Visiting Disney World on Any Budget
A visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, is a dream vacation for many families because it’s such a magical place, with fun for every age group. Unfortunately, the costs of a Disney trip can be prohibitive. Not to worry: There’s a Disney vacation out there for just about every budget.
The New Pricing
Disney World prices tickets according to a three-tiered system. The year is divided into value, regular and peak days, and tickets vary in price depending on which day is chosen. In slower months, like October, visitors have all three options for pricing. During peak months like June, July and December, however, value tickets aren't available. There’s not a huge fluctuation in price, as value tickets start at $99, while peak prices start at $119. Still, if your family is large, that $20-per-ticket variance can add up, so it may be worth considering when choosing vacation dates.
On a Budget Trip
- Get your tickets for free. Disney sometimes gives away free tickets, but these promotions are few and far between. If your budget is truly tight, it might be worth spending a couple hours of your time listening to a timeshare presentation. You can find these presentations all around Orlando, so check out the options to find the best offer for your family. Typically, you sign up and listen to a spiel for two or three hours, at the end of which the salesperson will pressure you to buy a timeshare. If you’ve always been curious about timeshares, or you’re interested in investing in one, this is a great opportunity to learn more. If not, tell the salesperson politely but firmly that you’re not interested, collect your tickets and go. It’s a good idea to do your timeshare presentation on a separate day from your park visit, so you don’t miss any time in the park.
- Stay off-site. Nearby Kissimmee, FL, has tons of hotels, many of them quite reasonably priced. You can find good deals by checking sites like Kayak or Hotels.com or keep an eye on Groupon or LivingSocial, both of which sometimes have deep discounts on Orlando-area resorts. Many Kissimmee hotels have nice pools and other kid-friendly amenities, so even if you’re visiting Disney for only one day, your vacation can extend past that.
- Be smart about purchases inside Disney. Food, for instance, is expensive inside the parks. Solution: Bring your own snacks. It’s easy to pack sandwiches, granola bars and trail mix in a bag and store it in a locker inside the park. Retrieve your meal when your family is ready to eat. It’s also a smart idea to bring your own water bottles and refill them throughout the day at drinking fountains. Souvenirs are also pricey inside Disney, but vendors all over Orlando sell virtually the same merchandise for far less.
Disney Springs (1486 Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, FL) is a Disney resort that offers shopping, restaurants and entertainment, without an admission fee.
For a Moderately Priced Visit
- Consider staying at Disney. Disney has campsites that start at $53, value resorts for $100 per night and moderate resorts starting at $190, and they’re a fun place to stay. All the properties offer free transportation between parks and have fun amenities like pools with cool water features and themes, movies under the stars, playgrounds and arcades. For families with preschoolers, it’s also nice to be able to pop back to the room in the middle of the day for a nap.
- Take advantage of perks. If you stay at a Disney property, you get extra perks to make it worthwhile. These include early access to FastPass+ planning, transportation to and from the airport, extra hours at the park and access to Disney’s dining plans. If you plan on eating all your meals at the park, these dining plans can help you save money by prepaying. On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend money eating every meal in the park, you’ll have the advantage of an in-room refrigerator.
- Make reservations for dining. If you have a particular restaurant in mind, make your plans well in advance. Popular places, such as Be Our Guest, tend to fill up quickly.
When the Sky is the Limit
Here’s a strange but true fact: When you have plenty of money to spend at Disney World, it’s easy to save money overall.
- Definitely stay on-site. The deluxe resorts start at $326 per night, and the perks mentioned above apply to every price range. What the deluxe resorts have over the other sites is that they have better restaurants and more amenities, such as character dining, boat rentals and spa services.
- Buy a multiday pass or an annual pass. Annual passes cost about $800, but if you go to Disney more than eight days in a year, that’s a bargain. Multiday passes have an advantage over single-day tickets, as well, because the price per day goes down as the number of days go up. While you’ll pay at least $99 for a one-day ticket to Disney World, when you purchase a 10-day pass, the cost per day is only about $40.
- Book a special event for your family. If you’re going all out, do it in style. Book a character breakfast or a hair appointment for your little princess at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Deluxe resorts even offer guests help with their Disney plans, to make sure the experience is as magical as it can possibly be.
Disney is very helpful when it comes to planning your vacation. Its website is packed with information and tools to help you plan. However, the very best way to make the most of your Disney trip is to consult an authorized Disney travel agent ahead of time, because they're the ones with the inside scoop.