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What is the best way to save when planning Disney trip- package or room only?

Discussion in 'Disney Resorts' started by DisneyChick2013, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. DisneyChick2013

    DisneyChick2013 Earning My Ears

    Apr 26, 2013
    Is it best to do each item separately ( room through Disney, tickets through undercover tourist, flight through Priceline,etc) or is it best to just do a package deal? I want to plan my vacation for family of four and can't figure out what is the best way to go. Planning on staying at moderate resort - 8 nights 9 days.
    Is it best to go through disney or Expedia, etc? Plan it myself or ask travel agent?
    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
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  3. bennifer

    bennifer Mouseketeer

    Jan 20, 2013
    For me, it's been best to purchase a package myself thru WDW. I'm always worried that something won't be right if I do it separately and that makes it worthwhile and "cheap" for me! Good luck!

    ETA: it saves me a lot of worry and stress! ;)
  4. CoolPool

    CoolPool DIS Veteran

    Mar 4, 2007
    It depends.

    Nothing can replace running the numbers yourself. Since you already know that you want to stay at the moderate level you have the first piece of the puzzle.

    Generally speaking most people book flights separately. In our case, Southwest always wins because of its schedule and price point. I like that I can change our schedule very easily; it would be a pain to have to call Disney to make a change in flights. In your case, you can check flights yourself and compare with what Disney offers with their package and I doubt Disney will do better than what you can do.

    In terms of room/tickets/dining plan combinations it will all depend on the specifics of your family (adults vs kids), the offers Disney puts out for the time of year you are going, and the level of control you want over the details.

    Channel your inner bean-counter and run the numbers.
  5. chasgoose

    chasgoose Mouseketeer

    Mar 21, 2007
    It's almost always a terrible idea to book your flight through a package. Gone are the days when airlines used to give cheapo flight tickets to package consolidators. You can usually get the cheapest tickets from the airlines themselves. Not to mention that Orlando is a battleground city for many airlines and there are frequent fare wars and sales (hint: most airlines will match Southwest's lowest prices and they often last after Southwest's lowest fares have sold out, so it definitely pays to shop around).

    As far as the package vs. booking things separately, it depends on who's offering sales for the time you are going and who has availability for the room/resort that you want. For example, Orbitz has a sale going that matches Disney's stated package discount for July, but since Orbitz has different sale inventory than Disney Travel does, some room categories are only available on Orbitz or only available on Disney (when I was looking for my dates, no CR CL MK view were available for sale prices from Disney but they were available on Orbitz). Play around with different websites and discounts and see what works best for you and what you want.

    I will say, based on experience, its slightly easier to have everything together in one place, so if the price is within $50 or so, I typically book through Disney.
  6. luvpalmtrees

    luvpalmtrees Mouseketeer

    Mar 18, 2006
    For our July vacation this year I did the room and tickets separate. Undercover Tourist with the Mousesavers discount was still cheaper than Disney by $52. It's not a big difference but enough for me to do it separate. I think of it as extra gas money or food money.
  7. Sue M

    Sue M DIS Veteran

    May 27, 2009
    I would book my flights separately too, but i wouldn't use Priceline. I research flights with Kayak, then go directly to airline web site to book. Prices are the same or sometimes lower.

    Its never a good idea to go thru Expedia IMO for booking Disney. I'd book myself. Disney always puts out discounts thru the year. Keep watching their web site. Right now they have discounts out thru Aug 14. Click the Specials link on their web site. You can also watch mousesavers.com who publishes WDW discounts too.

    Room only vs package? I would only book a package if I was adding on the dining plan. If you are just planning on room & tickets, I'd book room only & buy tickets with Undercover Tourist.

    Happy planning!
  8. tinkerbellmagic

    tinkerbellmagic don't hate me because I loved the castle cake

    Apr 15, 2003
    For sure I would book air separately as others have said. I would never book air as part of a package. Been there, done that with bad results each time. We always use SWA for air for the ability to change flights so easily and with no penatly to do so.

    We book room only with Disney because you can cancel 5 days out without penalty. If you book a Disney package, then you have until 45 days out in which to cancel with no penalty. I really like having the 5 day option.

    We buy our tickets at undercover with the mousesaver discount, like others have mentioned.

