NO EXPECTATIONS! Is the first rule for vacationing on the cheap. We often travel last minute and basically by the seat of our pants so this rule works for us. The less you expect the less you have to have. Also, traveling in the off season helps too, but as I’ve learned hard to do with the little people & school.
Now, that you’ve got your expectations in check, you need to create a Rakuten account to earn cash back on your trip (and daily purchases to save money for your trip)! Follow this link here to make your FREE account!
I personally use the APP but the website works just the same. Once your all squared away with select to view deals on Travel & Vacations or simply check out the stores who will give you cash back.
Several of the Disney resorts are on Expedia at discounted rates (which you can get cash back on with Rakuten). We prefer the Omni Resort at Champions Gate or Disney’s Carrebean Beach Resort. Omni tens to be less crowded and is all around a top notch place to stay! The pool area has a water slide and a lazy river which the kids love.
Regardless, search and find the hotel that suites your personal wants and needs while earning 10% back! One plus side to staying inside Disney is the meal plan, staying at Omni you forfite that. However, you can save money by eating at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast food places this way.
Regardless of where you stay, pack a cooler. If you need to purchase one, make sure you use your Rakuten account to get cash back on the purchase!
Once, you have your cooler, load it with ice packs (like you would put in a lunch box). I use 10 that I purchased from the dollar tree. Then add juice boxes, mini waters, and any other snacks you choose. This cuts down on gas station purchases and hotel purchases whether your staying on property or not. I would say this alone saves us over $100 on any trip we take. You may also want to grab a small trash can at the dollar tree for garbage in the car. I just dump mine out whenever we stop for gas and it works perfectly!
Now that you’ve booked a hotel and loaded the car, it’s time to go over a schedule. We love the free or cheap areas of Disney you don’t have to purchase a ticket for.
Down Town Disney (or the new Disney Springs) is great to do one evening when you have extra time. I usually book a meal at the RainForest Cafe (usually costs about $100) but make sure you order the dessert.
You can dig for dianasour bones in the gift shop (for free!) and also play with Legos (or take pictures with giant ones) at the Lego Store. Usually we give each child a certain amount of money to spend here and this is their “take homes” for the trip. No carrying around suvaniers all day at Magic Kingdom.
The next day, we entered Magic Kingdom (my personal favorite) for the day. This was about $100 per person and a large chuck of our budget. We shoot for a 12 hour day here whether it’s entering the park later and staying for the fireworks and light parade or going early and making it as long as possible.
Other freeish activities for evenings include: Disney Boardwalk (great place to get ice cream and walk around), and a top choice the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Take Disney transportation to Animal Kingdom, but don’t enter the park. Then take other Disney transportation over to the Lodge where you can enjoy a mini Safari for free! Also, if you go about dinner time they have a fire pit set up for the kids to make smores. You can check activities at each resort on the Disney APP by selecting the resort. If you stay at a Disney resort often they offer movies and daily activities you can enjoy as part of your stay.
Disney also offers 2 mini golf courses you can just drive your car straight to! Prices are compairable to most other places we’ve played mini golf but it makes for a great cheapish activity after a day at the pool.
Lastly, plan, plan, plan! Plan your meals whether on the Disney Dinning plan and make any reservations you need. Plan to only stay 4-5 days instead of 6 nights this alone cuts the cost greatly. You aren’t seeing everything in one trip to Disney anyways! Plan to utilize other Disney areas and only enter the park one day. I personally do most of my planning on the way down, so I’m sure with some extra time, you can search for even more free actives going on on Disney Properties!