My family and I recently got back from our annual trip to Disney World. I’m sure you’re thinking that that’s quite an expense to take every year and why would you continue going to the same place every year. What’s so great about it?
You’re right, it is a great expense, but it’s one that we have deemed as important enough to forego other things in our lives to make it happen every year. For my part that means a lot of lack of sleep and long hours working as much as I can on a variety of different projects.
Here’s the thing we’ve found though about our Disney trips. We go off-season to save money. We pay attention to the deals and discounts all year and pick the times that are best for us. For that effort we’ve found that the following times are great for low crowds.
- The first full week AFTER Thanksgiving – added bonus of everything being decorated for Christmas, which we love. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
- Mid-to-late December – crowds get heavier the closer to Christmas, but still not a bad time. Last year we went at this time and the weather was a bit cold for the average guest, but not for us Hoosiers.
- Mid-October – this was a great time of year for crowds. Weather was great! Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Stay on Resort
Take Advantage of the Disney Dining Plan
I can’t stand spending money. Perhaps more accurately, I don’t like seeing the money I’m spending leave my fingers and wallet throughout my vacation. It kind of ruins the experience for me. One of the ways I enjoy my vacation is that we do the Disney Dining Plan every year. All I have to do when someone wants a snack, or a meal is to present my Key to World card and I get handed food. Usually more food than we can eat. I’ve never gone hungry at Disney, and folks, that sounds like a vacation to me! I’ll publish a post later with more tips and suggestions on where to grab some food while at Disney.
There’s a variety of things you can do to save money and stretch your snacks. Usually for every Quick Service meal you get a snack/side item and a dessert. We’ve found that grabbing some fresh fruit, brownie, chocolate milk or fruit juice as one of these items and throwing it in our bag gives us another snack later in the day, or when we’re back in our room.
This year, we purchased to-go travel mugs that gave us free drink refills from the Roaring Forks restaurant at Wilderness Lodge. So, we would grab another drink as part of our dining plan and then use the mug for our drinks with the meals. This let us stock our fridge in the room with drinks for later or milk in the morning for breakfast.
The Best Vacations We’ve Ever Had
Our family vacations to Disney have been the best we’ve ever had. We’ve combined them with other trips on the front or back end of the week to make each trip a little different. As the man-of-the-house, the Magic of a Disney vacation for me is that once you step off the plane in Orlando, or step onto the property at Disney, your vacation has begun. By going off-season, staying on resort and doing the dining plan, everything is taken care of for me. I don’t worry about anything and I just enjoy the time with my family.
I realize our family has the opportunity to be more flexible than other families. We home school our kids. My wife is a wonderful stay-at-home mom. I work on the Internet, so I can be productive from just about anywhere with an Internet connection. But I can tell, if none of those things were true and we had to fight to schedule our vacation and then sacrifice all the time, money and effort to make a trip like this happen. I absolutely WOULD NOT GO TO DISNEY WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS THERE! If my kids are doing well in school, I have no hesitations taking them out of school at any age for any opportunity to share time together as a family. Don’t go in the heat of summer when you’re going to be miserable in the parks and stand in lines because everyone else is there. Take a family vacation, and if you’re going to take one, do everything you need to do to ENJOY YOUR FAMILY VACATION!
If you’re planning a trip to Disney and have questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment and I’m sure me or my wife could give you some tips or pointers to help you really maximize and enjoy your vacation.
Thanks for the tips! My family is planning for a fall 2012 trip and I've been wondering about the best time to go. The meal ticket seemed like a bit of a scam, but the way you've described it makes it seem worthwhile. I'm gonna check out Coronado Springs as well.
Shawn, for meals you could probably go and not use the dining plan and spend less money, but as I said with my own experience. To be able to be well fed with everyone in your group and to not have to worry about it and know it's available when you need it, the meal plan is well worth it. If you go with Coronado Springs, look for a room in Casitas 4. It's the first bus stop coming back from resorts, and if you get on the bus there, the first stop when you get on is the main resort lobby and the Pepper Grill. (If I remember correctly)
Jason…we went the first week in May and loved it! Perfect weather, 70s & 80s, and not very crowded at all. We also stayed on resort and used the dining plan. It was absolutely worth it. One of our best vacations ever!