$105 for the Magic Kingdom? Yup, but You Can Still Save

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Best Tips: Saving on Vacation

By Jim Gold

At Walt Disney World (DIS) in Orlando, Florida, a one-day adult ticket on Feb. 22 jumped to $105, up from $99. Disneyland and Disney California rose to $99. Disney World's Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom theme parks cost $97. Taxes are additional on all tickets. Money Talks News can help you offset the increases without you having to feel like Scrooge McDuck.

That's Just the Ticket
  • Multiday discounts. The more days you buy, the larger the discount. At Walt Disney World, a three-day adult ticket for one park per day is $274, or $91.34 a day, which is a savings of $7.66 a day, or 7.7 percent. If you've got the time, a 10-day ticket for one park per day is $354, or $35.40 a day, which is $63.60 a day, or nearly two-thirds, off base price. Similar saving are available in California, with a five-day ticket for one park a day offered at $266, or $53.20 a day, nearly 45 percent off the base price.
  • Annual pass. If you live close enough to go often, consider a "premium" annual pass ($754 in Florida; $699 in California) which includes multiple park visits - including water parks in Florida - in one day, free parking, and discounts on food and merchandise 365 days a year. An annual pass in Florida ($634) doesn't include water park admissions; in California, a "deluxe" passport ($519) offers only 315 days of admissions and lesser discounts.
Outside ticket discounts are available, but most experts say you are likely to pay 90 to 95 percent of full price. In California, a CityPass ($334 adults, $219 children) includes a three-day Disney Park Hopper Ticket and one-day admissions to both Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld San Diego. That saves you up to 30 percent off the combined admissions, if you were going to all three anyway.

Stay and Play

Walt Disney World includes about 30 hotels and even campgrounds on its nearly 40-square-mile resort at Lake Buena Vista, 20 miles southwest of Orlando. They include "value," "moderate," and "deluxe" accommodations in a variety of prices, many discounted between now and June 15.

Still, other deals may be found in the 200 Orlando hotels and motels. In California, only three hotels are on the 510-acre resort. Outside the resort but nearby are 39 Disney-approved lodges and more than 100 other places to stay.

Although it can run $200 a night or more to stay in a resort hotel instead of off site, amenities often include parking (otherwise $17 a day), proximity to attractions, transportation around the resort, extended park hours and access to Disney characters.

For off-site lodging, consider shuttle service or walking distance to and from park gates, especially if you plan to return to your room during the day, and other promotions, such as gasoline refunds and off-season rates.

Eat for Less

Many visitors try to get around buying expensive food at Disney parks by packing in their own (not really allowed inside Disneyland Park, which offers a complimentary picnic area outside the main entrance) or by going to off-site restaurants or back to their hotel rooms to eat. Experienced visitors recommend going to grocery stores near the theme parks and buying food for savings of $10 to $20 a meal.

Also, you may want to pack items such as batteries, memory cards for cameras, Band Aids, sunscreen. But don't load yourself down so much you can't enjoy the parks.

Apparel and Mementos

My Frugal Adventures and others suggest purchasing Disney-related apparel and other paraphernalia on sale in advance from your local Disney Store, Walmart (WMT) or other discount retailer. Besides saving on resort gift shop prices, you'll be dressed for your occasion right upon arrival. You'll still likely buy souvenirs at the park, but maybe not as many if you hadn't bought ahead.

Alternative Destinations
  • Universal Orlando Resort has a one-day one-park ticket to Universal Studios Florida or Universal's Islands of Adventure for $96. (There's a Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in each.) Universal Studios Hollywood is $92.
  • Legoland California, not including its Sea Life aquarium or water park, is $87; Legoland Florida is also $87 but is offering one-day discounts for $72.
  • Both Florida and California offer miles of free beaches along their coasts.
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