How to afford a trip to Disney


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Your kids have been begging you for months now to take you to Disney and wont leave you alone about it. You want to say yes to them and provide them with the trip of a lifetime to Disney World. You know they will make memories that will last a lifetime at Disney regardless of their age. All you hear are people talking about the outrageous costs of going to disney. In fact a trip to Disney can be expensive, especially when you start booking a room at a resort, getting your park tickets and buying meals. The cost of this magical vacation can begin to add up quickly. Spoiler Alert! Once you arrive at Disney, you are going to have a lot of extra costs that you probably havent planned for. We will save all these other expenses for another article so we don’t scare you away from Disney.

The cash register in your head is spinning fast, your sweating as to how can you make your family happy and how you are going to afford this trip. However with a little planning, understanding the costs, and time you can afford to give that magical vacation to your family.

7 Tips to afford Disney World

1. Savings plan

The first step to being able to afford the trip to Disney, is to save up some money. My recommendation for a family of 4 planning a week long vacation to Disney is save between $4000-$5000 for trip. This is for a resort, park passes and dining plan. To go conservative you may want to save even more money for souvenirs and paid experiences at Disney. Not everything will be included in your resort fee or your park tickets

Yes, I just told you to save a large amount of money for the trip. However if you take your time planning and researching when, where and what for your trip to Walt Disney World. You can easily cut this price down and save money on your trip. In the end the trip will be worth every penny

How expensive is Disney.

For a Family of 4 (2 Adults and 2 Kids) Traveling to Disney World for a 6 day vacation could possibly lead to a bill of $4300 with the following items added to your vacation.

Disney Pop Century Resort Standard Pool View- $1166.61
5 day ticket with admission to 1 park each day-    $1979.26
Quick service dining plan- $954.95
Memory Maker- $169.00
Grand Total without Tax- $4269.82

This is a very rough sample of the cost of a trip to Disney in 2020.

There are many ways you can save the money for this Disney trip. You can set up a spare change jar or create a savings calendar. However you do it, get your kids excited and involved in it. Have them save their spare change or the birthday money they got from Nana and Papa.

Here is a savings tracker that you can use to keep track of your progress towards reaching that goal.

Trak your savings for your next Disney Trip

2. Book and Visit during the off season

You may say to yourself Disney doesn’t have an off season, but it really does. The normal off season for Disney is January/February and September. Unfortunately off season is usually when your children are in school. Don’t let the teachers fool you, Disney is very educational. In that case, check with your child’s school and see if you can make it an excused absence. If you can’t go during the off season, and have to go during a holiday or summer, do your research to find the best deals available.

If you end up having to book during peak season, there are many ways in which you can cut your costs and help reduce the financial strain of Disney. When booking consider staying off property at a nearby hotel. Or see if you can crash at a family or friends house near the parks. Take a close look at the ticket options and find the one that best suits your needs and wants for the trip.

Remember you don’t have to do everything that is available at Disney. Do things you want and enjoy to do. There are attractions at Disney that you may not have any desire to see.

For latest crowd level estimates check out Magic Guides.

3. Only have to pay the deposit when booking

When it comes to booking a vacation at Disney you can book the vacation up to 499 days in advance. This gives you a lot of time to prepare for your vacation. The great thing about Disney is that you do not have to pay for your entire trip when you book it. You will only be required to pay a deposit for your trip. The deposit for a vacation is usually between $200-$400 if you are booking well in advance. A last minute booking may require you to pay the entire cost upfront.

4. Pay as you go for the vacation

7 Tips to Afford a magical trip to Disney World
7 tips to afford a Disney trip

You are typically not required to pay the full vacation amount when you originally book it. You will have until a month prior to your vacation to pay for it. Now, that you have booked your vacation, paid the deposit and are counting down the days. Why not slowly pay down the balance between now and the day of your arrival. You can pay a little towards the balance at anytime. Just be aware that the balance of your trip will be taken out of the credit card a month prior to your vacation. Make sure you read the fine print when booking

Take the savings chart from above and use it to track your vacation payoff.

