This Beautiful Inheritance: 15 Tips for an Affordable, Enjoyable Walt Disney World Vacation

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

15 Tips for an Affordable, Enjoyable Walt Disney World Vacation

{This is a guest post written by my mama, Deborah Skarda. And ignore her first sentence. She is an expert.}

I am by no means an expert, but I LOVE travel, and I LOVE Disney! Through the years, we have visited Walt Disney World several times, and we just returned from a trip with the whole family, including our three young granddaughters. I feel I learn a little more each time, so if you are planning a trip to WDW,  here are just a few of my “Disney tips” I wanted to share to hopefully make your vacation a little less overwhelming.

1. SAVE $$ -We built up Chase credit card points with our personal and business cards to pay for much of our trip, cashed in our jars of change, saved Christmas money, etc. I also gave the kids Disney tickets as Christmas gifts.

2. GO DURING OFF SEASON IF AT ALL POSSIBLE- Late January to mid February and mid-September to mid-November. Although the weather is still very pleasant most of the time, the crowds are much more manageable.

3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! - You can ask my kids, everything goes better when you have a plan. Do your research. Two good tools for research are and the mom’s panel on under the “vacation planning” tab.

4. GET A TRAVEL AGENT- Disney has become very complicated, so you need an experienced person to navigate you. I love doing this myself, but most people don’t, so this is very important. My cousin Becky Newton is an expert Disney travel agent and would love to assist you. The best part is that travel agents are free! Her email is

5. DO A CHARACTER MEAL- Our one real splurge this trip was a princess brunch, but it was worth the extra $$ we had to save to do it! Made three little girls very happy! And three big girls were pretty excited too. :) (Reservations for these meals must be made very early. Talk to your travel agent!)

6. IF YOUR TRIP IS A "ONCE IN A LIFETIME," WAIT UNTIL YOUR YOUNGEST CHILD IS AT LEAST 5 OR 6 YEARS OLD.-You want them to remember it, and children are just more manageable in the parks by this age and can ride most rides.

7. IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN, SPEND TWO DAYS AT MAGIC KINGDOM- Little ones slow you down, and because there is so much to do at MK, there is no way to do the whole park in one day.

8. PLAN A DAY TO REST IN BETWEEN PARKS- Chances are, you will regret it if you don’t. When we were much younger, we did all four parks in four days. By the third day, the “magic” was gone, and by the fourth day, all I wanted was a soft bed!

9. IF YOU HAVE PRESCHOOLERS, DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL- We only did two parks this time but still had a blast! We talked to a young couple with two preschoolers on the plane who did all four, and they said "never again."

10. HAVE A BUDGET- Know what things cost before you go. Have a limit for meals, souvenirs, etc. and stick with it so you don’t come home worried how you’re going to pay bills!

11. SAVE MONEY BY STAYING OFF PROPERTY- We stayed at a very nice Staybridge Suites close by. We had credit card points to pay for rental cars, but most nearby hotels have shuttles to take you to the parks, as did ours.

12. WEAR ATHELTIC SHOES- And I don’t mean cute little slip-on Sketchers but the big ole full-size athletic shoes.  Trust me, your feet will thank you at the end of the day!

13. DOWNLOAD THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP TO YOUR SMART PHONE- This is such a valuable tool. You can make meal reservations, check ride wait times, make fast pass selections, buy park tickets, etc. all with the tap of your finger.

14. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FAST PASS- Make three “reservations” for rides at specific times, with little or no line. Learn all about it with your Disney app or Disney website.

15. IF YOU PLAN TO FLY, WATCH SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FOR THEIR SUPER SPECIALS FROM MEMPHIS TO ORLANDO- We flew nonstop for $135 round-trip, but even without those special rates, you can usually fly their “Wanna Get Away” fares for around $200 round-trip. And another great thing about Southwest is that bags fly free!

What tips do you have?

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