Let’s talk VACATION! I’m of the belief that there are two types of vacations: you either set out to see and do LOTS of things or you set out to do as little as possible for the entire time. For those of you up for the first option, Disney World is a great option for that extra special trip. But before we get started, a warning: Disney is not for the weak of wallet. Disney World is HUGE and it can be expensive. However, it truly is as they claim – a magical place. Today, let’s talk about 6 ways to do Disney on a Budget and I’ll even walk you through a trip my friends at The Magic for Less Travel helped me plan.
- Budget Doesn’t Mean Cheap – I’ve already said Disney World is expensive. Disney on a budget means you’ve saved up to pay for this special, potentially once-in-a-lifetime Disney experience and are going to make sure you don’t overextend yourself to do it. In other words, doing Disney on a budget means you bring home memories without expecting bills to follow.
You can waste a lot of money in Disney, but you can also spend some money on things that are well worth it. I’ll tell you near the end how you can find out if Disney is within your budget.
- Planning is Critical – I’ve been to Disney four times – two were well-planned trips and two were, “hey, we’re going to Disney World” trips where I was with a group. There is no way to measure how much more I was able to do and enjoy myself on the trips where a lot of pre-planning was done.
Plan your trip…FAR in advance. You’ll spend far more money on a poorly-planned trip and waste a lot of time. And by the way, you can’t see the 30,000+ acres of Walt Disney World on a single trip, so don’t even try.
- Splurge Where it Matters – For our family, this usually means eating meals at some of the fun restaurants. I have great memories of eating at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and even celebrating Stacy’s Birthday dinner in Cinderella’s castle (to name just a couple). These weren’t cheap, but they are great memories. The point is this: decide where you’d like to spend your daily budget BEFORE you go and splurge on the things that build memories.
- Stay on Property – I’ve done it both ways. If you stay at a Disney resort, you can ride shuttle buses (or the monorail) to any park from your hotel. You can get in to some parks earlier and/or stay later (“Extra Magic Hours”). You can have stuff you buy delivered directly to your resort so you don’t carry it all day. If you’re spending time traveling to and from Disney property each day, that’s time you’re missing out on the Disney experience.
2007 – Downtown Disney
Take Advantage of Perks – There are lots of little perks at Disney. For example, if it is your birthday, anniversary, etc., they’ll treat you throughout the day. In 2007, we went during Stacy’s birthday and she was given a card and a balloon in our hotel room from Cinderella. Throughout the day, team members would say, “Happy Birthday, Stacy” or give her some little present while we waited in line for a ride or something. All this was free, just because she had a little badge on that said it was her birthday. There are TONS of perks if you’ll seek them out.
- Let an Expert Help – In the 90’s when I went to Disney World for the first time, there was no better resource than a Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World book. They’re still printed anew each year and they’re still handy, but now there are services that have Disney experts to help. Might I recommend one?
One of our advertisers is The Magic for Less. All they do is help plan Disney vacations. That’s it. It is free to you (Disney pays them a commission), and their quote is the same as if you went directly to Disney to plan the trip. Most of all, they know their stuff. How do I know? I’ve been through their process! For this post, they helped me set up a mock trip so I could give an honest review.
What did I think? It was AWESOME! I filled out their quote form and within a few hours I had an email with several simple options (and costs). But then my travel planner, Deb, wowed me with email tips on checking in and others with details about things like Fastpass (an awesome service, by the way), Extra Magic Hours, packing list ideas, etc., etc., etc.
Instead of spending the 20-30 hours I would have spent reading the latest Birnbaum’s, taking notes and making a million phone calls, all I had to do was spend 15 minutes filling out a form and waiting for Deb to send me some suggestions. Now I get why Disney pays these people to help plan vacations.
There you have it – Disney on a budget. If you’ve been to Disney, I want to hear your tips. How did you save money or what would you do differently next time?
Oh and one last thing – because I told them more of you love free stuff, The Magic for Less is giving away a Disney Prize Pack to one lucky reader!
- A $25 Disney gift card
- A red leather Disney logo embossed travel set (luggage tag, padfolio, passport wallet, keyring)
- Two Disney Autograph books (yes, Disney characters roam around the park and you can have your picture made with them and get their autograph)
- Two Walt Disney World Resorts ink pens
- Two Magic for Less camera pouches
- Two Magic for Less neck wallets
- Disney child growth chart poster (measuring height)
To register, simply share your Disney experience in the comments or tell me why you’d like to go to Disney. And please, if you’re even considering a trip to Disney (World, Land, Cruise, etc.), check out The Magic for Less – I was truly wowed by my experience with them. I’ll take entries until midnight (Eastern Time), Friday, April 12.
Okay, one more last thing: I can’t cover nearly everything in a normal blog post, so you can also use the comments to ask any questions you might have.
Jenifer S. says
Disney would be a wonderfull place to take our 3 kids.
Carly E. says
I went to Disney as a young child, and still remember my experience vividly. The rides, the characters…it truly is a magical place! I can’t wait for my son to go. I know we will his reactions with excitement! He already loves Mickey Mouse – seeing him in person will be the ultimate adventure!
Matthew H. says
My wife went to Disney World or the first time while we were dating as teenagers. She was like a little girl amazed at every turn. I’m planning on taking our family to Disney World this summer so our kids can experience that same feeling.
Lindsay Gardner says
We went to Disney a few years ago and I totally agree staying on property was the way to go! We loved the themed hotels and the convenience of the shuttles!
linda St. laurent says
Would love to go to Disney with our family. It is truly a magical place.
Thank you for your tips.
My kids are at that age where they’re just starting think they might be getting too big for Disney =O Their father and I are MUCH bigger and aren’t too big! All too soon they’ll be off to all “important” activities that aren’t a family vacation. All too soon they’ll be off to college with no time to thing about Mickey and magic. All too soon they’ll be moving out and launching into the real world. I just want one more magical world trip for all of us. Our last Disney experience was just that, magical. It’s been years and we still talk about it, about how wonderful it was. Once more, before I have to wait and do it with my grand kids 😉
We went to Disney for our honeymoon several years ago and had an amazing time!We have been wanting to go back ever since but something always seems to ‘come up’.
Teresa Richardson says
I went to Disney as a teenager (our high school choir performed in a candelight vigil at Epcot with John Secada and other choirs who auditioned) and loved it. My parents were never able to take us as kids because money was scarce in our house. As a mother, we now plan to take our children because we want them to have experiences to remember (not that their childhoods would be lacking without Disney, but we want to give them fun things we can plan for). We have already begun planning out our budget for the trip, and will most definitely check into the planning organization you mentioned.
We have never been to Disney, though I would have loved to take my son when he was small. I’d love to take the grandkids now since they are big enough to really enjoy a trip like that.
LeAnne Jennings says
My husband and I have been to Disney a couple times each. We’ve both loved it and went year before last for our 10th anniversary. Our boys haven’t been yet and I am chomping at the bit to take them. My oldest understands now and really wants to go! I know it would be truly magical to take them while they’re both so young!
I can’t wait to see the look on my daughters face when she meets Winnie the Pooh in person!
Mary Lotti says
I’ve been to Disney four times and love it! We’ve been able to take our sons and some nieces and nephews and I hope to take our grandkids someday. I have never stayed on site though which I would love to do someday! I agree about planning ahead and budgeting. Everyone should get to experience Disney at least once. it really is a magical place!
amy peters says
I would like to go to disney so that my family can have memories of a great experience. Winning this prize package would help us with our experience. I am hoping that my kids can have a blast on this trip. We age going at the end of may and I am trying to be budget friendly…
Susan GinIA says
My first Disney ride was It’s A Small World and I’ve made it the first ride for my boys as well, though the youngest has yet to go. This December I’m taking my two oldest boys to WDW. With points accumulated on our Disney Visa, we can cover $1700 in costs. I figured if we own a credit card, I want a totally fun perk. And, yes, we pay it off every month.
