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Planning an Affordable Walt Disney World Vacation

by FrogBlog on December 11, 2012 4

By guest blogger Cheryl Leung of Kids On A Plane

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom® ParkHi everyone! My name is Cheryl and my family (husband and 2 kids) are Walt Disney World fanatics.

I am beginning to plan our 2013 trip to Walt Disney World and was ecstatic when I was asked to do a few guest posts here at Undercover Tourist.

The 2013 trip will be my 12th visit to Walt Disney World. Yes, some family and friends think I’m a bit crazy for wanting to go so much, but I truly believe it’s a great place to vacation no matter how old you are.

The food, the attractions, the characters you get to meet in the parks – it’s all very magical.

While I am not a travel agent or a Disney vacation specialist, I think I still have quite a bit of knowledge of what it’s like to travel with kids to Orlando.

It does require moving at a slower pace and some extra planning than if you were to go alone. I hope to share what I’ve learned from previous trips with you. Our budget for next year’s trip will be smaller than our previous trips (both our kids will require their own seat on the plane), so I hope Undercover Tourist readers will share some of their best money-saving tips and Disney vacationing tips with me.

Here's how our planning process usually begins:

1. Set a budget

World of Disney at Downtown DisneyAffordable Disney World vacations begin with setting the budget. You want to make sure you aren’t paying for the vacation months after you return.

Figure out what your priorities are (do you want to have meals with characters, do you want to spend every waking moment in the park, do you want to spend some days away from the park and enjoying the amenities at your hotel/resort) and allocate money to the top 3 things you want to do/see.

Our kids love character meals, so next year we will be planning several of them and will have to budget for that. We will try to save money in other areas (accommodations, souvenirs, airfare etc.).

2. Decide when to visit and where to stay

Disney’s Hollywood Studios®Going during low season (typically January, February, late August, September and early December) will save a bit if you plan on staying at a Disney World Resort hotel. Staying off site during these months will save you even more money.

The only drawback to visiting during low season is dealing with unpredictable weather. Some of our winter visits we spent wearing T-shirts and shorts the entire week. Other trips, we were in T-shirts and shorts during the day and winter jackets, mitts and hats at night. When traveling with young kids you're already packing a TON of stuff in your suitcase, so visiting during value season may mean you need to pack more than just one outfit per day.

While we typically spend the majority of our day at the parks, hotels/resorts are not a top priority for us. Both kids are young and aren’t in school everyday yet, so we are planning to travel during value season next year and are considering staying offsite or at a value resort.

3. Choose the right tickets

If you want to visit Disney World theme parks during your trip, theme park tickets will be one of the biggest expenses. When traveling with young kids, you have to travel at a slower pace and sometimes work around their nap schedules. For these reasons, I recommend skipping out on the park hopper option and just visiting one park a day.

Bigger parks like Magic Kingdom® Park and Epcot® could take several days to complete if traveling with young kids if your kids need to head back to the hotel for nap time or just some downtime.

Do you have vacation plans for 2013? What are your top tips for planning a stress free trip to Walt Disney World with young kids?

Looking for more vacation planning tips and advice? Head over to the planning page.

Kids On A PlaneCheryl, her husband and their 2 kids live in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Never one to pay full price, Cheryl spends her free time scouring the internet for discount codes or promotions for family friendly vacation packages or family entertainment deals. Yes, she probably needs to find another hobby. Her family can be found on a plane at least once a year and 90% of the time you can bet that their plane is headed to Orlando, Florida. Check out Cheryl’s blog Kids On A Plane (no, she’s never seen the movie Snakes On A Plane so there’s no need to ask her what her favorite part was) or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Feb 14, 2017 at 10:55 a.m. vacationindia Says...

Awesome place to refresh your mind.

Mar 25, 2014 at 3:55 p.m. Nicole Says...

One of our biggest things we do as a family of 7 to save money is to travel specifically when they offer a FREE dining promotion. Not only does it save us money, but since we are able to book quite a few character meals, we don't have to wait in line to meet everyone and get autographs. We will be saving just over $2200.00 on our next trip (the cost of the dining plan), but the price doesn't even come close to the real savings we get when you add up all our dining and snack receipts!! I also have some tips on how to save before your trip posted on my personal blog if anyone is interested in reading it.

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:20 a.m. Natalie Says...

Oh! And Bring dish soap, like a small travel size bottle, to wash out your water bottles and souvenir bottles at night before the next day, to make sure they are clean and don't smell.

If you are not use to the water at Florida, I would suggest filling your water bottles at soda stations with water, or bringing a Brita Filter water bottle. They cost around $5 each, and it will make it so that even if you fill your water bottle at a drinking fountain, the water will be clean and fragrant free.

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:14 a.m. Natalie Says...

I have found that just dedicating one day per a park worked well, and at the end of out trip we had two extra days to select our favorite parks to visit again. I also think that staying at WDW, and at an All Star value resort is the most economical way to go for if you go off site, and take a plane there, you will have to pay for parking, and a rental car fee (or for a taxi). You also do not have to worry about driving if you stay there, which is always nice.

Of course, the youngest on my family's trip was 14, so we did not have to worry about nap times etc.

I do suggest, however, no matter the age, that you bring epson salts or soaking powder for your feet, for if you are not use to standing and walking all day, and do not want to have to go back to your hotel/ stop somewhere to rest your feet, you will want to be able to soak your feet after the long day (s) when you get back to your hotel. That way, on the next day, you are ready for another filled day of WDW fun!

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