Taking your kids on a Disney World vacation is most likely on your bucket list, and who are we kidding, there are plenty of adults that visit Disney without kids. However, instead of fantasies filled with Mickey Mouse and princesses, the thought of a Disney trip conjures dreams of drained bank accounts and sad wallets.
The thing is, Disney World vacations don’t have to break the bank. With a little strategy, some careful planning, and these six tips, you can make a family trip to the happiest place on earth, a stress free one – for you and your wallet.
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We Went During Off-Peak Season and Saved on Ticket Prices
Disney World offers variable pricing which means ticket prices change every day. One day ticket prices range from $104-$129 per person. Be sure to check online to find the cheapest prices before booking flights. Generally the cheapest prices are mid-January to mid-February, May, and September (after Labor Day).
Disney World doesn’t really offer discounted tickets through third parties like TravelZoo or Groupon, but you may luck out if you qualify for a Florida resident discount, Canadian resident discount, military discount, AAA discount, or if your job is a Disney corporate sponsor, you may also have access to discounted prices.
We Found Deals on Budget Airlines
Both Spirit and Frontier Airlines fly to Orlando International Airport (MCO), and offer a discount when purchasing your ticket at the airport versus online. You can also buy tickets in advance with a typical savings of $15-$20 off each way or $30-$40 on round trip tickets. If you’re traveling as a family of four that savings of $120-$160 can cover one park ticket or one night at a hotel.
We Booked a Hotel Away From The Resort
While staying at a Disney property might sound exciting it can easily break the bank. Consider staying off property in a nearby hotel or vacation home. Not only will this save you money on your accommodations, it will also allow you to offset the cost of food if you’re willing to cook. Some even offer free shuttles to the park so you can save on parking fees.
Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick
We Packed Our Own Food
Speaking of saving money on food, did you know you can bring your own food and drinks inside the park? There is no limit on the amount of food or drinks you bring (you can’t bring in alcohol), so pack those sandwiches, snacks and water to keep from going over budget on food in the park. Just remember your backpack or cooler cannot be larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high, according to Disney rules.
We Bought Souvenirs Before We Went
Who doesn’t want to walk around the parks with a Mickey or Minnie shirt, Disney ears or their favorite Disney Princesses dress? Buying these items before arriving can save you a tone of cash. On our family trip to Disney, our ear headbands cost $6 at the local Walgreens, while inside the park the same ones were priced at $23.99. All the Target stores in Orlando sell Disney gear or you can shop ahead of time on Amazon.
We Took Our Own Photos
I’m sure you want memories to last a lifetime, but skip purchasing Disney’s pricey photo package and take your own. Even at the professional photo stations you can take your own photos with your own device. Don’t worry about not being able to be in the photo, their photographers will also take your whole family’s photo with your personal camera.
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Her motto is “if kids live there kids can visit” and she and her husband have taken their 2 and 4 year old to 21 countries on 6 continents. You can follow along their family adventures on Instagram.