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Saving Money at Disney World
A visit to Walt Disney World is a classic American vacation – for people with and without kids. But it also can be expensive. You probably have to fly or drive to Orlando and stay in a hotel once you get there. Then a regular one-day pass costs about $79 for kids age 3 to 9 and $85 for everyone over 9.
Of course, you can get multiday tickets for less and bargain airfares and hotels, but the Mickey experience still can take a bite out of your budget. To help ease the pain, Travel & Leisure online offers some tips for cutting your costs:
- Check the Disney site for deals. Go to disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers and sites such as MouseSavers.com for coupons. However, be aware that most of the deals require you to visit the park for at least four days, and they are not usually good during holidays or the park’s most popular periods.
- Buy a multiday pass, which can significantly reduce your per-day cost. However, the prices really drop for passes of more than four days – which might be longer than you want to stay in the kingdom of the Mouse, especially if you want to leave time for any of the other theme parks in Central Florida.
- Don’t drive to the park from your hotel. That way, you don’t have to pay for parking. There are tons of free shuttles from Orlando-area hotels, both those that are affiliated with Disney and those that are not. Just be aware that you might end up waiting for a crowded bus with some hot, overtired, over-sugared kids – and adults.
- Go to the park when other people don’t. You can save a ton, especially on hotels, if you go during a time when kids are likely to be in school. Of course, if you have kids or grandkids, they are likely to be in school.
- Rent a house instead of a hotel room, especially if you are a group larger than four – which is the occupancy limit for the less expensive Disney-run hotel options. You probably can save a lot and be much more comfortable in a house; check with an online vacation rental site. As an additional bonus, you will have a kitchen and more space for everyone to spread out. However, you probably will have to drive to the park yourself, which means you have to pay for parking.
- Check out the free stuff. Yes, there are some things at Disney World that are free: the monorail, the nightly boat floats in the Electric Light Parade, and the ferry to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Of course, your children probably will not be satisfied with just getting to the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
- If you eat a lot and you don’t mind fast food, you can save money on the Disney Dining Plan, which allows you two full meals and two snacks a day. However, you cannot explore other dining options outside the park.
- Turn the expensive theme park food into cheaper theme park food. For example, buy an extra bun and turn a double cheeseburger into two burgers. Or skip the fries or chips.
- Swap the expensive makeover experience for a little glitter. You might pay $50 or more to have the Disney folks turn your little princess into Cinderella or your swashbuckler into Captain Jack Sparrow. But for $7.50, they can go to the Harmony Barber Shop on the Town Square for a little glitter or glow paint in their hair.
- Check out the perks at the Disney-run hotels. They often offer extra time at the park, for example. Of course, they also often are much more expensive than non-Disney hotels, so you have to weigh the tradeoffs carefully.