My Magical Disney Weekend: The Frugal Stuff!

DSCN0716

I felt very fortunate and honored to be included in this group, to be quite honest. After all, I'm a frugal blogger and vacations are about spending money. You see, I'm all about saving so I can spend the money on what is important to us. Creating memories with my family IS important! But, the fact that it is possible to save while creating these memories makes them seem a little sweeter!

I have managed to vacation at Disney on a budget. When I saw on the agenda that we would get to speak to Disney Cast Members and Disney Moms Panel Members, I was excited. I wanted to share not only the obvious of Disney being fabulous and a great way to vacation, but also how Disney can be affordable. We all asked questions and got some GREAT answers! BTW, follow on twitter, and get great tips fromMargaret andAmber who are two of the Disney Moms Panel Members who joined us and KNOW their stuff!!

Specials

First and foremost. I LOVE coupons. I POUNCE on specials. Well, Disney has them BOTH! If you visit the Special Offers page on the Disney Website, you will see all of the current offers. For example, right now you receive the FREE Dining plan when you book a 5-night stay. The Dining Plan consists of one quick-service meal, one snack and one meal at a table-service restaurant per person each night you're there.That's a HUGE Savings!

Another great special but isn't always around (you have to literally watch for it in your room) is the Bounce Pass (pictured above). This is an offer that is only available during certain times and offers youa discount on your next scheduled stay if you book during that stay. You only know about this offer if you are staying in a Disney Resort and have the Bounce Pass laying around in your room. This happened to be going on now. This is a good way to save additional money on your next vacation.

Also, if you are a current or retired service person (THANKS), you have access to a few Armed Forces offers. Actually, our friends are traveling to Disney with someone who is retired Army. Being retired (or active duty), they were able to get 5-day Passes for $99 (which can be upgraded to Park Hoppers for $25). You have to use these tickets by the end of the year though. I found some more information on this here(thanks to fellow #magicalmom Lisa whose husband is active duty now).

Of course, one of the best offers going on now (thru the end of the year) is getting in FREE on your birthday! What a great way to maximize savings and celebrate! After all, Disney is all about celebrations (you should have seen all of our AMAZING room goodies in their Celebration packages – LOVED IT!!).

Club Membership

There are also offers listed if you a Disney Vacation Club Member too. I will say that since we've vacationed with Disney before, we're not in the Vacation Club, but we DO get special offers emailed to us. These are personal codes that only WE can use (I know because I tried to pass it on to someone else without realizing that). So, there is a benefit of being a returning guest in that respect too.

Resorts

There are literally rooms for every budget. We toured the All-Star Resort ($90/night) which is a Value Resort. And, we stayed in the Beach Club Resort, which is a Deluxe Resort (around $350/night). We also heard about the Fort Wilderness Cabins and Campsites. I am not about camping, but some of the moms stayed in the cabins and said they are very nice! Plus, they have camping activities that are super fun for the kids! Those prices vary depending on the vacation season.

But, also consider if you are staying at a resort, you also get the FREE Magical Express transportation to/from the airport andseveral shuttles that run to/from the Parks. So, maybe the resort is the same or slightly higher. Remember, you are saving money without a car rental fee and a long hotel shuttle line or wait. In the end it may be cheaper ora wash. The Resort shuttle transportation does make it more attractive in my opinion.

Stroller Rentals and Food Delivery

If you're traveling a long distance, chances are you don't want to lug your stroller with you. Disney offers a discounted stroller rental rate for rentals at the parks. Or, another option which is less expensive is courtesy of Amy of LIParnetSource.com (who did the Spring 08 Disney Bloggers Mixer). Amy happened to be vacationing this past weekend and shared this tidbit: Orlandostrollerrentals.com rents strollers inexpensively and less than what the park charges. They will drop off the stroller at your hotel/resort and pick it up when your vacation is over! You can't beat that!!

And, Emily mentioned another great option. A company called Garden Grocer will delivery groceries to you. So, if you don't want to mess with a car rental, and are using the Magical Express solely, you can have groceries delivered right to your room. This would be especially nice if you are staying in a resort suite and have a kitchenette to store food items. Way less expensive and easier to manage kiddo breakfasts and snacks. Oh, and we found out that you can take drinks and snacks (even sandwiches if you want) into the park with you. That's also a great money-saving tip – most parks don't allow this!

