Long-time readers of my other blog Dan@Disney will know that I spent a year of my life living and working in Walt Disney World. I now go back to Orlando often 2 or 3 times a year to see friends and enjoy the attractions. The most common question I get it ‘how do you afford this?’. Disney is not a cheap trip but if you plan it right it doesn’t have to be a crazily expensive one either.
1.Get a Rewards Credit Card
If you are already thinking of booking a trip this is probably too late but my top tip is to get a credit card that earns you miles or points. You are spending money anyway and you’d be surprised how quickly they add up. A return ticket to Orlando from the UK can be as few as 35,000 miles and this can add up pretty quick. I personally have the American Express British Airways Credit Card which has the added bonus of a companion voucher allowing a second person to travel for no more points if you spend enough.
If you are allowed to put work expenses on your own card then it works even better as you get points without even having to spend your own money. I have personally managed 3 trips on miles now.
2. Travel out of season
This may seem like another obvious one but often overlooked. School holidays are by far the most expensive time to travel. While I could never condone taking children out of school if you are childless or can travel at other times then February and September are often some of the cheapest times of the year to visit. My trick is look up the School Holidays and travel immediately after they finish, this is often the cheapest time. A site like Kayak or SkyScanner is great for checking out the range of prices around a date.
3. Book Park Tickets in Advance
It is a badly kept secret that the most expensive place to buy tickets is the park entrance. A world of sites exist online to purchase your tickets ahead of time at a discount. This even includes the park’s own websites which often have ‘special offers’ that reduce the price if you purchase online and either get tickets posted out to you or pick them up on arrival. Some of the best deals are often at Undercover Tourist or Attraction Tickets Direct. Keep an eye out for promotions as well, some of these sites will often create package deals with tickets for multiple resorts. Shop around though as some promotions can often be beat at other sites. Almost nobody pays the recommended retail price!
4. Stay At A Value Resort
Disney resorts are amazing but for the room you are getting they are more expensive than comparable resorts elsewhere. The additional perks of Extra Magic Hours (more time in the park) and Free Transportation can often make up for this. But these are the same in an expensive Deluxe or Moderate resort and a cheaper Value resort. You will spend very little time in the resort room so save some money and punt for the cheaper room, all of the benefits less of the cost. The value resorts are also still very nice and much better than cheap hotels elsewhere.
5. Take Advantage of Promotions
This is another ‘buyer beware’ one but get it right and you can save a lot of money. Disney (and Universal) often offer promotions such as Free Dining or Free Spending Money for booking resorts direct with them. Often the room price is inflated compared to other sources. If the maths works out right this can save you a lot of money. It is worth shopping around the resort’s own sites, Expedia and individual hotel sites to check if the price you are paying is worth it. No magic tricks here unfortunately, putting the research time in often pays off in the end.
6. Don’t bother with a car
Rental Cars in Orlando have been getting more and more expensive in recent years. We were quoted as high as £400 for a week on a trip in 2017. The rise of Uber means that travelling around by taxi or transport need no longer be slow or expensive. I would recommend seeing how much cheaper it might be to use Uber and Disney Transportation to get around instead of paying for a car. More often than not your car will be left sitting in a parking lot for many hours each day.
Are you a frequent Disney Visitor? What are your top tips for saving $$$? Leave a comment below