Quite the opposite. Although it’s an extremely magical trip, it’s expensive. Regardless of your financial state, planning a trip to Disney World is fun, but it can be overwhelming. One of the things we are most sure about when planning a vacation to Disney World is how not to spend so much money. We can make our reservations with great deals, but there are always additional details we can do to save money when planning a Disney World parks vacation.
Here we have prepared a list of modifications you can make so that the hit to your bank account won’t be as significant once you return from your Disney vacation.
TRICKS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR NEXT TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD
1. Avoid going to the parks every day.
One of our most important recommendations is precisely this. Adding rest periods and days without parks really saves a lot of money. Not only do you recharge your energy for the park day, but you also save the additional park entrance fee and all the expenses that come with being inside the park.
2. Buy Disney Gift Cards with discounts.
There are some stores that sell Disney gift cards with discounts. Generally, you can save between 5% to 10% by buying Disney Gift Cards at these stores. Some of the stores where you can sometimes get these cards are: Sam’s Club, Costco and Target (with the REDCard). So you can buy an $800 gift card at $760 (5% off) or $720 (10% off). This trick is a tremendous way to save money at Disney.
The best thing about Disney gift cards is that you can use them at the parks, restaurants in the parks and even to pay for Disney ticket booths.
3. Bring your own food.
You can bring your own food to Disney World parks. You can bring snacks, drinks and food for the whole family. We recommend that you bring a lunch box that keeps the food at the right temperature. This way, you can limit the food you buy in the park and save money on meals. However, there are certain restrictions: no alcohol, coolers, or glass containers.
4. Bring your own thermos/bottle.
In addition to bringing your own food, you can bring your own water. We recommend bringing glasses and thermoses/bottle with the intention of refilling them during the day. Ice water at Disney World is free. Yes, free. In Disney World parks and hotels you can ask for glasses with ice and water in any fast food establishment (quick service). This way you will save a lot of money since in Disney you have to drink a LOT of water and water bottles in Disney World start at $3.50 each. Not only because of the temperature, but also because you will be walking a lot.
5. Bring your own portable charger.
At Disney parks you can rent and buy portable phone chargers, but why go to that extra expense when you can buy a cheaper one? You can get several inexpensive options on Amazon.
6. Bring sunscreen.
In Florida you can find extremely sunny days. For this reason, you should bring sunscreen. This way, you won’t be forced to buy sunscreen at Disney that they will sell you for a very high price. It happened to us once. One of those things that only happens once in a lifetime. Worst of all, we had to throw it away because we had a carry on suitcase.
7. Bring your own poncho.
As well as sunny days, in Florida there are many rainy days and evenings. We recommend that you buy ponchos for the whole family in advance of your trip to Disney. This way you avoid the additional expense in the parks.
8. Bring plenty of face masks.
Disney World continues to continually update its COVID-19 protocols in the parks and hotels. Currently, you must have facemasks indoors, on attractions and on Disney transportation. One thing you don’t want to happen is to carry only one or two masks and be forced to purchase additional masks in the park. Masks can break, get wet and get lost in the park, so this recommendation is extremely important. Prices for masks at Disney parks range from $2 to $20.
9. Arrive before the park opens.
This allows you to save a lot of time because you will already be in line when the park opens and you will go directly to those attractions that get very crowded. This way, you save the possibility of having to buy Genie+ and Lightining Lanes because lines tend to get longer during the afternoon hours.
10. Buy park merchandise before the trip.
Much of the merchandise found in the Disney parks is available at shopDisney. Best of all, several times a year they have additional discounts to the merchandise that is on sale. You can find discounted park merchandise such as ears/ears, MagicBands, autograph books, among others.
11. Disney’s Character Warehouse.
Another excellent option to save money on Disney merchandise is to visit Disney’s Character Warehouse at Orlando International Premium Outlets. The Character Warehouse is Disney’s outlet store where you can find official Disney merchandise with impressive discounts. You can get a variety of toys, ears, collectibles, clothing, and much more.
12. Grocery delivery to your hotel.
Disney allows you to receive grocery delivery to your hotel. Disney charges $6.00 to receive this delivery, but you will certainly save a lot of money since you will be able to have affordable food, snacks and beverages in your room.
13. Use credit cards with points.
There are several credit cards that offer rewards and points that can be used for gift cards, mileage accrual and even direct deposit of cash to your bank account. At the moment, we have used a lot the PREMIA points offered by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and points for flights with the Jet Blue Master Card. Thanks to these two options we have saved thousands and thousands of dollars on our trips to Disney World.
