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    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 17th Jun 08, 2:29 PM
    • 8,115Posts
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    MSE Martin
    0 WOW
    The Great 'Disney Cost Cutting' Hunt
    • #1
    • 17th Jun 08, 2:29 PM
    0 WOW
    The Great 'Disney Cost Cutting' Hunt 17th Jun 08 at 2:29 PM
    Disneyworld's a popular destination for Brits, but by the time you've bought tickets for the main parks, it's a significant extra cost on top of your hols.

    So, this week I want to tap MoneySavers' collective ideas for cheap ways to get into Disneyworld, and other sights and attractions in Orlando. Did you buy a cheap ticket before you went? Did you find on offer for free tickets or money off? Did you wait until you got there to find the best bargains? Please reply and let us know.

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    Last edited by Former MSE Dan; 17-06-2008 at 2:54 PM.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Page 1
  • Kez100
    • #2
    • 17th Jun 08, 4:05 PM
    • #2
    • 17th Jun 08, 4:05 PM
    I scoured websites for offers before we went and we bought from, a USA website to make the most of the dollar rate, a Fun in the Sun pass - three weeks of all park Disney entry and a free character meal. The pass was basically for Europeans not us but we could source them from the USA direct. This pass has now gone I believe (we went three years ago) . However, you need to suss things out at the time and bear in mind exchange rates as they all make a big difference to actual cost. We also got a free day at seaworld with purchase of a one day ticket. Again the deals depend on what is available at the time.

    For Universal people used to book into one of the onsite hotels to get front of line passes and if it was a Lowes (sp?) hotel also join their members scheme and get a few freebies in the room too.

    For shopping scour the company/shopping precinct websites before you go and print off discount vouchers.

    For hotel try and pick one with fridge, free coffee, free breakfast,perhaps small kitchen area. These things really add up for a family and a hotel with the facilities enable afamily to eat (or prepare lunches) so that the only paid service meal out needs to be the evening meal.

    All you can eat is a misnomer because I never ever left a USA restaurant hungry and I rarely have three courses. So, I consider all restaurants all you can eat!

    I don't know about airlines etc as we flew a package with Virgin with Virgin holidays but they do often have extra discount deals on bank holidays - like christmas day, so look out for those if you are intending to use them. I know most people like villas and we would if only we could afford to go again!

    Join the online disney discussion websites - they know absolutely everything! Forget waiting until you are there.You need to spend every minute of your holiday having fun, not scouring deals . It's one of those holidays that you will get more out of if you plan before you go with relative precision - so, join the discussion forums and get planning.

    Some of the above is a bit outdated as we went last in 2004 but some principles still apply.
    Last edited by MSE Jenny; 23-06-2008 at 11:18 AM.
    • spaceman5
    • By spaceman5 17th Jun 08, 4:58 PM
    • 2,629 Posts
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    • #3
    • 17th Jun 08, 4:58 PM
    • #3
    • 17th Jun 08, 4:58 PM
    i think sammcg(who has a post in the orlando sticky thread) could answer all our cost cutting questions, they seem to have booked a holiday for 5 people for two weeks in florida for the huge sum of £3
    Last edited by spaceman5; 17-06-2008 at 5:00 PM.
    Take every day as it comes!!
  • Edinburghlass
    • #4
    • 17th Jun 08, 5:50 PM
    • #4
    • 17th Jun 08, 5:50 PM
    As with any money saving you need to do your research regarding tickets for WDW and the other attractions.

    If you want to spend most days at the Disney parks then the tickets aimed at UK visitors are the best value be they 7/14 or 21 day tickets as you can park hop meaning you can visit all 4 parks in the one day if you wish whereas the US tickets mean you have to pay for the add on to park hop. This also means that when the heat gets too much and believe me it can, or indeed the afternoon rain arrives you can go back to your hotel/resort for a rest/swim and go back for the evening when its slightly cooler or just go back in the evening for the fireworks. You can buy the UK market tickets via a US website but then have to pick your tickets up or have them delivered to your hotel at a price and the price difference even with the good exchange rate really isn't a lot and you cannot buy the UK tickets on arrival in the US, they have to be ordered beforehand.

    Once you have decided which tickets you want then you need to do your research with all the UK websites selling tickets and find out which is cheapest, has no cc charges, free delivery, free meal voucher etc. and compare prices.

    If you are also looking for tickets for the likes of Universal then check the same websites for their prices and see which websites will price match other website prices and you might be able to buy all your tickets via the one website.

