6 Hidden Costs of a Disney Vacation
When you’re busy planning a Disney vacation, don’t let your trip lose its dazzle due to cost. While browsing your options, you’ll find dozens of Disney vacation packages and deals from third-party sellers and vacation experts — but you’ll also find that there are many hidden costs associated with booking that magical getaway. Some careful planning and strategic booking will help you offset some of those costs and make that dream Disney vacation a reality on any budget.
Here are six hidden costs of a Disney vacation to keep in mind:
1. Resort Fees
If you are staying at hotels or resorts near Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort, make sure you are aware of any resort fees you will be responsible for at checkout. These fees are usually added to your nightly rate to cover the costs of parking, Wi-Fi Internet access, bottled water and other amenities. It is not an optional fee, and it cancost as much as $25 per night or more — easily adding a few hundred dollars to your total when you plan a multi-night vacation. Make sure you ask the hotel or resort about any resort fees and taxes so you have an accurate price in mind when comparing different options for your stay. When traveling on a budget, this final cost can be your determining factor when choosing between different hotel properties or resorts.
2. In-Park Resort Stays
You want to be as close to the action as possible when planning a Disney vacation, but staying at a resort inside the theme park is going to cost you. All of the larger resorts inside the theme parks offer plenty of perks and amenities with direct access to the gates, but in addition to paying for your lodging, you must account for the cost of meals and snacks on the property, bottled water and other supplies.
You do have other options. You can still enjoy easy access to the park when you stay at Disney hotels that are considered to be value resorts with themed rooms and affordable packages, or you can venture to outside the park to stay at a budget-friendly hotel nearby.
Planning an extended stay? Consider renting a vacation home instead. For example, the cost of a weekly vacation rental in Kissimmee or Celebration near the Walt Disney World Resort is much more affordable than a few nights inside the park. You don’t have to pay resort fees or dining premiums when you can prepare most of your meals in your vacation home and rent a car to get around. If you’re traveling with a large group, renting a villa or house makes even more sense, because you can split the cost of accommodations and still enjoy all the perks of a luxury vacation home near the park.
3. Character Dinners
Enjoying a meal with your favorite Disney character can be one of the highlights of a Disney vacation; however, this experience comes at a price. The average cost for dinner at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom can be up to $59.99 per adult. You can still enjoy a meal with Winnie the Pooh, Mickey or Cinderella if you reserve a spot for breakfast or lunch instead. Breakfast and lunch prices about half the price of dinner, which means you can still indulge in some Disney-inspired cuisine and snap those photos without having to pay a high price for the opportunity. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible, since these seats fill up fast.
4. Professional Photo Ops
Whether you’re heading off on a Disney Cruise Line vacation or making your way to your favorite park to see Disney characters in action, Disney has set up several stalls for professional photos that you can purchase as individual prints or as part of a complete photo CD package. The cost of these photos can be fairly steep, though. Consider packing a high-quality camera and taking photos yourself to capture those beautiful moments without paying a premium.
If you decide to stay at the resort or on the outskirts of the parks to save money on accommodations, make sure you have plan to manage the costs of transportation. Renting a car for your entire vacation means you will need to pay for insurance, car rental fees, gas and daily parking at the parks in addition to overnight parking fees at your hotel or resort. Consider that some Disney hotels and resorts offer complimentary shuttle service to the parks and surrounding areas. You will also need to make arrangements for transportation to and from the airport. Stay at a hotel that offers complimentary shuttle service and get quotes from local cab companies to save on transportation costs.
6. Holiday and Peak Season Rates
When you’re celebrating the holidays or planning a summer vacation at Disney, the cost of flights and hotel stays will be significantly higher — sometimes double or even triple the off-season price. Plan wisely by taking advantage of special rates right before major holidays and peak travel season. Monitor flight prices and be flexible with your travel schedule to get the lowest available rates and prices.
That dream Disney vacation doesn’t have to make a major dent in your travel budget! Use these tips to avoid some of the hidden costs of the typical Disney vacation and get the best deals and rates on all trip-related reservations.
This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on January 12th.