Disney on a Budget
Is it possible to do Disney on a budget? Definitely. I did it while in graduate school without a job on student loans. I was a single person, though. Can a family go to Disney on a budget? Yep! Can they have a magical experience with all the fun stuff like somebody who blew the bank?! Heck yeah… Let’s do this.
First we need to lay out some parameters for this budget and some expectations for the experience: 1) Must be Magical, 2) four day/three nights visit, 3) family of four with two children under 10, and 4) they are HUNGRY. I am going to choose a hotel that provides benefits similar to an on-property hotel with a lower cost.
One of the best money saving tips is to visit during the slow seasons and keep your travel dates flexible. Room rate discounts and package deals are more likely to appear for late January – February, late September – early December (except Thanksgiving). Book your hotel and admission tickets separately using discount websites. Disney will automatically include park-hopper tickets and the room rate won’t be the lowest available. Save some extra cash by getting discount tickets from sites like Undercover Tourist or MouseSavers.
Anaheim Fairfield Inn by Marriott $163/night with about $90 in resort fees
Themed rooms, walking distance to park entrance, visual of the Matterhorn and Disney monorail, outdoor pool, breakfast available but no Extra Magic Hours
Best Western Lake Buena Vista at Disney Springs $80-$93/night with $60 in resort fees
Heated pool, on-site restaurants, official WDW gift shop, continuous transportation to parks and walking access to Disney Springs, FastPass+, Extra Magic Hours
Admission Tickets – $1,267.80 (MaxPass $15 extra per person, per day extra); $1,271.54 (includes FastPass+)
DLR Base ticket with MaxPass (one Magical Morning) for 2 adults, 2 children $1,457.80; with Park Hopper $1,277.89
WDW Base ticket for 2 adults, 2 children $1,271.54; with Park Hopper $1,596.48
Food Budget - $800-$1,000
$20 per meal x 3, $8 per snack x 2 for adults and $10 per meal x 3, $5 per snack x 2 per child
$200-$250 per day for full meals including drinks; $100-150 quick service meals with water
Give each family member a budget for souvenirs with a pre-paid Disney gift card. If you have a Target REDcard you can get 5% off on your merchandise purchases – even Disney gift cards. Sam's Club also offers discounts of 5% on Disney gift cards. Another strategy is to purchase souvenirs direct from The Disney Store online with has authentic park merchandise often on sale and with free shipping on orders over $75.
Total - $2500 + souvenirs (not including airfare or gas)
If you aren’t a family or don’t mind greater distance from the park, you might also want to consider a condo rental which can come in under $500 for a three night stay. A condo with kitchen will also improve your food budget with breakfast in the condo and keeping to quick service menus with adults prices less than $14.99 per meal. Quick services meals can also be enough to split, skip the soda and opt for water to bring your budget down more. If you have a larger family, consider hotels with suites that sleep up to six such as Homewood Suites by Hilton and Springhill Suites by Marriott in Anaheim and stick with Best Western in Orlando. If you’re really strapped for cash and still a family of four you can make it a special 2 night, 1 park day trip with Park Hopper tickets for less $1000.
What are your secrets for saving money during a Disney vacation? Comment below!