Affordable Disney Vacations

To a kid, a trip to Disney to play with Mickey Mouse and dine with Cinderella is the ultimate. It can, however, put a major dent in the family budget. How do you save money on your Disney vacation? These tips will help you travel happy for a fabulous trip.

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Disney Meals

Disney world castle

What about eating? If you are staying at Disney and have no vehicle, you are somewhat married to eating on site. However, even within the context of that, there are ways to save.

Dooling says that adding the dining option onto the Magic Your Way package is one good way to go. There are three levels of the plan, which provide a varying selection of menu plans (quick-service, sit down, snack, etc). "For me, it really worked out so much better," said Dooling.

If you don't go for the plan, you can still save by planning to have early dinners nightly. Dooling suggests making reservations for the last lunch booking at park restaurants, which is at 4 pm or 5 pm. Since lunch is usually less expensive, you will have dinner at a reasonable time and still save.

You can also bring some of your own food with you -- and even into the park! "You are also able to take your own water, juice, snacks, etc. into the parks (just no coolers). Remember you can always fill up your own water bottles, too, in order to save. All restaurants offer water as a beverage, too, in place of soda. This can save up to $3 per person per meal or snack," says Robinson.

Also, with the rebirth of grocery delivery services, you can have food from the outside come to you. "Consider ordering food and other necessities in advance, to be delivered to your hotel. You can order things like bottled water, snacks and baby food (even beer and wine for mom and dad) from GardenGrocer.com for Walt Disney World trips and from Albertson's supermarket near Disneyland," says Caldwell.

Other fun

Bolt toys at Disney World

While you are at Disney, you can also take advantage of free entertainment around the park, if you are staying there. For instance, Fort Wilderness has camp stories and marshmallow roasts some nights, says Dooling. There are also free movie nights at one of the Disney hotels.

Another gem for free things to do is downtown Disney. "There is always something going on down there," says Dooling, who notes that you don't need a ticket to see the shows and other events there.

As for the souvenirs, they are pricey at the park, but you can save by bringing your own. "Buy and bring Disney plush toys, T-shirts, etc. with you to surprise your kids in the room and not pay the theme park mark-up. You can even find small Disney-themed toys at dollar stores," says Caldwell.

More tips on your family vacation

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Tags: orlando theme park

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