Disney World is a dream vacation for so many kids (and adults)! It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been or doesn’t dream of going back to spend a magical day at the parks. Learn how to save money at Walt Disney world with the following tips. The trip can be memorable but doesn’t have to break the bank!
Discover how to save for Disney before you go, how to save on tickets, food, flights, lodging and other tips to penny-pinch your way to an awesome vacation! Plus, check out my tip at the bottom of the page for how to start saving for your trip today!
1. Create a budget
To avoid excess spending in any one area, start by creating a budget. How much do you have to spend? What are your priorities? Get out a pen and paper or open up an excel file. Start by listing everything you plan to spend money on.
Then assign a dollar value next to each. Examples would be hotel/lodging, food, park tickets, transportation, stroller rentals, souvenirs, etc.
Assigning money to each category will ensure as many known expenses as possible are accounted for upfront.
2. Plan Early
Booking your trip early is ideal, but may not be realistic depending on how soon you plan to travel. The earlier you research and plan your trip the better odds you have to save. Simply because you have more choices. Things book up quickly at Disney because it is so popular.
On the flip side sometimes you might get lucky and score a deal last minute too. Even if your trip is a few years away, it’s never too early to start planning!
3. Use a travel agent
The beauty of travel agents is that they can be so helpful, answer all of your questions, have a wealth of knowledge about Disney, and don’t cost you anything extra.
Even if you are a pretty savvy traveler and or have been to Disney before, a Disney-approved travel agent can be so helpful. They can alleviate stress, cut down on the time it takes to plan your trip and simply ensure details you may miss don’t get overlooked.
4. Buy discounted gift cards
Purchase Disney gift cards for a discount from Target, Sams or Costco.
Using your Redcard at Target you can get 5% off your entire purchase, which includes gift cards! You can use Disney gift cards for any Disney purchase-including hotels if you’re staying onsite, any food and beverage or souvenirs once in the park, etc.
ProTip: Buy discounted gift cards from Target.com using your Redcard (Save 5%) AND use Rakuten(formerly Ebates) to save additional money!
5% doesn’t sound like much but when you’re spending thousands, it can really add up and is better than nothing.
Another tip to help you budget before your trip is to buy one gift card each time you are at the store. For the months leading up to your trip, when you’re checking out, buy a $25 or $50 gift card. That way you spread the expenses out over a few months!
5. Keep your eyes peeled for ways to save
There are likely ways you can save for your trip right under your nose, you just have to watch out for them!
For example, check out your local grocery store’s loyalty program. Some stores that offer points for gas may offer double, triple, quadruple, etc. gas points on gift card purchases. Those points could add up to real savings for your tank, which can be attributed back to the savings on your trip.
Another way to save is to watch your credit card rewards and offers. I have a chase rewards credit card. Usually, at least once per year, they offer 5% cashback at wholesale clubs which includes any purchase made on that card. Buy your gift cards at Sam’s or Costo during that time and it’s an instant 5% cashback on those Disney Gift cards.
6. Use Undercover Tourist
Undercover Tourist is a discounted ticket site offering deals on Disney park tickets and hotels. The website is also a good resource for general planning tips. Always use caution when buying tickets from a 3rd party, but this website comes recommended.
And it offers one more option for you to compare ticket prices to get the best deal you can find.
7. Check out Ticketsforwork.com
My company just started offering TicketsForWork.com as a new benefit this year. So you’d have to have this at work or know someone who does to take advantage. Similar to Undercover Tourist it is a discounted ticket site offering tickets for sale below gate prices.
If this is available to you, I’d suggest checking it out and comparing the deals here with the other deals you have found.
I’m seeing savings of around 10% off gate prices using this website.
8. Use Military Discounts if you qualify
Active or retired military qualify for some pretty great discounts on both tickets and hotels. Click here to check out the 2020 offers. If you are active or retired military or quality for military benefits, this is absolutely the way to purchase your tickets!
9. Stay longer
Specific to park tickets, the longer you stay the cheaper per day it becomes.
