Let’s get real, it’s difficult to plan a holiday to Walt Disney World on a budget.
At best a two-week holiday (including spending money) is going to cost around £5,000 for a couple (if you’ve ever done it for less than that please share your secrets), at worst it could be more than double that.
So many things can impact how much you spend – income being the most important, obviously – but for the average Joe, a yearly trip is just not possible.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re trying to come up with a way to squeeze a return trip in for as little money as possible. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of going to Walt Disney World, but the figures mentioned above are way too far out of your realm of possibility.
Whatever your reason for being here, today I’m sharing my tips of five things to avoid if you’re planning to do Walt Disney World on a budget. Let’s get into it…
If you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget avoid… pin collecting
I challenge anyone who likes pretty things to leave Walt Disney World without being tempted to buy a thousand gorgeous pins featuring all their favourite characters and rides.
Unlike Disneyland Paris, pins are celebrated in a BIG way in the Orlando parks. You can’t enter a gift shop or walk past a merchandise stall without a vast array of beautiful pins just begging you to buy them. Not to mention the thrill of trading which is one of my favourite things to do in and out of the parks.
The problem? Pins are bloody expensive. We’re talking around $8-12 each. A one off is fine, but if you want to start collecting in a serious way, it’s going to set you back a fair amount of money.
Let’s be real, none of the Disney merchandise is cheap, but at least with a t-shirt or a spirit jersey, you can wear it at home. Pins are only really used and admired when you’re at Disney. And it’s because of that, that I think they are the first thing you can strike off your list if you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget.
If you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget avoid… alcohol
This is the one we both struggle with the most. At the end of the day, we like a drink and alcohol forms a decent part of our holiday experiences.
Some of our favourite Disney moments happened when we were enjoying a drink; laughing our way around Figment after the Food and Wine Festival, soaking up the delight of Hollywood Studios with a beer at Baseline Taphouse and watching Happily ever after from the top of the Contemporary after a few glasses of wine in California Grill. All of these are literally moments we’ll treasure forever.
But, the alcohol onsite is ridiculously expensive and it made up a significant amount of our spending money. I reckon we could have taken two thirds of what we did had we not drank in the parks, restaurants and hotels and opted to just enjoy a beer from the supermarket when we got back to the room.
This massively depends on what makes a holiday for you. We know we like a drink, so we wouldn’t go unless we had enough money to enjoy a few bevvies in the parks. But if you’re really trying to squeeze a budget trip to Walt Disney World in your calendar, leave the alcohol in the hotel room.
If you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget avoid… the full Disney Dining Plan
Whether you’re planning to utilise the free Disney Dining Plan or you’re going to purchase it yourself (find out here if paying for the Disney Dining Plan is worth it) opting for the quick service plan is the best option if you’re trying to do Walt Disney World on a budget.
Don’t get me wrong, in general, the table service meals are great. There’s tonnes of atmosphere, the food CAN be amazing and it’s always fun to experience a myriad of different settings.
However, whether you’ve paid for the dining plan or not, it’s difficult to look past the cost of tips if you’re trying to do a budget trip. We were first stung by this on our honeymoon when a fairly average meal at the Yachtsman came with a $60 tip, and that’s not uncommon.
Keeping it quick service means you’ll never have to pay for tips which can lead to a significant saving on your holiday.
If you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget avoid… add-on events
Again, I’m taking from experience here, after our last trip – which was meant to be ‘budget’ – got way out of hand.
One of the biggest culprits? We just kept adding on the extras. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando tickets, a night at Hard Rock Hotel for Express Passes, you name it, and we probably booked it.
In the end, it also added around £1,000 to the price of our holiday which, to be honest, we didn’t have to spend.
It’s so easy to go over the price of your booking with tempting add-ons (I’m looking at you after hours parties) but I think in order to truly do Walt Disney World on a budget, you really have to avoid this temptation.
I know it’s hard, we experienced a heck load of FOMO that led to us especially booking Mickey’s Not So Scary and Halloween Horror Nights, but in the end we’d have been much better off financially had we not done any of it.
If you’re doing Walt Disney World on a budget avoid… going off plan
One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give is to make a plan and stick to it. Before you go decide exactly what you have to spend and what you want to spend it on.
Watch YouTube videos or take a look at Shop Disney to get an idea of what merchandise you want to buy and how much it costs. If you want a table service meal, pre-book it and look at the menu prices. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll have a daily budget and try not to go over it.
If you go with that mindset, you’ll be more likely to stick to your budget. And believe me, Disney makes it very hard. There are literally shops and food places EVERYWHERE that you just want to throw your money at. But if you can, remember your plan and make a promise to yourself that you won’t deviate from it.
If you do that, you won’t go far wrong with managing to do Walt Disney World on a budget.