Cheapest trip without feeling like it is

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by Mickeyflower, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Mickeyflower

    Mickeyflower I find that The Dis is my happy place frequently

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    535
    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this question but it is budget related. So DBF and I want to go to WDW without breaking the bank. Has anyone done a trip to WDW without breaking the bank? My one and only time was in 2007 and I paid $2700 just for me. That is not possible now. We know we can do it but its a little daunting. Where did you stay? Did you rent a car? Is there a bus system that's good to use to use instread of paying for parking?

    TIA
     
  2. Jetku

    Jetku Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Messages:
    169
    It's certainly possible, but depends on many things. I try to travel as cheaply as possible while still traveling exactly how I want to. This can mean traveling on a budget to Grand Floridian.

    1. Tickets are pretty much a fixed cost. You can buy them through Disney or a discount site like Undercover Tourist for a slight discount. If tickets are at a deep discount, chances are it's a scam. You should decide what type of tickets you'll need.
    2. Decide if you are staying on property, semi-on property, or off property. With one exception, I've always stayed on property. I love the convenience and the Disney "bubble". Once I land, I don't want to drive, so included magical express makes it feel like my vacation starts immediately. There are semi-on site hotels (Swan, Dolphin, Wyndham) that will give you proximity for a lower price, but I've always stuck with Disney.
    3. If staying on site (or buying tickets through Disney) use Disney gift cards. You'll get a discount at certain bulk stores (BJs.com has $100 for $95 and you can get free club trials). You can also use credit card rewards - I always use my 2% cash back card but discover will sometimes have 5%. Also, I load the gift cards into the Disney Vacation Account for an extra 2% in Disney gift cards back.
    4. Disney's prices aren't always the cheapest for packages. Orbitz often has coupon codes that stack on the Disney discount, but you can't pay with Disney gift cards. One other travel agent I've used has "magical deals" that can give you a 10-20% higher discount on hotels than Disney, but I won't go into specifics here. You might need to google that.
    5. Money can be saved while at Disney too, without sacrifice. Amazon Prime Now delivers to Disney. Don't pay Disney prices for bottles of water! If you aren't a big eater, or aren't too hungry for a meal, you can always order QS meals off the kids menu. Often it can be more than enough and you'll save a few bucks. I love the Dining Plan, but it usually doesn't save money. When I don't get it, I load up a Disney gift card ahead of the trip to use on all meals. You can find menus online and look at items you'd probably get to get a good idea of how much you'll need. Gift cards can be used for tip and disney restaurants too. Get the gift cards discounted ahead of time for more savings!
    6. Time of the year matters! Hotel rates and airfare rates vary greatly depending on when you travel. If kids are out of school, it's going to be more expensive. Early February and early December are good examples of cheaper times to visit. Plus you'll hopefully have less crowds to deal with.

    Good luck in your planning. :)


    Edit: To give a concrete example, my wife, baby girl and myself will be going at the end of August. The baby is free. We are staying 6 nights at the beach club for ~1550. No tickets (would be ~$900 for hoppers) since we have APs. We'll fly on points, but that would be ~ $500. I also got gift cards through target for the room plus our APs during their 10% off sale, so ~15% should be subtracted for the discount, cash back, and DVA rewards.

    So at a glance total for the 2 of us plus baby would be cash ~$2950. $2450 of that could be paid with gift cards at a discount of at least 5% if you use BJs, plus cash back. This doesn't include food, but is at a Deluxe resort. You could very easily stay at a moderate (I recommend POFQ) or value (I recommend AoA or Pop) for a much lower hotel price.

    It takes a bit of work and research to save the most money, but for me, that's part of the vacation fun!
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  3. kreckl

    kreckl DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    740
    When do you want to go- and do you want to stay onsite? These are important considerations~
    Start saving $5 bills now. Every time you get one from change someplace, stick it in a jar. Don't use your $5 if you see it in your wallet- use the $10 and get change. Seriously this adds up fast!
     
