The key to an economical and relaxing vacation at Walt Disney World is all about planning ahead. If you play your cards right, by the time you actually get to the park, you won’t have any more details to worry about. Slack on planning, and you’ll be faced with surprise expenses, frantic scheduling, and longer lines than you might’ve expected. Take the time to plan ahead, and it’s smooth sailing all the way to the Magic Kingdom.
1.) Plan your vacation up to a year in advance. Not only does this give you the time to work out all of the many details involved, but it also gives you something to look forward to for a whole year!
2.) Don’t go in debt for your vacation. By planning up to a year ahead, you have time to save money for the trip, as well as spending cash. (Disney works with you on reservations that are far out, and there are even layaway type payment plans.) This makes all the difference in being able to really let go and have fun on your trip. By not worrying in the back of your mind about debt, it really becomes a no-strings-attached vacation.
3.) Plan for travel to the park. Whether you’re road-tripping or flying, you’ll need to calculate how much you’ll be spending on gas or plane tickets and figure it into your budget. Also consider things like where to park your car at the airport, whether or not to have someone drop you off and how you’re getting to your hotel upon arrival. Knowing exactly how much it will cost you is far better than just avoiding the idea. Sometimes, getting to the park can cost as much as park tickets. By planning ahead, you’ll have time to research and compare different travel routes, airlines, or even bus lines! Give yourself time to find the most economical options.
4.) If you fly and, once you arrive at the Orlando airport, if you’re staying at a Disney resort, Disney will not only deliver your bags for you from the plane to the hotel, they’ll give you a free ride to and from your hotel. It’s called, Disney’s, “Magic Your Way” option. You can find more information about this option at the Disney park websites. I highly recommend it, it’s more economical. I would highly recommend staying at a Disney resort. It may seem more expensive initially. But the all-inclusive resort experience actually covers your cost of travel to and from airports, to and from the parks each day, and saves you on gas money during your visit. It’s quite a bargain.
5.) Think about a food budget. Prices for Disney’s in-park food stands and restaurants are available online. Just Google the topic and you’ll find countless resources. Use this information to calculate how much money you’ll need during your trip to feed your family. When we road trip, we pack a cooler with all the food we’ll need to get down to Florida from Indiana. We also pack snacks for the whole week and breakfast foods such as cereal or microwaveable oatmeal. This drastically cuts down on in-park spending if we eat only one meal a day there and some fruit from various snack stands.
6.) Have a rough plan for each day of your stay. For example, we always know that the first day we’re there, we will go to the Magic Kingdom for the first half of the day. When it gets hot, we go back to the hotel and swim, eat a snack, and head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at night. By having a plan, we get the most out of our time there. We also know every day that there are at least one or two rides we will definitely get Fastpasses for immediately so we won’t miss out on them due to long lines. You don’t have to have your time budgeted down to the hour, but having a skeletal plan ensures you don’t miss your favorite rides, shows, and attractions. It’s easy to waste time just walking around!
7.) Have a souvenir budget. You won’t be able to resist the pull of those little trinkets and keepsakes. Having a budget keeps the total from adding up and helps you choose something you really want over an impulse buy.
8.) Bring an empty suitcase for souvenirs. You always come home from a trip with more than you left with, having an empty suitcase ensures that you have plenty of room to bring it all home. As a bonus tip, fill that souvenir suitcase with non-perishable snacks for your time in Orlando. By the end of the week, the snacks will be gone and you’ll have room for all your newly acquired merchandise.
9.) Always call ahead to Disney before you finalize your plans and ask about deals and specials. If you talk with a Disney employee over the phone, they can help you find all kinds of deals and sales that you didn’t even know where happening. They can often times suggest the cheapest possible resort options and packages. They know that if they save you money, you’re likely to stay longer or have a better time ensuring your return. In this case, customer service actually wants to help you!
10.) Check the park website where you will be visiting and look for the ride rehabs that will be occurring during your intended visit. If there’s a ride on your list you simply can’t miss, then plan around the time that it will be closed for “rehab”, which just means they’re sprucing it up. Try this website, http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/rehab.htm