Besides being a lot more fun, this also saves you money. Your biggest expense is attraction tickets, but their price drops as you add more days. If you’re a grandparent, you may be retired and have a very flexible schedule. If your grandchildren are younger than school age, or if they’re home schooled, that gives you even more flexibility to plan a longer trip in any season. Buy as many days as possible and you’ll get the cheapest price.
Yes, you’re coming to Orlando to see Walt Disney World and/or the other theme parks, but there’s so much more to do. Grandparents often think that if they come down to Orlando for seven days, they should buy six days worth of theme park tickets. That’s a mistake for several reasons.
First, depending on when you visit, you might end up coming in the rainy seasons, which runs all summer. That means you’re stuck visiting the theme parks on stormy days to be sure you get your money’s worth. Second, the grandkids would probably love seeing other attractions. For example, they can spend an afternoon petting alligators at Gatorland or seeing gators in their natural habitat on an airboat ride. A day at the beach is another great option, and it’s only about an hour away.
We often have free ticket promotions in which your tickets are provided by the hotels. For example, you might buy three days and get one free or four days and get two free. Watch for promotions, which come up frequently.
“Cheap” means a good price, but it doesn’t have to mean low quality. If you have several grandchildren or you’re bringing the whole family to Orlando, you can rack up the savings by choosing a multi-bedroom suite, condo, or vacation home instead of multiple hotel rooms. Many suites and homes also have kitchens and laundry facilities, which you won’t find in a standard hotel even though you’re paying more money for two or more rooms.
Depending on how far you live from Orlando, driving can save you money in several different ways. It might be cheaper than plane tickets, but it also ensures that you have wheels once you arrive. Otherwise you’ll have to rent a car or pay for shuttles to and from the airport and possibly from the theme parks if your hotel doesn’t offer this for free.
If you do fly, a rental car is almost a necessity if you don’t want to rack up shuttle costs. The car also lets you come and go as you please, which is very important when you have grandkids in tow. You don’t want to wait for a shuttle when they’re cranky and exhausted after a long day.
Walt Disney World and all the other theme parks have tempting souvenir shops around every turn. The grandchildren will beg and plead for just one thing they “have to have,” but you can head that off by putting them on a budget.
Do as one smart grandmother did. She made an envelope for each grandchild and put $50 in it. When they clamored for a certain souvenir, she’d let them know how much it would take. If it was an expensive item that would deplete their entire budget, it didn’t look so appealing anymore. They got some fun things to bring home and an important life lesson in budgeting, prioritizing, and make hard choices.
Many hotels have free scheduled shuttle service to Walt Disney World, and sometimes to the other theme parks as well. Even if you have your own car, you’ll have to pay for parking if you drive. Weigh the flexibility of driving against the savings of using that free shuttle.
The Disney parks, Universal, and SeaWorld all have cheaper kids’ tickets. If your grandchildren are younger, chances are they’re too short to ride many of the rides. The theme parks know this, which is why they give you a break on the price. Always find out the age cut-offs and take advantage of the discount.
No, the idea of slaving away in the kitchen doesn’t sound too appealing…until you think of how much money you can save. If you’ve got a family of six, you can easily save around $350 in a week just by eating breakfast before you head out to the theme parks. Those savings will offset the bigger expenses, like theme park tickets.
The busiest time at the Orlando theme parks is when kids are out of school. That means summer and holidays. The lines are long for everything, from rides to food to restrooms, adding a lot of stress to what should be a relaxing vacation with the grandchildren.
If possible, pull the kids out of school and travel in the late spring, early fall, or another time of year with lower crowds. You won’t have to deal with wall to wall people, and you’ll also save money by booking your trip at a slow time of year, since hotels and restaurants often run specials.
Otherwise, the person sitting next to you might well have paid at least $150 less for the same ticket. That means you’ll save almost $1000 for a party of six if you plan your air travel ahead of time.
Airlines aren’t the only ones who charge more for last minute travel. This is especially true when you’re traveling during the peak seasons. As hotels fill, they know that the scarcity of rooms means they can charge top dollar for last-minute bookings.
It might sound tempting to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with your grandkids at Disney World, but you’ll pay dearly for the privilege. Hotel rates soar two to three times the usual rate for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Easter. You’re better often choosing a different date and putting the money you save toward other extras. Many of the parks start their holiday events before Thanksgiving and run them a few days after New Years, so you can still enjoy some holiday fun.
You won’t pay to park if you decide to hang out at this shopping and entertainment complex. You can also park your car at Downtown Disney, hop a bus to the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian, and catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. It saves you the parking fee, but it does add time and a bit of hassle.
The theme parks don’t mind if you bring in your own snacks. Stock up on low cost goodies like cookies, granola bars, fruit snacks, and trail mix. You might not think you’ll save that much until you see the theme park good prices. The savings is quite significant for a family of six.
Disney World is Orlando’s big draw, but SeaWorld and the two Universal parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure). You save the most money on tickets by either sticking with the Disney parks or doing a combination trip that includes both SeaWorld and Universal.
The Orlando water parks are open all year ’round, and tickets are cheaper than the major parks. You have two choices at Walt Disney World, Blizzard Beach and Aquatica. There’s also Wet ‘n’ Wild near Universal and SeaWorld’s water park, Aquatica. The grandchildren can run and play while you relax on a lounger.
There’s no reason to pay high fees for excess luggage if you’re staying in a suite, condo, or home with its own laundry facilities. Pack light and devote a little time to doing a few loads of laundry during your trip.
Hitting a theme park every day is fun but exhausting, especially if you have younger grandchildren. Save money on theme park tickets, and give everyone a chance to rest, by scheduling some downtime to enjoy the pool and other amenities at your lodging.
Theme park food is expensive, but the portions are often large enough to feed more than one person. For example, you can get a burger and fries and give half to one of your grandchildren. You can also eat some meals at the restaurants around the theme parks. You’ll find free coupon books with special offers for many of those eateries.