You’ve saved and scrimped for the trip of a lifetime: a stay at one of the Disney World Resorts. Don’t throw money out the window once you get there! Travel Hack Traveling Mom Dia Adams shares tips and tricks to save money and time once you arrive onsite at your Disney World Resort.

My "garden view" at the Grand Floridian. Photo by Dia AdamsYou’ve solved the on or off site debate for this trip and decided to stay at one of the many Disney World Resorts. You’ve budgeted for the full-on Disney experience. However, once you arrive at your hotel, budget and time killers are lurking behind every hidden Mickey.

After ten stays at Disney World resorts in the last year, I’ve learned a thing or two about minimizing the cost and hassle and maximizing the fun. Here are eight of my favorite ways to save money and time at a Disney World Resort:

8 Ways to Save at Disney World Resorts

  • Make sure you’ve booked the absolute best room in your resort. I recently learned a $12 hack to get the best Disney World Resort rooms that will maximize your fun factor.  An annual subscription to TouringPlans.com includes a feature that shows you the best rooms in your booked category and faxes in room requests for you.
  • Consider renting a car. You may think I’m nuts telling you to spend unnecessarily in the name of saving money, but hear me out. When you’re on a big ticket vacation like Disney World, time is money.  While Disney does offer many forms of transportation, the hub and spoke system loses its appeal when you’re trying to get from one resort to another for a meal or change of pace. Last trip, I was staying at Old Key West and had dinner at Wilderness Lodge. I was happy to walk 10 minutes to the boat launch from my room, take the 20 minute boat bide to Disney Springs then a bus to Wilderness Lodge on the way there, but the entire trip took over an hour.  On the way back I took a cab for $17 and was back at my room in 10. Car rentals in Orlando often go under $100/week using a tool like AutoSlash. Since you’re a resort guest, parking anywhere on Disney World property- including at the parks- is free.
  • Buy groceries pre-arrival or have them delivered to your room. Another reason to have a car handy is to be able to dash out to the grocery store for breakfast items and snacks.  All Disney World Resorts rooms have mini-fridges and DVC properties also have microwaves.  Even if your room doesn’t have a microwave, one is available in the resort’s quick service restaurant. If you don’t have a car you can also have groceries delivered to your room.
$9.99 hand crafted pizza from Mara in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Dia Adams

$9.99 hand crafted pizza from Mara in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Dia Adams

  • Don’t diss the counter service. Disney World Resorts restaurants often get a bad rap for either being too expensive or lacking variety.  I couldn’t disagree more. While many ride the chicken nugget express it’s quite possible to have terrific food at a good price.  Check out the Tamarind BBQ Chicken Flatbread I got for $9.99 at Mara, the quick serve in the Animal Kingdom.  California Pizza Kitchen, eat your heart out!
  • Buy discount park tickets. Traveling Mom recommends Parksavers for the best Disney ticket prices.  Even better, use code TM2 for an extra $2 off per ticket.
  • Bring your souvenirs instead of buying them at the resort or in the parks. If you took my advice and rented a car, you can head to Disney Character Warehouse just outside the gates to save up to 75% on official Disney souvenirs. On my last visit I found magic band bling for $1.99 that is going for $10 in the parks.  You can even buy a huge bunch of glow sticks for pennies each instead of spending $10 for a trinket that will last hours if you’re lucky.
  • Make sure you utilize your resort.  I know the plan is usually checking into Disney World Resorts and heading straight for the parks. By not taking an off day you’re missing the best of what your resort (and the other resorts) have to offer: free tours, amazing pools, evening movies, nightly campfires, and even a free character meeting!  One of Traveling Mom’s top money saving tips for Disney World is to take a day away from the parks to enjoy the resort amenities you paid for.
  • Need a night out?  How about the resort meal that offers free kids camp?  Walt Disney World Dolphin restaurants come with free childcare.  Grab a couple kid-free hours while the kids nosh for free at Camp Dolphin. You’ll get a top notch meal without having to pay for a babysitter and the kids (if they’re like mine) won’t want to leave!

What are your top tips to save money and time at Disney World Resorts? Please share in the comments.

Disney World Resorts