Disney World is a tricky thing. Anyone who’s planned a trip to Walt Disney World likely knows the push and pull between saving money and not missing a moment of the most magical family vacations.
Is there a way to save money without being too worried about spending it on experiences, souvenirs, and more? You need to find a happy medium (at the happiest place on earth). For that, you need a guide on how to save money at Disney World!
From renting the best double stroller for Disney to whether or not you really need line-skipping options, this guide will cover it all! Helping you to save money while not skimping on all the Disney “musts.”
Want to know how to save money in Disney World? These fifteen fantastic tips will have you budgeting like a pro while also having a blast in any of the Disney World parks.
Disney World savings start with planning your vacation at the optimal time. The peak dates at Disney World are usually around times when schools are out of session or on vacation. Spring break, which falls in the months of March or April, can be the peak Disney season.
This not only means more crowds and long lines but also not as affordable ticket rates for parks, airfare, and the like. The best times to get Disney World park tickets, usually for a discounted rate, include mid-November through mid-December, mid-January to the end of February, and late August through September.
Choosing off-season times is one of the best ways to save money at Disney World right from the start without having to cut back or avoid expenses.
It’s tempting to use the Disney dining plan, the pre-paid meal package that promises discounts on food in the resorts and parks. However, pre-paying for this ahead of time could end up costing you money. My kids tend to eat like birds, and sometimes we would find ourselves somewhere forcing ourselves to eat in order to use up our meal credits. Or, we would feel like we had to choose the most expensive meal to get the best “bang for our buck.”
If we had just brought in our own snacks and paid for food the few times we felt like getting a treat or dined outside of the resorts, it might have saved us more money. There are some great stroller hacks that can help you carry all your snacks and beverages.
Also, Disney hasn’t made their dining plans available since the parks reopened after the pandemic, so this may be one saving measure you may not have to worry about when you visit Disney.
While this trick might not be well suited to everyone, it could save you money. Leveraging credit cards can sometimes get you “free” hotel stays, airfare, and more as you get your Disney World tickets or Disney vacation package. Of course, you need to spend money to save money with this trick.
If you have rewards credit cards, every time you spend money you earn points. There are a handful of credit cards whose rewards can be particularly useful at Disney World. So, as long as you use your credit cards and pay them off wisely, you’ll accumulate points without having to pay interest; which in turn translates to savings at Walt Disney World.
You can use travel-specific cards or an “everyday” card, just be sure you earmark all the points you earn for your Disney trip. Before purchasing a card do your research. Some Disney travelers love the Disney specific cards, like Disney Chase Visa, while others feel that standard cards with rewards systems work just as well.
Line-skipping options include Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Sometimes, this is referred to as a “Fast Pass,” which means you get to skip waiting in line by showing up at a later assigned time. While the options are different in how they work, both have the same goal, line skipping. Disney recently has been updating their line-skipping options, much to park goers’ dismay.
Recently, Lightning Lanes changed to allow you to purchase a FastPass to a specific attraction instead of choosing from a bucket of attractions. However, if you are strategic with your Disney World plan, including when you get to the park, you may not need to pay for these Fast Pass options.
Sure, there is regular high demand for select attractions, but if you are visiting for more than one day and can plan out your attractions, you should have plenty of time to do it all without the add-on costs.
Purchasing tickets to individual parks can get pricey, which is why some families choose Park Hopper. Hopper allows you to “hop” from one park to another, usually at a set time, when you pay an extra fee. This sounds great in theory, but what if your park hopping time rolls around and you still haven’t seen half of the first park?
Then, you find yourself feeling guilty for spending money on a park visit you may not even get to use, or worse, trying to rush your kids through the first park just to use the Hopper. Instead of the park hopper option, consider trying a one-park-per-day strategy, which should save you a little bit of money and reduce your stress.
This pains us to say, but skipping Disney merchandise and souvenirs definitely saves you money! Your kids will want everything, yes, everything from the Disney gift shops. But in most cases, you can find very similar (if not the same) items elsewhere for much, much cheaper.
If you do want to splurge on a souvenir, consider buying it on your last day, when you have a better idea of the toll Disney World has taken on your budget. Or, limit yourself to one meaningful souvenir instead of getting something from every park.
