A trip to Disney World is a dream come true, but it can also be a budget buster.
Fear not! In this post, we’ve gathered 50 ingenious money-saving hacks that’ll transform your Disney adventure into an affordable reality. From ticket tricks to dining secrets, get ready to unlock the magic without breaking the bank!
1. Plan ahead and buy tickets early – Disney raises prices once or twice a year. Usually, Disneyland raises prices in October while Disney World notches their increases in February. Plan ahead and purchase your tickets before the annual price increase.
➡️ You will not lose the value of your tickets if you decide you cannot go. The amount you paid can be applied to new tickets.
2. Visit during the off-season – Plan your visit in September or the end of January. These two times are when prices are the lowest. From ticket prices to hotel rooms, you’ll save if you head to the park now.
3. Multi-day tickets – Opt for multi-day tickets, as the cost per day decreases with more days. But, be mindful of how many consecutive days you have to use your tickets.
4. Bring your own refillable bottles – Staying hydrated is important, but so is your wallet! Bring your own water bottle if you need to drink something constantly. There are plenty of refill stations in each park.
5. Stay off-site or at a vacation rental – Consider an inexpensive hotel near Disney that has free breakfast. Or, opt for a timeshare or vacation rental that has full kitchen facilities allowing you to make your own meals.
6. Choose a Disney Value Resort – If you absolutely want to stay on Disney property, choose one of their Value Resorts. There are five to choose from and the best part is that all your intra-Disney World transportation is included.
7. Use grocery delivery services – When I first found Amazon Fresh in Orlando, it was a game changer. Purchase a case of water, snacks, breakfast items and anything else you need. They deliver to hotels, so just choose your delivery window (remember to change the deliver address to your hotel and include your name on it!).
8. Take advantage of complimentary activities and shows – Look for the free things you can do at Disney World! From boat rides and resort hopping, to the electrical water pageant, you are sure to find something.
9. Avoid purchasing Memory Maker – Did you know you can ask the Disney PhotoPass photographers to take pictures using your own phone or camera? No need to pay for Memory Maker, plus you can get pics of your entire family.
10. Bring your own rain ponchos – This is always one of the items people forget to pack for Disney World. I pack one for each of us every day with cheap disposable ones or heavier re-usable ones – I’ve done both. Either way, it’s less expensive than purchasing in the parks.
11. Skip character dining – Yes, it is a great way to meet the characters, but it’s absurdly pricey. Opt instead for the free character meet and greets in the parks. Check the app for character times and get in line 15 minutes before it starts.
12. Use Disney transportation – Staying onsite and only going to the parks? There’s no need for a rental car. Take Uber or Mears Transportation (only economical if 2 people or less) back and forth from the airport while using the Disney transportation system for all intra-park transport.
13. Pin Trading – Kids love trading with others! Purchase an inexpensive starter set on Amazon with a lanyard. Then, as you go from store to store or at different resorts, cast members will trade theirs with your child.
14. Free entertainment at Disney Springs – At the amphitheater near the World of Disney store, check the listings for entertainment times. It’s a fun way to pass the time away, especially during the holidays.
15. Follow Disney on social media – Disney releases special offers or promotions from time to time. In order to keep on top of these, subscribe to their email or social media handles to get all the details.
16. Bring your own essential items – Things like sunscreen, hats, phone chargers or even lanyards cost a lot more at the Disney Parks than they do at home. Bring these and make sure they are in your Disney Park bag each day.
17. Use the Single Rider Lines – Yes, Genie Plus is all everyone talks about. But, using the single rider lines at Disney World is free! And you can use them continually (my daughter does this for Expedition Everest), instead of only one time a day like Genie. Save all that $$ and skip purchasing Genie Plus.
18. Discounted Disney gift cards – Several stores including BJ’s and Sam’s Club sell discounted Disney gift cards at certain of the year. Plus, Target Red Card holders save 5% instantly. Use these gift card to pay for food, souvenirs and other expenses in the parks. You could even apply them to your onsite hotel costs.
