1. Purchase souvenirs ahead of time. One of the biggest expenses can be all the souvenirs that your or your children want to get while on vacation. A great tip is to check local stores such as Walmart, Target or any dollar store. You will often find t-shirts and other small items that would make great souvenirs. I also like to sign up for updates at the DisneyStore.com website and keep an eye out for sales. Another great option is UNIGLO at Disney Springs. There are great Disney t-shirts at a fraction of the price. Bonus: If you purchase your clothing before you travel, you can wash your shirts before wearing them.
2. Buy base tickets, not park hoppers. Especially if you are a first timer. It might seem like a great idea to switch parks, however, there is more to do in each park than you can do in one day. It also takes a big chunk of time to transfer from one park to another. After 20 years going to Walt Disney World, I still have attractions I want to see. Save the money and spend more time in one park doing more of the attractions.
3. Have breakfast in your room. In the morning it usually takes us quite a while to get going. We have to wait for the bathroom and end up just sitting around. If you use GardenGrocer.com (small fee to deliver to the resorts) or Amazon Prime (free delivery to the resorts) to get breakfast foods delivered to your room, you can be eating breakfast while others in your family are getting ready. The onsite Walt Disney Resorts have small fridges in them. Perfect for juice boxes, yogurt or even real cream for your coffee! Once everyone is ready you can avoid the busy restaurants and head right to the parks. Saves money and time!
4. Bring your own snacks, soda or water into the parks. Use Modern Travel Professionals' exclusive grocery service to deliver your goods to any Walt Disney World resort. Not only can you get breakfast foods delivered to your resort, you can get cases of water, pop and snacks delivered too! Disney is different than many other amusement parks, you can carry a backpack on all rides. It is even easier if you have a stroller, you can just put all the snacks in the bottom and go.
5. Use a Target credit card or debit card to purchase Disney Gift Cards and get an automatic 5% discount. If you know you have a Disney vacation in your future, head to your nearest Target and purchase Disney Gift Cards. You will get a 5% discount if you use the Target credit or debit card. The money saved can really add up. Those Disney Gift Cards can be used for food, shops, resorts…all sorts of things on Disney property.
6. Use Kayak.com to check flight prices. I personally use this ALL the time. I constantly check my flights to see which airline is cheapest. (As of now Kayak.com doesn’t do Southwest which is sometimes a great option.) In the upper left corner, there is a price predictor. Since Kayak.com tracks flights constantly, it can predict if the price is good and you should buy now or wait until the price drops. You can also place an alert to keep track of your flights to get weekly notifications. As a side note, I always purchase directly through the airlines. I have had too many times when a 3rd party website lost my reservation, had hidden fees or confusing confirmation numbers. When you book through 3rd party sites, the airlines (or your travel agent) can’t help you.
Use a travel agent. Most people do not know how travel agents get paid and worry that using a travel agent will cost more. The price you see online already has the travel agent commission built in, and if you don't use a travel agent, the commission is wasted. If you book directly with the company, the company keeps the commission. When you work with a travel agent you get their wisdom and experience, and the company pays with the built-in commission in most cases. You are then supporting a local small business and their family.
When using a good travel agent, they will keep an eye on Walt Disney World Prices. If there is a special price that comes out they will see if your reservation will qualify and apply it. They can give you suggestions on how to save money, how to tour efficiently, as well as insider tips that will make your vacation magical. If there is a problem with your trip, your travel agent will go to bat for you to help fix the problem. It is a win-win situation!
Carol Born is the owner of Born For Travel -- an Agent of Modern Travel Professionals. She specializes in creating stress-free travel experiences for her clients. When you are ready to relax and enjoy traveling again, contact Carol at CarolBorn@BornForTravel.com