    We never do any dining plans, so our plan works for us. Have fun!

    ps. I see you are staying at a mod. We have stayed at 3 out of the 4 mods and loved each one. Disney mods have beautiful grounds. I have such fond memories of the mods and would stay at any of them in a heart beat.
  9. dvcHammer

    dvcHammer Drinking at Disney

    Dec 12, 2001
    I build my own packages when not using points for a DVC stay.
    1. Search for airfare on Kayak.com and Southwest.com for the best prices. Never through Priceline, Expedia or any of the others, there is never a good savings over buying direct from the airline.
    2. Book the room directly with Disney, using discount codes found on Mousesavers.com (saves 20% - 40% on room). Never book through a discount web site.
    3. Buy tickets from Undercover Tourist. (saves 8% sales tax)
    4. Buy food OOP. The dining plan does not make sense for us.
    5. Make 1 or 2 important ADR's, the rest of the time we just wing it for food.

    Just as a side note on discount web sites. I travel every week for work and make my own travel plans across the country. I would never book through any discount travel site. Search for discounts then book directly. Always.
  10. DanInMN

    DanInMN Mouseketeer

    Jan 23, 2012
    To save the most money start by looking up the resort rates for various times of the year. Off-season rates are much lower than peak season rates, and the crowds are much smaller. Then watch out for special offers that apply to those dates... like 20-30% off a room only reservation, the stay/play/dine package offer, or free dining (FD). Once the right combination comes up, book it through Disney. Note that the price of park tickets per day drops dramatically for longer stays.

    Then shop the airfare online. Hopefully you have credit card points, or frequent flier miles, so you can get some or all of your tickets for "free". For example, our current credit card point balance can get us 2 free airline tickets if the ticket price is less than $400. The tickets we want are currently $413. So every day I check online, and I will book the free tickets if/when the price drops below $400!
  11. DanInMN

    DanInMN Mouseketeer

    Jan 23, 2012
    The airfare just dropped to $300, so I booked the free tickets using credit card points. I am waiting for the free dining announcement so we can book the resort/tickets/dining package. Patience!
  12. tinkbyday

    tinkbyday DIS Veteran

    Apr 3, 2008
    When we went the very first time, we didn't know anything at all (wasn't even aware of this awesome forum) - we went through AAA, did a package and payed more than we could have.

    The next 5 trips were done utilizing discount codes - we had one year where a package was less expensive because of the promotion, but generally, we have found doing the room only with a discount and then buying tickets through Undercover Tourist is the best deal.

    We do not find the DDP to be a good value for us either - we usually stay deluxe, so discounts offer us more off the total price than the DDP would.
  13. Mousemommy1

    Mousemommy1 DIS Veteran

    Dec 6, 2010
    It depends on what discounts are being run at the time. Be sure to check the special offers page on the Disney website.

    Once you actually run the numbers, you will have an idea of your savings and what your best option is.

    That being said, I always book airfare myself instead of through Disney. I like to have control over my airfare reservation versus Disney having control.

    Likewise, I would not book a Disney vacation through a third party (I.E. Priceline, Expedia, or travel agent etc...). Same reason, I need to have control over my reservation. :goodvibes

    Oh, and we have used the DDP 3 times in the past and always thought it was a waste. It offers too much food (for us) that goes uneaten or credits unused. We just got back from a trip where we finally abandoned the DDP and used Tables in Wonderland instead (20% off food and adult beverages) and we LOVED that and spent a significant amount of money less out of pocket and we didn't feel bloated the whole trip, which was great!
  14. redc

    redc Mouseketeer

    Nov 26, 2007
    Boy, I agree with all of this!
  15. Upatnoon

    Upatnoon DIS Veteran

    Oct 4, 2005
    How to save money?

    1. Drive if you can. Far cheaper than flying, especially since airlines have been raising rates. Having a car will also help you save money by staying offsite and find less expensive meals. Don't cut into your Disney time for drive time, just make your vacation a little longer.
    2. Rent a timeshare or a house. Cheaper and more comfortable than a tiny hotel room.
    3. Eat breakfast and a meal or two in your spacious villa.
    4. Eat a dinner or two at a restaurant off-site. If you drove a car, its easy to get to much less expensive restaurants.
    5. Tickets are by far the biggest expense and hard to cut down. If you can, take a longer vacation -- that's right -- The more theme park days you buy, the cheaper they are. If you plan to make another trip in the future, you can consider the buy and hold option of the non-expiring ticket, but that means big bucks up front.

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