When it comes to traveling to Disney World- it tends to be one big splurge. Treat ‘Yo Self to all the fun, act like kids, and soak in the enjoyment of a good vacation. It’s a huge reason why we only visit every few years! That said, there are definitely areas that we can (and often do) cut corners and save money on our trips!
1. DIY Breakfast is one thing we almost always do. We bring breakfast bars, and store some milk and juice in the in-room fridge. We generally book the earliest possible lunch (usually 11/1130) so we can just have a really inexpensive start, avoid the excess calories, and save time too! You can bring things with you (such as cereal, granola bars, etc), or you can make a grocery store run (or have groceries delivered) and include some afternoon snacks too.
2. Limit the souvenirs and don’t over spend on things you won’t still want at home. As much fun as new ears, toys, and pins can be – this is an area a lot of us could cut a ton off – and still be happy! Just be selective and set budget or item # limits. Remember that you can often get items (sometimes at a good discount!) on ShopDisney.com and the Shop Disney Parks app.
3. Don’t over shop before the trip! From custom etsy T-shirts to more new things than you really need – be careful! Those dollars add up quickly. While pre-shopping for some things can save you money – proceed with caution.
4. Skip car rental and just take the bus. From the airport Disney provides you transportation that is complementary pretty much everywhere you go. We always use Disney transportation (a perk from staying on site!) from monorail to boats to buses – and it’s so nice to sit back, relax, and just let someone else drive. Not to mention the money we save not renting a car.
5. Think carefully about your extras. From character meals to tours to picking a room with a view instead of a basic view- extras add up and quick! Often they are worth it – but since they can add up to hundreds of dollars just for one princess lunch these extras can double a budget.
Finally, one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid is not running the math. For example, the Dining Plan that many consider a good value, for us would have actually cost more than what we spent in reality on food. Another example is renting a car so that you can stay farther away for less and/or leave to eat meals someplace much less expensive than Disney. From parking fees to time spent getting to and from the parks – consider all the factors.
Overall, what we do is to cut expenses and save as much as we can at home, and only visit every few years when we’ve saved up enough money to enjoy the trip we’d like to have within reason. While a stay in a suite or with all the extras would be nice – we find that a middle ground of staying in a DVC studio and enjoying just a few extras suits us just fine!