Walt Disney World has a reputation for being costly, but completely worth it. That means you’ve likely spent quite a bit of time coming up with a Disney World vacation budget. In fact, most travelers get so good at planning their vacation costs that they run into a different problem: How to best spend their leftover funds.
If you’re one of the super planners who fall into this boat, here are ten great suggestions for spending the excess in your Disney World vacation budget.
Table of contents
Planning your Disney World Vacation Budget
To begin, let’s talk a bit about Walt Disney World vacation planning, since there are so many things to consider if you’re taking a trip to Disney World on a budget. First, you’ll need to decide the upper limit on your trip. This will help decide where to stay.
Disney World Hotels come in different tiers: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Villas. Value resorts are the most affordable, while villas are typically the most costly, and have large rooms/ suites. Your budget, group size and preference will help you determine where to stay. Also, be sure to check out our comprehensive Disney World Resort list, outlining every hotel on the Disney World property.
Next comes ticket costs, which vary based on discounts and the number of days you are staying. The more park days you purchase, the cheaper they become.
Park Hopper passes, which allow you to visit more than one park in a day, are more expensive. Other passes may include water park admission, rounds of miniature golf, and admission to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. All of the ticket and discount information can be found in our Disney World ticket blog.
The last big budget item will be food. There are food packages you can purchase for your family. Whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for your Disney World budget depends on the appetite of your group and how many meals you would like to eat a day.
Note: The Disney Dining Plan has been suspended since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with no information yet availble about its return.
Of course, in addition to these obvious expenses , there are plenty of unexpected budget-ruiners that can pop up. some of these include transportation costs (if you opt out of complimentary busses, boats, and monorails,) souvenirs, photos, and rain gear. It’s important to account for these in your budget, perhaps in a miscellaneous fund, before assuming you have extra money to spend.
Ways to Spend Leftover Budget to Make Your Walt Disney World Vacation Extra Magical
Now that the boring numbers portion is out of the way, we will get into the fun part. Let’s say you get your expenses all settled and you still come in under budget. How can you use that to make your vacation extra special? Here are some great options.
Memory Maker and PhotoPass
If you find yourself with an extra $169 in your Disney World vacation budget prior to your trip, the memory maker is not an expense you’ll regret. Included in the Memory Maker are all photos taken by Disney during your trip. It features all ride photos of your group, and all PhotoPass location photos, such as those taken in front of the castle, Tree of Life, or any other PhotoPass Location.
Many of the PhotoPass location photos have added animation. For example, in front of the Castle, Tinkerbelle will often be added fluttering above your group.
If the remnants of your budget aren’t enough for the entire Memory maker, consider spending a smaller amount on just one or two photos from your trip. The quality of the PhotoPass photos are much higher than that of phones and are perfect for framing.
Souvenirs You’ll Actually Want to Display
When traveling to Disney World on a budget, many guests forego souvenir purchases. They either feel that Disney souvenirs are unnecessary, tacky or something that will get thrown out shortly after returning home. We all have Mickey and Minnie figures or mouse ears sitting in a drawer that no longer feel like a good purchase.
If you find yourself with some leftover budget and would like a lasting souvenir without lasting monetary guilt, we highly recommend getting a décor item from one of the World Showcase pavilions, or inside of Africa in Animal Kingdom. These souvenirs will look great in your home while still reminding you of your Disney trip.
Another great option is to purchase ornaments to display during Christmas time. You will be able to see these each year and reminisce about your Disney World vacation while decorating your tree.
Disney Springs- Worth it if You Have the Disney World Vacation Budget
For years we visited Disney and barely paid any attention to Disney Springs. Actually, if I’m being honest, we still often overlook this Disney mini city.
Disney Springs, while full of night life, is also full of activities for those of every ages. If your Disney World vacation budget allows, a day or half day at Disney Springs will provide entertainment, dining, and shopping.
For instance, Disney Springs features many family activities that your little ones will be thrilled about. Try surprising your little princesses with a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. A makeover fit for a princess begins here and costs anywhere from $69.95 to $450 depending on the package you choose.
For the kids who are more into dinosaurs than Princesses, Disney Springs features a Build-A-Dino workshop that provides a fun way to use up your leftover Disney World vacation budget. Here, kids can assemble and customize their very own stuffed dinosaur.
More options include the Lego Store, hot air balloon flights, Cirque De Soleil, rides in a vintage amphicar and much more.
Golfing at Disney World Resort
When planning a budget for a Disney World vacation you may not think to add golfing to it. But Disney World is home to four stunning golf courses for you to enjoy, if that’s your thing.