Vacation Scheduling

Not a clearly obvious choice, but an insider tip. Visit the parks in September/October because it's less busy. Florida schools are back in session so the park should be generally less crowded. And, maybe it will be a little cooler for ya….maybe not (it is Florida).

And, we also found out (thanks for confirming Margaret) that Disney offers the FREE dining plan the last few weeks in August thru early October. So, not only will you have a less crowded park, but a great deal on dining too (which also means the restaurants probably won't be as crowded either).

Oh, and someone (won't name names :) mentioned a logical idea. Do your kids want every souvenir when you go? It's not that they have to have THAT specific pen or shirt, it's that they want one when they get into the park. Well, here's a great idea: prior to your visit, purchase Disney gear (at home) and pack it in your bag. Take it in the park with you and when the time comes to get that shirt on, pull it out and be like “Look what mom got for you.” They'll probably never know the difference!

Now, I'm not that cheap where I won't buy my kids stuff, but for a shirt or something I will totally do this! Seriously, I thought I got a Disney exclusive shirt this weekend, and we walked into the airport and wouldn't you know it, the airport store was selling MY shirt!I had a good laugh!

Planning

For us, vacationing requires planning. We plan out where we're going, when we'll go there and what we will do while we are there! I see vacationing as an investment in our family. I do vacation on a budget but that is our budget – yours will likely be different. For us, we couldn't just magically pull the money out of the air (even Tinker Bell couldn't do that). So, I think planning in advance not only allows you to get everything organized in advance, but it also allows you to save the money to pay for your vacation!

Also, many banks offer vacation club accounts that accure a higher interest rate, so that is a great way to save and earn a little too. Since you can pay a portion to book your vacation and the remainder a few months prior to your trip, this savings account could give you enough time to save if you haven't planned for that.

I hope this has given you some information to start planning your Disney vacation. I know I will definitely be referring to this list when I go back, even if it is a cruise again (in 2011…can't wait). Drop me any comments and I'll answer them or get one of the Disney Mom Panel Members to help out (when I said they know they're stuff, they really know they're stuff!) :)

Oh, and a fun tip Laura shared. When you enter Epcot, go towards France, it's all downhill. Not that I minded working my glutes, but it's always good to know if it's your third park of the day!

Also, I read Amanda's post a long time ago about doing Disney on the cheap. I wanted to share that with you too. You can read OhAmanda's post here.

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on May 07, 2009

11 Comments

  • oh amanda - May 07, 2009 @ 1:21 pm
    1

    Great tips! I can’t wait to put them all to use!! ;)

    (Did you see my post? You are front & center…)

    • mommysnacks - May 07, 2009 @ 3:50 pm
      1.1

      Amanda, I did see your post!!! I was so excited to get those fast passes!!!

  • Stephanie - May 07, 2009 @ 1:36 pm
    2

    We love Disney!!!! We got totally re-hooked last September when we went for free dining! It’s my favorite time of the year to go! These are all great tips!

  • Margaret - May 07, 2009 @ 2:29 pm
    3

    Great job on the money saving tips! You took great notes this weekend for sure! Can’t wait to see you again, hopefully at Mickey’s house.

  • Wendy - May 07, 2009 @ 6:19 pm
    4

    Thanks for the tips… we went in Feb and I’m trying to talk hubby into returning next year. It was just too much fun!! Hopefully we can swing it financially.

  • Stacy - May 07, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
    5

    Great tips. Thanks for the info.

  • Kama - May 08, 2009 @ 11:03 am
    6

    Thanks so much for this!!! We are going to DW for Thanksgiving and I was just sharing some of your tips with my parents. I know this will save us some money!

  • Kristin G - March 27, 2011 @ 5:21 pm
    7

    Andrea – thanks for the great tips.

  • Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting - March 28, 2011 @ 6:05 pm
    8

    How did I not catch this post before now?? Thank you, sweetheart. Missing you something FIERCE!!! :(

Leave a Comment