Tammy Robinson says
Love all things Disney. Have friends and family who don’t understand my obession. There are some people who don’t get the magic of the place and that’s ok. I have been 8 times with a trip being planned by Ric at Magic for Less right now. Disney staff is wonderful and everything else is so beautiful and clean. Tell me where else you could go on vacation and take pictures of the restroom because it was pretty or so well themed.
Kimberly Clark says
My husband and I just returned from taking our 5 year old granddaughter to Disneyland. With out knowing it, we exercised most of your tips. We planned and saved for 3 years. We splurged on the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, VIP seating for Fantasmic and WOC. We also splurged on the PhotoPass so all if our memories came home with us in picture form. Because I have a profound love for all things Disney; this was my trip of a lifetime! Based on my grandaughter’s reaction to everything, I do believe she inherited my Disney fasination gene!!! I am now putting pennies in the pig to share Disney World with her and her baby brother who is due in August! Thanks so much for sharing your hints and tips!
Linda Winchester says
We went to Disney World when our children were young and they weren’t interested in some of the areas we would have liked to spend more time on so we always said we would go again when they were grown and we could go alone. However, due to some of life’s happenings it looks less and less like we are going to get to do that. I would love to go again while we are still healthy and able to enjoy it.
Charity Ziegelman says
I would love to take my kids to Disneyland because we could use a little magic in our lives and something to look forward to. Its been a rough couple of years and we would be so blessed to take a trip just the three of us and have a little family bonding now that we are a family of 3.
My mom lives very close to Disney, so we have been fortunate to have gone several times. This June we are taking our youngest for the 1st time. So excited. Disney is one of our very favorite places to visit. It is the best feeling as a parent to watch your child experience the magic of Disney. So excited!!
I grew up 3 hours from Disney and to say that we have been a lot is putting it mildly!. We are a Disney loving family and members of the Disney Vacation Club. The rooms we get with our vacation club include a full kitchen so we eat all breakfasts in the room (and sometimes a lunch and dinner too). That can save a ton of moulah! This next tip won’t save you money but it will save a little sanity. The parks are less crowded mid January thru mid February and for almost the entire month of September. Those are great times to go. I’ll stop now because Disney is a subject I could go on and on and on and on…..
A. Burden says
We are planning to go to Disney in the late summer. My children are 9 and 6 and my nephew will be turning 4 while we will be in Disney. We have never been, and this will probably be a once in a lifetime trip. Cant wait!!
Melinda Rose says
I have never been to Disney because my parents couldn’t afford to take me and my sisters when we were little, but it has always been a dream of mine to go. We are hoping to plan a family vacation and take my daughter and son next year when she’s 5! I’m super excited to finally be able to go and I’ll probably be more excited than my daughter Lol! I would love to win this Disney prize pack to have for our trip 🙂
We went to Disney 2X with our oldest, and the best experience was staying in a Disney Resort. Now we have 3 kids, and are always looking for great tips to budget a trip like that.
ann marie wilson says
We are taking our boys to disney for their first time in July. This would come in super handy!
Lori Price says
Thanks for even more great tips!! My family and I are going to Disney in Dec. for the first time as a family !!! We are so EXCITED !!! We are already doing most if your tips… We went through a travel adgency , we are staying on site at one of the resorts, we have a dining plan in place , we will be there during my son’s 10th birthday , and by the time we go we will have saved up for a whole year !! I am doing tons of research to plan !!!
Thanks for sharing more tips !!
We just got back from a 13 day Disney trip Tuesday. We save a LOT of money on where we stay so we can splurge on things we really like to do(namely special restaurants and shows). We also pack a lunch so we can relax at diner at a great sit down restaurant. We usually either rent a house with a heated pool 10 minutes from Disney($800 for the week) or this time we stayed at an amazing resort (2bed 2 bath $100 a night) in return for doing a 90 minute time share tour–it was TOTALLY worth it. I realize we could do this because we were there for a long time. My husband wanted a fun as well as relaxing vacation and the only way to do that at Disney is alternating park day/then pool day. The pool days also enabled us to do the special shows like the Hoop Dee Doo(awesome!) and not have to leave the park early and cut into that time. We also splurged on having our son who is 8 do the pirate adventure. For $35 they have this special area where they do makeup and other special pirate paraphernalia, and he absolutely loved it. We have found that whatever you are able to splurge on, do it, the memories are priceless. Also, the new princess area in the magic kingdom is amazing, definitely do a dinner at Be Our Guest in the Beast’s castle, my son is still talking about it.
I took my wife to DisneyWorld for our honeymoon in 1993. It was a great trip, but as you mention, poorly planned (hey, I was young and silly). Then this year for spring break, after years of listening to the children plead, we took the family to Disneyland. It was a much better thought out trip and we had a good time (yet I could still do better). I was thinking it would be great fun to take the family to Disneyworld in August to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (and this time I would take your advice and have the PERFECT disney trip). Third time is a charm, as they say. (Two disney trips in a year? It’s a stretch, but it would be memorable.)
Kelly Benson says
My husband and I honeymooned at Disney World, renewed our vows for our 10th wedding anniversary at Disney World and are now in the process of planning a trip for our 20th anniversary. It’s been a while since we were able to go so we’re saving up for a great trip.
I’d like to take my family to Disney to enjoy one of the Disney Runs that happen throughout the year.
Amy J Moore says
Hello, Love your blog. Want Disney Vacation for my son. He’s 10. Last vacation was in 2007, then my husband had a stroke in 2009 and we’ve being recouping from that. We’ve been trying to plan a Disney trip for years. Thanks for your consideration.
Amy J Moore
Margaret Ford says
Our family is hoping to go to Walt Disney World in May 2014. It has been a dream of my husband since we were married almost 30 years ago. Now we have three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren and are planning what we hope to be the trip of a lifetime. Thank you for posting so many helpful ways for us to budget and spend wisely.
Stephanie Gossett says
I live in Florida with my four little girls. I really appreciate your tips on doing Disney on a budget. I would love to take them this year if I can figure out a way to afford it! Thank you for this chance!
We always stay on the Disney property too and do the meal plan. We’ve been twice with kids. It really is a great trip. Worth the extra money to me!
Kristin M says
We went to Disney World a few years ago and stayed at the park. We stayed in one of the hotels not inside one of the parks, but still part of Disney World. It was a little cheaper this way, but we still got the perks of early entry and shuttles. We also purchased the meal passes. They can be used almost anywhere in any of the parks and this way we didn’t have to plan on paying for meals while we were on vacation.
I have never been to Disney but would love to go because i want my family to experience it since I never did and it seems like a fun and great way to have a vacation.
Sarah Thompson says
I was so excited to read this post! My husband has a conference for work in Orlando this month. We have four children and our fifth is due in September. We had planned a family beach vacation for this year but had to change to a less expensive option after finding about our pregnancy. When we found out about the conference, we decided to go as kind of a babymoon. My flight was all we are paying for so we added an extra two days and decided to take our 18 month old as well (other 3 are in school and will be with their mom that week). We want to take our little guy to Disney one day. He gets in free so only the tickets for my husband and i. I cant wait to use your tips to see how we can save!! Thank you!
