Sunday Savings Series: Saving During the Peak Seasons

The holidays can be expensive, but worth it! 

It’s never cheap to visit Walt Disney World, but certain times of the year are more expensive than others. The Peak Seasons tend to be when schools are out and offices are closed. The Peak Seasons include Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Week, and the month of July. These times are often the only times that people can travel. How do you save during the most expensive times of the year? Here are a few tips.

Your accommodations will eat up a huge chunk of your vacation budget. There are benefits to staying on property, but saving money isn’t one of them! You might be able to cut way back on the costs if you choose to stay off property. Many local hotels have shuttles to the parks, so you wouldn’t have to pay for parking. If you go that route ask a lot of questions before you book. Some hotels only have one shuttle a day, and if you miss it you’re out of luck. Have a rideshare app downloaded on your phone, just in case.

A local vacation rental (Airbnb or another company) is another way that you might be able to save. Often you can rent an entire home for a week for less than you’d pay for a couple of nights on Walt Disney World property. There won’t be a shuttle so you’ll have to drive and pay for parking, but that’s a small tradeoff when you consider how much you’ll save overall. Plus you’ll have plenty of room! If you do stay in a local home please be respectful of those who live there. In my neighborhood there are several vacation rentals. A few nights ago a group staying at one had a party until 4:00 in the morning. The music from their party was louder than the TV in our home! This happens too often in our neighborhood.

Food is another place where you can save money during the Peak Seasons. Many of the lower cost hotels in the area include a continental breakfast. If so, take advantage of it; that’s money you won’t be spending in the parks. If there’s no breakfast pick up a few items when you arrive. If there’s a fridge in your room you can store milk, but here’s a tip. Check the temperature in the fridge! I’ve placed almond milk in a hotel fridge at night and discovered that it was frozen solid the next morning. But I digress. Eat breakfast at your hotel, and then bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips with you to the parks. That takes care of two meals!

If you’re at a vacation rental, take advantage of the kitchen! Make a large breakfast so that everyone will be full, and then take a break in the middle of the day and return to the house for dinner. Don’t make anything fancy that will take up a lot of time, but if you’re visiting during a Peak Season the parks will be open longer, and you might enjoy a couple of hours away from the crowds.

What do you really need for souvenirs? I’m not saying to not buy anything, just don’t go crazy. If you’re visiting during the holidays consider buying holiday themed items, because you won’t be able to buy some of those again. Also, look for deals, because sometimes they are out there. Towards the end of a festival often the merchandise will be discounted. At the end of the year Disney will discount the dated items. A rule of thumb with merchandise is to look it over but not buy it right away. If you wish that you had bought it several hours later, then go back and buy it. Impulse buying can shoot the cost of your vacation way up, so don’t buy anything immediately.

These are a few of the ways that you can save during the most expensive times of the year. I also suggest that you plan for one splurge; a restaurant that you really want to try, a special event, a tour, or that replica of Cinderella Castle that you can’t stop thinking about. You don’t want your vacation to only be about saving.