For many, planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort is a once in a lifetime vacation.
We've been fortunate to visit Walt Disney World multiple times, but with a family of six, we have to watch our budget. The key is making a budget and sticking to the budget, no matter what shiny things you might see that call your name.
For starters, when planning your trip to Walt Disney World on a budget, you make specific decisions in order to stay within your limits. You may choose to stay off property, rent DVC points so you have a kitchen to make meals yourself, or limit your table service dining. You might even shave some hours off of your trip or take a red-eye flight in order to keep costs down. But once you get to Walt Disney World, there are some potential budget busters to look out for.
Budget Busters at Walt Disney World That Will Have You Seeing Red
No vacation is worth going into debt for. Make sure you think about these five things that could potentially have you seeing red.
I'll admit, these are super awesome. When we see the MinnieVans driving through the Parks, the kids yell out, “LOOK!! There's a Minnie Van!!” It's very exciting.
If you plan on staying within Disney property for your whole vacation, there is no reason to rent a car. The Magical Express will take you from the to the airport, which means you can use Disney's complimentary transportation to avoid the cost of renting a car and parking fees.
However, when you have little kids, there are times when it is more convenient to take a cab or use Lyft from the Parks to your resort or vice versa. Make sure you have to plan for that or you will go over budget. The biggest budget buster is taking the MinnieVan Service from or to the Airport, which charges $150 each way. If you are running late for the Magical Express, it's absolutely worth it to not miss your flight!
With a little extra planning, you can avoid those extras.
Remember to pack all those little things you might need to purchase in an emergency. Things like pain reliever, sunscreen, and ponchos are going to set you back if you have to buy them at your resort or at a Park.
You can even get diapers bottles and other baby needs in an emergency, but you will pay more for the convenience. Did you know every Park has it's own Baby Care Center? They are AMAZING. I have nursed, changed diapers, and cooled off in every Baby Care Center. The one in Disney's Animal Kingdom is my favorite.
Bottled water is another budget buster for the same reason. It's much cheaper to pack your own for the trip and bring a bottle or to into the parks with you each day.
Park Hopper Tickets
On the surface, Park Hopper tickets seem like a great deal. In some cases they are, but usually, they aren't. If you want to park hop, it should really be worked into your plans early on and you should have a definite idea how you want to use them. Otherwise, you significantly reduce park time and wind up paying more for the day. Travel time between parks and dealing with double security is no fun either.
We recently used the Park Hopper after a visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We left before the Park closed and headed over to Magic Kingdom to ride a few rides and watch Happily Ever After, the nightly fireworks show. The Park Hopper was perfect for that day, but the last time we visited Epcot, we stayed there all day and didn't use the perk.
Remember, you can add the Park Hopper option at a later date for your remaining days.
Festival Food and Drink
Who doesn't love a good Epcot festival?
Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Holidays, Arts… whatever Epcot is celebrating it's always great to add another layer onto the smorgasbord of cultural immersion. However, you have to have a plan here, because it is a serious budget buster.
I'm not even just talking about the food, which while amazing, can really dig you into a hole if you go after everything you can. There are so many festival events that can add up against you too. My advice is to grab one of the festival booklets and make a plan. Making sure you budget for food and souvenirs, maybe with a little cushion.
As I mentioned water before, the same thing goes with snacks.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you necessarily pack your own snacks, although you can. We recently packed sandwiches, Pirate Booty, apples, oranges, chips, and brought bottles of water to help us save money at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
If you want to indulge in iconic Disney treats, make sure that line item is in your budget. Dole Whips, Mickey Bars, and limited edition popcorn buckets are super cool and insta-worthy, but those added expenses won't be as enjoyable once it adds up and takes you into the red.
Staying in the Black
Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation should be fun and not stressful. While it may feel overwhelming, I promise that with a little extra thought and planning, you will have an amazing time and make memories that your kids will talk about for years to come.