View Full Version : Making Disney Cheapier

06-19-2006, 11:21 PM
What are your tips for making your vacation cheapier?

06-20-2006, 02:00 AM

We only get and do *meaningful* things. Whatever that means for you. ;)

06-20-2006, 06:30 AM
another good one is to prepurchase your theme park tickets/from a reputable dealer/website/this can easily save you $20+ per person; Another would be to not eat every meal in the parks...I'm not a big advocate of staying off-site, I know alot of people are and that is great, but we have had a few bad off-site experiences. I would much rather get off-season rates at Pop or the All-Stars (value resorts), use Magic Express (free transportation to and from the airport--when you stay on property) and get the meal plan (great value and don't have to worry what your meals/snacks cost)--the meal plan is NOT essential and you can save alot by ordering pizza delivery to your room for dinner,and bringing breakfast/snack items with you for instance.
A trip to Disney is no doubt an expense, but you certainly can save by using a few tips.
If you don't have it already the Unofficial Guide (book) is WONDERFUL!!!!
Have A Great Trip

06-20-2006, 07:31 AM
CS for lunch.

06-20-2006, 07:48 AM
read the DIS boards. I have saved a fortune reading the great tips found here. There are hundreds of them! Visit all the different boards because each one will have different ideas for you.

06-20-2006, 07:51 AM
If you plan on going once a year, buy annual passes. The cost is a little more but we get 2 weeks (actually 16 days) out of them. Also, with the annual passes you can buy the Disney Dining Experience card, we paid $50 for it but it saves you 20% at most WDW restaurants and is also good for a year. We bought AP's and the Disney Dining Card for our trip last Sept., we own DVC so when we go back this coming Sept. all we'll have to pay for will be our food (-20% :thumbsup2 ), souvenirs and either air fare or gas to drive from NC. We also eat most breakfasts in our room.

If you register with MyPoints.com you can earn points for gift cards to different places. One place is RainForest Cafe. I have an account for DH & myself. When we go back to WDW we will have 2 gift cards for total $50. This will almost pay for a meal there.

Before buying into DVC, we always traveled during value season (still do for the low crowds) and watched Mousesavers.com for codes.

06-20-2006, 08:12 AM
1. 10-day Base tickets (no-expiry), purchased from a ticketbroker. Adding park hopping and w/p fun to a ticket drives the cost up considerably. You can have a very enjoyable vacation visiting just one park each day and skipping waterparks, DQ and PI.

2. Never pay for something that you can get for free. Free ME from the airport instead of a towncar, shuttle bus or rental, free dining plan, free airfare thru FF miles, free Disney Rewards Dollars from Disney VISA, free Disney Dollars from rewards programs (just got $25 from Creationsrewards yesterday!).

3. Use whatever connections that you have to bring the cost of the room down. Know a CM? Take them up on their offer to get you a room at the CM rate. Have AAA? Book using the discount. Got an AP? Are you a FL Resident? You can find room-only discounts most of the year. Know a DVC member who might rent their points to you at a reasonable rate? Go for it!

4. Breakfast in the room can be healthier and quicker than in the food court or a restaurant. It's cheaper, too. A bowl of cereal, skim milk and fresh fruit eaten in shifts as everyone showers and dresses not only saves time and money, it's healthier than a stack of pancakes or a breakfast sandwich.

5. Paying $2.50 for bottled water is one of the biggest rackets going. Bring a filtered water bottle with you into the parks and refill with free ice from any of the snack vendors or CS restaurants. Brita Fill & Go bottles are hard to find but I did see a similar product called Pure Water 2Go (http://www.************.com/index-3_1.html) or from Water Filters.net (http://www.waterfilters.net/Filters/waterbottles/sportbottles.htm) .

6. Be flexible. Change your dates. Change your resort. Change your itinerary. If there's a less expensive way to do it by switching from one resort to another, arriving a day or two later or earlier, or by reducing the number of park days, then do it to shave the cost.

7. Limit the souvenir purchases. It's so easy to go overboard with the souvies. Disney knows what they're doing when every attraction exits into a store with appropriately themed merchandise. Put on the blinders and move your crowd along.

8. Character dining is fun but expensive. It would be one of the first things to go from my budget if I had to make choices. There are plenty of opportunites to meet the characters in the parks and outside of the character dining locations.

9. Don't charge anything that you can't pay for when the bill arrives. The interest rate will kill off any savings you got. It's no fun paying for a vacation a year after you've taken it.

06-20-2006, 08:18 AM
1. Stay offsite. The accomodations are bigger, nicer, better equipped and way cheaper.

