It’s a question that is asked of me regularly, just how do you afford to take your family to Disney regularly? And as personal as this seemed the first time I was asked it, the more I think about it, the more I wanted to share exactly HOW we do it. Because it is NOT easy!!
I think it is common knowledge that a trip to Disney World is not the cheapest vacation you could choose, but its also not the most expensive, and if you know how to save, and when to book, you can save yourself a lot of money! A lot of these tips actually work for any vacation if you are a family on a budget like us, but a lot of them are also tailored to the booking and planning process of Disney in particular, and how to get the most for your money…
Disney Savings Tips
- Disney have a yearly UK offer that usually runs between April to the Autumn, whereby if you book a holiday for the following year, staying at one of the Disney resorts, then you receive the dining plan for FREE (some resorts may require you pay a slight upgrade charge)!! That means no paying for any food and drink whilst on Disney property, and it is so worth it. You receive credits per person for every night of your stay, and these can be used in any way you choose, on any day you choose, on anything you choose. Some things cost more credits, for example any of the dinner shows or dining at one of Disney’s Signature restaurants, but otherwise most of their restaurants are covered by the dining plan.
- Disney also run other offers such as 14 day tickets for the price of 7 and free gift cards (usually around $200) with your booking. If you can book at a time when the dining plan, ticket and gift card offer are all running, you can use them all in conjunction with one another!!
- As I mentioned briefly, with the moderate Disney resorts you will have to pay a slight upgrade if you wanted your free dining plan to include table service meals. Always look into the Deluxe resorts to see whether staying here and automatically getting the full dining plan without having to upgrade, is actually cheaper than the former option. This has been the case for us on the last two occasions that we have visited.
- Shop around for your flights! Do you have a credit card that earns you air miles? Are you on a frequent flyer program with any airline from previous travels? Have you used a website such as Skyscanner to look for the best deals? We usually book directly with Virgin Atlantic, however this time we have booked the exact same flights, with all the same Virgin perks, but through a third party agent found through skyscanner. By doing this we have saved ourselves around £300!!
- Make use of the free Disney transportation. Disney provide complimentary airport transportation from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to anybody staying in one of their resorts in the form of the Magical Express. Although Disney is only around 30minutes from the airport, it saves paying any hefty taxi fees and means you can travel in style whilst watching Disney trivia and cartoons on board their motor coaches! Once at your resort, Disney provide buses to anywhere and everywhere on Disney property, running multiple times an hour between all of the resorts, parks, and Disney Springs. If you aren’t planning on leaving Disney World during your stay, you have absolutely no need to hire a car!
- A lot of people say that children can be too young to take to Disney. WRONG!! As well as the enjoyment they get from the holiday, if you take them before they are 3 then they go freeeeee! They don’t qualify for the dining plan when under 3, but the size of the American portions means they can share from your plates easily, or if you wanted your own meals for them then you’ll only be paying $5-10 a time to order them some food. If you want to go even younger, then under 2’s will fly free too!
General Savings Tips
- We literally budget every aspect of our lives – bills and expenses, petrol, food, savings, spending money – everything has an amount per month that is allowed to be spent on each particular thing.
- As much as I love shopping, we rarely buy clothes for ourselves, and if we do they tend to be in the sales. I don’t want this to sound like we don’t have new things very much, because we do, we just shop sensibly! We set ourselves an allowance each month for spending on clothes, and to be honest, this tends to be spent on clothes for Disney!!
- As well as budgeting how much we spend on food each month, we also meal plan in advance to prevent us from buying anything unnecessary, and therefore nothing goes too waste. We ALWAYS bulk shop, NEVER ‘pop’ to the shops daily or a few times a week, as this is how the costs build. If going out for the day as a family, take a picnic! Kids love a picnic, plus it is so much cheaper than buying meals for everybody once you’re out.
- We don’t spend money on takeaways, and if we go out to eat we will almost always have a voucher to help towards the cost of the meal. Don’t get me wrong, we do have date nights and nice meals out, but they aren’t regular enough to mean we spend a lot on these kind of occasions. The same goes for takeaway coffee, this used to be a real addiction of mine with ‘coffee and cake’ being on my agenda almost daily, I have kicked this habit and saved so much money in the process!
- Gone are the days where we used to spend £100’s on each other at Christmas or for birthdays, we would much rather have the experiences together that the money can be used towards, so just a little gift is all we do now, and allows for more money to put towards our Disney trips.
- I am lucky enough to be able to work overtime at my job, something I know isn’t always available to everyone. I work on average 3-4 overtime shifts a month and this money goes straight into our holiday savings, it isn’t touched for anything else.
- Those two months at the end of the tax year when there is no council tax bill? SAVE IT! If you are used to having to pay the council tax, then it won’t make any difference if it goes straight into savings for these two months.
- Any online purchases we make, we always check whether they are eligible for cash back on sites such as TopCashback or Quidco. A few percent cashback here and there soon builds up, and we probably ‘earn’ £200-300 a year doing this!
- Set targets for your saving, if you know you have a certain date that you want to pay some of your holiday off by, you are more inclined to save to make sure you reach your goals!
- Look into reward schemes, for example our life insurance is through a company called Vitality. By doing a certain amount of steps each day (you just link the app to your fitness tracker), we receive points, and with those points we receive free weekly Starbucks, free weekly cinema tickets, huge reductions on spa breaks (meaning we save on additional nights away without the children!), and discounts on lots of other things including trainers (perfect footwear for Disney…) and *drum roll* on ShopDisney.co.uk!!! Its a no-brainer…
Please feel free to send me a message if you want any help or advice when it comes to money saving and Disney! We will put together a post on money-saving inside the parks in the very near future!!
All the love, Sian x