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Please share frugal experiences on going to Disney World.
I think Frugal and Disney World are what they call an oxymoron. We are taking a family trip early next year and I would like all the help I can get
 

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Master Dollar Stretcher aka TraciBob
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Honestly, the easiest way to save money is to not stay on Disney property. You can get cheaper rooms at hotels that are just outside of the the gates. Most hotels offer some sort of shuttle to the parks. Go through AAA to get tickets for Disney if you are a member. They are cheaper than getting them there.
Have a great time when you do go. I know I loved being on vacation there.
 

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Check out www.mousesavers.com, www.allears.net and www.wdwinfo.com.

Right now there are several deals for $57 per night rooms at the Disney value resorts. I got my notice about this one in the mail just yesterday. Disney is always offering many specials if you stay on-site. In August -September they normally offer a deal where all of your meals are free when you stay on-site. They have already released the info on it for this year.

Best advice I have is visit the forums at WDWinfo.com. They have a great section on doing Disney on a budget. The members there are very helpful and can advise you the best route to go. The other two websites are great as well. they will let you know what specials Disney is offering and have price lists for everything from restaurants to resorts to tickets.

Enjoy your trip!!!
 

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I agree with baronsmom. Stay outside the park. As far as food goes, try to find a hotel with a mini-fridge. Buy cereal and milk for breakfast. This will be way cheaper, as well as a huge time saver! You could bring in snacks, but be prepared to haul them around in the hot sun all day.

There are reasonable places to eat at Disney. IMO, they have a lot of choices, and you do not have to buy a pricey meal if you don't want to. You can get online and check out all the restaurants in all the parks to see what they offer and the price ranges.

If you go to MGM, eat at The Sci-Fi Drive-in (I think that's the name). You eat in modified "cars" and get to watch old Sci-Fi shows. My kids loved it, and still talk about it!

IMO, I would avoid leaving the park to eat lunch and dinner. It takes up a lot of time. Considering how expensive the tickets are just to get in, it doesn't seem to be a good use of time.

Have fun! We've always enjoyed our times at Disney.
 

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If you own a timeshare or know someone who does, see if they are a member of Interval International. We just rented a week at the Marriott Grande Vista -- one-bedroom condo, full kitchen (which saves $$), jacuzzi tub in bathroom, for $550. There are several pools on the resort, as well as a primo golf course. The best our travel agent could do was $1300 for the week. When we realized we could join Interval International because of our timeshare and rent a week uber cheap, we jumped at the chance.
 

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If you do a search for Disney (using the advanced search) in the Vacations & Travel forum, you will find lots of threads about Disney. I was going to link them here, but there are a lot of them :)
 

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Great advice here. Definitely do your homework before you go and my personal advice would be to make sure you have a great meal before you go into the parks. The food is very expensive and really not that good. Try to take snacks with you to tide you over. But most of all have a good time.
 

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I agree with what Neeley said about deals on Disney's Value resorts. If you go during late August/September, parts of November, early December (before Christmas!), or January, you can get quite good deals staying in Value hotels.

They are offering a Free Dining Plan in September. We did this last year, and it was great.

If you are flying in, you may already know that Disney offers a free shuttle to Disney hotels from the airport. Plus, there are busses that take you from the Disney hotels to each of the Disney parks. Many offsite hotels say that they have shuttle busses to the parks, but they actually only run 2 or 3 busses in the morning, and 2 or 3 in the evening. This can be tough if, say, you have young kids (or adults!) who like to take an afternoon rest.

I think you get more value for your money when you stay on-site. And you can save on a rental car.

I know Neeley posted about Mousesavers, which is a great site. Also checkout www.disboards.com They have a budget/moneysaving board there, as well, where you can get lots of frugal tips.
 

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If you are staying off site or even if you're not, there is a Publix that isn't far from the disney area that you could stock up on drinks and snacks to take with you. You can rent a locker and bring your lunch with you also. If you plan ahead, you can purchase the dining plan before you arrive and we've purchased 3 meal programs for our family of five and hit the restaurants that we know have large portions. The Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom has huge fish and chicken baskets that are shareable (if that's a word). While it's not a frugal place to visit, you can really stretch your money while having a great time.
 

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I would honestly look into renting a villa. We have done this in the past. $500 a week got us a 5 bedroom house with our own private pool within 20 minutes of disney, in November. The one we rented was in the davenport area. We were able to eat alot of meals at the house, keeping food costs down.
 

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On our last trip our per night charge to stay on site in a Disney value (the least expensive) resort - $69.00 per night. We always go the week of Christmas/New Years which is the most expensive week of the year at Disney. We have never paid over $79 per night to stay at the value resorts. Now, when we have stayed at the moderate level and above resorts we have paid much more. Usually between $125 -$200 per night. But the value resorts can be cheaper than staying off site in many, many cases.

You just have to do some looking around the internet and you can find the discount codes.

You do need to keep the travel issue in mind(from your hotel to Disney and back everyday). Yes, there are shuttles to and from Disney. But they are not always comfortable, can take a long time to get you to and from the parks, and do not always run constantly and consistently. Many people get tired of waiting on the shuttles and end up driving themselves to the parks. Which is all fine and good.....just keep in mind it now costs $15 per day to park at Disney. If you stay on site and decide to drive yourself, they do not charge you the $15. It is free for all Disney guests.