19. Eat at quick-service locations – Skip the sit down dining at Disney. Take your meals at the counter service restaurants for a way to save on food costs.
20. Check for special discounts – Are you a military member or a Floriday resident? Disney offers special perks and discounts to you and several other groups. Definitely look into if you qualify and take advantage of them.
21. Bring your own autograph books – Want that autograph with your favorite Disney character? Bring your own autograph book from home instead of buying one in the parks or resort gift shops. Don’t forget to bring a Sharpie so the fur characters can hold the pen!
22. Check out free movie screenings or dance parties – Most of the Disney resorts offer movie nights under the stars or a dance party. Check your resort for days and times! It’s a great way to unwind, yet your close to your hotel room.
23. Bring your own glow sticks and nighttime toys – When the sun goes down in Disney World, the carts come out trying to sell glow toys to your little ones. Pack these in your suitcase from home so you are not spending an arm and a leg when your child begs you for one.
24. Participate in the Kidcot Fun Stops – Epcot’s childrens passport is an amazing way for kids to get to know the countries in Epcot better. Look for the Kidcot station where they can color, get stamps and get free souvenirs.
25. Bring snacks into the parks – Food is notoriously expensive at Disney. Sure, every once in a while you can splurge and have that Mickey-shaped ice cream while you are watching the Festival of Fantasy parade, but for the rest of the time, snack on what you bring into the parks.
Most hotels have some type of refrigerator in the room. Disney allows you to bring food into the park, except for alcohol and glassware (excluding baby food). Use this to your advantage when budgeting how much spending money you need for Disney World.
26. Enjoy free water cups – All counter-service restaurants will give you either a cup of cold or hot water. Don’t worry about bringing your water bottle with you or spending $4 for a bottle.
27. Bring souvenirs from home – This may seem counter-intuitive, but yes, it is possible to buy the souvenirs at home. Let’s face it, kids are going to want trinkets. But, there’s nothing wrong with buying them ahead of time.
These days, there are a bunch of stores that sell Disney-licensed items, including Walmart, Kohls, JCPenney and Five Below to name a few. You can also check for sale items at ShopDisney (if you can snag free shipping, even better).
Put together a bunch of items such as coloring books, crayons, fun straws, water cups, and stickers. One year, we found these great small backpacks for $5 – perfect for a child. We stuffed it with all of the above plus Disney Kleenex, band-aids and antibacterial wipes. Talk about a great hit!
Amazon has a small Disney princess toy bundle that is just perfect for this!
28. Bring your own stroller – Sure, you can rent them at Disney, but at $15 or $31 per day for a single or double stroller, by the end of the week, you would be paying a small fortune. Airlines allow you to check or gate-check a stroller for free so go ahead and purchase the best stroller for Disney World you can find.
In the past, I have also gone to a Walgreens in Orlando and bought a cheap, $25 umbrella stroller just to use at Disney. I didn’t take it back home as we didn’t need it. But, this was a budget-friendly decision instead of paying the higher rates at the parks.
29. Purchase Disney clothes ahead of time – If you know your child wants to wear something Disney-related, again look at your local Walmart, JCPenney or Kohls. We picked up some adorable clothes at all of these places. Watch for sales or coupons and have the clothes washed, packed and ready to wear.
30. Purchase Disney tickets from Undercover Tourist – I buy all my Orlando Disney tickets online from Undercover Tourist. Often, you can save $15-25 per ticket compared to the prices charged at the gate. Undercover Tourist ships for free and also has downloadable tickets if you prefer.
Add these tickets to your My Disney Experience just like any other ticket. Plus, just go straight to the gate!
31. Share meals – Whether it’s two adults or one child and one adult, most on-site restaurants allow you to split an order. Buffet and family-styled restaurants are the exceptions. You can share anything, but the bigger portions of chicken, ribs, pizza and restaurants with their own toppings bar (like Pecos Bill or Cosmic Ray’s) make this a standout option.
32. Or, Kids’ Meals Aren’t Just for Kids – The kids’ meals are often cheaper and come with a decent portion size. No one’s gonna card you; go ahead and order one. I do this all the time!!
