Money-Saving Magic: AllEars® Reader Tips, Part 2

Compiled by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Senior Editor

Feature Article

This article appeared in the June 4, 2013 Issue #715 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

Several weeks ago, we asked for your best money-saving tips and boy, did you send them in! Thanks! We already ran one feature with your money-saving tips, covering the topics of PLANNING, REWARDS and BONUS POINTS, and FOOD AND BEVERAGE. In this second installment, we'll share tips relating to accommodations, souvenirs, and activities outside of the theme parks. Get ready to take notes on Part 2 of Money-Saving Magic: Tips from AllEars® Readers:


Sandie Albrecht: Our big money-saving tip is to stay at a Disney value resort the first night of our stay, since we get in late. Then the next morning we take a taxi to our Deluxe resort, stopping at the Hess gas station to pick up bottled water.

Ky in Gulfport, MS: We had resigned ourselves to staying off-site due to a tight budget. But then we remembered Fort Wilderness campground — all the perks of staying onsite at a fraction of the cost, since we will be sharing our campsite with friends. We are so looking forward to it!

Tom Galloway: Explore the world of vacation homes and condos. Remember, a 15-minute drive can save you literally hundreds of dollars. When you get a place to stay, look for somewhere with laundry machines in the unit or available in the complex.You can carry much less luggage and not have to worry about paying baggage fees to the airline. It won't hurt anyone to do one load of laundry on a four- or five-day trip. If you are renting a vacation home or condo, you will probably have to do it anyway for towels.

Linda B.: Being a DVC member saves us loads of money especially with booking a 1- or 2-bedroom villa that has a full kitchen. We plan on having breakfast in the room almost every day.

Mary Ann W.: I usually know well in advance about when we'll be traveling, and since we love the Epcot resorts I will book a room at The Walt Disney World Dolphin using any and all discounts I can think of (government employee, Starwood preferred guest, Annual Pass, whatever). I'll book 9 to 11 months in advance for at least seven nights. I can usually "modify" a few days either way depending on my flight without a price increase. You need to pay a one-night deposit, but that's OK. I've kept my reservation, modified it, and even cancelled it with no problems. The reservationist even gave me ideas for nabbing a better deal once!

Nick G.: We're a family of eight, traveling with the in-laws and wife's sister's family, making our party size 14 people strong! We decided to stay off-property at a four-bedroom, 2,340-square-foot condo at Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa. Thanks to AllEars.Net we got 10 percent off and, along with other discounts, our room cost was under $1,000 dollars for four nights! Yeah, yeah you're going to tell me about all we are missing by staying off-property, but before you go there let me tell you the difference and savings: At Port Orleans Riverside Resort the room size was 370 square feet with only two queen-sized beds and one bath! The total for three rooms at Port Orleans Riverside came to $2,489, not including theme park tickets! Staying at Lighthouse Key we got a four-bedroom luxury condo with two king master suites, a queen suite, and a twin bed with trundle bed kids' suite with three baths and full kitchen, living room and laundry room. With our savings, we were able to buy theme park tickets and an all-week premium parking pass for Disney, SeaWorld tickets, and a $145 reservation at Splitsville!


Gail: 1. If you are planning on playing mini golf at the Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course you may be able to pick up a free unique souvenir. At the check-in counter there is a board that posts the low score of the day thus far. If you beat this score your name, hometown, and score will be posted and you will receive a colorful award certificate from the cast members there. Also your Disney Vacation Club discount can be used here, I always forget this! 2. The best discount for Sammy Duvall's Watersports at the Contemporary last summer was from AllEars.Net. Thank you!

Danielle: My daughter is 8 years old, and on one of our last trips to Magic Kingdom she asked if we could make a reservation for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I was unable to get a reservation that fit our schedule. She was understanding, but a little disappointed. We decided to have our older boys experience the barber shop in the Magic Kingdom on the same trip. After we entered the barber shop and the boys were in their respective chairs, a cast member asked us if our daughter wanted her hair "done." They proceeded to put her hair in an up-do, complete with sparkling glitter! She looked like a princess and the up-do was a mere fraction of the cost that the Biddidi Bobbidi Boutique would have charged for a similar hairdo!

Kim: If you're going to Walt Disney World anytime between September and December, consider attending one of the special parties in the Magic Kingdom — Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (and go during the week so it's less crowded). You can save money by not buying a park ticket the day of the party. Sleep late, enjoy the pool at your resort and/or go to Downtown Disney. If you're visiting in November or December, check out the fabulous Christmas decorations in any of the deluxe resorts. Get to Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. and you will get to enjoy the park until closing time at midnight. Both parties are really great!

Tom Galloway: We have a trip planned with our Boy Scout Troop, of which I'm the Scoutmaster. We have a total of 114 people going in our group and will be experiencing the YES (Youth Education Series) program again. For groups with 10 kids or more, the YES program is definitely the way to go. For instance, a four-day ticket is only $158 for youth or adults and includes a great YES program.


