Disney on the Cheap: Saving Money at Walt Disney WorldI consistently travel to Disney on the cheap.
1. Do not use a travel agent!Some travel agents charge you $75 a person to book your vacation. I only stay at Disney hotels. You can easily cancel any Disney hotel reservation through Disney or rebook your hotel with Disney. If you need to cancel, you have 5 days to do it before you go if you plans change. You don't need a travel agent to do that for you. On the Disney website, you can also ask questions to a representative. There are enough blogs out there with information that you can research regarding hotels and dining on your own. Only use a travel agent if you do not have time for your own research. For instance, review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Disney Food Blog, Micechat and several other websites.
2. Keep looking for better prices on airline miles using Southwest.I have not paid for my Southwest Flight using Southwest Airlines in the last few years as I have been using points from earning miles through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Account, Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, etc. In fact, I get my family to sign up for the cards and we book flights for each other.
If you are from the states, you can easily use Southwest Airlines to get to Disney and change or rebook your flight with ease. In fact, I can change my reservation with Southwest Airlines for less money or points. I recently did this with my August 2015 flight reservation. Instead of about 8k miles each way, it was only 3k saving me about 10k miles on Southwest. Also, I have rebooked Disney hotel reservation based on specials that Disney offers through their web site. Having an annual pass, DVC membership or summer specials can help decrease the cost. Sometimes even Disney will send you snail mail with special codes.
3. Don't use the dining plan and don't do the dessert partiesUnless you have teenage boys with you, do no use the dining plan. I don't use the dining plan because I bring a bag with snacks with me such as granola bars, pretzels and popcorn. It also helps that my two bags are free on Southwest Airlines. I usually check a bag with clothes and snacks and bring a small carry on with a change of clothes, basic toiletries and swimsuit. These are good for breakfast and snacks throughout your day. Also, the dining plan is too much food. For instance, a counter service meal includes a drink and dessert. When was the last time you had dessert for every meal? There is also a snack daily. For $41.99 a day per person for the two quick service meals and one snack, you can pay less (meals $10-13 each without drink and dessert) and snacks ($5 each) without using the plan. I bring Crystal Light packets with me and my own water bottle to create my own lemonade in the parks. You can get free water and ice at any Quick Service food location and put in your Crystal Light for a cheap drink and meal.
Do not do the dessert parties. It is a waste of money for $75+ a person for just dessert.
4. Use Magical ExpressTransportation from the airport to your hotel can be expensive per person. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you get free transportation to your hotel from MCO (Orlando, FL airport) to your resort. Make sure you set up the transportation with your reservation or call Disney's Magical Express (also known as Mears) before your vacation. I recently screwed up and ended up calling the morning of my hotel reservation and made the transportation arrangements. However, I was one person and not a big deal. For families and large groups, please call weeks beforehand. If you call weeks beforehand, you will also receive luggage tags for your trip meaning you can let Disney deal with your checked luggage and bring it to your room. If you do need other transportation, Uber is now in Florida and are often cheaper than Taxis or Cabs in the city. Need and Uber code for free rides, please email me.
6. Bring your own detergent.Laundry is $2.50 to wash and dry (total $5.00). You can buy detergent for $1.00. However, I bring my own with me in my bag saving the price for detergent. If you are trying to save money and only bringing on bag on your flight, bring less clothes and do laundry. A box of feminine products at the hotel are more expensive than a load of laundry.
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7. Bring an extra pair of shoesIt rains in Florida alot. That means you are likely to have at least one day with wet shoes. Bring an extra pair of athletic shoes with you. Since they are heavy, wear one to the airport. Bring also a pair of flip flops for the pool or in an emergency in the park. Disney does have flip flops available at merchandise stores such as The Emporium at the Magic Kingdom on Main Street, or MouseGears at Epcot, but it is cheaper to bring your own from home. Those $2 flip flops at Old Navy from home are cheap and you can easily toss them away if they get ruined during your trip.
8. Get free things from First Aid in the ParksYou can get free band-aids, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen from the nurse at the theme parks if you forgot them in your hotel room (or at home). You can also get collagen jell (that has Benadryll) for things like bug bites. I always bring my own things from home, but it is nice that I can get something in a pinch in the parks. First Aid in Magic Kingdom is between Casey's and Crystal Palace. At Epcot it is near the Odyssey by the Mexican Pavilion. At HollywoodStudios, at the entrance of the park on the left near Guest Services. At Animal Kingdom, it is on the left side near the new Starbucks or Pizza Planet. Check your guide map if you are having trouble with your headache or blisters finding the First Aid office.
9. Check out buying tickets at Undercover Tourist or another discount ticket website.
10. Sign up for the Disney Visa Card.Currently, there is a free $200 statement credit after you spend $500 in three months with the Disney Visa Card. Also, the card does not quality for 5/24 according to Doctor of Credit. This card has a $0 annual fee. This card also gets you a free photo session at Epcot with a character. It gives you discounts at some of the restaurants and you earn Disney Rewards by using the card. Sign up below:
Disney Food Blog
Also read, 5 Hacks for Saving on Your Disney Vacation from the Huffington Post