How To Visit Disney World On A Budget

Disney World isn't only for the wealthy. In fact, with a little planning it can be affordable for traveling family's on most every budget.

There is a myth in this country that Disney World is for those with an abundance of cash to spare. This is not necessarily true. A trip to Disney World can be affordable for singles, students, seniors, and families in a wide range of budgets. With the assumption that everyone likes to save money, we'll focus on the budget-conscious traveler.

Based on your location within the United States, there must be a decision made as to mode of transportation. Trains and planes often compete in prices, and planes are always faster, so if taking in the scenery along the route isn't a big part of your itinerary, opt to fly.

If flying, the first thing to do is call a reputable travel agent and ask about package vacations. Some airlines offer a package deal that includes airfare, lodging, transfers to and from the airport and hotel, and admission to the theme parks. After jotting down the travel agent's price, it's time to do a little research and see if you can do a little better.

No frills airlines are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. Travelers within a two-hour drive of an airport serviced by Southwest Airlines will find significant savings in the price of their airline tickets. For instance, if you normally fly out of Boston, a drive to either Providence, R.I. or Manchester, N.H. will allow you the advantage of a $138 round trip ticket. At this price flying becomes even less expensive than driving. Southwest Airlines may be accessed at or 1-800-435-9792.

A big question in arranging a Disney trip is whether or not to stay at accommodations on the Disney property. If you are flying and plan to visit attractions outside Disney World, you'll need a rental vehicle. If this is the case, or if you have driven from home, take advantage of the budget accommodations on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee. Just minutes from the Disney parks, this strip of motels and restaurants is a value seeker's paradise. Larson Inn Family Suites offers a Family Suite that sleeps six. With rates as low as $69 in off-season (most of December), amenities include a refrigerator and microwave. In peak season the rates are around $100. Stop at a full service grocery store and stock up on staples like cereal, juice, milk, and snacks. A family of four could save up to $35 a day by eating breakfast in the room and bringing snacks in a backpack. Children will enjoy the bunkbeds and Nintendo. Larson Inn Family Suites may be reached at 1-800-327-9074.

Just five miles from Disney, Magic Castle Inn and Suites feature mini-suites and a free deluxe continental breakfast for as little as $45 in the off-season. Peak season finds the rate at about $75. Picnic tables, grills, and microwaves are available. A free shuttle takes guests to and from the Disney Theme Parks. Magic Castle Inn and Suites may be reached at 1-800-446-5669.

Should you opt to fly, plan on visiting only the Disney Theme Parks, and there are no more than four or five people traveling in your party, it is worth your while to stay at the All-Star Resorts at Disney. The All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, and All-Star Sports resorts are respectively themed, and decently priced at $74-$99. The biggest advantage at staying here is the Disney Transportation System. A traveler or family can forgo renting a vehicle. A good value on a shuttle to and from the airport may be found through your travel agent or airport information services. Rely on the Disney Transportation System to deliver you everywhere else you'll want to go. And best of all it's absolutely free. The Reservations Center at Disney World may be reached at 1-407-934-7639 or at

If you like souvenirs, but want to stick within your travel budget, opting to buy souvenirs at Wal-Mart can save lots of money. If they are for children, buy them before you even leave home. Seasonal merchandise may be discounted up to 75%, and they carry a wide range of Disney merchandise. Tuck a few discounted items in your luggage before you go and when the kids whine for Disney souvenirs pull one out at the end of the day. You are guaranteed to save money. I have purchased Mickey Mouse T-shirts and boxers for as little as $1.50 each. These ran approximately $15-$25 at Disney World.

Meals at Disney can be costly. My formula that has always saved money is to take advantage of those in-room refrigerators (even when staying at a Disney motel) and eat cereal in the room. Have your large meal at noon, when you can sample the wares the Disney restaurants offer at a fraction of the cost of an evening meal. Often you'll find it is the same meal, only less expensive depending on the time of day. Bring cereal bars or granola bars and bottled water from home.

One inexpensive place at The Magic Kingdom to enjoy a quick meal is Aunt Polly's Landing, located on Tom Sawyer's Island. Featuring basics like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fried chicken, the food is affordable and actually tastes good, and the outside tables and surroundings provide a fun place to relax.

It can be done. A Disney World vacation is possible on most budgets, and without second mortgaging your home. It requires advanced planning, often altering the season in which you travel, and a bit of research combined with creativity. And, yes, you will spend some money. But frugally. I like to think of it as an investment. A Disney World vacation is a magical adventure, and twenty years from now your snapshots will be priceless.

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