Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pinching Pennies

A trip to Walt Disney World is expensive; there’s no denying it. Because (as all of you know) I’m here to help, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite money-saving tips. Hopefully, they won’t be as objectionable to members of the Disney community as say, the “throw-away” campsites and other controversial methods. After all, I don’t think I’d make a very cute voodoo doll. Here we go:

Time of Year: Disney charges far more for a room in late December than they do in September. They even charge more for food (I haven’t figured that one out yet). See if there’s any way you can swing a trip in the Value Season, as this can save you some serious moolah.

Food: Disney portions tend to be quite large, so my husband and I are fond of sharing a single appetizer and entrée. If we’re still hungry, this is the perfect opportunity to splurge on dessert! This saves us a lot more cash and calories than using Disney’s Dining Plan.

Water: Disney charges $2.50 for a bottle of water. I can sometimes get an entire case for not much more than that at Wal-Mart. My strategy is to bring down one suitcase filled with nothing but water bottles and breakfast items – cereal bars, Pop Tarts, oranges, etc. That way, I’m saving money on water and breakfast. I then use this empty suitcase to cart my souvenirs home (because there will be souvenirs. Hi, I’m Teri. Have we met?). And no, the irony of shipping oranges to Florida does not escape me. Also, Disney counter service locations will give you a free cup of water upon request. On a hot Florida day, this can be a lifesaver.

Strollers: Fortunately, this is no longer a concern for me. If it is for you, be forewarned that Disney charges $15 per day for a single stroller and $31 per day for a double. I’ve gotten rental cars at lower rates than that! If you don’t feel like lugging your stroller from home, my advice is to order one from (or similar) and have it delivered directly to your resort. You can get a canopied umbrella stroller for $20.44, plus $7.95 shipping. If you’re staying longer than two days, this will definitely save you money. At the end of your trip (if you don’t want to haul it home), just give it to another family in need of a stroller. Problem solved and good deed for the day performed!

Pre-Purchases: Disney mark-ups on everyday items are nothing short of nauseating. Make sure to have plenty of memory cards (or film), aspirin, Band-Aids, etc. I always purchase a few rain ponchos to take down with me as well.

Tickets: This is not an area where you want to get too cheap. Buying from an unaccredited source can land you in some hot water, as there is no way to look at a Disney ticket to see if it is still valid. Some slight discounts are available through AAA, Maple Leaf Tickets, Undercover Tourist and a few others. Ignore the billboards you see all around the Orlando area offering free or cheap tickets, because it just isn’t worth waste hours of your precious vacation time sitting through a timeshare spiel just to save a few dollars on tickets. And if I was your child and I was stuck listening to a sales pitch when you promised me Walt Disney World, I would be planning a coup. Something along the lines of Drew Barrymore in Irreconcilable Differences or a Stewie Griffin scheme would be entirely appropriate in this situation, in my opinion.

I’ve tried to stick to WDW-specific tips, but the standard traveling tips apply as well – comparison shop for airfare and rental cars, check for refunds to reflect any price drops, et cetera. Please feel free to share your favorite money saving trips on my Facebook wall, at!/pages/The-Disney-Gene/340155003315?ref=ts!

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