web analytics

Disney World Prep: Four Ways to Plan a Budget-Friendly Vacation

Every vacation requires some planning, and when Disney World is your destination, knowing a few valuable tips can ensure your family has a great time, without blowing out your budget. Just like any trip, making smart choices on where you’ll stay and when you’ll go plays a part in how much fun you have and how much you’ll spend. By keeping the following tips in mind, you’ll get the most out of your vacation while avoiding stress and overspending.

  1. Take Advantage of the Off Season

If you’re looking to save money on a Disney vacation, the off season will be your best friend. During the popular times of year, trying to fit all the rides, attractions, and sights your kids want to see into the limited time you have will be tricky, since long lines and wait times will force you to do some prioritizing. Traveling during the off season will increase your chances of being able to do everything while avoiding having to stand in line on a hot day.

Best of all, you’ll be able to avoid the most expensive prices for food, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Working around the major holidays will help you avoid the boosts in prices, and knowing when certain conferences or competitions will be hosted in the park can help you choose an ideal time to visit.

For Disney World, the off season consists of the four following timeframes:

  • The second week of January through mid-February: After the holidays are over (or a few weeks before they arrive), a prime opportunity exists for missing the crowds and the high-end prices on lodging and food. The only downsides are that the weather won’t be ideal and certain rides won’t be open, so do some homework before finalizing your plans.
  • The first three weeks of May: Scheduling your trip during the late spring means you’ll have great weather, affordable lodging, and none of the massive crowds during the popular times of year. Visiting the park after Spring Break and before school’s out for the summer will make for a less stressful experience for both your family and your wallet.
  • Late August and September: Late in the summer is when everyone will be back at school, so the crowds will be manageable and the hotels will offer cheaper-than-normal rates. The temperatures will likely be pretty warm and you may encounter some rain, but you can explore the parks in the morning and beat the heat at the water parks later in the afternoon.
  • Mid-November through early December: As long as you dodge the week of Thanksgiving, you’ll have some pleasant fall temperatures and see some early Christmas decorations appear around the park. Arriving during the middle of the week will also cut down on having to contend with long lines.
  1. Make the Best Ticket Choice

Disney World offers multiple admission options, ranging from single-day prices to 10-day tickets. Depending on how long you plan to stay, one of these choices will be a perfect fit for your trip. A single-day ticket for only the Magic Kingdom will run you $111 for ages 10 and up and $105 for ages 3 through 9. Buying a seven-day pass costs $356 but allows you to essentially pay a daily admission fee of $50 for ages 10 and up, and $44 for the younger tykes. Knowing how much time you have to spend will allow you to make the best choice so you can get the most out of what you spend.

  1. Locate Comfortable Lodging at a Comfortable Price

As mentioned earlier, choosing to visit Disney World during the off season will allow you to take advantage of a huge savings opportunity for your entire trip budget: hotel prices. Although many people choose to stay at one of the Disney World resorts to cut down on travel time, a good way to avoid paying steep prices is to look into hotels outside the park. For a family of four (or more), you’ll likely be looking at $350 to $450 per night for most off-site accommodations.

Another option, especially for large families, is to rent a vacation home near the park. This can be an affordable way to handle your family’s accommodations, but many of the homeowners may not actually be residents in the Orlando area, so if a problem arises with the plumbing or electricity, you may have to deal with the situation on your own. If renting a home is an attractive plan for your family, be sure to do your homework and even check the owner’s references. You can find a property’s public records at the Osceola tax collector’s website or at the County Clerk’s site.

  1. Skip the Rental Car


A central facet of any vacation is knowing how you’re going to get around. A car rental for an entire week can be expensive and you would likely only need it for getting to the park and back. Most hotels outside Disney World provide transportation to the park through a shuttle service, so it’s easy to avoid the expense or renting a car altogether and let someone else do the driving. You also won’t have to remember where you parked or fill the tank up before driving it back.

Laying the Groundwork for a Fun, Stress-Free Trip

Sometimes having fun requires some prep work, and before you and the kids set foot in Disney World, you’ll need to have a plan in place to cover all the bases. An enjoyable, budget-friendly vacation is within reach, yet you’ll have to consider the different options available for lodging and tickets, as well as what time of year you’ll be traveling. By following these valuable tips, you can ensure you’ll have an excellent, inexpensive trip that will be a blast for you and your family.

About the Author

Rick is the founder and owner of Orlando Shuttle Service, which provides affordable and reliable private transportation for tourists in the Orlando area. His site also offers a free trip budget calculator for Disney vacations to help you plan your trip!