What are the best ways to save money on a Disney World vacation?

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Answered by: Leigh, An Expert in the Family Vacations - Disney Vacations Category
Many parents and grandparents dream of taking the family on a Disney World vacation. However, to many families, the cost can make a trip to one of the Florida’s top destinations seem out of reach.

However, there are always tricks to saving money on travel, and it is possible to save hundreds or even thousands on your family vacation to Disney World if you use the right strategies.

Here are some of the best ways to save money on your family’s Disney World Vacation:

Choose the right time of year to travel.

As you might expect, there are times of the year when Walt Disney World is extremely crowded, and times when the crowds are lighter. Because of the resort’s popularity with families, you will find lighter crowds during months when school is in session. And, lighter crowds mean cheaper rates at nearby hotels. While taking children out of school to travel does not work for all families, some schools do allow for the absence if students complete schoolwork while they are on the trip or prior to leaving. If your children can’t miss school, perhaps your school starts later or ends earlier than the rest of the country and you can still take advantage of a week when the crowds are down.

Consider Camping.

If your family enjoys camping, you can camp at Walt Disney World. The Fort Wilderness Campground is actually on Disney property, and there are nearby independently-owned campgrounds, as well, that allow for RVs, campers and even tents.

Ask other families to join you.

Vacation homes and condominiums are prevalent in the area around Walt Disney World. While they may not be practical for a small family, many sleep 12 or more people and can be a good deal if more than one family splits the cost, especially if you plan to vacation for one week or longer.

Pack your own snacks.

Disney theme parks allow you to bring lunch-size coolers and snack foods in the park with you, so pack a couple of water bottles and some granola bars or other treats to keep your family going. Water bottles can be refilled at water fountains throughout the parks. Don't take all the fun out of it -- promise your kiddos at least one treat a day, but save money by not buying multiple between-meal snacks and drinks.

Picnic or eat meals in your rooms.

Since most hotel rooms are equipped with refrigerators these days, it is easy to stop at a grocery store near Disney World to buy sandwich fixings, chips and drinks to pack a picnic lunch for your days at the theme parks. Likewise, plan to eat breakfast in your hotel room unless it is provided for free where you're staying. If you choose to only eat out at dinner during your vacation, you will save hundreds over the course of a week.

Buy souvenirs outside of the theme parks.

Chain stores such as Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Target located near Walt Disney World have surprisingly large selections of Disney merchandise, including stuffed animals, tees, hats and other items. You'll find those "off-site" souvenirs cost at least 25 percent less than those bought in the parks.

Use a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.

Many families mistakenly believe that the services of a travel agent cost them extra money. In fact, travel agents are paid a commission from the companies they book the travel with, and the vacation costs no more than it would if you booked it yourself. There are many travel agencies that specialize in Disney vacations, and those agents will often know about special deals and upgrades you won't find on your own. They are also a great source of advice because they have often traveled frequently to Disney World themselves.

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