    Generally Seaworld/Busch Gardens/Aquatica/Discovery Cove is always cheaper to buy direct from them and look for a code to reduce the price, they are about A Seaworld one day ticket will give you a free return day and if you buy tickets for Discovery Cove then you can add on the others for 7 or 14 days and now a parking ticket for all their parks.

    If you want to just spend one or two days at Disney then wait until you get there and do a breakfast time share presentation and you should get a two day basic ticket and a free breakfast

    Beware of travel agents now offering a package to do all of the Orlando attractions as there is no such thing and they are just putting together the parks tickets and charging a lot more than buying your own separately. Thats not to say that all travel agents are dearer as Mercury Travel are pretty competitive for separate tickets. Also buying direct from Disney is dearer than using other websites.

    Some people like to have a ticket in there hands but I have used a company that issues Disney e-tickets which meant the money was in my account until only a couple of weeks before I left rather than weeks/months beforehand and they were the cheapest at the time. You get them changed for a "proper" ticket at the entrance to your first park or at DownTown Disney. You will find lots of places offering tickets when you get there and I've no doubt there are bargains to be had at the desks/kiosks but a lot do involve time share presentations.

    No money saving is easy, so research, research and research.

    As above do check out the Disney Boards, my favourite one of choice is where you'll find a very helpful UK board.
    Last edited by MSE Jenny; 23-06-2008 at 11:17 AM.
  • funkmaster
    • #5
    • 18th Jun 08, 6:32 AM
    • #5
    • 18th Jun 08, 6:32 AM
    The key to a good Orlando holiday is to plan ahead.

    It's all about maximising your time - no point in spending £1000 and getting £500 worth of value out of your tickets. Better to squeeze every ounce of value out of your spend.

    A spreadsheet with what you're doing each day is the key - make Advance Dining Reservations, decide which park you'll be visiting, and buy the tickets that are right for you. Don't forget to plan in rest/shopping/swimming days.

    We worked out that we didn't want to go to the water parks, didn't want to park hop and didn't want to go to Disney Quest again so we bought a 10 day pass from the excellent Undercover Tourist ( which worked out at £300 rather than the £500 we had earmarked for our Disney tickets.

    The 14/21 day tickets are designed for flexibility and convenience, but those things cost!

    Oh, and make sure you take a photocopy of your tickets before you go because if you lose them (which happens!) you can go to Guest Relations and get replacements. Otherwise you're paying again!
    Last edited by funkmaster; 18-06-2008 at 6:35 AM.
    • shandypants5
    • By shandypants5 18th Jun 08, 6:43 AM
    • 2,027 Posts
    • 2,777 Thanks
    • #6
    • 18th Jun 08, 6:43 AM
    • #6
    • 18th Jun 08, 6:43 AM

    Oh, and make sure you take a photocopy of your tickets before you go because if you lose them (which happens!) you can go to Guest Relations and get replacements. Otherwise you're paying again!
    Originally posted by funkmaster
    Brilliant idea....

    I will be doing this..thanks
    “Careful. We don't want to learn from this.”

    • By GIRLPOWER 18th Jun 08, 7:21 AM
    • 1,366 Posts
    • 2,392 Thanks
    • #7
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:21 AM
    • #7
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:21 AM
    We worked out that we didn't want to go to the water parks, didn't want to park hop and didn't want to go to Disney Quest again so we bought a 10 day pass from the excellent Undercover Tourist ( which worked out at £300 rather than the £500 we had earmarked for our Disney tickets.

    Originally posted by funkmaster
    If purchasing from udercovertourist (we did last year) sign up for the news letter when it arrives it will give you a link to get further discout from them.


  • cozzard
    • #8
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:26 AM
    • #8
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:26 AM
    We are off back to Florida later this year and are doing Universal rather than Disney. Booked a 2-park 7 day ticket through Viator which costs £40 each. Massive saving on 1 day rate and gives flexibility to go whenever we want over a 7 day period - also covers access to Universal CityWalk.

    Key to a good holiday in Orlando is definitley planning! Use online forums from sites such as to get great tips and advice from real people.

