When you think summer, you think vacation. And when you think vacation … a lot of people think Walt Disney World. But a recent study by CareerBuilder found that 24% of workers say they just can’t afford a vacation this year. No doubt, vacations can be expensive especially when you’re traveling with a family. So is it possible to book a Disney vacation on a budget?
To find out, I talked to the people Walt Disney World about ideas for booking fun and affordable family vacations. Walt Disney World Marketing Associate, Yadira Ambert told me, “Sometimes people think that we’re very expensive and I’m not going to be able to afford it. That’s a big misconception. It’s just not true.” So how do you get the best deal?
They tell me that first thing to know when planning a vacation is to head to the Disney World website. The site allows you to plan out a vacation and price out different possibilities. You can save as well as print out different packages to help you compare different options.
The site asks you a few simple questions like the size of your party, your travel dates and your budget. Katie Gallagher, Associate Marketing Manager, describes what happens next, “Once you enter all that information in, within seconds it can give you a recommendation for the perfect package for your family.”
Decide What’s Important
When mapping out your stay, think about what’s important to you and your family. Do you plan to spend all of your time at the parks? Then maybe a Value Resort is a way to save some money. Or do you intend to do some relaxing in your room? In that case, you may consider a Moderate or Deluxe resort. What’s the difference?
Consider Types Of Rooms
“Value Resorts” are the least expensive Disney Resort hotels and they start at $85 per night. These resorts include properties like Disney’s Pop Century and All Star resorts. Next up are the “Moderate Resorts”. Moderate Resorts include Disney's Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans – French Quarter and Port Orleans – Riverside. These resorts offer additional amenities and start at $159 per night. From there are the “Deluxe” and “Deluxe Villa Resorts” that start at $260 per night. Some of these options can accommodate up to 12 people. Gallagher says, an example of Deluxe resort would be, “The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is considered the crown jewel of all Deluxe Resort hotels.”
How do you know what’s right for your family? If you need a room mostly for sleeping, Norman Vossschulte, a Walt Disney World Ambassador, says, “It’s really nice for them to sometimes stay at a value resort because maybe all they need is a place to sleep and maybe a place to swim.”
Vossschulte says no matter which resort you stay at, one thing is always the same, “It really has the same spirit. The same smiles will welcome you.” Vossschulte adds that all resorts offer certain Disney amenities, "The nice thing is you still get your extra magic hours, you get your luggage delivered to your hotel so you don’t have to wait at the airport and we have a motor coach that brings you to your hotel." Extra magic hours are when the parks open early or stay open late only for resort guests.
Look At Different Packages Available
There are all kinds of ways to book vacations. You can simply reserve a room. Your next choice would be to combine your room and park admission tickets together. Another option is to book the room, park and dining package. Adding the dining plan can save your family money on the cost of food.
Gallagher tells me, “The thing that’s nice about the room, ticket and dining package is it allows you to know all of your expenses up front which is very important. You can know going in how much it’s going to cost you. When you can include dining as a part of that and know that your saving on top of it, I think it’s one of the better tips.”
It’s not how far in advance you book that will save you money, but rather when you decide to make your trip. Certain times of the year are just busier and more expensive. Katie Gallagher says, “If you have a little more flexibility to come maybe during an off-time it may be a little more affordable. Say the mid-August to late-September time period, for example, typically the rates go down just a little bit.”
If you're a Florida resident, be sure to take advantage of the discounted room and theme park admission rates available to you.
And here’s one last idea for you. Did you know that camping’s an option, too? You can pitch a tent at Fort Wilderness or park your RV there. Enjoy the rustic beauty and roast some marshmallows at the fire pit with Chip and Dale.
No matter what resort chose, you'll find the Disney spirit pervasive throughout. Gallagher says, "The themes and the details and the cast make the experience so great."