Cheap Disney Vacations

How to Plan Cheap Disney Vacations

By Danielle Leshin

The good news, it is possible to take your family to Disney World, even if you are on a tight budget.

Now when I say cheap vacation, I don’t mean a scary motel, I’m talking, nice decent family friendly lodging, in a safe area, at an affordable rate, with amenities. Something everyone can enjoy.

Breakfast with Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World

Breakfast with Minnie

Cinderellas Castle Walt Disney World

Cinderella's Castle

Tips to Plan Your Disney Vacation:

1.   When should you go to Disney:

I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the cheapest time to travel to Disney world. Here’s what I discovered:

The cheapest time to go to Disney is: September, October, November, not including Thanksgiving, the first 2 weeks in December, and January after New Years thru the 2nd week in February.

We prefer to travel to Walt Disney World in November, December and January.

Here are the the benefits of traveling during this time, on top of saving money;

Everything is decorated beautifully, it's awe inspiring, and you won’t be going to Florida when its 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity…who wants to wait in long lines, sweating and sticking to the person next to you? And don’t forget the smells that come along with all those people …and the kids whining…I’m hot, how much longer, are we there yet??

So while spring break , all summer and holidays are the most popular times to travel to Disney, it is also the most expensive and miserable time to travel to Walt Disney World.


Walt Disney World During Christmas

Walt Disney World Opening Show

Osborne Family Lights at Disneys Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Osborne Light Show Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

How to Stay at a Disney Resort for Cheap:

2.   Where should I stay:

You can stay at a Disney World Value resort on Disney property for cheap. You won’t have to drive anywhere or worry about parking. This is the best way to go on cheap Disney vacations and really lets you enjoy your trip. Yes, this can be very affordable, and it will be a cheap Disney vacation. We really like Pop Century resort, the kids love it. There are plenty of pools & even a tiki  bar for the adults next to one of the pools. Here's how to book cheap Disney vacations.

First, check Disney's website for one of Disney’s Value Resort specials that includes a “free quick service dining plan”  for each person. They run these special sporadically, so sign up on Disney’s website to get all the latest deals.

Skip the weekends, they always add to the cost. Sunday thru Thursdays are the cheapest days. If you want to go for an entire week, check in on a Monday.

Here is an example of a current 5 night special that they are running for their low season, it must be booked by July, 2016 and is valid for a couple weeks in September, This is expired, but it gives you an example of what to look for. They run these every couple of months:

Free quick service dining plan with a 5 night/6 day stay for 2 adults and 2 children: $335 per person including food & park tickets

 Here’s what you get for $335 per person for 2 adults and 2 children:

 5 nights Disney’s Pop Century hotel standard room

 2 day Disney Park Tickets for each person, you can add more days, but it will cost more.

There is so much to do at Disney, that we usually get the 2 day ticket and choose 2 different parks. One day we go to a park, the next day the kids go swimming, we also like to go to Downtown Disney at night they have live music, dancing and it's all free.  The next day we might choose another park to go to, then the next few days, we go swimming, shopping, visit downtown Disney, see a few shows at the Boardwalk hotel (free), checkout Animal Kingdoms nightly story telling by the fire (free), sit by the campfire and have a sing along at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Lodge, visit Disney’s Grand Floridian and check out the life size ginger bread house and Christmas decorations, these activities are also free.

There are so many other things to do at Disney besides just visiting the parks, many of them free. Don’t wear yourself out running from park to park, take your time and enjoy everything there is to offer. This free entertainment will help keep your budget for your cheap disney vacations on track.

 Quick Service Dining plan:

This means each person will get 2 full meals each day, including a drink, entrée and dessert. You also get 1 snack each day and a free refillable mug that you can refill at your hotel as often as you want. So each person only gets 2 meals a day and a snack….yes most of us eat 3 meals a day…don’t panic…

Here’s how to work around the quick service dining plan: Split meals when you’re at the park. Some places give you so much food, 3 people could eat 1 meal. So look around at what people have on their plates and choose an item large enough to split, right there you will save a couple meals. You can also bring snacks and breakfast food that you can keep in your room. Bring fruit and cereal and run up to the restaurant and get some milk for $1..taa daa, you have a cheap breakfast you can eat in your room, and still have  meals left for the day.

My kids saved their snack coupons and used them to purchase Disney World souvenir candy from the hotel gift shop; yes they counted as snacks, double bonus!!!

There are quick service restaurants all over each park, at all value hotels and at Downtown Disney too!! You will have plenty of options and places to eat.

You get to eat at Disney World for free! This is the best deal they run, take advantage of it when you see it.

You won’t find a better value anywhere in Orlando, you might find a hotel for less than $100 a night, but after you add in the Disney Tickets, food, gas  and time driving, the cost will be way higher than the cost of this special. This is the best way to plan  cheap disney vacations and let me tell you, it's a great feeling not having to worry about what my kids can and cannot order from the menu or what the bill's going to be for dinner. On top of that, my kids can get a dessert with every lunch and dinner! Dessert makes for some happy campers.

Walt Disney World

Pirate Goofy

3.   Souvenirs:

Talk to your kids before you travel to Disney World. Give them each a budget so they know what they can and cannot get. Have them save their money if they want anything more that you have allowed them.

I always tell my kids to keep an eye out for the souvenir they want and we get it right before we leave the park so we don’t have to carry it around all day.

4.   Discounts:

After you price out your Disney World trip on Disney’s website, check with AAA, Costco and any other Associations that may offer you discounts. Just in case, you may be able to save some money.

I have never been able to beat the “free quick service dining plan” special directly from Disney, but I always check. Always look for discounts when planning you cheap Disney vacations.

Disney Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

Expedition Everest Roller Coaster At Disney

Epcot Center Walt Disney World

Epcot Center

5.   Budget:

Now that you decided where you’re going to stay on your cheap Disney vacation, make a budget and stick to it! You’re probably going to need a couple extra meals for your traveling days.

Don’t forget to include transportation, how are you going to get there? Driving is usually the most economical way depending on how far you are from Disney World.

Budget is key in planning cheap disney vacations.

6.   Sign up for specials:

When Disney World runs their specials for cheap disney vacations, they don’t last long, so book it when you find it. They will let you put a deposit down to book it, you don’t have to pay it all at once. You get to make payments over long period, this helps with saving and budgeting.

7.   Free Things to Do in Disney:

Don’t forget to check out our “free things to do in Disney” page. There are plenty of fun free things to do and see in Disney. Don’t miss a thing!

I hope you enjoyed our tips for planning  Cheap Disney Vacations 

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