If you’ve ever thought about planning a Disney vacation you probably already know how expensive it can get. Planning for Disney can be daunting enough without all of the cost. Today, I want to share some of my “tips & tricks” for planning a magical vacation even on a budget. I love looking for deals so this is very fun for me.
The tips & tricks I’ll be sharing are what I have used for myself, family, friends, and clients who have asked for advice. Ever since moving away from Orlando I’m always looking for ways to get back “Home” and visit old friends. These may not work for everyone but are what I have found to be what works best for me.
Be flexible with your travel dates! Ever since moving away from Orlando I’m always looking for ways to get back home and visit friends, so I am constantly looking for dates to visit. I typically start by looking at Google Flights. Google Flights gives you the lowest price for flights each day for 11 months out. If I have a specific date or time frame in mind I look for those first, but usually I will look for the cheapest flight ($$ will be green).
Fly in to MCO (Orlando International Airport) and use Disney’s Magical Express. Now that I’m not living in Florida I prefer to fly. It ends up being way cheaper than driving and saves a lot of time. I always look for flights flying into MCO. This airport is the hub for Disney’s Magical Express. If you are staying at a Disney Resort you can use this service to get from the airport to your resort, and vice versa. Typically, if you tag your checked bags with their provided luggage tags they will collect your baggage and deliver it to your room (this is currently unavailable due to changed safety protocols). I love this option because I don’t have to worry about transportation or dealing with luggage the entire trip. NOTE: Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be available after 12/31/21.
Stay at a Disney resort and use Disney Transportation. Staying at a Disney resort can be a bit expensive, but when you add up all of the additional costs you would have if you stayed off property, I have found it to be to be much cheaper. If staying on Disney property you can use their transportation to practically everywhere you need to go on property. Staying at a Disney resort also gives you access to extra features on property that off-property guests do not have access to.
Get a Disney Dining Plan. This will save you so much effort and money if you use it correctly. There are typically three plan options available (dining plans are currently unavailable due to changed safety protocols, but returning Fall 2021). When I’ve had a dining plan I have saved so much money on restaurants and meals that would have otherwise cost much more.
Buy Disney Gift Cards. You can buy gift cards from Sam’s Club at a discount. I love to get these to pay for rooms, park tickets, food, and any merchandise or other Disney items I may buy during my trip. This way you pay a little less (ie. $500 gift card for $485) while also putting yourself on a spending budget if you spend only what you have in gift cards.
Party tickets get you in earlier than the start time. If you plan to visit the parks for a party that requires a special ticket, you can use this as your park ticket for the day. Halloween and Christmas party tickets get you access into the parks at 4pm, 3 hours before the party officially starts. You can use this as your park ticket for the day and spend the first part of the day at your resort, resort hopping, or Disney Springs. NOTE: this does not apply to updated 2021 parties and events.
Park hop to save time & money. This is one of my favorite things to do while at the parks. If you want to experience all four parks, but don’t have the time or money to spend at each park one day at a time, this is a great option. With a park hopper you can visit two parks in a day, or even go for the four parks in a day challenge. This option is a little cheaper than buying two separate park tickets and staying an additional night. NOTE: Park Hopper guidelines have altered since returning in 2021, so make sure to keep an eye on those updates.
I hope these few tips help you with your future magical vacation planning. If you have any of your own tips or suggestions, I would love to hear them. Drop a comment below and let me know! ☺️