    Last year we got Disney Magic Your Way tickets through Undercover Tourist. Got a 6 day ticket for the price of 3 days, much cheaper than 7 or 14 day UK tickets. OK, no park hopping or water parks included but I only wanted to pay for what I was going to use.
  • deana1000
    • #9
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:26 AM
    Forward Plan!
    • #9
    • 18th Jun 08, 7:26 AM
    I agree with funkmaster plan ahead and spend some time deciding what you are going to do when you are there. We (6 of us with 2 kids but only 1 classed as child on the ticket front) are off to Orlando in September for 2 weeks. We are there for dd's 21st birthday and on her special day she wanted to swim with the dolphins in Discovery cove. My first thoughts were well that is gonna cost nearly £1000 more for all of us to go on top of the Disney passes and we were originally gonna get the Orlando flex plus tickets too! But after some research and ticket juggling we decided to go for the ultimate Discovery cove pass which includes unlimited access to Seaworld, Busch Gardens and the new Aquatica park. Along with an unlimited Universal/I.O.A 7 day pass thus eliminating the flex plus ticket and saving over £410 if we had bought both lots of tickets! Do buy as many tickets as you can before you go as when we went the first time we bought all from Virgin rep at welcome meeting and spent a packet on tickets!
    Last edited by deana1000; 18-06-2008 at 7:43 AM.
  • healeydave
    I have been visiting Florida for 21 years, with our first trip in 1987.

    Disney has clamped down a lot over the years with various things like photo passes and finger printing etc.

    It is quite hard today to find genuine discounted tickets in all honesty.

    Remember Disney is the only company selling genuine tickets from new and they don't sell in bulk to anyone else to vend tickets on their behalf to the best of my knowledge!

    Back in the late 80's / early 90's, we used to buy all our tickets from the booth's on I-Drive. No ticket security existed back then and your savings were literally the difference between what the booth had purchased un-used days for from holiday makers going home plus their profit margin.

    Every now and then you would see a booth taped up after it was closed down by Disney & the police, but it would usually re-open a few days later :-)

    Sites like MSE are great but one thing I have come to realise is when it comes to trying to save money on a particular item, is if you have spent quite a while searching and found very little evidence of any significant discounts, its probably a very well controlled pricing structure and if your someone that costs their time as a factor too when trying to save (which I think everyone should, but few do) then your probably wasting your time!

    The only genuine cheap Disney Tickets that exist today as far as I am concerned are "Loss Leader" type tickets like Time Share deals for example. They do work if your prepared to give up a day of your holiday. A typical scenario is the time share company will sell you a single day ticket for $20 in exchange for you attending their seminar which is a genuine saving if you don't end up leaving having committed to spending thousands of dollars on a time share :-)

    The link below shows the gate price of tickets (remember the prices exclude tax), you can see that the daily rate is significantly reduced by Disney themselves if you commit to 10 days. If you are a frequent visitor, you could add the no expiration option and just use them over time but if you really want to get anal about saving, you would have to consider the loss of interest paying up front but thats a bit over the top in my opinion. NfeCJkMkEYlKcTvNYAI6xLdmeSLiOIimr0ppG7vYXbQkKlm5Es t7ndyzcAbAuchhjJogRzgHO3IX3qmXy97Fb%2BbENCrPG69wDA TJZgsk%2FxoYKeFQfhMl4XhtHMZXSUJWUB7tbYvHB%2B1zz3s7 h65xXOBpAc%2B%2FVRnmlv67B1XT20T392vFhYUI%2FqhjKxkM GBi4QkoKFQP1E9dT82TZnlQRterPmaFK2DVCto85j1H6QQrLKA wkIWuZoj%2BQLBd7cUqvbpZzKCpGCv0qBbNzjgec9Y8mf9UAz8 bld9clw032EmuakXsl5hGP%2BCz9G%2FFamHtpBS%2BKK51rIV iepGVtZfMv0nuXbWCTYxxAo%2FsN1crbqtRYxxc93HaBTreon0 TnoV9X9Zn5N0TjkY21QYUcPHaBTreon0TlPTbeN%2FaYMJVspk %2B%2FWk%2BRmUU0fmGmC3WasiCaNNoH5N2d6ItmHAR25n4sL9 PHn5YRNMYXXOy1YUyLn2eihPLyaHyR5LdXqoYPfpx5jfinkJE5 83l0BFcr%2FwozFOKwhvo6HGNYisLiHXw9OqkWnkVmRxyc4UUe NGzHYic%2BbfSW1HccnOFFHjRsx3xYXzoM2byc0F%2BFaQOWFZ yNqKNzo7MLyE7VllRRmOrDnR%2FLRS1%2FlRM2rNpDLKx%2F7w xwglGN8H0NHgtZuPic2qvRGHj%2BESuoDOJzO2Xwu%2BGANlQf RBdTGEeU0I99daNEFuPAxwRgZEJA%3D&drnid=9659214

    eBay often tells you a lot about a product and its value, I often see tickets selling on eBay for virtually the gate price anyway (by the time you do the math on the currency) and your taking a risk that the days on the ticket are really there from the seller!
    e.g. if you buy a 5 day ticket with 1 or 2 days remaining, you only have the sellers word and won't find out until you get to the gate!