    Zhoen, 5kidsmommy and TabbyShabby like this.
  4. Mickeyflower

    Mickeyflower I find that The Dis is my happy place frequently

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    535
    We're pretty open about where to stay. Wherever gets us the best price. We're thinking a March stay-2018ish. Our dating anniversary is in March 10 so it would nice to be there for that. I've only been there once in february 2007. Listening to the podcast, it sounds like there is no "slow time" to go.
     
  5. potterfanatic

    potterfanatic Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Messages:
    234
    I decided our budget from the start. (Please keep in mind in my examples that we are a family of 5) I said, "Okay, I'm willing to pay $1,000 for transportation, plus the fixed cost of the tickets, $200 a night for a hotel/ transportation/parking, $35 for each meal, and then one big splurge meal for $200." Then I planned everything around that budget including our dates of travel. A budget trip can be done and IMO it's easiest when you know your budget up front and how to plan around it.
     
  6. TwoMisfits

    TwoMisfits DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2002
    Messages:
    1,452
    Are you in a drivable distance? Are you by a major airport with discount airlines? Are you open to staying offsite, cooking some of your own meals, seeing other sites than just Disney, etc?
     
    5kidsmommy likes this.
  7. kreckl

    kreckl DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    740
    Hard to advise without details. There are so many ways to cut corners and lots of threads about this.
    Things like how you are getting there, what you want to do- such as commando parks or more leisure time-, food preferences....
    Really deciding where you want to stay is key. Ticket prices don't vary a whole lot...Food is a huge expense but this can be tweaked a lot depending on what you want...
    What is you ideal trip? I would start thinking of that, prioritizing as you go.
    And how many days would you like? Shorter trip with more splurges or longer with more budget items?
    Do you have an absolute budget amount or is it flexible?
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  8. brittanidp

    brittanidp Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    169
    If you stay onsite and are only doing Disney, you don't need any additional transportation. Disney will get you around from the moment you land until you leave
     
  9. Mickeyflower

    Mickeyflower I find that The Dis is my happy place frequently

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    535
    No we live in Oregon so it would definitely be a flying trip. We are open as to where to stay, on site/off site where ever we get the best deal.

    I realize that without specific details, its difficult to give advise. I think what Im looking for is other experiences executing a WDW trip on the cheap, but not feeling like you sacrificed anything. What are the experiences of others staying off property at a place that is NOT the Waldorf but maybe something more modest?

    Since our time will be limited due to vacation days, we'd probably only stay a week or so. Has anyone flying from across the country subtracted arrival day and departure day from your ticket purchasing? We don't really have a FIXED budget yet as this is in the idea phase, same goes for dates. We do know, NOT during the scorching season. Our ideal trip, is simply to go and experience it with each other. The one time I went, in 2007, I did purchase the DDP but ended up leaving SOOOO MUCH on it because I got sick. I don't think we'd do that unless DBF is more comfortable with it all being prepaid, then I'd flex on that.

    I realize that there are SOOO MANY variables. I'm just looking for other peoples experience executing a budget friendly trip that may not include staying on property. I LOVE DISNEY, but they are pricing their hotels at RIDICULOUSLY HIGH PRICES.
     
  10. ellie05

    ellie05 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,048
    What kind of budget are you working with ? You mention without feeling cheap but that really depends on what your a used to for vacations.
     
  11. Mickeyflower

    Mickeyflower I find that The Dis is my happy place frequently

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Messages:
    535
    Probably around $2000-$3000
     
  12. StephMK

    StephMK DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Messages:
    5,509
    Keep in mind that March is spring break for some school districts so the crowds may be higher. In my area, the 2nd week of March is my break and the 3rd week is break for the district my own kids attend. Plus colleges usually have spring break in March.

    As far as budgets, do you know anyone with a timeshare who would work out a deal for a week? We paid the transfer fee from a relative to use a week at Disney. If you watch the rental rates, we have had good luck getting a great deal on a car. If you have a Costco membership, they have the best rental rates I have found. I like the extra space that being off site gives us and we enjoy driving more than the bus system. You could easily find ways to fill the rest of the day on arrival and departure day.

