Things I'm Willing to Splurge On at Walt Disney World
My very first blog post was all about how to save money at Walt Disney World, so today I'm going to share with you a few things that I'm willing to actually spend money on for my Disney vacations! Here's my list of top things that are worth the splurge!
1. Staying On-Property
There are a lot of reasons people love to stay on property at Walt Disney World, but the number one reason I keep booking on-property stays for my family is convenience. I am a mom of two and my kids are still at the age where they can't make it a full day in the theme parks without a break. We love being able to get to the parks bright and early to take advantage of the lower morning crowd levels, but we typically need some down time back at the hotel shortly after lunch. Booking a stay on-property makes it much easier to get back to our room (at some resorts, we can even walk back) and come back to spend the evenings in the parks. Even if you don't need a mid-day break like we do, it's nice to be able to quickly and easily get back to your hotel at the end of a long park day.
Disney resort guests also don't have to step foot in a car the entire time they're at Disney World because there are multiple free transportation options. You can ride a bus from all resorts and many resorts offer additional transportation via boat, monorail, or Skyliner. You don't have to fight traffic, you don't have to search for a parking place, you don't have to try and remember where you parked, and you don't have to walk a long way back to your car at the end of a long day. You can let someone else handle the stress of getting you from point A to point B.
Besides convenience, onsite guests get additional perks such as discounts on MagicBands, complimentary airport transfer service to and from MCO (through the end of 2021), early admission to the parks, better park pass availability, an earlier dining booking window (60 days out from check in as opposed to 60 days out from each individual park day), and resort-wide charging privileges. For me, staying at a Disney resort is always worth it. And, with promotions, discounts, and great value and moderate resorts to choose from, it doesn't have to break the bank.
2. Memory Maker
One thing that many people don't realize when going to Disney World is that there are photographers stationed all around the parks who will take your picture for free! This service, called PhotoPass, is wonderful because it allows everyone in the traveling party to be in all the pictures. For every picture you have taken, the photographer will either give you a PhotoPass card or scan your Magic Band if you have one. This links the photos taken of you to your My Disney Experience account. On-ride photos are also linked to your account. Purchasing the Memory Maker package allows you to download all your PhotoPass photos and also share them on social media. You can pay to download the pictures individually, but my husband and I did the math and the purchase of Memory Maker pays for itself if you like only 12 of the PhotoPass pictures enough to want to download them. We typically walk away with over 400 pictures so, for us, Memory Maker is totally worth the money because it removes the stress and hassle of trying to take pictures while in the park. We just smile and let someone else take care of that for us!
3. That One Special Souvenir
If your kids are anything like mine, then they likely ask for a lot of souvenirs when they're at Disney World. If I said yes to everything they asked for, we'd be in big trouble. However, we do let our kids pick one special souvenir at each park and we extend that same courtesy to ourselves. I collect Disney princess coffee mugs, so I pick one up every time I'm in Orlando. My husband loves the Tiki Room, so he picked up a Tiki Room t-shirt when we were at the Polynesian Village Resort. My kids have stuffed Mickeys and light-up bubble wands and lightsabers that they brought back from our trip last year. We bought a Christmas ornament at the Christmas store in Disney Springs that gets displayed proudly on our Christmas tree. It's nice to have something tangible to remember your trip by and, even though we're on a budget, we try to build in some room for souvenirs.
4. Table Service Dining
Disney has some great quick service dining options available, but I love to schedule at least one table service dining reservation per day. There are so many great restaurants at Disney World! Whether you're looking for a character experience, a beautiful atmosphere, or just great food, there is a restaurant to suit every taste. Having a designated time to sit down in the air conditioning after being out in the Florida heat is very important to me and, since we have to eat anyway, it makes sense to book a table service reservation each day. I tend to schedule mine during the hottest part of the day right before we usually head back to the hotel for our afternoon break.
5. The Disney Dining Plan
I've been back to Disney World several times since it reopened in July 2020 after closing for several months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many elements of the post-Covid Disney experience that I love (reduced capacity is amazing!), but the one thing that I do really miss is the Disney Dining Plan! I am eagerly anticipating the day that Disney brings its dining plans back because I think they are a phenomenal value if you love table service dining, especially character dining. I crunched the numbers once for my family of 6 (my parents were joining us so we had 4 adults and 2 kids) on what we would pay out of pocket for what we would realistically order over the course of our vacation. With the standard Disney Dining Plan, our family saved over $400! I know this is supposed to be a post about "splurges" but it's so much easier to splurge on something when you know you're getting a good return on your investment.
There you have it: my list of 5 things at Disney World that are worth the splurge! For more great tips like this, consider following the blog or subscribing to me on YouTube. And if you'd like personalized assistance planning your vacation, my concierge level planning services are completely free when you book your vacation through me at the same price you'd pay to book and service it yourself on Disney's website!