We just took our cheapest trip to Disney World ever. Here’s how

Family on a road trip with blinds and windows down.

Image source: Getty Images

Although the entrance fees have increased, we were still able to save.

Important points

  • Disney World can be an expensive destination.
  • Consider driving instead of flying and see if you can schedule your trip at a less popular time.
  • You can also save money by not eating at the parks or paying for additional services like photography.

My family took several Disney vacations before the pandemic hit. And while we tried to return there in 2021, we didn’t manage to make a repeat trip until spring 2022.

As my husband and I sat down to buy our tickets, we almost gasped at the fact that ticket prices had gone up over the past two years. But alas, we entered our credit card number, made our reservations, and prepared to give our kids an amazing surprise.

Our children were not only surprised, but we were actually surprised when we sat down to look at our post-trip credit card statement. Despite paying more for our tickets, this recent Disney trip was our cheapest yet. So we could save.

1. We had a free week

As someone who takes learning seriously, I didn’t like taking my kids out of school for several days just two weeks after spring break to go on vacation. But I figured if we had a week off we’d get some savings on tickets. It turns out I was right. I compared the cost of our tickets to those of my friends booked for Spring Break Week. The difference was quite noticeable.

2. We descended instead of flying

My family has taken many car trips, so we’re no strangers to driving hundreds of miles on the freeway to reach a destination. While airfare wasn’t extraordinarily expensive the week we wanted to fly from New Jersey to Florida, we knew we had the potential to save a lot by driving—even with gas prices this high.

3. We hardly ate in the parks

When we made our first trip to Disney, we wanted to experience something all — and that included a $200 breakfast where my kids could wave at Mickey Mouse while they nibbled on a muffin. But these days my kids are too old to care about meeting the characters. And they don’t care if they eat breakfast at a regular diner or a Disney restaurant where it costs five times as much. And so we didn’t eat any meals in the parks except for one dinner, and that saved us a lot.

4. We didn’t buy any souvenirs

During our first trip to Disney, we decided to spoil our kids and let them buy a souvenir every day. This time we’ve limited them to one item at a time for the entire journey. Not only did my kids join in, but they randomly selected cheap items that didn’t really affect our overall bill.

5. We didn’t buy a photo pass

There are many great photo opportunities at Disney, and sometimes getting your share of family photos can be difficult (because after all, someone has to be on the other end of the camera). On previous trips we have paid for the photo service which gives you access to Disney photographers to take as many family photos as you like. This time we skipped that and relied on the kindness of strangers to take our photos for us.

Let’s be clear – the trip we just took to Disney World wasn’t a cheap vacation. But we’ve also found ways to keep our costs down. If you’re keen to visit Disney but have limited funds, think about ways to spend less. For example, see if a Disney credit card could help you save a little more money. A few small tweaks could mean the difference between a trip that fits your budget and one that leaves you in debt.

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