Pamela B says
I’ve always wanted to go to Disney but didn’t think we could afford it. The whole process of planning such a trip seems intimidating to me, but I”m going to try this site you mentioned and see what they can do for me. My family would really enjoy a trip to the happiest place on earth without Mom stressing out!
Deana Gibson says
We have gone to Disney World 8 times and are planning the ninth trip for June 2013. We love it. I agree with you staying on the grounds is the way to go. We head out early each day for the extra hours. Come back to room around lunch, eat a snack and rest, then head back for the evening and night. Seems like we always end up at Magic Kingdom for the night time. Splash Mountain is my favorite ride at MK. The Toy Story ride and at Hollywood is awesome. Don’t dare miss that. We love fireworks shows and Magic Kingdom and Epcot. My oldest son even worked 6 months at Epcot during college.
We’ve been saving up for Disney for quite a while now. My husband has never been & I have so many memories of a Christmas that my whole family (mother’s parents, siblings & their children). Little did we know that it would be the last family vacation with all of us due to my uncle passing away in a tragic accident at 19 the following summer. It’s a place to cherish & build lasting memories & I can’t wait to share that with my kids.
Kristy McDonnell Rayment says
Love this Disney info. We are planning a debt free trip in November that we have dubbed “Turkey with the Mouse” aka. Thanksgiving in Disney. We have a large group going and we are very busy planning now
Kelly D says
My husband and I went to Disney when we were newly married, almost 10 yrs ago. Now that we have 2 kids I would like to take them. My daughter loves Pluto and I think both kids would enjoy the rides and character experiences.
Suzanne H says
When I was 11 my family traveled to Disney for my sister’s graduation trip. It was definitely an adventure complete with several embarrassing moments, It’s a Small World breaking down and my mother getting sat on by Baloo. We are sure to this day there are photos across the globe of this occurrence in other people’s albums as many people were taking pictures unfortunately we did not get any of the event ourselves. This year my husband and I are planning to take my daughter who is 5 on her first adventure. He is a photographer.. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a camera ready should something so amusing happen this time. Enjoyed this post.
We’re taking a huge family trip there in 2015! My parents, 7 brothers and sisters, plus spouses and kids! When I was young, my parents took us every 3-4 years and we loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to share the magic with my kids!
Yeah! Thanks for a chance to win:) I sure do love this blog and all the great information I find her among all the laughs!
I’d love to win this! We have to sell our past home (which is paid off), use that to pay off our new home and once that is all done we’ll be debt free. Once that step is accomplished then the saving for our Disney trip begins…our kids are so excited (they are 4,2, and 1 ) and know that once the house sells and we are debt free we are going to Disney. The only thing that may delay is if they aren’t all potty trained. The rule is no diapers are going to Disney. Here’s hoping that we are only held up by that and the selling and saving happen quickly! 🙂
Livivua Chandler says
I would love to go to disney with my husband (33) who has never been. He keeps saying that he wants to go and we will but our budget is really tight right now. I have been when i was much younger like in my teens and i know it is a wonderful place everyone should have a chance to visit, just once. I am stoked that he still have an interest of visiting at his age. So it is true, no matter what the age that disney land is the place to go.
We’re planning a Disney trip in 2015 with our 2 kids. I play around on the Disney website planning our dream trip and get so excited each time (just like a little kid). We’ve been several times and spend a small fortune each time so we decided we would save prior to booking this time – slowly but surely.
Disney is definitely my happy place! I am very lucky to live in Los Angeles and me and my friends go to disneyland about 2x a month. Growing up my family went to WDW at least once a year so we are definitely a huge disney family! I am also lucky to have been able to go to Disney world twice this year (once for a work conference where everything was paid for!) and my cousin and i went to run the Princess half marathon. Because i go to disneyland so much, I was able to upgrade my pass to a premiere where I technically have annual passes at both parks which for WDW was a lifesaver because we got a great deal at WDW (all-sports for 90 a night with taxes!; discounts at some restaurants. At disneyland, i get 15% off at all restaurants and 20% on merchandise).
i think the best tip to pass on newbies is to do your research. If you can, go in off-season (Disneyland would be after MLK-through beginning of March, mid september through before thanksgiving; disney world is pretty much anytime there isnt a break from school) because everything is cheaper (there are some restaurants that raise their prices during peak seasons!), and the lines aren’t as long and you can get good deals on hotels. Also, it helps to go during the week versus the weekends when more local people will be coming.
Also, a great resource for restaurant menus is wdwig.com. Deb’s site is amazing and has so much information, especially when planning meals and where to eat.
WDW-stay on property, yes it is more expensive but transportation to and from the airport is free (and they will deliver your luggage to your room and you can check your bags at the hotel on the way back) and transportation is free all around the resort.
Disneyland-there is so much more to do besides Disney-you can go into LA, go to san diego, go to the beach,etc. Staying on property there isn’t as big of a deal because it such a big price difference (local hotels can be 50 bucks a night, while the disney hotels start at about 150).
I love Disney and take several trips a year. It is a place that you can be child even when you are late into your adult years. No Disney character outfit or ears ever looks out of place in the parks. I am a Disney Visa premier card holder which allows me to earn reward dollars from purchases that can be put on a Disney gift card and used on hotel reservations, park tickets, purchases at the park. To maximize the points I earn, I use the card on all purchases, but I always make sure to pay the card off each month. As a premier card holder I earn 1% on all purchases, but 2% on gas and food. I then use the rewards card as my spending money for the trip to keep from over spending. I can also get discounts on rooms when there is no Disney promotion going on with my Disney Card. I also only travel during off season, during promotional room discounts rates to be able to stay at deluxe resorts, or during free meal plan. Just to remember to set a budget early, plan at least a year early, take advantage of the meal plans and enjoy the trip.
We are about to head to our very first Disney World trip in just a short two weeks. We have been planning (and saving) for almost a year! We budgeted for Cinderella’s castle, the Luau dinner at the Polynesian resort, and a few other extras.
I never dreamed this would be so expensive! Sure, it’s almost affordable to book your reservations and get tickets. Everything from there on out is wow, though! haha!
I can’t wait! 😀
Aimee Speakman says
My family loves Disney! We spent a week for our honeymoon there did the platinum plan stayed in concierge we will never do a trip like that again but it was nice to splurge! Planning a trip now for January or Febuary I’m planning in doing my 1st half marathon in over 10 years!
Jennifer Puckett says
I am planning on taking my 2 boys (ages 2 and 4) to Disney next February. I cannot wait to try out this website. One of my sons has food allergies and I have heard that Disney is great to accommodate to these needs. I cannot wait to see if this website would be able to help with that also. I would also love to have that prize pack to help get me started on my Disney Dream Trip! Thanks Stacy!
The best way we have found to save money and time at Disney is to take our own snacks. They do not have a “no food” policy as some places do. We freeze a few drinks and leave others just cold at the hotel and pack the bottom of our backpack. Then we top it off with a bag of snacks. This way the kids aren’t whining the whole time that they are hungry. When they get bored in line for a ride, we pull out a snack and a drink, put the trash in a separate bag. This gives them something to do in line without pestering us, plus we can push lunch back to about 2 cause they have been snacking all morning. By this time all the food lines are almost non existent and we can just walk in or up to whatever we want. There are some times throughout the year when Disney offers a free food package too. Each person is given a certain amount of meals and snacks per day. If you go to their vacation planning page and click on special offers, that is usually where you find all the dates of the discounts. We have never planned it through a travel agent like the one you mentioned. We find we can get much better deals by searching their website our self and using sites like disboards to catch all the good deals.
Elizabeth Punzalan says
If you’re military ( active or reserve and dependents) purchase the tickets ahead of time at your mwr for a fraction of the regular price.
