I was there in July. And the July before that
I’m pretty knowledgable about it. But for a really good resource, book mark this site: http://www.disboards.com/
(it might be a bit overwhelming at first, but people there LOVE to help newbies...my handle there is kidd_freeper)
There are four ways to save BIG, and have a better experience than what is offered through a Disney package:
1. Transportation: if you have the stamina, drive there instead of flying. Advantages: about 35-50% the cost of flying. Can pack more stuff. You’re on your own schedule. Diasadvantage: the trip back is tough.
2. Lodging: stay off-site instead of on-site. I highly recommend Windsor Hills condos/homes. We rented through this site: http://www.magicalvacationhomes.com/
The pictures on their website are very accurate.
Advantages: far nicer accomodations, 20%-40% the cost of on-site, more space, in-room kitchen. Disadvantages: you’ll have to pay $14/day for parking at the parks, no package delivery if you buy gifts in the parks, less Disney atmosphere.
3. Park tickets: IF you have school aged kids, and IF you can travel at the right times, I urge you to take advange of the Disney Y.E.S. program (individual enrollment). Site: http://www.disneyyouth.com/individual-enrollment/
You get an incredible experience, get to enter the parks before anyone else AND the tickets are about half-price. No disadvantages. IF you can’t take advantage of the YES program, get your park tickets through Undercover Tourist. They are a legit seller of Disney tickets, and they offer discounts on the order of 10% over what Disney offers.
4. Meals: Disney food is expensive, but eating at Disney is fun. Eat breakfast in your room. But plan on eating at Disney at least once a day. If you have your own kitchen, you can save a ton of money by eating lunch in your own kitchen
Excellent advice. I was last at WDW in Nov 2010, and we’re going again in March/April 2013. (BTW, looked you up over on DISBoards. I’m a member there too).
Let me add that you can bring in a cooler of food, put it in a locker near the front of the parks, pick it up for lunch and put it back after lunch. The cost of the locker isn’t 25 or 50 cents you might find elsewhere, but the dollar or so (I can’t recall the amount now) is still cheaper than the expensive Disney food.
I’ll also add to make the most of your Fast Pass options. Fast Pass allows you to get a specific time to return to a ride and jump on a much shorter line. But you can’t just go around and stock up on Fast Pass tickets. Your ticket is locked out of more Fast Passes for a short time after getting one Fast Pass. That time will be printed on the Fast Pass ticket. But it is an incredible time saver, especially on popular rides, but you do have to plan ahead.
For example, Soarin at EPCOT is very popular. The line grows to an hour or longer very quickly, and Fast Passes go quickly too. So you really have to plan to get to EPCOT early, go straight to Soarin in ‘The Land’ and get your Fast Pass, then come back anytime after the time given on the Fast Pass ticket. And you can ignore the end time on the ticket. They will accept it any time after the start time until the park closes.