Kids love Disney (as do many adults!), which is why a trip to Disney World (a dream vacation for a lot of us) can be a wonderful family experience.
But it can also be an expensive experience.
Disney World, which features, four theme parks, two water parks, and over twenty Disney Resort Hotels, can get pretty pricey.
Between the cost of plane tickets, accommodation, park fees and food, costs at Disney World can really add up.
So, what can you do?
Well, fortunately, there are tons of things that you can do to save money at Disney World, and still have fun on a budget.
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Here are a bunch of Disney World tips to help enjoy your dream vacation on a budget.
What will I learn?
1. Take advantage of free Disney World stuff
I know, it’s hard to believe there is anything free in Disney Land.
But there are some freebies you can use.
So, before you plan your trip, be sure to take a look at Everything Free at Walt Disney World to see all the available freebies so you don’t waste money on them while vacationing.
2. Join the Disney Vacation Club
It’s sort of like Disney movie Club where you get access to exclusive deals. While membership is a bit costly, if you’re a huge Disney fan, then joining the Disney Vacation Club could save you money in the long run.
Essentially, the DVC is a vacation timeshare program. There are nine DVC resorts at Walt Disney World.
As a member, you get access to a plethora of discounts on meals, tickets and more at Disney resorts.
3. Get discounted tickets for various members
If you’re a member of the military, AARP, AAA or D23, then you could get a discount on your Disney World passes. So, always make sure to check your eligibility and you could get a relatively good discount on your Disney trip.
Check out disneyland.disney.go.com/offers-discounts/ for special offers and discounts.
4. DIY the trip planning
Rather than going through a travel agent to book your Disney World trip, book it yourself online instead.
If you book your flights, hotel and transportation separately, yourself, then you’re much more likely to get the best deal on your trip.
You can use comparison sites to shop around for the cheapest flights and accommodation, and often find them at a much lower price that you would if you booked the whole trip as a package.
5. Don’t visit during the peak season
Avoiding the park at peak season and visiting during the low season is a really simple way to save a lot of money at Disney World.
For example, visiting Disney World in the weeks immediately after New Year is one of the best times to go, as this is considered a low season time.
The fall season is also a good time to visit. Often, you’ll get hotel rooms for half of the price.
6. Check Disney for deals
Before you go to Disney World, always take the time to check if there are any deals or discounts on offer.
Often, on websites like MouseSavers.com, you can find discounts and special offers for a wide range of things.
Deals like free dining plans, discounts on Disney World Resorts, such as 30% off, and ticket offers are available on those sites, so they’re worth checking out.
7. Try the Magic Your Way vacation package
The Magic Your Way Package is a family package offered by Disney that allows you to experience all of the wonders of a vacation at Disney World at an affordable rate.
With this package, you can choose your accommodation and the number of days, from one to ten, you want on your base ticket – this allows you to enter one theme park a day. Then you can decide which other options you want to add, like the ability to visit Disney Water Parks.
You also get a number of discounts, like a 10% discount at Basin White at the Grand Floridian and 20% off non-discounted purchases at Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company locations in the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
8. Get the Orlando Magicard
One of the best ways to save money at Disney World is to get an Orlando Magicard.
With this card, you can get tons of great savings on attractions, accommodation, restaurants and shopping.
If you want to get your hands on an Orlando Magicard, then phone the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc, on 800-643-9492 or visit visitorlando.com.
9. Consider staying at a Disney hotel
At Disney World, there are more than twenty Disney Resort hotels to choose from – and while staying in a non-Disney resort might seem like the cheaper option, it’s not always the best choice.
That’s because Disney resorts actually come with extra perks that you wouldn’t get if you stayed elsewhere.
For example, you get complimentary transportation and parking, as well as Disney Extra Magic hours (more on that later.)
10. Rent a non-Disney house
If you don’t feel like staying at a Disney hotel, then why not rent a non-Disney house.
Most hotels at Disney world only accommodate four people. So, if you’ve got a large family, then you’ll need to rent two rooms – which doubles the cost!
That’s why it’s a good idea to rent vacation homes – which often come with their own pools!
11. Volunteer to get perks
Did you know that volunteers can often get discounted or even free admission to Disney World by participating in one of the park’s volunteer programs?
One of the best volunteer programs is the Youth Education Series, or Y.E.S, program.
With this program, children aged five to eighteen can take an education class at the Disney World Resort. And, adults can participate too, as chaperones for children under the age of twelve are needed.
The Individual enrollment option allows students to participate with a parent. This Individual Program runs through January to February and June to August. Students and their participating parent get discounted tickets.
Another way to save money on Disney through volunteering is through local Disney-run sporting events – like Disney’s Princess Half Marathon.
If you participate in one of these events, you can often get discounted or free admission.
12. Don’t drive to dDisney
To save yourself cash on parking fees and to make things easier, never drive to Disney.
Leave your car at home instead – you’ll save cash on parking fees and it’s just simpler to navigate the resorts.
Through the Disney Transportation System, you can get buses, and guests of Disney resorts can hop on the Magical Express coaches, which will transport you for free.
