Most people will look for discounts as soon as they start planning a Walt Disney World vacation. A trip to Central Florida is expensive, and you will want to get the most that you can for every dollar that you spend. Finding discounts can be tricky, but they are out there. These questions and answers are to help you to find discounts and spend less on your vacation.
The time of year that you travel makes a huge difference when it comes to discounts. The summer and the holidays are the busiest times of the year, and people are willing to pay full price for their vacations. When the parks aren’t as crowded, Disney will offer discounts to try to fill rooms and attract visitors. Your vacation will still be expensive, but it will cost less than it would during the middle of July.
10) How can I enjoy Disney restaurants for less?
Finding discounts on dining is not always easy. Disney Vacation Club Members, Annual Passholders, and Florida residents are eligible for Tables in Wonderland, which gives members a discount of 20% on over 100 WDW restaurants. The membership is not free, so you will have to pay to receive your discount. Annual Passholders receive a discount of 10-20% at some restaurants, but many do not participate. If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel you might want to see if the Disney Dining Plan is a good fit for your needs.
9) Does the Disney Dining Plan save you money?
The answer to this question is not cut and dry. The Disney Dining Plan can save you a lot of money if you’re planning on doing all things Disney while on your vacation. If you want to enjoy one of the fine restaurants in Celebration or plan to spend a day at Universal Studios, it might not be as good a deal. Sometimes Disney will offer the Quick-Service Plan for free, but restrictions apply. The best way to figure out if the Disney Dining Plan is for you is to look over the options and the costs.
8) How can I pay less for souvenirs?
Everyone is going to want to bring something home to remember the trip by. Souvenirs can take up more of your budget than you expected them to. Annual Passholders receive a 10% discount on merchandise at many, but not all stores. If you plan to attend an event such at Star Wars Weekends, book your trip for the end of the event. Often event merchandise will go on sale the last day or two so that it will sell out.
7) I want to try some of the extras outside of the four theme parks. What types of discounts are available?
If you’re a AAA or CAA member you can receive a small discount on the water parks. The discount is not available at the gate. See if you can purchase a ticket while at home, or call (407) 351-5610 to get hours and directions to a local AAA office when you’re in Orlando. Some Magic Your Way packages include discounts on spa treatments. Disney Visa cardholders can get discounts on some backstage tours. For more discounts outside of the parks you might want to pick up the latest edition Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World. It includes coupons for things like parasailing, fishing, and Aerophile.
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6) Getting to Florida is expensive. How can I cut down on transportation costs?
Unless you book a package through a travel agent, you’re on your own getting to Central Florida. If you fly and stay at a Disney resort you won’t need to rent a car. With Disney’s Magical Express you can take a bus from the airport to your hotel. Once you’re on Disney property you can take a bus, boat, or monorail pretty much anywhere that you want to go. If you’re not staying on Disney property, look for a hotel that has a complimentary shuttle service to the parks. If the service doesn’t stop at all four parks take it to the Transportation & Ticket Center. From there you can take a bus or monorail to the any of the parks. You’ll save money on parking that way. Just make sure that you catch the shuttle back to the hotel at the end of the evening. Taxis in Orlando are expensive.
5) What type of discounts do Annual Passholders receive?
Annual Passholders receive free parking. There is a 10-20% discount at some restaurants, most of them are full service. There is a 10% discount on merchandise in most stores. Passholders also receive discounts on some spa services, golf and mini-golf, boat rentals, bowling, and movies. There is also a discount to renew an Annual Pass within a certain time frame.
4) Are there discounts for Florida residents?
Florida resident discounts seem to change from time to time. The biggest discount is the amount paid for an Annual Pass. It is much less than the pass for out of state residents and there are more options available. Florida residents can also buy a pass with a monthly payment option, that is not available out of state. Florida residents also can get same day tickets for a lower price. Proof of Florida residency is required for discounted tickets and each person must be present in order to receive the discount. There are also special lodging rates for Florida residents, especially during the quieter times of the year. Residents are also eligible for a Tables in Wonderland membership and special pricing for La Nouba. Other discounts may also be available from time to time.
3) How can I save on lodging?
Traveling during a slower time of year is the best way to save on lodging. The prices are much lower when there are plenty of empty rooms. Make sure that you are on the Walt Disney World email list (order the free DVD and give Disney permission to email you offers) because they will send you special savings from time to time. Instead of booking your room online, call (407) 939-7716 and speak directly to an operator. Ask her about any discounts that might be available when you are planning your trip. Also ask her if the price that she quoted is the “lowest price possible”. There might be something that she did not tell you about because she wasn’t allowed to if you didn’t ask.
2) Are there military discounts?
Yes! Walt Disney World is currently offering specially priced four-day theme park military tickets. Active and retired U.S. military members and their spouses are eligible. Also included are Reservists and members of the National Guard or the Coast Guard and their spouses. The passes must be bought by the eligible member or spouse, and can be purchased for up to six people. Military ID is required and there are blackout dates. Members of the U.S. Military are also eligible for discounts on rooms at the Disney resort hotels. Shades of Green is a resort owned by the U.S. Department of Defense that is located on Walt Disney World property. Guests receive the same privileges as those staying at other Disney resorts, such as bus transportation and Extra Magic Hours. The price is much lower than a comparable room elsewhere on Disney property.
1) How can I pay less for tickets?
Tickets are expensive and they are going to eat up a large part of your vacation budget. Remember that the longer your ticket is for, the less you will pay for each day. Don’t add on options like Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More unless you are sure that you are going to use them. You can purchase tickets through a reseller if you would like but be careful. Make sure that you see the “Authorized Walt Disney World Ticket Seller” logo before you give your credit card information. The amount saved through a reseller will not be much, the tickets will still be expensive. If you’re a member of AAA or CAA, check your local office to see what they are selling tickets for.
1a) What about those giant balloons near the gates that offer “Cheap Tickets”? Can I save money there?
Be very careful if you buy tickets through a place that advertises near the parks. Some of them sell used tickets, which won’t get you into a park. (Yes, Disney does know about such practices and there have been arrests made in the past.) The “Cheap Tickets” advertised might also be for a time share presentation. Those tickets are real and you can save money if you decide to go that route. Just remember that a timeshare presentation is high pressure and it is the goal of the staff to not give you those tickets until you have bought something. A presentation that you were told will last 90 minutes might end up a lot longer than you bargained for. Be careful and be ready to say no, unless you really want to buy a timeshare.