Author: Elizabeth Patrick
Date of Trip: August 2013
Five Money Saving Tips for Disney!
My family and I just returned from a trip to Disney. We spent 4 nights and 5 days in our Disney timeshare at Bay Lake Tower. This trip was special because it was a celebration of my son’s fifth birthday. No matter how many times I go to Disney, the look on my children’s faces when they see Cinderella’s castle as we walk down Main Street USA is priceless. Unfortunately while the experience is magical, the price is not. A Disney vacation is certainly not inexpensive but, like anything, there are ways to save money. Below I have detailed the top five money saving tips that I have personally used to make our Disney vacation more affordable.
1) Consider renting points at a Disney Vacation Club resort. This is particularly relevant if you have a party of 5 or more guests or if you want deluxe level accommodations at a discount price. There are companies that specialize in facilitating point rental transactions to provider renters with security that cannot be obtained when renting directly from the timeshare owner. The company that I use is named David’s Vacation Club Rental (http://www.dvcrequest.com).
2) Every room at Disney now is equipped with a refrigerator. DVC suites and Family Suites on-property have kitchenettes and some villas have a full kitchen. Even if you only have a room equipped with a refrigerator, consider having groceries delivered to your resort. Key items that are very expensive onsite are bottled water, soda cans, kids juice/milk, and snacks such as Goldfish crackers. Groceries are conveniently delivered to your resort and can be brought to your room by bell services. This service is especially nice if you do not want to drive locally in Orlando or you plan on solely utilizing Disney transportation to visit the parks. My preferred vendor for grocery delivery is FoodStore2Go (http://www.foodstore2go.com).
3) Along with planning on grocery delivery, I recommend carefully evaluating your desire for sit down meals and ensure that you are prepared to book at 180 days prior to your arrival. After determining meals, you should decide if the Disney meal plan will save you money. The mid-tier dining plan will provide you with one table service/sit down meal per person, per day, one quick service/cafeteria style meal per person, per day, one snack per person, per day and a refillable mug for the duration of your stay. By combining a meal plan with grocery delivery, you can ensure that everyone is well fed and you can almost entirely pre-pay for your food prior to arrival (the tip for sit down meals will need to be paid when you checkout).
4) I highly recommend booking as early as possible in order to secure the best possible pricing. The booking opens up for the following year during the summer and typically price increases occur in the spring. There is generally no forewarning and therefore little time to book and secure the lower pricing. As long as you book directly with Disney, you have the ability to cancel your reservation and your $200 deposit (for a package) will be returned to you. In addition to booking early, keep an eye out for promotions as you can apply discounts after you have booked (for example, you book in February for a September trip and a room discount comes out in June. You call immediately when the discount is announced to have it applied. Do not wait as there are a limited number of rooms for each promotion)
5) If you have stroller aged children and do not want to lug your personal stroller to Disney, consider renting a stroller from an outside company. Similar to the grocery delivery, the stroller will be delivered to your resort and you can pick it up at bell services. The onsite alternative is the rented strollers from Disney. These strollers are plastic, uncomfortable and cannot be brought from park to park or park to resort. Additionally they cost more than the rental from the outside company. For example a double stroller was $54 for two days from Disney while the outside company charged $35. Of course, bringing your own is the ultimate cost saver but consider that you will need to gate check any stroller for the flight and risk damaging and having to replace it which would be an unexpected cost upon returning from vacation. The company I have used to rent strollers is Kingdom Strollers (http://www.kingdomstrollers.com)
I hope that these money saving ideas are useful to readers and that it enables folks to consider planning a Disney vacation as it is truly an opportunity to create amazing family memories!