What is so special about Disney World?

A Bit About Disney World

Walt Disney World has been open for over 50 years as of this writing. Opening to the public in October of 1971, WDW is spread out over more than 27,000 acres. Four major parks, two water parks, and countless resorts and other locations are included in its coverage. Furthermore, it holds the record for largest theme park in the world. In contrast, California’s Disneyland opened in 1955 and spans across 500 acres. As a whole, California’s parks cover only about 100 acres. The entirety of Disneyland could fit into the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot.

We’ve already established that there are four distinct theme parks within Walt Disney World. The four Disney theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios). Each attraction typically has its own admission fee, which can range from $60 to $150 per day, per person. More than that, a day can be spent in each park (or more if not planned accordingly). Though “Disney World on a Budget” may seem like a mythical creature, it is possible to visit the Magic Kingdom without breaking the bank.

Understanding A Disney World Budget

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the trip won’t be cheap. You will need to get right with that before even starting this adventure. Purchasing four 3-day park passes for a family of four will cost you a minimum of $1200. Few methods exist, however, to significantly reduce these expenses. If you want to save money on Disney World, it’s best to use your regular vacation budget as a starting point. More emphasis should be placed on “cost effectiveness” rather than “cost” alone. It’s understandable to feel dismayed at the thought of spending $3,500 to $5,000 on a vacation. To maximize the return on investment for the same dollar amount is the motivation behind the change.

Key Considerations

When planning your vacation’s spending, keep these things in mind to ensure you have enough money for your Disney World vacation:

  • Flights – There are good times to fly and less good times to fly. Additionally – you may not even need to fly at all!
  • Accommodations – Airbnb? Hotel? Disney Resort? Which is the most cost effective and suits your needs?
  • Park Passes -Necessary to visiting Disney World is getting into Disney World. And necessary to that is buying admission tickets. But which parks? what kind of ticket and how many days?
  • Food – There is plenty of overpriced foods at Disney World. Some are worth a try and some are definitely ok to skip.
  • Transportation – Renting a car? Relying on shuttle? what is the best way to get to and from the parks? It kinda depends on where you are staying and some other key factors.


Resources for planning Disney World On A Budget

The good news is that you will not be completely alone. Your research into Walt Disney World can be done with the help of a plethora of readily available materials. It’s no longer a “if” but rather “which” platform to utilize, as there are numerous blogs, apps, and YouTube channels devoted to the Walt Disney World Resort and its parks. Take a look at these must-haves that I always pack whenever I consider taking this vacation.

When To Travel

Flights are a major expense, so I recommend waiting for a good sale and planning your trip around those. For Disney World, I still recommend looking into low-cost flight options, but it’s also important to know when to go to save the most money on theme park admission. Costs for entrance to Disney World tend to be lowest during two distinct windows. The good news is that tickets tend to be less expensive during these times, when park attendance is lower(er). That translates to (slightly) fewer people around if you book on those dates, which is why they are cheaper. Keep in mind that “(slightly) smaller crowds”‘ are still pretty large crowds, so take that with a grain of salt.

Early January
The first week of January typically sees the steepest price drops for tickets. After a (likely) stressful holiday season, regular life has resumed for most people, and students are just now settling back into the classroom following a lengthy break. In sum, this is undeniably a fantastic season to check out the parks. There is a 30% price drop from the previous month, the weather is perfect, and there are hardly any people anywhere.

Late Summer
In late August/early September, ticket prices drop for a second time, this time by nearly 40% below average. Again, the school year has only just begun, and the kids have just returned from summer vacation. There’s also the fact that September in Orlando falls smack in the middle of hurricane season, so bad weather and postponements are always a possibility.

Depending on the date, tickets could cost as little as $109 or as much as $140, with just a week’s notice either way. That’s a $372 cost savings for a family of four taking a three-day trip. If you can get cheap flights for one of those weeks, you may be able to save yourself $1,000 just based on dates. However, I would still recommend prioritizing flights because hunting flight deals properly could easily save you more than that..

Planning Your Trip

After selecting and purchasing your tickets, there are a few things you must do and a few more you should give serious consideration to.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a well-planned trip to Disney World doesn’t have to break the bank with a little bit of preparation and forethought. Whether or not that spending plan is feasible for you, I recommend checking out our piece on the advantages of putting money into memories rather than things. For many people, and especially families, a visit to Walt Disney World Resort will be the once-in-a-lifetime vacation of a lifetime. Be on the lookout for a follow-up article that will detail real-time park management strategies and provide “do vs. skip” examples based on our January visit to Orlando.

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