Since the theme park opened it’s doors to the public on October 1, 1971 Walt Disney World has been a dream vacation spot for countless families. Each year more and more people flock to Orlando, Florida on one specific mission, to meet Mickey Mouse. Vacations at Disney can easily cost a small fortune, but with careful planning and a good budget, it’s easy to to have a great vacation at Walt Disney World with minimal costs.
Where to stay when Visiting Disney World
Depending on the time of year, staying at Disney resorts can be pricey, but staying on site has it’s benefits as well. For families on a tight budget, a lot of money can be saved by staying in one of the various hotels that surround Walt Disney World. Normally, hotels that are close to the Disney main gates have a lot cheaper rates than the Disney resort hotels. Most hotels, that are close will also offer a free shuttle bus to take their guests to and from the various theme parks. The Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa is a great choice for location and for families.
Food and dining for less in and around Walt Disney World
A good rule of thumb is that breakfast should always be eaten before visiting the park for the day. Most hotels offer their guest a free continental breakfast and if saving money is the key the free breakfast should be taken advantage of daily. If the hotel room has a refrigerator, cereal and milk is always a good cheap option for breakfast as well.
Walt Disney World does allow their guests to bring in food and drink as long as nothing is in glass bottles and nothing has to be heated up. It’s probably not wise to take anything that may spoil easily, like sandwiches made with lunch meat, because the weather in Orlando can be extremely hot. However, things like sandwiches will survive the heat just fine. To avoid carrying around large bags all day, each person can wear a small bag with a sandwich, a small bag of chips, and a water bottle. The water bottle can be refilled throughout the day to avoid the cost of buying other soft drinks.
Even snacks throughout the day can be pricey, but in each of the 4 parks, there are fruit stands located in various locations. For meals eaten in the Disney parks, check the park map for the cheapest options. Things like character breakfasts are not cheap options! There are dollar signs located next to each restaurant showing how pricey the establishment is. The ones with only one dollar sign are the cheapest places to get a meal.
Buying Disney souvenirs
Everyone loves having souvenirs to help them remember their vacation, but it can put a huge dent in the budget very fast. Before visiting Walt Disney World, each family member should be given a souvenir budget. Staying within this budget is imperative. Not only are the shops around the parks costly, but a lot of the merchandise can be bought online.
For cheap souvenirs, look for the various places in the park that allow guests to purchase pressed pennies. These are normally machines that are located at the end of the attractions. The pennies are pressed flat and have an image relating to the attraction printed on it. For free and unique souvenirs, most of the sit down restaurants have neatly designed swizzle sticks and napkins that can be taken home. Pictures make the best souvenirs and there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the Disney World parks.
New for 2021, Genie+ has replaced the old Fast Pass system for cutting down the time spent waiting for rides. You can use this at over 40 different attractions in the parks and it can cut down your waiting time by hours in some cases. However, this does cost money to purchase, as well as some rides costing even more on top of that but it will save you a lot of time in the parks meaning you’ll get to do more overall.
Each park also opens earlier and closes late on certain days throughout the week. This time is reserved for resort guests only and all attractions aren’t operating. However, if staying at a resort taking advantage of this can save a lot of time.
Taking advantage of the Park Hopper option on admission tickets can mean traveling to a less crowded park with shorter lines. Guests can also start the day at the back of the park and work their way towards the front in order to avoid the crowds, as most people will start with the first ride/attraction they see.
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