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TIGERSTORM
LSU Fan
parts unknown
Member since Feb 2009
3897 posts

Cheap Disney tips?
So my wife has decided it's fine to take the Disney World plunge. The 8 year old is really into Star Wars at the moment so she wants to take advantage. This is not my idea of a good time as I'm more of a beach bum kinda guy but here we are. I am asking the travel board what is the cheapest way to go? On resort, off resort? Meal plans? Day passes?


bulldog95
LSU Fan
North Louisiana
Member since Jan 2011
18725 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
Stay at one of the all star hotels

Get the quick service meal plan unless your kid wants a character dining experience

Get the photo package

Freeze water bottles and take to park each day along with a snack

Souvenirs are way over priced but you have an 8 yr old so just monitor

Take advantage of magic hours to plan which park which day

We have done both park hopper and non park hopper packages depends on you

Lots of sunscreen and comfortable shoes

Get a Disney world for dummies book (helped a lot out first trip)

We would leave the park everyday between 2-3 (rained anyway) and go to the hotel to relax then go back at dark. Animal kingdom closes at 5 so that day we did the park all day and went to downtown Disney that night


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15
Hat Tricks
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2003
26941 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
Airbnb near the park.
Eat breakfast at the condo before heading to the park.


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30
TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
12497 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
Friend,

My expertise of Disney includes two trips. One when I was about five and the other a few weeks ago. I strongly recommend staying off-site. You can get a nice condo within 15 minutes for under $100/night. Parking at Disney is $25/day. When booking a hotel, make sure you find one that does not have resort fees. Most of the older hotels around Disney have resort fees from 20-50 dollars per night. The TownePlace and Spring Hill at Flamingo are opened within the last year and are under $100/night without resort fees and include free parking and breakfast that opens at 6.

Meal plans are the worst idea at Disney. You go to Disney to see the sites, not eat. And let's face it, the food at Disney is not very good. There are many buffets that run about $50 per person. The pizza at Disney is horrible. I like the food at Epcot alright and it is usually about $10/person as long as you eat outside the restaurants. The fish and chips and the French sandwich shop were both good. I would recommend eating a large breakfast at your hotel, and then eating a late lunch. If you are still hungry at dinner, find something off-site.

For drinks, be advised that every food stand will give you free ice water if you ask for it. No need to bring water bottles with you. You might consider bringing a small snack with you, such as cashews or Great Value smoked oysters.

Bring your own camera to take pictures. On a budget there is no reason to pay Disney to take pictures of you. Be sure to buy a portable battery pack for your phone. You will likely use the Disney app throughout the day, and it quickly drains the battery. Disney sells the battery packs in the park for about 400% the price at Walmart. As for souvenirs, buy Disney merchandise at Target or other outlets online. The merchandise at Disney, obviously, is overpriced. Much of the stuff sold at the park you can find on the Disney store for about 30% less. The one exception I might make are the Mickey ears. These might be worth getting as a keepsake, so long as you get them personalized.

You can find more at TulaneLSU's Top 10 tips and attractions at Disney World. The entire purpose of my trip was to make that thread for you, my dear TD friends, who might be curious about Disney in this covid world.

Yours,
TulaneLSU
This post was edited on 2/19 at 6:56 pm


Tangineck
LSU Fan
Mandeville
Member since Nov 2017
569 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
Staying on grounds is more expensive, but makes travel to and from the parks much easier, depending on what resort you stay at. The more you spend, the better the transportation.

There are very few table service restaurants worth the cost, most are in Epcot world showcase. On a tight budget I would take the above advice, stay off grounds and probably skip the meal plan altogether. Character dinners are a great way to meet must see characters without a long line, but can be expensive.

Magic Kingdom = for small kids. Very little to do for adults and older kids who aren't Disney obsessed.
Hollywood studios = rides, Star Wars, teens favorite park
Animal Kingdom = feels like an expensive zoo with a few really cool rides, something for everyone in the family
Epcot = huge park, spread out and much quieter, some good rides, Showcase was a great place to relax and de-stress pre-covid.

Edit: I think the Hopper pass is worth the money. It always allows me to pop into the showcase before Epcot closes (typically open the latest of all parks) for beers when the family is worn out and back at the resort.
This post was edited on 2/19 at 7:53 pm


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30
LSU
LSU Fan
Houston
Member since Oct 2003
8093 posts
 Online 

re: Cheap Disney tips?
Meal plans are currently suspended right now. I don't think it's ever worth buying a meal plan though anyway.

Staying offsite will be cheaper and better quality. I equate Disney properties to Motel 6 accommodations with Taj Mahal pricing. The advantage of staying onsite is the transportation option. Although, they aren't all back in operation yet.

I think park hopper is worth it during normal times, but not worth it under the current restrictions. You can't park hop until 2:00 PM right now & only then if a park has an available reservation after that time.

