Five Simple Ways to Save over $500 on Your Next Disney World Vacation

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Save Money On A Disney World Vacation
Follow these simple tips to save some of these!

There are several ways to save money on a Disney World vacation. The most obvious are getting a great deal on your airfare, traveling during the off season, choosing to stay at a less expensive hotel, using the Disney Ticket Calculator to purchase your admissions and eating at economical restaurants. But what do you do if you’ve done all of this and you still need to cut your budget? Well, I’ve got you covered, my friends! Here are five simple and painless ways to save over $500 on your next Disney World vacation.

Before We Begin

For each of these five tips, let’s assume we are a family of four traveling to Disney World for a one week (seven night, six day) vacation. Our sample family includes Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, little Susie (age 6) and little Tommy (age 3). We’ll first do the math for full price at Disney World and then compare it to the math with our tip in place. Prepare to be amazed!

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com
Staying dry in a $1 rain poncho! ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com

Tip 1: Bring your own rain ponchos.

Disney World is a rainy place and no matter what time of year I have visited, I have always needed a rain poncho at least once during the trip. By bringing your own rain ponchos with you instead of buying one at the parks, this is a super easy way to save some bucks.

The Math

Buy 2 adult ponchos at Disney World x $8.50 = $17

Buy 2 kids ponchos at Disney World x $7.50 = $16

Instead buy 4 ponchos at local Dollar Store = $4

Savings: ($17 + $16) – $4 = $29

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com
Comfy in a stroller from home! ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com

Tip 2: Bring your own stroller.

There are a lot of great reasons to bring your own stroller to Disney World. It’s so handy to have it not only in the parks, but for the airport and resort areas as well. This is also a simple way to save some money. For our sample family, we will definitely need a stroller for Tommy (age 3). Remember, there is no charge by the airlines to gate check your stroller and Babies R Us even sells cute Disney themed ones.

The Math

Rent 1 Single Stroller for Tommy x $13 per day (length of stay rate) x 6 days = $78

Instead buy 1 umbrella stroller at Babies R Us = $25

Savings: $78 – $25 = $53

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com
Free Water

Tip 3: Drink free water.

All table service and counter service restaurants at Disney World will provide you with a cup of ice water for free. Instead of wasting money and calories on sugary drinks, this is a painless way to save some cash. For our sample family, let’s assume everyone wants something other than water to drink at breakfast and Tommy and Susie’s kid’s meals will include a drink at lunch and dinner. Only Mr. and Mrs. Smith will be drinking the free water at lunch and dinner.

The Math

Buy 1 Beverage x $3 x 2 adults x 2 meals x 6 days = $72

Instead Free Water x 2 adults x 2 meals x 6 days = $0

Savings: $72 – $0 = $72

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com
Yummy snacks from home!

Tip 4: Bring your own snacks.

Snacks are a perfect place to save money on a Disney World vacation. Everyone needs a couple snacks each day in order to keep their energy up for a full day of touring.  It’s amazing how much can be saved by bringing your own non-perishable snacks with you into the park and picking up a free water from the nearest counter service restaurant.

The Math

Buy 1 Beverage x $3 and Buy 1 Snack x $4 x 4 people x 2 times x 6 days = $336

Instead Free Water and Bring Own Snacks $35 (ziplock bags, cereal bars, granola bars, goldfish, raisins, crackers)

Savings: $336 – $35 = $301

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com
Saving money with breakfast in the room! ©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com

Tip 5: Have breakfast in your room.

Not only does having breakfast in your room save time, it can save you a small fortune on your Disney World vacation. For our sample family, let’s assume they will only pack non-perishable food items. Let’s plan that Mr. Smith will go to his hotel’s food court each morning to pick up two coffees and two milks while Mrs. Smith gets the kids up and going, so we won’t include beverages on either cost.

The Math

Buy 1 Bounty Platter $9 + 1 Yogurt Parfait $6 + (2 Kids Mickey Waffle Meals x $5) x 6 days = $150

Instead Bring Your Own Breakfast $30 (paper bowls, napkins, plastic spoons, cereal, pop tarts, mini donuts, cereal bars)

Savings: $150 – $30 = $120

Let’s Add It All Up

Tip 1: Bring your own rain ponchos – Savings of $29

Tip 2: Bring your own stroller – Savings of $53

Tip 3: Drink free water – Savings of $72

Tip 4: Bring your own snacks – Savings of $301

Tip 5: Have breakfast in your room – Savings of $120

Grand Total – Savings of $575

So there you have it folks, five simple and painless ways to save over $500 on your next Disney World vacation!

