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Kim Butler

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It's a Frugal World, After All--Saving Money on Your Disney Vacation

 You want to talk “Tower of Terror?” That describes the frugal traveler contemplating a trip to a Disney theme park. 

| BY Donald Liebenson


You want to talk “Tower of Terror?” That describes the frugal traveler contemplating a trip to a Disney theme park.

The price of admission is Matterhorn-steep: A one-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom theme park for individuals 10 and up is $105 ($99 for ages 3-9). One way to economize is to opt for EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which cost $97 (or $91 for tykes 3-9).

But there are many ways and strategies to experience the Happiest Place on Earth without putting your financial future at risk (the following tips could apply to any theme park vacation; but Disney parks are the world's most popular). Options range from simple (take advantage of the room coffeemaker rather than buying a cup in the food court) to more complex planning and a certain flexibility regarding accommodations.

Off-site hotels are more cost-effective and many offer shuttles to the park. If you (or your children) are set on staying inside the park, you can choose among five Value Resort Hotels, including the Pop Century Resort, the All-Star Music Resort, the All-Star Movies Resort, the All-Star Sports Resort, or Disney's Art of Animation Resort. Additionally,  Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Orlando - Lake Buena Vista are located at Downtown Disney. Rates can start as low as $99 a night, compared with, say, $170 a night at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter.

Save on parking, too, by parking for free at Downtown Disney and taking a shuttle to the theme parks.

Theme park food can take a tremendous bite out of your travel budget. Travel experts and Disney veterans recommend that beyond Disney meal plans, there are other steps that will keep you in the chips. One option for families whose kids are dying to dine with Mickey or other favorite characters is to schedule a character meal for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.  

Families can also save on food by packing snacks or even a lunch. Disney World in Orlando does allow coolers (must be smaller than 24” long x 15” wide x18” high). Rather than lug it around, you can rent a storage locker for $10. Splitting and sharing meals is another frugal option.

The more pre-trip research you do will alert you to more frugal options available to you. There are plenty of Disney blogs (both official and unofficial) as well as travel websites that offer a wealth of money-saving tips for a frugal Disney vacation. Ashley Dickey of Brad’s Deals, appearing on the Christian Science Monitor’s website, offered these dining suggestions, including the Flame Tree Barbeque at Animal Kingdom, Tangerine Café at Epcot and Columbia Harbour at Magic Kingdom, where an average dish costs about $10., for example, offers 101 frugal Disney tips.

Do you have any money-saving advice for the Disney vacationer? Share them below.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.