I posted this article last year but I know there are so many new readers on the site that I wanted to post the article again. If you’d like to know how to take a Disney World vacation on a tight budget then I devote this post to YOU. We take a Disney vacation every year. Disney has become a part of our family memories and a piece of our history. We have favorite rides, favorite theme parks and even our favorite mini gulf park . I also want to tell you that there is NEVER a “right” age for Disney. We started my son starting vacationing at Disney at the age of 3 & my 4th child had her first vacation with Disney at 8 months old. Each trip more fun and magical then the next but none of our trips were ever bad. Disney has something for every age & every interest & lots of it! ☺
For those of you dreaming of Disney on a tight, frugal budget I want to tell you some ways that we save on our vacation. This is what frugal living is all about – having more, being more and doing more!
1) Many people don’t realize it but ,you CAN bring your own food into the Disney parks! Its a great way to save! We start our day off with a big breakfast at the hotel and then pack food and head to the parks (you’ll need a room with a kitchen, mini kitchen-ette, or a cooler with free ice available to keep your goodies cold). When I’m at Disney, I bring whatever are their favorite snacks and I don’t worry about “healthy” eating while I’m at the parks (but that’s just me). I pack cookies, gold fish, finger foods and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or lunch meat sandwiches. I freeze (if you have a room with a refrigerator/freezer) drinks to keep the sandwiches cold and everyone (except the baby) has to carry their own food – period! Belly packs and backpacks are great. Disney does a bag check at the entrance but there are no signs that say “No food Allowed.” My understanding about the issue is that you cannot bring in big coolers but some food in your person bag or a bottle of water is certainly permitted. Food is extremely expensive at Disney so you’ll want to stay away from the restaurants if eating out each day means breaking your budget for the trip. I find that if you allow them to eat their favorites while on the trip they won’t miss the restaurants. (FYI – the parking lot is way to far away to pack a cooler and go back to the car to eat)
2)Try to book a room with a kitchen, kitchen-ette, microwave, or at least FREE ice for a cooler to keep goodies chilled. If rooms with these accommodations are too expensive then try and find a hotel that offers a FREE breakfast each morning and be sure to take advantage of the FREE meal every day. You’ll likely be tired of the FREE meal by the weeks end but if it means staying within your budget and making a dream trip to Disney than it was all worth it!
3)Plan your trip far in advance. If you’re headed to Disney in the winter you likely won’t be swimming unless you have an unseasonably warm day. If you’re planning a summer trip be sure to have a case of bottled water in the hotel – it gets really HOT! Consider park crowds – Easter, Christmas, & Thanksgiving are the busiest, and most expensive times of the year (in terms of booking rooms)!
New Markdowns up to 50% off at Disney Store.!
4)Bring Disney paraphernalia with you that you find on sale in your home state or on line at the Disney Store BEFORE your trip to Florida (or CA) and surprise your family with T-shirts or hats or bracelets etc at the hotel so there isn’t as much of a need to buy things (if you cannot afford them) in gift shops. Disney is great with their marketing and many rides end and release you through a gift shop so its impossible to just ride the rides and not hit a gift shop. If you know your child has a favorite, like Pirates of the Caribbean, then find things in your home town on clearance etc and bring them in your luggage. If you plan your trip 6 months to a year in advance there will be plenty of time to find Disney themed sale items. (Princess dress after Halloween etc – Get creative in your thinking) Bring glow bracelets, necklaces etc from the dollar store or left over after Halloween. Every kid seems to have these and they’re sold on the streets of Disney after dark. Every kid wants them and they cost a fortune. Pack them in your bag and surprise them!
5) Consider getting a credit card with a rewards program and saving your rewards points up for a FREE hotel stay. Save now with the Disney Rewards Visa Card at DisneyStore.com and get a $50 statement credit after first use. Now, I know some families like to use cash but this is where serious financial discipline come into play. If you get the rewards credit card to build up points for your trip its important to pay the bill in full each month. We use a no hassle Visa but you can check into different cards like a Hotel Marriot card etc (a Disney rewards card) and see which is right for you to start earning FREE rewards. We charge everything – our electric bill, our trash bill, gas, groceries - you name it! Remember, it only works if you pay it off every month! (otherwise its not a deal if you’re paying interest every month) Speaking of rewards, be sure to find and sign up for a hotel rewards program or hotel discount program. Many hotels offer a specials like buy 5 nights and get 2 FREE. Don’t forget, you’re looking for a place with a kitchen or FREE daily breakfast. Depending on what you charge you could have the hotel paid for on your rewards card in 1 to 3 years. (meaning you’ll earn enough points to get the free room) Disney offers their own rewards Visa see photo.
6) Take a Disney vacation club tour while you’re in Disney and you’ll get FREE fast pass tickets or a FREE $50.00 Disney Prepaid Credit. Many people don’t know that Disney has on site hotels similar to a time share program but a thousand times better. Ask for Todd Bearden @ 866-615-3336 and tell him Maggie Miller sent you. That is who we took a tour with. No high pressure sales – just smiles and fun (I promise!!). Disney doesn’t need to harass you – once you go you’re hooked and Disney is way too classy to worry about that! We purchased into the Disney Vacation Club after we became addicted to Disney and we’ve never regretted it! (about 6 years ago now)
7)If you can’t afford to fly then drive! It is a rough long drive from Maryland but we leave about 6pm at night, pack sandwiches to eat in the car and drive straight through while the kids sleep. It makes for the least amount of ” he touched me, she poked me” arguments in the car between our 4 kids and to us that is worth its weight in gold! LOL!
8) Bring a stroller – They cost $19.00 per day to rent a double stroller in the parks and they do not recline for small children to sleep.
9) Click the link above to get a FREE Disney Vacation Guide Planner here. Its a FREE no obligation guide so you can think about planning your future vacation!
Remember – extreme couponing is about doing more, NOT doing less. Once you’re saving more at the grocery store you’ll have more money for vacationing and family fun. Those are the important things in life - the experiences your children will remember as they grow. 4 days of theme park tickets for Disney for 2 adults and two kids age 9 or younger are just around $900.00 – A family of 4 should definitely be able to save that much by extreme couponing! I hope this post helps make your dreams come true!
p.s. Don’t forget to visit Beth – my best friend since age 12 and partner on Family Frugal Fun ~ She lives just 45 minutes from the mouse in Florida! Oh… and be sure to “like” us on Facebook so you can get more frugal tips, coupons and ideas!