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A Disney Vacation can be expensive, especially if you bring the kids. And it’s Disney, so you probably want to bring the kids. Don’t worry, we know how to save money at Disney World! These tips will keep you from fretting about the budget so you can focus on having a blast with the kids at the “Most Magical Place on Earth.”
Disclosure: TravelingMom uses affiliate links.
How To Save Money at Disney World
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation in Orlando, Florida, can be such a fun and exciting experience. We know you can’t wait to buy your park tickets and prepare to meet Mickey in front of Cinderella Castle while eating a churro!
This sounds amazing, but the reality is that even though Disney World is the most magical place on earth, it’s also one of the most expensive theme parks. Don’t worry though, there are many ways to save money on your Disney vacation! Here are 25+ ways to save money at Disney World.
Know the Best Time of Year to Visit Disney World
Your time is money. You had to work hard for your days off and we want you to get the most out of your Disney vacation. Consider visiting Disney during the off-season when the parks will be less crowded and you’ll have the chance to see and do more because of shorter wait times. Find out when to visit Disney World.
Save on Tickets, Accommodations and Transportation
2. Get a Deal on Disney World Tickets
We recommend purchasing your Disney tickets through Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
If you call to make your purchase be sure to mention TravelingMom!
3. Buy Base Tickets vs. Park Hopper Tickets
When purchasing your Disney World park tickets, you’re going to have to choose between base tickets or park hopper tickets. The difference is that the base ticket lets you into one park per day while the park hopper option lets you visit as many of the 4 parks as you want per day.
There are four parks at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. We’ve been to Disney World several times and normally we purchase the park hopper tickets. However, during our last trip with the grandparents, we bought base tickets instead. I was very glad we did. Each park has so much to see and do that there is no way you can finish it in one day. And you can waste a lot of park time transferring from one park to the next.
Buying a base ticket and visiting one park each day is all you need. Bonus points that it’s also a great way to save money at Disney. Park hopping will cost you more in time and in money.
4. Take Advantage of Disney’s Mid Day Tickets
If you’re not an early riser, that’s OK. Sleeping in is going to save you money! Walt Disney World now offers mid-day ticket options. You can now purchase tickets that can be used after noon each day. These are cheaper than the regular full-day tickets. You have our permission to sleep in each day. It is a vacation after all.
5. Stay On-Site With Special Deals
There are times when staying on-site is an affordable option. You can take advantage of some incredible deals from David’s Vacation Rentals. David’s Vacation Rentals is a place where you can use other people’s Disney timeshares. You don’t have to be a DVC member; in fact, there is no membership required at all. All you have to do is visit the website to see which Disney hotels are available during your travel dates. Families can save thousands of dollars on a Disney vacation by booking this way.
If your travel dates are flexible, you can maximize your savings with some amazing deals under the Dedicated Reservations section at David’s Vacation Rentals. Here you will find deals on rentals reservations such as this example below:
This same 2 night stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge over Christmas would cost you $1,020. That’s a $340 savings during one of the most popular times of year! Check these deals BEFORE picking your travel dates so you can save the most money on your Disney vacation.
6. Stay Off-Site
There are so many incredible Disney resorts but the truth is that most of them are not budget-friendly. The good news is that there are so many awesome places to stay off-site. Look for hotels located near the Disney parks that offer some of the same perks that you get at the on-site resorts such as Extra Magic Hours. Some off-site accommodations offer transportation to and from the parks. Finding a place to stay with transportation to the parks will help save you money on parking each day and, if you fly to Orlando, you can save the cost of renting a car.
7. Stay on Disney property in an RV.
The following paragraph was sponsored by RVshare, a peer-to-peer RV rental website that connects RV owners with people who want to rent an RV.7. Stay on Disney property in an RV.
Want to make your Disney vacation a little more unique and fun? Fort Wilderness is located in the Walt Disney World Resort area and offers a great spot to set up an RV and enjoy nature. Don’t own an RV? It’s super easy to book one through RVshare– many owners will even deliver your RV to the campground full of everything you need like linens and dishes. Enjoy coffee outside your RV every morning at the most magical place on earth.
Fort Wilderness has miles of trails, archery, horseback riding, and canoeing over 750 acres of land. Also, it’s pet-friendly! You’ll get all the perks of staying on property like Extra Magic Hours and early Fastpass+ booking with an outdoor twist that your kids will never forget.