Stop by the Walmart nearby for souviners- cheaper and big selection.
Request a free Disney planning DVD- its fun just watch and get even more excited.
Kimberly Schotz says
Our youngest daughter has Down Syndrome and is non verbal. We have fortunate enough to be able to visit Disneyland several times. I have always been impressed how considerate the staff at Disneyland have been to my daughter. We hope someday to take a Disney Cruise someday.
I’m a single mom. Working full time and going to grad school. I promised my kids we’d go to Disney World next summer after I graduate. I feel like they deserve a prize for really stepping up with things at the house and missing out on some things when I’m studying. This would be a fun treat to go along with our celebration that we all survived grad school!
Jennifer Gagnon says
We love Disney! I totally agree that some things may be expensive, but the experience is sometimes worth it!
I am planning a trip for my daughter and a couple of her friends for college graduation.
I would love to take my four boys to Disney. I love to watch their little faces light up when they are experiencing new and wonderful adventures. Disney would definitely an adventure for them!
Shari W says
Our family would love to go to Disney! Every time we’ve started planning, something has happened to prevent us from going, sadly. Thank you for the tips – very helpful!
Nena Casey says
We are going to disney for our 3 year anniversary next month. Would love to win this!!!!
Nicole Weeks says
Great post! My family of 5 has been to Disney twice and we are planning another trip this year. We have always stayed on-site as we find it’s not that much cheaper to stay off-site and the perks of staying on-site are worth the little bit ofI extra. I agree that using a planner to help with the trip is much needed. We have a local gal that does Disney trips for free and use her. I also have a book that I use. It cost me $25, but it has been invaluable. Your best advice out of the whole post is to plan ahead!! Even for your days there, not just your accomodations. My brother-in-law and his family went a few weeks before us a few years ago. They did not plan ahead and using my book, I planned for months before our trip. They spent 3X more money than we did. They didn’t bring strollers and had to go to Walmart down there to buy some because it was cheaper than renting them from Disney. They wasted not only money, but a lot of time. They were not impressed with Disney and I am convinced it’s because they did not plan enough and is cost them in money and experience.
The one thing I would love advice on, is there any way to save money on tickets?
Thanks for the post!
There are some ways to save on park tickets, but it all depends on your willingness to go on flexible dates. I have heard AAA offers discounted tickets, and there are other organizations that give discounted rates if you’re a member. This is one area where I’d ask readers to chime in. Any luck saving on park tickets from those reading?
We have spent hours before searching for discounted tickets and they are virtually non existent. My husband gets a slight discount through work through an Orlando travel agent but their taxes and fees are so high it ended up being cheaper to buy directly from Disney. We went one time and decided to try a couple of those local discount ticket places there, and we were able to buy unused days on someone elses tickets for less, but now they use a finger print system so even those, and the ones posted on Ebay etc. aren’t guaranteed to work. They offer military discounts but the actual service member has to be with you at check in. We have always had better luck paying full price for tickets and saving elsewhere.
We just returned from a short Disney Vacation and fortunately we are originally from that area and know a couple of Disney employees who were able to get us into the park. Because we went at a peak time (DON’T RECOMMEND) we could only get into Hollywood Studios and Epcot. This was no problem since my 10 year old son has been to the Magic Kingdom several times and my 3 year old daughter won’t remember at this point. We will go again in a few years and do a dinner with the princesses at the castle (a big splurge for the memories) but she will be at an age where she remembers. We took our own drinks and snacks so we didn’t rack up a big bill in the park. One other tip I would recommend is if you are visiting in the fall or winter to see if there is one of the nighttime specials available such as Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, these are held in the evening and late night hours, the admission is cheaper and the crowds aren’t a big. We have gone to both and were able to see as much of the park as we wanted, the weather was great and they have little “extras” like Trick or Treating and Hot Chocolate and Cookies (at Christmas) which are included in the charge.
Kathy K says
Growing up in Florida, I’ve been do Disney World a lot of times. When I joined the Navy in 2003, I was stationed in San Diego. I then got to experience DisneyLand for the first time. I love it too! 🙂 Disney is a wonderful, magical place.
I interned there. Thought I would never go back. Now I have 2 boys the perfect age. When I researched the trip for 6 was going to be no less than $10k for 10-14 days.
I would like to know if it can be done for less than $3k for 4 for at least 7-10 days.
It will be hard to be a guest when after working there you know many of the secret tunnels and can’t take you kids through them. 😉
I’m sure you’d have to go during an off season, stay in the value resort and avoid the meal plan, instead packing most of your own food. It would be tough to do on that tight of a budget for a family of four with park tickets, travel and all. It would be a good challenge to check with Magic for Less about.
Our family of 6 is going to Disneyland for Thanksgiving this year. We went 2 years ago. We have a timeshare that uses points and we love it! We eat breakfast in the unit, a late lunch in the park, and then a dinner outside of the park or at our timeshare. Sometimes we take a small break in the afternoon and eat lunch at home then dinner in the park. I love our 2 bedrooms, laundry room and full kitchen. We found entrance tickets through AAA for a LOT less and they came with free parking which was nice. Doing that we also didn’t have to worry about the tickets being valid by buying on eBay or something. We plan for a day in the middle of the week for swimming and relaxing which is much needed. The other time we went (6 years ago) we booked through Costco and love hat experience too. That was before we had a timeshare. They gave a free character breakfast and little freebies. We would have done it again but you have to do the hotel through them. I’ll definitely have to check out The Magic for Less since it is free. 🙂 We also love it when it rains because we are from Oregon and the park empties when it rains but we can tough it out. Ha ha ha!
I would love to take my girls to Disneyland this winter!
Tonya Dodd says
I grew up visiting Disneyland frequently and now I have a 4 year old who cannot wait to go! I’m not sure that she will wait until her 2 younger sisters get a bit older (especially if her grandparents have anything to do with it)!
When scheduling a character meal, do it for the latest breakfast seating possible. It is usually 10:30. It is less crowded and while breakfast food carries you through the lunch meal too. Also, we eat breakfast in our room to save money.
Toni Chesser says
We are going to Disney in less than 2 weeks!!! Eeeeek!! I’ve read a lot online about it– tips, tricks, money saving ideas, you name it. I didn’t know about The Magic for Less but sounds like a great idea! I spent FOREVER looking up stuff. It’s our first trip with the kids, it should be awesome!!
Allyson Cooper Russell says
My mother took me to DisneyWorld when I was 3 and it was so fun I remember most of it. We went again when I was 12 and I fell in love with EPCOT and the magical future world it promised. After that I read sci fi and now I write it for fun, that’s how much it influenced me!
We have a 9yo, a 1yo and one on the way and we decided just recently that we will not let our big guy wait until the littles are big enough to enjoy Disney. Instead, my mother is going to take him there this December for his 10th birthday! We are going to surprise him with the trip; hopefully we will be able to keep the secret that long! I know that your tips are going to make a huge difference for their trip. Thank you so much for the post!
It’s been a very long time since my family has been able to just relax on vacation together. It would be fantastic to go this summer (though not very practical, ahaha) Thanks for the giveaway!
We took our daughter to Disneyland for her 9th birthday. It was the best day and the most memorable! We had an absolute blast. We planned it for over a year. We earmarked our coin jar for the trip and every bit of spare change went in there (let me tell you, it adds up quicker than you think!). This included our money for park tickets, food and souveneirs. We found cheap park tickets on an auction website, and my husband used his travel points for the hotel. The only other thing we ended up paying out of pocket was for the gas to get there. The weather was beautiful. We were there when the park opened at 9 am and there when it closed at midnight. If you plan, it can be done. She was treated like a princess on her special day and it is a birthday she will never forget. Now we are working saving to go there again for our 5 year olds birthday! Hoping that we can have the same great time with her!
kelly sullivan says
We would love to go back to Disney. We had fun 2 years ago but our youngest was too little to enjoy it. He spent most of the time asleep and then it rained (hard) the entire day we were at Magical Kingdom. We would love to have another try!
