Enjoy Disney on the Cheap
According to Google, the definition of cheap is the following;
Low in cost; worth more than its cost
It seems to be that the word cheap has this negative connotation. Especially when planning a Disney vacation.
And I think the true reason is that people think that in order to attain greatness as a family, they need to be able to afford a Disney vacation at its face front value.
Well if you think that, then you’re wrong.
I recently read The Millionaire Next Door which shares a bunch of statistical information on millionaire and their habits. Turn out, millionaires are some of the most frugal people in the world. With salaries under 100K most of the time, they spend/save/invest correctly, that’s what leads to their financial status as a millionaire.
I’ll end my rant with this, you’re reading this article because either you’re a millionaire and a genius or you’re not a millionaire but still a genius.
So let’s start talking about how you should be enjoying Disney on the cheap.
Plan your vacation as tightly as possible. Don’t make this a chore as its kind of fun. Start with your meals, where will you eat? There are many instances where the same item will be two different prices at two different location within the same park. Do this all before you leave for Disney.
You’re on vacation. Focus on enjoying yourself. Once you’re there just immerse yourself in Disney as much as possible. You deserve it.
Time to contradict myself. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you act like money grows on trees. Be aware of costs and add how much you’ve spent maybe halfway through the vacation. It’s so easy to get lost in the fun of it all.
Kids are easily pleased. Like they’ll love the FREE monorail. I guarantee you. Don’t get add-ons and extra days when you don’t need to. Enjoy free stuff at Disney like the monorail and boat rides.
Disney is not just the theme parks, it’s an entire location and vacation in its own right. Make sure to explore as much of the property as you can. The deluxe resorts are really beautiful and fun to explore. It’s like an adventure. Feel free to head over to the Beach Club Resort for a spiked ice cream float and to check out the property, the dining options, and take a boat ride somewhere else.
Get as many discounts and coupon as possible. For example, purchase the Official Guide to Disney World solely for the coupons in the back of the book. In fact, here’s a list of those coupons. You can easily make the money back and save a ton!
- Earl of Sandwich – 10% off any food and beverage purchase
- Planet Hollywood – 15% off food and beverages (excludes alcohol)
- Sprinkles – 1 FREE ice cream topping with each ice cream purchase
- Wolfgang Puck Express – FREE kid’s meal with the purchase of an entree.
- Bongos Cuban Cafe – 15% off lunch and dinner, up to 8 guests
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ – 1 FREE slice of Shine or Hummingbird Cake with the purchase of a meal or appetizer
- Ghirardelli – 10% off a chocolate purchase or $1 off a specialty sundae
- House of Blues Restaurant – 20% off lunch or 10% off dinner, up to 8 guests
- Paradiso 37 – 10% off food only at lunch and dinner
- Raglan Road – 20% off lunch, Monday through Friday only
- Wetzel’s Pretzels, FREE pretzel with purchase of 2 pretzels of equal or larger value
- Paddlefish – 10% off food and beverages
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company – 20% off food and beverages (only at Disney)
The more vacations the better, right? I really want to go to Italy for like 10 days. So I just started doing Swagbucks again. Basically, it’s a website that allows you to earn money by doing surveys. I try to do $2/day which is $60/month or $720 a year. Not bad at all! Italy here I come.
Provide your own food as much as often. The more you provide for yourself, the less you will spend. Ideally only eat one meal and a snack out. Bagels work for breakfast, PB&J for lunch, etc. Or you can order pizza and use it for two lunches. As long your hotel has a microwave. Snacks and water are a must.
Watch out for portion sizes at some of the restaurants. Sometimes you end up wasting food, especially kids.
Use the 24 hours rule for souvenirs. Want something over $25? Don’t buy in the moment or on impulse, wait 24 hours or until the end of your trip to decide. What I do is scan everything I want with the Shop Disney App. I wait until the end of the trip to decide what to get. With the app, I can see the overall total (which is usually a huge shock) and I can ship everything home.
Bring water and snacks with you into the theme parks. There’s something about waiting and walking around that makes for hungry business. Some of my favorite snacks to bring are teddy grams, granola bars, small donuts, small cookie packs, etc.
Florida sunshine is really strong. If you find yourself touring the parks between 12-3pm, you’re going to feel it for sure. It makes you really tired and hot, possibly cranky. In order for me to enjoy Disney the most, I use those afternoon hours to relax. I try to walk the least amount possible. This usually leads to us heading back to the room for a nap or to the pool for a nap. Usually from 12-4pm. I also book my FastPass+ around this rule.
It’s definitely going to rain while you’re at Disney World. Might be for 3 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. There are three things you’re going to want to have with you to #1 stay comfortable and in the parks through the rain and #2 not waste money. Those three things are ponchos for everyone, comfortable walking sandals (I personally like crocs), and a bag.
Here’s how this works. I used to wear sneakers to Disney World until I realized that crocs were just as comfortable to walk in for hours. Not kidding. And when my feet get wet, in sneakers, from the rain and puddles, I’m not stuck with wet socks for hours. Crocs let everything dry.
Ponchos are 400% cheaper at Walmart, Target, or Amazon then they are from Disney.
You must be wondering what the plastic bag is for. Well once you use the ponchos, take them off so that you don’t wet the inside and put them in a plastic bag. Like a grocery bag. That way they won’t make the rest of the stuff in your backpack wet and you can reuse them.
If you are planning a Disney vacation on a budget and want to make sure you enjoy it, don’t worry at all. It’s almost impossible not to enjoy a Disney vacation. Unless you really just hate Disney (which is just weird).
I do want to reiterate, a Disney vacation on the cheap is Disney the smart way. According to Google, it’s getting a Disney vacation for less money than what it’s worth.
If you need more tips on planning a Disney vacation start with this guide.