As working professionals or business owners, we need to take care of ourselves! Everyone deserves a break and to spend time with the ones they love! What better way to have fun and spend time with your family than taking a trip to Disney World in Orlando? This is one of our favorite places to vacation! We love seeing our children’s faces light up when they see the castle and the magic of fireworks!
Over the course of multiple blog posts, we are are going to share all our secrets on making Disney fun and affordable! We pulled off a trip to Disney World for around $2,000 as a family of four! You can totally do this trip on a tight budget! And you should!
In our first post, lets talk about doing Disney on a budget!
Our first trip to Disney as a family of four was the cheapest, most memorable, and fun trip we have ever taken. We went for a full week for around $2,000.
How in the world did you do that you may ask?
- Some may cringe when I say this, but we stayed offsite. I have stayed onsite at Disney since I was a little girl. I can only remember one time I ever stayed offsite before this trip, so I was a very skeptical. However, it really worked for us and we loved it. We stayed at Summer Bay Resort in the largest two bedroom condo and it was fabulous. The beds were comfortable, the condo was huge, there was a full kitchen, and the living room was a great bonus area to have so the children could play. We would have never been able to afford to stay somewhere like this onsite at Disney for this price. The drive in to the various Disney parks were not bad at all. We highly recommend it!
- Travel with friends or family! We traveled on this trip with my cousin, her husband, and two boys. We were able to split the costs of the apartment which dropped our week’s stay in half. It was less than half of what we would have paid to stay at a value resort onsite per night. It was awesome and we all loved being together! Just make sure you travel with folks you can deal with for a week and the resort you pick is a good deal!
- If you have little kids, go before they are three! They get in free at Disney World and there are plenty of rides for little ones to safely enjoy.
- Only eat one meal in the park. Plain and simple, food at Disney is expensive and we don’t usually get the dining plan. Most importantly, we would not get our money’s worth out of it. While at Disney, we don’t eat a ton as we are constantly on the go, riding rides and seeing shows. The food at Disney is marginal, but not great. We usually will have one character meal while we are there and thats our one big splurge. For our splurge we love Hollywood and Vine as we have found their food to be the best and as a buffet there is something for everyone to really get their belly’s full! We have also enjoyed a splurge dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This is more of a fine dining environment and the food was great there as well! For a more budget friendly option, we love to eat at Pecos Bill Tall Tell Inn and Cafe and my mom’s absolute favorite is Casey’s Corner at Magic Kingdom. You can eat at one of these places for a fraction of the price of the character resturants. There’s nothing like watching a parade or fireworks while eating a hotdog from Casey’s Corner! (Pro tip: You can oder food for many of the quick service places on your My Disney Experience App. This way you don’t have to wait in line!) Before we head to Orlando, I buy snacks and portion them out for each day. I always throw a treat in there to help occupy my boys when we are waiting on the fireworks or a parade. I love to add these individual Nutella snack packs, Star Wars gummies, or Star Wars JellyBeans to our snack baggy as a treat for these waits. Having something Disney themed to offer on hand can sometimes help keep me from having to buy a very similar product at Disney for twice the price. We pack a gallon size ziploc full of snacks consisting of chips, granola bars, crackers, and whatever I think the boys will like at the time. We also carry in a small soft cooler. (Pro tip: Freeze the water bottles so you don’t have to add ice and the overall load of the cooler drops as the day goes on.) We pack juice boxes and sandwiches. This has saved us a ton of money as a bottle of water or soft drink can cost $3.00 (or, with a family of four, $12 a pop)! We always eat breakfast in our room. If we have a freezer and microwave, we have frozen pancakes for the boys. If we don’t, then we have granola bars or cereal. You may even want to find a hotel that has a free breakfast! We have stayed a night at this Farfield Inn and they had an excellent free breakfast. The rooms were small but they were clean, it was super close to Disney, and very budget friendly. If you want something bigger, we recommend the Staybridge Suites where they have a free breakfast and are also budget friendly. We heard rave reviews on this place! This is an easy way to save $20+ a morning depending upon the size of your family and consumption rate of your kids!
- On our recent trip, we only went for four days. We initially purchased Disney Magic Your Way passes without hoppers. After we got to the park on the first day, we decided we really wanted the hopper pass to really pack in the parks. (We are known to leave our hotel at 7:30am and not return until 12:00am going full Disney-palooza.) After going to guest services on our first day there, we found out it was cheaper for us to upgrade when we got there than to have purchased the hopper tickets from the get go! So for a bit of an insider’s secret, opt to upgrade your passes when you are onsite to save a good bit of money! We just went to Disney’s Guest Services and they helped us out! Check out these tips on Mouse Savers for more info on tickets.
- Go during off season. We have been in peak season and off season. It will always be cheaper during off season. Plus you will get to experience more things during an off season time. Check out this calendar from Undercover Tourist to help you find a slow week! Several friends of ours wisely select weeks in between various events when the crowd levels are a little thinner.
There you have it folks, our top six ways to do Disney cheap and on a budget!
These have really worked for us and has helped us make our dreams come true with a Disney vacation! So all jokes aside about the need for a second mortgage to get the Disney experience, you can visit on a budget by doing a little research and learning the ropes. This may even sound overly nerdish, but don’t be afraid to log the lessons you learned in Evernote or tuck them away mentally for the next time you visit.
Check out why we started a travel section on our blog and our other Disney posts!