Have you tried any of these tips before? Do you have any other easy ways to save money on a Disney World vacation? Please leave a comment!

Kristi Fredericks

Kristi is a lifelong fan of all things Disney and has been visiting the resorts since she was a baby. She is thrilled to share her passion for the Disney parks and feels that there is nothing better than enjoying a Disney vacation with the ones you love. Kristi is the author of "A Tale of Two Resorts: Comparing Disneyland and Walt Disney World" and "501 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Walt Disney World Vacation" and founder of the blog DisneyWorldEnthusiast.com. She can be contacted on Twitter @DWEnthusiast, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/disneyworldenthusiast or by email at disneyworldenthusiast@outlook.com.

46 thoughts on “Five Simple Ways to Save over $500 on Your Next Disney World Vacation

  • August 21, 2014 at 11:05 am
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    What’s neat about some of these (although they don’t all apply to everybody), is the snacks/breakfast suggestion works even if you are getting the free DDP. The DDP does not supply enough credits to cover breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you tend to eat more than one snack/drink more than one drink through the day, too.

    Want to make it cheaper? Forget the $29 for rain ponchos. Disposable ones that pack into a tiny little bag you can get for less than $1.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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      If you are on the DDP, it’s true that you won’t have enough credits for three meals per day. However, you can use your “snack” entitlement as a way to make up for it, if you are smart about it. The Touringplans website gives you the whole list of DDP snacks. And you’ll notice that you can use it for things like a bowl of soup, a sandwich, a huge pastry, etc.

      Another DDP tip for families with kids under 3: Use your meals for as many buffets as possible. My 2 year old eats too much to be satisfied with our leftovers, so we often had to buy extra food at meal times. However, at the buffets he could eat as much as he wanted.

      Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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      One thing we do on the DDP is share snacks or meals. I have 2 children but since they are ages 13 and 10 they cost the same as an adult. We don’t all need a huge cinnamon roll at the same time. We will get two or three and share them. Same for dinner, we get 3 meals and share between the four of us. That way when we stay for a week we actually get a few more sit-down meals than if we had all ordered a full meal and not been able to eat it. We always eat all we want and have never ran out of credits. HTH!

      Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:10 am
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      J Price, Dan & Lisa – Love all of your ideas of putting the DDP to good use to save even more money! We haven’t been getting the plan lately, but when we did, there was always way more food than we could eat. Sharing was such a great option, and left us extra credits to fill in the gaps for the other meals. 🙂

      Reply
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  • August 21, 2014 at 11:11 am
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    Another way to make it cheaper, and save probably around $500 by itself, stay off site. Lot of the off site hotels have their own bus service to and from the parks.
    We’ve stayed off site every time we’ve gone. We’ve found hotels a lot cheaper than WDW and some even offer free breakfast.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 11:16 am
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      I’ve stayed off site.

      It doesn’t feel like a Disney vacation when I do. And I don’t even use Disney buses (we will drive down, from Ontario, Canada, and use our car.)

      Reply
      • August 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm
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        Let me tell you what doesn’t feel like a WDW vacation: not being on a WDW vacation. 🙂

        We have APs, and we’re leaving tomorrow (yay!) to go on our 4th WDW vacation on our APs. Each time we’ve stayed in an offsite condo that cost us $350 for 7 nights through afvc.com. For the same $1400, maybe we could’ve stayed onsite for 14 nights.

        YMMV, but for us, we’d rather stay offsite for 28 nights than stay onsite (in a cramped value) for 14.

        Reply
        • August 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm
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          afvc.com = afvclub.com. Sorry.

          Reply
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  • August 21, 2014 at 11:19 am
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    I’m a huge of carrying snacks into the parks. But good luck trying to pry my Mickey Bar or Dole Whip from me.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 11:24 am
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    Of course, keep in mind quality. We bought ponchos from Disney 4 years ago and are still using those ponchos. The dollar stor ones, are basically a single wear. Need it twice in a day? Better have two sets. Maybe need them every day for a week? Better have seven sets. We’ve definitely saved money by using and reusing Disney’s ponchos in the long run. Sure, you may not need them at all, but under that thinking, you wasted $4 buying them in the first place.

