How to pick the perfect Disney World experience for the perfect price

So you want to go to Disney World. You sit down at the computer to check out the on-site hotels and the first one that pops up is “Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.”

You start looking through the pictures. You fall in love. And as quickly as you fall in love with it your stomach falls into your shoes — over $450 a night?? That’s insane!

You walk away from the computer in frustration because that’s just too high a price to pay. That one night in a hotel is more than a car payment and it’s half of your rent.

You start to panic because you’ve already hinted to your friends or your kiddos that you’re going to the most magical place on Earth. But fear not. There is no reason to panic. In fact, there’s even a solution to that dilemma.

That solution is a Disney value hotel or even non-company hotel. Let’s dive right in…

First, let’s sort out your priorities

When it comes to picking the right hotel for you, it’s important to know what the right park-going plan is for you.

Check out the chart below to see the ticket prices (from the mouth of the beast itself) and we’ll go from there.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-12-51-53-pm

Think you got it so far? Good.

I went with a five-day ticket option because say you go for a week (the most common option for myself) from Saturday to Saturday. Obviously those two days are a wash as far as the parks go because of traveling so you don’t need tickets for those days. You’ll also want to figure in a rest day so that gives you five days of park magic.

So if you’re thinking that you want to do the one-park-a-day ticket, you save about $20 a head. Depending on the size of your party, that could be a huge saver that can be used on hotel rooms.

In addition to the cost saving measure, one thing to keep in mind with a one-park-a-day ticket is that Disney World tickets comes with a Fastpass+ service, which allows park patrons to select three attractions a day where they can opt for a shorter wait time.

However, Fastpass+ can only be used at one park each day. So say you sit down to plan out your Fastpasses. You can only schedule them at one park per day – if you decide to go to the Magic Kingdom and then Epcot you can only schedule Fastpasses at one of those parks. If you (or your little munchkins) don’t like long waits, use your three Fastpasses at one park and forgo hitting another one for the rest of the day.

The benefit of the park hopper ticket is that you can fly by the seat of your pants a little bit more and that flexibility can make a huge difference so you don’t get burned out too much by one park and can go back and revisit favorite attractions throughout the week.

Now that you’ve seen the ticket prices, it’s time to pick a place to rest your head

Where you decide to stay on your trip to Disney World might be one of the most crucial choices you make in the entire planning process. Pick a hotel that’s cheap but gross and you won’t feel rested enough to go to the parks with your A game.

For starters, if you want to dip your toes into what Disney has to offer by worrying more about the ambiance at the parks than your bed room, you’d do wise to check out MouseSavers’ preferred non-Disney hotels.

Two of my favorites listed are the Best Western at Disney Springs and the Holiday Inn at Disney Springs.

For the same week long period in June – the 10th through the 17th, peek park going season – the Best Western is $104 a night and the Holiday Inn is $110 a night.

Since these aren’t Disney-owned resorts, you’ll always want to factor in parking and gas costs because the company’s complementary bus service won’t run routes to them from the parks. Some people (myself included) swear by the bus service but others prefer to have the control that comes with parking yourself. Just be prepared to walk or wait for a shuttle if that’s what you choose.

If those prices seem a little high, worry not. MouseSavers will offer coupon codes for them so make sure to check their site before making reservations.

You’ll also want to consider the Disney value hotels – the All-Star trifecta, Pop Century and the Art of Animation.

For the same week we used to look at the Best Western and Holiday Inn, the Disney resorts are:

What you’re paying for with these hotels is the Disney World feel (as well as the bus service) and the convenience that comes with that.

Most of the rooms in these hotels are the same with the exception of the Art of Animation. There you pay a little bit more for a little bit more space – they’re suites that can sleep up to six adults.

When it comes down to these decisions, it’s really just a matter of your personal preferences – what you save in tickets, you can spend on hotels and vice versa.

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