2. Eat breakfast in your room.

3. Drink tap water. Restaurants will happily give you all the free water and ice you want.

4. Do character meals at lunch instead of dinner. Pretty much same food but cheaper.

5. Buy 10-day non-expiring tickets. Use a few days for one trip and save the rest for a future trip.

6. Drive instead of fly if you live within 1000 miles or so.

7. Pack some light snacks when you go to the parks.

8. Visit the Disney outlets.

06-20-2006, 01:32 PM
Plan Plan Plan.....

The further out you start planning, the more money you save. I am a do-it-yourself kind of person, so I plan all aspects of my trip via discounts and what is most important on this trip. I have signed up at survey websites, this month alone I have banked $32. Save all change, use online savings accounts, reward programs are another, pennies do add up. Take advantage of any special deals and discounts. Any unplanned savings or unexpected money goes into the fund. Over time it adds up. I plan my vacation 12-18 months out and work everyday at the savings.

Cinderella Fan
06-20-2006, 03:39 PM
We use our Disney Visa card for everything. That way, we do have some rewards dollars for character meals and souveniers. We also save change. We put all of our chage at the end of the day in a jar, and at the end of the week, we also put all of our $1s. So far this month, I have $40 in ones.... Then at the end of the month, we put the money into a high yield Money Market account....

The best way to make a Disney vacation cheaper is to PLAN, as another posster said. If you plan ahead, you know what you want to do, what is important to you, and you have the ability to pay over time. We leave in 2 weeks, and our room, the *surprise* Segway tour, and the cabana at the GF are already paid for... All we have to pay while we are there is food and souveniers, which we have $145 on our rewards card for...

06-20-2006, 03:44 PM
I've seen the article from Mousesavers.com saying you can do Disney for 2 adults and 2 children for a thousand dollars. Has anyone done that with 3 adults and no children? We've been before and money was not a problem but I'm ready to go again and money is tight. How much could 1 adult do Disney for if sharing with others on gas, food. room, etc.? If I could just do 2 of the parks, I'd be ok. :woohoo: pixiedust: :genie: :thanks:

06-20-2006, 04:21 PM
I've seen the article from Mousesavers.com saying you can do Disney for 2 adults and 2 children for a thousand dollars.
I don't see how this is possible unless you don't go into the parks much because the ticket prices alone would eat up much of the $1,000. We eat pretty cheaply when we go averaging $20/person/day, so that would be $80/day for 4 people, or $560 for a week. An offsite condo through SkyAuction is $260/week - nothing onsite is that cheap. That's over $800 just for food and room. Add in tickets, even discounted, and you are well over $1,000.

How did Mousesavers break down that $1,000?

06-20-2006, 04:37 PM
The MouseSavers article is from last year. The budget was for 2 adults/2 children, 3 night hotel stay, driving to Orlando and going to WDW on 2-day MYW hoppers.

Included in the budget: $100 for gas
$150 for food & snacks
$607 for tickets
$100 for a Priceline hotel (for the 3 nights)
and $16 for parking (2 days @ $8/day)

In 2006, the ticket prices, hotel and food would be slightly more. And $100 in gas would get me as far as South Carolina.

tpayne, you might want to post your question in a new thread. You'll probably get more responses that way.

06-20-2006, 04:42 PM
3 night hotel stay
No wonder. I didn't see how it would be possible for a week.

06-20-2006, 04:52 PM
Eat breakfast in room
Bring snacks from home
Bring water bottles from home
Get free ice water from CS stands to refill
Split Meals - many are large enough for 2 people
Limit Souviners - Choose just one or two must haves

06-20-2006, 05:28 PM
I pretty much agree with everything Disneysteve said, but will reiterate:

Drive instead of fly.

Stay at a Value or stay offsite. If you stay someplace offsite with a kitchen, you can further save money by making a run to the grocery store for breakfast items.

Get the MYW tix without Plusses or Hopping priviledges. It is less expensive to add another day to your MYW tix, than to spend a separate day at another park. Unless you get a special deal, it will be less expensive to get a 4 day ticket to WDW than to get a 3 day ticket to WDW and a 1 day ticket to Sea World, for instance.

Do not plan on doing stuff that costs extra -- Cirque de Soleil, fishing, the park tours, etc. Instead, do stuff that is already included in the price of your admission.

Eat breakfast in your room. If you want to eat someplace pricier, like a Character Meal, eat that at lunch, when it is less expensive. Eat counter service for dinner. Consider sharing meals, asking for a cup of ice water (free), and/or order a child's meal for an adult (possible only at counter service places).

Set a budget for souvenirs. We limit ourselves to $75 per adult and $50 per child. That gets DH and I each a new sweatshirt and one or two toys for each of the kids. You could easily spend much less than that on souvenirs. If you don't go in the stores, you won't spend much money.

