With Walt Disney World constantly expanding and adding jaw-dropping additions, it’s no wonder that prices have increased as well. Annual out-of-state visitors have felt this financial hit especially. (These are the folks that remember days when tickets to the holiday events were half the price.) Families with many children also struggle to make dreams come true with the heftier price tags. Have no fear though! There is more than one way to cut down on the cost of your magical vacation in ways that don’t hinder the magic! Keep these following wallet-friendly tips in mind…
1. Skip Flying and Hotels
If you live in the United States and don’t live across the country, it can be much more cost effective to drive to Orlando. Even after paying for gas, food, and hotels along the way – this is often still cheaper than flying a family to and from Florida. Once you arrive, consider a non-hotel alternative for accommodations – like camping! WDW has beautiful, secluded campsites nestled right within the Fort Wilderness property. Not only will you be next door to the Magic Kingdom, but you will pay a nightly rate that is minuscule compared to the cheapest resorts. (And you will still benefit from free transportation to the parks and impeccable Disney guest service.) Camping can include setting up tents or a personal RV. Either way, sleeping under the stars will vastly reduce the price tag.
2. Skip “Add-Ons” to Your Vacation Package
Disney is praised for being a world-class vacation destination, but they are also notorious for pushing services at an additional cost. Popular services include the Memory Maker Package (which gives you access to digital copies of park photos) or the Park Hopper ticket options (which enables you to visit multiple parks in a day). While these features are useful, they can add up quickly and may not be worth the bottom line. For example, while Memory Maker photos are beautiful, you can have cast members take pictures with your phone for free. And while the Park Hopper option seems convenient, it doesn’t account for all the time you’ll waste traveling between the destinations. Most guests find it much more efficient to just stay in one park per day. So, while these add-ons may be worth it to you in the end, add up the cost before you make the call.
3. Skip Alcohol, Soft Drinks, and Sit-Down Meals
Dining is basically considered a competitive sport at WDW and playing it comes at a price. We have good news though! With so many delicious counter-service restaurants, you can easily skip table service places and still eat like a king. Not only will you save money by skipping the gratuity, but you’ll also gain significant park time. (Also, guests are allowed to bring in snacks! Packing healthy, portable lunches will be much cheaper than several impulse snack purchases). Regardless of where you eat though, abstaining from alcohol or any sodas will definitely save you some dough. This can be hard to resist in the Florida humidity, but almost every restaurant and food stand provide free courtesy cups of water. (You read that right. There are freethings at WDW!) Take advantage of this feature and enjoying saving money by turning down those sugary beverages.
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4. Skip the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Considered a rite of passage for any guest who’s an aspiring princess, children are invited to visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle. At this magical salon, guests are given a princess makeover including makeup, hair styling, nail polishing, and (sometimes) a brand new gown. Sounds fabulous, right? Unfortunately, appointments aren’t cheap and an average package costs over $200! Instead, consider buying a gown at your local Disney store or online before your trip. Give your princess a makeover of your own with some nail polish/glitter and encourage them to wear their dress in the Magic Kingdom. While they’re dressed to the nines, take them to meet their favorite princess or take them to a character dinner. Trust us. There is more than one way to make your child feel like royalty without spending the riches of a Rockefeller.
5. Skip Expensive Special ‘Fireworks Viewing’ Experiences
Seeing the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks is a must-do for most guests. And this means one thing – Main Street U.S.A. and the Castle Hub get extremely crowded. To offset this, Disney has been offering more and more ways to “escape” the firework crowds. Popular choices include: attending Magic Kingdom dessert parties or watching the show from a monorail resort. First of all, skip the dessert parties. The cost per person is pretty steep and the special viewing areas can be as crowded as public areas. Regarding views from a distance, guests love eating at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill, so they can have access to the hotel’s rooftop viewing area. While this is a lovely spot, this restaurant is quite expensive. If you’re traveling without children, consider grabbing a drink and appetizer at the restaurant’s lounge. This will still permit you access to the exclusive rooftop! For a family, consider eating a quick service dinner at the resort next door (the Polynesian). Captain Cook’s offers a diverse and delicious menu at affordable prices. Plus, afterward, you can watch the fireworks from the resort’s uncrowded beach. All it takes is a little creativity to secure a V.I.P. view!
Keeping these suggestions in mind, you should be well equipped to cut down on that WDW bill. Heed these tips and get ready to enjoy a trip that won’t linger on your credit card statement. It’s possible!