Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How My 4 Day Walt Disney World Vacation Cost Less Than $1,000

My family had a 4 day Walt Disney World for less than $1,000 including the gasoline to get there. With round trip gas our total cost came to about $928. The cost per person came in at about $232 per person. It was enough that our family had to save up for it but not so much that the vacation was out of reach.

Here is our cost breakdown for the Walt Disney World vacation:
One day tickets at $79 each = $316
Campsite $44 per night = $132
Food $60 @ Park
Food $90
Paper products $10
In Park $20
Marrakesh $100
Gas $200
Total: $928

Our one day tickets to Walt Disney World one day, one park tickets cost us nothing but time. They were earned by volunteering for a full day with a nonprofit organization. I'm including the ticket price in the cost breakdown because our 'pay' for the day of service covered the ticket prices.

Choosing to drive instead of fly saved us a bundle. Instead of handing $450 to the airline we drove to Florida for less than half of that price. Driving eliminated the need for a rental car, enabled us to bring camping supplies and extra suitcases.

Here was the itinerary for our cheap Walt Disney World vacation. Our days were packed full. We never felt deprived.

Day 1:
Check in, and set up camp, rode the monorail and boat to the Magic Kingdom. Dinner was at the campsite.

Day 2:
We ate breakfast at the campsite before heading into EPCOT. For lunch, we had sandwiches from our backpacks. Dinner at the Marrakesh was the one big splurge that Hubby and I wanted to do. One of our daughters wound up coming with us. Later, Hubby and I had snacks at the China pavilion quick-service restaurant.

Day 3:
We had breakfast at the campsite and went for a walk around Fort Wilderness before heading to Downtown Disney. The group of us had dinner at Planet Hollywood. Then we went back to ride the monorail and have fun in Fort Wilderness.

Day 4:
Pack up and head home.

Utilizing the freebies drastically reduced our costs without reducing our fun. It would have been easy to spend another night or two to see more of the admission free attractions of Boardwalk Disney and Downtown Disney. So much to do, so little time!

Perks are another thing that made Fort Wilderness ideal for us. Since it's on WDW property you can use the free Walt Disney World transportation and park the car for free. Fort Wilderness has a nightly campfire sing-a-long and movie (weather permitting). Hiking trails, swimming and canoe rental are options that help make it even more fun.

Areas that were served by the monorail have no admission. You can ride it to the Contemporary Resort or get off at the other stops. It's a fun way to cool off or do some shopping.

My family has become crazy about camping. Fort Wilderness was the hands down choice on where to stay. A tent site was only $44 each night versus $78 for an on property budget resort. The site came with electricity, water and picnic table. Plus, it was close to an air conditioned convenience station.

Shopping for the trip began about 3 weeks before we left for the vacation. I clipped coupons to get the best deals on snacks and drinks. Meals were planned ahead of time and we watched the sales papers. These are all things that I would normally do. Our food costs turned out to be about the same on the trip as it would have been at home.

To further help control costs we picked up a couple of cases of water and flavoring packets. Cold cuts and other meats were purchased right before leaving for our cheap Walt Disney World vacation. A friend suggested freezing these items before packing the cooler. It's definitely a tip that I will use again.

Gas for the grill was picked up at Wal-Mart. Paper towels, plastic plates and utensils were picked up at the dollar store. The combined total came in at just under $10.

Walt Disney World is the only theme park I know of that lets you take food from home into the park. You can ask for free ice or ice water from any stand that sells fountain drinks. No purchase is required. Don't worry about being the only one asking for water or ice. You won't be. We couldn't help but notice lots of other people were doing the same thing.

Bringing our own food meant no waiting in line to eat. All we had to do was find a shady spot or bench and lunch was ready. Picnics on the way to and from Walt Disney World also helped control the cost.

This type of cheap Walt Disney World vacation may not be for everyone but it worked for us. We plan to do it all again soon.

Previously published: Yahoo Voices, 2008.