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 By D’land Diva

This month we are going to do a special series every Saturday on ways to save for your Disney trip. These articles will hopefully help you in figuring out how much to save for your trip and give you some helpful suggestions on how to plan for your trip!

First up this month, how my family saved for a trip to Walt Disney World Two Times and held a Disneyland Annual Pass all in one year!

As you may know, the D’land Diva family are annual passholders at Disneyland and have been for many years. We are also HUGE fans of Walt Disney World. The issue with Walt Disney World is that it is ALL the way across the country from us, and that equals dollar signs. The air fare kills us!

Now, we took our trip before the Disney Premier Pass came out. Still, we found that getting an annual pass for Walt Disney World saved us a great deal of money. That offered us the most savings on all our trips.

Saving Tip #1- Get an Annual Pass. Yes, it is pricey. In the long run, however, it can save you money. This is especially true if you think you might return to Disney for a vacation at some point within the next year. Annual passholders not only are privy to special Disney events which are pass holder only events, but also receive discounts on food and merchandise. There are also room discounts at WDW and Disneyland Hotels for annual passholders. On our last trip, our annual pass paid for itself with the room discounts we received at an All Star Resort.

In my opinion, it is a shame to visit WDW and only go to one park. Having the annual pass allows you to park (if you have a car) and travel between the parks freely. I think our record may have been three parks in one day! It is also helpful to be able to leave one park when the crowds hit and go to another park. In our case, we were able to leave the Animal Kingdom on a super rainy day (Animal Kingdom has very little shelter from the elements, heads up) and head back to our hotel without feeling guilty or using up our ticket.

If you are planning both a Disneyland and WDW trip, the Premier Pass is an excellent option. This is an annual pass to both Disneyland and WDW parks, including the water parks! Information about the Premier Pass can be found on Disney’s website here.

Saving Tip #2- Start Saving and Planning Early. We are planners, here in the D’land Diva family. We started planning early and therefore, did our research. It was because we researched that we were able to find a great deal on flights and discovered the magic of annual passholder discounts. Airlines will often have lower rates the earlier you book. With the room rates, we made the reservations and kept an eye on the rates in the months before our trip. As soon as the annual passholder rates were announced, we booked!

Saving Tip #3- Stay at a Value Resort. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I actually liked the All Star Music Resort better than the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Weird? You bet. But, we are theme park people. We like to be in the park. The hotel for us is a sleeping and eating place in between park visits. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is beautiful. It is also very expensive. At the All Star Music Resort we were able to request a room on the quiet side, sleep and eat comfortably, and get the extra magic hours for far less. We also liked the food court a lot! Get a refillable mug and you can save money on your drinks throughout your stay.

Saving Tip #4- Eat Frugal. At WDW the temptation is to book advanced dining reservations at all the cool places. Our trick is to book reservations at two or three places for the 10 days we are there. We have found that is enough to experience some of the fun eating experiences. Also, it can get pretty hot at WDW in the summer months and we found that were simply not hungry for a big meal. For breakfasts, we bought some pastry’s from the Super Walmart in Kissimmee and kept them in our room. We allowed ourselves one fun snack a day and ate at quick service places a lot. At Disneyland, we will often bring our food in or split a meal. The annual pass knocks a few dollars off of every meal and sometimes snacks at Disneyland as well as WDW.

Saving Tip #5- Enjoy the Experience Not the Stuff.  A trip to Disney can produce a lifetime full of memories, from the expression on your little one’s face when they see the castle for the first time to feeling the wind in your hair while riding Dumbo. The fun in a trip to Disney is not where you stay, what you eat or what you buy. Those THINGS can certainly add to your experience, but the memories you make with your loved ones are not things. Being with your family or friends and enjoying the Disney magic is what your Disney trip is all about!

Check out all our savings tips by clicking HERE.