Tips for Renting Cars for Walt Disney World

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One of the big dilemmas facing many people is if they should rent a car at Walt Disney World, and if so, how to save money when renting a car at Orlando International Airport. This post covers the pros and cons of renting a car for a Walt Disney World vacation, as well as how to go about saving the most money on rental cars, and other rental car hacks, pitfalls, and other random rambling.

As a threshold matter, you have to determine whether you need to rent a car at Walt Disney World in the first place. Unlike many other vacation destinations, a rental car at Walt Disney World is not a strict necessity, so don’t assume that a booking a rental car is an inherent step in your trip planning. In the first section of this post, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of renting a car. If you already have determined that a rental car is right for your family, you can skip ahead to the second half of the article, which covers tips and tricks for saving money on rental cars at Walt Disney World (and beyond).

We have a lot of ground to cover in this post, so let’s start by taking a look at whether you should rent a car at Walt Disney World or roll the dice and rely on Disney’s “lovely” “free” transportation system… (more…)

How Much Does a Walt Disney World Vacation Cost?

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The cost of a Disney trip can be shocking, often being much higher than people anticipate. This post takes a look at Walt Disney World vacation price ranges for each element of the trip, from park tickets to hotels to dining and beyond. Hopefully, it will help you avoid sticker shock when you make that Walt Disney World vacation quote request, or will help you to come up with a more reasonable plan if you’ve already received the quote and realize it isn’t feasible.

Frankly, this is a tough post to tackle. Even with hypotheticals it’s impossible to pin down the actual cost for every set of circumstances. Rather than try that, we’re going to look at some ranges and prices for each aspect of the trip, come up with totals based on those, and let you extrapolate for your own conclusions based upon that information. Given that the thing most readers report surprise over to us via comments and emails is cost (crowds and lines are a very distant second), I felt this a topic worth addressing, even if I can’t give any hard numbers for everyone.

As a blunt preface: a Walt Disney World vacation is an expensive proposition. It’s undeniable that Walt Disney World vacation costs have skyrocketed in the last 5 years, and with record attendance, that trend doesn’t seem likely to reverse itself anytime soon. Despite this, I think that the comparative cost of a Walt Disney World vacation is not out of line with many other destinations.

Sure, you could travel to one of America’s National Parks and pay a $10 entry fee for your entire vehicle for a week, camp on-site for $15/night, and cook food by campfire for $25/day for a party of 4. You could also travel to New York and spend the cost of theme park tickets on daily entertainment, pay $150/night for ‘adequate’ accommodations, $55/night for parking, and an exorbitant amount on food. The point isn’t that a Disney vacation isn’t expensive, but that expensive is a relative term.

This post assumes a 5-day, 4-night Walt Disney World vacation for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) that is not within driving distance to Walt Disney World, with no rental car unless otherwise specified. Airfare is not discussed as it varies so widely based upon origin city that there’s really nothing meaningful to say–just know that it’s another cost that’ll probably add another $200-500 per person to your trip.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the range of costs you should expect to incur for each element of your Walt Disney World vacation… (more…)

Off-Site v. On-Site Disney World Hotels

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One of the most difficult decisions when planning for a Walt Disney World vacations can be whether you should stay on-site or off-site. Walt Disney World resort hotels have a lot of great benefits and are a compelling choice for many guests, but the hundreds of local off-site hotels offer many equally compelling reasons as to why guests should stay off-site. If you already know whether you want to stay on-site or off-site, you should skip this article and go directly to our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews index page to determine which hotel is right for you.

For many people considering where to stay at Walt Disney World, price will be the determining factor, as it can be cheaper to do a Walt Disney World Trip on a Budget while staying off-site. However, this isn’t always the case, and there are other factors to consider before booking. Those with small vacation budgets might be surprised to find that, in some circumstances, it’s better for them to stay on-site, and those with large vacation budgets might be better served by staying off-site.

