One of the biggest questions Disney fans have is how to save money at Disney World. As one of the most expensive vacations, but also one of the most well worth it, saving money is a large priority. So, we’ve put together every big and small money saving tip we could possibly think of to help you plan a trip to Disney World on a budget.
Table of contents
- 1. Planning Ahead Helps You Save Money at Disney World
- 2. Watch Your Travel Dates
- 3. Avoid Weekend Stays
- 4. Use an Authorized Disney Travel Planner
- 5. Do You Really Need that Park Hopper?
- 6. Which Resort is Right for You?
- 7. Use Hotel Discounts and Our Cost Saving Guide to Save Money at Disney
- 8. Bring Things from Home to Save Money at Disney
- 9. Use PhotoPass Photographers to Your Advantage
- 10. Use Water Wisely
- 11. Pre-Bought Souvenirs
- 12. Use Disney Transportation
- 13. Free Dining Promotion- Will it Save You Money at Disney?
- 14. Plan Your Meals While Still at Home
- 15. Bring Breakfast
- 16. How to Save Money at Disney with Grocery Delivery
- 17. Avoid Buffets
- 18. Share Meals
- 19. Save Money at Disney with Counter Service Restaurants
- 20. Go Off Campus for dinner
- 21. Skipping the Parties is How to Save Money at Disney World
- 22. Take a Pool Day- Avoid the Park
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1. Planning Ahead Helps You Save Money at Disney World
Plan ahead on your Disney vacation and you will save. Before you spontaneously book your trip, check for discounts on hotels, tickets, transportation and more. Planning ahead will also allow you to choose the least expensive time to go, most affordable hotel, and which tickets work for you.
2. Watch Your Travel Dates
One of the biggest ways to answer the question of how to save money at Disney World is by choosing your dates carefully. Prices vary depending on time of year and weather. Prices are the highest around Thanksgiving and Christmas, as are crowds. Another price spike can be seen during common spring breaks times and in summer. The lowest prices for hotels and tickets are usually found in the “off” season, typically January, February, October and September depending on the demand.
3. Avoid Weekend Stays
How to save money at Disney World depends on your dates as mentioned above, but weekends play a huge role in addition to seasonality. If you can confine your trip to weekdays, you will avoid the higher weekend room and ticket prices.
4. Use an Authorized Disney Travel Planner
You can save money off or rack rates at a Disney World resorts, but only if you book using a discount code. Disney World will release these periodically, when they have a high number of vacancies at onsite resorts.
Because Disney is trying to fill more rooms where demand is low, not all hotels may have discounted rooms available, but a Disney travel agent can help you locate and book a discounted stay. Most, like Mickey World Travel, will even monitor discounts as they are released and rebook your reservation if they find a better rate.
5. Do You Really Need that Park Hopper?
Saving money at Disney World can also be achieved by skipping the park hopper option on your theme park ticket. Unfortunately, it does mean you will be limited to visiting only one park per day, but for many, this added expense is not worth it, and rarely used.
6. Which Resort is Right for You?
There are 25 resorts on the Walt Disney World Property and each one offers a different immersive theme. These resorts reside in three different categories: Deluxe, Moderate, and Value. Value resorts are just that, a better value. Moderate resorts are more mid tier price wise, and deluxe resorts are the highest tier that come with the most cost.
It is up to you whether or not the higher cost is worth the extra extravagance of the higher level resorts, but you can shave a significant sum off your travel costs just by choosing a value or moderate resort over a deluxe option.
7. Use Hotel Discounts and Our Cost Saving Guide to Save Money at Disney
During down times when there are fewer visitors, Disney often releases hotel discounts that can be as high as 35% off. These discounts are huge considering the hotel cost will be one of the most expensive parts of your stay.
More extensive tips for how to save money at Disney World using these discounts can be found in detail in our Disney World Cost Saving Guide.
8. Bring Things from Home to Save Money at Disney
This tip on how to save money in Disney World may seem fairly obvious, but it can be tempting to forgo packing those sunglasses, hats, or ponchos. If you do plan to purchase those in the park, your wallet may never forgive you. Park ponchos were a whopping $12 each last time we visited.
When compared to purchasing them at the Dollar Tree prior to your trip, this is a huge cost if you hit a rainstorm. Disney prices for other common items like sunglasses, hats and toiletries can be more than double of Walmart or Target.
9. Use PhotoPass Photographers to Your Advantage
Purchasing the Memory Maker can be worth it for some guests, but not if you’re on a budget. While you may not have it in your budget to purchase the memory maker of PhotoPass photos, do not let that stop you from utilizing Disney photographers.
Photopass Photographers will always take photos of your group with your phone at no charge. And the best part is, these photographers are always positioned at the best views around the parks.
10. Use Water Wisely
Water, everyone needs it, but it can be one of the easiest tips when considering how to save money in Disney World.
Buying bottled water while inside the Disney Parks adds up very fast. Each bottle costs $4 or more. When buying two a day for each person in a family of four, that adds up to $32 a day, or $160 over the span of a 5 day trip.
