Heading to Walt Disney World for the holidays? Woohoo! It’s such a beautiful time to visit, as the Parks are all decked out in their festive best.
From special events and holiday decor to snacks and drinks full of Yuletide cheer, there’s so much to pack into a visit.
But you’re gonna need a plan and a budget! Because I promise you, visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays is spectacular — but the costs can add up quickly.
Today, I’d love to share with you some of our best budgeting tips for planning your Holiday trip to Walt Disney World. Our tips come courtesy of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Holidays e-Book, and by pre-ordering the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays e-Book with our special discount code — Peppermint — you get everything you need to make the most of your Disney holiday vacation.
Heigh Ho — let’s go!
Go Early — or Late — If Possible
Want to enjoy the Holidays at Disney, without paying holiday prices? It may sound impossible, but it’s not. The key is to schedule your visit for a time early or late in the holiday season.
Christmas decorations go up as early as November in some corners of the Resort. You’ll see festive tidings first normally at Magic Kingdom, where Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off in the early part of the month (November 8, 2018!). By mid- to late-November, the incredible gingerbread displays that you’ll find at the Deluxe Resorts begin to take shape.
And Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! runs through the first week of January, and Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays celebrates through December 30! So keep in mind that you can enjoy many of the sights, sounds, and flavors of the season outside of Christmas week — or even the Christmas month!
Pre-Set a Budget
Sometimes “budget” can sound like a dirty word, but if it means you can go to Disney then it’s worth it to exercise a little discipline! To plan your budget ahead of time (and stick to it!), pre-purchase Disney Gift Cards.
I love the ease of use, and every time you make a purchase, your receipt will show your balance. And here’s a TIP: If you’re planning to shop, purchase separate cards — one for expenses and one for shopping. You know…I’d probably need a third card just for snacks. And if you participate in Target’s RedCard program, you can get your gift cards for 5% off!
Expect to Pay Premium Prices — And Plan Ahead
Here’s something you may not know if you’ve never visited Disney during the busy Holiday season: prices in pretty much every aspect of a Disney World vacation scootch up just a wee bit. (Perhaps even more so once date-based ticket pricing is in effect!)
Think that buffet price is higher than it was during your Fall visit? You’re right. On average, you can expect to pay about $2 more per child and $4 more per adult at prix fixe meals such as dinner shows and buffets.
It would be good to keep this in mind if you’re following our tip to pre-set a budget, and you aren’t using the Disney Dining Plan. Be sure to plan a little more per person — and plan for a higher tip cost as well.
Ways That You CAN Save
But there are still ways that you can trim costs.
Tables in Wonderland, Disney’s dining discount program, is open to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and DVC owners. The card offers 20% off food and drink — including alcohol — at participating Disney restaurants.
Unfortunately, the program just announced a steep price hike and continues to impose black out dates during Thanksgiving and Christmas week (in addition to other times). So do the math ahead of time to be sure you’ll be able to save with this one.
But one of my favorite tips for saving money is to take advantage of the great food in Disney World Lounges. These are some of my favorite stops for appetizers that are substantial enough to call a meal. Spots like Territory Lounge in Wilderness Lodge are also great places to unwind after a busy day of merrymaking.
Ready For All Our Best Holiday Tips?
But now, it’s time for you to weigh in! What are your tried and true tips for budgeting during the holidays at Walt Disney World? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!