Either way, have a great trip.
 

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My family is going next Friday!!!! We are renting a 5 bedroom home 3 miles from DW for $155/ night (divided by 3 families is really nice $). There are smaller condos etc for cheaper. If you know you are going, buy your park passes now. You lock in the prices now since they go up 1-2 times per year. Buy your plane tickets as soon as you can for as cheap as you can....prices will only go up with fuel prices rising. (my family got their plane tickets for half price by doing this & I have not checked the price for 2 months). Remember that anyone can order a child's meal. Bring in snacks to the parks...or lunch. Look for Disney on a Dime at the library or bookstore. It was a great help to us. Use Disney souveniors as Christmas presents....my kids got autograph books (journals from a clearance bin) & Disney trading pins (off of eBay) as Christmas gifts (6 months before the trip). I also bought them a Disney character at The Disney Store for $8 each instead of $#### at the parks. When I get back, I'll try to post more.
 

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The last time we went we stayed at Pop Century. We got a great rate. We also got the meal plan. I would carry snacks and water bottles in a duffle bag into the park. When we would get thirsty I would ask for a cup of ice! Best of all no charge for the cup of ice!
 

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We went to Euro Disney last September and spent (and I'm not kidding) about 100 euros for 3 days at the park. This was not including our hotel on the park or the entree fees. We made sure we had a good breakfast each morning and took snacks with us into the park. The kids shared meals because there was enough food for the two of them. We also didn't give into the whole souveniers thing. The boys each got to pick one little souvenier because I knew that it would end up in the toy box with the other millions of toys. A tip - don't buy the signature books that they sell at the park. Buy your note book at home and take it with you. A friend of mine went to Euro Disney with her daughter and knew that her daughter would want of those (crazy expensive) princess dresses. She bought one before she left and gave it to her daughter when she got to Euro Disney. Her daughter couldn't tell the difference. That saved her about 60 euros just doing that.
Hope you have a great time there.
 

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The biggest thing is really the food. We have annual passes to Disneyland w/parking, so we just bring our own food. We never get to stay for more than 5 hours because of having a 2 year old, so if we bring our food, it's nothing out of pocket to go (besides the gas $ to get there!) They let you bring in pretty much anything (besides alcohol, of course), so we just pack lots of drinks and snacks and we're set!
 

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Vacation

Rent a time share, you don't have to own one or know anyone that does. we stayed at one for $250 for the week. 2br/2bth ,kitchen, laundry, large living room with pull out bed in the leather sofa, pools, game room, bar, gift shop, patio. for $250 you had to listen to them try and sell you the time share for an hour, but that's it. and they can't pressure you it's against the law. Kids loved it so much we had to plan a day to just stay there and have pizza by the pool. For alittle more I think $500 a week you don't even have to go to the meeting. Sorry don't remmenber the name just tiype in time share fl.
 

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Master Dollar Stretcher aka TraciBob
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You may also want to try www.vrbo.com It is vacation rentals by owner. You can get houses just about anywhere in the world. Many are very reasonable.
 

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Rent a time share, you don't have to own one or know anyone that does. we stayed at one for $250 for the week. 2br/2bth ,kitchen, laundry, large living room with pull out bed in the leather sofa, pools, game room, bar, gift shop, patio. for $250 you had to listen to them try and sell you the time share for an hour, but that's it. and they can't pressure you it's against the law. Kids loved it so much we had to plan a day to just stay there and have pizza by the pool. For alittle more I think $500 a week you don't even have to go to the meeting. Sorry don't remmenber the name just tiype in time share fl.
Yep, and we have even gotten the same deal plus 2 free tickets to the parks OR once during an off season we paid $150 for the week. My parents did end up buying a time share after we did these deals about 5 times. But, they have full kitchens, nice pools, my parent's had a kids water park, etc. We always eat a big protein breakfast meal before entering the park. There is a Sizzler close to the park that serves a $3.99 breakfast buffet w/coupon. $4.99 regular price. We have eaten there at that price on at least 5 different vacations, including last week.

We always bring in some snacks in a backpack, diaper bag or fanny pack. M&Ms don't melt...peanuts, slim jims, gold fish, crackers, fruit snacks are all things we have brought in that work pretty well. We never go in without frozen water bottles either in a backpack/bag or each person carries in their own. If we buy anything in the park before leaving, it is usually something like a pretzel or last time we got a large order of McDonald's french fries in Magic Kingdom for about $2. We actually shared two orders between the 5 of us. Then, on the way back to the room, we either order a pizza delivered eat something from the cooler in the car, or stop at a more affordable restaurant outside the park. Food and drinks is where they really get you in amusement parks!

At Disney, it is really time consuming to go back to your car for a picnic. You have to get on the monorail or ferry boats, then a tram/trolley and then walk to your car and then do all that again to get back. It is more of a pain/farther away than at other amusement parks where we often eat lunch in the car.
 
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