Recently, I released an IGTV on How to Save $$ on Your Disney Vacation. If you have not watched the awkward video, this article will cover all of the information in the video and more! However, if you are looking for some quick tips, I recommend checking it out.
I am about to share with you my best-kept Disney secrets and how you can visit Walt Disney World on a dime too! We are going to cover all aspects of a trip from airfare, to hotels, to transportation, to everyone’s favorite topic-Disney food and wine. I am excited to share the ins and outs of Disney with you and how I can visit this magical place so many times a year.
Let’s get started!
The first and most important question is WHEN? When are you planning on going to Disney World? Summer, Fall Winter, or Spring? Do you want to attend for a particular celebration or are you open to any travel time?
Personally, I prefer to travel during the fall and spring months. There seem to be less crowds (kids are back at school) as well as shorter lines and less expensive trip options. The Fall is also the season for Food & Wine Festival and the Spring is the season for Flower and Garden Festival. These two festivals take place at EPCOTs World Showcase. During these festivals, you can try a variety of foods and drinks from around the world. The crowd is mixed and there are fewer children present than say, Magic Kingdom during the summer.
For our sake, let’s say that we are planning a trip for this fall. I am my family and friends’ vacation planner for our Fall trip this year. We just got it down in the calendar for October. I am so excited!
Next, let’s discuss airfare.
Maybe you are lucky enough to live driving distance from Walt Disney World Resort. Unfortunately, I live way too far to drive. (Well, we actually did drive once and my little brother was so young that we had to watch Finding Nemo over and over again on the way down there. Great movie, but not great enough to watch for 22 hours straight.) Okay, back to airfare. This can be extremely costly depending on where you are traveling from, when you are traveling, and what airline/airport you use. I highly recommend checking out small airlines near you. A few popular small airlines are Frontier and Spirit. Some people are skeptical about these airlines, but I have only had good experiences. When I fly a larger airline, I notice more delays. These smaller airlines are much less expensive than flying with a larger airline and check in/security takes much less time. The only downside to using a small airline is if you like to pack a lot. When I fly to Disney, I typically only pack a backpack or a duffle bag. (Trust me, you really do not need much!)
Best times to travel? To start, airfare is typically less expensive during the week. Cannot skip work? Be conscious of the time of the year. In the Summertime (June- beginning of August), kids are off from school. This means higher airfare costs and more traveling. I highly recommend visiting Disney in an off season.
Best advice I can give you, is to stay on Walt Disney property at a Walt Disney World Resort. You will save so much time and money, and you will eliminate the need to rent a car. By staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you receive the magical express transportation that takes you to and from the airport. You have access to the Disney shuttle system to take you to the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. You have access to Disney food right in the food court and gift shop and you are emerged in the Disney experience throughout your stay! By staying at a Disney resort, you save time and money. Disney has a variety of resorts which all range in price and level of comfort. The least expensive option is still a pleasant experience and typically runs around $100 a night. The more expensive options are beautiful and run at a much higher price. Disney resorts vary in price throughout the different seasons. This is important to take into consideration. There are various promotions throughout the year, and you can save BIG by traveling during these promotions.
For this particular trip, we have a large group going. I booked a condo only 3 miles from Disney property. We will have to rent a car, but for the price and size of our villa it was well-worth it.
When considering where to stay, think about how long you will be there and how many people you are traveling with. My rule of thumb is if the group is small- under 6 people then stay on Disney property. If your group is over 6, then you may want to consider a larger place off Disney property. The closer to Disney, the better though!
While planning your trip, it is important to think about how many parks you would like to visit, how much down time you would like to have, and how much time you want to keep open for adventures/excursions. There are four major parks at Walt Disney World Resort and each park has its own theme and attractions. There are two water parks and a Disney Springs area. When I take a short Disney trip, I typically only visit one or two of the parks. I visit so often that I can manage to go without visiting all of them. If you are planning on taking one long trip, I recommend visiting all four. Personally, I do not enjoy waterparks but if you do, definitely check out Disney’s two water parks. Each park admission costs around $100 depending on the season. You can save by purchasing tickets together online. You can also purchase a park hopper pass which allows you to travel throughout two Disney parks of your choice in one day! This is a great option if you are limited on time.
