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If you’re anything like me, you like to save money where you can. Anytime I travel to Disney World, I’m always thinking about how I can cut costs while still satisfying my wants and needs. Sure, I want to stay at the Polynesian Resort every trip, but can I? No. That being said, it’s a challenge for me personally to accept that I’m not made of money. I’m only 24 and I don’t have a high paying job to afford everything I really desire to do on each trip. Plus, I like to go to Disney World often versus doing one big trip every three years.
There are plenty of opportunities to pinch pennies on a Disney trip. Let’s take a look at some satisfying substitutes that might work for you.
Polynesian Resort lovers are fierce and they know that they’re going to pay top dollar to be transported to the South Pacific. Instead of paying $400 a night, try a cost-cutting alternative. If you want to experience the Polynesian vibe, book a dinner at the popular restaurant, ‘Ohana. Time your reservation right and you go down to the beach and watch Wishes. You’ll be able to spend a solid amount of time at the Polynesian and really soak up what it’s all about. If that idea doesn’t interest you, give Caribbean Beach Resort a shot. The tropical environment is abundant there as well. While the on-site dining isn’t as wonderful and the rooms aren’t as luxurious as at the Polynesian, Caribbean Beach Resort maintains lush grounds and one of the most impressive pools on property.
Another resort that is so insanely costly and also very desired is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The resort is a breathtaking display of Victorian architecture. The elegance simply cannot be matched. However, not everyone can swing the cost to stay there. A comparable option would be Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The classic “mansion” section, Magnolia Bend, has a traditional and elegant feel that is similar to the Grand Floridian. At about half the cost of the Grand Floridian, it’s worth considering Port Orleans Riverside if you’re looking for regal accomodations.
While signature dining on Disney property is desired by many travelers, it’s not always in the budget. A reservation at the Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert’s is highly reviewed because of the multiple courses and truly personal dining experience. While this meal starts at $200 per guest, there are many other fine dining restaurants on Disney property that would cost you less than half of that price. I personally will recommend heading over to Animal Kingdom Lodge and dining at Jiko. For an engaging experience, ask to be seated at “The Cooking Place” where you can watch chefs prepare the restaurant’s signature flatbreads. The wine list is also absolutely incredible. The higher priced entrees run about $40, which is definitely more budget-friendly than Victoria and Albert’s. A similar “Chef’s Counter” can be found at the Boardwalk Inn’s signature restaurant, Flying Fish Cafe, where dining at the counter means watching the action in the open kitchen. At both of these restaurants, it’s not uncommon to be served samples of appetizers or desserts just for sitting at the counter. Check out my review on Jiko that I wrote from earlier this year on my personal experience with chef’s counter dining.
Another popular dining experience is Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. The rowdy, energetic dinner show is a hit with most Disney guests but it certainly does come at a price to get great entertainment while you dine. Currently, the price for one adult is about $68. However, you can enjoy Oktoberfest-style entertainment and a decent meal at Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot for under $40. The atmosphere at Biergarten is one of the best in all of Walt Disney World, in my opinion. The show at Biergarten is also guest interactive, much like Hoop Dee Doo, but without all the embarrassing costumes.
Many years ago when I was a young child, I remember seeing the building for DisneyQuest in pictures and thinking, “I have to go there!” Well, I eventually went. It wasn’t at all what I expected. Honestly, with the crowded atmosphere and kids running around like unsupervised loons, I was glad that I didn’t pay the $43 out of my own pocket. However, if you think your family is interested in this type of activity but can’t swing the cost, be sure to check out the arcade in your resort if you are staying on Disney property. While it may not be as innovative as DisneyQuest, you can still have just as much fun. Try giving $10 to every family member and see who comes out with the most points or maybe, start an air hockey tournament.
I’m very curious what YOUR substitutes might be. Have any of you regretted not paying for the more expensive option? Let us know in the comment section!