Desperate need of help!


Earning My Ears
Feb 6, 2001
I am planning our first trip to WDW and I am feeling overwhelmed. I am working on a budget (aren't we all!) and I need help making the best choices. Any suggestions?
If you pose your questions here, I think you'll receive a lot of helpful advice.

Also, there are a number of topics on this board that deal with a similar situation so I think you will find it useful to read through them.
of budget ideas. I also love the book "the Unofficial Guide to WDW" for planning purposes - you get info on not Just WDW but Orlando area as well for hotels, activities, etc.

We stay offsite for budget purposes, but many swear by on-sight stays, you'll find many various opinions here.

We usually at breakfast in our room (will get a room with a refrigerator or buy a styrofoam cooler) and most days, our "big" meal will be a late lunch. The sit-down restaurants (many not to be missed) are usually less expensive until around 3 pm? maybe 4 can't recall, we usually have our lunch around 2:30, then a late, light dinner.

One big money saver for us was having our DS (age 6 now) "earn" his spending money before the trip, then he has his "budget." We did this for the first time last year, WOW what a difference. Instead of him asking us to buy everything he saw, we would just tell him how much money he had (left) to spend, and he become quite frugal. He started with $40 and came home with $15! He also used to want to buy everything now, but when spending his own money, he'll look around, and wait. Then toward the end of the day he makes his decision - a lot less junk....

Read this board, but also the others (tips, Orlando, Restaurants, Hotels, etc. etc.)

The planning is half the fun.

If staying offsite, consider Priceline, lots of info here and theres this other site :
check out the links to Orlando/WDW

We also used Priceline for car rental.

Have fun!


Offsite Feb 2001
Offsite Feb 2000
Offsite March 1999
Offsite March 1998
Offsite Feb 1997

Hey - What can I say? Offsite gets me there every year.
But, I have to disagree with him on the off site stay. We used to do that the first 4-5 trips too. Then we stayed on-site at Old Key West, and we were hooked. We got hooked even worse after staying at Wilderness Lodge (what a beautiful resort). :D At any rate, we joined the Disney Vacation Club (Disney's version of a timeshare) 4+ years ago, and have had many enjoyable trips to OKW since. We can stay on our prepaid points at any of the DVC resorts( Wilderness, Boardwalk, Old Key West), or even stay at any of the other deluxe resorts or moderates. The on-site stay is so different from an off site one. We felt so rushed when we did off site. We had to hurry to get to the parks before opening, stand in line, rush to each attraction, etc.etc.... When you stay on-site you have early entry priveledges as well as easy Disney bus transportation to each park and your resort. On-site guests also have access to E-ticket nights where you can go for 3-4 hours after park closes for exclusive use of all the attractions with no lines. Just the ease of being able to go back to the room for a break in the middle of the day is well worth the on-site experience. If you have small children, this is even more important. Besides which, the Disney resorts are all so special. No one takes better care of their guests or rooms.

Sorry for the length of this, but from someone who has done both numerous times, I vote for on-site. ;)


Gosh I always hate worrying about my budget for the trip...but alas that is the way of life for most of us...Heres what we do to save some bucks.

This year we are staying off site at HIFS: $110.00 per night free full breakfast buffet for everyone. Kids eat free the rest of the day at different restaraunts with adult purchase.

Rented a car using coupons: 150.00 for 7 days for a full size car.

Flying from a city a little further away to save about 100.00 per person roundtrip.. Pitts instead of Cleve. the extra hour drive will save us 500.00 dollars overall and parking is half at Pitts compared to cleve.

Got a GC from GM for test driving a we have free dinner at the Rainforest Cafe...

GC from Beaver tails for telling them I love their snack at Epcot

Go to the Chip and Dale campfire for character interaction, $6 smores (feeds 5 or 6 easily) and free dis movies. Then over to the marina for Water Pageant....(free)

Make the kids save up their own spending money as they definately willnot spend as much if it is there own money.

Pack up simple items the kids will want/have to have...been buying them since last summer....hats, sunglasses, goggles for the pool, splash balls for the pool, autograph books (big lots for a buck added dis stickers and voila dis books) fat pens (3 for a buck at the dollar store) mister fans (clearance rack at the dis store) etc......They will get these items a few weeks before the trip and it will save a ton of money at the park....

Plus we will eat a huge breakfast and pack snacks for the park to nibble on....most days we try for only two meals..but ohhhhhh sometimes the smells at WDW get to us and we splurge on some fun thing or another....

Most of all enjoy your planning it is half the fun for us before we go.....happy budgeting....

Caribbean Beach 91
Off site 92
Off site Caribe Royale 97
All Sports 00
HIFS 5/01
If you supply more details (ex: how many people & ages - when you are going and duration of trip) I'm sure you'll get more specific suggestions to help with your budget. It's hard to offer money savers without some basic information. If there are special circumstances be sure to include them (ex: traveling with grandparent with bad knees, etc).



Tact - A keen
sense of what to do or
say in order to maintain
good relations with
others or avoid offense.

Webster's Dictionary
Thank all of you for your kind response. I hate to feel so overwhelmed, but some of you sound so good at this, you could do it for a living! There are five of us: husband, myself and three kids aged 12,9,and 3. Also, I have a slight handicap which very possibly could be affected by extreme heat (never in Florida..haha). I did read on this site there were discounts at the Dolphin and Swan for teachers. Another good thing about my job! Has anyone stayed there? Thank you for your suggestion.

Check the "resort discussion" thread for ALL the info you want on Swan/Dolphin hotels. From what I've been reading, you will not want to miss this place. And depending on the time of year you're going, teacher rates are as low as $129/night. Make sure you look for Glo's Swan/Dolphin FAQs...there is a TON of information in there!! :D
I agree, make sure you check out all the information you can about the Swan/Dolphin. If it is available at the time you are planning, you can go to the Dolphin for $129/night with a teacher's discount. And you can arrange for a roll-away to be brought in. We stayed there last year, and it is great. The location is totally awesome. It is a boat ride away from Epcot or MGM, and a bus ride away from Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. The pool is the best ever. The kids will surely love it and so will you. As a matter of fact, if you go to the Resorts board, you can see some pictures of the pool. And you can get an awful lot of information about the resort itself from there. As for passes, you can buy park hoppers or you can buy the Unlimited Magic Passes right in the lobby. Friends of mine bought them there last year. One good thing about staying there is that you can buy the passes for the 2nd day you are there and have them end the day before you leave. If you stay at the other Disney resorts, you have to pay for the tickets for the day you get there and the day you leave. This way, you can save 2 days worth if you won't be going to parks on those days anyway. It worked for them.


August 1994 Off-site
July 1998 Port Orleans
July/August 2000 Dolphin, Poly, Yacht Club
June/July 2001 Swan
It sounds as thought the swan/dolphin have great rates for teachers and a plus that I consider is you are still conveniently located to the Boardwalk, Epcot and MGM....There are a lot of pluses to that hotel even if you are on a budget...

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CBR Dec '95, Sept '97
BWV Aug '98, Mar '99
ASM Nov '99
BWV Oct '00, Mar 01
Zurg, Barbie, Buzz, Buzz, Jessie & Tinkerbell


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