    I agree with Gus. Biggest savings is staying offsite. There are no Disney perks worth the cost anymore. Prices have gone up 300% in the last 12 years or so. You still come out ahead even if you rent a car and pay for parking. Plus, you generally get nicer, larger accommodations. We rent 4 bedroom houses for A LOT less than that teeny tiny value room would have cost us.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 12:13 pm
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      Staying offsite can definitely save money, but you’re doing a different kind of vacation, then. Your focus is on the theme parks themselves, rather than WDW as a whole.

      The Disney hotels themselves are the best perk of all. Your stay at Disney never ends. Especially if you’re staying in a moderate or a deluxe, the hotels are as big a part of the trip as the parks are. (And going during Free Dining means a family of 4 with no kids under 10 years old is getting a $230 a night perk added onto their stay.)

      In addition, anything off-site is generally too far away for a relaxed trip… we go back to our rooms and then lay around the pool every day from 1pm-4pm, and then head out to whichever ADRs we have. We can do that because (1) we brought our car, and (2) it’s a 5-10 minute drive back to the hotel, and (3) if you buy a package from AAA/CAA (same price as through Disney), you get Diamond Parking passes, which means you’re parked a 2 minute walk from the entrance.

      Reply
      • August 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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        I know some people just won’t consider a hotel off site, but there are options close enough to take midday breaks. We stayed at Windsor Hills last time, and for 10 nights we paid $800 for a two bedroom two bath condo with laundry. The complex has a huge pool with zero entry for kids and a slide. It’s a 10 min drive to the parks, and yes we had to rent a car and pay for parking, but we made up for those costs by eating meals out of the parks. Each day we took a break for lunch, swim and a nap. I think the resorts are beautiful but I just can’t justify the cost when there are such great options nearby that are much more economical.

        Reply
        • August 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm
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          Yeah, that’s nice.

          For us, I think, though, where does it stop? Not staying at Disney, not eating at Disney – well, Busch Gardens is cheaper and has better rides, why not go there instead? There is something special about each part of Disney – whether it’s the parks, the restaurants, or the hotels.

          I think, however, I am going to make use of this Windsor Hills (after looking it up) for some time we’re doing a generic Orlando trip as opposed to a Disney specific trip – for hitting Seaworld and Universal and Legoland… nice find.

          Reply
        • August 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm
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          I have3 kids, so 5 of us total, cheapest we could stay onsite is $200 per. For $100 per, I can have my own house, with it’s own private pool and three bathrooms. I don’t know if it’s okay to mention websites on here but there’s one specifically that lets you search the houses on google maps, so you can find them essentially right outside the gates if you don’t want to drive more than a minute or two past Disney. For any family >4 members and also paying for flying in, it’s almost a necessity to keep yourself sane on a reasonable budget.

          Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 11:07 pm
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      Completely agree about the ponchos. The Disney ponchos are well worth the cost.I brought cheap thin ponchos from Amazon on my last trip. Didn’t even make it up main street before they started leaking and had to stop in the emporium and purchase a Disney poncho which worked flawlessly for the rest of the trip.

      Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:15 am
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      You are all correct. The single biggest place to find savings is in the area of accommodations. For me, cutting back on where we stay isn’t a “simple” way to save money, though. I love being in the “Disney bubble” and it wouldn’t be the same to me if we stayed offsite. That said, if I had to choose between a WDW vacation staying offsite or no WDW vacation at all, well, I think we all know what I would choose! 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 11:29 am
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    If you can’t take the taste of local water (blech) get a Brita water bottle and just ask for cups of ice water at any CS stop. The guy in front of us at Casey’s last night spent $10 on just water, and we got it for free.

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:16 am
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      Great tip about the filter! You could also spend a few bucks for some of those flavor packs/liquid, too. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 11:41 am
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    Love these tips – especially the water idea! I’m all for savings because it means we can go more often! We stay on site in a value resort, almost exclusively use Disney transportation, do breakfast in our room, bring our own stroller, and pack our own snacks. We also include a Disney day with no parks. We use our free mini-golf tickets, free entry into Disney Quest, and try a quick service restaurant at a fancy resort for dinner (like The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge)!

