How We Did Disney on the Cheap
It’s no secret around here that we are huge Disney fans! Since we’ve got married in August of 2015, my husband (Nick) and I have been to Disney four times (at the time this blog post comes out!), and multiple times before then with Nick’s family. It’s also no secret that a trip to Disney can be dang expensive, but through our love for Disney and our frugal nature, we’ve accumulated some tips and tricks throughout the years that allow us to visit Disney for a fraction of the cost (but really, many of these tips can be applied and help you save money on any vacation). This past visit, we wanted to see how cheap we really could go – so, below are all of the tips and tricks we used to keep our trip cheap!
I’d also like to add that this blog post is not sponsored by any of the companies listed below. We just genuinely believe that they have an excellent product and experience to offer!
1. We opted to stay off-campus at an Airbnb.
While we absolutely LOVE staying on campus and being close to all things Disney, for this trip, our goal was to keep things cheap, so we found a nice little Airbnb about 10 minutes from the Disney parks for $60 a night. It was totally a steal! Rooms at Disney typically begin at $120+ per night (depending on where you stay), but most cost a few hundred per night. Staying off campus is a great way to save a little (or a lot!) extra money!
Another great option for larger groups who want to stay together is FlipKey. Similar to Airbnb, FlipKey allows users to find and book vacation rentals at a reasonable price, especially if you’re splitting the rental amongst other couples, family members, or friends! We rented a FlipKey property for a trip to Orlando in February of 2018 and were so impressed with the customer service, cleanliness, ample space, and beautiful property! I would highly recommend checking it out.
2. We used a credit card (wisely!) to earn free airfare.
We’re big Dave Ramsey fans around here, but the one point of contention we have with him? Credit cards. It’s easy to let spending get out of control with a credit card in tow, but if you’re the type of person who pays off a credit card on a monthly basis without accruing interest, this suggestion might be beneficial to you.
We signed up for a Capital One Venture card and ran everything we could through it, and by doing so, earned enough points to purchase tickets to Orlando at absolutely no additional cost to us!
3. Instead of renting a car, we used Uber.
Nick is a vacation planning guru, but when he told me it would be cheaper for us to use Uber for the five days we were in Orlando (opposed to renting a car), I was a bit skeptical. But it turns out he was right!
To rent a car in Orlando, we would’ve paid a minimum of $180 for five days. With two park days, we would’ve had to pay $25 a day for parking ($50 total), not to mention parking for our day in Disney Springs (ranging from $13 to $24 – we’ll stick with $13 for the sake of this math!), not to mention tolls and gas, which we’ll estimate at around $50, modestly. Altogether, the cost of renting a car would’ve been about $293. During our time in Disney, we spent only $189.22 total on Uber, saving us a grand total of $103.78. For us, it was totally worth it!
4. We utilized Disney’s free transportation via Disney’s busses and monorail system.
Did you know that Disney has a free bus system that, while mainly used by resort guests, is free for park visitors to use, too? Since we opted to use Uber instead of renting a car, we needed all the help finding free transportation that we could get! So, our plan was simple: get onto Disney property, and use the busses to get to places like: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney Springs. We saved money by first Ubering to the nearest Disney resort with free transportation available (which, for us, happened to be Disney’s Boardwalk), then from there, we utilized their busses to get to our final destination. It took a little extra time and planning, but in the long run, it definitely saved us a chunk of change!
5. We brought our own store-bought snacks and drinks in the parks.
Have you ever tried to eat or drink on Disney property? A cup of coffee costs nearly FOUR DOLLARS, and a hot dog costs around NINE. Full disclosure: we did eat in the parks more than I would’ve liked, but we did majorly cut down the cost by bringing our own snacks and drinks with us to eat for breakfast, lunch, and in between meals. We even brought our own coffee to our Airbnb with to-go cups so we could take our coffee with us in the morning!
6. We visited the parks and bought tickets on “non-peak” days.
Did you know that Disney instituted a new system of buying tickets with a rising and falling price point? Essentially, this means that it’s more or less expensive to visit the parks at certain times of the year when Disney is busier, or less busy. Disney actually makes it quite easy for you, with a full calendar for the entire year listed on their website with a specific price point for each individual day.
We purchased our tickets for non-peak days (i.e., the week before Christmas instead of the week of Christmas) to help out a little bit with the cost. If you’re planning a Disney vacation, I would highly recommend looking on their calendar to choose a non-peak time of year, to take advantage of lower ticket prices!
Shortly after Nick and I got married, we decided that instead of giving gifts to each other, we wanted to have experiences with each other. One of the biggest decisions that’s helped make Disney possible for us? Forgoing Christmas, anniversary, and birthday gifts, and putting that money towards our Disney trip instead. That may or may not be a feasible option for you (and your family!), but for us, our memories and experiences together have far outweighed any physical gift we could’ve bought each other. Those memories together – they’re priceless. I hope with these tips you are able to go make some memories of your own together with those you love most!
And until next time - to Boardwalk and beyond!
Jenna & Nick