I received an invitation to apply for the Chase Disney Rewards Visa in the mail today. And while our family uses a different credit card rewards program, I thought I would review the offer since there are some decent benefits tied directly to Disney World vacations. [Read more…]
Guest Post by Elizabeth Atwood at Rock-A-Bye Parents
For many people a trip to Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime thing. The problem I often see because of this is that a lot of families want to fit everything into their one trip. This causes vacation burn out and it can lead to a very expensive trip. To keep your sanity and your budget in tact it’s important to look at the choices you’ve made and to decide whether they’re worth the time and money.
Are you planning on staying on or off property? Staying off property may seem like a better value, but make sure you look at the hidden costs. How much will you pay to rent a car? How much will it cost you to park at the theme parks? If your hotel offers a free shuttle check to find what times it runs. I’ve seen shuttles that have 6:00 p.m. as the latest time that they will pick you up at Walt Disney World to get you back to the hotel. The service is nice, but it may not allow you to take full advantage of your time in the parks.
Personally I feel that staying on property is the best way to go. We often drive to Walt Disney World, so we have a car, but when we fly it’s so wonderful that Disney will shuttle us to and from the airport for free, and then there’s free transportation all around the park. When he have a car my husband always wants to drive everywhere, but I prefer taking Disney’s transportation. Why waste our own gas? Plus having Disney shuttle me around makes it feel more like a vacation.
Even if you stay on property it is still good to look at all your options. Growing up one of the reasons we would stay at a Deluxe Resort was the great pools. Now when we would vacation during winter months we knew it would likely be too cold for us to want to swim, so that would play a part in helping us decide what resort to stay at. A lot of people also want to stay at Deluxe Resorts for the use of the monorail. The monorail is awesome, but remember that it only will get you to two parks. Is it worth spending a lot of money to use it? You don’t have to stay at a Deluxe Resort to ride it. Right now I have a toddler, so he’s very happy just staying at a Value Resort where he can really run around. Someday if we have two kids though you can bet we’ll be splurging on the Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge resorts where they have bunk beds! The important thing is to look at where you’re staying and decide whether it’s worth the expense or the savings.
There’s no denying that Walt Disney World has some amazing restaurants. It’s important to pick and choose the ones you visit though both for your timing and your budget. If you choose a lot of full service meals you’re going to lose a ton of time and you’re really going to notice the cost. Normally we choose only one full service meal a day. The problem with full service meals is that you have to wait to be seated, look over the menu, order, wait for your food, etc. Now the buffets can help speed things up, but I don’t need to spend hours of my day in a restaurant no matter how cool that restaurant might be (although there are ones that we always hit).
There are ways to save on full service dining though. You’ll find that many of the full service restaurants don’t have much of a difference in the fare offered for lunch and dinner. What you will find though is that there often is a big price difference between lunch and dinner. I’m not a huge fan of a big lunch, but we always have a our big meal at lunch time while at Walt Disney World to save money.
If you’ve been researching your vacation than you likely have heard of Disney’s Dining plan. This is where you pay a set amount of money up front and then Disney gives you credits that you use to purchase your food on vacation. Lots of people like to participate in this program, but really look at the Dining Plan before you make a decision. We’ve used the Dining Plan when Disney offers it free with a resort and ticket purchase (you’ll often find this deal for select dates in the fall). I can tell you that we get way more food with the Dining Plan than we would ever buy on our own. We actually save money by not using the Dining Plan. Just make sure you look at it in detail and decide if you’d actually use all that is offered.
With the way Disney’s park tickets are currently working you have a lot of different choices. The more days you buy at a time the cheaper the price per day is. There are many add-ons including a Park Hopper option and the Water Parks and More option. These extras can really increase the price of your tickets, so really make sure you’re going to fully use them.
When I was a kid we would always buy Park Hopper tickets because it lets you visit more than one theme park a day. With the way the tickets are set up now we never pay for the Park Hopper option because we just can’t justify the price. If you only have a little bit of time and want to see all four parks in less than four days it may be worth it then, but other than that I personally would pass.
Now I truly cannot see the use of spending money on the Water Parks and More option. This gives you one pass to your choice of miscellaneous Disney locations per day. Unless you plan to actually take the time to do one of the offered choices every single day (or take a day to do a lot of them) than you are much better off paying for those by themselves. Trust me that your budget will thank you for it.
There is no question that there is a lot to see and do at Walt Disney World. You don’t have to do it all though to have an amazing vacation. Take a look at all of your options and decide on what is right for your family and your budget. Happy planning!
