Monday, July 21, 2014

Disney World: Planning your Trip on a Budget (Part One)

Those of you who know me know that I like to find good deals.  And that I can be a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to paying full price for things.  Disney World is not exactly a budget friendly place.  It is expensive; there is no doubt about that.  However, there are some things you can do to save a little money on your Disney World trip.  I'm going to share my best tips with you in this next group of posts.

I'm also going to be very transparent in our budget for this trip and what we are spending.  I find when planning a real life trip that it is much easier to plan when you have real numbers rather than general estimates.  I'm  including all of the numbers with tax included.  Tax can be tricky as the initial numbers on the Disney site do not include it.  Then when all the taxes are added up, it can add a few hundred dollars to your total!

For the record, this trip is a once in a lifetime trip for us.  It is a huge amount of money for our family to spend on anything really. It's probably not the wisest financial move we have ever made, as there is probably a better use of our funds than spending it all on a six day vacation.  I don't see us ever doing a big trip like this again though, so I figured we might as well make the most of it while we are there!

Having said all of that, this is a pretty cheap trip by Disney standards.  Most people spend a lot more money than this at Disney.  However, it is also possible to go cheaper than this too.  I will share more about some of the areas where you could save even more money in future posts.

Our Budget

4 day park tickets without Park Hopper (for all 4 of us, includes tax):  $1210
5 nights at Port Orleans French Quarter (includes tax):  $1068
1 night at Art of Animation Resort (includes tax):  $132
Dining Plan (includes 1 table meal, 1 quick meal and 1 snack per person per day):  $0
Tips:  $100
Souvenirs: $50
Out of Pocket Meals (at airport/on the road/breakfast food):  $100
Stroller Rental:  $80
Flight:  $880

Total Budget:  $3620

That should be every penny we will spend towards this trip.  There are always those little things (tips, stroller rental, souvenirs) that I tend to forget when planning a budget.  But this time I think I have everything that we will need to spend.  Eek!  Seeing it in print like that really makes it look like a huge number.  Because it is a huge number! The good news is that 95% of this will be paid before we leave, which means we will spend very little money while actually at Disney.  And that will make me feel good!

Park Tickets:  $1210
Park tickets are the most expensive part of our budget!  There is no way to get around this; they are just that expensive.  However, my husband helped put it in perspective for me recently.  We were at a a local carnival on the 4th of July, where they had several lame portable carnival rides.  We bought Audrey tickets to ride 4 rides, and it cost us $10!  Daniel said, "There is 1/10th of your ticket to Disney World!"  Considering that those 4 rides lasted a total of about two minutes, and they were really not fun at all, it made the cost of Disney World more reasonable to me.  It costs about $100 to get in for the day.  But once you are in, you get a lot for your money!  It is so much better than a local carnival.

The more days you go to the parks, the cheaper the tickets get.  For one adult to go to for one day, it is $99 before tax.  For one adult to go for seven days, it is $314 before tax, which is about half the price.  However, if you are staying for seven days, you still have to eat and sleep for those days, which will cost you more money.  We are doing four days at the parks, which is about the most our family can handle I think.  It would not be that much more money to add a 5th day, but I think four days is enough for us.  We will spend our 5th day just hanging out, swimming and relaxing at the resort.

You also have the option to add Park Hopper to your tickets.  With a regular admission ticket, you can only go to one park per day.  With a Park Hopper, you can hop from park to park as frequently as you want during the day.  Cost varies, depending on the number of days you are staying.  To add Park Hopper for us, it would have been additional $240.  That is not worth it for us, but for some families this is a "must."  However, I am perfectly content to just do one park per day.  With little kids and strollers, it just sounds like a pain to pack up and move from park to park.

You can buy discount tickets to the parks if you are not purchasing a package through Disney.  You don't save a huge amount, but you can save a little this way.  Undercover Tourist is a reputable site that offers discount Disney tickets.  If we would have booked our tickets with them, we would have saved $32 on our trip.  It's not a huge savings, but if you are not booking a deal with Disney directly, it might be worth the savings.

One more note about park tickets: kids age two and under are FREE at Disney World!  I thought about trying to take our trip right before Isla turned three, so we wouldn't have to pay for her tickets (a savings of about $300).  Plus, kids two and under can also eat free at all the buffets.

Next Up:  Planning your Trip on a Budget (Part Two), Resorts


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