Tips: Our Walt Disney Vacation on the Cheap (4 people, under $2100)
Ah! Booked, finally! We’ve been eyeing up a Disney vacation for quite a while. But, as most everyone knows, Disney can get expensive. But, it is supposed to be the Happiest Place On Earth. Right? Well, I did tell my 7 year old that because she does tend to have an attitude that nothing is good enough. So, hopefully she’ll be happy when we head on our vacation.
So I am not a Disney expert, and definitely not a Disney fanatic (as indicated by the fact that I’m 35 and have never been to any Disney place), but I love a good deal, so here’s how we are doing 4 round trip direct flights + 4 nights in a Marriott-brand hotel + 2 days at Disney (Magic Kingdom only) for just around $2000.
How did I get such a great Disney Deal?
I tried for weeks to find a deal for Disney via Costco travel that would get us to Disney (as in flights, hotel and passes for the 4 of us) for under $3000 and I just couldn’t do it. Plus, we wanted to stay within Delta for flights (our other option out of DTW was Spirit, and we wanted to take more than 4 purses on board) and Marriott because we have “status” with them. So, alas, I abandoned the Costco idea and found that actually, Marriott Travel has some great deals. We’re not staying onsite so we won’t get the shiney bracelets in the mail that everyone showcases on social media, but TripAdvisor is my friend and tells me that you can see the fireworks from Marriott and basically that’s what I’m looking for (plus Easy access to the park and free breakfast are benefits as well.)
Hints for Saving Money on Vacation
- Don’t travel on Mondays and Fridays. Sundays can also be bad
- Saturdays are often are more expensive at hotels
- Weeks after holidays are often less expensive
- Book a hotel that includes at least one free meal
- Take snacks to the park
- Splurge once
- Book a hotel that has a kitchenette and “make your own” meal once a day.
There are very few sites that give cheap Disney tickets, and if you’re looking at a few day trip versus a week trip, it is just as easy to buy from Disney itself.
I booked Disney tickets online on their site after creating an account so that I could easily “link” them to use fast pass. After purchase, I then used my confirmation number to “start my Disney experience.” Doing so allows you to book a fast pass for a few events. I called customer service and they indicated to ensure that my confirmation number attached to my account I may want to do “will call tickets” but I took a risk and it payed off. We’ll still get tickets in the mail, but I have my “linked” account in time so I can book my fast pass options at the 30 day mark. I did NOT want to pay for fast shipping, after all!
Making the most of travel days on vacation
While we are new to Disney, we are not new to travel. My kids are well-traveled and I know how many days they can take (and I know how many days it takes to get caught up on laundry… usually double the days gone).
In this case, for Disney, We decided to make the most of our days by arriving early on the first day (check out the pool and have fun) and then leaving late on the last day. This maximizes your trip. If you’re flying, which we are, consider the flight times. A flight that leaves at the crack of dawn doesn’t give you much extra time versus a later flight the day before and you save on one night at a hotel (and likely a meal).
Oh and if you are really inclined, do laundry while on vacation so that you bring back clean clothes. Of course, that requires use of time, so that’s up to you. I’ve done it (and even washed cloth diapers on vacation) and it really isn’t so bad 🙂
Many people say you need to book 6 plus months in advance. Honestly, that’s not always true. We booked just over 4 weeks in advance and it definitely is more affordable than traveling peak season.
Our plan is to continue reading for tricks and trips and using fast pass on “must sees” for my kids that also have long lines. We also plan to be there mid-week instead of on the weekend for less crowd.
Here are some tips from my blogging friends that will hopefully help visits to Disney.
- 10 Disney Tips (I am happy to find out about their Welcoming Ceremony listed there!)
- 10 Things specific to the new Disney Fantasy Land
What are your Disney tips and tricks?
We’ll be planning a family trip (all the way from Canada) to Walt Disney World in the future and these tips are super helpful!
I went to Disney once on a day trip with my Mom back when she was a snow bird*well there was the time way back when a friend and I drove to Florida and happened to be near Disney at night–we watched the fireworks from outside–they were magnificent-then continued on our way. I am glad to her you were able to make it a bit more affordable-a Disney vacation can be VERY expensive from what I have heard!!
We love Disney. Their Disney vacation club is terrific, my parents are in it and we love going with them to stay.
We are also saving up for a Disney vacation. These are great tips and I am bookmarking this for future reference.
Just reading this, I’m telling you I need a vacation. My kids would love to go to Disney!
Do make it happen if you can!
Wow! Thanks for sharing your trip. We would like to make it to Disney one day!
Great tips on how to save while traveling. I always do a lot of research before a dream trip. I don’t have small kids to take to Disney, however as soon as my grandkids are big enough, I’d be more than happy to take them there!
Oh I so want to go to Disney World again, it is SO expensive from the UK! You had a great deal – have a fantastic time! Kaz x
Wow that is pretty awesome. We have a family of 8 soon to be 9, so I am always looking for ways to cut down budgets for trips. Disney has never really been on our minds but as the kids get older we’d love to try!
One thing to know is that young kids get in free. Plus flights under age 2 are free within the US too for the most part too, if you have your child as a lap child.
Thanks for including me in this. Disney World is such a great place. We love sharing it with our kids!
We have a time share so we go every other year. Make sure you hit all your favorites right away. I haven’t had my coffee yet to help you with some tips. 😉
Thank you for posting this. I’m looking into planning a trip and this will be very helpful.
These are great tips! I’ve always thought I just need to save up a pot of vacation money in advance and just hunt around for the best deal, then you can just buy the best ones when you see them. My husband is traveling for work for two weeks and we were just talking about doing laundry in between. Do you go to a laundromat or have the hotel do it for you?