We Know: All About Disneyworld Secrets for Your Vacation
How To Get The Best Value
A trip to Florida's Disneyworld is becoming increasingly affordable for even large families. Advertised deals are dropping below $2000 for a week's vacation for the family. Some ways you can save even more:
- Stay at a Disney budget resort, not an Orlando hotel. The resort may be a little more expensive, but the amenities and atmosphere are worth it. And Disney resort guests can take advantage of generous extended hours at the parks.
- Invest in a Camelbak water system for the kids or carry a leakproof water bottle with you. Most park areas will give you free ice. The water fountain water is not very good, so take Crystal Light singles or other light sugar-free flavoring.
- Your biggest expense is food, not tickets; and though as theme parks go Disney's food is inexpensive and high quality, it can still be costly. Always have a good breakfast before going to the parks so you won't be tempted to snack.
- Don't bother with snacks outside of non-crushable, long-keeping things like beef jerky.
- At the Magic Kingdom, your best food value is Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland.
- At Animal Kingdom and the water parks, go early to beat the heat and try to eat lunch late at the McDonald's outside the park or another inexpensive location.
- The extra cost for the Parkhopper ticket is worth it, especially if your family is energetic.
- Put together an emergency kit: bandaids, blister medications, aspirin, etc. Keep it light.
- Make sure all bags, etc., zip securely and keep money and tickets easily accessible.
How To Find The Best Freebies and Secret Fun
You can find some nice free souvenirs at the park, if you know what you're looking for. Most of it is hidden, but you can start with these:
- If you stay at the resorts, ask the housekeeping staff for extra soap. The Mickey-themed soap goes over great with kids when you go home.
- Kids meals at the parks often come in sturdy Mickey-shaped deep plastic plates. Rinse them and put them in a ziplock bag; these are great for the kids after Disneyworld.
- In the Magic Kingdom, stop by VMK on Main Street USA; if you finish their scavenger hunt, you can win virtual prizes and a special guided tour of some of the rides that even goes behind the scenes.
- If you go to the attendant and ask, you can ride in the front of the monorail with the driver -- it gives you a great opportunity for unique pictures.
- At Epcot Center, the kids can get a passport and have it stamped at each country, changing what could be a tedious trek into a fun one. Each country has free crafts for the kids to do as well.
- At Downtown Disney, stop at the Lego Imagination Center; the kids can play with thousands of Legos, while you stare at the remarkable Lego sculptures inside and outside the store.
- You can get free tours at several of the Disney lodges, including the Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge, where you'll see some of the wild animals in the area. Just ask at the front desk; you don't have to be a guest there.
- You can take any of the boat and monorail options as long as you're a guest at a resort or have a multi-day pass. There are many different boating options from resorts to parks, and several take scenic routes you would never see otherwise.
- Do the kids love the horses that pull trolleys down Main Street USA? They live at the Tri Circle D Ranch near Fort Wilderness Resort, and you can visit them and the petting zoo there for free. Pony rides are $3, and animal feed is a quarter a handful.
- For a quiet yet festive day end, the campfire program at Fort Wilderness includes a singalong, marshmallow roast (bring your own or buy them for $2), and one or two Disney animated features shown on an outside screen. Free to all Disney resort guests.
- For a quiet day, spend the day at the resort swimming in one of their great pools; ask at the front desk about kids' recreation programs. Most resorts have them, and they're free to resort guests.
If you're planning to go to Disneyworld, the best thing to do is stay as long as you can. Multi-day tickets get cheaper with each extra day of stay, dropping from $50+ for a single day to about $20 a day for a ten-day stay. If you plan a couple of days of rest in, you can visit the beaches an hour away at Tampa or Daytona Beach, or you can relax in the hotels and poolside.
Military members should ask at their MWR about special deals in Orlando. For the last three years, incredible discount tickets ranging from half-price to free have been offered from the different theme parks in Orlando to military members -- and the offer may be extended to National Guard and Reserves members as well.