Sunday, 10 December 2017

5 Ways to Save Money on your Disney Trip

Ok so let's start by getting one thing straight... Trips to Walt Disney World don't come cheap. They don't even come particularly moderately priced,  and there is no secret way to get your family there for the same cost as a week in one of the Costa's,  but once you get over the fact that you are going to be spending pretty much an arm and a leg to get to the most magical place on earth, it is rather nice to be able to save a few pennies whilst you are there.

Every family or group is going to have different needs and things that are important to them when on vacation. You may find that some of these money saving tips just don't appeal to you or for some people if they plan for this to be a once in a lifetime trip, they may not be so concerned with making cutbacks.

When I visit the parks, I always want to have the full Disney experience, but at the same time after numerous visits, I now know what is worth it for me and what I can save on.

1. Take a Trip to Walmart/Publix 

Hitting one of the big supermarkets is always a must do for me on any trip to Orlando. It really is an experience in itself and a great chance to stock up on all your favourite snack and candies that require you to remortgage the house when you are back in the UK.
It can also be a fantastic way to save money whilst you are away as well.

When touring the parks you will see fruit, cheetos, lays chips, rice krispie treats etc everywhere, and while i'm not saying you should begrudge your family the odd mickey shaped treat you can save a pretty penny by taking some snacks into the parks with you.
An apple or orange can set you back $2 and a packet of crisps anywhere up to $3.50. For the same price in Walmart, you can easily buy a multipack and still get some change for the pressed penny machines!

If you are staying in a villa or a room with a kitchenette, you could also consider buying in some light meals or breakfast items such as croissants, cereals and pop tart to set you up for the day. Disney breakfasts aren't that exciting and once you've had one, you really have had them all. I would save your money or dining credits for lunch and dinner instead.

Top Tip: A lot of snack items in the U.S come in much larger packets than we are used to at home. I always take some sandwich bags with me to take food into the parks and keep it fresh back in the room. 

2. Stay Hydrated with Disney H2O

This is a really simple tip, but one that a lot of people, particularly first time visitors don't know about. If you go to any snack location or quick service restaurant you can get a cup of iced water for free! Yes really!
And no the cast members wont roll their eyes or hate you for it. Florida gets hot, and to be quite honest if you were to stay adequately hydrated for a day in Disney on purchased bottled water, you would probably need the best part of $20.

Now I am a massive slushy and shaved ice fan but in between I will often grab a free cup of iced water to keep cool. You could even get some kool-aid sachets from Walmart to flavour your water if you have family members who are a little adverse to H2O.

3. Use Disney Transportation

Now this might seem like a bit of a silly thing to mention but it is surprising how many people drive from their Disney resort to the parks.
Now I'm not saying a car isn't useful, though personally I have never used one when visiting Disney, but the shuttle buses, monorails and ferries are really part of the experience of staying on Disney property and all you are doing by driving is burning unnecessary fuel.
Plus you are on vacation. Relax and let Disney do the driving, so you can save money on Diesel and have that triple yeti blast in Animal Kingdom!

4. Love Food, Hate Waste

Dining at Disney World is a whole experience in itself, and one I suggest you spend some serious time planning for, but as an experienced Disney goer I have a few thoughts on the subject that may make you change your plans and surprise you a little.
Firstly I never eat 3 meals day when I am at Disney, and this is for a number of reasons; The heat and humidity in Florida leave me craving slushies and cold drinks rather than pretzels and popcorn. The heat makes me lose my appetite slightly at times and to be honest I try to eat fairly light 50% of the time because lets face it, if the queue for space mountain in 10 minutes and you've just eaten a kitchen sink sundae and the plaza, it ain't gonna end well.
Also the portions at both quick service and table service restaurants are HUGE! I see so many people when I am at Disney throwing so much food away, probably because they didn't know what to expect.
So you know that day when you have Ohana booked for breakfast, be our guest for lunch and California Grill for Dinner.... yeh you might wanna re-think that.

Quick service restaurants can be a great way to keep your costs down, and don't think that quick service means burgers and fries. Check out my favourite quick service restaurants here.
You can also easily share quick service meals or just get a snack or side item if you aren't all that hungry. Snacks can be anything from an ice cream cookie sandwich, to mac and cheese, loaded fries or garlic bread sticks with marinara. Yes Really!

I also like to keep an empty sandwich bag with me in my backpack. Then, if you cant quite finish that pretzel or nobody wants the last cookie, you can easily save it for later.

For more info on menus and prices, check out Allears menu page. This will give you a good idea of how much you are going to spend each day and is also a great way to decide what meals and snacks you really don't want to miss.

5. Visit the Premium Outlets

People often ask how much money they should take for souvenirs on a Disney trip, but the only person who can really answer that is you. You can take and spend as much or as little as you want and can physically afford, but I would say it is a good idea to go with a figure in mind that you are comfortable with.
Watch some haul videos and check out the Disney Parks Shop to give you an idea of what you might like and how much it will cost.
It is easy to spend money at every turn in Disney but to cut costs I would really recommend taking a trip to either of the premium outlets in Orlando fairly early on in your trip. This way you can pick up a few bargains, tshirts, hats, plushies... the list goes on, and so when you are bombarded with full price  merchandise at Disney you will be able to decide whether you really need it or not.
You can even sometimes find current parks merchandise at the outlets, and I nearly always find Christmas decorations for a snippet of the price that they are in Ye Olde Christmas Shop in Magic Kingdom.
Now I'm not saying don't buy anything from the parks - far from it but for example on my last trip I really wanted a nice pen and I found one at the outlets that should have been $25. I paid $2.99!!! Which meant that I could put that money towards other souvenirs instead.

You will also find loads of other shops at the outlets that you may be able to get a good bargain in. Bath and Body Works do really nice hand sanitisers and bath bombs and they aren't available in the U.K. For all you Yankee Candle fans, they are up to 70% off here and ladies, if you love Victorias Secret, but don't like the price tag, allow half an hour to delve through the mountains of underwear at a fraction of the cost back home.

I hope you found this useful and if you have any questions regarding dining, merchandise, outlets or how to get there etc, please do send me a message below and I will be sure to get back to you!

K x


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