Planning to visit Mickey Mouse this year? Unfortunately it just got a little more expensive. Disney announced yesterday that they will be raising their park ticket prices by 6%. An adult ticket to Disneyworld will now cost you $95 (up from $89) and a children’s ticket will cost you $89 (up from $83). This may not seem like a lot on its own but when you look at one day park passes costing a family of four $368 the added expense sure doesn’t help.
The good news is that if you do Disney (or any theme park for that matter) smart, there are many ways to add up the savings to more than offset the higher ticket prices! Here are ten ways that you can save at theme parks this year:
1. Shop Smart for a Hotel
-The closer your hotel is to the park, the more you’re going to pay. Sometimes just going a half a mile away can make a huge difference in the cost per night, so consider expanding that search radius a bit to compare prices.
-Think outside of the box and look at staying in a short term rental rather than a hotel. You’ll get more space and privacy than a resort and you are also likely to pay less than staying at the park. I like using the Booking.com app which has over 300,000 properties to choose from.
-Search online for deals before booking a hotel or other accommodations. Savings.com has some great offers right now:
*$30 off a Qualifying Hotel Booking of $375 or more through Travelocity using the coupon code SAVINGS30
*$40 off Vacation Packages of $1500 or more through Travelocity using the coupon code SAVINGS40
2. Look Outside of the Park for Souvenirs
-I never cease to be amazed at what amusement parks change (and people spend) for souvenirs. Of course those Mickey ears may be a necessity, but that would also be a great item to buy in advance (Amazon sells many different ones for under $5) and to hand out when the trip is announced to the family.
-Souvenir spending is one of the easiest areas to go over budget. You’re having a great time, want your trip to be memorable and you have to admit – some of the items are pretty darn cute! 😉 Set a souvenir budget for each individual before you leave for your vacation and be determined to stick to it. This will allow everyone to pick out something fun without going overboard.
3. Bring Your Own Food.
-When it comes down to all the other things that you need to remember to pack – food often takes last priority. However, when were talking about amusement park food prices they can really add up quickly, so this is definitely not an area you want to forget about while preparing for your trip. If you’re not willing to dine-in for meals, consider bringing your own stacks. To make it more fun, purchase items that your kids wouldn’t normally get at home.
4. Get The Most Out of Your Hotel
-Don’t underestimate the value of free amenities. Look for a hotel that offers free shuttle transportation to the park and it will save you on time, gas and parking fees.
-Let’s say that your family spends an average of $30 for breakfast and your vacation is 7 days long. That adds up to $210…for just breakfast! Look for a hotel that offers free breakfast and use that money to put towards lunches and dinners.
5. Shop Smart for Airfare
-Use free fare alert websites like AirfareWatchdog.com and CheapAir.com. Just enter your destination and dates of travel and they will send you an e-mail when ticket prices drop. I recently saved $150 on a ticket using Airfare Watchdog!
-Some airlines also use Twitter and Facebook to let their followers know about limited-time fare sales. For example, Jet Blue tweets out last-minute fare deals from @JetBlueCheeps every Tuesday, and Virgin America and Spirit Airlines also share fare alerts on Twitter.
6. Take Advantage of Freebies
-Research the park you are visiting in advance to see if they offer any free rides. At Disney World in Orlando you can enjoy the monorail over Epcot, the ferry across the water to the gates of Magic Kingdom and the nightly show of illuminated floats all for free!
7. Do Character Dining the Smart Way
-Character lunch and dinner dining is a popular way to get some one on one time with your family’s favorite characters, but it certainly comes at a price (and a pretty big one too). Character breakfasts on the other hand are often just as nice, usually less expensive and also less crowded so your family can enjoy some additional interaction from the characters.
8. Check Out the Visitors Bureau
-Take some time to check out the Visitors Bureau for the area that you are going to be vising. You just might find that they have some special offers for tourists. For example, the Orlando Visitors Bureau will send you an Orlando Magicard that can help you to save on area hotels, restaurants, dinner shows, attractions and shopping.
9. Pack Heavy, Rather Than Light
Make that list and check it twice before you leave on your trip. Did you remember sunscreen, hats, rain gear, sunglasses, toiletries, medicines and a first aid kit? Purchasing these items at a hotel, resort or park will cost you a pretty penny so it’s definitely worth it it pack more rather than less.
10. Use Your Memberships
-If you belong to a warehouse club like Costco, AAA, AARP you may be eligible for a discount on your park tickets, hotel, rental care and more. Some hotels like Hilton will even let you trade in frequent-traveler points for Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studio park tickets.
What other ways do you like to save at theme parks? Please share in the comments section below!