5. Deciding to stay on or off property. One of the most expensive parts of visiting Disney World is the resort. While this is probably one of the top 3 most expensive aspects of your trip, this can also be one area you can save a fair bit of money for your vacation. Disney has over 30 resort options for you to choose from; prices ranging from $50 a night to over an $1000 a night. In addition to all the Disney resort options, there are plenty of non Disney hotels for you look at. The debate of staying on or off property is a never ending debate as to which one is better. Each option has its perks.

Since we live close to disney we only stay on property if we want to spend any length of time at Disney. So we are going to be partial to staying on property. The main advantage of staying on property is the free transportation around Disney world. You park your car in front of your hotel room and let it sit there for the week. Another advantage of staying on property are all the activities that the resorts have to offer. Swimming pools, arcades, nightly movies and numerous kids activities, that you most likely can’t get at an outside hotel. If your main priority are the parks then staying off property could work out since you won’t be using the hotel very much, however you will have to factor in the cost of parking and/or transportation to the parks.

My one recommendation for those that want to stay off property is to try and snag a room at one of the hotels along Disney Springs. This way you can walk to the Disney Springs bus stop and use Disney’s transportation and avoid the parking fee for the parks.

If you want to stay on property and want to go with the cheapest option, you will want to look at camping at the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. You can sometimes snag a tent/pop-up site for as little as $50 a night, the only downside is you will be sleeping in a tent, which during the summer may not be fun for your family.

6. Which park tickets do I need/want? Spend some time researching what the parks have to offer and what your family would like to do or can do. From here create a plan of what you would like to do during this visit at Disney World. If you are only going to be at Disney for 3 days with a toddler, you may not plan or need to visit all the parks. Or maybe you want to make sure you visit the water park over going to Hollywood Studios.

Therefore, when booking your vacation Disney will give you options for what kind of tickets you would like to add to your stay. The 1 park a day selection is the automatically selected (for each day of your vacation) ticket option, however this may not be the option for you. Check out which ticket is right for you and ride height requirements to get a better idea of the ticket option you want to pick.

One way to cut the cost of the park tickets is to not get park tickets for the day you check-in and check-out. Unless you plan on arriving super early and leaving super late, you may not get your money’s worth at the park for these days.

A perk to staying on property is Extra Magic hours for resort guests to get in early or stay late to parks. This increasing your chances of being able to experience more attractions!

7. Understand all the cost involved with the vacation. You have booked your resort stay and purchased your tickets and now your all set. Wrong. Once you show up to the resort and the parks you are going to incur other costs that you didn’t plan for when you booked your trip.

If you drive your vehicle you will need to pay a parking fee at the resort. If you did not purchase a Dining plan you will need to pay for all your meals. Even with a dining plan there will be times when you have to pull out the credit card and pay for some food.

You are going to buy souvenirs and gifts for the family and they will add up quickly. Check out some fun and free souvenir ideas for the family. If you brought your own vehicle with you to Disney, one great option to get a discount on Disney merchandise is to go over to one of the disney outlets. Unfortunately they are not on disney property, but you can find great bargains on disney merchandise. Check out character warehouse at the Vineland outlets, a short 12 minute drive from Disney Springs.

Pressed Pennies

When looking at the cost of your trip to Disney, it may look expensive, but when you consider everything it entails it is without a doubt worth every penny, especially when it comes to staying on property. Disney goes above and beyond to make sure your vacation is as magical as possible. While I have never stayed off property while visiting Disney. I do spend a lot of time in various hotels and resorts for work. I can tell you that you will be 100 times happier with staying on property for your vacation.

Affording a trip to Disney World
Tips to Afford a trip to Disney World

For more information on how to afford your disney trip or to save some money while at disney, use our search feature and search “affording disney” and you will find many other great articles to help you.

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