How to Plan a World Class Disneymoon on a Budget
In May my husband and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary. Which means that for the past month and a half my Time Hop has been sporadically reminding me of each time I posted a picture of the most magical time of my life.
As our wedding photographers started sending sneak peeks and, finally, the full wedding package, I of course posted socially as they came in. I love getting those reminders and getting to relive all of the magic of the day I said "I do" all over again.
As is the case with most weddings, immediately following our special day was our honeymoon. Or, as I like to call it, the single most spectacular vacation I have ever been on.....ever!
Now, most young couples jet off to Aruba or Paris for a romantic honeymoon but as I have proven time and time again, I am not the average twenty-something female. Honestly, the thought of sitting on a beach drinking all day long bores me. I want adventure and constant movement. I love wide open spaces, outdoor adventures, oh and one more thing....Disney. I really love Disney.
Thankfully, I married a man who either loves Disney as much as I do (unlikely) or just really loves me and wanted to make his new bride happy, because our honeymoon destination really wasn't up for discussion. We had a Disneymoon.
Because my husband and I are high school sweethearts we got married fairly young. I was halfway through grad school so money was very tight. Thankfully, I am a planner and took 18 months to plan a wedding, so I started budgeting very early for the honeymoon. We also were very fortunate to have such wonderful guests contribute to our trip in lieu of gifts.
After months of research online, YouTube, and, of course, binge watching the Travel Channel's features on epic Walt Disney World vacations, I felt confident that I could plan our trip all on our own, without going over our very strict budget.
Here is how we spent an entire week (all-inclusive) at Walt Disney World Resort for right around $3,000 (and had the time of our lives!)
First things first when planning this trip was booking our flights. There was no way we would be driving from Wyoming to Disney World.
Knowing that there are certain flights and airlines that are the most affordable options I started there. What it came down to was a simple cost/benefit analysis. Though certain airlines such as Spirit and Frontier tend to be the most inexpensive options, you tend to get stuck with fees for every additional item (baggage, drinks, and food). While this normally would not bother me and I would either pack light or go without, it was my honeymoon, and I certainly planned on living it up from day one. I also planned on bringing a ton of cute clothes to wear.
We ended up going with Southwest airlines. Not only did I book far enough in advance that our tickets were around $200 per person round trip, but our baggage was free! I paid an extra $10 per person per flight to ensure we had priority boarding and could sit together.
**Helpful hint: try to book your price during the early part of the week (Monday-Wednesday) when prices are usually at their lowest.
I have to give a major shout out to Southwest since they always seem to be going above and beyond for their passengers. When they found out we were on our honeymoon, thanks to the awesome shirts I made (see below), they announced a congratulations to the entire plane before takeoff and gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne. It was the perfect start to our amazing honeymoon.
Because we do not have a major airport in Wyoming (seriously, we do not), we had to fly out of Denver (DIA). In order to save on parking fees--and because we had a ridiculously early flight (cheaper!)--we stayed at one of the airport hotels and opted for their park, sleep and fly package, which cost us about $120.
|My cute handmade Disneymoon shirt. Of course, the hubby had one that said "Hers."|
Disney Vacation Package
Resort: Port Orleans Riverside
Though we wanted to stay as low cost as possible, we also wanted to ensure our resort was a little less catered towards the families with kids and more adult friendly. The great thing about Disney World is that they offer three levels of resorts: Value, Moderate and Deluxe.
While they all are fantastic and, in my opinion, the only way to go to WDW outside of living in Orlando, the Moderate and Deluxe resorts are definitely what you want to stay at for a Disneymoon. Let's face it, sometimes a hotel filled with screaming kids is the perfect way to kill a romantic mood, if you know what I'm saying.
We chose to stay at the Port Orleans Riverside, a moderate resort, located right outside downtown Disney. Though it was not a deluxe resort, it certainly felt like it for two young lovebirds. Stepping onto the property was like stepping into New Orleans in the 1930s. The rooms were quaint, impeccably clean and located within a short two-minute walk to the transportation sites.
Best of all was the ferry ride that would take you to Downtown Disney. Though I love all of WDW, it came down to a tie between Downtown Disney and Epcot for most fun places for adults to go.
Travel Plan: Disney's Magical Express
I cannot stress to you enough how much I recommend this feature. Not only will adding it to your vacation package ensure you have an easy, stress-free trip from the airport to your resort, but it also handles all of your baggage.
A few weeks before your trip you will receive these cute baggage tags to put on your luggage before heading out. As soon as you drop your bags off at the airport you don't need to think about them one moment longer. They will be waiting for you in your room when you arrive at your hotel.
Ticket Package: 5-Day Magic Your Way Ticket with Park Hopper
Though I could probably spend a month at WDW and not feel like I experienced it all, five days was definitely a good amount of time to get our first taste of the parks. And, considering the next time we go it will be with our toddler in tow, I am very happy we spent most of our time enjoying the attractions of Epcot and Downtown Disney while we were two childless young adults.