We hope you have an incredible Disney Vacation! Remember to check out all the information we have about visiting Disney World.
8. Ride the Magical Express
The Magical Express is a transportation service offered to Disney World guests staying on-site. If you’ve chosen to stay off-site, this service is not available to you. The Magical Express will pick you up from the airport and transport you and your luggage to your Disney resort. If you’re staying at a Disney property this will help you avoid the cost of renting a car or taking a taxi/Uber to your lodging. (But read about this $80 Magical Express blunder so you don’t make the same costly mistake!)
Before Your Disney Vacation
9. Buy Discounted Disney Gift Cards
Before our last trip to Disney, I budgeted how much money we would spend at the Disney parks during our vacation. Then I went to Sam’s Club and purchased Disney gift cards at a discount. The discount isn’t huge but every little bit helps. Purchase these gift cards with a credit card that offers points or cash back to really maximize your savings.
10. Have Kids Earn Their Own Disney Money
Another good way to prepare for your Disney vacation is to have the kids start earning some Disney money before your trip. Our kids start doing extra jobs around the house or ask friends and relatives for small jobs so that they can earn Disney spending money. This has worked well for our girls, who range in age from 6 to 10. My kids really wanted to get their face painted at Animal Kingdom, but I told them ahead of time that I didn’t budget for that. So they each earned their own money to get the things they wanted.
11. Buy Pins Ahead of Time
Pin trading is such a fun activity at Disney World. If you’re not familiar with Disney pin trading, read this primer on trading pins at Disney. In fact, it’s not just the kids who enjoy it; many adults walk around the park with their own pin collection. Buying pins inside the parks can be expensive. We recommend purchasing them ahead of time. In fact, eBay has several reputable sellers who will sell you a mystery collection of pins for a fraction of the cost. When you get to the parks, you can trade the ones you don’t like. Just make sure they are official Disney pins, because those are the only ones you can trade with the Disney cast members.
12. Buy Disney Toys Prior to Arriving at the Park
No matter how many pep talks you give your kids ahead of time, they’re going to get to Disney World and want ALL the things! To avoid this park drama, we always purchase a few things ahead of time. I find toys on Amazon or other places for a fraction of the price of the ones at the parks and I purchase a few to surprise them with once we’re at Disney. This is especially helpful when traveling with younger kids. There are a few items in the parks that kids always want that you can find prior to your vacation, including bubble makers, light wands and stuffed animals.
13. Buy Ears Ahead of Time
No matter how you feel now, when you get to Disney World you’re going to want Mickey ears. It’s a thing. When you embrace it, you’ll love it. Save money and purchase the ears ahead of time. You can find some cute ones on Amazon that are budget friendly. If you wait and buy them in the park, you’re going to pay a much higher price – and waste valuable park time!
14. Pack Ponchos
Guess what? It rains in Florida. A lot! You will likely experience a daily rain shower, especially if you’re visiting Disney World in the summer months. Don’t worry. These rain showers normally come and go and they won’t ruin your fun unless you let it. Just plan for them. Buy cheap rain ponchos from the local dollar store and take them with you to Disney or purchase some from Amazon.
During our last trip to Disney World we had a full afternoon of light rain showers. We put on our dollar store rain ponchos and embraced the cool rain drops. If you wait until the skies open up while you’re walking around the park, you will pay much, much more for ponchos — and waste valuable park time standing in line to buy them.
Read More: What to do at Disney World when it rains.
15. Buy Autograph Books Ahead of Time
Don’t forget to buy autograph books for the kids. These are must-haves and can be expensive at the parks. There are so many cute affordable options on Amazon.
Save Money on Food
16. Consider Skipping the Disney Meal Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan offered at Walt Disney World so guests can budget dining costs in advance. While this can save you money, we recommend skipping the meal plan and bringing your own food into the parks. Pack light meals and budget a certain amount for snacks instead of meals at the parks. This is a much better way to save money on food. The only time you might consider the Disney Meal Plan is if you can get free dining as part of a Disney vacation package.
17. Avoid Dinner Reservations in the Park
Dinner is the most expensive meal inside the Disney World parks. If you’re booking dining reservations, we recommend booking a breakfast or lunch experience to save money. The character breakfast experiences are just as fun as the dinner ones and the price difference is pretty substantial. Or try to book the latest lunch time for considerable savings over a dinner booking. As another perk, breakfast reservations are the secret to early entry to the parks.