Souvenir shopping is one of the most controllable items in your budget, as long as you have the willpower.
Bringing along the essentials is a must for traveling anywhere, not just Disneyland. If you need to purchase band-aids or aspirin within a resort or park, you’ll likely find yourself facing sticker shock.
Because these are items people often need and can’t live (or at least survive comfortably) without, medicine and essentials can receive a markup. Packing things like a first aid kit, medicine, sunscreen, and even laundry pods can save you from spending way more than you should at the Disney general store and is one of the more simple ways to save money at Disney World.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that it rains in Disney World and Disneyland, yet you’ll see many people scrambling for ponchos. If you have the best stroller for Disney, it will probably include a weather shield, but what about you?! Bringing your own poncho or raincoat can prevent you from having to buy one on the spot.
This is helpful for saving money at Disney World because those things are not cheap! You can find ponchos at a dollar store for around a dollar, but during a Disney World trip, they’ll cost you close to fifteen dollars. A poncho is lightweight and small and should fit easily within your bag or stroller.
Did you know that Disney allows grocery delivery to your hotel room? This includes services like Uber Eats or Amazon Prime Now. Choosing to have staples or snacks delivered is one of the most overlooked Disney World money-saving tips. Preparing your own food or just shopping around for the cheapest option can save you a few bucks.
In most cases, it will most certainly be much cheaper than dining out or eating at one of the Disney restaurants on the resort or at the theme parks. At least consider getting the basic groceries delivered instead of trying to get them through Disney dining.
If you’re getting a snack at every snack shop or even just buying a soda, these small costs can add up. Disney makes some seriously tempting treats, like churros or Mickey Pretzels, but they’re often expensive.
Even the most basic foods can have insanely huge markups. In some cases, you could find an entire case of water for the price of one bottle at the park. Plus, unlike other parks, Disney actually allows you to bring outside food and drinks in, so why not take advantage of it during your budget-friendly Disney vacation?
Speaking of water, you can get free water at Disney World. We’re all for packing water bottles. Disney has plenty of free bottle filling stations and drinking fountains where you can fill up throughout the day. This will keep you hydrated in the heat and prevent you from spending money on pricey beverages.
Even if you forgot your water bottle or lost it out of your stroller, there are various places within the park that offer free cups of water. Most quick-service restaurants, which are located all around the parks, will provide you with a free cup of water if you ask.
Wondering how to save money on a Disney vacation when it comes to eating? Underrated restaurants at Disney can truly be hidden gems, and eating at them instead of super-popular restaurants can save you money. Sometimes, you can even find character meals at these restaurants for a bargain.
Do your research ahead of time and find out which restaurants tend to be less visited but would still appeal to your family.
DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club. The DVC tour is offered to explain and entice visitors with the benefits of membership to the Walt Disney company. Like the timeshare presentations at other resorts, a DVC tour costs you only your time, usually sixty to ninety minutes of touring Disney property and hearing a speech.
In exchange, you’ll get incentives, which often include discounts. If you go on your DVC tour early in your trip, you’ll be able to use the discounts during the rest of your visit! Incentives can range from paid Disney gift cards to free meals and sometimes even Fast Passes.
Disney World offers various free activities at the Disney resort, like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or DuckTales World Showcase Adventure at EPCOT. There are also usually craft offerings, animal viewings, and more.
You may have to do a little research to find out what activities are happening and where and when, but it’s worth it. These freebies can really enhance your trip and won’t cost you a dime.
While you may be going to Disney just for Disney, planning a day to stay off-site can really be beneficial. Getting away from the tempting souvenirs, snacks, and other pricey options is great for your budget.
Meanwhile, it gives you a chance to explore other cool offerings in the area. A mental break from the crowds and activities might be just what your family needs to relax and refresh, as Disney can be overwhelming.
We hope this article has provided you with information and inspiration on how to save on a Disney vacation. With a few simple strategies and tricks, you can have an enjoyable and fulfilling vacation that won’t drain your bank account.
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What’s your experience saving money for your Disney vacation? Tell us all about it in the comments section!