We went to DisneyWorld on our honeymoom in 1989. We’ve been back 2 times since then. Thanks for the giveaway.
I would love to take my kids to Disney, they have never been, but love Mickey and watch him everyday!
We’ve been once when we had 5 children … now we have 8 and the youngest is 6 in a couple of week. Would LOVE to go back, but its prohibitively expensive with a large family 🙁 Our plan is to take the younger half of the family in a few years when the big kids are married and on their own.
I’ve been to Disney World twice and I loved it!!! The customer service was truly the best that I’ve encountered in the world! My favourite park was Epcot Center and visiting and all the mini countries. My favourite place to eat was the RainForest Cafe with the volcano. So much fun, so many great memories.
We took our 14 year old granddaughter to Disney World in February 2013. She had the best time. We went to Hollywood Studio’s because she wanted to try for the American Idol Experience. She did not make it, but told her Papa to try and she would be his manager. He tried and made it to one of the shows and our granddaugther was so excited for him. Great memories. The Photo Pass Cards are great for pictures of the rides and throughout the park. We are looking forward to going back again soon.
We’re hoping to go to Disneyland next fall. We live in Phoenix and Anaheim is only about 6 hours away. Our kids are currently 6 and 4, but we’re planning on going around the time they turn 7 and 5. It’ll be their first trip 🙂
I’m an Orange County, CA native and even though I only grew up about 20 minutes away from the Mouse’s House I’ve only been about 4 or 5 times. Now that our kids are older we know they’d love it!
Katlyn Cole says
I have always wanted to go to Disney, even when I was a little girl. Now, I am about to (along with my husband) graduate from college and before we begin having children we would love to experience Disney for ourselves. When you take children on vacation the fun of it is being able to see them have fun. We are ecstatic to see this dream becoming a reality because we are scheduling a trip for next summer (because I graduate next spring). I was so happy to receive this email, it will be so helpful to have some guidance in all the Disney madness. My husband is also so excited to meet the Toy Story gang. Thank you so much for all your advice, I believe we will have a great trip with your tips.
I live in Florida and we have been to Disney several times, but, this is the first time that I have heard of The Magic For Less, I will plan to check them out for our next trip 🙂
Nola Hinton says
We love Disney and plan a couple of trips in the next few years. This year we hope to go to Disney Paris. Thanks for the tips!
Corey V. says
This post couldn’t have come at a better time! We are planning out first trip as a family to disney world this fall. I grew up in Florida and we went almost every year. Now I live in Michigan and have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I can’t wait for them to experience how magical disney can be!
We are making a trip in November. I already booked our flights using frequent flier miles (my husband travels to Africa for missions work frequently) and we are staying for free at my mom’s time share. It’s still going to be expensive for a rental car, park tickets, and eating out for our family of 6! The good/bad about flying on mileage tickets is that we had to go during a holiday because of school so I chose Thanksgiving. The restrictions only enabled us to have a 5 day vacation: fly in Sunday night, fly out Thursday evening (Thanksgiving). Only 4 days in WDW isn’t going to be long enough, but it’s all we’ve got! (The good of it is that we will save on food since we’re not staying as long.) None of us have ever been to WDW, only Disneyland, but I had to take this chance before my kids got too old (oldest are 19)! Would love to win the giveaway to help us!
Tish Wolter says
Thank you so much for the tips! We’re planning a trip for late 2014. My daughters will be 7 & 5 by then – perfect ages, IMO. My oldest is mildly autistic and I’ve read great things on other blogs I visit about how wonderfully Disney treats their autistic guests. I’ll definitely be visiting The Magic For Less when we start hammering out the details!
We are trying to plan a Christmas trip for our whole extended family so this information will be very useful. Thanks.
Sherrie Dollar says
We’ve been 3 times. The first 2 I swore I would nvr go back. The 3rd left me in tears when we had to leave. The first we stayed in a Disney resort and did the meal plan. The room was smaller than the standard motel 6 rooms and the food was blah. Our entire vacation was planned around our meals bc we had to make reservations for dinner. The second time we stayed in at La Quinta too far from the parks and spent hrs on the free bus that took us to and from the parks. The third time was just pure luck. I had a friend who had booked a room at time share and decided it was too small. She sold me the room for $200 for 10 nights in Orlando within spittin distance of the parks. The free tram took only a few min and we ate breakfast for free before we left our resort. We packed snacks for lunch and ate dinner in our room. We had a kitchenette so we stocked up on easy dinners at the Wal-Mart right down the road. Best vacation EVER!!! We spent a little over $1000 for a 10 day vacation. WOOT!
This is great info! I’m taking my little one to Disney ASAP! Still a baby, but I want him to experience as much Disney magic as I did when I was young. My parents took us a few times and I LOVED breakfast with Chip & Dale and I even got to meet Mickey and honk his nose! I hope my son will have wonderful Disney memories someday as well!
Thanks for you tips! We are taking our toddler on her 1st Disney trip n June!
I was fortunate to take a trip to Disney with my family when I was 7. My little brother was 5 and although I have several memories from the trip he has none. 🙁 So sad! Time has passed quickly and my brother and I both have litte ones of our own. Our darling daughter is 4 and just learned that her BFF has returned from Disney. So every night we get to hear…. “I’m going to Disneyworld, I’m going to Disney World, I’m going to Disney WORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLD!” Then I have to crush her little heart and tell her that we are not going to Disneyland or Disney world for a very long time BUT we plan to some day when she’s a bit older. A very tough concept for a little one to understand. She constantly brings us her piggy bank asking if there is enough in it yet. Very cute! Anyay that’s my disney experience. 🙂
I am very glad that you decided to write about planning/doing a Disney vacation. I have two kids (ages 2 and 4) and I was looking into going to Disney this year for our family vacation. I have been to Disney twice but neither my husband or kids have been there yet. After doing hours of research on my own, I realized that I was in over my head and if we ever had a chance of going that I would need some help to navigate through the multiple booking options that Disney gives. For the last 10 years or so I have booked all of my vacations by myself online and never once felt overwhelmed but it’s different with Disney. They offer so many different plans and options, it is really good to know where to turn for help. I can’t wait to use The Magic for Less next year to plan an amazing Disney experience. (I already booked a different vacation for this year.) Thank you for the great advice!!
Paula Cameranesi says
We live in So. Calif. but going to Disney World with my family would awesome. Long, long ago I went when it was just Disney World. I would like to take my husband and kids to experience it!
Becky M says
I grew up in Florida & had a grandmother who lived in Orlando. We went to Disney all the time! My grandmother doesn’t live there anymore, so when we finally make the big trip with our kiddos it will be much different from all of my trips as a child.
Kimberly Johnson says
I took some of my grandkids to DisneyWorld 2 years ago, and can’t wait for the next batch to be ready! We are fortunate in that we qualify for the military discounted tickets. We stayed off property in a condo we got for a good weekly price, and it was worth it to drive and park since we only did one park per day. We scheduled a couple days in between parks for pool time and Downtown Disney. On our next trip we do plan to stay in one of the Disney properties, though–it’s been a dream of mine that my husband is granting 🙂 I can hardly wait!!
