4 ways to save money when visiting Disney theme parks

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The “Happiest Place on Earth” just got more pricey.

But visiting Mickey Mouse doesn’t have to break the bank.

There are plenty of ways a family can save on Disney dollars, even if the price of entry to the Magic Kingdom is now over $100 a person.

Here’s four simple money saving tips for families planning a visit to the house of mouse:

1. Avoid single park tickets

The most expensive item at Disney World is the price of a ticket to each of the different parks.

The best route is to avoid single park tickets altogether and buy a “Park Hopper” instead.

A “Park Hopper” allows you to hop from one Disney park to another in a single day, and it’s only an additional $50 per person.

So you’ll be paying roughly $160 for each ticket. But that will give you the option to visit all four of Disney’s Florida parks — not an impossible feat for a single day, thanks to Disney World’s incredibly reliable bus and monorail system.

2. Watch what you eat

Disney’s food prices can rival that of some Manhattan restaurants, so watch what you eat.

Instead of spending money on a quick $6 hot dog, take the time to really explore what the parks have to offer.

If you’re having trouble figuring out where to eat, Disney offers dining plans like “Tables in Wonderland” that offers a 20-percent discount on food and drink.

You’re not going to find any “cheap” meals at Disney per se, but I personally prefer the Magic Kingdom’s “Columbia Harbour House,” EPCOT’s “Via Napoli,” and Hollywood Studios’ “50’s Prime Time Caf√©.” All of these offer slightly higher quality food than the regular fare.

3. Try to stay on the property, but during the off season

Some would say you save more by staying at hotels just off Disney property but that may not be true.

When you stay on property you get free and steady bus transportation to and from parks, along with transportation from the airport via Disney’s “Magical Express” bus line.

Not to mention, Disney hotels have a ton of free activities going on all the time for people of all ages.

Disney World offers dozens of hotels ranging in price from $69 to $517 a night but if you go during the off season like September or January, you could avail of discounts.

4. Make a spending plan and stick with it

Disney World is designed to get you to spend money on everything from Mickey pretzels to mouse ears.

This is why it’s important for families to sit down and plan beforehand on what extras and gifts you want to purchase.

Make a financial plan, map out where and when you’re going, ask cast members (Disney employees) for advice and stop when you’ve hit your limit.

If you do that you won’t have to wish upon a star in order to save money at Disney World.

By: Frank Pallotta for CNN

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