There are lots of blogs that will give you tips on how to do Disney on a budget, frugal family tips etc.
But for those that LOVE Disney and want their family to fully enjoy all the magic that Disney has to offer, but still without breaking the bank, here is what works for my family of 5 (including 3 teens).
- Stay at a Disney Resort – this is our personal preference, but we still strongly recommend it for almost everyone. You can stay at a Disney resort for as little as $85 per night. I think people have the impression that it is much more expensive to stay in Disney, but it really isn’t. There are so many resorts to choose from. You remain immersed in Disney magic, with Disney’s excellent guest service for the entire vacation. Disney has 3 levels of resorts – Value, Moderate and Deluxe. Our family of 5 can be accomodated in 2 of the moderate resorts for around $130-$150 per night. The theming at the resorts is amazing and so much fun. Disney provides free transportation to any where in the ‘World’ at all hours of the day.
- Disney Magical Express – free transportation on the Disney Magical Express is provided to resort guests who fly into MCO. This in itself is a fun and fabulous service – especially since it is free! No need to rent a car. You can walk off the plane, skip baggage claim, walk aboard a beautiful coach bus and arrive at your hotel fairly quickly. Your luggage will be delivered to you later while you are busy enjoying the parks!
- Take the kids out of school and go in off-peak season – sometimes making memories is more important than whatever french and math homework they might miss! We thought that as they got older and in high school, it would be difficult to pull them out of school for a week, but it really is not that big of a deal. We did it last year during the last week of school before Christmas break. There was little new work being taught during that week, and our kids could make arrangements for the homework ahead of time.
- Take advantage of the special offers – especially the free dining deal if you can get it; unless you absolutely need to go on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving weekend, NEVER pay full price. There are always special offers, either room only discounts or some kind of package discount when you buy park tickets and dining plan. We are going for the 4th time in 5 years this August on the Free Dining Deal. Basically our family of 5 can stay for 7 nights/8 days at a moderate Disney resort, with 8 days of park passes and 7 days worth of meals for under $3,000. An all-inclusive vacation in Mexico would cost more than that.
- Start when the kids are young
- Don’t think if it as a ‘once in a lifetime’ event
- Use points for flights, try flying from a different airport to get a better deal
- Research and plan in advance to make the most of our time there
- Know how your family and how you like to travel – your family – your vacation – do it your way
Disney is great when the kids are very young, it is great as they grow up, and it is great when they are teens.
A few years ago, we decided to surprise our kids. They weren’t really young, but we still had a bit of fun putting it together. Here is a video of what happened.