Also, there is a Disney Chase Visa that almost always offers discounts on Disney travel packages. There is a wide variety of these credit card options and each option may be better for certain families.
14. Skyscanner and Google Flights.
Getting to Disney World can be the most expensive part for some families, depending on what part of the world or country you live in. We use Skyscanner and Google Flights to give us the best flight comparison tools, as you can also choose “Flexible” days and they show you the cheapest days to fly. Note that sometimes certain airlines such as Southwest, Spirit and Frontier may not be on these price comparison websites. So check them separately if you know these airlines fly to your airport.
15. Do not book at hotels that do not have discounts.
Always look for deals available on the Disney website. You will almost always be able to find special room and park ticket packages.
16. Add more days to your package.
Yes, we are writing you things to eliminate from your trip and now we are going to tell you to add days. Adding more days to your Disney tickets is more expensive so it’s not necessarily a strategy to save money at Disney World. BUT, if you are considering going on a multi-day vacation to Disney World, you should know that it is much cheaper to add more days to your Disney park tickets. For example, once you start considering buying 5, 6, 7 days of park tickets, the cost for each day added is less than $100 per person. On occasion we have found that adding an additional park day to our package comes out to $50 per person vs. paying regular park admission at $109.
17. Stay at Disney value hotels.
Disney’s value category hotels are the least expensive resorts on Disney World property. They are hotels with Disney themes, swimming pools, Disney employees (Cast Members), restaurants, bars, Disney store, among others. In these hotels you will be inside the magic of Disney without having to pay high prices as in the moderate and deluxe resorts of Disney World. We have stayed at all Disney’s value hotels and they are totally worth it.
18. Do not add the Disney Dining Plan option.
Currently Disney World has eliminated the Disney Dining Plan option to the vacation packages. This option is good because it includes the cost of food. BUT many times it is TOO MUCH food and you actually end up spending more by adding the Dining Plan option than just buying food. The best way to add the Disney Dining Plan option is when it is on sale and included for free in the Disney vacation package booking. Typically, Disney used to offer the Dining Plan for free twice a year. We have seen that this offer has been eliminated, but we are sure they will be adding it soon.
19. Do not add the Park Hopper option (more than one park in one day).
We always recommend adding this option as we are fans of going to more than one park in a day. And with pain in our souls, it is definitely wise to omit the Park Hopper option when it comes to the budget of your Disney trip. By not choosing to add the Park Hopper option, you will have more relaxed time in each park, since you will not be wasting time in transportation and checking if there are tickets for the next park to visit (Park Pass Reservation System). In addition, you will save around $250 or more since this option is a high charge that you will be avoiding.
20. Do not add the Memory Maker option (Disney Photo Pass photos and videos).
Another option that is always suggested when creating your Disney vacation package is the Memory Maker. By avoiding adding the Disney Memory Maker you will be saving $199.
21. Don’t buy the MagicBand.
The MagicBand is one of those things that you can eliminate from your budget to save money for your Disney trip. With MagicBands, you can open your room door, enter the parks, have the Disney PhotoPass accessible, pay at Disney restaurants and stores. Really, they are not necessary. You have other free options like the physical ticket and the Disney MagicMobile that you download to your cell phone and smart watch. And if you already have a MagicBand from a previous Disney trip, you won’t need to spend on a new one either, since you can use the same one for all your trips to Disney World.
However, Disney has just announced changes to the MagicBands. In 2022 they will be releasing the MagicBand+. We recommend that you check out everything new coming to Disney World in 2022 for details on the new MagicBand+ features to decide if the extra expense will be worth it for your family.
22. Book a family suite with a kitchenette or an Airbnb.
Disney World family suites and villas, as well as several Airbnb’s in the area, can cost more than a standard room at Disney World. However, you can save in the long run since you’ll be able to cook and avoid additional food expenses. Disney hotels like Art of Animation and All-Star Music have family suites with basic kitchens (microwave, small fridge), while almost all deluxe resorts have a villa option with a full kitchen. In fact, we have a blog post on the best Disney hotels for large families. Also, there are the house and apartment rental options that have bedrooms and kitchens. Our favorite website for this type of lodging is Airbnb.
23. Stay in Disney Springs hotels that are recognized by Disney.
There are several hotels that are not on Disney property, but are associated with Disney. Their theming is a little more subtle, but their location is very convenient and Disney has given them their seal of approval. These hotels are a great option if you’re not sure you want to stay completely off Disney property, but not need to pay for Disney property resorts. They are an in-between. We love the ones located in the Disney Springs area.
