Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Know the Best Time of Year to Visit Disney World
- 2. Go Into it With the Mantra: Be Specific!
- 3. Repeat After Me: Time is Money
- 4. Save on Travel to Disney
- 5. Making Mistakes that ADD to Your Disney Vacation Cost
- 6. Consider Letting Get Away Today Plan Your Disney Vacation
- 7. Save on Disney Theme Park Tickets: More is Less?
- 8. Buy Base Tickets vs. Park Hopper Tickets
- 9. Check Availability With Water Park & Sports Option Disney Tickets
- 10. Weigh the Value of an Annual Pass
- 11. Consider Renting DVC Points
- 12. Stay Off-Site at Disney
- 13. Stay on Disney property in an RV.
- 14. Buy Discounted Disney Gift Cards
- 15. Sign Up for the Disney Visa!
- 16. Exercise Your Disney+ Discount
- 17. Have Kids Earn Their Own Disney Money
- 18. Buy Pins, Toys and Mickey Ears Ahead of Time
- 19. Pack Ponchos
- 20. Consider Skipping the Disney Meal Plan
- 21. Get Creative with Your Meals
- 22. Avoid Dinner Reservations in the Park
- 23. Pack Your Meals and Snacks
- 24. Eat Breakfast Outside of the Park
- 25. Take Your Own Photos
- 26. Buy the Refillable Popcorn at Disney
- 27. BYOS (Bring Your Own Stroller)
- 28. Give Everyone a Budget
- 29. Bring Reusable Water Bottles
- 30. Use Amazon Prime One-Day Delivery
- 31. Plan a Fun Break from the Parks
- 32. Know All About the Free Things at Disney
- 33. Pack the Right Shoes
- 34. Always Ask Disney For Help
While a Disney Vacation can be magical it can also drain a wallet quickly! If you’re asking “How can I pay less for Disney?” or “How can I save the most money on my Disney trip?” we’re here to help! We know how to save money at Disney World. Here are some of our best tips and hacks!
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation in Orlando, Florida, can be such a fun and exciting experience. We know you can’t wait to buy your park tickets, head to the “Happiest Place on Earth”, meet Mickey and take selfies in front of Cinderella Castle while eating a churro! The cost can sting a little bit though. We’ve rounded up more than 25 ways to save on your Disney vacation.
1. Know the Best Time of Year to Visit Disney World
Your time is money. You had to work hard for your days off and we want you to get the most out of your Disney vacation. Consider visiting Disney during the off-season when the parks will be less crowded and you’ll have the chance to see and do more because of shorter wait times. Find out when to visit Disney World. Also, since Disney ticket prices are arranged into tiers you’ll pay less when visiting during slower times.
A bonus of visiting when it’s quieter? You can skip paying for Genie+ and decide whether buying access to rides like Rise of the Resistance through Individual Lightning Lanes is worth the time saved.
2. Go Into it With the Mantra: Be Specific!
If I could make one very clear point it would be the following. You’re here because you want to save money at Disney. One major way to spend less on a Disney vacation is to be thorough and calculate everything. We often see travelers who think they can save a few bucks by booking a cheaper hotel or snagging lower priced flights. The danger comes in not really looking into additional fees. If you book a hotel, even one that’s $60/night cheaper, and then learn there’s a $39 daily resort fee and $30/night parking- you’re now spending more money for a hotel that may not be as convenient. You could have picked a Value Resort at Walt Disney World Resort and gotten all of the amenities of staying on-property.
Same with flights where you have to pay to select seats or carry on a bag. The difference between two flights might total up to $200 total but if the more expensive flight is nonstop and saves you hours are you really saving $200?
3. Repeat After Me: Time is Money
Money is also money. You need to lay down how much time you’re willing to spend to save money. I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen someone ask how to avoid paying for parking at Disney when they’re staying off site. Then a flurry of comments comes in. There’s always some suggestions to park at Disney Springs and bus in (it takes awhile and you definitely need to check hours the busses are running). Some people recommend parking at Disney’s BoardWalk (you can’t do that anymore without dining reservations). In the end you’re saving $25 and it’s adding tons of time and effort (and frustration) to get to the theme parks.
4. Save on Travel to Disney
There is (of course) a cost associated with getting to Disney. Depending on where you’re coming from transportation can add a significant amount to your trip. First off you want to calculate whether your family should Fly or Drive. We’ve got a whole process to go through to find the right travel choice for your family in this Fly or Drive post.
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to get to Disney be sure to make any appropriate reservations (airport parking, rental cars, etc). Forgetting about these details can leave you paying premium last minute prices.
