I have seen many people ask on the site about saving money on their trips to Disney, and how people made a Disney vacation more affordable. I’m going to give just a few of the tips we utilized to make our very first Disney vacation affordable.
Our trip was in 2011, so some prices will have gone up due to inflation.
There were four adults and two children, but per Disney standards our oldest was an adult price for most everything. We stayed in a non-Disney resort for eight nights and nine days. We bought five park tickets, 2 days at Sea World Orlando, and two dinner shows. Resort and all entertainment costs were $2500. The same resort stay and Disney only tickets would have run us $5500! We drove from Texas, in a mini-van and that added about $600 in gas, which brings our total before food to $3100.
We did some online research and found a resort site that offered the stay and attraction ticket packages with additional add-ons for a discount. We did not have to do any resort tours to save money! We also researched the parks and attractions and, before the Fastpass Plus program, what rides and shows we wanted to make sure to get to while there. We decided to forego Park Hoppers as we thought we’d like to focus our whole day on each park. Then, after visiting each park once, we as a group voted on the park we wished to visit a second time. For us, that park was Hollywood Studios.
We also researched food and drink costs and options while in the parks. We discovered that Disney will give you ice water free, all day, any day at any of their parks. So, there went our drink costs. We packed those drink mix packets to add to water when we wanted. We also found that Disney allows adults to purchase meals from their kids menus, this saved on average $4 per person per meal. The resort had a full kitchen, so we were able to bring or shop for some simple meals for the room. The resort also had free breakfast daily, so we started each day well fed. We figured we would need to eat one light meal at each park each day, which with kids meals was under $40 per day for all six of us. We usually ate our late dinner at the resort, so the costs were low.
We allotted $300 for souvenirs for us and the kids. The Resort offered limited shuttle services to the Disney parks, however we chose to drive and pay the then $15 to park daily.
All told our DIsney vacation cost us $3800 for the six of us to have a very magical time. We were barely in our resort, in fact the kids swam only once on the morning we checked out to head home. We’d never been to Disney, and never stayed at a Disney resort, but we had an amazing vacation that we still talk about to this day. We now live close and have annual passes, but those memories of all the firsts and excitement, and bringing my parents will last us a lifetime. We are so happy with every choice, compromise, and concession we made to make that trip affordable enough to make our dream a reality! I know that even $3800 seems expensive for a vacation, I promise it is worth it. You won’t be sorry.
With some thorough research and deal shopping you too can make the dream of a Disney vacation an affordable reality. Good luck, happy researching, and safe travels when you make it!
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