Budget Disney Travel Tips

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World

By
on
May 19, 2019

The reality is that most of us will be visiting Disney World on a budget.

Airfare, park tickets, dining, hotels, souvenirs, and everything else will surely break the bank if you’re not strategic with your spending.

Whether you’re going to Disney World for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or you venture to Disney as much as you possibly can, the cost in doing so can become outrageous. In comes the need to visit Disney World on a budget.

Don’t assume that you can’t afford to go, however.

This article will uncover the 15 ways that our family saved some serious cash during our 6-day Disney World vacation. Read on to find our best tips for visiting Disney World on a budget without feeling like you‘re cutting corners or missing out on the magic.

How to Save Money at Disney World

1. Disney World on a Budget: Start Planning Early

A vacation to Walt Disney World represents a major investment for many families and often requires the need to save for months, if not years, in advance.

For a vacation such as this, you will want to do advance planning and research so that you can make the most of your trip and ensure that you do not find out about an activity, dining experience, or attraction too late to add it to your plans.

Likewise, coming upon a seasonal dining deal or locking into a hotel discount is more likely to take place if you start looking early.

Disney World on a budget additional planning tips:  Skyscanner is a travel search engine, meaning that they search hundreds of airlines, hotels, car rental, and travel agency websites to bring you all of your options in one place.

In other words, they’re a comparison website that makes booking your travel easier by helping find the best deal for you.

Airfarewatchdog is an airfare listing and alert site that continuously tracks airfare data. They look for great deals on flights and send instant alerts so you can see the best deals before they sell out.

They check all airlines, even Southwest and Allegiant, and even promo code airfares which can only be booked on airline websites.

Booking.com is a travel fare generator website and travel search engine for lodging reservations. Booking.com is quick and easy to use and will definitely save you time and money when you plan your next trip.

2. Sign up for MouseSavers to Save Money at Disney World

Mousesavers is a site devoted to helping people save money on Disney and other theme park vacations.

They provide a free guide to some of the best discounts, deals, and coupons in the Orlando area. Their discounts typically cannot be beaten and should be utilized when visiting Disney World on a budget.

Sign up for their newsletter to receive exclusive discounts and notifications when new sales arise.

Wow! Discover the various (easy!) ways we saved lots of money on our Disney World vacation! After keeping track of every penny that we spent, we came up with tese 15 cost-saving lifesavers! #disneyonabudget2020 #disneyonabudgetforfamilies #ways #waystosaveatdisneyworld #waystosaveatdisney #costofadisneyvacation

3. Use Discount Ticketing Sites to Save Money at Disney World

Did you know that there are several authorized resellers that sell the very same Disney park tickets that Disney sells, but at a discount?

These tickets carry the same perks and access that you would have if you purchased them from Disney itself.

My recommendation for the best prices and most reliable discounted Disney ticket sales are from Undercover Tourist.

I chose to use Undercover Tourist because of their fantastic return/refund policy, their consumer protections, and customer satisfaction guarantee.

Shipping is free and tax is included in the advertised ticket prices.

4. Disney World on a Budget: Skip the Park Hopper Option

Another way to save on ticket costs is to skip some of the add-ons, particularly the park hopper option.

Currently, a 1 Park Per Day Ticket for guests age 10+ costs $109.00. On the other hand, a 1 Day Ticket with Park Hopper Option for guests age 10+ costs $169.00. A $69 per person savings can be huge.

Though it may be tempting to have the freedom to bounce from Magic Kingdom to Epcot when the mood strikes you, it is definitely not necessary in order to have fun.

In fact, some find the idea of park-hopping to be an added stress, especially those traveling with younger children or groups.

5. Disney World on a budget: Drive to Orlando to Save Money

If you are in a pinch and are truly looking for ways to save on your Disney vacation, opt-out of expensive air travel.

Instead, consider a good ol‘ fashioned family road trip for your adventure to Orlando. Not only will driving save you on the upfront cost of getting there, but it will provide you with reliable transportation for getting around once there.

Don’t think you can cut it? I’ve got every detail you’ll ever need to master a family road trip and enjoy it too!