5. Making Mistakes that ADD to Your Disney Vacation Cost
With so many moving parts you’ve got to be organized to make sure that details aren’t missed. For instance, you must have a park reservation to enter one of Disney’s theme parks. If you are visiting at a busy time of year you could end up very limited on which parks are available when you panic-reserve right before your trip!
The other HUGE one that we see is people not scheduling a buffer day when flying into Disney. The friendly skies have been, well, complicated lately. If you plan to fly in and head straight to the parks you could find yourself paying for a park day that you never make it to if there is a delay or cancellation. This goes double for putting hard to get dining reservations or special parties on your first day in. Plan the first Disney day as a travel day.
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6. Consider Letting Get Away Today Plan Your Disney Vacation
The point right above this was all about how missing details can cost in the long run. One way to avoid this is definitely by using a free Disney vacation planning company! We are huge fans of Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
If you call to make your purchase be sure to mention SheBuysTravel!
Read More: Our Full Review of Get Away Today
SheBuysTravel Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2023. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel.
7. Save on Disney Theme Park Tickets: More is Less?
Believe it or not with Disney World tickets more is less- money that is. Multi-day tickets cost less per day the longer you go. Two day single park tickets start at $144 but booking 5 days will bring you down to $108 a day. The more days you add the cheaper those individual days get. The maximum is 10 days, starting at $65/day. Just make sure you’ll use them all! Tickets have a date range that they need to be used within.
8. Buy Base Tickets vs. Park Hopper Tickets
When purchasing your Disney World park tickets, you’re going to have to choose between base tickets or park hopper tickets. The difference is that the base ticket lets you into one park per day while the park hopper option lets you visit as many of the 4 parks as you want per day.
There are four parks at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. We’ve been to Disney World several times and normally we purchase the park hopper tickets.
However, during our last trip with the grandparents, we bought base tickets instead. I was very glad we did. Each park has so much to see and do that there is no way you can finish it in one day. And you can waste a lot of park time transferring from one park to the next.
Buying a base ticket and visiting one park each day is all you need. Bonus points that it’s also a great way to save money at Disney. Park hopping will cost you more in time and in money.
9. Check Availability With Water Park & Sports Option Disney Tickets
Disney offers a ticket that combines single day park tickets with extra options. This Water Park & Sports Option adds on extra Disney experiences based on the number of regular tickets. So if you bought 4 days of base tickets you’d select this option and also get 4 additional experiences which sounds great. However, many of the experiences aren’t available. ESPN Wide World of Sports and Blizzard Beach are both temporarily closed. If your family isn’t into golf or mini-golf that really only leaves Typhoon Lagoon as an option. Would you really go to Typhoon Lagoon more than once? This option adds about $23/day to 4 day tickets. If you only go once you’ve paid $92 extra when a day pass to Typhoon Lagoon is $69.
10. Weigh the Value of an Annual Pass
Depending on how many days you’ll be visiting Disney for sometimes a Disney Annual Pass can be worth it. One friend ended up buying a pass after realizing that she’d spend more on individual tickets for Disney days across two planned trips. Since Disney’s Annual Passholders can park hop she broke even at 10 days on the cost of the pass. In addition, she’s taken advantage of free passholder parking (great if you’re saving money staying off-property), passholder discounts and access to special preview events like riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind before it opened.
And remember, you don’t have to buy a pass for everyone. Just one adult having one will get you the parking, lodging and dining discounts.
11. Consider Renting DVC Points
There are times when staying on-site is an affordable option. You can take advantage of some incredible deals from David’s Vacation Rentals.
Read More: Our Full Review of David’s Vacation Club
David’s Vacation Rentals is a place where you can use other people’s Disney Vacation Club “timeshares”. You don’t have to be a DVC member; in fact, there is no membership required at all. All you have to do is visit the website to see which Disney hotels are available during your travel dates. Families can save thousands of dollars on a Disney vacation by booking this way and you’ll all of the benefits of a Disney Deluxe resort. See more details in this video:
If your travel dates are flexible, you can maximize your savings with some amazing deals under the Dedicated Reservations section at David’s Vacation Rentals. We go more into detail on this in our Renting DVC Points post, explaining how you can save thousands of dollars!
12. Stay Off-Site at Disney
There are so many incredible Disney resorts but the truth is that most of them are not budget-friendly. The good news is that there are so many awesome places to stay off-site. Look for hotels located near the Disney parks that offer some of the same perks that you get at the on-site resorts such as Extra Magic Hours.
Some off-site accommodations offer transportation to and from the parks. Finding a place to stay with transportation to the parks will help save you money on parking each day and, if you fly to Orlando, you can save the cost of renting a car.
