How To: Plan A Frugal Vacation To Walt Disney World (Or, how we did it)
Recently, we were extended a wonderful chance to travel to Walt Disney World – and, when it fell in line with our budget, we jumped at the chance. Below are some tips for the frugally-minded:
1. Until July this year, WDW is offering military personnel and their families a GREAT DEAL on tickets. It’s about $99 for a 4 Day base ticket, which you can upgrade for approximately $25-30. To save even more money on taxes, you can buy said tickets at Shades of Green in Orlando, or possibly at your nearest base. (Call to figure out which option is cheaper.)
2. Disney now allows soft coolers into the park with foods that don’t need to be reheated. Take advantage of this! We brought small rolls of bologna, crackers, chicken salad, cheese, sun chips, dried fruits, Kashi cheese crackers, etc to avoid some of the high prices of the park snacks. Also, instead of the blue freezer packs, we filled a few ziploc bags with ice each morning, which we’d pour into our drinks as it melted.
3. BYOB. Bring your own bottle. Water bottle, that is. You will have the opportunity to fill up your water all over the park from the water fountains. I will warn you, though, Orlando’s water is GROSS. So, if you aren’t used to it, you may want to bring some lemon juice, fruit juice, or Crystal Light to help camoflauge the taste. And…the water that comes from the fountains are room temperature, so if that’s an aversion you have, prepare yourself by bringing some ice.
4. Bring your own stroller if you have little ones. If we would have rented a double stroller for our girls, it would have cost us an extra $31/day. Instead, we brought our own into the park (which wasn’t really any more trouble since we had to tote the kids in anyhow) AND we had ample space to store our cooler/bags so nobody had to pack anything.
5. Walt Disney World offers some great hotels at “budget” prices – unfortunately, they didn’t fit into OUR budget (approx $80-$100/night). Instead, we traveled with my husband’s parents and stayed at Ft. Wilderness. They allowed us to fit an RV and 2 large tents onto one lot. The price per night for these sites are between $59-$74 and could potentially be split up between several families. It’s an extra $2/person once you start adding people, but that’s a pretty small price to pay. Ft. Wilderness has great air-conditioned “comfort stations” (shower/bathrooms) where the water never got cold in the shower (unless you wanted it to). If you take this route, I recommend that you bring some good bug spray and possibly bug zappers for the mosquitoes and yellow flies. And, if you stay in a tent…a fan is nice (although we managed without one and had a baby and toddler and two adults that seemed to manage just fine).
6. Save your gas, use Disney’s transportation. Sure, it’s a little slower, but RELAX – you’re going to be moving like a mad person as soon as you get into the parks.
7. If you have a little princess of your own, scout out yardsales for princess dresses. Or, run to the dollar store or Michael’s and buy some tulle and make her a tutu. The staff at Disney pull out all the stops, especially when you come all dressed up. And, hey! It’s Disney, why not dress up like a princess? Anyways, a dress in one of their stores is $60. Take your own nail polish, some face glitter, glitter hair spray, and a little tiara and you can surprise your little one with a little makeover before you even get there. –All for under $20. The same treatment INSIDE the parks would set you back $200.
8. Check out the Walmart down the road from the park for some good Disney deals. They sell a few similar/same things for a fraction of the price (think $2 vs. $15).
9. If your kiddos are old enough, they may beg for toys. Luckily, mine were asleep it seemed by the time we got to the stores, but if you don’t think you’ll be so lucky you can purchase toys before you go. Try ebay, Walmart, yardsales, or make stuff. Heck, I found some ADORABLE mickey mouse themed dresses on ETSY.com for only $20, they were cuter than anything WDW offered and at a fraction of the price.
10. Lastly, I suggest bringing some meals to help cut costs. We brought easy to prepare foods – from wraps and sandwiches to flatbread with pizza fixings. Hotdogs and hamburgers to simple pastas. At WDW, it’s EASY to lay down $30 for ONE adult buffet (OUCH!)
Check out allears.com before you go for some great tips. Or, peruse your local bookstore and read some other great tips. There are so many cool things you can do if you just ASK – from free pins at the front gate to pin trading with staff.
Have any great Disney tips? Share them in the comments!