When this post was originally written, we had never stayed off-site at Walt Disney World, but I aimed at writing an article that objectively looked at all of the pros and cons of both staying off-site and staying on-site. Since then, we’ve stayed off-site on several occasions, so I’ve revised the post a bit (in April 2015) to reflect how those off-site stays have changed my perspective. Surprisingly, my views are pretty much the same, but some of the new insight should help you with your decision to stay off-site or on-site.

Let’s get started with the pros and cons of staying off-site versus on-site at Walt Disney World… (more…)

Tips for Making Be Our Guest Restaurant Reservations

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With Advance Dining Reservations now available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you might find yourself wanting to have a meal…or 3…there. After being shut out of getting ADRs there more times than I care to admit, I think I have some helpful tips to offer to ensure that you’re able to score those elusive reservations.

At first, I thought it was simply a matter of waiting for the initial hype of the restaurant to die down, as we were unable to get ADRs during our first couple of trips shortly after it opened. Fast forward almost 3 years later, and I still haven’t eaten dinner there. Some of this is because I simply don’t plan 180 days in advance anymore, which is when the window for booking ADRs opens for the restaurant. It’s a rarity for me to start planning 3 months in advance, and by that time, ADRs are long gone.

In fact, they’re often long gone by the 180 day mark. That may not make sense, but the first tip isn’t really a tip so much as it is a simple fact of life: if you’re staying on-site at a Walt Disney World hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll be shut out for dinner even at the 180 day mark. This is because on-site guests can start making ADRs 180 days before the start of their trip, not the day before they want to dine. In other words, if you’re staying on-site and have a 7-day vacation starting on September 26 (180 days from today), you could make ADRs starting today not just for September 26, but for the duration of your trip, whereas off-site guests could only make ADRs for September 26 or sooner.

Given that there are around 80,000+ guests staying on-site in Walt Disney World on any night, this is a lot of people who potentially can book reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant before the window for off-site guests even opens. Granted, the vast majority of guests know nothing about ADRs and won’t try book reservations at the 180 window, but around 1% of those guests could book dinner and the restaurant would fill up.

If you’re staying on-site, it’s good practice to try booking Be Our Guest Restaurant as soon as your window opens, and for as far into your vacation as you can. Plan your park days around that. You might even make a couple of ADRs so that you can cancel one after park hours are released. If you’re not staying on-site, well, good luck. Try right when your 180 day window opens, and repeat as necessary for subsequent days of your trip.

Let’s just assume for a second that you’re unable to score one of those coveted ADRs far in advance of your trip. Fortunately, there are other options… (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disney World Tickets

Money-saving Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets (from authorized sellers!)

Walt Disney World offers lots of ticket options. Park tickets are expensive, but if you follow our tips & tricks, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. Tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure of your Walt Disney World vacation after your hotel room (and perhaps airfare). Since Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year, so it’s best to buy your tickets before your trip, as early as possible. This guide will help you with which tickets to buy, and where to buy them.

If all you want to know is where to safely buy cheap, legitimate Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller and don’t want to read this entire article covering the best tickets to purchase and other tips, click here.

Walt Disney World ticket prices last increased in price on February 22, 2015. It was about a 5% price increase per, with one day tickets for the Magic Kingdom raising to $105 and other parks going to $97, plus increases for all multi-day tickets. There are rumors that prices may increase again Memorial Day weekend, or possibly in July, but this is just rumor. You can buy tickets now for vacations you’re taking anytime in the future, so buying before prices increase again is a good way to lock in current prices.

With this information about the latest Walt Disney World ticket price increase in mind, you might be wondering which type of Walt Disney World tickets you should purchase? We present all of the options here along with their pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. Given their cost, and the different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can before you buy so you don’t waste money. Purchasing Walt Disney World tickets can be overwhelming, as there are many different choices and add-ons, but we will help you with that.

In this article we sort through the different options and give you recommendations on what types of tickets are best for you, plus where you can save money on Walt Disney World tickets. (If you’ve come looking for info on discount Disneyland tickets, you’ve come to the wrong place–but we do have an article with Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, too.)

Ready to get started? Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on 2015 Walt Disney World tickets! (more…)