Lindsey, the Redhead Baby Mama says
I am so delighted to have found your post! We’re planning a visit for May 2016 – and like you said, it’s never to early to plan. I’m gobbling up info for my family of 3 to visit for my son’s 5th birthday, and I get teary with anticipation of our visit. (How nerdy am I!?)
Sarah W says
I’ve never been to Disney but have always wanted to. Belle is my favorite princess and I’ve always dreamed of meeting her and getting my picture taken with her (and all of the others). Now that I have two little ones, my desire to go has increased! I know my kids would love it as much as I but I’ve always thought a Disney trip was out of the picture. You’ve helped me to see that we can make it happen. Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information!
I never had the opportunity to take my kids when they were small, but I would love for my Grand kids to be able to go. My Grand Daughter loves Minnie Mouse.
My favorite thing about Disney is the restaurant Boma! Otherwise, I don’t get too excited about it but the husband and kids love it so we’re planning our 3rd trip to Disney for summer 2014. We have to travel in summer and never found any great deals. We did stay at the value resorts (which are great!). We also got the dining plan mostly out of convenience but are going to consider skipping it next time since there was a lot of wasted food.
Tina Tate says
The Tater Patch together has NEVER been to Disney! I told the kids this year, when I turn 50 (in two years), I want the Tater Patch to go to Disney World and celebrate my half a century B-Day! We have 5 children. And also, 2 grandbabies & a daughter-in-law 🙂 I told everyone to start saving (I figured 2 years is a great head-start!) Time of departure: Spring break 2015. 🙂
Jessica Smartt says
Great post! So helpful and perfectly timed! It’s like you guys are reading my mind! 😉 Did I miss the part about knowing if Disney is in my budget? Was that the suggestion to use The Magic For Less? Finally, just to be blunt 😉 I’ve never been to Disney! Is there a baseline, minimum, you-can’t-dream-of-going-without-spending THIS amount? I’m so clueless I don’t even know?? 🙂
Jessica Smartt says
Also one more thing – this is just a blog question – when I view your original post, I find it difficult to see the “comments” section if I want to read them, without commenting. Am I missing that? Where am I able to view comments?
Hey Jessica, I’m not sure I understand. If you want to look at the comments, all you should have to do is look at the post, then scroll to the bottom. The comment form is the first big thing after the post itself, and directly below that are all the comments. Am I missing something?
I wasn’t writing so much about Disney being IN your budget but instead about trying to do Disney ON a budget. Since everybody has a very different approach (and budget) for vacation, my advice was broad. Things like “stay on property” (a biggie) may or may not save you money (depends on where you stay) but my tips will help you make the most of that vacation. I would definitely recommend Magic for Less – put in a quote request to see what your plans would cost, then if that doesn’t fit your budget ask them some ways to cut those costs. For instance, I’ve stayed at the Polynesian resort (starts at $474.75 per night) and I’ve stayed at the All-Star Sports resort (starts at $101.70 per night). In both, I got a good night of sleep in a clean hotel with the Disney experience, but the All Star is just a lot less luxurious (and thus a lot less expensive).
As far as a bare minimum, that’s going to depend on how many are in your family, how long you stay and when you go. Gosh…I just don’t seem to have any concrete answers. Sorry… ;0)
Judy Holbrook says
Wow! I love Disney! I have a great tip that is really money and time saving. Breakfast is loud and crowded just about everywhere with some pretty long lines. Bring stuff from home and Eat breakfast in your room. Not too exciting but Being ready for the day before you face the crowds keeps the moody ones in your party from getting off to a bad start.
My best tip is this: save up, work a seasonal extra job and plan now and go. Life is short and the memories you will have from your trip are truly priceless treasures. Don’t wait. I will never regret one penny that I have spent there.
We haven’t been to Disney yet, but have a free week at Marriott this fall because my parents couldn’t use their timeshare. So, we’re headed to Orlando. Looking forward to the comments here!
I went to Disney when I was too young to remember, Now I have my own 4 and 5 year old as well as a 9 month old. I want to take the older 2 when they’re old enough to remember, but still young enough to really capture that sense of wonder that we parents LOVE seeing on our children’s faces! I want to do the same for the younger one, so 2 trips to Disney it is! Step one: Get out of debt and off assistance 🙂
Amanda Davis says
Thank you so much for this post! My husband went to Disney with his grandparents at eight years old (this is a tradition for every child in his family). We are hoping to keep this tradition going with our children but were not sure if it would be possible. Thanks for giving us time saving tips and who to contact!
Amy Mac says
We went at the end of January. We had planned this trip for 6 years. It was awesome. I love going off season. We stayed in the park for my first time, it was excellent. We want to do this again in 6 years.
Hi there! I have been to Disney world twice. Both as a kid with my parents. The first trip was not planned very well, just convenient as we lived so close at the time. I remember my parents arguing for months afterwords trying to figure out how to pay off the credit card used for that trip. The second time, we as a family, planned for at least a year. We talked about what we wanted to do, which of the parks were more important to us, and where we wanted to stay. For us, the experience of the parks meant more than where we slept. So we camped. Disney has camping grounds, you can rent a cabin, pitch a tent, or even bring the motor home. It connects to the shuttles like all the other parks and was well kept and quiet at night. It was almost like two vacations in one. Now my own family and I are in the planning stages of taking our own Disney trip!
Rebecca Avery says
I have never been to Disney and now that I’m a mom to 2 boys I would love to take them. I have RSD and I know it will get worse so I am all about making memories now while I am still up and going.
Robin Bellamy says
We went on a Disney Crusie in Feb. 2012 and was treated so good. Our daughter Catelyn was 4 at the time and that is all she talkes about. Now she wants to go to the Castle as she calles it. She does not know this but we have planned a trip to Disney World this Aug 2013 for her 6th birthday. She will not find out until the day before we leave at her family bday party. I had a shirt made that says “I’m going to Disney World” that she will open as her gift. I can not wait to see the look on her face. To help save money we did a Quick service for our meals. Also, purchased the Photo Pass before we go and saved $50. I will get all the pictures they take on a CD
Andrea Bittner says
I LOVE Disney. We live within driving distance to Disneyland and have done it a few times. I’ve only done Disney world once and definitely tried to do to much. Been thinking of making another trip to either soon…
Robin Bellamy says
We went on a Disney Crusie in Feb. 2012 and was treated so good. Our daughter Catelyn was 4 at the time and that is all she talkes about. Now she wants to go to the Castle as she calles it. She does not know this but we have planned a trip to Disney World this Aug 2013 for her 6th birthday. She will not find out until the day before we leave at her family bday party. I had a shirt made that says “I’m going to Disney World” that she will open as her gift. I can not wait to see the look on her face. To help save money we did a Quick service for our meals. Also, purchased the Photo Pass before we go and saved $50. I will get all the pictures they take on a CD.
Anessa Whitley says
This post is very timely. My husband, two year old (he will be 3 next month) and I are going to Disney World – well Orlando – in September. My husband and I have been before, but we are very excited to see my son’s reaction. He LOVES Mickey! A friend has offered us his timeshare so that is one way that we will be lowering our expenses. And I will most certainly be checking out The Magic for Less website. Thank you for the post!
Jessica Rasnake says
I didn’t see any price quotes, but am curious approximately how much would a family of 4 need to save up for a Disney trip?
I didn’t put any prices on purpose because it totally depends on what you want to do. Get Magic For Less to give you a free quote and if it isn’t within what you can afford they can help you lower the price by choosing cheaper alternatives (your resort hotel, selection for instance, is a HUGE variation).