Read More: Our Favorite Off Property Disney Hotels
13. Stay on Disney property in an RV.
Want to make your Disney vacation a little more unique and fun? Fort Wilderness is located in the Walt Disney World Resort area and offers a great spot to set up an RV and enjoy nature. Enjoy coffee outside your RV every morning at the most magical place on earth.
Fort Wilderness has miles of trails, archery, horseback riding, and canoeing over 750 acres of land. Also, it’s pet-friendly! You’ll get all the perks of staying on property like Extra Magic Hours with an outdoor twist that your kids will never forget.
14. Buy Discounted Disney Gift Cards
Before our last trip to Disney, I budgeted how much money we would spend at the Disney parks during our vacation. Then I went to Sam’s Club and purchased Disney gift cards at a discount. The discount isn’t huge but every little bit helps. Purchase these gift cards with a credit card that offers points or cash back to really maximize your savings.
15. Sign Up for the Disney Visa!
With a Disney Visa offering you’ll earn Disney Rewards Dollars back on 1-5% of your purchases to put towards your next Disney vacation, including Disney Cruises. In addition cardmember perks include:
- 0% promo APR on select Disney vacation packages from the date of purchase
- 10% off a Castaway Cay Getaway Package and other Disney Cruise Line savings
- Disney parks discounts of 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations and 10% off select dining locations
- Save 10% on select purchases at shopDisney.com
- Special photo opportunities at both Walt Disney World (famous Star Wars Magic Shot) and Disneyland (Star Wars photos with free downloads)
- Cardmember exclusive offers that include discounts and special merchandise
Read More: Is the Disney Credit Card Right for You?
16. Exercise Your Disney+ Discount
Do you have a Disney+ account? Make sure you check for special offers when booking! Disney has been running special 20% discount offers on rooms. Make sure to ask yourDisney travel agent when booking or run a quick search if you’re booking on your own.
17. Have Kids Earn Their Own Disney Money
Another good way to prepare for your Disney vacation is to have the kids start earning some Disney money before your trip.
Our kids start doing extra jobs around the house or ask friends and relatives for small jobs so that they can earn Disney spending money. This has worked well for our girls, who range in age from 6 to 10.
My kids really wanted to get their face painted at Animal Kingdom, but I told them ahead of time that I didn’t budget for that. So they each earned their own money to get the things they wanted.
18. Buy Pins, Toys and Mickey Ears Ahead of Time
Like so many things prices go up when items are in hot demand. This means that if you wait until you’re at Disney to buy some things you’re going to pay premium prices. Here are a few of the things we recommend buying in advance:
- Disney Pins – Pin trading is a fun Disney World activity. Not familiar? We’ve got a post outlining trading pins at Disney. It’s not just for kids! We love trading pins as grown ups. Buying pins inside the parks can be expensive. Before you go check out eBay reputable sellers who will sell you a mystery collection of pins for a fraction of the cost.
- Disney Toys- Disney bubble wands, light wands and stuffed animals can all be found on Amazon for a fraction of the price before you travel.
- Mickey Ears– Look we love the special ones at Disney and will probably still buy a pair BUT if you’re going with kids buy some cheap ones before you go. That way if they get lost it’s not as upsetting. You can also find pretty much any Disney themed ear headband that you can dream up on Etsy if you’re planning to Disneybound!
- Autograph Books- Don’t forget to buy autograph books for the kids. There are so many cute affordable options on Amazon.
- Costumes- Whether you’re dressing up for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or your kiddos just want to be princesses, costumes are cheaper outside of the park!
Read More: 20+ Disney Essentials to Buy Before You Go!
19. Pack Ponchos
Guess what? It rains in Florida. A lot! You will likely experience a daily rain shower, especially if you’re visiting Disney World in the summer months. Don’t worry. These rain showers normally come and go and they won’t ruin your fun unless you let it. Just plan for them. Buy cheap rain ponchos from the local dollar store and take them with you to Disney or purchase some from Amazon.
During our last trip to Disney World we had a full afternoon of light rain showers. If you wait until the skies open up while you’re walking around the park, you will pay much, much more for ponchos — and waste valuable park time standing in line to buy them.
Read More: Tips for Disney Rainy Days
20. Consider Skipping the Disney Meal Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan offered at Walt Disney World so guests can budget dining costs in advance.
While this can save you money, we recommend skipping the meal plan and bringing your own food into the parks. Pack light meals and budget a certain amount for snacks instead of meals at the parks. This is a much better way to save money on food.
The only time you might consider the Disney Meal Plan is if you can get free dining as part of a Disney vacation package.
21. Get Creative with Your Meals
You know your family best. Have kids that are grazers? Let them split meals. There are many Disney snacks that make a solid light meal. Many quick-service restaurants have large servings. Save time and money by booking less sit down meals.
