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The 5 Hidden Costs of a Walt Disney World Vacation (and How to Avoid Them)

Your vacation budget has a certain amount of elasticity. You can probably splurge here or there for a special indulgence. Should you spend too much, however, money will be tight when you get back home. When you take a trip to Walt Disney World, you don’t want to get hit with unexpected charges, but pitfalls abound. Here are some of the hidden costs of a Disney vacation plus some tips for avoiding them and thereby stretching your vacation budget.

Travel

Image: DisneyWhen you plan your travel, you’re either going to take a plane or a car to get to Disney. Historically, a car was cheaper, but recent changes have blurred the issue. Disney charges a nightly parking fee for cars staying at their resorts. Presuming that you’re staying onsite, you’ll pay $100 or more extra for a week’s stay.

Flying will cost more unless you live in a metropolitan area with inexpensive direct flights. Even then, hidden fees are an intrinsic part of the airline business model. You must pay luggage fees for your bags. When you’re staying at Disney for a while, you’ll need more bags. Those prices can add up quickly. For example, Delta charges $25 for the first bag per person and $35 for the second one. For a round trip flight, you’ve just added $120 to the price of a plane ticket!

Image: DisneyHere are a couple of tips to save money. Research credit card deals, particularly travel ones. Many major airlines offer exclusive cards that include membership perks. Generally, one of those perks is a free checked bag. These cards also have potential sign-up bonuses. For example, Delta offers 50,000 SkyMiles for guests who spend a set amount of money during the first 3-4 months of card ownership. You could feasibly get one or two free roundtrip tickets via these incentive programs. Even if you don’t, you’ve saved money both ways because you got to check a bag for free!

Should you still prefer to drive, you may save money on parking fees. I’m not guaranteeing it, but you can check the math when you arrive in town. The Orlando International Airport (MCO), like all other airports, offers long-term parking. They don’t care whether you’re staying in Orlando or not. So, you could feasibly drive into the city, park at MCO and then use ride-sharing to reach your resort.

Depending on the length of your stay and the hotel where you’re staying, you could shave a few dollars from your nightly parking fees. I can’t be definitive here due to Disney’s parking policy. The price is different for each tier of Disney resort.

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