No FastPass right now is the biggest negative to me. We're still going in 3 weeks, but I'm dreading waiting in some long lines. With FastPass we've never waited more than 30 minutes for any attraction.


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41
wickowick
LSU Fan
Head of Island
Member since Dec 2006
43580 posts
 Online 

re: Cheap Disney tips?
A number of years ago we bought 10 day, never expire park hopper passes (I don’t think these are offered any more) What we did to use them is drive in after work, kids get out of school, arrive around 2:00 am, check into a cheap Disney resort. Sleep in, go to downtown Disney, shop and have a nice meal that evening. The next 2 days we hit the parks from open till close, then we stayed the last night ans drove home. We still have 2 days left and the kids have Disney out of their system for a couple of years


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00
League Champs
Bayou Self
Member since Oct 2012
8892 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

Stay at one of the all star hotels
Get the quick service meal plan unless your kid wants a character dining experience
Get the photo package
Freeze water bottles and take to park each day along with a snack
Souvenirs are way over priced but you have an 8 yr old so just monitor
Take advantage of magic hours to plan which park which day
We have done both park hopper and non park hopper packages depends on you
Lots of sunscreen and comfortable shoes
Get a Disney world for dummies book (helped a lot out first trip)
We would leave the park everyday between 2-3 (rained anyway) and go to the hotel to relax then go back at dark. Animal kingdom closes at 5 so that day we did the park all day and went to downtown Disney that night

Most all of this has changed since the shutdown.

Stay at one of the all star hotels -- Only 1 of the 3 is open, and more expensive than hotels just off grounds. Disney now charges $15+ for daily parking at their hotels.

Get the quick service meal plan -- No longer offered

Get the photo package -- Its $169 to $199 and you wear masks in all your pics

Take advantage of magic hours -- Extra magic hours are no longer available. Staying on Disney property only gets you 30 min early entry in the mornings

We have done both park hopper -- park hopper passes are kind of expensive, and start at 2pm. Most parks close by 7pm. Park hours change frequently, however.

We would leave the park everyday between 2-3 -- Parks close this week at 5pm, 7pm, or 8pm, so you won't get much done if you leave, and try to come back.


I recommend:
*stay off grounds at hotel that has free parking. The Flamingo Crossing Blvd area offers affordable hotels.
*buy your tickets at Undercover Tourist. They are an authorized seller. LINK /
*download the MyDisneyExperience app.
*don't pay extra for a MagicBand. You will only need it to get into the front gate, and your ticket, or the app does that for you for free.
*food is really expensive. If you decide to stay off grounds, eat before you arrive, and do dinner after you leave.
*if you really must stay at a Disney property, look here for any deals being offered: LINK /


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80
LSUfan4444
LSU Fan
Mandeville
Member since Mar 2004
47815 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
The amount of incorrect information in this thread is staggering.

OP, I would almost say at this point, if you’ve read everything here, forget every single word and start from scratch.

The biggest money saver will be to drive over fly. Secondly, taking snacks into the parks (no alcohol or glass) can also save lots of money.

After that, come up with a budget that your comfortable with and decide where you think you’re money is best spent. Some people want to spend more on dining, drinking and experiences that aren’t just park tickets so they’ll spend less on their accommodations. Others may want to spend more on their accommodations and maximize their park ticket value and spend as much time as possible in the parks. Those two families should not have the same plan.

Disney has some great resorts and some great dining but where, when and how often should really depend on what you expect to be doing.

What do YOU and YOUR family want to get out of this vacation? Do you expect to be in the park(s) all day or do you think you’re more half day people then maybe spend time at the pool, or golf course, outlet mall, mini golf, top golf, go karts, Disney springs, etc?

What’s a ROUGH budget you’re looking at for tickets and accommodations? If you’re main goal is to go as cheaply as possible and you already don’t want to go, I can honestly say that you’re going to be pretty miserable but maybe there can be some happiness inside your misery.



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95
greygoose
Auburn Fan
Member since Aug 2013
4361 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

I strongly recommend staying off-site.
Horrible idea, unless you are poor. I used to be a DVC member. Went to wherever I was staying, parked my car, and didn't get back into it until it was time to go back home. Staying onsite has it's perks, one of which is not having to fight traffic after a long arse day.



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TomRollTideRitter
Alabama Fan
Member since Aug 2016
9809 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

Cheap Disney tips?


Go to Dollywood instead. Cheaper, better food, easier to plan, better thrill rides.

I actually like Disney, but if you try to do Disney cheap, you probably won’t like it.

If it’s just the Star Wars thing, maybe merge with a beach trip. Just spend a day at Hollywood Studios and then drive towards the beach.


greygoose
Auburn Fan
Member since Aug 2013
4361 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

I actually like Disney, but if you try to do Disney cheap, you probably won’t like it.
Whole lotta truth in that post.


