Staying at Disney on a Budget

Staying at Disney on a Budget

Staying at Disney on a Budget

I can remember the countless visits to Disney World as a kid and all of the fun I had with my family.  But we never stayed within Disney World.  My family simply felt like we couldn’t afford it.  I might or might not disagree.

As you plan your Disney vacation on a budget, you will find that your level of knowledge is equivalent to how much you can save. That’s why I believe going over the Disney resorts first is important.

We will have two parts of this post.

  1. How to figure out which resort is for you
  2. How to stay at Disney on a budget

 

Offsite or Onsite at Disney?

Often, when it comes to deciding whether to stay on or off site, price is the main factor.  However, there is so much more to consider when trying to figure out where to stay at Disney on a budget.

Pros to staying at a Walt Disney World Resort

  • Convenience
  • Free airport transportation
  • Free transportation to the parks
  • Never leave the magic
  • Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney bubble
  • Never rent a car

Pros to staying off-site

  • Price
  • Last minute deals
  • Price
  • Biggers options (vacation homes)
  • Shuttle to other parks
  • Price
  • Loyalty programs

Case Study

You have two options for your Disney vacation.  An off-site hotel at $50/night or All-Star Music, (Disney Resort), for $99/night.  Your vacation is 4 nights so the cost will either be $200 for an off-site hotel or $396 for a Disney resort.

If you do decide to go with the much cheaper off-site hotel, you now have to rent a vehicle to get to and from the airport and parks.  (Value: $110)

With a car means you have to pay for parking on each day that you visit the parks, $20/day.  (Value: $60)

 

Don’t forget gas (Value: $25)

Should we put a value on the time and effort spent on driving your family around yourself?

Even if we don’t, you now find yourself staying off-site for a savings of $11.

There are so many factors that go into just the financial portion of choosing an on-site or off-site hotel for your Disney vacation, that it really is a case by case basis.

Which Disney Resort?

Disney is complicated to begin with, right?  Get ready for it to get worse. It is important to understand that Disney Resorts come in 4 tiers.  Those are:

Value

Moderate

Deluxe

Deluxe Villas

But what’s the difference between each tier?

The biggest difference is going to be price, with it going up consecutively.   Room size and amenities are also going to increase consecutively.  I’ve gathered some information from different resources and created a chart, placed at the end, for your convenience. 

Resort Options

Value Resorts

All-Star Sports

All-Star Music

All-Star Movies

Pop Century

Art of Animation

 

Moderate Resorts

Port Orleans Riverside

Port Orleans French Quarter

Caribbean Beach

Fort Wilderness Cabins

Coronado Springs

 

Deluxe Resorts

Contemporary

Beach Club

Boardwalk

Polynesian

Saratoga Springs

Old Key West

Yacht Club

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Grand Floridian

Wilderness Lodge

Disney Resort Room Sizes

Value and Moderate Rooms

Sleeps 4 plus a baby under 3

 

Value Suite

Sleeps 6 plus a baby under 3

Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach Rooms sleep 5

 

Deluxe Rooms

Sleeps 5 plus a baby under 3

 

Villas

4-8 people plus a baby under 3

 

Disney Resort Transportation

Each resort offers something different in terms of transportation. For a lot of families, this is the driving factor.  Why?  A resort’s transportation options can mean the difference between a 40-minute ride to Magic Kingdom and a 7-minute ride.

Bus

All resorts

 

Boat 

Beach Club

Boardwalk

Grand Floridian

Polynesian

Fort Wilderness

Port Orleans

Swan/Dolphin

Yacht Club

Wilderness

Old Key West

Saratoga Springs

 

Monorail

Contemporary

Grand Floridian

Polynesian

Disney Resort Room Size

Value Rooms – 260 sq feet

Moderate Rooms – 314 sq feet

Deluxe Rooms  – 340-440 sq feet

staying at disney on a budget

Disney Resort Themes

Value Resorts have very strong and vibrant themes.  Popping colors, large icons, and strongly themed pools.  Kids and kids at heart love these themes.

Moderate Resorts still have great themes that are more subtle than value resorts but they’re still great.  Personally, I believe these are themed the greatest.  The perfect example is Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter.  Whose theme and style reflect the antebellum south along the Mississipi or the architecture of New Orleans respectively.

Overview

staying at disney on a budget

Ways to Stay at Disney on a Budget

The Seven

Known by me (and probably only me), as The Seven, the Disney Springs resorts are a middle ground between offsite and onsite Disney hotels.  The Seven are on Disney property but not owned or operated by Disney.

They are located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard near Disney Springs.

The Seven fit into our plan of staying at Disney on a budget because you can usually get a great deal on them, especially last minute.

While prices for some of these resorts can get high, you can find a great option for under $100/night.

All resorts have their own transportation to the parks but beyond that, some of them are close enough to Disney Springs so you can head over there and use the Disney transportation.

MouseSavers does a great job of going over The Seven.  But I do so as well in the video below.

