81% of those who took a vacation in 2023 plan on traveling the same amount, if not more, in 2024. Meanwhile, The cost of a Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort vacation keeps rising. According to Reuters, guests will pay up to 8.9% more for their theme park tickets than in 2022.
Disney fans are feeling the sting of inflation in their everyday lives, resulting in tighter vacation budgets. While many families will still choose to travel in 2024, the cost of travel is top of mind.
According to SkyScanner’s recent travel trends report, 76% of those who traveled in 2023 plan to spend the same or more in 2024. However, it does not have to be this way for a Disney vacation.
With prices going up, saving on a Disney vacation feels impossible. However, experts with years of traveling to Disney theme parks under their belts say there are still many ways to save money on Disney. In many instances, the savings are significant.
Be Flexible With Dates and Accommodations
One way to significantly reduce the cost of a Disney vacation is to modify the dates of the vacation itself. Some families may think the standard Sunday to Saturday trip is the easiest to plan, but Scott McConkey, founder of Miles With McConkey, begs to differ. He suggests that families, “Think outside the box when planning your travel days. We found that by traveling from Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday, we have saved hundreds of dollars.”
Being flexible with travel dates also applies to Disney Cruise Line. Mikkel Woodruff, co-founder and editor at Sometimes Sailing, notes, “Often the most popular holiday dates book the quickest but are also the most costly. If you can go the first week of December, for example, before it’s Christmas or Hanukkah time, you’ll still be able to enjoy holiday decorations on the ship, but you’ll avoid the cost of a Christmas or New Year’s cruise.”
Once travel dates are determined, hotel accommodations are another area where travelers should remain flexible. Staying at a Disney-owned resort hotel has several benefits, not the least of which is proximity to the theme parks. But Doobie Moseley, co-founder of LaughingPlace, reminds travelers that the financial perks of staying at an off-property hotel are tremendous. Moseley says, “We’ve had many large family vacations in a VRBO where the nightly rate was comparable to a moderate resort but could sleep ten people.”
There are pros and cons when determining where to stay on vacation, but a vacation budget can be stretched much farther when staying off Disney property. Moseley adds, “You have to deal with transportation, and you lose out on some magic, but it will be a lot less than staying at a Disney resort.”
Spend Less in the Parks
Once the major expenses are out of the way — think airfare, hotels, and theme park tickets — more budgeting is necessary so travelers don’t overspend in Disney World. The cost of food and souvenirs adds up quickly, and families rapidly learn that a considerable percentage of the total vacation cost is from those transactions on the actual trip. As one freelance travel and lifestyle writer explains, “The expenses at Disney, such as food, snacks, and souvenirs, are the ones most likely to sneak up on visitors, especially first-timers.” Experts advise families to think outside the box to solve this problem as well, and devise creative solutions to spend less in theme parks.
Cori Carroll, creator of Disneyland Tips and Tricks on Facebook, suggests travelers set up savings funds for spending in the parks. In addition, Carroll advises families to “purchase items like autograph books and other souvenirs before you arrive and pack them for the kids to enjoy on the trip.” Souvenirs cost far more in the parks, and sales are rare, whereas it’s far more likely to come across savings by shopping before the trip.
Packing snacks and water to bring into the parks is another tip experts across the board agree is critical to saving money on food. Guests can bring outside food and beverages into the parks, and saving on those smaller snacks and water bottle purchases adds up during a week-long vacation.
Take Advantage of Bounceback Offers
If travelers are considering multiple Disney vacations for 2024, experts urge them to be on the lookout for “bounceback offers.” These promotions are presented to families at Disney parks before the end of their trip, with a finite amount of time to book another vacation. It’s a nifty marketing tactic on Disney’s part to get a group to commit to another trip before their current one ends. However, if that group was planning a second trip anyway, it could mean huge savings.
Bounceback offers often include more significant discounts than travelers typically find online. If a family knows they plan to return to Disney World and see a bounceback offer, it is likely their best chance at scoring the most significant deal possible.
Mikkel Woodruff notes that these bounceback offers are also available on select Disney Cruise Line sailings. He suggests that families book their next sailing while still on board, adding, “With the click of a button, it saves you the most money for a future cruise.” These bounceback offers are also incredibly flexible. Woodruff notes, “You can move the cruise date around, and if you ultimately decide to cancel, you’ll get your money back. But it’s better to book onboard because once you’re off the ship and done with your Disney Cruise Line sailing, you cannot take advantage of the same offer.”
Starting the next vacation planning process with a bounceback offer can set the next trip up for success in being far less pricey than the previous one. Combine that with other expert tips like being flexible with travel dates and budgeting out food and spending money, and a Disney vacation suddenly becomes much more affordable.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.