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70
The Spleen
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2010
33035 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

I actually like Disney, but if you try to do Disney cheap, you probably won’t like it.



True, but there are ways to cut some corners on what you spend. Last time we went, I crunched the numbers at staying off site, and the savings wasn't really that much. Granted, this was 8 or 9 years ago, so things may have changed. We got a free meal plan then, and I definitely would not have paid for that.

OP, if your wife and kid are like mine, you're going to lose a lot of battles over this trip, especially if you take the money saving quest to the extreme. Pick your battles here. Your kid is going to want some souvenirs. Set a limit, or let him start earning money to buy his own. He/she is going to want that Mickey Mouse ice cream bar every other kid is eating. Your wife's friends have likely regaled her with character meals and other things that can add to the cost.


LSUfan4444
LSU Fan
Mandeville
Member since Mar 2004
47815 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

this was 8 or 9 years ago, so things may have changed



They have. Alot..there are currently no character meals, off site discounts right now are HUGE and there are no dining plans being offered

I just booked a week for July 4 week (3 people) at Caribbean Beach with 5 day park hoppers and the total was $3800. I found a close offsite hotel last Thanksgiving for 9 nights for under $700 so yeah...the savings can be HUGE



RobbBobb
Matt Flynn, BCS MVP
Member since Feb 2007
20380 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

Staying onsite has it's perks,

Not anymore


buford4LSU
LSU Fan
Thibodaux, LA
Member since Jan 2008
1606 posts
 Online 

re: Cheap Disney tips?
No such thing


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Mrtommorrow1987
LSU Fan
Twilight Zone
Member since Feb 2008
11678 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

Not anymore


Truth. Disney cancelled all onsite perks.


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Jimmy2shoes
LSU Fan
The South
Member since Mar 2014
9311 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

You might consider bringing a small snack with you, such as cashews or Great Value smoked oysters


A lot worse than those turkey legs stinking up the parks


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GatorReb
USA Fan
Dallas GA
Member since Feb 2009
8551 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

there are currently no character meals,


Not fully true. They do have some of them. You can see the characters its just they come by and wave and stay about 6 feet from the table. Which is hard for kids to understand.

OP A LOT of bad info in this thread. I would suggest going to DIS Budget Board

Someone else said that you can do Disney cheap but it wont be enjoyable. I actually agree with that. But its also hard for us to tell you tips because how cheap is cheap. Is cheap taking bottled water and PBJ sandwiches in and eating those? Or is it doing Quick Service meals instead of Sit Down character meals? Is it getting a good value of an on site hotel or getting a cheap Holiday inn for the week?

You have to make choices then build from there.

One think i would recommend is buying Disney Giftcards from Target with a RedCArd and saving 5% on everything.

If you know for sure that you plan on going you could also look into renting DVC points. For example on Daves DVC right now 7 nights in September in a studio at Animal Kingdom lodge is only $1,045.

We are super lucky and my wife has a family member that is DVC that rents us points whenever we want them at $10 a point. So that really helps us cut down on cost.

Traditional mean plans arent around right now. People are HIGHLY split between if they are worth it or not. We personally love them. But our kids are 3 and 5 and love character meals. Hoping dining plans are back by September when we take our next trip.

Also for mask. You can wear Neck Gaiters. They have to be traditional mask that hook around your ears. (unless something has changed in the past couple of months)


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baldona
Auburn Fan
Florida
Member since Feb 2016
14162 posts

re: Cheap Disney tips?
quote:

Horrible idea, unless you are poor.


Did you not read the OP, the title is literally "Cheap Disney Tips". Come on man.

OP, I've stayed off site at a Hilton Condo, Off site at a VRBO house with a pool, on site at all-star, and on site at multiple other locations including monorail and walking distance to Epcot.

The on site perks are now very overated. The bus system is fine, the only place driving sucks is Magic Kingdom and its not that big of a deal. The other 3 parks you park right outside of the gate.

To save Money:
1.) Drive
2.) Contact a Vacation rental company in Orlando directly (not on vrbo) and book somewhere outside the gates
3.) Eat breakfast at rental bring snacks and water into park
4.) Stay for longer. Longer your stay the cheaper the tickets. 2-3 days are more expensive per day.

ETA: Extra magic hours are overated also. I've been there at rope drop at Animal Kingdom with 3 little kids and by the time we made to Avatar there was already a 30-45 min wait because we weren't as fast as others. Some rides magic hours are great, but the problem is that its almost reverse psychology in that A LOT of people that stay at the park go to the parks with extra magic hours so often times if you go to a park without the extra magic hours they are less busy throughout the whole day so you can do more.
This post was edited on 2/22 at 12:23 pm


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