As many of you know traveling to Walt Disney World Resort can be EXPENSIVE. My husband and I are both elementary school teachers in New Jersey and we like to travel to our favorite place quite often, so we have become good at getting there on our tight budget multiple times a year. Everyone always asks us how we can go to Disney so many times a year, so I thought I would share it with all of you!
First things first -- deciding when to go! Obviously during the year there is peak season and off season at WDW Resort. Traveling to any of the parks during the off season is a benefit - there are shorter lines for everything, the hotel cost is less, less people in general, and flights are usually cheaper. The off season for WDW is usually in early January, February, early May, late August, September, October, late November, and early December. During the peak seasons, unfortunately, there will be a ton of crowds, long lines, and it will be more expensive all around. So, if you want to save some $$$, try going when it is the off season!
Next is the flight! We prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines, which is usually lower in price than most airlines anyway. But, last winter my husband, Derek, signed up for the Chase Southwest Airlines credit card, and then recruited me to sign up as well. BEST IDEA EVER! We pay for (almost) everything on our card: things like groceries, insurance, gas, ya know stuff you have to pay for anyway, haha! This way by paying for most things on our credit cards we rack up points easily. Not to mention that when you do sign up, after you spend your first $2000 in three months, they award you 40,000 points (that’s at least two round trip flights to Orlando from NJ). Needless to say, we have not paid for a flight to Orlando since December, and we have already bought our flights for May and August with our points as well. This definitely offsets the cost of traveling every few months.
Also, one thing that helps us is being Annual Passholders at WDW. Since we are out of state we only had the choice between being Platinum Passholders, or Platinum Plus Passholders. The only real difference is that the Platinum Plus Passholders get the water parks and golf included in their pass. The price tag may be a little scary BUT it certainly pays itself off if you visit multiple times a year OR if you stay for a week once a year. We chose the Platinum Passholders option for about $800 per person (including tax). As an annual passholder you receive discounts on restaurants, merchandise, hotels, tours, and much more.
Then there is food to worry about. Some visitors opt for the dining plan, but we tend to think our money goes further if we are thoughtful about what we spend it on. Breakfasts at the resorts can be plentiful so we’ll sometimes split meals to save. Ordering kids’ meals are almost half the price of an adult’s and only has a little less food. Last, it’s not a bad idea to bring your own food like Uncrustables, trail mix, pretzels, etc. into the parks to satisfy our hunger. Of course, the food in WDW can be very tempting so there are definitely times that we splurge, but again we will plan ahead to go to places that offer 10, or even 20% off the menu for being an annual passholder.
One other important thing you need to worry about while you’re at WDW is drinks! If you don’t mind drinking tap water, DO NOT BUY WATER WHILE YOU ARE IN THE PARKS! If you ask for a cup of water at any quick service restaurant in any of the parks or hotels, they will just give it to you! We have never paid for water while we are visiting WDW. For the resort we bring our Camelbak water bottle from home so we don’t have to keep refilling, they can be purchased on Amazon for about $12. Also, if you are staying at a WDW resort you have the option to purchase their refillable mugs. The refillable mugs can only be used at Disney resorts, not the parks, and can be used for UNLIMITED refills of any soft drink, coffee, tea for the entire length of your stay. If you’re staying for longer than a few days it definitely pays off, they go for about $17.
As for getting around, we rely solely on WDW transportation. It is nice to have a car, yet those rental prices daily add up fast. If you are staying on Disney property, the big advantage will be using the Magical Express to and from the airport. If you were to stay off site, then you would have to settle for renting a car or paying for a premium Uber/taxi which could be costly. Once you are within the WDW resort, the buses, boats, and monorail systems can take you anywhere you need to go aside from supermarkets or convenience stores, so pack accordingly.
Lastly, comes the hotel. Personally, we like to stay at Disney Resorts during our visits. Like I said earlier we get discounts on Disney resorts as annual passholders (25% off at Value Resorts). Since we are trying to stay on a tight budget each time we travel, we opt for the Value Resorts. Honestly, when we go to WDW we don’t spend much time at our resort, so it isn’t very important to us. We have stayed at All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and Pop Century. Pop Century is my personal favorite! Sometimes we stay at other resorts like Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs but that is usually for a short weekend trip during the off season. Also, even if you aren’t a passholder, WDW Resort usually gives special deals multiple times a year. We just booked our summer trip with their summer savings! We are staying at Pop Century for a week in August for less than $1000.
I hope this information helps! There are other ways to travel on a budget as well, but this is what works best for us! We hope you can all enjoy WDW Resort on a budget as much as we do!
Guest Blogger: Brittanie Durling
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