All four golf courses feature perfect greens, great scenery and challenging water hazards to sharpen your golf game while on your Disney World vacation.
Both golf courses offer rounds of 9 or 18 holes, depending on the time of day. There is also a driving range and opportunities for golf lessons. While golfing is not included in any resort stays, it can be a great added element to your vacation if you have leftover funds in your budget.
Miniature golfing may seem similar to regular golf, but it’s quite a different experience, especially inside Walt Disney World. The resort has four separate courses, each with different theming.
The Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course, and its views of Tower of Terror, is a miniaturized version of a traditional 18 hole golf course. It has greens, sand traps and all the obstacles featured on a large golf course.
The sister to the Fairways, and located at the same location, is the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course. This course is more traditional and allows you to golf around, under, and through the characters of Disney’s Fantasia.
The Winter Summerland Mini golf course was designed by Santa himself, and looks like it is a part of Blizzard Beach. Rumor has it, Santa discovered a patch of snow in Florida and designed a Winter Summerland for his off-duty elves to visit.
The Winter Summerland has two contrasting 18 hold miniature golf courses. The Summer course has you golfing amongst sand, surfboards and Christmas themed beach scenes. The Winter Course highlights snow, snowmen, and winter themed Christmas obstacles to golf in and around.
Cruising Bay Lake on your Leftover Disney World Vacation Budget
If you have some leftover budget for your vacation, a boat rental is a great way to explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon on your own. Motorized rental boats can seat anywhere from 2 to 10 people, and vary in price from $32 -$45 for a half hour depending on boat size.
Mini speed boats seat two and are the perfect way to race around the water. These are a great option for older kids, as the age requirement is only 12 years of age. The Boston Whaler boats seat 6 and must be driven by an adult over the age of 18. Pontoon boats will seat 10 and take you across the water on a smooth and slow journey.
If getting exercise while boating is more your thing, canoes and kayaks can be rented at Fort Wilderness Campground. Costs are $13 per hour for canoes, which seat three guests, and $13 per hour for kayaks which seat 2 guests.
Bikes and Things You Need to Peddle
Bikes and surrey bikes are the perfect family bonding activity to put your unused Disney World vacation budget to good use. Bike along the landscaped pathways of different resorts, or cruise up and down the Disney boardwalk in style.
Bicycles can be rented at several resorts and in different sizes. Bikes with training wheels are also available. Rentals begin at $20.
Surrey bicycles can seat two, four, or six people side by side. These bikes look more like a human powered golf cart. They offer a smooth ride and an opportunity for bonding time with your family and friends. Rentals begin at $25.
Tours and Backstage Experiences- The ultimate use for your leftover Disney World vacation budget
Walt Disney World offers many unique backstage tours and experiences. Experiences range in subject, length, and cost.
In the past we have taken the Keys to the Kingdom tour, which is a comprehensive journey through the history of the Magic Kingdom. This tour also shows backstage areas of the park and shares many facts and secrets.
Other mentionable tours are the Behind the Seeds Tour which takes you backstage inside the Living with the Land attraction, and the Wild Africa Treks that brings you inside the Kilimanjaro Safari and up close with the animals. There are many other animal encounter tours that you can find here. Additional tours showcase more backstage areas, the Seas in EPCOT, and the World Showcase.
These tours range in price, but tend to be on the heftier side. For example, the animal treks range from $139- $249 per person, and the Keys to the Kingdom tour costs $99 per person.
Walt Disney World boasts many themed parties inside Magic Kingdom park that are the perfect way to spend your excess Disney World vacation budget. These parties provide the opportunity to enjoy the park after closing for an additional cost. These events limit attendance to far fewer numbers than day crowds, therefore offering shorter lines.
The parties are typically themed towards holidays, such as Halloween or Christmas. At the Halloween party you’ll even get to trick or treat for candy, no matter your age. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has hot chocolate, hot cider, and cookie stations around the park.
NOTE: Due to Covid 19, most after-hours parties have been cancelled for 2020.
Spending Your Leftover Disney World Vacation Budget Beyond the Four Theme Parks
Going beyond Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, Disney has two water parks and additional experiences at Disney Springs.
The Park Hopper Plus tickets will include both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks as well as the NBA Experience at Disney Springs, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and the miniature golf courses, but may not be worth the extra spend unless you plan to use all available options.
If you have some wiggle room in your Disney World budget, you may want to enjoy just one or two and these are a great way to expand the Disney fun. If you are planning to visit during the warmer months, the water parks will feel like a necessity.