We took an unofficial poll on Facebook yesterday to ask fans how important planning was for a theme park vacation. Now, we know that’s a little bit of a loaded question, since if you’re buying your tickets from us, you’re at least planning a little bit. We also know that most of you are looking to save money on your theme park vacation, and doing research is crucial to saving $$$.
What we didn’t expect was all of the planning tips we received, not to mention the number of creative ways to make planning and saving money for theme park vacations easier. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few of our favorites. And please, add your own tips in comments below!
Donna G I create a spreadsheet that includes each day’s plan, park/parade/etc. times, confirmation #’s for reservations. A copy of the spreadsheet goes in my bag that I take to the parks andanother copy stays at the hotel, giving the family easy access to it, so they know what to expect each day and it greatly reduces the number of times I answer the question “Where are we going today?”
Frog Family Says: We actually do something similar ahead of our trips using Google docs. We add our day-by-day itinerary, including the parks we’re visiting, park hours and reservation numbers. I always print a copy ahead of the trip (just in case), and we can also access it electronically.
Margaret E I sit down with the kids, and read through all the attractions in each park. They make a list of ‘must do’ and ‘optional’ attractions. There is so much to see and do, and having the list helps prevent distractions, whining, complaints, etc. We hit all the ‘must do’ things first, everyone is happy that they got to do their picks, then we can do the other options if there is time and energy.
Frog Family Says: I love this suggestion! For elementary-age kids and older, it’s a great way to get kids actively involved in trip planning and encourages reading (always trying to encourage more reading ). Plus, it seems like a fool-proof way of ensuring there’s no whining later that “I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do.”
Frog Family Says: Many of the “must-do” restaurants are must-dos because of the theming. Dining at the bar is a great way to take in the atmosphere, and it saves you from waiting for a table — or not getting in at all.
Lynn S Planning ahead is a must – you need to know what you are doing each day or you might come back from your holiday of a lifetime and have forgotten something you want to do. We got our 3 kids to make a Top Ten of things they wanted to do and we tried to make sure that everything on their list got a tick. For the ones we didn’t tick off – they are saved for the next time. I agree with Sarah above about the spreadsheet and always be prepared to keep it flexible! My favourite tip is this : parking at Universal Studios is cheaper after 6pm – drops to about $3 – so we stayed around the pool all day, went for a late lunch and then headed over to Universal early evening and had a great time because we had relaxed all day, it was slightly cooler and the queues were not as long! Can’t do that with Disney World as they charge you the same to park no matter what time you arrive – just don’t forget your water bottle!
Frog Family Says: Similar to Margaret’s suggestion above, this is a great way to ensure that the kids get to experience their must-dos. I think this is also a great idea for adults and especially if you are traveling in large groups to make sure no one is left out.
Therese H Very important. We saved money by bringing most of our lunches and drinks. We also bought a lot of the souvenirs at WalMart. Cheap souvenirs are the coin pressing machines located at every theme park. I have the app called “Penny Finder”. They just added international locations. We also bought the refillable souvenir cups that we were able to refill our entire trip.
Frog Family Says: We love collecting pressed pennies! Because each penny is different, they truly are one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and they are inexpensive. We always make sure we have a good penny and quarter supply before we head to the parks, because there is nothing sadder than when Lily can’t make a pressed penny! She loves putting the coins in the slot and turning the crank.
Stephanie R During the year, I keep a “Disney box”. It’s a large plastic tote that contains things that I only use when we go on our Disney vacation. For example, our Disney backpacks and water bottles. Throughout the year, I fill it with Disney books, small toys, glow necklaces and wands from the dollar store, ponchos, or anything I think will make the kids happy and save me money! My “Disney box” makes it so much easier when it gets time to pack for vacation. I have everything in one spot!
Frog Family Says: This is a great idea for those families who make an annual pilgrimage (or more) to the Happiest Place on Earth! This is also a great idea for those parents who buy souvenirs before they leave — just don’t forget to keep it out of reach of little ones!
What are your tips for saving money or time at the Orlando theme parks? Share below!
And for those of you getting ready for a trip to the parks, you’ll find a ton more tips, resources and advice inside our PLANNING PAGES.