For most of us, vacations are a luxury. You save, plan and make priorities. Unfortunately, when it comes to Disney, it’s sometimes hard to say no to all the little extras. If your budget allows, by all means add a fancy meal or upgrade your ticket, but if you’re on a budget, here are some suggestions for things you can skip—and never miss:
1. You can’t do it all in one trip—or even ten trips. Your basic ticket is expensive and the price can initially be intimidating, but the entertainment value you get for that ticket will fill your time from sunrise to sunset. Don’t fall into the parental guilt trap and add extras like Bibbity Bobbity Boutique or fancy tea parties unless your budget allows. Your kids will be too busy to notice, I promise.
2. Park hopping takes time and energy. Unless you’re traveling with a group that’s super mobile and knows the parks, skip the hopper. If you find you need it once you’re in Walt Disney World, you can always upgrade your tickets at any point as long as you have one day left remaining on that ticket.
3. Character meals are great, but don’t overdue them. The more you do, the less interesting it can be for kids, for whom the novelty wears off quickly. Worse, many kids find it difficult to eat with all the excitement going on around them, so you’re wasting money. On a week-long trip I’d do two character meals at the most, maybe three if your kids are autograph hunters.
4. Special parties like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are great options that allow you to spend extra time in the park at night and see characters you might not normally see, but they’re also expensive, at around $65 a person, and can really put a dent in a family’s budget. Conversely, a park hopper can give you a lot of flexibility (and extra park time) for the same amount of money, provided of course that it fits into your group’s dynamic.
5. Deluxe dining doesn’t work for most people. As a travel agent, I would love to sell it to you. As a consumer, I know that you can probably do better supplementing the base dining plan with some out of pocket meals. As always, do the math first.
Okay, now I know I said this list has five you can skip, but I’d like to offer one more if you don’t mind:
6. Consider booking a value instead of a moderate resort. Unless you love the theming or you need a queen-sized bed because you‘re very tall, you don’t get much more space or amenities at a moderate than you would at a value resort. My motto is usually go big (deluxe) or go value, but the resorts in-between don’t impress me all that much.
What about you? Are any of these extras must-dos or do you tend to skip them as well? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.