Disney World on a Budget: Part One, The Planning Stage

Disney World on a budget? It IS possible!

When considering destinations for their next vacation, some people quickly eliminate Disney World because they assume that it will simply be too expensive.   While it is true that a Disney World vacation can be very costly, it can also be quite affordable under the right circumstances.  This is the first installment of a three-part series that will help you get the most “bang for your buck” when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort.  In this first post, I will focus on ways that you can save money during the planning stage of your Disney vacation.

First, picking the right time of year to visit Disney World is crucial when you are on a budget.  Rack rates for onsite resort rooms are usually lowest in January (after schools are back in session from the holiday break – with the exception of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend).  Rates are also reasonable in late August through mid-December (with a few exceptions, including Columbus Day and Thanksgiving Day weekends).  During these times of year, you can find a hotel room at a Disney value resort for a rack rate (non-discounted price) of as low as $85/night.  In addition, Disney has historically offered even further discounts on these off-season rates, resulting in even more savings.

Second, choosing the right hotel can make a huge difference.  If your heart is set on staying at a Disney World resort hotel on property, Disney offers several budget accommodation options (called “value resorts”).  Like all Disney resorts, these hotels are clean and safe, and the staff provides the same high level of customer service that you would find at any Disney resort.  While Disney value resorts are beautifully-themed with heated outdoor pools and food courts, they do lack some of the “bells and whistles” associated with more expensive Disney hotels.  For example, Disney value resorts do not feature full-service restaurants, nor do they provide concierge services (like they do at Disney deluxe resorts).  For many people, however, this is not an issue.  If lodging onsite is not a priority, many nearby hotels and motels offer periodic discounts that can help you stretch your budget.

Third, conducting a little bit of comparative research on flights and theme park tickets can save you a lot of money.  Instead of beginning your Disney vacation on the weekend, try flying out of your home airport on a Tuesday or Wednesday (rates for flights are generally lower in the middle of the week).  Furthermore, before purchasing your theme park tickets, check out Undercover Tourist online and compare prices.  This is the only Disney-approved third-party ticket broker.  Keep in mind, however, that Undercover Tourist will only save you money if you purchase four or more days of theme park tickets.

Finally, consider seeking out the help of a travel professional (and I’m truly not just saying this because I am one).  Travel agents often have access to the best deals, they are knowledgeable about your options, and they will do all of the research for you (saving you a ton of time).  Furthermore, in the vast majority of cases, the services of a travel professional do not cost you a penny, so they are very budget-friendly!

Next Up: Saving Money on Your Disney Vacation Before You Leave Home 

Meredith McCutcheon


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