Claire | Travel

How To Plan a Disney World Trip (And afford it).

May 8, 2017


Hi Friends! I have been planning on writing this post for so long and I am so excited I am actually publishing it now! This is a topic I haven’t wrote about on the blog yet but it’s something that I love… DISNEY. Yes, I know, I am 23 years old and have no children but I love Disney World and all things related. Let’s Start at the beginning…

During the Summer of 2000 (when I was 6 years old) I took my first (and only – the rest have been to Disney World) trip to Disneyland. Since then I have been to at least one Disney park in 11 of those 17 years (so you could say I’ve been a few times). And I am currently planning my next trip to Disney World this August.

Reasons I love Disney (And love going back):

  • No two Disney trips are ever the same. Either because of the attractions or parks you choose to visit, the places you eat, where you stay or who you go with. So no, it doesn’t “get boring” to visit the same place over and over.
  • It also brings back the nostalgia and memories of when I was young, which I think is pretty cool.
  • It’s a GOOD TIME. Seriously Disney does everything best and they know how to keep their guests happy. It is ~magical~.

Okay so now that we have established that you should go to Disney, let’s get into the point of this post – planning a trip! So although my trip in August is the first I am planning on my own as an adult (aka my Dad is not charge of the planning like all of my other trips) I have been there enough to know how everything works and even when I was young, my sister and I were in on part of the planning. I even remember reading my dad’s Disney Guide Books when I was 9 years old! We would look at maps and decide which rides we wanted to go on and make a plan of action that made sense so we could see everything we wanted. The point of all this is – I know what I am talking about, I know how to Disney.

So now you are convinced you should go, and you trust me on the advice I give, now you’re probably thinking, yeah it would be great to go but Disney is too expensive for me. Well, I agree, Disney is expensive, there’s no way around it, you have to spend some amount of money to go. But if you are willing to save the money for any kind of vacation, you can make it work. This is because Disney offers vacations to a wide variety of price ranges. Yes, you can spend $400/night on a Disney hotel but you can also can spend $115. And yes, some meals cost $60/plate but you can also eat a meal for less than $15. And the thing is, you get to choose what is in your budget! You can customize your vacation to what you can afford and still enjoy the same parks and magic no matter what you spend on other things.

So here are my tips! Since I am currently planning my trip with my sister and my cousin, we are going the cheaper route for things, so these are things I did to plan our weekend getaway while keeping costs the cheapest as possible! This is how you can do Disney for the ~cheapest~ possible, remember nothing is free.

  • Tickets to the parks are pricey. And they don’t change based on time of year, and everyone pays the same (unless you can get a military discount). But, here a some things to know:
    • Children under the age of 3 are free, children 10 and under get “kid” pricing.
    • You spend less per day the more days you add to your tickets.
    • Sometimes they do run specials – but it usually requires a minimum 4 day ticket purchase.
    • Park hopper is worth the price in my opinion. We only have 2 days at the parks, but with park hopper we are able to fit in all four parks, which means a shorter trip and less tickets to buy/less hotel nights. (P.H. means you can visit more than one park in a day, compared to single day park tickets).
  • Hotel prices depend heavily on time of year and can really make a difference on how much you spend.  The absolute cheapest hotel prices are mid January-Mid February. Otherwise, the last week of August-September is pretty much the next cheapest. (We are paying about $130/night) Shop around on different dates and pick the cheapest.
  • Hotel price also depends on category of hotel. If you are going for the cheapest, select “value resorts” when searching for your dates. They are going to be the least expensive. Does this mean they are the smallest with the least amenities? Yes. Are the still Disney owned and up to Disney standards? Yes. We are staying in the All Star Movies resort this year. (But I have started at Pop Century, Beach Club and Polynesian as well).
  • Can you find cheaper hotel prices off site? Yes, you can. Why shouldn’t you stay there? Because if you are flying to Orlando – you would most likely need a rental car if you stay offsite. But if you stay at a Disney Resort, they take you to you hotel from the airport for free and there is also a free bus system that will take you from your hotel to the parks and between parks.
  • As for food in the parks, here’s my tips for saving money:
    • Pack your own breakfast bars and snacks. You can take them into the parks. This goes for water too. Bring your own bottles. There are water fountains around the parks and any quick service restaurant will give you free cups of water.
    • Speaking of quick service restaurants, these are the cheapest places to eat. Look up menus online before you go and pick out places in your price range that interest you (this also helps for planning). There are many places that you can get a meal for between $10-$15.

A few of my final tips: 

  • Go with a group! Split the hotel costs with your friends, and you’ll be surprised how much cheaper the hotel will seem.
  • Pick something as a souvenir to treat yourself, but you probably don’t need a Mickey plush toy or a light saber. Spend your money wisely.

As an estimate for you, not including flight and  just for me, I am planning on spending less than $500 the entire trip. That is 2 nights at hotel, two day park hopper tickets, all of food and souvenirs.

I am happy to answer any questions, or even help you plan an affordable Disney trip! Just shoot me an email. 🙂

Thanks for catching up and bearing through this lengthy post, I hope you found it helpful.

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