6. Travel During the Off-Season to Save Money at Disney World

‘When’ you choose to visit can make a substantial difference in your Disney World expenses and overall budget.

During peak times, the parks will be terribly crowded and hotel rates are sky-high. You’ll be able to do about half as much as you expect, and it will cost you, both in money and in precious time.

Likewise, restaurants will be booked up months in advance and Disney is known to raise meal prices at many of its restaurants during busy times of the year.

By contrast, if you go at an off-peak time, the parks will be far less crowded and the room rates will be lower. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can do in a day when you are not fighting huge crowds.

7. Stay at an Off-Site Hotel Close to Disney World to Save Money

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Save money at Disney by staying off-property
Fantastic off-site Disney hotel

As tempting as a Disney resort (and all the perks that come with it) can be, you can have just as much fun and save money by staying off property.

Disney hotels have immersive theming and cool perks, but they are usually more expensive than equivalent off-property hotels not owned by Disney. Staying elsewhere can save you a lot, especially for larger families who need a suite or more than one room.

We stayed off property during our most recent 6-night stay in Orlando and LOVED it! For less than $100/night, we not only saved a significant amount of money, but we found a resort in which we would return to and recommend to others.

Read about all about the details of our stay, as well as a complete review of Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista!

Booking.com

Additional planning tip to save money: If you’re set on staying at a Disney property, but still looking for ways to save, consider choosing a Disney Value Resort!

8. Disney World on a Budget: Cash in Frequent Flyer Miles or Hotel Points

While a trip to Disney World will never be completely free, using frequent flyer miles and/or hotel points can reduce the cost dramatically. Not sure how? Consult a beginner’s guide to traveling using points.

Flights to and from Orlando are probably one of the easiest things to redeem points for. 46 different airlines fly into Orlando, so you will have plenty of options for using your points.

Similarly, you can find every type of hotel and room-type available in the areas around the Disney parks. Look at the major loyalty program brands and at some of the other lower priced hotels where you should be able to use fixed value points.

9. Take a shuttle to Disney World and avoid parking fees

Standard parking is $25/day for a car or motorcycle at all 4 Disney theme parks. This cost can definitely add up and ruin your budget depending on the length of your stay and how many parks you visit.

When staying off-property we looked for a resort that had a complimentary shuttle to avoid personal vehicle parking fees. Luckily, Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista (and other hotels in the area) include access to a free shuttle in their standard resort fee.

Take note: Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels can enjoy a wide array of complimentary transportation options to and from the Disney theme parks.

10. Disney World on a budget: Bring your Own Lunch

In order to save money, we intentionally did not purchase a Disney dining plan. Likewise, we chose and preferred to pack our own lunch each day for a quick and inexpensive way to fill our bellies.

Our homemade lunches consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, snack-size bags of chips, and water.

There was always a park bench available to stop and take a break to eat our prepared lunches.

If you are looking for way to save money on your Disney vacation, I would definitely encourage you to bring your own lunch.

11. Snack your way around Disney World to Save Money

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Disney World on a budget, snacks
Disney World giant pretzels – an affordable snack

If you get tired of packing your own lunch, consider snacking your way around the park instead of sitting down for an official meal. This is a great budget-friendly option!

Our family fell in love with the giant Mickey Mouse shaped soft pretzels and ate them as an ‘on-the-go’ dinner at both Magic Kingdom and Epcot. For $6.00 apiece, this was an incredible cost-saving versus eating at a Disney table-service restaurant.

12. Bring your Own Disney World Park Gear

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Disney World on a budget-day bag
My Disney day bag

First-things-first is that I do recommend that you bring a backpack with you if you plan on spending an entire day at one of the Disney parks.

Being prepared with some of the basics will not only help you tour more efficiently, but it will help you save money by not having to purchase them inside the park. (Can anyone say, ‘rain ponchos’?)

Your Disney park bag should include weather-related items, personal items, electronics, and park touring supplies.

13. Take advantage of Disney Freebies to Save Money

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Disney World on a budget, free soda
Disney World on a budget – free soda!

