Tips To Save Money, Time, and Sanity
I am a veteran when it comes to vacationing in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I grew up in Michigan and we traveled to Florida almost every year to visit my grandparents. We often went to Disney and I still love going! It is one of my favorite places in the world, if you plan it right…
The question I always get asked is, “What is the best age to take your kids to Disney?”. My response is, “Are you kidding me? Every age is the best age!”. People fear they are going to spend all of this money and not have their kids remember their very first time at Disney. Understandable, however you will have pictures and memories and if you do it right, you WILL go back!
When I was planning my first trip with my kids I did a lot of reading online. It’s best to learn from the experienced, and I would like to pass along my knowledge. Our last trip was Spring Break 2019. We had such a great time and I already can’t wait to plan our next trip! Until then I will pass on my tips to you!
16 Tips For Planning Your Disney Vacation
- Plan in advance! 9-11 months. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. There is nothing like planning at the last minute and missing out on being able to get a good dinner reservation or the Fast Passes you want. We have gone at the busiest times of the year and have been able to do everything we planned for because we planned in advance. Disney World does offer vacation package discounts so always look for that. If a discount appears after you book, call them and they will most likely honor the discount. They did for us!
- Stay on Disney Property…that is if you want the most out of your Disney Vacation! From the minute your dream vacation is booked you feel like a special guest! The accommodations, food and transportation is well worth the stay. There are different resorts for different price levels (value, moderate, and deluxe) and we have experienced each type! We have booked direct through Walt Disney World and we have also rented through the DVC Rental Store or David’s Vacation Club Rental’s (which is a great way to get an affordable suite and you are renting points from Disney Vacation Club Members) You are also able to book your Fast Passes earlier than guests staying off property!
- Get the Park Hopper Tickets! The park hopper let’s you jump from park to park in one day. There are days where we want more flexibility (planned in of course!) and we will go to one park in the morning, go back to the hotel to swim/rest and then go to another park in the evening! It’s a sure fire way to get in all of the parades, shows and fireworks!
- Disney Dining Plan is a MUST! (Check out my post on why!) I really do enjoy the food at Disney World. They have options for everyone, and they accommodate food allergies! If you are like us you will want to go to as many character meals as you can. Character meals are more expensive than regular sit down meals, but with the dining plan they are valued the same. The only thing is the tip. Since tip is not included in the Disney Dining Plan, its typically more money at a character meal, since the meal is more money. One more thought, an adult beverage is included in your sit down meals! That can’t be beat…
- Buy Disney Gift Cards. Leading up to the trip I get Disney Gift cards at Target for the kids. (I have the target Red Card and get 5% off every time I shop!) That way they have a set amount of money and can buy what they want when we are at Disney. It also helps to teach them the value of a dollar, because they really think twice about what they are spending it on since it is “their money”. I admit that I am a sucker and usually give in when they run out of money…it’s so hard to say “NO” when your at Disney!
- Make a spreadsheet – Plan it all out. You may think this is overkill and your husband may make fun of you, but it will be worth it and they will all thank you in the end. I remember at one point during our vacation everyone thought we were having the best luck on our trip with timing. I had to remind them, it was all PLANNED!!!! Make sure you know exactly what you want to do before you login to make reservations. When your time opens you will be able to make your choices for your whole stay. This means that other people have been able to book there choices through most of the week as well. So your chances of scoring a hard to get Dining or Fast Pass reservation will be greater at the END of your stay. Book those first. Don’t feel like you have to go in order of your week. Go in order of hardest to get.
- Take advantage of Rider Switch. If a Child is not of height or doesn’t want to ride the attraction, an adult can stay back with that child. When the others get off the ride the adult that stayed back can go on the ride with up to two people! Someone is going to ride twice!! If you want to get really crazy you can work out how to make this work with Fast Passes to get more rides!!
- Get the My Disney Experience Mobile App. This makes it easy to book fast passes and dining reservations. It also allows you to change and modify fast passes and dining reservations on the go. I also love that it shows you wait times, height requirements and a map.
- Set your alarm to make your Dining and Fast pass Reservations. Dining Reservations can be made 180 days in advance starting at 6am EST and Fast passes can be made 60 days beforehand at 7am. You will be happy you did.
- Purchase the Disney Memory Maker. It’s only $169 and you get all the pictures you want on all of the rides and with Disney photographers. They are spread throughout the park and will upload to your Disney app the same day. Make sure you ask them for a “Magic Shot” and they will put a little magic into your photo. Once you get home, and have time to look through all your photos you can upload them to Shutterfly and make an AMAZING photo album so you can remember your trip forever! I love watching my kids look through these photo albums and talking about the memories that they had while on the trip!
- Take the Bus vs. Driving The Disney Bus system is really second to none. They have the system down to a science. I’m not saying it’s going to be so fun on the bus, and you will guaranteed be sick of riding the bus by the end of the week. The perks of the bus are that you get dropped off as close as you can get, you don’t have to wait in traffic and you don’t have to pay for parking! It is simple and easy!
- Rent your Stroller for the Entire Week. Don’t rent the uncomfortable strollers in the parks. You have to stand in line to get them once in the park and return on your way out. Instead book Kingdom Strollers! They have a lot of options, and it is reasonably priced. The stroller will be delivered to your Hotel and you will pick it up and drop it off at the front desk. So simple and convenient!!!!
- Buy Groceries Online. If there are must have items that you don’t want to pay a fortune for at the parks, you can place your order in advance at Garden Grocer. They will deliver your groceries to the hotel. It’s great for snacks, beer etc.
- Bring pre-sorted pennies and quarters. You may think huh? I have to say this was a lifesaver! My kids love the Penny Souvenir machines and they are everywhere! I gave each child a zip lock bag filled with two quarters to every penny (it costs .51 cents) and gave them each 15. This way you are not digging through your bag and disappointing them when you only have enough for one child…My goal is to always have the least amount of meltdowns and I am pretty sure every parent feels that way.
- Have reasonable expectations. This should be a given, however that is not always the case. So you’ve put a lot of time into planning and something doesn’t go your way – because it won’t. You need to be flexible, learn to have fun no matter how the day shakes out. There will be tears, and arguments, but if you follow these tips, those will but put to a minimum!
- Get your Disney Gear On!!! I always get my kids Disney Character T-shirts as well as a pen and a new autograph book to get them ready to meet all the characters! Disney Store and Target have some great deals on t-shirts for the family!
I hope you found these tips helpful! Good luck planning and have a magical vacation!