    Have fun planning!
     
  13. littledebbie335

    littledebbie335 Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    96
    If I were you, I'd stay on property in a value resort, skip the park hoppers, and use Disney transportation instead of renting a car. DDP is not a good value for most people, so if there are any special offers, I'd take a discount on the room over free dining.

    The value resorts will keep on in the bubble and eliminate the need to drive. The Disney bus system is actually fine, and tbh, my husband and I have pretty long daily commutes and are very grateful for the opportunity to let someone else do the driving, even if it means waiting a few minutes for a bus. Plus, since Disney will drive you to and from the airport, that's one easy way to eliminate what could be an expensive car rental cost. Taking the bus from inside the resort will probably still be faster than driving from off-site, so I'd crunch some numbers and see what a value resort and no car rental vs off-site + a car would cost.

    Park hoppers are great, but not necessary. On our last trip, we had this weird combination of old park hoppers, cast member tickets, and then non-park hopper tickets that we purchased specifically for the trip. We hopped once or twice, and honestly...not worth it. We were so tired and we only went to another park because they were still open and we felt like we needed to use the hoppers. There's plenty of things to do in each park, so why not just plan to do one park per day? Also, we didn't do parks on our arrive or departure day. On our arrival day, we went right to Disney Springs, and on our departure day, we hung out at the pool bar until we had to leave. I didn't feel like we missed out by not going to a park on either of those days.

    As for dining, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. Try to do QS as much as possible over TS. The QS food is obviously cheaper, but it also allows you to decide when you're hungry and want to eat at that time, rather than 180 days ahead of time. We didn't stick to at traditional breakfast/lunch/dinner schedule, and that flexibility was nice, especially because we had a few snacks instead of lunch a couple of times. I wish my DH and I had split more plates when we did dine TS, and I also wish I would've ordered an app as an entree a couple of times because I just don't eat that much. You could also use a grocery delivery service to get some breakfast foods delivered to you so that you can cut on breakfast costs. Alcohol is a huge budget killer in the parks, as is soda. We drank the free ice water and had no problems with taste, but you could also just order bottled water to be delivered to you via Prime or a grocery delivery service.

    Hope that helps!
     
  14. danygirl

    danygirl DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    542
    I have done several cheap trips. The key for us is staying in a Disney Springs hotel. Their bus transportation is great - you simply walk out the door of the hotel and there it is. You can get Disney golf t times, the hotels have Disney stores and character meals, you can see the fireworks from your room.....and the cost is a fraction of staying on-site yet you still have that Disney bubble feel.

    As for in the parks- we pack a backpack with sandwiches and snacks to keep us going. Not only is it a huge cost saver but it will save you time. Drink the free ice water and save a ton on drinks.
     
  15. dclpluto

    dclpluto DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,992
    A lot of good things people have mention so I will try not to repeat them.

    Put some granola bars in your suitcase for breakfast.

    If you feel like you need a table service meal go at lunch it's cheaper. Epcot has a lot of good reasonable lunch areas. Not much more than you will pay for quick service. Moraco, china

    Not many but some quick service places have you fill your own drink. Meaning you only buy one soda and you share. Fill it up as many times as you like no need to buy 2. Backlot express is one of them that's at Hollywood studios.forget the rest been over 2 years since I been.

    At Epcot there's a free international drink station. If you feel like a soda.
    Just little samples of some drinks around the world. Some good some nasty imo. But no need to buy a soda at Epcot if you are around that area.

    At magic kingdom there's a place that you fill your taco salad up. Minus the meat. Load it up good value for magic kingdom. Again load it up don't be shy.
     
  16. potterfanatic

    potterfanatic Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Messages:
    234
    I do not purchase tickets for the days I enter or depart. Things are already busy enough that even if we aren't coming in late or leaving early it's nice to have a little extra room to get settled or to the airport faster.

