Can I really afford to take my family on a Disney vacation? Yes. Let’s be honest: a Disney vacation is an expensive vacation. That being said, you’re definitely getting what you pay for! But it can be overwhelming so let’s talk about ways you can save money without sacrificing fun. How much you can save is really dependent on several factors: how long will your vacation be? What type of resort will you stay in? Will you be adding extras like a park hopper pass or a dining plan (in the case of a Walt Disney World vacation) or excursions or signature dining (in the case of a cruise)? Let me break it down for you in 5 easy steps:
1. BOOK EARLY. The first bit of good news is, that in order to book a reservation, a very small percentage of money is due up front, giving you ample time to slowly save the rest (for Walt Disney World, and Disneyland, a $200 deposit is required, or one night of the resort reservation when you book a room only package; or 20% of the cost of your stateroom when booking a cruise). Since you are able to book your land vacation up to 499 days in advance and your sea vacation up to about 15 months in advance, booking early is the way to go to give you the longest amount of time to slowly pay down your trip. Keep in mind that discounts may be applied later should they become available, so there is absolutely no down side to booking your vacation as soon as your dates are available.
2. PAY WITH GIFT CARDS. This is perhaps my favorite hack and a great way to save about 5% on your travel. I use my Target card to purchase Disney gift cards. My Target card rewards me with 5% off all purchases. So, essentially, I’m paying $95 for a $100 gift card. I typically purchase several of these in the months leading up to our vacation and then use the Disney gift cards to make payments toward our Disney vacation. This is a great savings! I know there are other stores that sell Disney gift cards at a discount so do some research and definitely take advantage of this great perk! Keep in mind, though, that should you have to cancel your vacation for any reason, the money will go back onto the original form of payment so save those cards!
3. PRIORITIZE. Ask yourself and your family what the main goal of your vacation is and prioritize those things. Is your goal to see and do as much as possible in the theme parks? Perhaps, then, you forego the deluxe resort accommodations and opt for a more budget friendly Value Resort to rest your head. Maybe use that savings on the room to splurge on a day with a VIP Tour Guide to help you get the most out of your park experience. The idea is to work within your budget to get the dream vacation you see for yourself!
4. PLAN AHEAD. It’s important to go with a plan so that you are maximizing your time. Know the park hours so that you are taking advantage of extra magic hours where you can. Time is money. Planning ahead also means being a smart packer. Pack your ponchos. No one wants to have to purchase the expensive ones in the theme parks because you forgot to pack the cheap ones before you left. Grab dollar store glow sticks for the kids so you have a solution when they are begging you for the expensive glow toys during the nighttime shows. Throw some quick grab-and-go snacks into your suitcase or have them delivered to your resort room with Instacart or another grocery delivery service. Each snack purchased in a park will be at least $6. That’s the price of an entire box of snacks from home. Plan ahead and save!
5. And finally…. my best advice is to WORK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT. Find a good one. You’re off to a great start with Kingdom and Cruise! It is our job to keep track of the discounts and promotions available from the destinations we sell. We will be on the lookout and be able to apply savings for you, sometimes before you even know that there are discounts you qualify for!