22. Avoid Dinner Reservations in the Park
Dinner is the most expensive meal inside the Disney World parks. If you’re booking dining reservations, we recommend booking a breakfast or lunch experience to save money. The character breakfast experiences are just as fun as the dinner ones and the price difference is pretty substantial.
Or try to book the latest lunch time for considerable savings over a dinner booking. As another perk, breakfast reservations are the secret to early entry to the parks.
23. Pack Your Meals and Snacks
Wondering if you can bring food into Disney? Yes! You can bring food and beverages into the Disney World parks. There are a few restrictions – no glass containers or alcohol. We carry a cooler backpack and fill it up.
Our family of five saves a ton of money by packing our own food and only purchasing a few snacks or one quick service meal.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out one SheBuysTravel’s tips for snack packing at Disney that saved her $50 a day!
24. Eat Breakfast Outside of the Park
You may want to splurge for one character breakfast (complete with early entry into the parks), but the general rule to save money at Disney is: Don’t come to the parks hungry.
You can save a ton of money by having everyone eat breakfast at the hotel room. We make oatmeal in our room because it’s easy to make, affordable and very filling!
25. Take Your Own Photos
The Memory Maker at Disney World is an additional expense to your Disney vacation. You can get access to Disney PhotoPass photos captured at hundreds of locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, but it’s going to cost you.
If you’re trying to save money, we recommend skipping the Memory Maker expense because you can take your own photos. If you do plan to buy Memory Maker get it in advance. You’ll save about $30.
26. Buy the Refillable Popcorn at Disney
Kids like to snack. Their snacking game seems to be amplified by all the pixie dust at Disney World.
During our last visit we purchased a refillable popcorn bucket on our first day at the parks. The popcorn bucket is $13 and then it’s only $2.25 to refill it. Which we did, several times, saving a lot in our snack budget. The bonus is that Disney popcorn buckets come in cute and collectable designs.
27. BYOS (Bring Your Own Stroller)
You do have the option to rent strollers at Disney World; however, to save money, consider bringing your own. But first read this about stroller restrictions at Disney World.
Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!
28. Give Everyone a Budget
You don’t want any unhappy family members when visiting Disney World, so it’s a good idea to have a budget plan, not only for the whole trip but also for each day.
The Disney World bubble effect is very real. Keeping everyone on a daily budget will keep you from scanning your MagicBand a few too many times!
29. Bring Reusable Water Bottles
It’s hot at Disney World in Orlando and you’re going to want to stay hydrated. The best way to do this and to save money is to buy a reusable water bottle prior to your Disney vacation.
You can get cups of ice water for FREE inside the parks to fill up your water bottle. My family knows that we won’t be purchasing any sodas while we’re at Disney because the water is FREE and the best way to stay hydrated in the Florida heat.
Here are a few of our favorite refillable water bottle options:
30. Use Amazon Prime One-Day Delivery
How often do you forget things when packing for your vacation? It happens to me all the time! Thankfully, Amazon now offers Prime one-day delivery service in Orlando and to Disney properties. No need to purchase your forgotten items at an expensive shop on-site. Just have Amazon bring it you on the same day as you order it!
You might also consider using a grocery delivery service to help save money on food.
31. Plan a Fun Break from the Parks
As much fun as Disney World is, we highly recommend planning some time off from the parks. Parents and kids will appreciate the break to relax and recoup.
My kids love pool time, so we always plan a couple of days for us to spend time relaxing at the pool. The Disney resorts and many of the off-site hotels have some incredible pools! Take a break and explore Orlando, Disney Springs and all the other fun things that you can do without buying a Disney theme park ticket.
32. Know All About the Free Things at Disney
We’re sharing here all the ways to save money at Disney World but did you know that there is also a list of FREE things you can find at Disney World?
33. Pack the Right Shoes
“My feet hurt.” These are the last words you want to hear from your kids when you’re at Disney World. Packing the right shoes is so important.
Always choose comfortable shoes and be sure to have kids break in new shoes ahead of time. You do not want the expense of having to purchase new shoes at Disney or the missed park times if someone is limping around with blisters!
34. Always Ask Disney For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask a Cast Member for help when you’re at the Disney Resort or at the Disney Parks.
Before spending money on items you may have lost or forgotten, just reach out to a Cast Member and see how they might be able to help. Once, when checking in to a Disney Resort, the family in front of me had arrived disappointed because the airline lost their luggage. The Cast Member assisting them was so wonderful and provided them a gift card to get some essentials so that they wouldn’t be without.
We’ve also visited first aid when we needed a Band-Aid and the Cast Members there were so helpful. It never hurts to ask for help.
How do you save money at Disney?