    My last trip I did onsite because we flew and it was cheaper to use all Disney transportation than to pay for a rental car and parking fees. However, the trip before that one we stayed off property at the Embassy Suites. It was about a 15 minute drive to Disney and it included breakfast and an evening reception with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and light snacks. That was perfect for us at the time as we had our own car so the only additional expense was parking. We were able to find this hotel for $130 a night so it really was budget friendly.

    However I agree with a PP, if you are flying into MCO then a value Disney hotel is probably going to be your cheapest option, especially if you're looking at staying for a week as car rental rates can get pretty expensive. In fact, I was all set to stay at the Embassy Suites again for my last trip but with the cost of renting a car it ended up being cheaper to stay at POR. (Also, it just didn't sit right for me to pay for a car that would mostly be sitting in a parking lot that I also had to pay for).
     
    MinnieSweetheart likes this.
  17. kymom99

    kymom99 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,080
    The values are very whimsical and fun. I have priced off site and always come back to onsite. Values can be had for a very reasonable price. You get ME which is so convenient. At the time you want to go the parks may not be open as late. Park hoppers are great in the summer but not sure they are worth the money in March.

    We keep our trips fairly budget. We don't do many extras or buy many souvenirs. If we arrive early we usually hit the ground running and have a ticket for that day. It just depends on your schedule.
     
  18. hsmamato2

    hsmamato2 <font color=magenta>Tink in Training-Good Girl,Bad

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    8,460
    We've been to WDW in a variety of ways.... your cheapest bet onsite is one of the allstar hotels, booked room only,at a site like Orbitz that gives an extra discount.(watch these boards for clues) - bring your own breakfast supplies, buy minimal park tix, no hoppers,and stay long hours in one park per day,possibly not going in every day you are there.(there are lots of free things to do onsite using buses and boats,just relaxing)
    Eat only counter service food(there are LOTS of great choices,easy to avoid the junk) and possibly share food bought,like desserts and snacks. drink ice water (free at all counter service whether you buy food or not) Staying onsite means you get free bus rides wherever you need to go. IMHO this is cheap, but you won't feel as if you're not getting a great vacation anyway. You can go even cheaper offsite, but then you get other costs like rental cars/shuttles,parking etc.
     
  19. hsmamato2

    hsmamato2 <font color=magenta>Tink in Training-Good Girl,Bad

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    8,460
    yeah, OP I was gonna add.... you don't need tix for your arrival/departure days for sure! try ot fly in as early as possible,and leave later if you can to max your time in the world.... If you stayed a week, that's a 5 day base ticket, buy from undercovertourist with the mousesavers link.... there are so many things to see/eat/do on your nonpark days,just disney springs alone can keep you busy for days.... talk about food options! I wouldn't choose to stay any farther than some of the closest disney springs hotels, best bet is onsite,discounted as noted above. I've gotten nights as cheap as 65 at allstars in the past,depends on the season. IS it fancy? nope.but it's lots of fun anyway.
     
  20. TwoMisfits

    TwoMisfits DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2002
    Messages:
    1,452
    Okay, so let's break down the budget...
    Airfare $300/person = $600
    Airport Parking = $100 (can get rid of this if someone drops you off)
    5 day Theme Park Tickets ($362+/person) = $725
    So, you're at $1425 before you eat, stay, and travel around.

    $3K will be tight to stay under if you don't want to feel like you're staying under it. If you are okay cooking every day, you could feel like royalty by getting a really nice condo for $500-$700/week (adding $100 for park parking and $300 for the rental). So, now you're at $2500 with everything but food paid for. You could buy groceries and alcohol for $150-$200 (if you want steak, fish) and plan every dinner out using offsite deals and probably eat for $40/table service dinner/night (tax and tip included) for $3000 total. I'd suggest busting this number by $50 for park snacks you have to have (dole whips, etc)...

    A value resort eating at all CS with some packed luggage breakfast could also do it, but you asked not to feel cheap. And I feel less cheap staying in a 1 bedroom condo with a jacuzzi bath, balcony, and fireworks view than in a tiny motel room, and I feel less cheap eating grilled steak at home than chicken nuggets in parks...
     
    msb578, jsmla and DisAuntie like this.

Share This Page