There are a few crossroads on the way to planning a Disney trip that will take you in different directions financially. If you are looking to make the most affordable trip then this will help you navigate those decision. You may not be able to follow every major money saving idea because of personal constraints but these will send you in the right direction. The more you are able to follow the more affordable your trip will be. You can also use one of these to save money and spend it somewhere else (Travel during value season but stay at a deluxe hotel)
Time Of Travel: The prices for a Disney trip and what specials are available can change considerably based on the time of year you visit. Disney has several seasons and the cheapest time to visit is during value season. The dates change from year to year and depend on certain holidays but in general value season includes January through mid-February, August through September, and the beginning of December. Some advantages to traveling during this time are less crowds and great promotions. One of the disadvantages is weather. These are the times of year when it is either cooler or very hot.
Resort: All resort guests are entitled to the same benefits (Disney’s Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, Disney transportation, Magical Extras, etc.) regardless of their resort being deluxe or value. A great way to cut costs is by staying in a value resort. Pop Century or Art of Animation are the best options because they are the newest and have the best transportation since they don’t share with another resort. The rooms are smaller (they only sleep 4) and you don’t have some of the amenities of the deluxe resorts but you will be saving a hundred or two a night. You will still have a fantastic time. In fact, as I am writing this my parents are spending 4 nights at Pop Century. They love it there. You will find lots of families at the value resorts since they are the most affordable. The new Art of Animation resort is open and is a great option for families with both rooms and suites. At this time I am finding that special promotions are available for the Art of Animation suite but the Little Mermaid rooms are not included.
Park Tickets: The best savings here is to buy a regular base ticket. If you are looking at a package online you will most likely be offered a park hopper ticket. (Be careful since some sites will not let you downgrade to a base ticket) You will be paying a premium to be able to go from park to park on the same day. With a family and young children you will probably not be running from park to park. This is an unnecessary expense. You can buy a ticket for your whole stay and spend every day in a park, even half a day. You just don’t want to pay for the extra options you won’t use. Here are some prices to explain. These are the current prices without tax but can show you the price range. An adult 4 day base ticket is $232 and an 8 day base ticket is $252. (Only $20 more for 4 more days). An adult 4 day hopper ticket is $284 and an 8 day hopper ticket is $306. That is a $54 difference per person just to move around to different parks. There is also a water park and more option and a no expiration option. These all cost additional too. The cheapest thing is to make sure you just have a base ticket but don’t skimp on the number of days After 4 days each additional day is only about $8 more. Get one for your whole trip.You won’t save much to get a shorter ticket and it gives you the option to go in for half days.
Dining Plan: There are lots of opinions on the dining plans. You do have to eat there and so they can save you money. The question is what types of meals are you planning to eat. All sit down meals, no sit down meals, or a mixture of sit down and counter meals. Make sure you get the right meal plan. Check out Disney Dining Plan 2013 to make sure you select the plan that works best for your family.
Magic Your Way Packages: One of the ways to save is to book a Magic Your Way Package. I like the MYW packages because you pick the number of nights, resort, type of tickets and number of days, and if you want to add a meal plan. There are usually specials on these too. Sometimes Disney will give you money back in the form of a gift card when you arrive, buy 4 nights get 3 free, or free meal plans. You can check here to find out the current specials.
This can help you save money for your trip as well as get deferred billing to help pay for your trip. If you want to do a trip in a couple years and want to plan ahead then the Disney Rewards Visa can help you save up for it and add some extra money in your travel budget.
All that being said, the most affordable way to go, see most everything and have a great time is to book a MYW with dining package at Pop Century with a 6 day base ticket during value season.
Thanks Kerry from allthingsformom.com for suggesting this topic. You can leave a comment on this or any other post for a topic you are interested in.