    Watch out for the optional extra's too. Disney might be expert at portraying the wholesome family values and a trustworthy company and on the whole they are but clever marketing exists everywhere in this day and age. The Park Hopper option in my opinion is a complete waste of money.

    The only time you might consider hopping from park to park would be if you have done all the parks in their entirety and probable that you would only do this on one day, so why pay to add this option to all your days. The amount of time it takes to get from park to park as well in reality its just not worth it, clever marketing that at first glance seems really useful but in reality just isn't.

    We used to own a villa for several years and one way we saved on tickets was using the resident annual passes, again they clamped down on this requiring more hardened documentation like a Florida drivers license instead of just utility bills :-(

    Last edited by healeydave; 18-06-2008 at 8:21 AM.
  • Jeanmd128
    We own a villa near Disney World and the best investment we ever made was to buy a non-expiring option on our Disney World tickets - ask as they do not often offer it. Now we just ask for a few extra days to be added each time we go so we never let the ticket run out of days.(This is done at the entrance to the parks) As with all these tickets it is the first 3 days that are the most expensive after that it is really cheap to extend.
    As a villa owner I see lots of people who have booked packages with the travel companies and they are paying over the odds. If you book direct with the villa owner and arrange your own flights and car hire - you will save money. Many travel companies offer FREE car hire but you have to pay the insurance. As a frequent visitor to Florida I can assure you that the cost of the insurance would more than cover the hire of the car, plus extra drivers, full insurance and a tank of fuel. Check out the websites to see. My latest guest to book with me was also told that if he booked with a particular travel company he had to have £10m public liability - the annual insurance he has with his bank has £5m so he would have to have their travel insurance - another extra expense. The travel companies also charge for under occupancy so if you have children that need separate rooms - they will charge you. If you book direct with the villa owner you decide how much room you want - or how little - we are licenced for 10 but that includes 2 on a sleeper sofa in the lounge - but we have had just couples. On a sour grapes note I would add that the villa owner who has travel company guests gets rubbish rates and does not get the under occupancy fee. Most owners have a vast knowledge of all things Orlando and Disney and offer a very personal service - try them and see what a diffference it makes to your holiday both in your pocket and your satisfaction with the whole experience. That's why we get lots of repeat bookers and great reviews.
  • Jeanmd128
    Healeydave - you should also mention that the tickets you buy only show the number of days you purchased - there is no way of knowing how many days are left - so NEVER buy from someone who says there are days left on a ticket as you could get to the gate to find it has nothing left. Most Orlando parks also require finger indentification linked to the ticket - so unless they give you a finger to go with the ticket it will be useless anyway!

    The time share route is an option - even Disney do it in the parks - but unless you are really interested in buying do you really want to spend half a day looking at something that you have no intention of buying and get a slightly cheaper ticket - some of which are only valid for that day - which you only have an afternoon left to enjoy.
  • cozzard
    Agree with the comment about booking direct. We have booked a condo through the owner at Bahama Bay for about half the cost of going with an agent. Same condo just much less money!

    Flight tickets booked direct as well. This year via US Airways, who offer a convenient indirect flight. Cost £320 per person which compares pretty well with the bigger players. Always best to do plenty of research, for instance some of the charter flights have dreadful feedback and may not be the best option for your trip.

    All in all, go direct avoiding the package deal and save a great deal. Our holiday to Florida this year will cost £1500 for a family of 4 (flights and decent accomodation for 9 nights). I estimate this to be about 50% of what a package would have cost.
  • healeydave
    Healeydave - you should also mention that the tickets you buy only show the number of days you purchased - there is no way of knowing how many days are left - so NEVER buy from someone who says there are days left on a ticket as you could get to the gate to find it has nothing left. Most Orlando parks also require finger indentification linked to the ticket - so unless they give you a finger to go with the ticket it will be useless anyway!
    Originally posted by Jeanmd128
    That was what I was trying to warn people about when I said you only have the sellers word that the ticket has what they are saying left on it.

    I'm not recommending the time share option either, I just mentioned it because in all the years I have been going, its one of the few genuine discounts but not worth the cost of you time in my opinion because its a "loss leader", they are losing on every ticket they sell to you at $20 but they would pay more than that to entice people into the seminar through other marketing schemes so they don't mind.