Need to rent a stroller? Consider buying one at Walmart in Orlando, instead. On our last trip, we took our own stroller for DD1, but wanted one for DS4 also. Stroller rental was around $8/day. We bought an umbrella stroller at Walmart for $10 and left it in our hotel room when we left. It wasn't the fanciest stroller, but it worked just fine and we were able to fold it up and hang it off DD's stroller when DS wanted to walk.

06-20-2006, 07:00 PM
:lovestruc We buy water in the park and then refill the bottles with tap water and use Hi-C or somekind of drink mixes to make a flavored drink.

Eat your big meal at lunch time, it is almost always cheaper

We fill a suitcase with snacks and then use it to take home souvenirs

Buy one souvenir a day

rent a locker and keep snacks, coats, etc.- so you wont have to buy- it has saved us when we needed ponchos or coat for 6 people, would have been a ton to buy

Dining plan- allows you to see all character meals for a fraction of the cost and you can share meals however you want

eat an early in room breakfast- we bring indiv cereal( kids love it) and buy milk
we bring our own plastic spoons and cups, harder to spill with a big cup than a bowl

buy trinkets at the disney store before you leave- the spinning light up things are much cheaper and you don't feel guilty

Use a retractable big sharpie for Autographs- no need to keep up with pen caps

Keep a running list of what you've spent that way you can choose to go crazy or rein yourself in at any point. Especially if you are charging it all.

06-20-2006, 07:17 PM
Make friends with someone that works at the parks. They not only can get you rooms for a fraction of the cost but can get you free admission :thumbsup2 Also they get a good discount on souviners in the park. I think 25%.

06-20-2006, 07:27 PM
Minimal keepsakes. Our children have to purchase them and extra snacks with their own money. We have been pushing Disney Dollars for Christmas, Easter and Birthday gifts, so they usually each have about 30-40 Disney dollars. It is amazing how some things just aren't as important to purchase when they are paying themselves.

I also try to keep our food budget for the week close to what we would have spent at home. Eating out can get expensive for a family of 5 not to mention that it sometimes is not the healthiest menu to eat nonstop. We usually do splurge and do 1 character meal, but I know we will be eliminating that soon since 2 of my children are already considered adults and the cost adds up pretty fast.

Right now we are into an annual pass kick, but if we weren't I'd highly recommend getting the maximum number of days and options with no expiration that gives you the lowest cost per day if you plan on traveling to Disney at any time in the future.

Take advantage of anything that is low cost or included in the tickets that you purchased. Since we purchased annual passes, our tickets for the parks were already paid for. When my daughter mentioned a trip to Seaworld, we told her we would do it on a different trip. Dropping over $200 for 5 of us to see Seaworld when we already had money invested in Disney tickets was not something we wanted to do.

You also don't have to focus on the parks. I know people will be there for 7 days and get 7 days worth of park tickets. However, there can be Disney magic without even entering the parks. Some of the resorts have boat rides to Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney occasionally has free shows. The campfire at Fort Wilderness. Most resorts are magical just to walk around and we have never seen them during the holidays.

Also, people will get tickets to the water parks and not even take advantage of their resort pools which can be pretty nice and which are free. In addition to the pools, most resorts have a slew of activites.

These are just some things we do.

06-20-2006, 10:15 PM

06-21-2006, 07:41 AM
People have talked about breakfast in the room, but Disney doesn't care if you bring in food. Pack peanut butter sandwiches and a few apples. Bring your own snacks.

06-21-2006, 09:21 AM
We use SkyAuction.com and get a condo for a week. It averages between $33-$40 day including taxes AND we get 2 TVs, a bedroom, and a kitchen.

We eat b-fast in the room, take snacks and eat dinner in the room later.

We eat lunch at a counter service place and order a double burger with an extra bun for .75.

We go to food court places where we can all pick something we like and even the adults sometimes get the kids meals and we save a bundle.

Visit the Disney Outlet store and let the kids pick out some souveniers for much less and dont' buy any in the park!

We have a Disney Visa and use the rewards for eating at Disney.

Even if you don't have a small child, you might want to have an umbrella stroller so that you can put a large bag on it and leave it near a kids' ride. That way you don't have to pay for a locker.

Get a FL ID and get Fl rates! (ha, just kidding, don't shoot me! But if you own property in FL you can get a FL ID.)

We have done 3 weeks at Disney 3 different times this year and have spent $600-$700 each time maximum. This is not including part tickets. It does include gas, food and lodging.


06-21-2006, 10:19 AM
Something no one has mentioned...instead of booking character lunches, take the latest service for breakfast. That way you get a big meal at around 11, and have breakfast prices. Eat something in your room before you go to the parks to tide you over.

