Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation? Well if you want to stick to a budget at Walt Disney World then you need to do some advance planning.
I have a Vacation planning guide (a check list) that can help! I’m a frugal expert and a BIG Disney World fan. I vacation to Disney World anywhere from 1 to 3 times per year because I vacation on a budget and do my homework before I go. You can do the same too. I’m a home school mom and we live on a tight budget but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have just as much fun at Walt Disney World as a family on a 2 person income. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make it all work! You just have to plan!
Advance planning for a Walt Disney World vacation is absolutely your key to savings. It’s the most magical place on earth but if you are on a tight budget and you don’t plan out your trip expenses you may come back with a bad case of buyers remorse. There’s nothing worse than buyers remorse! Ughh!
I’ve made some checklists to help you with your planning. You going to need to think about motor scooter rentals if grandparents are coming, strollers for little ones and of course, food on your trip. I have my budget Walt Disney World vacation down to an art and if you follow my series you’ll save a bundle. (Go here for my series on taking a Walt Disney World Vacation on a TIGHT Budget)
Ok, our 1st Disney Vacation Checklist is about advance planning. I’ve made a list of everything you’re going to need to know and do BEFORE you leave for Disney. I’m really big on taking food and meal planning at Disney because it can be VERY expensive to eat out for 3 meals a day. The Disney dining planmay be an option for your family however an even cheaper option is having your own food. Our family eats breakfast in the hotel room every morning, snack from my cooler purse (traditional coolers are NOT allowed in Disney but I’ve never had a problem with my cooler purse) and then dinner back at the room with the exception of Pizza night where we all eat out.
Just in case you didn’t know this Walt Disney World will allow you to bring food into the parks. They will NOT allow you to bring in traditional coolers. I generally freeze a few bottles of water the night before and pack a sandwich and some protein bars. It really cuts down on food purchases in the park and gives us more time to ride the rides. ☺
One big thing I do a week or two before I leave for Disney is make meals in advance and freeze them. I drive to Disney World and take a huge cooler and I pack meals that freeze and reheat well. I pack them completely frozen. It helps keep everything in the cooler cold and I don’t have to worry about extra ice when I pack frozen food. Foods like spaghetti or baked ziti freeze well and are convenient one dish kinda meals. Keep it easy and convenient. Baked ziti and a bagged salad from your cooler is a great meal for a family of 4 and it will save your family a bundle.
Unless I’m planning character breakfast (cheaper than a character dinner), I always have easy breakfast foods on hand to eat before we head out to the parks for he day. Instant oatmeal packets work well in a room with a kitchen or without. If you’re in a room without a kitchen simply use hot water from the in room coffee maker. Entenmann’s pastries go on sale at most grocery stores about once a month buy 1 get 1 FREE. That is a good time to stock up and freeze them. Entenmann’s freezes really well and will last for the week you’r in Disney. Kellogg’s pop tarts and breakfast bars are a big hit with kids too. Just so you know – I don’t always feed my kids sugar carbs for breakfast but while I’m on vacation I don’t generally make a big deal over the food the same way that I do when I’m home. Have you heard the saying “Pick your battles?” Well food is a battle I don’t have when I’m on vacation. I figure its only 1 or 2 weeks out of an entire year but the decision is up to you. If you have a room with a kitchen you’ll certainly be able to have a different selection of foods in the mornings and you always have the option of baking some healthy muffins with fruit and nuts before you go, freezing them and having them for breakfast too.
Now, if you’re flying into Orlando and still need to stay on a tight budget then you can have your food delivered to your room when you arrive. Thousands of people are doing exactly that all over Orlando which makes it easy, reasonably priced, and convenient to have food delivered to your room the day of your arrive. Here are 2 companies that will deliver: https://orlando.foodstore2go.com/, https://www.gardengrocer.com/
Now we’re getting to the part of the planning where you have to decide what to bring on your trip to Walt Disney World. I have a What to bring to Walt Disney World planning checklist here. Remember if your traveling in the winter months the Orlando area can have a chilly spell or a warm spell. When you hit the parks at night Disney employees are selling fun glow in the dark things everywhere. I always have glow sticks and glow necklaces tucked in my purse that I pull out as soon as we get into the theme park after dark. I generally pick them up the day after Halloween on clearance and pay maybe about 50¢ each.
Baby supplies are really important for babies and toddlers when you’r in the Walt Disney World Theme parks. I think last time I checked on stroller pricing it was $19 a day (likely even more now). The strollers you can rent are absolutely adorable however they don’t lean back. So, what is a parent to do with a tired little one in the theme parks? BRING YOUR OWN STROLLER! Think about a 5 day vacation times $19 a day=$95 – Wow – nice savings for bringing your own stroller huh? If you are flying in and you can’t bring a stroller then you can rent all baby supplies and equipment at http://www.orlandocribrental.com/, http://rent-baby-equipment.com/rentals-by-state/baby-equipment-florida/
Disney them park apparel is everywhere. If you’re driving stop in the local Walmart, Target or Walgreens to pick up some great discounted Disney apparel and then surprise the kids just before leaving for the parks OR purchase Disney apparel here on sale (sort by price) and tuck it away until your trip and pull it out in the hotel room. At least half of the people it seems, are wearing some sort of Disney something so be sure you bring any Disney clothes, socks, hats etc. If you can’t afford new then hit your local thrift shop.
If you’re worried about the kids thinking you have an endless supply of money while you’re on your Walt Disney World vacation then thing about getting each child a Disney gift card before you go at your local grocery store gift card mall. Let them know the amount on their cards and when its gone its gone. The marketing in Disney theme parks is amazing. Almost every ride lets you out in a gift shop. I also tell my kids that we can’t purchase anything until the last 1 or 2 days of the trip and that until then “we’re just looking” so we can decide what we’re going to purchase before we go.