By the way, if you want to make some extra money with your car while you’re not using it, read this.
13. Bring your own stroller(s)
At Disney World, a single stroller will cost you $15 per day or $13 a day if you pre-pay for multiple days and a double stroller will cost you $31 per day or $27 a day if you prep-pay for multiple days.
That’s pretty costly.
So, bring your own stroller and you’ll save yourself a lot of cash – plus you’ll save yourself the hassle of having to rent one.
14. Bring your own water
A bottle of water in the parks at Disney World will cost you $2.50. So, if you’re traveling with a large group or it’s a particularly hot day, water can get expensive.
So, either bring bottled water from home, or your own refillable water bottles. The park offers a number of water coolers where you can fill up your own bottles.
15. Buy a multiday Disney Pass
While you can get discounted tickets, an easier and more effective way to save money on your Disney passes is to buy a multiday Disney ticket.
When you opt to only pay for a single day, you’ll pay more than you would for a four day or a seven-day pass.
For example, a 2-Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket costs, $215.13, which is $107.56 per day – but, a 7-Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket costs $394.05, which is only $56.29 per day.
So, generally, the longer you choose to stay at Disney World, the cheaper the cost of your tickets will be overall.
16. Plan a free day
I know, it’s hard to believe you could do anything for free in Disney Land, but it is possible.
Planning your Disney World trip can make the whole vacation more cost-efficient and less stressful.
But don’t over-schedule yourself.
In your plans, make sure that you leave one day free. Enjoy some of the amenities at the hotel.
Scheduling in a free day allows you to save some cash and relax a bit too!
17. Look for discounted tickets
Just like the discounted gift cards I talked about a few days ago, nowadays, there are tons of places online where you can purchase discounted Disney Tickets.
But, proceed with caution.
Make sure that you only purchase discounted tickets from reputable places, like UnderCoverTourist.com.
This website is an authorized seller of discount Disney World tickets.
18. Take advantage of “Extra Magic Hours”
If you stay in a Disney resort, then you’ll get access to Disney World Extra Magic hours.
On certain days, the Walt Disney World theme park opens an hour earlier and three hours later.
This means that you can get more out of the time at the park – and more for your money. Make sure to check which days offer Extra Magic Hours, so that you can properly schedule your trip.
For a current list of dates with Extra Magic Hours, check out this site.
19. Bounce back if you’re planning another trip
When you do go on your trip to Disney World, if you feel like you’d like to return to the park within the next year, then use the Bounce Back offer.
All you need to do is book your reservation from within your room, and Disney will give you 40% off of your next stay – which is a great saving!
20. Buy the Disney Dining plan
Aside from flights, accommodation and transportation, food is often one of the biggest costs involved on a trip to Disney World.
A great way to save some cash on dining is to purchase the Disney Dining Plan.
With this plan, you can save up to 40% off of meals.
All you need to do when booking your trip is choose a Disney Dining Plan option that best suits your budget.
Essentially, you purchase certain number of meals ahead of time, and for each night of your resort hotel stay, each guest in your room gets a certain number of quick service meals, sit-down meals and snacks, depending on which plan you chose.
There are more than 100 restaurants to choose from.
21. Use your credit card to collect airline miles
Use a credit card that allows you to earn airline miles to pay your bills and for any expenses. And, then use those miles to fly to Disney World.
For example, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express gives you 30,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 in purchases on the card within the first 3 months.
22. Make your own meals
Some of the meals at Disney World are pretty expensive – and even snack food can set you back quite a bit.
So, consider making your own meals instead.
Rather than buying a pack of chips to go with your hot dog or burger, bring some chips to the park from home – they’re likely to be much cheaper.
Visitors can bring some items to Disney Land, including food items that do not require heating. Just make sure that you inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.
23. Dress up yourself
At Disney World, there are salons, like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Pirates League, which you can pay to dress up your child as a Disney princess or pirate.
But, it’s pretty costly. So, consider doing it yourself.
Order a Disney costume online, and dress your kids up before you go to the park. That way, your children get to enjoy the fun of dressing up, but at a much lower cost.
Also, you can always visit the Harmony Barber Shop on Town Square in the Magic Kingdom, and they’ll do your child’s hair for just $5.
24. Remember, kids eat free
Did you know that many restaurants will allow kids to eat breakfast for free?
Just look out for a sign in the window – most restaurants advertise free kids breakfasts.
25. Don’t forget the birthday freebies
If it’s your birthday, or the birthday of someone you’re traveling with, you can get some pretty great birthday freebies from Disney World.
First, pick up a free birthday button from a Guest Services point – which can be found at all parks – or from your hotel.
Then, wear it around the park and resorts – when people see it they’ll likely offer you freebies, like a free desert or FastPass.
You don’t always get freebies, but it’s worth trying and, at the very least, you’ll get some nice birthday wishes.
26. Skip the Park Hopper
A Park Hopper ticket allows you to visit all four Disney World parks in one day.
This costs you between $40 and $60 more. But, as there’s so much to do in each park, you don’t really need to visit multiple parks in the same day – meaning that the park hopper ticket upgrade isn’t really necessary.