During special times of the year, there are special celebrations. For example, Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party is a celebration you do not want to miss. This celebration offers special food, beverages, shows, parades, and merchandise, as well as later park hours at Magic Kingdom. If you are visiting in the fall, this is a celebration, you do not want to miss.
EPCOT’s festivals do not require an additional ticket- so if you are visiting the Food and Wine festival or the Flower and Garden Festival, you will not need an additional ticket. Your day pass will allow you into the festivities at the world showcase.
My top two parks are Magic Kingdom (of course) and EPCOT. Magic Kingdom is famous for Cinderella’s castle as well as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, and Space Mountain. This park will send chills down your spine as you walk through main street USA with your Mickey premium ice cream pop. My second favorite is EPCOT. EPCOT is famously known for the World Showcase where you can sip on alcoholic beverages from 13 countries. EPCOT seems to have more for adults whereas Magic Kindgom has more children’s attractions.
If you are looking for high speed rides, you may want to make a trip to Hollywood studios. Here you will find Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rock n Rollercoaster. Toystory Land also just opened here and I cannot wait to check it out.
If you are an animal lover, please head over to Animal Kingdom where you will find animals as well as fun rides such as Expedition Everest and Dinosaur. Animal Kingdom opened Pandora recently which is the land of AVATAR. This part of park is very cool and offers some very fun rides as well as drinks and food.
If you are crunched for time and want to hit up all four parks, I recommend a park hopper pass. Check the Disney website or app for park hours and schedule two parks in one day. In my opinion, Hollywood studios and Animal Kingdom are half day parks. You can combine these into one day. Then, spend a day at Magic Kindgom and a day at EPCOT.
Disney Food & Drinks
Disney food and drinks are famously known and delicious. Disney food is also extremely filling and can get expensive. My top favorite food picks are bulleted below and in my opinion, they are worth the extra dough. (crack myself up)
- Mickey Waffles- These delicious Belgium waffles are a family favorite and are great to fuel you before a crazy Disney day. If you are looking for a healthier breakfast alternative, Disney food courts also offer protein smoothies.
- Dole Whip- The perfect mid-afternoon snack. Dole whip is made from pineapple and is super refreshing on those hot Florida days.
- Kung Fu Punch- This alcoholic beverage is sold at EPCOT in the China pavilion and it is delicious! Super refreshing and fun sweet drink to sip on while walking around the World Showcase.
- Shawarma Platter- This platter is a great buy, delicious, and nutritious. It is sold in the Morocco pavilion.
Now let’s get to Disney food secrets and tips. Before visiting the park, I recommend eating a big breakfast at the hotel. You will do a lot of walking, so prepare yourself for a long day of fun! Pack protein bars and water bottles. You are allowed to bring these protein bars into the Disney parks. I do not recommend packing a meal though, as it is hot outside and your food may not withstand high temperatures. I highly recommend purchasing a Swell Bottle or a Hydroflask to keep your water cool. Nothing beats a nice cold water on a hot sunny day. Also, if you ask any Disney restaurant or dining location for a cup of water, the worker will give you an ice-cold water cup free of charge. Lastly, quick service stops are great for lunch and dinner. These quick service locations are located throughout the parks and offer a variety of different food options from healthy to “treat yo self” and allow you to eat while enjoying the parks.
When you stay at a Disney resort, you are granted access to Disney shuttles. These shuttles run every 20 mins or so from resort to parks and Disney Springs. Disney resort guests are also granted access to the magical express. This magical express picks you up at the Orlando airport and drops you off at your Disney resort. Your luggage tags will arrive at your house before your trip, and when you take off for Orlando, your bags are automatically transported to your Disney hotel room. No need to wait at the baggage claim!
I hope you found these steps and tips helpful when planning your Disney trip. I can not wait to hear all about it! 🙂