What is the best way to visit Disney in Orlando without breaking the bank? We promised our grandchildren we would take them this year but have to keep the costs down without spoiling the magic. We want to visit at least two parks and would like a good deal on the hotel for 2 adults and 3 children. Our timing is pretty flexible.
Disney can be expensive, but there are ways to save.
How old are your grandchildren? Any child under 3 years is free...so that helps.
Children between 3 -9 pay child prices. Children over 9 pay adult prices.
If you are a member of AAA - give them a call - they offer discounted Disney vacations.
Staying offsite is the least expensive. You can get some great deals that are not on Dsiney property. But if you're not driving down you will need to rent a car.
The onsite hotels are the most convenient.
Disney has 3 resort types - Economy, Moderate and Deluxe.
Deluxe is most expensive usually $200 or more a night.
Moderate is in the middle and Economy the best priced.
You can get economy rooms under $100 a night. I've never stayead at an economy - I hear the rooms are smaller and the beds are doubles I believe. Some of the economy hotels have "Family Suites" which cost a bit more, and offer more room.
I 've stayed at some of the moderate hotels and they are very nice and priced well.
They usually have 2 Queen beds - depending upon the ages of your grandchildren you may be able to get a cot or something for one of them.
Discount offers. Right now Disney has different discount offers going on. They have a free dining promotion that usually is end of August to end of Sept. They just extended it and I believe they will have it again early December.
With Free Dining offer - if you book a room at regular rate anf get at least a 1-day ticekt for each member of your party you get the Disney dining plan free. The basic dining plan includes 1 counter-service meal, 1 table service meal and 1 snack per person per night you're staying. The meals inluce entree, dessert, soft drink & tax. Tips are not included. DIsney has somne great restaurants and free dining is a big savings.
If you book a discounted package thru Disney you usually need to book your room, tickets and meal plan all together. If you want to go ala carte and book things seperately - the best place to get park tickets -I have found - is undercovertourist.com. I used this site last year and again this year to buy my tickets. They are the same as you would get at Disney but cost less. It's not a BIG savings per person, but it does add up. The price of the ticket online includes shipping and tax.
AND you can have the tickets put on your room key when you get to Disney so your park entrance, room key and all can be on one card. After you check in you just need to bring your tickets and room card to guest relations at your hotel and they will do it for you.
I've been to Disney many times and can go on with money various tips. It's hard to be specific without knowing the ages of your grandchildren and more about what you want to do.
If you go to the Disney website you will see the different special offers they have going. They have a trip planning section where you can put in your dates, hotel and such and get pricing so you can try different scenerios to see how much they cost.
You can always call 1-407-W-DISNEY and talk to a rep. They are very helpful with giving information and pricing.
Some other good "unoffical" Disney webistes that have good information are:
mousesavers.com (good info on saving$)
There is also a forum where many Disney "experts" exchange information and help others. It is www.disboards.com. I learned alot from this site as well.
Good luck - your gandchildren are lucky to have such fun and generous grandparents.
If you have some specific questions or information, please pass them on and I will be happy to help.
Great information above and most of the resources are the same ones I'd recommend. Just one thing I've found: most of the Disney moderates and values have two double beds, not queens - except the Coronado Springs Resort. We picked that for our vacation earlier this year for just that reason and had a delightful time. Finding hotel rooms that hold 5 is tricky unless one of them is under 3; check Disboards.com for advice from the "experts" there. One great benefit of staying at Disney is the free airport shuttle "Disney's Magical Express." If you plan to stay at Disney the whole time, you won't even need to rent a car between the shuttle and the on-site transportation (buses, ferries, monorail). Another benefit is the "Extra Magic Hours" where a different park each day is open an hour earlier or later for on-site guests - very key to getting your money's worth.
Watch out in the fall for specials, we went last year on the "buy 4, get 3 free" package where you paid for a 4 day package and got a 7 day package including room and tickets. Price was too good to pass up.
Alternatively, one discount website that's been providing great hotel deals for me lately, and shows a lot for Disney, is Travelzoo.com. Also, definitely check AAA and other travel agents to see what they offer. AAA offers special VIP parking for its customers, which we were always jealous of. Might have to try AAA one of these years for just that reason.
To get the most for your money while there, I highly recommend research and planning. There are sites and resources that let you plan what you'd like to see in advance and help you avoid lines. Depending on when you go, lines can be killer, and if you don't plan accordingly, you can end up with a cranky, disappointed crew. We love "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World" and its associated website Touringplans.com. Some people like Tour Guide Mike (tourguidemike.com), but it didn't work as well for us as Touringplans. We went in April during the busiest week of the year - they actually shut down the Magic Kingdom two afternoons we were there because it was too crowded. But we never waited more than 15 minutes for anything, and saw everything we wanted to see thanks to careful planning.
Plan to be there when the park opens, as early as possible, to see as much as you can before lunchtime. We left at around 12-1 most days after seeing most everything we wanted to see, and took a break at the hotel for a few hours to rest up and have a swim, then visited another park in the afternoon/evening. While we were on our way out each day, we would watch masses of people streaming into the park we were leaving. A great tip is to book character breakfasts for the first seating, before the park opens (there are a number you can try, including Cinderella's Castle and Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom, Akershus and Garden Grill at Epcot, Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios (best for the preschool set), and Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. Once you're done eating, you're already inside the park, with a head start on the rest of the crowds. Book those as early as you can (90 days out, currently, for best availability).
We have been to Disney in Orlando 4 times and each time we rented a house within 10 minutes of the parks. Each came with 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen and a private pool. One even had a foosball game. The price for the whole house was less per night than the cost of one room at a Disney resort. On one occasion we had our children and parents staying in the same house and there was plenty of room. Two sites I use are VRBO.com (vacation rental by owner) and Rentalo.com. We went to a few parks each trip, but because we had a car we were able to find other less expensive things to do. The miniature golf courses throughout Florida are amazing and great for grandparents who may not be up to Space Mountain. Though it is tempting to buy souvenirs for your grandchildren at the parks, you can get Disney character keepsakes at all of the area drugstores, grocery stores and discount stores, and you will save a lot of money.Plus you won’t have to tote them around the park all day.
I guess this is an old post but we do Disney all the time. Usually we rent unused timeshares at a discount near the theme parks., For our minivan rental, we always use Alpha Car Rental Discounts in Orlando http://www.alphadiscounts.net We have probably saved a few thousand dollars over the years when renting a minivan in Orlando. Great service too. For theme parks, it is tough to find discount passes. I hope this helps someone! - JJ
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