This is the base price of one park per day. It gets as cheap as $47 per day if you stay for 10 days. That’s crazy. Yes, I understand that that is a long time to stay at Disney, but if you’re in it for the long haul, staying longer can actually be CHEAPER than staying for a shorter time.
10. Do you really need a park hopper?
Depending on who you are traveling with, their ages and desire to see parks you may not need a hopper. A park hopper offers flexibility to visit more than one park in one day. But there is So. Much. To. See at one park, consider if you really need to visit more than one in a day.
You pay extra for that flexibility, and if you don’t use it, it’s wasted.
11. Check out an Annual Pass
Annual passes are a cost-effective option depending on how many days you plan to stay. If you are staying for many days, or plan to make more than one trip annually, it may be a cost-effective option. Calculate the per-day rate compared to what you’re paying for a few days at the gate and you may be surprised.
12. Bring your own food
Did you know you can bring carry-ins into the park? Food and non-alcoholic beverages you plan to consume yourself are all welcome. So why not take advantage? Freeze a bottle of water to act as an icepack and throw a few things into a cooler.
This works especially well with kids if you’re already bringing a stroller or renting a stroller when you arrive.
13. Arrange for food to be delivered or pick up if you are renting a car
Many hotel rooms offer a small refrigerator at a minimum. Consider buying non-perishables such as snacks, cookies, nuts, trail mix, etc. and beverages and stocking your hotel room? Anything that is good to grab and put in a pocket, purse, or fanny pack for later.
Snacks and beverages in the park can be expensive! Even if you can’t bring in everything, even bringing one snack in can save money over purchasing at the park.
14. Avoid the dining plan
Do your homework and use the dining calculators.
Not only is it expensive, but it’s also probably more than you’ll eat! The feedback I have read about the dining plan is that you are so excited to at the parks there and running from ride to experience, most have unused credits at the end.
It’s almost as if the sit-down dining was a hindrance and rushed than enjoyable.
Note, this definitely depends on the type of experience you are looking for. IF you’re not in a rush trying to see every ride and go from Fast Pass to Fast Pass, this may absolutely be the way to go. Evaluate for yourself.
But if you’re there to experience the rides and attractions over food, you may want to skip it.
15. Book your flight at the airport!
Did you know you could get a better rate on discount airlines by purchasing flights at the airport? I had never heard this tip before! Discount airlines such as Frontier and Spirit are known for giving discounts above and beyond what you see online if you purchase at the airport.
This tip works well for those who could easily access a counter at an airport. If you have to drive you may want to call ahead and see if they could quote you on what a counter purchase would be. I have never done this myself but will definitely try for our next trip.
16. Stay off-site
Yes, the Disney hotels are magical. They also have magical prices that are crazy expensive! Consider using Airbnb to book a local condo. Many are located close to the parks and offer amenities such as pools, hot tubs, kitchens, etc.
Plus depending on your goal of the trip, it may be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Disney on your free days.
17. Buy Souvenirs in advance
This works well if you have young kids that may not even notice where the Disney goods are coming from. The gift shops at Disney can be so expensive relative to a similar item outside of Disney.
Check out The Dollar Store or clearance section at Walmart or even Disney.com before you go. Stock up on a few things you can share with your kids or for yourself while onsite.
If you are in Florida and want a local place to pick up souvenirs, try Disney’s Character Warehouse which is known for selling discounted Disney products.
Plus, collecting moments is really what the trip is all about. Years from now you and your kids or family won’t remember the things you bought. They’ll remember the fun they had and the time spent with you. Take lots of pics!
18. Bring your own stroller
Costs to rent are about $15 per day or more depending on the model. My kids are much more comfortable in their own strollers. The downside though is having to transport your stroller to the park.
If you’re flying there is always a risk that the airline will break or lose your stroller. But airlines will let you bring your stroller for free. So consider taking one you have before rending to save some money!
Creating a Magical Disney vacation for your family will bring memories to last a lifetime. But it doesn’t need to create debt for a lifetime! Learn how to save money at Disney World to have fun but come home debt-free!
Now that you’re excited to start planning your trip, how are you going to pay for it? Check out how to build a zero-based budget for tips to begin saving for your dream trip!
What is your best money-saving tip for Disney?