger than 24 x 15 x18. A small soft sided cooler fits perfectly in the bottom of a stroller. One heads up, any food (including coolers) will be checked when you go through security. I try to pack so we can easily open everything during security checks. We chose to no longer bring a cooler when we stopped taking in a stroller. Many people bring in PBJ sandwiches and chips for lunch. You can easily bring apples, oranges, bananas, PB crackers, nuts, dried fruit, shaved coconut, trail mix, granola or breakfast bars.
Disney On The Cheap Souvenir Rules
Every family feels differently about souvenirs. Many families give small “Tinkerbell Gifts” to their children plus purchase souvenirs at the parks. Our family has a different rule. When we planned our first Disney trip, we set souvenir expectations with our kids before the trip. Because it was their first trip, we allowed them to purchase Mickey Ears at the beginning of the trip, but all other souvenirs would be purchased on the last day as we left the park. The souvenirs were based on good cooperative attitudes during our entire trip. Bad difficult attitudes meant no souvenirs.
Our First Trip Souvenirs
Each Child Chose A Small Toy Plus A Pen (still use the pens 4 years later!)
Adult Souvenir was a Christmas Ornament
Souvenir Total was LESS than $100 for the entire family.
Our Second Trip Souvenirs
One child chose a stuffed animal and toy.
One child chose a hat and a toy.
Adult Souvenir was a Christmas Ornament
Souvenir Total was LESS than $150 for the entire family.
We DO NOT purchase balloons or extra Disney goodies. And honestly, our kids don’t even ask for extra goodies. Disney has set up a lot of rides with gift shops at the end of the ride. YOU just can’t avoid being bombarded with stuff to buy. By setting expectations from the beginning, we not only saved money but we also didn’t have to tell our kids “no we can’t buy that” the whole trip. Our souvenir policy makes our entire trip more fun!
Budget Disney Planning Tip: Travel Before 3
If you are thinking about a Disney trip and still have little ones, you can save money by traveling before your child turns three. Children are free before three which really can save money. We were able to take advantage of this on our first trip. Our first trip was when our oldest was 5 ½ years old and our youngest was 2 years 11 months old. The total cost of our first Walt Disney World trip was $1700.
Save Money On Your WDW Vacation Off Season
Walt Disney World vacations cost more some times of the year and less other time of the year. If you plan your vacation during the off-season, you can save big money. Here is a great list of crowd levels and estimated savings throughout the year.
We Love POP!
We love Walt Disney World’s value resorts. We like to stay at a WDW resort for early magic hours, free parking at all WDW parks and close proximity to everything Disney. We love POP Century. It has great pools, clean rooms, and a decent food court. The only negative to value resorts is that they have standard sized beds. When you are used to a King sized bed, the standard definitely feels “cozy”. During off-season we have enjoyed our value resort at less than $150 per night.
Walt Disney World Trip Planning With An Agent
A Disney Agent costs you no money. They make their money from Disney. The are experts on the cost of resorts, tickets, and deals. A good agent will run multiple deals to help you find the one that fits your budget perfectly.
Road Trip To WDW
Road tripping to Disney does not work for everyone. I am fortunate to live only 10 hours away, so driving to Disney makes a lot of sense. But, I have spoken to people at the parks that have driven from all over the US just to save money. Map it out and consider it. You can use this fuel economy trip calculator to see how much it will cost with your car. We also love having a car at Disney so we can drive ourselves to all of the parks. Not having to use the Disney bus system saves us a lot of time.
If you just can’t drive, here are great tips on how to save on airline tickets.
Once You Are Home Use This Disney Budget Tip
Don’t let the joy of your amazing trip stop just because you left Disney. You can still enjoy the amazing memories you made with these 5 ways to enjoy your trip once you are home.
Disney On The Cheap Resources
Pixie dust doesn’t magically happen without a little planning. The great thing is that so many families love to share their story for going to Disney on the cheap. Here are the best tips to guide you on every step of planning your frugal Disney trip.
Frugal Disney Trip Planning
Things To Buy Before Your Trip and DIY
Disney On The Cheap: Saving In The Park
Other Ways to Save Money For Your Disney Trip
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