33. Souvenir Popcorn Buckets – Buy a refillable popcorn bucket on your first day. Refills are much cheaper, and you can munch all trip long! Then, use them at home for movie night popcorn and think back to your awesome family trip.
34. Be Your Own Barista – Bring some instant coffee packets with you. Hotel rooms usually have a small coffee maker or hot water source. Make your own and save that Starbucks money for a Dole Whip!
35. Late Lunch Strategy – Eat a late lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus are often cheaper than dinner menus for the same items. So dine a little early or a little late and save some bucks!
36. Skip the Park Hopper – If you’re looking to save, do you really need to jump between parks each day? Probably not. Stick to one park per day. Cost savings could be as much as $75 per person, depending on how many days your tickets are for.
37. Look for Unofficial Guides – There are tons of guidebooks, such as this one, and apps that can give you the lowdown on less-known tips and secrets of the park. A small investment could save you big bucks!
38. BYO Breakfast – Pack some cereal bars, oatmeal packs, or even make-ahead muffins. Start your day the thrifty way!
39. Free Resort Tours – Did you know some Disney resorts offer free tours explaining their backstory and architecture? Worth checking out if you have a resort day!
40. Scavenger Hunts – Instead of paid arcade games, try one of the free Disney scavenger hunts like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Keeps the kids entertained without extra cost.
41. Free Celebration Buttons – Stop by Guest Relations at the park entrance for a free celebration button if you’re there for a birthday, anniversary, or first visit. Makes for a great, free keepsake!
42. Pack a Cooler – If you’re driving or have access to a car, pack a cooler with sandwiches and snacks. You can go out to the parking lot for a meal, then head back into the park.
43. Smart Alcohol Choices – If you’re gonna drink, opt for the beers or wines from the country you’re in when you’re in Epcot. They’re usually a bit cheaper than cocktails.
44. Use a Travel Agent – Some offer free planning services and can even monitor for discounts and apply them to your trip retroactively. They might even score you some hard-to-get dining reservations!
45. Attend Special Event Days – Now, I know what you’re thinking. Special events mean special spending, right? But actually, some events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party include exclusive parades, shows, and even free treats! So, you can actually skip a regular park day and go to an event instead. You get special experiences, and hey, who can say no to free cookies?
46. Gas Up Before You Arrive – So, this one is kinda on the way into the park, but still. The gas stations on Disney property tend to have higher prices. Make sure to fill up your tank before you get there, especially if you’re renting a car. Every penny counts!
47. Disney Visa Rewards Card – Alright, hear me out on this one. If you get the Disney Visa card, you can rack up points that can be used on dining, shopping, and more inside the parks. I mean, if you’re gonna spend, you might as well get something back, right? And don’t forget the cardmember perks like exclusive character meet and greets.
48. Free Disney-themed crafts and activities – Some resorts offer free crafts. Art of Animation held a free drawing class when we stayed there. My daughter was only 6, but she followed the directions and ended up making this awesome picture of Goofy. I loved it so much, I framed it and have it hanging in her bedroom.
49. Check for Last-Minute Deals – Always check Disney’s official website for last-minute lodging deals in addition to Priceline. Sometimes they offer major discounts to fill up rooms.
50. Take Advantage of the Mid-Day Break – Let’s be honest, Disney World can be exhausting, especially for little ones and, well, for us too! Instead of pushing through and spending money on coffee, snacks, or even souvenirs just to keep the family occupied, head back to your hotel for a mid-day break. Use this time for a nap, a swim, or even just to relax. You’ll come back refreshed for the evening activities, and you’ll likely spend less because you took that break.
Wrap-Up: Disney World Money-Saving Hacks
Whew! That’s a lot of saving.
With a bit of careful planning and resourcefulness, you can make your Disney World dreams come true without straining your budget.
Remember, the key is to be flexible, set a budget, and prioritize the experiences that matter most to create lasting memories for your entire family. So, embark on your enchanting journey to the happiest place on earth, and let the magic unfold while keeping your wallet happy too!
Do you have any money-saving Disney tips? Please share in the comments!