I recently talked to someone who was wanting to take their little girl to Disney and they mentioned thinking $10,000 would cover it. I was like, “WAIT, back up! It does not have to cost $10,000! We took our family of 4 on the busiest travel (and Disney) week of the year for roughly $3,000.” And…this got me thinking that so many people do have it in their head that it is so expensive that it isn’t even a possibility & that my friends does not have to be the case! Here are some tips on how to save big and still have an amazing time at the Happiest Place on Earth! Keep in mind you could definitely do it other ways and if you have the money to spend…you might want to do it other ways. We, however, had an amazing time & did it for a super reasonable price!
#1 Flights! This is a huuuuuge piece of helpful information. I hate to even share it cause it’s so amazing that I’m afraid by putting it out there it will cease to exist, but here it goes. You have to forget the big airport…avoid Lambert’s and google Allegiant in Belleville, IL. This is quite possibly the best money and sanity saver ever! This place is so amazing. You pull up and park in the parking lot (like you’re at the mall). No crazy airport traffic or paid parking or any of that. You park for FREE and walk right up! We were able to book our flights for less than half what we would pay for going through the big airport. I just googled the exact same days for a round trip to Orlando and this is what I came up with. Southwest flight (round trip) out of Lambert’s airport for a family of 4 = 1,319.00. Same days, same family flying out of Belleville = $648. I didn’t go through the whole process…I’m sure there are more fees/taxes tacked on to both of these but you get the picture of the savings. Also when using Allegiant, you have to be willing to go for the days that flights are available. They options are way slimmer but if you can make the dates work…so worth it! We now try to fly out of there for every single trip that it’s possible. (And as a bonus of flying out on Christmas Day morning…we got to see Santa at the airport!)
#2 Accommodations…this one could be controversial as not everyone will agree. Want to save big money, don’t stay on resort. We rented (on airbnb.com or vrbo.com) an entire biiiig, beautiful, fancy house with a pool and hot tub for $100 a night (that we then split with our friends) so we paid $50 a night for my family of 4 to have a private pool! And to have a break from the crowds. We are country people who value our space. And space is not something you get much of at Disney. We LOVED coming back and getting to just relax and the kids needed that down time. We had a 15 minute drive to the parks & traffic was not bad at all!
#3 Don’t eat there exclusively. This is not necessarily a popular opinion either but we all agreed we would do the exact same thing again. We grabbed breakfast at a drive thru on our way to the park. We took snacks/water in a back pack with us. This meant we ate one meal there which is expensive…think St. Louis Cardinals’ ballpark expensive. Then, with the exception of one night, we left before supper time and ate at a restaurant on the way home (or just grabbed pizza)! The exception was at Magic Kingdom where we stayed from open to close and we enjoyed a meal with the characters. This is craaaaaaazy expensive but was worth the one time splurge of like $250 for our family of 4.
We had our entire trip planned out in so much detail…which you need to do to make sure and get the most out of your experience. We had our fast passes planned around the extra shows we wanted to see, the lighting of the castle, the parades, Disney Springs, the drone show, etc. We got up early and were some of the first people there to make it to the most popular rides before the crowds. If you want to do Disney right…plan it out and then go for it!