Recently, a family member’s spouse was telling me how her sister booked a Disney World vacation for her and her two young daughters. The woman had planned and saved money for this trip and mentioned to her travel agent that she had a budget but wanted to do what she could within her budget. Ultimately, the travel agent suggested a moderate Disney World resort hotel, length of stay tickets that include park hoppers, Genie+ for the length of their stay as well as a few table service dining reservations. Her total, that I’m assuming and hoping included airfare, was nearly $7000 for a week (6 nights).
The family member’s spouse and I discussed how she could save money by changing some things up for this trip which would then let her use the extra money for other experiences or merchandise, or just have that money back in general. Her sister is fine with what was booked, and that’s all that matters here, but we talked about options that could have saved her over $1000 or more. For instance, staying offsite would save a lot for the price of the room. I haven’t done that in such a long time, but if I hadn’t bought into Disney Vacation Club, I could see myself considering an offsite stay because of how high prices for Disney’s value (and the other) resorts have gotten.
But even if she didn’t want to stay offsite, just switching to one of Disney’s value resorts (All Star Movies, in this example) instead of a moderate category would knock almost $1000 off of her total immediately. I know some people don’t like the value resorts, but if staying on Disney property is a priority and you’re trying to do your Disney trip on a tighter budget, the value resorts are the best hotel room option.
Also, I don’t think adding Genie+ for the length of stay is the way to go. I haven’t even tried Genie+ yet but knowing that Disney has recently included wording for the service to say that “On average, guests can enter 2 to 3 attractions or experiences per day using the Lightning Lane entrance if the first selection is made early in the day,” tells me that even Disney knows this service won’t work well for some people. I’m not willing to pay daily for Genie+ and then only be able to get maybe 2 or 3 attractions out of it.
As for the park tickets, the travel agent included seven day park hopper tickets to this woman’s reservations. This is fine and all, but it makes more sense to do fewer park days and probably not even bother with park hoppers for this family. If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that all the walking, combined with the Florida heat, humidity, and the excitement of being at the parks can be quite tiring. The woman’s daughters are young enough that they will likely get tired midday and they may not even make it to another park after 2:00 (which is the current time that people are allowed to park hop when purchasing park hopper tickets or using annual passes). Plus, it may be too much to visit the parks for seven days for not only the girls, but their mom too. Resort days or just rest days would help with this, and save money. They could opt for a 4 or 5 day park ticket and just visit one park per day.
Since this is their first trip to Disney World, I can understand the mom wanting to do a few table service dining reservations. I know that a lot of people enjoy table service restaurants at Disney World, but as I’ve mentioned before on my blog, I’m not one to do many dining reservations on my trips. It used to be because my kids wouldn’t eat things at most restaurants, but more recently it’s because I figured out I don’t like feeling tied down to dining reservations. I prefer to grab a quick service meal when I’m hungry instead of having to plan around a reservation. But if someone really wanted to save some money on food while in the parks (aside from taking their own snacks with them), eating at quick service locations can be far less expensive. The food may not be very exciting, but the price of three quick service meals can be about the same as the cost of a meal for one person at a table service restaurant depending on the dining location.
Everyone’s Disney World budget or plans will be different, but I’m just pointing out that there are ways to make the trip less expensive if that’s your goal. Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can definitely be a lot of work, (and money) so using a travel agent is a big help. Just make sure to communicate with your travel agent about the best options for what you want to do and how much you can/want to spend.
By the way, I’m NOT a travel agent. My travel agent friends may be side-eyeing me right now but I want to be clear that I’m not trying to talk badly about the travel agent in this scenario. I don’t know what the mom in this story discussed with her travel agent, I only know that she told her sister what it was costing and commented that she didn’t understand how her sister’s upcoming trip was going to be less expensive than hers. The bottom line here is that you don’t have to try to do your Disney World trip the cheapest way possible, but if that’s something you prefer to do, you can get it done. °O°
You can do more than 2-3 rides with Genie+ if you plan it correctly, but you don’t need it in every park. If you stay on site, you get early admission, which helps (if you plan it well.) I don’t mind the value resorts and still think you get your money’s worth over staying off-site. It also depends on the size of your group.