A trip to Disney World is never going to qualify as a budget holiday, but families who are conscious of the cost can find plenty of ways to make the Magic Kingdom more affordable. Try combining these five tips to knock hundreds of dollars off a visit to the USA’s most iconic amusement park.
The easiest way to save serious cash on a trip to Orlando is to follow the advice of our number crunchers here at Hopper, which can shave up to $300 off the cost of your flights. The biggest chunk requires just a little organization: book at least 25 days in advance and ticket prices will be up to $200 cheaper. Flexible travellers can knock off another $38 by departing on a Wednesday, a further $36 by returning on a Tuesday, and an additional $18 by travelling in August. Finally, another $11 could be saved by the simple act of booking your tickets on a Tuesday.
There are a plethora of middlemen and travel agents promising to save you time and cash by folding everything into one neat package, and it’s tempting to believe their claims. But really, the only way to get the cheapest rates on each component of your trip – air, ground transportation, accommodation, food – is to book each one yourself. This also allows you to take advantage of any discounts or marketing deals that the organizations in each area offer. Disney World themselves have a continuously evolving array of coupons; the latest batch can be accessed at disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers or at mousesavers.com.
You’re unlikely to get through a few days in Orlando without forking out for some of the big-ticket attractions, but the city also has plenty of free and low-price entertainment that will keep your kids’ enthralled. Stroll Disney Downtown, a colorful lakeside boardwalk of shops and cafes which from the late afternoon on is enlivened by street musicians, magicians and acrobats. Take a picnic to Lake Eola park to watch the swans drift across the lake and the eccentric fountain burble out its song. And choose between a variety of themed miniature golf courses, a crocodile safari, or an afternoon at a waterslide park, for paid attractions that cost a fraction of the theme parks themselves.
It’s an old trick, but if you can avoid the summer holidays and visit Disney over a long weekend or less-common holiday, then there are big savings to be made. Take the cheapest band of value rooms in Disney’s hotels: in peak season, they can climb over $200 a night, but visit during quieter periods – late August and September or January – and they plummet to less than $100. And it’s not only hotel rooms that will be cheaper during peak season: you’ll find deals on everything, from travel to food, as Orlando’s businesses fights for the far smaller number of potential customers.
Inside the theme parks themselves are an endless parade of gift shops and kiddie salons selling souvenirs and popular experiences such as dressing up your kids as a mini pirate or feisty princess. But if you can just hold back your kids from an impulsive purchase – inculcate a little delayed gratification – then you can do all these things for a much cheaper price elsewhere. There’s a Disney shop in Orlando itself, along with plenty of non-affiliated outlets, where you can buy many of the same souvenirs and branded clothes for a much lower cost. Several fancy-dress shops allow visitors to put together their own colorful costume for a much cheaper price – try Harmony Barber Shop on the Magic Kingdom’s Town Square for a little glitter-based pixie dust or streaks of Pocahontas paint.