We often skip buying water inside the park by purchasing a large case to keep in the room so we can bring our own water with us each day. Considering that a large case of water purchased at Walmart or even a grocery store is a fraction of what you’d pay in the park or at your resort, this can be a big money saver.
11. Pre-Bought Souvenirs
Disney souvenirs are insanely costly. The best advice to save money is to skip them entirely and just cherish photos and memories as your souvenirs.
That being said, it can be really hard for kids to forgo a memento. One trick is to purchase Disney stuffed animals, clothing, etc. prior to your trip and gift them to your kids during the trip. Disney themed items purchased online or outside the parks can be more than half the price of inside the resort.
12. Use Disney Transportation
Getting to and from the parks is an essential part of the day on a Disney vacation. But if you are not using the complimentary transportation, you are blowing your budget up.
Using Uber, Lyft, or Minnie Vans to get to the Disney parks and back each day can typically cost $8-$15 for one way. With peak times bringing in even more inflated prices. (We compare each service against Disney World transportation here.)
For a trip of five days, that can range from $80- $150 or more for the trip. By using Disney’s transportation system that includes buses, boats, the skyliner and monorail, you can save a bunch.
13. Free Dining Promotion- Will it Save You Money at Disney?
Occasionally, Disney offers the free dining promotion which provides their dining plan for free as a promotion to get more guests to visit. At deluxe and moderate resorts, the dining plan offers two meals a day. One meal is counter service, and one is table service. The plan also provides two snacks a day.
This is wonderful promotion that can save you a huge bundle on your Disney trip. The only drawback to this free promotion is that table service restaurants can really fill up when it is offered.
14. Plan Your Meals While Still at Home
If you’re working on a plan on how to save money at Disney, consider planning out your meals and what you will order prior to your trip. By having a plan and a menu in place, you will know exactly what meals will cost before setting foot inside the park.
All Disney World restaurant menus can be found online for easier planning.
15. Bring Breakfast
Eating three Disney meals a day can really drain your wallet. As with everything in the Disney resort, meal prices are a bit inflated. One way to combat this is to enjoy breakfast from home, in your room. We often bring granola bars, instant oatmeal, or even fruit to snack on for breakfast before heading to the park.
16. How to Save Money at Disney with Grocery Delivery
If extra baggage fees prevent you from bringing breakfast and snacks, consider utilizing a grocery delivery service that can deliver groceries to your room, or at least the lobby for you. These services will be more expensive than driving to the store, but will save you money if you don’t have access to a car.
17. Avoid Buffets
Table service meals are the most expensive options for food inside the Disney Resort. Inside that category is buffets, the most expensive option.
Buffets come in much higher than individual meals, and the unlimited food options do not usually outweigh the price. Personally, I never find myself eating enough to make the higher cost worth it.
18. Share Meals
Another option on how to save money at Disney World is to share meals. Meal portions are huge, especially in the table service restaurants. Sharing meals can distribute the costs between two people and cause less food waste. Win. Win.
19. Save Money at Disney with Counter Service Restaurants
Table service meals are great, large portions, exotic food choices, amazing chefs, but they are expensive. Disney’s Counter Service meals can cost half as much, and Disney has really expanded the options in recent years.
Gone are the days of endless fast food burgers and bland salads. Today’s Counter service meals can save your budget without feeling like a sacrifice.
For delicious Counter Service options try Satu’li Canteen, Harambe Market, Pecos Bill, or any of the restaurants inside the World Showcase.
20. Go Off Campus for dinner
For another tip on how to save money at Disney, try going off campus for some of your meals. It is a bit of a sacrifice considering how good Disney World food is, but it will help your budget. By dining off the Disney resort, you will find cheaper meals and many more options.
You can also utilize services such as uber eats, or other food delivery apps to have outside food delivered to the lobby of your hotel. Unfortunately, these services are not allowed access directly to your room door.
21. Skipping the Parties is How to Save Money at Disney World
Disney feels like a great place to party! The Halloween and Christmas parties are a great way to enjoy extra time inside the Magic Kingdom with less crowds. But this perk comes at a budget busting cost. To save your budget, utilize Early Theme Park Entry and skip the parties.
NOTE: with the pandemic, all Disney parties have been temporarily suspended.
22. Take a Pool Day- Avoid the Park
It may seem counter intuitive to visit Walt Disney World and skip the parks for a day. However, skipping the parks means you do not need to buy a ticket for that day and can avoid all the inside park costs like high meal prices or those tempting souvenirs.
Instead, you can use that day to explore Orlando, or get the most out of your hotel stay and enjoy the pool.
Walt Disney World can be an expensive place, but we hope our tips will ease your budget worries.
23. Skip Genie +
Genie+ can help you skip lines inside the parks, but, it does come at a price. At a little over $15 per day per person, this cost adds up. Not to mention, the individual lightning lane fees for popular rides. For full details on Genie+, click here.
To save money, you may find it is best for your group to wait out the lines, rather than pay for the Genie+ fees. Instead, you may opt for one of two individual Lightning Lane passes for your favorite rides.
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