When visiting Disney World on a budget be sure to take advantage of freebies and the free things to do at Disney World.

Fortunately, there are actually some FREE, no strings attached things to do at the Disney parks.

The existence of free things and experiences may come as a surprise to you, as most of them are not publicly advertised or often talked about.

Our two favorite Disney freebies are Club Cool and the free caramels at Karamell-Kuche in Epcot.

Sponsored by Coca-Cola, Club Cool features 8 different (unlimited) sodas from around the world to sample for free. Those in on the secret make Club Cool in Epcot’s Future World a required stop whenever passing from one side of Future World to the other.

Visit the Disney Tourist Blog for a comprehensive list of the free things at Disney.

14. Disney World on a Budget: Enjoy A Non-Park Day

Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan
Fun on Daytona Beach

Although Disney World is located in the middle of the state instead of on the coast, you can still get sand between your toes within a short driving distance.

Our family took advantage of Orlando’s close proximity to Daytona Beach, Florida in order to add a FREE and outdoorsy mid-Disney break. We thoroughly enjoyed our Disney non-park day and were re-energized after a day of relaxing in the sun.

Not only does planning a day at the beach allow you to take a break from the crowds and lines, but it will also help appease those in your family who prefer the ocean over theme parks.

Other awesome things to do in Orlando that aren’t Disney include dining at great restaurants and experiencing Legoland, ICON Orlando, and/or an airboat gator tour.

Learn all about these exciting adventures and more from my friend Harmony at Momma To Go Family Travel Tips and Vacation Planning Services.

Additional non-park day activity: I recently discovered a lesser talked about gem that would be a perfect stop either on the way to Daytona Beach or on a day trip of its own.

Blue Spring State Park is located just outside of Orlando and is home to hundreds of manatees in its perfectly refreshing, always 72 degrees waters.

For a complete overview of visiting Blue Spring State Park, read this exciting post. (Price is $6 per vehicle.)

15. Buy Disney World Souvenirs Somewhere Else to Save Money

Throughout the exits surrounding Disney World are large warehouse-like souvenir shops. These stores stock knock-off Disney souvenirs by the truckful for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay in the park.

If you’re set on buying official park merchandise, however, decide exactly how much you’re willing to spend before you arrive.

Stick to the amount, and once the cash is gone, the shopping is over.

How to Save Money at Disney World: Conclusion

The total cost of a family trip to Disney World depends greatly on where you stay, what you want to do, where you eat, how long you stay, and how hard you are willing to work to secure discounts.

With a little research and some preparation, there are a lot of ways to visit Disney World on a budget. However, it does require some ‘work’.

Do you have any other budget-saving tips for those of us going to Disney?

Jen

As a member of our Travel With A Plan family, click through the following articles for exclusive tips, checklists, and touring plans for your Disney World vacation!

Disney World Touring Plans:

Disney World Ride & FastPass+ Tips:

Disney World Planning Tips:

Disney World Cost:

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Disney World on a Budget: 15 Genius Ways on How to Save Money at Disney World, tips featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan
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6 Comments
  1. Reply

    Karen Quinn

    May 21, 2019

    Such great tips! Disney can get so expensive, this will be so helpful to keep the spends in check!

    • Reply

      admin

      May 24, 2019

      I’m glad you can relate to them! We are very ‘practical’ travelers, so theses tips totally worked for us!

  2. Reply

    Parenthodo4ever

    May 20, 2019

    I must confess, we have never been to a Disneyland. What great tips for our future tour!

    • Reply

      admin

      May 24, 2019

      Yes, tuck them away! When the time comes, you’ll want to find ways to save 🙂

  3. Reply

    Teresa | Happymomhacks

    May 20, 2019

    Buying souvenirs somewhere other than Disney is a great idea. Plus huge money saver. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Reply

      admin

      May 24, 2019

      Thanks! Our kids got Disney photo albums and t-shirts off-site for cheap!

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    Hi, I’m Jen!  Welcome to Travel With A Plan!

    I’m an avid adventurer who is always planning the next family vacation for my husband and I, and our three boys!

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