Crissy Stout: For someone who wants to visit the parks often and have a souvenir each time without spending a ton of money, postcards are the key! Postcards are like miniature art. Upon your return, they can be framed, made into a collage, or even turned into a border around the room. On the back, you can also write the date or even a message about unique details from that trip.

Heather: I didn't buy our goodies to take home with us until the last day. I know it is tempting to buy everything right away, but if you wait, then when you do buy them, you don't spend more than the budget.

Michelle G: The $1 section of Target and Michaels craft stores always have Disney items. Check out your local Disney Store and to buy items for the kids before you get there and present them as a gift. I am not going to lie, we still buy stuff at the parks, but give the kids a limit. Also if you drive like we do, check out the Disney outlets in St. Augustine and Orlando.

Jessica Stahl
: A great way to save money is pre-purchase Disney souvenirs for your kids before you leave for your trip. You can then surprise them every morning with something new. Whether it just be a dollar store Mickey sticker book or a new t-shirt, your child will love it and you will save money! My mother did this on our 1998 trip and to this day I can remember receiving something every morning from a character.

Nancy Cohan: Ever since my son was small, I have purchased Disney plush characters at home, at either a drug store or when The Disney Store has sales. I bring them hidden in our luggage and surprise him with one every day we're at WDW. He believes it's Disney magic that he gets a fun, new toy every day! He doesn't ask for as many toys from the parks and I save a ton of money not having to pay retail prices!

Faith Turner: Photopass pre-order! It's wonderful! And you save some money doing it, too. This is great for us, because I'm normally the one behind the camera. So it works really well to get some family shots. We had friends with us on the trip and we split the cost in half.

Debbie: Don't forget to take advantage of any discounts when you're shopping. There are discounts of 10 percent or more for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, Disney VISA Cardholders and D23 members, possibly even AAA members. Sometimes the cast members are nice enough to remind you, but sometimes even they forget, so always be sure to ask!

Moneybag ETC.

Terri Jensen: Bring rain ponchos with you just in case so you don't have to buy them in the parks. You can also use them on the water rides if it's cold outside. Also, if you have kids, even if they're a bit older, bring your largest strollers with you to store your food, coats, rain ponchos, etc. You won't have to pay for a locker. Later in the day, it's helpful to have a stroller at night when your child falls asleep at the park so you don't have to carry them.

Kathy Jo: If you are traveling with a car, and you have a handicap sticker/emblem, valet parking at the Deluxe Resorts is free. We had a temporary tag on our last trip and only found this out by accident one night when the Polynesian parking lot was full, but the guard saw the tag and directed us to the complimentary valet parking. We did take advantage of it after that, and it was nice to have the young valet men lift out the scooter for us!

Faith Turner: This last trip we bought a pretty decent umbrella stroller that had a shade, basket underneath, and little console on the handles for less than $20. We used that and the boys just switched every now and then when they were tired. It folded up nicely and we didn't have to worry about the massiveness of hauling our beast around. We ended up bringing it home with us, but our original plan was to just give it away. Pay it forward, if you will.

Lisa: It's great to be on vacation knowing you worked ahead of time to pay the trip off in advance and won't have a large bill waiting upon your return. However, I earn a bit more by saving the cash/expense money I expect for tips and other spending and add it to my credit card right before I leave. This way I charge the tips and other items and earn the "points" on my card for a future use! And there are no worries about losing the cash. Same planning, just getting a little "extra" for another trip!

Clare: If you are visiting for more than 10 days, buy an annual pass! You can even come again before it expires to make the most of it!

Erin: I have a money-saving tip for all of the BoardWalk hotel guests staying without cars. As DVC members we almost always stay at our home resort, the Boardwalk. We also use Magical Express and never bother to rent a car while there. (Gotta love that free Disney transportation!) Luckily there is a Hess station across the street from our resort entrance. On our first day there my husband and I will unpack one of our large suitcases and wheel it on over to that Hess station where we fill up on gallons of water, bottles of soda, orange juice and beer, plus some snacks and simple breakfast foods to stock our hotel fridge. We may look a little strange loading all that up into a suitcase and walking back to our hotel but we are able to stock up on drinks for a whole week at less than half the cost of the resort.

Shawna: We started planning trips around events so that even if we could only go for a weekend, it was still possible. Just last October, we took in Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. That was our only visit to a park during our three-day stay, but not our only Disney adventure. We visited the Winter Summerland miniature golf for the first time — what a blast! We also visited a few resorts, eating in some of our favorite locations like the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. Although we enjoy spending four, five, or more days in the park, these shorter trips have meant just as much, and we have plenty of memories!


Money-Saving Magic, Part 1:

Annual Pass Discounts:

Walt Disney World Discounts:

Tables in Wonderland (formerly Disney Dining Experience):

Searchable database of reader tips:


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.