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:18 am
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      So glad you like tips! Another great idea to save a day of park admission costs and put all of the package freebies to good use! 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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    I’ve heard that you can purchase Disney World gift cards at Sam’s or online at a discount? and these can be used anywhere at Disney World…is this true?

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm
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      I can’t say anything about Sam’s, but I do know if you have a Target Visa or Target Debit Card, you get 5% off your purchases, so you can save 5% on a Disney Gift Card there. Also, if you have a Kroger Grocery near you, they give you 4 times the points if you buy gift cards there, which means cheaper gasoline at a Kroger station.

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm
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    For those who will not be taking kids with them, here are the same savings calculated assuming two adults staying offsite:

    Ponchos:
    Don’t take ponchos, period. Take a very lightweight North Face rain jacket. Ours fit in our bags, and are very light. We use them year around, so they have an amortized cost of basically $0. They are also guaranteed for life.
    Cost: $0
    Savings: $17

    Stroller:
    Robin refuses to push me around in a stroller, and I won’t fit anyway!
    Cost: $0
    Savings: N/A

    Free Water:
    Robin will drink the free water, I won’t. But I carry mine in (two bottles/trip, two trips/day). My water costs around $1.00 total for 4 bottles times 6 days equals:
    Cost: $6
    Savings: -$6

    Snacks:
    Our snacks for 6 days would probably not run to more than $20.
    Cost: $20
    Savings: $316

    Breakfast:
    We eat breakfast at our condo every day before heading to the parks. This usually consists of a couple of cups of coffee for Robin and a can of Coke for me, and a breakfast sandwich each. Something like $25 for 6 days.
    Cost: $25
    Savings:$125

    So we experience a savings of something like $452.

    Our biggest savings is staying offsite, however. This November we will be paying $830 for 8 nights a 3-bedroom, 3-bath condo with its own private splash pool. We drive down, so we will not need to rent a car, although we will have the expense of a hotel room down and back and the fuel down and back, along with the food for the travel on each end of our stay. However, that travel is part of the vacation for us, so those costs aren’t really a detriment.

    Cheers,
    –Lee

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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      Note that the above savings don’t include additional savings from eating a few additional meals at the condo. We will soon be annual pass holders, so parking fees are no longer an issue.

      Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:21 am
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      Lee – Thanks for doing more math! My husband wants me to push him around in one of those Disney double strollers every trip. In his dreams! 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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    Nice article with good tips! I don’t want to be a party pooper, but pop tarts and mini donuts are not good breakfast choices for anyone, particularly little people. Sugar crashes to follow as well. Low sugar cereal and milk are on the money though. How about adding squeezable fruit containers? Or little canned fruits in water?

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:26 am
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      No worries…you’re not a party pooper! I tried to include some health conscious items as well as some items for the “it’s vacation” crew. The fruit ideas are great for anyone getting to Disney by car. Since my family flies to Orlando, I’m afraid if I tried to pack those kind of items, my suitcase would end up looking like Jerry Seinfeld’s after the BBQ sauce incident! 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm
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    On our last stay at Pop Century, we brought our own boxed breakfast cereals, raisins to put on the cereals, and disposable bowls and spoons, then ponied up the cost of a half-gallon of milk from the packaged foods section of the food court. We also bought the refillable mugs and trekked to the food court for hot beverages every morning. Even with the high cost of the milk and the cost of the refillable mug spread out over the entire trip, we still saved a lot of money on breakfast compared to eating at the food court every morning. We also had a few snacks for when we were in our room, but did not bring them into the parks – we like our park snacks too much.

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:29 am
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      Jan – Isn’t it amazing how much money can be saved on breakfast alone? We are usually so eager to get to the parks first thing in the morning, my kids end up wanting to eat something quick & easy and not waste time on a restaurant anyway. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm
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    Excellent article: lots of great ideas. Thanks!
    Our family’s tip is to include the family (age-appropriate) in the planning & savings process. So many little lessons about thrift, value, trade-offs… And remembering what matters is having fun & making memories together.

