Feeling overwhelmed about planning a Disney World trip on a budget? With these tips, you can have the trip of your dreams for a fraction of the cost!
Are you feeling overwhelmed about planning a trip to Disney World on a budget? With two water parks, four theme parks, a giant shopping district, and almost 100 restaurants (and that’s just in the park), it is easy to see how you can become a little bit overwhelmed with the idea of planning a vacation for your family to visit.
Planning a Disney World vacation while sticking to your budget isn’t quite as difficult when you have a little help from others who have done the planning before. That’s why we have put together this little guide on how to actually plan an amazing Disney World trip to make it easier for you to plan the trip, and save money while you’re at it!
We also have an article filled with Disney tips & tricks coming soon, so for this particular article we’re focusing on the actual planning process: How do we go about planning a Disney World trip on a budget?
Whether you’re planning your Disney World trip with a family of four, family of six, or multiple families getting together, you’ll find these six steps helpful for staying within a reasonable budget. Let’s get started!
Planning a Disney World Trip on a Budget
1. Get Your Paperwork Organized
This may go without saying, but the truth is, to be really successful at planning a Disney World trip, you need to get organized. Without a bit of organization, a trip like this is just stressful. Remember — being disorganized (in any area of life) costs you money in the long run!
So, grab yourself a notebook, a couple of folders, a binder, and even a budget friendly planner and let’s get busy!
Why do you need a notebook to plan a Disney World trip? Once you start looking into the specifics of planning an amazing Disney World Trip, you are going to want to jot down some notes. You will find places you want to attend, restaurants you want to check out, rides that are a must-do, etc.
Why do you need folders and a binder to plan a Disney World trip? Well, the answer to this is very simple. You need to keep your papers organized. Sure, you could do it without the folders, but do you really want to be digging for your notes or important papers in the bottom of your purse or somewhere in your luggage? I don’t.
Why do you need a planner to plan a Disney World trip? Planners are great! You can put your itinerary on paper and just open up your planner when you need it. Having a planner dedicated to your vacation is a great way to stay on top of your traveling schedule.
2. Create a Disney World Account Online
Head on over to the Disney World website and create an account. Within this account you can access the “My Disney Experience.” The “My Disney Experience” holds your FastPass+ selection, dining reservations, you can access park maps and restaurant menus and more.
Create the account and then install their app on your phone. It will absolutely make your vacation planning easier!
Pro Tip: Buy souvenirs (like these Mouse Ears!) before you leave for your trip, instead of in the parks where they’ll cost much more.
3. Set Your Vacation Budget
Now that you can access menus and other park info, it’s time to set your budget. Look through your finances to see how much you can realistically spend. Now look through your Disney World website account and gather prices for the things you want to do, restaurants you want to visit, etc.
If you want to reduce costs as much as possible, offset your Disney World days with some free activities. There are many free things to do in the Orlando area, such as walking around Disney Springs or enjoying a hike through some natural areas.
The Central Florida Zoo is also an inexpensive option for a fun-filled day. We’ve been there several times and was never disappointed!
As you plan your Disney World budget, consider these costs:
- theme park tickets
- rental car
You might also like: Things to do in Orlando besides Disney
4. Figure Out When to Take Your Disney World Trip
When can you take your Disney World trip? There are three things to things to think about when planning your Disney World trip date:
- When can you take time off of work?
- How much will your travel cost during various seasons?
- Would it be best to fly? Or make it a road trip? (Pssst… if you’re doing a road trip, be sure to print this license plate game for the kids!)
If your schedule is pretty open, it is a good idea to spend time checking out plane tickets. Because the cost of plane tickets can widely change from day to day, you should check out various days and times to get the best plane ticket deals. I usually start with a simple Google search, like “flights from Chicago to Orlando.” For smaller airlines, like Allegiant, I go directly to the airline’s web site to look at dates and rates.
Events at the Parks
Also, make sure to check out the Disney World website again to see what is happening during the dates you want to visit Disney World. There are different things going on throughout the parks all year long, so you may find the crowds to be larger during these times.
We’ve found the best prices when we travel to Orlando in January/February. Once spring break begins in March, prices tend to rise on hotels and airfare. The sooner you plan for this, the better!
How much time will you have to budget your money and save for your trip? You don’t want to end up putting everything on a credit card because you can’t really afford the trip!
Open a dedicated savings account beforehand and begin setting money aside. CIT Bank has a reputable money market savings account (<– click to check it out) where you can earn interest on your savings. If you have a year before your trip, and plan to spend $2000, then divide $2000 by 12 months in a year… you’ll need to set aside $166.67 each month to hit your vacation savings goal.
5. Plan Where to Stay During Your Disney World Vacation
Now that you know when you are going and what your budget is, it is time to start planning where you are going to stay. Check out the hotels that are within your budget and within an easy commute to the park. You don’t want to spend all of your time during vacation travel to and from the park.
To save money on a Disney hotel, check out discounts that are currently being offered on the Disney World website. Consider booking one of Disney’s “value” hotels if you feel like you must stay inside the park. Additionally, check out travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, etc to find the lowest priced hotels within the area you are looking.
Personally, we love to stay at Marriott brand hotels. My husband travels quite a bit (work-related travel) and he earns loyalty points with them for his stays throughout the year, which we turn around and apply to our family vacation stay.
We’ve accepted discounted stays at resorts in exchange for an hour-long timeshare presentation. You can find some great deals this way! Just be sure you’re ready to firmly say “no” to the salesperson… don’t buy into their timeshare pitch!
Don’t forget to check out the Airbnb options in the area, too. You can click here to save $55 off your first stay, and rent a condo or small house while you’re there.
6. It’s Time to Buy Your Disney World Tickets
Now that you know when you are going and where you are staying, there are a couple of ways to save money on Disney World tickets. Also, make sure that you are buying the 4-park tickets so you can check out all of the parks.
- Buy straight from the Disney World Website. There are often discounts being offered on the 4-park tickets.
- Don’t buy the “park hopper” option. You can easily spend a full day at each park! To hop between parks will cost you more and be exhausting, too.
- See if you qualify for any discounts. If you belong to AAA, Costco, or the military, you will qualify for discounts on park tickets.
- Use credit card rewards to buy your tickets. If you use a rewards credit card, you can redeem those rewards to buy your tickets.
- Consider buying some Disney gift cards from Target with your 5% red card discount. These can be used for multiple things inside the parks.
If you’re a veteran Disney World traveler, let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything. We’d love to hear your ideas for planning a budget friendly trip to Disney World!
Let’s chat soon,
New to my site? I love to share ways to get out of debt, save money, and make yummy cheap meals from home.
A few tools I recommend:
Give eMeals a try. This is the meal planning service Dave Ramsey recommends on his show. For a small fee, they’ll even send your meal plan and shopping list over to a local store (like WalMart!) and have your groceries ready for you to just pick-up and go. Click here to try it free for 14 days.
I also highly recommend getting started with a pencil and paper budget, if you’re not already doing so. My printable Budget Binder Toolkit has everything you need to hit the ground running!