Even though you think your babies/toddlers will love Disney, it is so much more fun for everyone to save your money a few more years, and do it when everyone can walk on their own. (My husband and I went on our honeymoon and again a few years later without kids and noticed all of the miserable parents and crying babies/toddlers.) So against my will…We waited and went when our son was in third grade, daughter second grade. They knew all of the characters and had seen the movies by then, could carry their own autograph books and pens in their little belt packs, manage their own money they had saved for the trip, dress and use the bathroom by themselves, and were tall enough to ride all of the rides. It was a fun trip for all. We went back when they were in Jr. High and again in college, but that first trip was the most magical!!
I’m glad I didn’t get to go until I was old enough to do it all. I agree it can be too much for little kids, depending on your expectations.
Jessica Rasnake says
I have never been to Disney we are plan in a family trip possibly next year. My daughter (3) absolutely loves Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I know my 6 year old would love it too!
Neither my husband nor I hav ever been to Disney World. Our girls are 9, 13 & 15 and we’d love to share this experience with them before they fly the coop 🙂
We sorta-kinda got to go to Disneyworld. My husband had a convention and we had ‘some’ time to go. Not nearly enough, and we had to get to Disney from the hotel, so that ate into time also. It was just enough to whet our appetites and make us WANT to go there for a good vacation! My biggest tip is, if you have any sort of pain when walking (I had fallen and damaged a knee)…just give it up and rent one of the carts. If I hadn’t done that, my son wouldn’t have seen anywhere near what he got to, I would have been limping the whole time.( I’m sorry now I tried to tough it out the first day, he missed a lot). My second tip is, don’t try to do a 2 1/2 day vacation at Disney, it doesn’t work! LOL I’d love to win a real trip there, we missed so much! Wonderful giveaway! Very generous!
Renee Taylor says
We want to go to Disney! Ever since my daughter has been little she asks every year “can we go to Disney” I have saved & saved but it’s been hard, now that she is getting older I would love to surprise her either this Christmas or around her birthday. I would love to do this before she becomes too old. This is one of her goals/dream to go. Thank you.
Jill Timms says
I’ve never been, but its been my dream vacation ever since I was a little girl. I’m now 45 and still dream of taking my my 10 year old daughter and 14 year old son to Disney World. Yes, cost is often a a factor as I m a stay at home mom. Lord Willing, my family will visit the park.
Debra Schramm says
I’m 49 years old and have never been to Disney World. I have a 2 year old granddaughter and another on the way. I’d love to be able to take the whole family especially the grandchildren.
Christina Perkins says
We used to live in California, and thus was able to visit disney every few years. My daughter was very very very in to all things disney princess when she was little. Seeing her meet her beloved princess was enough to bring tears to my eyes. She was in awe of them all! She is fourteen now, and we have moved to Montana…so its not a few hours away anymore. I would love to be able to indtroduce the boys to the magic of disney! Our son was 2 the last time we were there, and the youngest who is now 6 has never been. I am seeing a disney envelope in our future!
i have never been to disney world. it was my dream to take my kids (7). budget never allowed it. then i dreamed of taking us all as adults..budget still doesnt allow it. then i wanted to take my grandkids. still not happening. we are trying to get to get there in 2 yrs. will keep your tips and keep trying to make the dream come true.
I’ve been to Disney four times, and the last time we used The Mouse for Less! I thought I knew everything I needed to do because I do a ton of research. Let me tell you- our agent kept me from making a huge mistake. All that service, the freebies, plus the fact that they don’t cost you a dime makes using them a no brainer!
I don’t have any suggestions on saving money but I do know the very best time to go to Disney World. I have been several times and the times I have been with the least amount of people and the shortest lines was when Mardi Gras was taking place in Louisiana.
We loved our trip to Disney! It took a ton of planning, though. We used Small World Vacations and they did all the hard work. Disney is definitely not for the faint of heart!! We were exhausted, but good exhausted. The best part of using an outside company is that you can make payments in advance!!!
I <3 Disney! I'll be 30 next month and I'm hoping to spend the day in the Magic Kingdom! It seems every single cast member does their best to make sure your stay with them is magical! Another bit of advice-pack snacks!!!! You can bring just about anything with you (excluding glass and alcohol) so that's a HUGE money-saving help. For little ones, you can get Disney fruit snacks, etc before you go and it's still like a special Disney treat for them and one less expensive snack for your wallet!
Jill Burris says
Hey Stacy thank you for sharing this, I love reading your posts!! My family and I are going to Disney World in May, unfortunately we didn’t book through Magic for less, If a next time I for sure will do that.. This trip is our very first vacation so we are Very EXCITED!! Thanks again 🙂
Thanks so much for the info. I’ve been promising my 9 yr old a trip to Disney for 2 yrs. The year we were planning to go I found out I was pregnant so we had to postpone our plans. I felt so bad for my daughter but it’s just not in our budget. Wec forgot just how much a baby cost. We would really like to bring my 9 yrs old within the next yr or so. The age difference is quite a gap between her and her sister (8 yrs). So I was excited to read this post for the helpful info. Thanks again:)
I haven’t been to Disney since I was a little girl (I was probably 3 or 4… now 30!) I have vague memories. My husband and I have discussed saving and trying to take our 4 munchkins to Disney. (Ages newborn to 10 years) We’ve never been on a family vacation because of finances. We’re almost out of debt (except for the mortgage payment – that’s still a ways off) but that would be an amazing trip and something all of our children will enjoy and remember. The older ones want to go soooo bad! So hoping we can save enough to go. We’ll definitely have to call the Magic for Less folks! Thank you so much for this insightful post! 🙂
One tip I learned while planning my latest Disney trip – keep an eye on the prices. If they drop (or, say, they add free dining for the time you will be there) and you have registered through Disney all you need to do is call and ask for the better price/package. 🙂 I waited and waited to get the free dining while my friend (who was planning her Disney trip to coincide with ours) registered early then called and got her plan switched when they added the free dining.
One thing I would definitely splurge on is the PhotoPass CD. All the pics of you during your trip taken by Disney are on there (except the ones taken during rides when we went) and you don’t have to stress over keeping your camera dry and safe. You can print in any size and the pics are AMAZING!! 🙂
Gwen Bates says
We are planning a trip to DisneyWorld in December. This post came at the perfect time. I will definitely check out your ideas since we are trying to do this trip on a budget. Thanks for all the great ideas!
Brandi Lykes says
I would love to go to Disney World with my family just to see the excitement on my children’s faces. I remember going when I was younger and I had so much fun! We took pictures with different characters, ate EVERYTHING, and bought lots of stuff. My best memory was when my mother bought my brother and I the Mickey Mouse ears hat, I slept in that hat every night! I often look at the pictures we took and just smile and remember all the fun I had. I want my children to experience the same thing I did and Lord willing, they will. This post was very helpful because now I know how to plan for this trip.
We have only been to Disney once, and I LOVED every second of it! Can’t wait to plan a second trip. Thanks for the tips!
Sheila Wood says
Thank you for this exciting article and chance to win a Disney prize pack! Now I see an amazing trip to Walt Disney World in the near future via The Magic For Less. We have a three year old who will love it too. Experiencing “the magic” for the first time will be even more exciting because of your tips.
We went last year with our 1, 2 and 4 year old sons for their birthdays (all within one month) and it was “magical” just as you stated. I hadn’t been since I was little and thought it would be nice – but I didn’t expect to be as taken away with it as I was. We would go every year if we could. I LOVED it!!! (even with three LITTLE boys)
What a great post! My husband and I our considering Disney World for our honeymoon, 10 years late. We paid cash for our wedding but didn’t really have enough for a getaway so we stayed home. IYO how long would be long enough to see everything?