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:32 am
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      DisneyDad – So glad you enjoyed the article! Love your idea of using the vacation budgeting as a life lesson. My boys are already planning, saving and budgeting for the souvenirs they want to purchase on our next trip. It is definitely a test of their patience and will power! 🙂

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm
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    Half Gallon Vodka 20Dollars
    Bloody Mary Mix 7Dollars
    Orange Juice 3
    Total $30

    Bloody Mary and screw drivers for the week 7dollars times 50
    Savings 330dollars….(hic..//////thud)

    Reply
    • August 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm
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      Absolutely, only do it with Tequila, Triple Sec, and Lime Juice!

      Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:35 am
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      Sam – Awesome idea! My husband did this last time and purchased his favorite Johnny Walker to have in the room. It is amazing how much money this saved as opposed to buying drinks (+tax & tip) at Disney restaurants & bars.

      Reply
  • August 21, 2014 at 5:45 pm
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    A nice list of Ideas and well supported with the math!! For those of us traveling from far away, packing those WDW ponchos can take up room and add weight. The light weight variety works great and in the event of a slight tear, you can patch that quickly with a little Duct Tape. Yes, always carry a small role for many things and the kids won’t mind. You can get it in a variety of colors, patterns (like camouflage) and even with a Mickey theme at Walmart. Another way to save is use the Magical Express Bus service from/to the airport when staying on property and avoid the $60 cab ride each way. It is just part of the experience and you can watch cartoons on the way. Watching calories, at least a little bit, is another way. We often split sandwiches, snacks, and deserts to allow us to try more items and to manage costs. For the young kids, buying a couple of those lighted nighttime toys back home and bringing them along (well hidden) can add up to a few more bucks. Like all of the ideas on this thread. Thanks

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 12:39 am
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      Don – More great ideas! I always buy lots of glow sticks, bracelets & necklaces at the Dollar Store and bring them with us on our vacations. We all put them on as we head out to the parks at night and that prevents most of the begging for the Disney light up toys. And you just can’t go wrong with duct tape! 🙂

      Reply
      • August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
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        We do this with the glow-sticks/bracelets too!

        The Dollar store provides us our rain ponchos AND the glow-sticks/bracelets.

        Reply
        • August 22, 2014 at 10:07 am
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          Me too! Also the Dollar Store usually has Disney themed merchandise like coloring books, small puzzles, stickers, etc. that are perfect to give little ones as a “Countdown To Disney.” 🙂

          Reply
  • August 22, 2014 at 11:14 am
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    One more breakfast idea is instant oatmeal. We get the fancy Irish steel-cut kind. You can run water through the coffee maker (without adding coffee, obviously) to “boil” it. We do this in hotels all over the world! Also, staying in the villas on rented points is luxurious, fun savings and gets you a microwave, which adds to what you can “cook.”

    Reply
  • August 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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    Can you get a refrigerator in the value resorts ? I will be staying at Pop Century

    Reply
    • August 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm
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      All of the rooms at Pop Century are equipped with a mini-fridge. I feel like they stay cold enough for drinks and things like that. I would be leery to store items like meat or dairy in them. However, I’ve had food poisoning a couple times so now I like to error on the side of caution. Anyone else have experience using the mini-fridges for anything other than drinks?

      Reply
  • August 23, 2014 at 9:33 am
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    Lots of these are good, but ymmv. For example, we always rent a car.
    .
    We have stayed on-site especially when WDW has offered some good packages with free dining (not what it used to be) or 7-nites incl. tickets for not much more than the price of 4-nites.

    We have stayed off-site when we had (at least one) AP holder in the group to get free parking, and/or cashed in our Marriott points to stay at the Residence Inn’s nearby (comfy suites with free breakfast, free internet and full refrig/freezer – for about the same price as a WDW-moderate).

    We bring our camping-style rain jackets from home and stuff them anywhere. As long as we don’t lose them, they work best.
    We pre-chill sodas and put them in a soft-size cooler with snacks. The sodas keep turkey, yogurt and cheese items cold and the cooler folds up afterwards.
    Protein/Snack bars are nutritious and cheap at any of the LBVista-area Wal-Marts. This gets us through 2pm easily.

    With a milk/cereal/fruit breakfast in the room, and a stop by Starbucks for my DW, we really only need 1 real Disney meal a day, usually during the mid-afternoon, and we make that a treat!

    Besides saving some $’s, this approach saves us a lot of time and gives us the food we need.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2014 at 10:28 am
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    Woah this blog is magnificent i like reading your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You recognize, many individuals are hunting round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

    Reply

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