24. Stay in a hotel outside of Disney.
It can almost always be better to stay outside of Disney World and rent a car or use transportation like Uber and Lyft. And for many families, this is the best way to save money on a trip to Disney. Personally, we don’t love staying outside of Disney because it takes away the magic of Disney, but you can certainly find a variety of MUCH cheaper hotels.
25. Disney World special discounts (Florida resident, military).
Something you will almost never see are Disney promotions indicating their offers. In fact, Disney does not make it a goal to advertise their discounts and you may not even know about them unless you know where to look. For example, if you are a Florida resident or if you have military family, you may get discounts during many times of the year.
26. Kids get in free before 3 years old and reduced price for kids under 9 years old.
Disney World is NOT JUST for kids, Disney World is for adults too! However, it helps your wallet to know when is the best time to take the little ones. Especially if you are taking children to Disney World during certain ages before they become the “adult” price category. Children under 3 years old get free admission to Disney World parks. In addition, children under 3 eat free at buffet restaurants.
So, from the age of 3 to 9, children are considered in the “children” rate, both for Disney World parks tickets, special events tickets and buffet restaurants. For this reason, we recommend going to Disney World when children are 2 and 9 years old instead of when they are 3 and 10 years old.
27. Annual Pass
Yes, again we recommend spending more money to save money in the long run. If you go to Disney a lot, and you are a Florida resident, seriously consider comparing the prices of Disney World annual passes with the price you will spend on park tickets. Having the Disney annual pass also includes discounts on Disney hotels, merchandise and restaurants.
28. Disney Vacation Club point rentals.
At David’s Vacation Rentals you can rent Disney timeshares, Disney Vacation Club (DVC), from other people. You don’t have to be part of the DVC; in fact, no membership is required. All you have to do is visit David’s Vacation Rentals website to see what Disney hotels are available during your Disney World travel dates. You can save thousands of dollars on a Disney vacation by booking this way.
If your Disney vacation dates are flexible, you can maximize your savings with the incredible deals in the Dedicated Reservations section at David’s Vacation Rentals. Here you will find the best deals for DVC rentals.
29. Refillable Popcorn.
The last thing you want to do at the Disney parks is spend time in food lines. Popcorn buckets cost about $10 and you can refill them later for only $2. This is a great option for those “Mommy, I’m hungry”.
30. Refillable Mug.
This recommendation is for those families who stay at one of the Disney property hotels and drink a lot of soda, tea or coffee. With these cups, you can serve yourself unlimited soda, tea and coffee throughout your stay at Disney hotels. However, the best advice we can give you is to only drink free water at Disney, but we are well aware that this is not true for all families.
31. Do not make too many food reservations and remember to cancel the ones you are not going to use.
One of the most important recommendations we make when planning a trip to Disney World is to make sure you have reservations for food. However, it often happens that you have too many reservations for restaurants that you may not even go to. It is extremely important to cancel these reservations with time (24 hours in advance) in order to avoid additional charges. Also, if you know that your family is not a big eater, don’t make too many reservations at expensive restaurants. Much less reserve at buffets since they are very expensive and you may not take advantage of them.
32. Order from the children’s menu.
If you don’t tend to eat a lot or are not that hungry, you can order a smaller portion at a lower price. At Disney’s fast food restaurants (quick service) you can order from the children’s menu. This does not apply in full service restaurants (table service and buffets).
33. Establish an additional budget.
You will always have damages and additional charges during your vacation. Now more than ever, you need to set up an additional budget for surprise expenses. We recommend adding to the budget the possibility of purchasing Genie+ and Lightning Lanes options. This way, you will be buying these additional services without suffering as much of a financial impact. Also, the family will have various surprise treats such as the purchase of additional merchandise and special Disney-themed snacks.
34. Know all the free options offered by Disney World.
There are countless free options at Disney World that don’t just include the magic and fun of the parks. Everything from taking a Monorail Crawl through the resorts, enjoying a relaxing day at the pool, to watching movies under the stars at your Disney hotel. We have a blog post with 10 things to do in Disney World outside the parks.
35. Read Disney Made Easy.
On our social media and blog we are always updating valuable information that will make your trip to Disney World more magical. Our posts and pro tips will always help you save money and time on your next trip to Disney World.
Regardless of your financial status, this list will surely help you save thousands of dollars. The last thing we want is for you to arrive from your magical trip completely broke and suffering. With this list, we assure you that you will be able to save money to have a more magical and economical trip to Disney World.