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Saving time and money on DisneyWorld vacation

Posted by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM
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Dear Frugalistas,

Next month my daughter will be 5 and since she is apsolutely my daughter from dreams, she deserves to have her birthday dream come true, which is Disneyworld. My budget is about $2000 for a 4 day stay in Orlando. My 3 year old son and husband will also join us, but they will mostly visit Sea World and anything else animal related.  Am I realistic that would be enough?

if you've been to Disneyworld with your little ones, do you have tips to share:

1) How to save money?

For example, I was told that no way, one can save on park tickets, but better hotel deals can be done best through Costco, Sam Clubs and similar. Or, that if one takes a risk, one can buy discounted tickets inside the Park. (Risk meaning that some are fake?!)  That Park Hooper is a good way to go, and bringing own food and snacks smart and allowed. Anything else?

2) How to save time to do the most in 3 days? What is a must see, must get, and what has been a big waste of your time?

3) What are your recommendation on hotel stays - inside Disney or outside? I am not looking for something fancy, but it has to be clean, and ideally offers breakfast (which I know may be rare.)




by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM
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by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:05 PM
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go get Birnbaum's guide to WDW, most libraries have it available to check out or buy it online.

I would stay on the grounds based on the limited amount of time you have to see everything.  Also, with young kids, it is a quick ride to your hotel room for naps (if they still take them)

by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:26 PM
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This is the guide I like:

It has GREAT ideas of how to tour the parks and see what YOU want to see in best, least time consuming way. This is important. The parks are crowded as can be and there is a lot of walking involved. Strollers rented at the park or brought with you might be useful. I'm not at all sure I'd want to split up. It's going to be grueling with two parents but with one it could be worse. The three year old will have plenty to look at and he is likely to get tired and cranky regardless. I know a lot of people do this but five is young to go, IMO and the three year old won't remember it at all.

We stayed in a house for a week outside the property. It was $100 a night with full kitchen, game room, and screened pool. We took every other day off from the parks to relax so our trip wouldn't seem too hurried.

I hear you can get discounted tickets through triple A if you use them.

I was told by a friend in the travel business, after asking for tips to go to Universal. So we did both.

We are NOT early morning people which is one of the perks of staying in the park, getting in early.

Food wise, I recommend eating breakfast before you go to the park. Also it's smart to bring water and snacks.

Eating only lunch and at the parks is the way to go. The food isn't great but it is expensive. The only Disney park that has a bit better food is Epcot. Food is important to me. So I studied that and made notes.

Eat dinner back at your rental. That saves you the most money and gets you the best food. Food at Universal is overall better but still expensive. Again it takes some study to figure out what will work for you.

We got our groceries for the week, prepared veg, starch, a trail mix and protein, then didn't have to cook the rest of the week. Fruit was simply washed and eaten.

Oh and you do not want to take the risk that you bought phony tickets.

by Jen on Jan. 23, 2013 at 3:46 PM
Im going to bookmark this to write out later, we are taking my kiddos in two or three years. Im slowing starting to save up now :)
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by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 3:55 PM
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If you stay on Disney property, you can use their free bus system to and from the airport and to the parks (save $ from renting a car). Only draw back is that you have to rely on Disney for meals.

Check their (Disney's) website and see if they are running any promotions (they run quite a few room discount/free meal plan promos through out the year).

Only draw back from staying off site is traveling to the parks (it's $14-$15 a day to park at WDW and many off-site hotels charge for a shuttle).

We bought our tickets from AAA and did save a LITTLE bit of money.

Do you have to travel in Feb.? I only ask because the rates go up during shcool vacation times. I know NY, CT, MA, NH, and RI have Feb. school vacations.

Lilypie Pregnancy tickers.

Code snippet: HTML, Used for some forums.
Lilypie Second Birthday tickers
by Melissa on Jan. 23, 2013 at 4:31 PM
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there is a site called that will give you a list of all the restaurants in each park and what their cost is. i would seek out the cheapest one. i wouldnt take a chance on buying my tickets in the park. also on this site you can find out what rides are in what parks and decide which ones you want to hit. there are also hotels listed on this site and the prices of them. most disney ones dont offer a breakfast but have good rates on some of them. some of them have restaurants in the hotel or places to get things like pizza and such.

by Beachy on Jan. 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM
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I was about to ask this question too cause I want to take dd for her bday in May. Thanks for posting this and here's a bump. 

by Adrienne on Jan. 23, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I would say with kids that young Magic Kingdom would be necessary, Animal Kingdom would be good.  Disney Studios for a couple things. Epcot I would avoid till they are older.

Fastpasses are a way to save time, especially on the most popular rides.  Get to the park when they  open and go get a fast pass for a popular ride first thing.  If the wait is not long go on it and then you can go back later w the fast pass.

At Disney Studios this is necessary for Toy Story Mania, I would definitely use that strategy for that ride. 

by Adrienne on Jan. 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM

You have to insert your ticket to get a fast pass. Then you have to use your fast pass before you can get another.  It is a great time saver if used correctly.  In between the big rides, there are shows and movies you can do to fill in the time.

by Adrienne on Jan. 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Park tickets are extremely expensive and that will be a big part of your spending.

As far as staying on property, you can get extended park hours BUT those are the busiest parks those days. So if you stay off property look up the parks and avoid any of them with extra magic hours.

I recommend staying off property if you will have a car.  There is no free breakfast on property and the rooms are tiny (well at the value resorts) the breakfast is so expensive and packed.  It is a long walk to the room because the properties are so big.

by Adrienne on Jan. 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM
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You don't need park hoppers.  You will have plenty to do in each park and will waste time traveling from one park to another. 

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