2019 has been a year of travel and excitement for my family. We’ve spent a large majority of our weekends (and sometimes week days) at Disney World and it has been amazing.
One of the questions I seem to get asked a lot, though, is about how a family our size can afford to go to Disney so frequently. So I wanted to take a moment to discuss this and hopefully help you plan for your next Disney trip.
Now, we all know that Disney is really freaking expensive on a normal trip. At anywhere from around $100 to $200 a day per person, going to Disney is not always feasible. Luckily for us, we are Florida residents and so we get a discount already on park admissions just because of where we live. But even with that Florida resident pass, it can still be pretty damn expensive to walk in the door. Add in souvenirs, food, pictures and you can put a real hurting on the old wallet pretty fast. This is how a lot of people budget themselves right out of a trip.’
So how do we do it?
Disney World Annual Pass
One of the main ways that our family has saved money on our trips is that we became Annual Passholders this year. Now, buying an annual pass can be pretty pricey when you are an out of state guest. I still encourage you to take a look at how much it would cost to put one person on your trip as an Annual Passholder though. There are a ton of saving options available to AP holders and if you are a bigger group or a group that is going to be staying for a week or more, it may actually end up saving you some money on your stay.
Florida resident Passholder are pretty lucky. Since we live in state, we have the option to pay for our passes monthly instead of having to make one large payment. Our monthly payment is less than the price of a single day admission for one person with a Parkhopper. So right off the bat, we are saving a ton of money for our brood to walk in the door each trip.
On top of that, Passholder receive free parking at the parks. So that’s a pretty significant savings when you visit the parks as frequently as we do. At $25 a day, if went to the parks 4 times in a month, that would $100 we spent just in parking. Thankfully, having the pass, we don’t have to worry about that.
You also received 20% off of merchandise and food while in the parks. So if you plan on staying at the parks or doing any of the dinning experiences, make sure you ask if they give the discount to Passholders where ever you may be purchasing something because that will end up saving you some money while you eat in the parks. It will also save you a little bit when you purchase souvenirs on your trip.
Limiting Purchases and Buying Smart
The next big way that we save money is by limiting purchases. We are not big on buying food or Disney merchandise while we are in the parks. Even with the discounts, those expenses add up quickly. Especially when you have a family as big as mine. So instead, we bring our own food to the parks with us. We may share a popcorn bucket but that’s about it. We make a $30 run to Publix for sandwiches, chips, snacks, and water and that’s what we eat while we are in the parks. If we end up buying a popcorn bucket and a couple of refills, we spend a max of $60 for our trip. That’s less than a single trip to Chili’s for us.
We save Merchandise buying for special occasions. We like to allow the kids to pick out one toy from Disney for their birthday and that’s the only time we buy merchandise at full price at the parks. But even on these trips, we get that 20% discount and we cap the total expense at $20. If you are visiting and want to get the kids some surprise goodies, I highly recommend stopping at either the Walmart or the Target behind Disney Springs. They have a ton of Disney related items there for a fraction of the cost of what you would spend at the parks. You also have the option of stopping by the Character Warehouse. This is a fun little adventure where you can find discontinued or overstocked park direct items. I’ve seen Minnie ears there for $4.99 when they were being sold for $20 or more at the parks. It’s 100% Disney merchandise so you don’t have to worry about it being fakes or not good quality.
Look for Hotel Deals
When we decide to go to Disney for a couple of days instead of just our normal day trips, we shop around. There are a ton of hotels around the Disney parks that actually run some pretty good specials. We’ve found last minute deals at the Embassy Suites for as low as $70 to $80 a night and these include a free breakfast. If you are more into planning your trips, call the hotels and see what kind of deals they can offer and make sure to check sites like tripadviser or hotels.com for prices. You can find some pretty good deals on those sites. If you want to stay at one of the Disney hotels,this is where having an annual pass can really come in handy. Disney runs specials, for sometimes as high as 35% off per night, for select Disney World hotels for AP holders. That’s how we were able to plan and stay at Disney’s Old Key West Resort for such a fantastic price this year.
So by planning ahead, investing in annual passes, and bringing our own food, we have been able to enjoy going to the parks three to four times a month for less than the price of eating out at a restaurant twice a month. It’s given my family something to look forward to and enjoy and it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to do it.
I hope this helps you plan your next trip to Disney World. Let me know what some of your favorite cost saving techniques are when you’re at Disney and don’t forget to hit that subscribe button before you leave for more travel and large family life tips.