It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done any travelling.
I seem to be in the mode of booking vacations just before or just after each vacation.
I’ve had my Facebook memories hitting me up with past cruises and Disney vacations, which is absolutely pulling on my travel heart-strings even more than the norm.
We try to take a vacation of some sort around April or May, but that didn’t happen this year. We took a big trip to Israel in February, so that meant we needed to save, save, save before we booked another vacation.
So, until then, I’ll be dreaming of all things vacation.
Wait, I mean, we just got back from our third vacation this year.
(but I’ll still be dreaming of all things vacation)
We have visited Disney a few times as a family. I am a crazy vacation planner and I hate wasting money, so I put together a list of things that can help you afford a trip to Disney.
Fly on a discount airline.
Lately Spirit has been flooding my eyes with $50 flights. Choosing a discount airline can really help save you money (as long as you don’t book extras and don’t over pack). Try Spirit or Frontier.
Yes, I know this isn’t necessarily an option for everyone (like if you’re travelling overseas), but for those who live in the US or Canada, it is not only possible, but it can save you money. You can use sites like Gas Buddy to map out your fuel stops and estimate an approximate cost of fuel to drive.
If driving isn’t an option, try to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, they are the cheapest days to fly (my absolute favourite airline is Southwest).
Vacation Resort Certificates
A lot of people stay on Disney property because they don’t know there are super amazing money-saving options (and maybe some people just love Disney more than others). I may have mentioned it in a post before, but resort certificates are basically unused timeshares that companies sell on discount sites. I always check out Sky Auction. The site is a bit overwhelming when you first see it, but once you know what you’re looking for, it’s not as daunting.
Vacation Resort Certificates are usually sold under the heading ‘Hot Deals’ or ‘Deal of the Day.’ They run between $250-$300 (US) for a week.
We have stayed at beautiful resorts equipped with full kitchens, laundry and much more. In 2017, we stayed at one that slept 10 and was less than 10 minutes from Disney.
I’ll just insert here that I’m extremely picky when it comes to places I will stay.
This really depends on your specific desires for what parks to visit, etc. When we went in 2017, there was an option to buy a 4 Day Ticket and you also got 4 Fun Passes, which could be used for the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach) or mini golf. This type of ticket only seems to be available now if you choose the park hopper option. I don’t personally recommend the park hopper because from my experience, I’ve been too wiped out to travel to more than one park in a day. Plus there are so many things to do at each of the parks, I’m not even sure where you would find the time to go to another park (unless you are a frequent Disney visitor, then maybe you’ve been there, done that and ready to just experience your favourites at each park…I don’t know, if you’re a park hopper, let me know why you love it in the comments below).
For our most recent trip (2018), we were able to get the Canadian Resident Discount, which saved us some money.
Food & Drink
If you are going to Disney with the intent on buying food and drinks while you’re there, be prepared to spend an arm and a leg.
You are allowed to bring in food/drinks within reason to the parks. We went to the grocery store beforehand and stocked up on snacks and protein bars (ok, and some brownies) and threw them in a backpack like this one. It’s great because it has a ‘water bottle’ built into it. You can ask for water at any station and they will give you a cup of cold, ice water for free. That allowed us use our money for more meaningful things (like Starbucks!!), plus it’s healthier than pop (which will cost $4-5 each). Then when we left the park, we would swing by a restaurant for a light meal.
Besides food, this is where they get you.
If you stay for the show at the end of the night, chances are you or your kids are going to see all the flashy, glowing Mickey Mouse things and impulses may kick in. Let’s just say, if that happens, you’ll easily spend $20 on something you could’ve bought a few miles down the street for a buck. Orlando is packed with stores that sell Disney goodies. We went to Target and Wal-Mart and found whole sections stocked only with Disney gear.
Go prepared. I actually bought a Cinderella dress from the Disney outlet in Michigan for my daughter before we left for Florida in 2012. I spent $10 on it. The same dress in Magic Kingdom was far beyond that.
Don’t forget that there will be little extra costs laced throughout your trip. The best way to save money is to be prepared (like planning for the $25 parking fee per day).
Speaking of preparation, make sure you go online ahead of time (30 days in advance/60 days if you stay on Disney property) and book your Fast Pass+. Map out how you want to visit each park. That way, you can get the most bang for your buck! Beware, though, you’ll end up exhausted and sore by the end of your trip. It’s just all part & parcel for the experience.
I have a very intricate way that I plan my travels. I like spending my money on things that matter, rather than spending all my money just to get somewhere.
Disney is expensive, there’s no way around that. However, there are ways that you can experience the happiest place on earth without breaking the bank.