Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You CAN afford it!

So many people have told me "I'd love to go to Disney World, but I just can't afford it!"  It is my mission to assure you, a Walt Disney World vacation can be affordable!  For our family, a week at the beach costs about the same thing as a week at Walt Disney World.  We have paid upwards of $200 a night for a hotel in Myrtle Beach during the summer, and that doesn't even count what we spend on food and entertainment.  When we go to Disney World, tickets and dining are included in the total price of our vacation package (we always get the dining plan).   That includes a resort stay in a Walt Disney World resort, park tickets (regular Magic Your Way), plus dining, and we don't usually pay much more than $200-$300 per day. 

So here are my budget planning tips:

1.  Don't buy park tickets for every day that you're there.  We usually reserve a couple of days for down-time.  We go to Downtown Disney, resort hop (visit other resorts), or just hang around the pool at our resort.

2.  Don't buy park hopper passes.  Yes, it is nice to be able to park hop, but when you're planning on a budget, it is just not worth it.  We still come and go to the parks as we please, but we just leave and come back to the same park in the same day.  We just aren't able to go to 2 (or more) parks in the same day.  No big loss to me.

3.  Save on dining.  If you are planning to do character meals, or table service meals, go with the Disney Dining Plan.  It is well worth it.  If you are just planning to grab a bite whenever you get hungry, you're probably better off without it. 

4.  Shop for deals.  You can check out Special Offers at waltdisneyworld.com.  This is where you can find room discounts, or special offers like free dining or ticket discounts.  You can also use websites like mousesavers, and knowbeforeugo.com to find discounted tickets, if you're not using a vacation package.

5.  Compare prices.  When I help people plan a trip for their budget, I create a spreadsheet where I lay out prices and options like dining plans, resorts, and number of tickets.  That way they can see all the different options they have within their budget.  For example, maybe you could stay in a moderate or deluxe resort with no dining plan for about the same price as staying in a value resort with the dining plan.  Try different options and find which one works best for your needs and your budget.

6.  Try the Chase Disney Rewards Visa card.  You get 6 months with 0% interest to pay off your vacation, plus you earn Disney Rewards points for any purchases you make.  You can save up your points to pay for future Disney trips!   I'm not a big supporter of credit card use, but I use this card for everything, and just pay it off at the end of every month. 

With a little effort, you will find that you can plan a trip to Disney World on your budget.  So get started planning your magical vacation! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

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