18. Pack Your Meals and Snacks
As we’ve mentioned previously, you can bring food and beverages into the Disney World parks. There are a few restrictions – no glass containers or alcohol. We carry a cooler backpack and fill it up with uncrustable sandwiches and all kinds of snacks. Our family of five saves a ton of money by packing our own food and only purchasing a few snacks or one quick service meal.
19. Eat Breakfast Outside of the Park
You may want to splurge for one character breakfast (complete with early entry into the parks), but the generaly rule to save money at Disney is: Don’t come to the parks hungry. You can save a ton of money by having everyone eat breakfast at the hotel room. We make oatmeal in our room because it’s easy to make, affordable and very filling!
Save Money in the Parks
20. Take Your Own Photos
The Memory Maker at Disney World is an additional expense to your Disney vacation. You can get access to Disney PhotoPass photos captured at hundreds of locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, but it’s going to cost you. If you’re trying to save money, we recommend skipping the Memory Maker expense because you can take your own photos. Even better, you can ask the PhotoPass photographers to take a picture of your family with your phone. Voila! You save money and still get professional quality photos!
21. Buy the Refillable Popcorn
Kids like to snack. Their snacking game seems to be amplified by all the pixie dust at Disney World. During our last visit we purchased a refillable popcorn bucket on our first day at the parks. The popcorn bucket is $10 and then it’s only $2 to refill it. Which we did, several times, saving a lot in our snack budget.
22. BYOS (Bring Your Own Stroller)
You do have the option to rent strollers at Disney World; however, to save money, consider bringing your own. But first read this about stroller restrictions at Disney World.
23. Give Everyone a Budget
You don’t want any unhappy family members when visiting Disney World, so it’s a good idea to have a budget plan, not only for the whole trip but also for each day. The Disney World bubble effect is very real; you might easily forget there there is a real world outside. Keeping everyone on a daily budget will keep you from scanning your Magic Band a few too many times!
24. Bring Reusable Water Bottles
It’s hot at Disney World in Orlando and you’re going to want to stay hydrated. The best way to do this and to save money is to buy a reusable water bottle prior to your Disney vacation. You can get cups of ice water for FREE inside the parks to fill up your water bottle. My family knows that we won’t be purchasing any sodas while we’re at Disney because the water is FREE and the best way to stay hydrated in the Florida heat.
Here are a few of our favorite refillable water bottle options:
25. Buy Autograph Books Ahead of Time
Don’t forget to buy autograph books for the kids. These are must-haves and can be expensive at the parks. There are so many cute affordable options on Amazon.
Save During Your Disney Vacation
25. Use Amazon Prime One-Day Delivery
How often do you forget things when packing for your vacation? It happens to me all the time! Thankfully, Amazon now offers Prime one-day delivery service in Orlando and to Disney properties. No need to purchase your forgotten items at an expensive shop on-site. Just have Amazon bring it you on the same day as you order it!
You might also consider using a grocery delivery service to help save money on food.
26. Plan a Fun Break from the Parks
As much fun as Disney World is, we highly recommend planning some time off from the parks. Parents and kids will appreciate the break to relax and recoup. My kids love pool time, so we always plan a couple of days for us to spend time relaxing at the pool. The Disney resorts and many of the off-site hotels have some incredible pools! Take a break and explore Orlando, Disney Springs and all the other fun things that you can do without buying a Disney theme park ticket.
27. Know All About the Free Things at Disney
We’re sharing here all the ways to save money at Disney World but did you know that there is also a list of FREE things you can find at Disney World like fast passes, pins and more?
28. Pack the Right Shoes
“My feet hurt.” These are the last words you want to hear from your kids when your at Disney World. Packing the right shoes is so important. Always choose comfortable shoes and be sure to have kids break in new shoes ahead of time. You do not want the expense of having to purchase new shoes at Disney that come with an expensive price tag!
29. Always Ask Disney For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask a Cast Member for help when you’re at the Disney Resort or at the Disney Parks. Before spending money on items you may have lost or forgotten, just reach out to a Cast Member and see how they might be able to help. Once, when checking in to a Disney Resort, the family in front of me had arrived disappointed because the airline lost their luggage. The Cast Member assisting them was so wonderful and provided them a gift card to get some essentials so that they wouldn’t be without. We’ve also visited first aid when we needed a band-aid and the Cast Members there were so helpful. It never hurts to ask for help.