Special Offers

Disney has special offers that are constantly running.  Weirdly enough, if you don’t book through the special offer link, you won’t get the deal.

Make sure to head over to Disney’s special offers page to figure out what your vacation qualifies for.

 

Free Disney Hotel Stay

There’s nothing better than getting something for free on your vacation.  That’s why my Chase Sapphire Preferred is my lifeline.  I use my credit card to pay for anything, accrue points, and get at least one part of my biggest trip every year FREE.

With the 50,000 point sign up bonus and up to 3 points per $1 spent, there’s no going wrong.

Free Money/Discounts

A Disney vacation becomes a little less intimidating with discounted Disney gift cards and even free gift cards.  Learn how to save up to 10% on gift cards here.  You can use those gift cards to pay for any Disney resort stay/package.

What are you waiting for?

Have you decided which Disney resort option fits  your budget?

We’ve gone over how to choose a resort, what to consider, what you should know, and ways to save.

Where are you going to stay?

disney on a budget

32 thoughts on “Staying at Disney on a Budget

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    We go every year and I would never not stay on property! The convenience alone is worth the extra money.

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    With all the Disney deals out there today – it would be crazy to book without doing your homework! Love the way you shared the pros and cons – for example, staying off Disney (cheaper), but then having to pay for a car rental & parking (not ideal – might end up costing even more!)

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    Awesome tips! We always stay on property at Disney. However, with their ever increasing prices, I’m thinking that it may be cheaper to stay off property. Some places actually offer free shuttle service to Disney.

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    I love the Walt Disney World has so many options for their Disney property hotels. I wish California have more Disney property hotel options that were more affordable for the every day budget

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    The cheapest I’ve done is splitting a room at Pop with 3 other friends. Traveling with friends versus family makes it a lot cheaper for me. As always, excellent tips!

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    We are planning a trip to Disney for 2019. I know for a fact we want to stay at a hotel on the park grounds. We plan on saving for this trip to make sure we get our money’s worth and make it a magical, fun family experience. Thank you for all this amazing info.

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      So glad I could help. Excited about your 2019 trip!

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    This is such a great and very helpful post! We went to Disney a couple of years ago and stayed at the Art of Animation and the rooms are pretty much comparable with normal hotels.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

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    This is great! Shows all the options available for those wanting to plan their Disney family vacation. I would love to take my children to Disney. This helps us plan our trip! Thank you for the tips!!

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    Research is really key when it comes to these things! It’s good to be updated with all the deals that are out these days. You can save a lot of money and still get the vacation that you want when you research.

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    Great tips for deciding where to stay and how much you want to spend. I think it really depends on your budget and how much time you will be spending in your room. If I know I will only be sleeping at the hotel then I don’t need anything fancy, but if I want some time to chill away from the parks than I would probably spend more on my hotel stay.

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    I don’t have that card but I like that it gives you the chance to have a free hotel stay at Disney, isn’t that awesome? Doing research beforehand would definitely help!

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    Agree. Where you stay and transportation are some of the big ticket items you have to really research and take into consideration before booking. Thanks for the tips!

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    I like how you broke down the different resorts here! I am really hoping to plan a Disney vacation soon, so I appreciate this info!

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    Disney is so much fun! It can really be affordable if you plan and don’t shop too much when you visit.

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    Oooo so many helpful tips here!! I must glad that you broke down exactly what each Resort has to offer!! Nice to see those differences all in one place

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    I love how detailed this is! Perfect for someone like me that needs to plan everything! Thanks for sharing this, I’ll have to keep this for our trip to Disney

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    Wow there’s is so much detail in this article! This is a great resource for anyone planning a Disney trip!

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    Planning like this can really help keep the cost down! The cost really puts us off going but I know the kids would love it so it’s something to consider!

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    This is really informative. Thank you for sharing your comparison between onsite and offsite so we can decide better. Great tips!

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    This is great – I’d love to go to Disney but it’s just so so expensive for us! I’m on a mission to collect the best tips for low cost Disney and finally embark on a holiday! X

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    I would love to go to Disney with my son. I’ve been there when I was younger, but we haven’t had the budget for it since he’s been born. These are great ways to fit it into the budget!

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    Very cool!! I think sometimes its a much better deal to just stay at the hotel related to the park because of whats included with it. Luckily I live in Orlando, so I don’t have to get a hotel to go to Disney lol.

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    There’s one little correction Hilton Orlando lake buena vista no longer offers extra magic hours.

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    These type of vacations take a lot of careful planning, especially if one wants to help cut down costs. Thanks for breaking everything down!

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    These are some great ideas. Disney can be so expensive. We always stay at a hotel in the park.

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    I love how you broke this down into a case study! The last few times we’ve gone to Disney, we’ve stayed in the park… it’s ended up being so much easier for us.

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    I have been to Disney about 20 times and I have to say that I agree with all of your tips. They’re so helpful for new Disney go-ers. Fantastic job!

Comments are closed.