Read more from Elizabeth at her blog: Rock-A-Bye Parents
I’ve read rumors that Disney World will eventually cancel the “no expiration” option for Magic Your Way and Park Hopper tickets. This may or may not be true in the future, but rest assured you can still purchase this feature as of 2013…if you know where to look. [Read more…]
FlipKey just released a new infographic that illustrates the average costs for reserving rooms and rental homes in Disney World area. There are some interesting facts in here that might change the way you shop for room accommodations for your next trip to the Magic Kingdom. [Read more…]
Now is the time to begin making plans for your 2013 Disney World vacation. Even if you’re not visiting the park until summer, you can still save money today by looking ahead. Here is an overview of the discounts planned for 2013. [Read more…]
The Main Street Electrical Parade has been a family favorite for many years. So much in fact that it was brought back from retirement due to overwhelming demand. The nighttime atmosphere during the parade is energizing, with everyone waving glow sticks and lights as Tinkerbell and the gang make their way down Main Street, U.S.A. [Read more…]
Families looking for additional room space and a fun kid-friendly hotel for their Disney World Christmas vacation might want to consider the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando. Now through November 30 they are offering special discounts on 3+ day stays, including dates around Christmas. [Read more…]
With all of the Disney World vacation resources available online it isn’t easy to sift through all the information to find the real golden nuggets of advice. With my Disney Blog Bites series I try to highlight some of the best blog posts I’ve recently read.
In this edition of blog bites I am highlighting the Disney World Savings series over at SouthernSavers.com. The series features about 10 different posts covering everything from park tickets and packing information, to child care and park over views. You can find the complete series listed at http://www.southernsavers.com/tag/disney-world-vacation.
Here are a few tips I found particularity helpful. Interestingly enough, most of what I am including below actually came from the reader’s comments.
Note that these tips were taken from various posts in the series…
– I would also say that the “Park Hopper” option is not as great as it seems. It really adds to the cost of the tickets and buy the time you get into a park and do the things that you want to do, your feet are sore and kids are tired that you really have no desire to “hop” on over to another park. Save yourself the money and just plan on doing one park a day.
– Something to keep in mind when buying tickets is that if for some reason you lose your ticket and purchased it from somewhere other than Disney itself you are out of luck when it comes to replacing it.
– I really like the Magic Your Way Plus dining package. This package features one Quick service, one Table service, and one Snack per person PER NIGHT. I really enjoy this package because it allows you flexibility while still enjoying the amazing cuisine Disney has to offer.
– My husband and I have the Tables in Wonderland card. I believe its $100, $75 if you are an annual passholder. You get a 20% discount at the sit-down restaurants (NOT the quick–to–go locations). So if you want to just save money on dinners and you are staying awhile, this may be your option. It does not work on holidays, however, and an 18% tip is automatically included. My husband and I have used this option for 8 yrs and every sit down restaurant on property…we’ve eaten at them all!
– Check out www.disneyrewards.com. It is the official site for disney reward visa card holders. It will show you the advantages.
– FYI you can get water FREE at any concession stand in the park.. Thus we carried sippy cups and water bottles and then just got them filled up again.
– If you are visiting during your child’s birthday… When you enter the park, ask to be directed to City Hall and get a free Happy Birthday pin and have him wear it all week for special treats. Most any restaurant will sing and dance for a birthday, but you can call ahead and order a birthday cake starting at about $20 as well for the table to enjoy. There are shops in every park where you can get birthday Mickey ears.
– Disney has an incredible sensitivity and practical plans for families with children with special needs. They even accommodate children with autism with special passes for quicker access to rides.
In other news, Disney World has officially launched their theme concept for 2013. The guys over at Mouse Chat have
the early news on what this means for tourists here: http://mousechat.net/index.php/2012/10/18/disney-announces-their-2013-promotion-limited-time-magic/
As they put it…
Imagine an Independence Day celebration – only it lasts an entire week…. Main Street mainstays the Dapper Dans rocking out with boy band hits in barbershop style….a Friday the 13th dance party with Disney villains that lasts to the 13th hour…. a Valentine’s Day in 2013 that becomes Valentine’s Week with Disney castles blushing pink, surprise meet-and-greets with Disney princes and princesses, and candlelit dinners for couples in love.
These and many more special experiences to surprise and delight Disney Parks guests will roll out each week in 2013. Unique, magical, memory-filled – and each for a limited time only.
Disney officials noted that Limited Time Magic was inspired by the reality that many of life’s most cherished memories are made during those special, but fleeting moments when families spend time together with shared experiences.
That is all for this edition of Blog Bites. As always, I will continue to scan the blogosphere looking for the best Disney World tips to share with you!
Eligible members of the United States Military can get a great deal on 4-Day Magic Your Way tickets between now and September 28, 2013. A standard 4-Day MYW ticket costs the average person $256, but you can get them for $156 with the military discount. [Read more…]
The new Fantasyland exhibit will open at Disney World in Orlando on December 6th. If you act quickly, you still have a chance to win a free trip to see this new addition and treat your little prince or princess to a magical vacation. [Read more…]