    I use that example to make the point that the only way you will ever get significantly cheap Disney tickets (not just a few dollars off) outside of Disney themselves is if someone else is prepared to make a loss (through a loss leader or a second hand sale).
  • deana1000

    All in all, go direct avoiding the package deal and save a great deal. Our holiday to Florida this year will cost £1500 for a family of 4 (flights and decent accomodation for 9 nights). I estimate this to be about 50% of what a package would have cost.
    Originally posted by cozzard
    I agree with your comment if you book with the likes of Virgin it would be a 50 % saving but if you shop around you can get better deals. We have decent flights (with Thomas Cook but not booked through them) and hotel accomodation for 14 nights for 6 of us (2 rooms in hotel) for £2467. So it can be done either way - our first holiday to Florida in 1997 for 4 of us with Virgin cost more than what we are paying for 6 of us 11 years later!
  • Wooleycats
    Get better value from your Disney parks
    Hi All
    I went to Florida 2 years ago and before I went I stumbled across a fab website. However you do have to pay for it - $21.95 - but as it was only around £10 I took a risk on it.
    You can plan your whole Disney stay. The guy - Mike is an ex Disney employee doing VIP tours and he now does his own VIP tours and runs the website. It tells you which parks to go to on which days - and I dont just mean like the books that say Monday go here, Tue go here go this way round the park. I mean on Mon 25th go to this park as first choice then this one as second and do not what ever you do go to this park.
    There is nothing more satisfying than being on the Disney bus from the hotel and seeing crowds of people getting on the other buses and nobody getting on yours.
    He has restaurant reviews, where to stand for the fireworks (there were only a few people stood by us and we were right by Cinderella's Palace).
    There are forums and through that I even found a website to pre-order a shopping delivery so I ordered bottled water, cereal bars and juice cartons for us to have on days when we wanted to have a quick start and could eat breakfast on the go.
    The best £10 I ever spent on a holiday I reckon we more than doubled our experience.
    I am not sure if I am allowed to post the link to the Website here but if you are good at cryptic clues he is a tour guide and his name is Mike and it is an American site.
    If I am allowed to post the link please can you let me know.
    Have fun you lucky lucky people.
  • miamivice
    Planning your trip is very important as mentioned before. a friend of mine has just come back having been for a fortnight. after he told us what he had done, we could have done it all in about 4 days including all of the travel!!!

    we bought Disney hopper tickets which if i recall correctly meant we had 7 visits over a 14 day period (which started from the first visist). A we only used 4 days we went to guest relations and then paid (approx £30 for both)to have them upgraded to non expiry. i.e. we have 3 days of visits paid for when we go again.

    i know this is not an option if you use all of your days or have a different ticket, but please bear this in mind - it will save you on your next trip (assuming you go again)
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 18th Jun 08, 9:50 AM
    • 38,874 Posts
    • 162,327 Thanks
    We used the "unoffical guide to disney" and followed their tips to the letter. On the last Disney parks day we were convinced that we were just in a good week and there were no queues (as we'd never had to queue for more than 15 mins). We abandoned the plan and met disaster 90 minute queues and a lot of time wasted running between queues.

    Here are a few tips:

    Plan your days and restaurant stops before you go. One call from the UK to USA 2 weeks before you go to book all your restaurants in the Disney parks and hotels.

    With young kids book a character breakfast in a Disney hotel for a day you are not going to the parks. Makes a quieter resting day and the kids will love meeting the characters face to face with no hurry. They'll also enjoy wandering round a disney hotel.

    If you are unsure how many days in the park to book, go for more not less, the extra cost is small and you can always sell your unused days to the time share booths.

    We used travelcitydirect for flights car and an apartment. found them to be great value and flew direct into Sanford airport - much quieter and quicker to clear than orlando.
  • Rosani
    Every time I travel to Orlando I call up my local friends who work for Universal and Disney - free tickets every time!
  • Rosani
    One call from the UK to USA 2 weeks before you go to book all your restaurants in the Disney parks and hotels.
    Originally posted by silvercar
    During some busy periods and with some busy restaurants, you will need to call with more than 2 weeks notice to get booked. Disney takes advanced dining reservations 180 days before (I think) so the sooner the better.

    The best free things to do while in the Central Florida area are a visit to Winter Park, shopping in Downtown Disney, visiting the hotels during the day (you can even have lunch there, not free of course but adds to the experience) and even riding the monorails... don't tell anyone (shh) but it is actually very easy to do this without any tickets, just avoid the rush periods and enjoy the ride!
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