Just about every child dreams of a family vacation at Walt Disney World and just about every parent wants to make those dreams come true–if they could only afford it. These tips can help make that family vacation dream come true.

there are wys to save money at Walt Disney WorldYou can plan a trip to Walt Disney World that won’t have you cashing in your kid’s college fun? That’s right, Disney can be an affordable family vacation. It just takes extra planning and foresight.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure a safe and exciting trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, without breaking the bank:

Flights to Orlando 

The key to getting an affordable flight to Orlando is to plan ahead–as much as a year ahead.  Also, think about taking your kids out of school for this family vacation as off-peak tickets will be much less expensive since most families travel during school breaks.  Airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines offer deep discounts to Florida, so jump on their web sites and sign up for news alerts to get notifications for future discounts to Orlando.  Do the same on your favorite travel web sites like Travelocity or Expedia.

Orlando Hotels or Disney Resorts 

While it’s definitely nice to stay at a Disney resort, it is certainly not necessary.  If you go at off-peak times, there are deals to be had.
But it might be easier is to simply book a hotel outside the property.  And choose a hotel that offers free breakfast to save the cost of one family meal.

You can stay a few miles away in a hotel that offers free shuttle service to and from the parks at all times of the day.  Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa is one example of a spacious, clean condominium that offers rooms at no less than 1,400 feet each, full kitchenettes and living spaces and a variety of dining options nearby.  Rooms are reasonable, and family suites offer multiple bedrooms.  Other options include the Holiday Inn, which offers free food to young children and a variety of family programming, and the reliable Homewood Suites, which offers free breakfast.

staying off property at Disney may save you some money

Photo credit: Pixabay

Food at the Parks and In-between 

Again, the key here is to plan ahead. Bring a backpack and fill it up with drinks and snacks ahead of time.  Snacks in the parks can be quite expensive, and you’ll certainly wish that you had brought if you don’t. Plus, you can bring in healthier options so your kids aren’t munching on french fries and candy all day.  There is a security check at the park entrances, but they won’t confiscate your food or beverages.

Another trick is to have one big meal of the day, and have smaller meals the rest of the time.  This might be hard for kids, so be sure to order kid’s meals for them.  As for adults, the portions are large, so be sure to share.  The character meals may be expensive, but they are fun and typically buffets where you can load up.  Another suggestion is to dine off the grounds.  Of course, this is easier when you have a car.

Of course, you can also shop for food and cook in your rooms if you have a kitchen, or pick up a box of cereal and milk and have breakfast in the room.  If you have your bigger meal during the day, it will be fun to plan for a delicious dessert at Epcot where they offer food from around the world.

Tips for Cheaper Disney Tickets

plan a trip to Disney that won't break the bank

Tickets to Disney are not cheap, and there is no way easy around the ticket price.  However, Disney does make it easier for more long-term guests.  For example as of October 2015 , a one-day pass to Magic Kingdom costs $105.00 for an adult, $99 per child.  Once you get to a 4-day pass, the price is $209 per adult, $195.00 per child as it does multiply.

Disney offers deals to AAA and CAA members, Florida residents, military and civil service, corporate discounts, Canadian residents, Hilton Honors, University of Florida students, Youth Group Discounts and others.  You can find more information here about these discounts.

Miscellaneous Disney Tips

  • Shop where the locals shop, not where the tourists shop.  Ask people who live in Orlando, or look online, for restaurant recommendations and try to stay away from tourist traps.
  • As far as souvenirs, Downtown Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) is a great place to shop.  It’s even better than the shops at Disney, and your kids will find knick-knacks that they’ll want to take home.  Before you go on your trip, talk to your children about souvenirs.  Make it known that they will each pick out one souvenir and they will need to be choosy and think carefully before choosing an item.

    Save at the Disney parks with these tips

    Photo credit: Pixabay

  • Try to plan for the unexpected.  Bring rain coats, warm clothing, toiletries and batteries so that you don’t have unexpected expenses to worry about.  The last thing you want is to be making major purchases at Disney when you have the same exact things at home.  Pack smart, and you’ll spend less money on your trip as a result.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  You can’t go to Disney thinking about the cost of every little thing.  Enjoy yourself and try not to stress about the cost of the trip.

If you take some of the tips mentioned to heart, and do your research, you are destined to have a the Disney magical experience that you should have.  And just think, you won’t break the bank.

Disclosure: I was part of the recent Traveling Mom press retreat.  However, the opinions expressed above are my own and are based on this trip and prior trips to Disney.  I had a complimentary visit at the Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa.