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Are you dreaming of a Disney vacation but get sticker shock every time you price out a trip? Did you know you can put your Walt Disney World Resort vacation on layaway with a minimal deposit? With a little advanced planning, most anyone can budget to afford a Disney vacation. Find out how in Gulf Coast TravelingMom’s Secrets to Affording a Disney Vacation.
Secrets to Affording a Disney Vacation
Don’t count out a Walt Disney World vacation for your family because you believe it is too expensive. If you take advantage of Disney’s layaway system, plan ahead and have a little patience, you too can take the magical vacation of your dreams to the Walt Disney World Resort.
Plan Ahead to Afford Disney
The number one key to affording a Disney vacation is to plan ahead. Advanced planning is very important when it comes to a Disney vacation. If you are looking for the highly coveted character dining experiences, they can be booked 180 days (6 months) in advance of your arrival. Want your little princess to have a magical makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? Those reservations are also accepted 6 months in advance. Disney is the one vacation you don’t want to do at the spur-of-the-moment. I always recommend planning 7-12 months in advance.
Since you already have to start planning so far in advance for dining and other activities, why not go ahead and start putting money aside too? Just think how much you could save if you put up $25 a week.
TravelingMom Tip: There is no need to sit and wait for the best deal for your Disney vacation. By waiting for a good deal, you may miss out on your dream resort for your once-in-a-lifetime trip. Once you have decided on the package you want, go ahead and book. Discounts and promotions can be added at a later date.
Disney Vacations on Layaway
Did you know that you can book a Walt Disney World vacation package up to 499 days in advance with just a $200 deposit? The best part is you’ll have over a year to pay it off. You can make payments as often as you like as long as your payments are in increments of $20 or more with your final payment due thirty (30) days prior to check-in. How’s that for a payment plan?
The rates for the upcoming year are typically released in mid-June each year. This means you can typically book packages through October of the next year. For instance, if you want to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in October 2020, you will be able to do so in June 2019. If you are planning a trip in December 2020, you will have to wait until August 2019 before you can secure your reservation. Those of you who want to visit in January 2021 will have to wait until June 2020, when the next year’s rates are released, before you can make reservations.
Book with a Travel Agent
Disney offers some pretty incredible discounts and promotions throughout the year. The promotions are released sporadically throughout the year and are limited to certain resorts during specific travel dates. Sure, you can follow the blogs and Disney’s site and try to get the discounts on your own. However, if you book with a travel agent, you don’t have to worry with any of that. Your agent is going to monitor the discounts for you and automatically apply the applicable promotions to your reservation. Believe it or not, there are a lot of really good agents out there who do not charge planning fees. Do your research and you may save quite a bit of money by booking with an educated travel agent.
There are a lot of other perks that come along with booking with a travel agent. Learn more about the benefits of using a travel agent for Disney.
Travel During Discounted Months
As I mentioned above, Disney typically offers some really great discounts. I believe the largest savings are found during the months of August and September when Disney typically offers their Free Dining promotion.
TravelingMom Tip: If you opt to travel during August through November, it is a good idea to add Disney’s vacation insurance, as this is the height of hurricane season.
If you can’t get to Disney in the fall, another good time to visit price-wise is during the months of January and February. The only issue here is that a this is typically the time when attractions go down for scheduled refurbishment.
Book an On-Site Value Resort Hotel
The Walt Disney World Resort has five (5) on-site Value Resort hotels that are sure to fit your budget. The newest of these resorts is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort which features family suites sleeping up to six adults. They also have a section dedicated to The Little Mermaid where you can find standard size hotel rooms. Other Value Resorts include Disney’s Pop Century Resort (my favorite), Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.
Staying in an on-site Value Resort Hotel as opposed to staying off-site is a no-brainer in my opinion. By staying here you avoid the costly daily theme park parking fees and you enjoy all the benefits of being on-site (Extra Magic Hours, complimentary Magic Bands, the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, and so much more).
Visit Before your Child Turns 3
Did you know that children three (3) and under are free? Yes, I said FREE. If your child is under three years old they do not require park tickets. This means there is no charge for their hotel, there is no charge for their park tickets, and there is no charge for the Dining Plan (as long as they eat off an adult’s plate).
I know a lot of people think they need to wait until their children are older before they go to Walt Disney World for the first time, but just think of the money you could save if you went before their third birthday! Technically, they could celebrate their third birthday in Disney, so long as they weren’t three when you checked in to the resort.
Stock up on Disney Gift Cards
One of the best ways to save for a Disney vacation is to purchase Disney Gift Cards. You can find these at most grocery stores, pharmacies, and large retailers. If you start purchasing Disney Gift Cards months ahead of your trip, you will find that you have plenty of spending money when it is time to go. You can use the gift cards to make payments towards your package, as well as pay for dining and most everything while you are on vacation.
TravelingMom Tip: If you have a Target RedCard you can save 5% on your Disney Gift Card purchases. Other large retailers such as Sams Club offer the gift cards at a discounted rate.
The Ultimate Secret to Affording Disney
What is the ultimate secret to affording a Disney vacation? Know your budget. As long as stick within your budget and follow the tips above, you should be well on your way to the magical vacation of your dreams.