Funny to think that Doc was young once, but I was and I did make the amazing voyage to Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida in my last year of college, March 1993. I was paying for most of my college education myself and I was putting food on my own table so the trip was going to be a budget buster if I wasn’t careful. But you know Doc, I had some ideas up my sleeves. And now I am going to share these cheap and easy travel tips with you so you can concentrate on having fun and not on how much money you have left.
1. Book your accommodations and plane together at such websites as www.priceline.com. Doing this gives you a reduced rate along with a package discount on top. Also be sure to rent a suite with a kitchenette, queen beds and possibly a second bedroom included. Be sure that suite is located on Disney property. I will explain this further along in the article, but trust me, you will thank me later. And be extra sure that you book a cheap seat on the plane. You don’t need caviar and champagne to get you to Florida!! A cheap seat, with its peanuts and perhaps Danish pastry breakfast should do just fine.
2. Travel in a large group. A lot of companies offer group discounts so grab all of your poor college friends and mention that you have a group of 10 or more to book for. Your friends will come in handy later on in the trip too. Even invite a few of your friend’s friends. You may not know them but inviting them will pay off big time. By splitting the cost of the hotel suite you will end up paying less for your one week of fun and sun then you would if you went alone.
3. Take advantage of Disney specials such as the 1 week pass and the free on your birthday discount. The one week pass will get you into every Disney Theme Park for cheaper then a day pass and will often offer such perks as the ability to get in before the official opening. Some passes offer a few bonus food vouchers. We’ll touch on these in a moment.
4. Pack extremely light. Find out what the maximum size carry on is for your plane and cram everything into it that you can. Also find out, if you are a woman, if you are allowed to carry your oversized purse onto the plane along with your carry on bag. If this is allowed do so because it will save you money in the end. Some planes charge per bag for luggage going into the cargo hold and this can add up to major out of pocket expenses. My Aunt has the Buxton over the shoulder organizer so I have seen what it can do. Trust me ladies, you will want to pick one of those up, to use as a purse!!
5. If you are allowed to carry on your oversized purse and a carry on bag you will want to do some major separating and cramming to save those dollars. Start by packing your clothing into your carry on using Space Bag travel bags to double the carry on’s capacity. If you’re a man then a carry on should be enough for your clothes as well as the following list of items, as men never change their clothes anyhow. However, if you are a woman you will have run out of space by now and yet you have no toiletries packed. This is where the oversized purse comes in handy. Pack all of your toiletries, your cell phone and your camera in your purse. If the purse is large enough throw in a few Ramen Noodle and microwavable Mac N’ Cheese boxes as well as some bottled drinks. Trust me, this will save tons of money in the long run and, if you have a large enough purse, it will all fit nicely in there. Just don’t bring any canned items. These could cause delays at the security booth.
6. Now you are packed and happily bumping along down the tarmac. In a short amount of time the stewardess will be bringing you snacks or, on some planes, a light meal consisting of a Danish or fruit for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch or a frozen dinner like meal for dinner. If you are traveling for lunch or breakfast then you will need a game plan in place. Ask the stewardess, as you board the plane, what the planned meal is. Once seated ask the members of your group if they want their meal. You will be surprised at how many will say, “No way!!” Tell them to order it anyhow and then wait for the stewardess to come around with the food. Have your group members pass you their sandwiches and/or Danishes and pack them into your purse or carry on. I did this and was all set for breakfast during my entire one week stay at Disney World. That was one meal I didn’t have to pay for!!
7. Now you are probably checking out your digs for the week. If you booked a kitchenette and shared the suite with a large group of friends, as I suggested in the earlier part of this article, you are currently enjoying luxury for only 1/10th of the normal cost. You are also probably noticing the mini fridge, sink and microwave at the kitchenette. Use these to stow away your drinks and sandwiches that you acquired on the plane ride. Since your friends didn’t like this stuff anyhow there is no worries that anyone will eat it. Use your Ramon Noodles and Mac N’ Cheese for quick, easy and cheap dinners. If your Disney pass came with a few free lunch vouchers use these to enjoy a bunch of free meals compliments of Walt himself. How you may ask, when all you have is one or two of these? The answer is simple. Go to one of Disney’s sandwich shops and purchase a burger to go. They will give you a huge take out box for a little burger. Take this box to the sandwich bar where you will find a multitude of free sandwich fixings. Wrap your burger in napkins and pop it in your large and now empty purse. In the big take out box place lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and what have you to create a large salad. Use mayonnaise, relish and ketchup to create an impromptu Thousand Island dressing or mustard and mayonnaise to create a Dijon inspired dressing. You could also ask for vinegar and oil at the take out counter as well. Now hop the free Disney shuttle back to your suite to stow away your salad. Eat the burger on the way back to your room and take the salad with you, in your purse for tomorrow’s lunch. There you have it…….two free meals compliments of Walt himself!! Going to be at Disney 7 days and have only 2 vouchers or the equivalent of 4 free meals? No problem!! Make sure you eat your Ramen Noodles and Mac N’ Cheese during dinner time. This leaves the cheaper meal of the day, lunch. That means you eat for cheap on the remaining 3 days. I went back to the sandwich bar with my own money after Walt’s ran out and did the salad/sandwich bar trick one more time. I then only had one day of meals left so I splurged and got myself a fancy lunch at Epcot Center.
8. Take advantage of all that Disney has to offer. Think of yourself as a guest at the home of one of the richest people in America. Don’t be afraid to ask for that free soap, shampoo, cups, paper plates etc. And don’t be afraid to fill your bag for the journey home. Hey, Walt can afford to make you very comfortable so don’t feel guilty, feel pampered. Also keep a look out for all the events taking place during your visit. Get into Disney studios during a live game show filming to get free souvenirs and a chance to win some fun audience participation items. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can’t find the information you are looking for. You will be surprised what you can get involved in if you just ask. There are lots of great free events and free items to be had. I never bought a single souvenir while I was at Disney. Instead I filled my bags up on freebies for my friends back at home.
9. Always stay, eat and party on Disney properties. Car rentals in Florida are not only dangerous but can take a huge bite out of your budget. Instead, use Disney transportation. The shuttle buses and monorail are free and can be ridden as many times as you need. These methods of transportation can also be downright fun. Some people in my group were lucky enough to see wild armadillos, an alligator and a black panther.
10. Don’t sleep!!! I cannot stress this enough. Get your money’s worth and stay up all night long. Disney always has something going on, almost around the clock. Your pass is only good for one week and you can sleep when you get home. Think of it this way, would you like to see one Disney attraction for $100 or would you prefer to see 10 for the same $100? I thought so!! So break out the free coffee the maid left in your room, drink as much as you can hold, add some NoDoze and then call the maid for some more coffee. You will have one heck of a hangover by the end of the week but you will thank Doc anyhow!!
I actually came back from Disney with almost the same amount of money I left with by using these methods so I know they will work for you. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for the fact that my camera broke, causing me to purchase another one, I would have probably come back with 90% of my cash in tact rather then the 75% I did end up coming home with. Good luck with your fun packed Disney trip on a shoe string budget. Be sure to tell Doc all about it when you get home!!