I don’t think you could possibly stay long enough to see it all (no joke) but I think 1 week is good if you can make the most of each day. We spent that long in 2007 when it was just Stacy an me and we were not overly rushed and were able to see much of what we hoped.
Deborah Williams says
Thanks for this post Barry. I always enjoy your your posts and they are very informative. I never knew “The Magic for Less” existed..maybe our Disney Dream is within budget after all!!
Christine Creighton says
My family and I are currently planning a trip to Disney that will take place 4 years from now. We want to take my son there for his 5th birthday. We know it is expensive, so we went ahead and got a quote so we know roundabout what to save up. I do NOT want to charge this trip on a credit card. No vacation is worth worrying over the debt afterwards. Anyway, my last trip to Disney was when I was 3 years old. All I remember is crying because I couldn’t ride any of the big rides, being scared in the 3D puppet show, and getting chicken pox. I am sincerely hoping for a better experience this time! My husband has never been so it will be a nice trip for us. We have decided to keep our group small, as in just us 3.
I will definitely check out Magic for Less when it gets closer to our vacation. I am excited even though the trip is 4 years away.
Since I live in Florida, I’ve gone to Disney many times. I’m looking forward to bringing my daughter there for the first time!
I would love to take my 4 girls to Disney! We have never been but it is something we plan to do before they graduate.
We love Disney also. Wen went a few years ago when we had 4 kids. Now it’s time to take our little princess with us (5 kids)! We stayed in a log cabin on Disney property and loved it! What are your thoughts on the Disney Meal Plan? Do you think it’s worth it?
Good question. I have not used it because we didn’t do the snacks or want some of the restrictions. It does save you money if you use it all. I think we probably saved a little in our case by not using it because we took our own snacks and some of our own breakfast foods. It gave us an almost empty suitcase to bring home our souvenirs in. Worked great for us.
We were able to take all 6 of our children to Disney (4 for their first time) for free by participating in their Give a Day/Get a Day program in 2010. We were already in FL for another reason & one day was perfect for us because we all already knew what we wanted to see, where everything was from past visits, went during off season to avoid crowds/lines & stuck to our plan. What a fun day & great memories!!!!
Val Adams says
I’ve been to Disney three times now. Once as a child with my parents, once as a teenager with my parents, and once as an adult, with my own children and husband.
I have stayed both at Disney resorts and offsite resorts, and I whole-heartedly agree with you – staying onsite is the way to go! Far less hassle and more efficient use if precious vacation time.
I’ve never done any of the Disney meal plans, though, and was wondering if that’s what you did? I know you mentioned the special dining experiences, but how did you choose to do the everyday meals? With a pre-purchased package, or a-la-carte?
That is one area where we found we often didn’t budget enough – in the meals department.
Wonderful memories wee created on those trips. For us, each of our children got to pick one “big” souvenir. We splurged on a princess Jasmine costume for our daughter, who wore it all day at the park and still remembers it fondly, years later.
I know u mentioned that stores will send purchases to your Disney resort for you. In this case, they sent over the clothes she had been wearing, so we didn’t have to carry them with us, and she could enjoy it and “be a princess” right away.
It was a really nice and unexpected touch!
I just answered someone else’s question about the meal plan. In short, it can save you money if you use it 100% but we were pretty selective so we didn’t use the plan.
Brenda Ramey says
Love the Disney advice! We are planning our first trip ever and we are about two months out so I would love to win the prize package. We are going at my daughters 5th birthday so I will be sure to get her a birthday button. Thanks!
Laura B says
I would love to go to Disney. I have never been and I think my kids are at the perfect age right now, 9 & 11.
S. Braun says
I would like to take my family to Disney World to experience the magic and the memories! It is like walking into A Whole New World!
We haven’t been to dinsey since my oldest was 4 ( now9)simply because money is tight but he has asbergers and it was hard last time since then we have added a premie to the family. We are wanting to go this fall as I have heard if we tell Disney about the asbergers they will help with accommodating his needs. Would love to know more about if the magic for less team can help get us that information.
I asked them some questions about special needs/disability accommodations when I did my planning just because I wanted to know how well they could answer. They were able to point me toward answers that satisfied me so I’d give them a call.
lynn y says
I would love to take my family to Disney! I am from Florida and my kids have never been to Disney and we really want to go!
This is wonderful. Why I never knew this, I’ll never know. I have a son with cerebral palsy and the frist big word he kinda-sorta said was Disneyland. We told him if he would say it we’d take him for his birthday. That was 21 years ago. He will be turning 30 years old physically but will always be 7 in his heart and mind. We’ll look into the Magic for Less and work on getting Nate there. ☺
I would love to go to Disney! I’ve been a Disney freak since I can remember, but have never been to Disney world. Yes, everyone feel sorry for me! LOL My husband and I are planning a trip for my 40th birthday in 3 years. YAY! I plan to be the biggest kid there!! I can’t wait!
Thanks for the tips! We’re going to DisneyWorld in June for the first time and can’t wait! I love the reminder that we won’t be able to see it all.
I don’t need an entry in the giveaway, but just wanted to say that if you live in Florida, there are always deals going on for Disney and other amusement parks. I’ve won free tickets to Universal Studios (including a parking pass), gotten a year pass to Busch gardens for buying 1 ticket, and gone to Disney world free with my whole family (10 people) because my sisters’ choir sang there on Christmas Eve. In those cases, I’ve felt it was more relaxing than when we paid, because we didn’t feel the need to squeeze every possible minute out, and when we started getting tired, we just went home.
Hi, I love Disney World but my last trip was in 2ooo so it’s been awhile and I miss it! I have been 3 times all as I was growing up so I didn’t do any of the planning. I would say one of the tips I learned was that when you want to meet a character is not to stand in those long lines. We found that if you went to dinner where they were they come right over to your table and sign autographs and take pictures with you ….so much easier and more relaxing.
I am now married and would love to go there with my husband as he has never been to Disney World.
We want to get out to Disney with our three year old princess. Daddy was diagnosis with MSA and was told he may only have a year or two left. DD is now three, so finally old enough to get most of the experience! Friends have told us Disney World is super handicapped accessible. Finally, the stress of what we are going through with Daddy has meant a whole lot less in the laughter and happy department! A much needed commodity for all of us, but especially the caregiver- me, Mommy!
Thanks for the opportunity!
joy borgra says
I would love to take a family trip to Disney. We have 2 girls one teen and the other preteen. We have never been able to save up enough to go. Our only time is end of summer since both girls play softball. They have always wanted to go. Being on a tight budget makes it hard. Can’t wait to see what The Magic for Less has to say. Thanks so much for the info.
We are going to Disney for the first time in 2 weeks. I’m so excited, I can’t stand it. It took quite a bit of planning and finagling, but I got a price that was much lower than I had expected. We’re staying at the resort to get the whole experience, since this will possibly be the one and only time we can do this. We are soooo excited!
Kelly Price says
We go to Disney every year because that is what we save for!! We stay on property and usually go when they offer discounts and/or free dining!!! Doing the dining plan saves us hundreds because we can do the character meals for a fraction of the regular price! We also plan for months in advance!! We have been 12 times and still have not done everything there is to do…my advice is to plan ahead but be flexible…it is vacation after all!!! One more note…we don’t go in debt for vacations!!! That would undo the purpose of a relaxing vacation!!!
Gail Artley says
I would love to take my family to Disney, and before your post I didn’t think we could do it with our budget. Now I am sure that the Disney for Less will be able to make all the dreams of Disney come true even on a Budget. Thank You for this awesome information and Making our Dream a reality in the future. The giveaway is an extra bonus.