Everyone keeps talking about driving instead of flying. But I would watch out for that. I just found airfare for really cheap for the three of us, much cheaper in fact that it would have cost us to drive. Taking the ME and DTransportation can save the cost of a rental car, the tolls from the airport, and your gas. You have to keep watching the fares. You will have to stay on disney property though, I just got a single room reservation at POP for $70 a night all taxes included with AAA discount.

Book now for free dining...that cuts a HUGE expense out of your trip!

We also have Disney Visa, and will have close to $300 for extras, since we are going during free dining. It adds up fast, so long as you can pay off the bill every month.

06-21-2006, 10:09 PM
I know this in not very popular,but stay offsite. I am staying at the travel lodge for 34.00 a night. I also try to find cute t shirts with mickey and the gang at wal mart or k mart.

06-22-2006, 07:59 AM
Everyone keeps talking about driving instead of flying. But I would watch out for that. I just found airfare for really cheap for the three of us, much cheaper in fact that it would have cost us to drive. Taking the ME and DTransportation can save the cost of a rental car, the tolls from the airport, and your gas. You have to keep watching the fares. You will have to stay on disney property though, I just got a single room reservation at POP for $70 a night all taxes included with AAA discount.

Our airfare is ALWAYS expensive (a good deal for the past five years has been $200+ RT), but there is also the TIME factor in driving. For us, Orlando is 24 hours in the car one way. Which means if we want to push it with our kids, that's four days of travel - and more reasonably six to drive. My husband and I have limited vacation time and lots of things we'd like to do with it, other than spend it in the car.

The "time is money" factors other places as well. If you have more time than money, and can stand to sit through them - some timeshare presentations can give you passes. For people with more money than time, this is not a good deal. If you have more time than money, staying half an hour drive away from the parks can get you a great spot for little money. More money than time may make you decide that you should stay in a monorail resort with your toddler. Eating offsite is similar - especially if you are staying on site - its cheaper, but will likely take more time.

Another time is money trick - the park is least busy at opening, a Disney vacation is not one where it is a good idea to sleep in. We usually get HALF of what we are going to get done in the day in terms of attractions done in the first two hours. Arrive late, and you'll wonder why you spent $50 a day to stand in line for three attractions. This won't SAVE you money, but it will give you more value from the money you do spend.

Similarly, have a plan. A lot of Disney guests arrive and don't know the layouts of the parks. Even if its looking at the park map the night before with a sharpie marker and circling the attractions you want to see. Knowing the layout of each park will save TIME.

Eat in off hours. As a money saving trick, if you want to eat sit down, eat over lunch - lunch portions are sometimes slightly smaller and sometimes the menu is a little different, but there is plenty of food. As a time saving trick, don't eat lunch between 11:30-1:00, don't go looking for dinner between 5:30 and 7:00. I was always very fond of the "breakfast in the room, snack at 11:00 (usually brought in), sit down lunch around 3:00, bought snack at 7:00" schedule on a budget.

Of course, if you have neither money nor time, you'll have to make reasonable compromises.

06-22-2006, 08:18 AM
Everyone keeps talking about driving instead of flying. But I would watch out for that. I just found airfare for really cheap for the three of us, much cheaper in fact that it would have cost us to drive. Taking the ME and DTransportation can save the cost of a rental car, the tolls from the airport, and your gas. You have to keep watching the fares. You will have to stay on disney property though, I just got a single room reservation at POP for $70 a night all taxes included with AAA discount.
The "fly vs. drive" equation is not a simple one. We discuss it here often. It depends on a lot of factors like where you live, how many in your family, where you will be staying in Florida, etc.

For us, let's say I could get airfare for $150 RT. That's $450 for the 3 of us, $600 if one of our moms comes with us (like on our next trip in November). Add airport parking of $60 and another $20 for tips at the airport. That comes to $680. A rental minivan would be about $400 for the week. So total is about $1,100 to fly.

Now look at driving. We spend less than $250 on gas (and that includes gas used in Florida which we would have to pay for either way). One nite in a motel each way for about $50 each brings the total to $350. Throw in $30 for an oil change when we get back and you are still under $400.

So for us, it's roughly $400 vs. $1,100. Your results may vary.

06-22-2006, 08:41 AM
If you are travelling with young children, I definately recommend bringing souvies from home to surprise them with. I bought glow sticks/necklaces, Disney pens/pencils/books/coloring books from the Dolalr store and brought them along. I also picked up a few little Mickey Mouse stuffed animals after Christmas cheap at Walmart and took those along as well. The Disney Store has great sales on t-shirts, hats and spinners all which can be purchased for much cheaper there than at the parks.

I think having a special little surprise each day for the kids greatly cuts down on the "I want" factor that happens the moment you enter the park! Having the spinners and glow sticks available parades eliminates the impulse buy of those expensive items as well!!!