Experiencing Disney World really is a magical experience. It’s hard to put a price tag on the memories you and your family will make there. But when you come down to it, it’s one of the most expensive vacations you can take.
Luckily, there are few simple ways to stick to your budget while you’re at Disney World. Here are the three biggest money-sucks of the Disney experience, and here’s how to avoid them:
- Pricey Peak Hours: Go in the Off-Season
You’ve heard this a hundred times, but it’s easily the biggest Disney-related money-saving tip out there. Don’t go during peak times. This includes during the summer while everyone’s on vacation, spring break, or Christmas.
Some of the best (and cheapest) months to visit Disney World are in January, February, September, or November. Plus, taking a vacation to Disney World in those glum, colder months will give you a nice warm break in the Florida climate, and break up the tedium with something fun and exciting.
Not only will the park itself be cheaper in the off-season, it’ll be less crowded. Other money-saving off-season benefits include cheaper travel and airfare, cheaper hotel rates, cheaper car rentals, etc.
Steer clear of the busy peak months, even if it’s more convenient; ask off of work for a week if you want to save some serious money on your Disney World vacation.
- Costly Resorts: Book a Hotel Outside of the Park
The Disney resort packages can seem incredibly appealing, but unless you get some truly significant discount (for example; AAA members get a sizable discount at the All-Star Resort) then you should just book a cheaper hotel offsite.
There are hundreds of hotels orbiting the perimeter of Disney World’s gates, so you’ll have no trouble finding cheap and nearby accommodations. Sure, you’ll lose the novelty of staying in a Disney-affiliated hotel, and you won’t get all the cool resort stuff. But you’re rarely actually saving money when you book the Disney resort package.
Besides; you probably won’t be in your hotel room much. You’ll be too busy exploring the parks! Even if you’re traveling with a baby there are several nursery areas at Disney World where you can put baby down for a nap without having to trek all the way back to a resort or hotel, so closest proximity is less of a concern.
Most hotels near the park offer complimentary shuttle services that’ll take you straight to Disney World, so there’s no real reason to mess with the resorts unless you’re into spending more money.
- Sneakily Expensive Meals: Watch What You Eat
The biggest expense that Disney World visitors forget about is the high cost of meals within the parks. Packing snacks is a must, but of course it’ll only get you so far.
You’re sort of trapped in the parks, so Disney can safely ramp up the meal-time prices to $5 for a child-sized soda. Even the cheapest eats will cost about $12 per person. The good news is: most of the meal portions are massive. You can usually split meals between two hungry people and opt for water instead of sodas (you’ll want to stay hydrated anyway).
Stay away from the fancy snacks-on-a-stick and ice creams… they’re even pricier than the meals. Combo meals may also seem like a money-saver, but you actually wind up spending more, so go for the individual options, instead.
Pre-packed snacks and water bottles will be your new best friend, and if you loathe the idea of carrying it around with you, you can always splurge on renting a locker to stash it away for later. It’s still cheaper than spending a chunk of your budget on each meal!