5 Ways To Do Disney On A Budget
Nate and I just booked our next adventure - Walt Disney World! We have been together before, but not since 2015, and so much has changed since then! Going to Walt Disney World was my family's almost annual vacation growing up, so it holds a very special place in my heart! In our circle of family and friends, one of the things I'm known for is the number of times I’ve been (which, I think, will blow your mind). Keep reading to find out exactly how many times....!
But, going to Disney is definitely an investment and one of the reasons we haven't been in a few years. If you're thinking of booking a trip soon, here are 5 things that will help you do Disney on a budget.
1️⃣️ Stay on Disney Property
But maybe at one of the value resorts. There is SO MUCH included in your nightly hotel rate from a convenience perspective that you shouldn't pass that up. Think peace of mind and time saving - like complimentary transportation, early access to Fast Pass reservations, and extra magical hours! Probably the biggest practical benefit in my eyes is transportation. It's complimentary and it's to and from all of the parks including Disney Springs (I will never get used to calling it this! It will ALWAYS be Downtown Disney to me!!).
So think about this - you've just saved up and put all this energy into scheduling and planning your Disney vacation (along with ALL the other people)... the last thing you want to worry about when you get there is figuring out HOW to get to and from the parks, right?? Transportation can be one of the biggest headaches when going to the Disney Parks, especially if you're staying off property. For one, you have to get yourself and your family TO the park first. That includes driving time and parking time. Oh yes, make sure to account for parking time! You'll get funneled into the park's huge surface parking lot, likely nowhere near the entrance and you'll have to shuttle to the front of the parking or sometimes shuttle to ANOTHER form of transportation. It's a little bonkers.
Say you're heading to Magic Kingdom for the day. This is how self transportation would look (and if you don't plan well, this could take HOURS):
Drive from your hotel to the Magic Kingdom surface parking lot
Get funneled into a long line of other people trying to park at the same place
Finally find a parking spot
Wait for the shuttle that will take you to the ferry (because Magic Kingdom's parking lot is ACROSS the bay)
Wait for the ferry to arrive
Take the ferry across the bay - about a 10 - 15 minute ride
Get funneled off the ferry into the security and entrance line
And this is all among A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE
Here's how staying on property and using Disney's transportation would look like:
Wake up, get ready, eat breakfast at the hotel.
Head out front or back to the designated transportation pick up (bus, monorail, or boat).
Wait 10 - 15 minutes for the form of transportation to arrive (bus is the most common and there's a ba-jillian of them)
Enjoy the 10 - 15 minute ride to the park, depending on where you're staying and which park you're going to.
That's literally it. You'll get dropped off at the main entrance with just a little bit of walking time and security clearance. BUT THEN YOU'RE IN!
PS - Another piece of advice... NEVER will call your park tickets! That's just another line you have to wait in.
2️⃣️ Plan your trip for non-peak times
This is in terms of people and crowds, so you can avoid the masses. Disney is always busy, but sometimes it's busy on a level that is just a litttttllllleeee crazy. Throughout the year, there are periods of peak crowd times and non-peak crowd times at Disney. AKA, when all the people go and when not all the people go, ha! There are so many great resources to figure this out. But, here is my favorite. It gets updated every year, but generally speaking, you can expect the same peak and non-peak time frames. PS - non-peak times are also less expensive!
3️⃣️ Consider Splitting Meals & Bringing Groceries
Splitting meals with your significant other, partner in crime, or other family members is a great way to save on food costs. Especially with dinners or other large meals you plan to have throughout your stay. And also if you're a lighter eater, like me! Nate and I did this a lot the last time we went. If you own a timeshare and you're staying at a vacation club resort, you could consider splitting meals out AND bringing groceries for breakfast (and even lunch) and plan to eat in every morning.
4️⃣️ Create a Travel Budget
Before you go and as your planning, so you can track your expenses to see how you did overall. This helped us put the entire trip of our last visit into perspective. Disney IS an expensive vacation and I know for certain people, like my husband, it's not as easy to see the VALUE in the "amount of money" you think you're spending on a trip like this. For us, having that budget and tracking our expenses helped Nate see that it wasn't such an extreme spending vacation.
5️⃣️ Disney Credit Card
This is likely not for everyone and I'm not at all condoning the use of yet another credit card in our debt ridden world, BUT. If you do go to Disney a lot as it is, you should definitely consider switching out or getting the Disney Credit Card! You rack up Disney Reward Dollars for EVERY purchase you make and can use them for anything Disney. For us, we used the reward dollars we had at the time of our last trip for food and beverage costs! I think it was around $300 or so, and that paid for ALL of our meals out. You'll have to remember that Nate and I also incorporated #3 into our last trip, so if $300 seems low it probably is. But for us, it worked PERFECTLY!
So, tell me how do you do Disney on a budget? What other ways haven't I thought of?? Drop them in the comments. As well, if you have questions, contact me! I'm kind of a Disney expert 🙂
Oh, and if you're still here -- I’ve been to Walt Disney World more than 20+ times (and counting...) plus I did my college internship there and may or may not have lost track of exactly how many times then (see I told you it would blow your mind!). Have you been?!