Think a Disney family vacation is out of the question because of the cost? Not if you plan ahead! We asked the experts to share their tips for enjoying a trip to Disney that won't break the bank.
If a trip to the Magic Kingdom is in your future, the first thing you need to do is create a budget. So how much does a Disney vacation cost? We asked Siera Duiser, a travel agent with Destinations to Explore, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, for the average cost of a three-day Disney vacation for a family of four. “Disney has three categories of resorts to fit every budget,” said Duiser. “The average cost for a non-discounted mid-range resort three-day package including hotel, tickets and dining for a family of four would be $1,700 (plus airfare).”
If that figure doesn’t fit your budget, don't fret. Duiser says there are also lower-priced options available at value resorts, and Disney discounts are available throughout the year.
If you can travel during one of the "off-seasons," such as early in the year or in the fall, Duiser says you’ll not only get the best deals, but you’ll also enjoy better weather and fewer crowds. The most affordable times of year to visit Disney parks are January through mid-February and August through mid-November. “Although the cost of the tickets does not change, the resort rates fluctuate throughout the year,” Duiser said.
Duiser says one of the benefits of booking a Disney trip with a travel agent is that they should automatically apply any future discounts to your reservation as soon as they become available, which can add up to significant savings.
Working with a travel agent may involve a few extra perks too. Duiser says she provides her clients with an Orlando discount card, theme park guide maps and autographed pictures of Mickey or the princesses for their kids. She even runs specials throughout the year where clients can receive a gift card for booking with her — not a bad way to score a little extra spending money!
If you’re not using a travel agent, how can you make sure you don’t miss out on any Disney deals? Sign up for the MouseSavers newsletter and follow MouseSavers on Facebook to stay on top of the latest Disney special offers.
Most travelers put serious effort into getting the best deals on their airfare and hotel, but it's just as important to plan ahead when it comes to Disney dining. If you're planning for a few character meals (experiences where Disney characters meet and greet guests in the restaurant) or buffets, Duiser says the Disneyland Dining Plan and Disney World Dining Plan can help you save big on dining expenses.
Gavin Doyle, editor and founding partner of DisneyDose.com, recommends eating at a Starbucks or fast-food restaurant before entering Disneyland to save money on breakfast. Disney also allows guests to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into the park, so feel free to bring a backpack with snacks and cold water bottles. Doyle suggests eating a big lunch around 1-2 p.m. because the lunch menu prices are lower than the dinner menu prices, and by eating later in the afternoon you won't be as hungry for a big dinner.
Unless you have a Fairy Godmother who can turn a pumpkin into a private jet, you'll need to save up for your magical Disney vacation. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Travelzoo senior editor Gabe Saglie suggests visiting the HR department where you work to see if they offer any deals on theme park tickets, talking to friends who live in Southern California or Orlando to see if local Disney deals are available, and checking Travelzoo for regularly published deals on Disneyland-area hotels within walking distance to the park for under $120/night.
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