Disney on the Cheap {Guest Post}

Today's post is the first of a two-part series on finding less expensive ways to do a Disney vacation. I realize that most people are gearing up for back-to-school, and not thinking "family vacation", but with Disney, it's never too early to start planning. 

Jonathan and his wife, Lauren, are friends from church, and Jonathan was gracious enough to volunteer a blog post (or two) to help me out during a bit of a calendar crunch time. Take it away, Jonathan!

Doing Disney Cheap

Okay, I'm going to admit at the beginning - cheap is a relative term. For the purpose of this article, let's assume that when I say "cheap" what I really mean is "cheaper than normal." For most of us, Walt Disney World can never be cheap. However, there are a few things we can do to make it a little more affordable. There are a lot of articles and websites that talk about how to do Disney on a budget, but today I wanted to share how our family does it and offer some tips that we've learned over the years ourselves or from our friends.


Here we have two options: on property or off property. Let's start with the fun one - on property

Walt Disney World has created some of the most beautiful resorts around. While I won't deny that there are more spectacular resorts elsewhere, Disney has created a magical atmosphere and world that no one has been able to touch. Because of this, Disney has been able to charge accordingly in order for guests to stay at their resorts. 

A room at a value resort in 2013 will start around $135 during peak season and can go as low as $85 during the value season. That's just to start. 

A room at a moderate during peak season starts around $200 and can get down to the mid-100s during value season. 

Specialty rooms, suites, views, and deluxe resort rooms just make the price go up. My family typically prefers a two bedroom. The cheapest listed rate for a two bedroom at Disney's Beach Club Resort & Villas for 2013 (currently) is $726 a night. Ouch!


If you really want to stay on property, there are a few things that can help. 
  1. Book during the value season. Resort rates are substantially lower than peak season. 
  2. Watch for specials. Even during the value season, you can find specials like 20%+ off your room. Deluxe resorts will often have 30% off specials, making that $726 closer to $508 - better. 
  3. Rent Disney Vacation Club points. One website that does this is David's Vacation Club Rentals where you can purchase DVC members points at reduced rates. A sample survey for a two bedroom at Beach Club came out to $516 a night - $210 cheaper than Disney's listed rate. Savings can be even greater depending on the resort you choose and the time of year. 
  4. If you're the type that doesn't mind roughing it, you can get a campsite (tent/pop-up) at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort for as low as $48 a night.
Now for staying off property. I'm not even going to talk about hotels - there are a million of them and plenty of ways to get one cheap. We like to stay in condos, timeshares, townhouses and suites - preferably at resorts. How have we been able to do this without paying crazy prices? eBay

Yes, I know eBay isn't a big secret, but how many of you have booked lodging through eBay? On our last trip we were able to get an amazing three-bedroom condo at an awesome resort, right outside of Walt Disney World, for $375 FOR THE WEEK. That's right - $53 a day, including taxes and fees. How many of you started drooling? 

I'm not going to give names of resorts, but here's my tip. Search eBay for "Disney resort" or "Orlando resort" in the Travel section, then check to see if any of the auctions match up with your scheduled trip. If you have a flexible schedule, even better

Also try SkyAuction.com if you strike out on eBay. Or, if you have a retired or active military person traveling with you, try the Armed Forces Vacation Club. If you find a deal or location that looks good, I strongly advise researching the resort online. Check TripAdvisor ratings and other similar sites. Also, check into the eBay seller's history and rating. If done carefully, you can find some awesome resorts and amazing prices.

If you really need 4 or more bedrooms, or you really want your own private pool, there are many cheap vacation home rentals to be found. These homes are in communities with pools, clubhouses, and other amenities. Good sites to find these are VRBO.com or VacationRentals.com. You will be dealing with a private owner, so make sure you watch for good feedback ratings.

One last tip when researching an off-property resort: use your Google Maps before renting. Many listings will advertise “15-20 minutes from Disney property,” but this is not always a truthful statement. Also, read lots of traveler reviews or ask someone at the resort how long it takes to get to each park.

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Come back next Wednesday to read what Jon has to share about saving on dining and tickets! Thanks, Jonathan!

Photobucket ABOUT: Jonathan is a husband, father of two young boys, and Walt Disney World nut. Jonathan is always looking for opportunities to hear about other peoples experiences as well as help others plan their trips to WDW.


  1. I love this! We are planning our first every trip to DW in February. I'd be curious to know what the weather is like that time of year and if most things stay open year round.

  2. Hi Angie! We love going to Disney in February - we've found great weather and great crowd levels. Weather.com reports the average low temperature is 50 degrees and the average high is 73 degrees (http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/vacationplanner/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USFL0615). This time presents a couple of packing challenges. Because you can have both ends of the high and low spectrum, we often pack everything from shorts and t-shirts to jeans and light coats. Even if they predict a warm week, it still does get cool in the evenings (and sometimes early morning if you're there for the rope drop), so having a light jacket or sweatshirt is nice.

    We spent two weeks there this past February and went through a few weather fronts. A majority of the time was beautiful, in the 70s. We had a few days that hit 80 degrees and we had a couple days that we needed to wear jackets and beanies on the boys. But, overall it was great!

    If you have any other questions we can help with, let us know!



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