Having the Park Hopper option was fantastic as it allowed us to start the day in one park and end in another. Because this was 4 years ago we were issued key cards that we took all over the parks to enjoy amenities such as fast pass and park transportation and entry. Today they have these wonderful wristbands which definitely would have come in handy as I lost my key card halfway through the trip.
WDW offers four parks and we were able to enjoy each and every one. Though we did not purchase the water park options, if swimming is your thing, certainly go ahead and make that purchase. My skin burns like tissue paper and I come out of the water looking like a drowned cat, so they definitely weren't on our agenda.
Magic Kingdom: This park is the quintessential Disney park. Here is where you will find Cinderella Castle and that iconic statue of Walt Disney holding the hand of Mickey Mouse. We spent a couple of afternoons in Magic Kingdom mostly for the Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain rides and to eat at the heavenly Crystal Palace. Now that we are parents, I know the majority of our next trip will take place here.
|Character dinner at the Crystal Palace|
Animal Kingdom: Though we only spent one day in this park, it certainly was enjoyable. Walking in was life stepping into an African safari. In fact, one of the rides is an African safari! If you ever wanted to have a giraffe withing arm's distance from you, this is the place to go.
Hollywood Studios: As far as ride parks go, Hollywood Studios takes the whole cake! Not only was our favorite ride, Tower of Terror, located here, but we couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend to go as it was the opening of WDW as a Star Wars park. I let my geek flag fly a little too freely that weekend.
Here you will find the Tower of Terror, Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster and the iconic Star Tours. Not to mention, some of the best sweet treats can be found in the shops here. Just take a look at those caramel apples below.
Epcot: By far our favorite park, Epcot is the perfect place for those who want to travel the world but can't or won't leave the USA. An acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Walt Disney himself planned this park as a utopian city that is constantly introducing new ideas and innovations from all corners of the world.
Epcot is divided into two main themed areas: Future World and World Showcase.
At Future World you can explore different pavilions that introduce innovative new ideas of the future. Here you will find some of the most exciting thrill rides in WDW including: Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space and Test Track.
At the World Showcase you can quite literally walk around the world in one day. Here 11 countries, or pavilions, are located strategically around a large lake. What is even more amazing that traveling the world in one day is the fact that Disney actually employs workers from each of the countries represented and products and food/drink are imported from those countries as well. That means, outside of actually traveling out of the country, you will be fully immersed in a new culture.
We spent the majority of our trip in this park and I do not regret a moment of it. From the exotic drinks to the food, it was like we got to take our honeymoon around the world.
|Enjoying a glass of wine in Venice|
|Sipping my hard cider in England|
Dining Plan: Magic Your Way Dining
I am not a breakfast eater. Give me my protein shake or a smoothie in the morning and I am good to go. With that in mind, my husband and I opted for a less expensive, but still extravagant, dining package. In it we received two snacks, a lunch restaurant meal and a nice sit down dinner meal. Though two meals a day may not sound like a lot to some, especially when you are walking and sweating for miles each day, let me tell you, it absolutely is!
As any bride, I had worked my butt off to be the most fit I possibly could be on my wedding day. Though I set it in my mind to eat mostly clean during my honeymoon, I was not about to not indulge a little. Suffice it to say, each meal we received came with an added dessert. And the lunches were bigger than my normal dinners, so you can only image how big the dinners were.
And, of course, the snacks were filling as well. Though I did spend some of my vouchers on apples and bananas, the Mickey Ice Cream bars are probably the best on the planet. No joke--so you have to eat a few of them.
Total Cost for Disney Vacation Package: $2,687
Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or honeymoon, Disney goes above and beyond to make it special for you--just as long as you let them know what you are celebrating! And trust me--you want to let them know!
Upon checking in we let the concierge know we were honeymooners so we were immediately gifted with the cute pins.
|Honeymoon pin--and our rings.|
As soon as we put the pins on we were getting complimented left and right from both cast members (Disney employees) and patrons. We even shared a ferry ride with a couple who had spent their honeymoon at Disney 20 years earlier--and they celebrate by going back each year! Couple goals!
If the sweet compliments, well wishes and success stories weren't enough, Disney went ahead and reserved a special blocked off section in Epcot for us to view that evening's fireworks show, Illuminations, right on the water.
If you want even more attention for passersby, go ahead and get some of these classic Mickey Bride & Groom hats. I had ours monogrammed with our wedding date. However, I did not get to experience the attention they could gather as my husband drew the line at wearing them in public. Never the less, they look so precious sitting in my curio cabinet today.
If you are considering a Disneymoon but are a littler reserved based on budget alone, I hope this little guide helps. While we did not get the spa treatments and more luxurious amenities that perhaps the Deluxe resorts offered, it was no doubt the trip of a lifetime for us. There is no better place to celebrate a magical marriage than a place where magic truly does exist.
I wish You a Happy Honeymoon & A Wonderful Life Together!