Heading to Walt Disney World for the holidays? It’s the most wonderful and special time to visit, as there is a wide variety of experiences and events that are exclusive to Disney World. From special events and holiday decor to snacks and drinks full of Yuletide cheer, there’s so much to enjoy in a visit.
The best way to do Disney during the holidays is to plan and budget! Although visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays is spectacular, the costs can add up quickly.
Today, we’re spreading the holiday magic with some of the best budgeting tips for planning your Holiday trip to Walt Disney World. These tips will help you get everything you need to make the most of your Disney holiday vacation.
1. Go Early – or Late – If possible
Want to enjoy the Holidays at Disney, without paying holiday prices? It may sound impossible, but it’s not. The key is to schedule your visit for a time early or late in the holiday season.
Christmas decorations go up as early as November in some corners of the Resort. You’ll see festive tidings first normally at Magic Kingdom, where Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off in the early part of the month. By mid to late November, the incredible gingerbread displays that you’ll find at the Deluxe Resorts are taking shape. Likewise, events like the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights continue on for a week or so after Christmas. (Remember, though — this is the last year for this event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) So keep in mind that you can enjoy many of the sights, sounds, and flavors of the season outside of Christmas week — or even the Christmas month!
2. Pre-set a Budget
Sometimes “budget” can sound like a dirty word, but if it means you can go to Disney then it’s worth it to exercise a little discipline! To plan your budget ahead of time (and stick to it!), pre-purchase Disney Gift Cards. These are very easy to use, and every time you make a purchase, your receipt will show your balance.
And here’s a TIP: If you’re planning to shop, purchase separate cards — one for expenses, and one for shopping. You might even need a third card just for snacks 🙂
3. Expect to Pay Premium Prices — And Plan Ahead
Here’s something you may not know if you’ve never visited Disney during the busy Holiday season: prices scootch up just a wee bit. On average, you can expect to pay about $2 more per child and $4 more per adult at prix fixe meals such as dinner shows and buffets. It would be good to keep this in mind if you’re following our tip to pre-set a budget and you aren’t using the Disney Dining Plan. Be sure to plan a little more per person — and plan for a higher tip cost as well.
4. Look for Bargains on Disney World Tickets and Hotels in Advance
It’s no secret that at $105 per adult, Disney World tickets are now more expensive than ever, and when you’re booking a family trip, this is a cost that really adds up. Plan ahead and seek out cheap Disney World tickets, budget accommodations convenient to Disney such as Westgate Resorts, attractions and individually tailored Disney vacation packages before you arrive in Orlando. Several leading online vacation providers such as Magical Getaway serve as comprehensive one-stop resources for great deals on theme park tickets, hotels and vacation packages. Every penny counts, so saving on admission and accommodations will greatly help to offset your overall costs.
5. More Ways that You CAN Save
There are still a few more ways that you can trim costs. Tables in Wonderland, Disney’s dining discount program, is open to Florida residents and Annual Passholders. The card offers 20% off food and drink — including alcohol — at participating Disney restaurants.
Unfortunately, the program just announced a steep price hike and continues to impose blackout dates during Thanksgiving and Christmas week (in addition to other times). So do the math ahead of time to be sure you’ll be able to save with this one.
But one of our favorite tips for saving money is to take advantage of the great food in Disney World Lounges. These are some great stops for appetizers that are substantial enough to call a meal. Spots like Territory Lounge in Wilderness Lodge are also great places to unwind after a busy day of merrymaking!