by: Amy Wear
Given our ever-changing dollar and geographical distance from Florida, pulling off a family vacation to Walt Disney World can be especially costly for Canadians. It is possible to save thousands of dollars, however, by following my top 10 tips.
FLY FROM THE USA
Savings are greatest for families of four or more. Remember to factor in extra vacation time, hotel nights, food, and gas, as well as winter weather considerations. Also be sure to compare the flight prices in the same currency.
USE YOUR AIR MILES
Naturally, you can cut your costs considerably by flying with air miles. Be sure to read the fine print and add up all the costs. With our Aeroplan miles, it would still cost our family of four $800 Canadian in taxes to fly round-trip from New Brunswick to Orlando. Given that I can sometimes get flights from New Hampshire for $1000 U.S. total, I’d rather save those air miles for a bigger trip that would offer us more savings.
TRAVEL DURING VALUE SEASON
You will find substantial savings on room rates by traveling during value season rather than peak holiday season. The lowest priced times include mid-January to late February and certain dates in the fall. The highest priced times are the weeks of Christmas and Easter, as well as mid-March to late April.
To illustrate, a standard room at Disney’s Pop Century value resort in late January 2017 will average $105 U.S. per night. The same room the week of Easter in mid-April will average $192 U.S. per night. Also note that flight prices are significantly higher during holiday times.
TRAVEL DURING DISCOUNT TIMES
At certain times of the year, Disney offers promotions that result in substantial savings. The free dining promotion has been extremely popular with Canadians. This year, the average family of four with two children over age 9 saved $1784 U.S. on a 7-night vacation. Naturally, discounts can never be guaranteed and they do come with many restrictions.
STAY ONE LEVEL DOWN
Disney resorts are categorized as value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. You can recover 40% or more of the room cost by going one level down. While a regularly priced room in mid-January 2017 at the Animal Kingdom Lodge deluxe resort would start at $319 U.S. per night, a room at the Port Orleans Riverside moderate resort would start at $189 U.S. per night. Looking for more savings? Stay at Disney’s All-star Music value resort that same week for $93 U.S. per night!
Share a 2-bedroom villa with another family for the price of a value resort suite. If you are traveling with another family and really want the deluxe villa experience, consider sharing a 2-bedroom villa at Disney’s Old Key West Resort (1333 square feet). The nightly rate here in late January 2017 averages $645 per night, compared to $312 per night for a small suite at Disney’s Art of Animation value resort (565 square feet).
While two families of four would need two suites at Art of Animation, everyone could stay together in the 2-bedroom deluxe villa with more perks and space. The villa also comes with a fully equipped kitchen (instead of a kitchenette), washer and dryer, and comfortable beds for everyone.
Also, historically speaking, when dining plan promotions are offered, the villa will come with the plus dining plan, while the value suite will come with the counter service plan.
ONLY PAY FOR TICKET OPTIONS YOU WILL USE
Many people will say you need park hopper tickets so you have the freedom to leave one park, enjoy a break at your resort, and then go to another park for the rest of the day. Each park has so much to offer, however, that there is no reason you can’t return to the same park after a mid-day break and save the added cost of $276 U.S. (based on a family of four).
At times of the year when it’s especially hard to get dining reservations, however, you may need park hopper to make the best use of your dining plan credits. Or there may be special events happening where you want to spend more time at one of the parks while still having enough time to enjoy the other parks.
CHOOSE THE DINING OPTION THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Is it a priority for your family to enjoy a sit-down meal such as character dining each day of your vacation? If so, the plus dining plan is probably right for you. If you would prefer to eat when you feel like it at counter service locations, then the counter service plan is probably sufficient. It will also save you the additional expense of gratuity for each table service meal, which isn’t included in the dining plan cost.
SAVE NON-DISNEY PARKS FOR ANOTHER TRIP
When clients tell me they want to add “just one day” at Universal Orlando or Sea World, they are usually shocked when I tell them to expect to pay over $600 U.S. plus transportation for their family of four. Just as Disney park admission is the most expensive for the first two days, other parks work much the same. It is far more economical to add extra days of admission to the Disney parks at a rate of about $16 per person for day five and six and $11 per person per day after that.
Remaining on Disney property for your whole stay also means no rental car, shuttle, or parking costs. Disney provides complimentary transportation to and from the airport and all around Disney property. Our family has enjoyed stays of up to two weeks at Walt Disney World without venturing off-property and we have yet to run out of things to do!
WORK WITH A CANADIAN TRAVEL AGENT SPECIALIZING IN DISNEY VACATIONS
Since the majority of Canadian travel agents specializing in Disney destinations do not charge service fees, why not take advantage of our expertise? Most of us will jump through hoops to find you the best possible value and to help you plan for the Disney vacation of your dreams. If a discount comes out after you’ve booked, we will go to great lengths to get that discount applied to every eligible booking, wherever possible.
After reading these tips, you can understand why, even though I have the dream job of planning Disney vacations, I just can’t give a short answer when someone asks, “What will it cost my family of four to go to Disney?”
Amy Wear is a work at home mom, travel agent, writer, and registered occupational therapist. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada, and specializes in planning magical vacations for people of all abilities at Click The Mouse. You can also find her onFacebook.
*This post is not sponsored.