27. Visit the free attractions
Many people don’t realize that there are actually many free things to do at Disney World.
A visit to Disney’s Board Walk is free.
You can get a free 3-hour parking permit too if you ask a lot attendant.
You can also take a free tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
You could also take the monorail over Epcot or the boat across the water to the Magic Kingdom, or watch the Electrical Water Pageant.
These activities and sights are fun and they won’t harm your budget either!
28. Skip the soda
A soda at Disney world sets you back at least $3 and if you’ve got a large family, then you could end up spending quite a bit of your budget.
So, rather than purchasing soda at the park, take some soda with you instead. As mentioned above, Disney allows you to take food and beverages in with you.
29. Join AAA
If you want to save money at Disney World, then consider joining AAA.
AAA benefits are great specially when it comes to discounts for Disney World. You can get discounts on tickets, accommodations and more.
30. Don’t buy souvenirs at Disney World
At Disney World, you’ll see tons of souvenirs that you might be tempted to purchase – especially if you’re traveling with young children. But, these souvenirs are overpriced.
Often, you can find the t-shirts, Mickey Mouse ears, mugs and other souvenirs available in Disney gift shops, online for a much lower cost.
So, rather than paying more when you get to the park, purchase your Disney souvenirs before you go.
Then, if you’ve bought a Disney t-shirt or a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, you and your family can wear them around the park.
It can be tough, however, to keep kids out of the gift shop. So, if they do start to ask for stuff, tell them you’ve bought it, but it’s being shipped home. Then, order the stuff online when you get home instead.
31. Check for free souvenirs
Many people don’t realize that there are actually many Disney souvenirs that you can get for free.
A great one is your Disney Magic Band – which you get when you stay at a Disney resort.
You can also get stickers for free, which are great for scrapbooks and autograph books, and maps. If you visit the Animal Kingdom and your kids take part in the Wilderness Explorer Program, guests can get a free Field Journal at the Wilderness Explorer headquarters, as well as stickers.
32. Avoid parking fees
If you choose not to stay in an on-site hotel, then you won’t get complimentary parking – and at Disney, parking can cost more than $20 per day.
But, there are still ways that you can save on parking fees.
The best way to save is to use the Disney Shuttle for transportation – this a much more cost effective option.
33. Join the D23
D23 is a Disney fan club – it’s actually the biggest one in the world.
As a member, you’ll get access to a number of discounts and deals. Deals and offers, like discounts on tickets, shopping and food, are available.
34. Purchase an annual pass
If you’re planning on visiting Disney World frequently, then consider purchasing an annual pass.
When you buy an annual pass, you get unlimited, year-round access to all four of the theme parks at Disney World.
But, that’s not all.
You also get some really generous discounts on Disney merchandise, food and other things at Disney World.
35. Avoid data charges
When you visit Disney, always take advantage of the free WiFi, rather than using cell phone data.
Data charges can add up quickly, putting a big dent in your Disney World budget.
So, if you need to post some photos on social media, then make sure that it won’t cost you!
36. Create your own autograph book
At Disney, you can purchase official Disney autograph books.
But, again, these can be pretty pricey, and even seemingly small costs can add up at Disney World.
So, instead of purchasing an autograph book, make one before you visit the park instead.
Create an autograph book with your kids, before you get to the park, and then ask their favorite Disney characters to sign it.
Making your own book is not only more cost-efficient, but it’s also more exciting for the kids!
37. Visit when your child is under 3
Did you know that children under the age of three can get into Disney World for free?
It’s true – kids under three years old get free admission to the parks.
A ticket for a four day trip can cost $300 for kids over three, so by taking them at a younger age, you can save yourself quite a lot of cash.
38. Keep your receipts
Did you know that you can get discounts from Disney World from your receipts?
Many restaurants at Disney World put discounts for Disney retailers on their receipts – meaning you could get a great deal on toys, costumers and other souvenirs.
Many of these offers are same day discounts, so always make sure to check your receipt when you get it.
A few more Disney World tips
Here are a few more Disney World tips to help you and your kids enjoy your dream vacation without the nightmarish costs of this usually very expensive vacation.
39. Start saving
Rather than putting your whole trip on your credit card or scrambling to try to scrape together enough cash, follow a long-term savings plan. Each month, put part of your pay-check into a savings account and don’t touch it!
Limit unnecessary expenses and make a few small cutbacks if you need to.
Even if you only put away a small amount each week, after a few months, you’ll have a fairly good amount to put towards your trip.
And, if your trip isn’t going to be for a couple of years, you’ll have time to save up for the whole vacation.
40. Earn extra cash for the trip
If you only earn $1800 per month and your outgoings are $1800, then it’s going to be difficult to save anything.
That’s why picking up some extra cash is a good idea.
A great way to earn some extra cash from the comfort of your own home is through Swagbucks.
Essentially, Swagbucks is a website that gives you cash and free gift cards for taking surveys, watching TV, shopping and more.
Through Swagbucks you can earn cash that you can put towards your trip.
By the way, you can get a free $5 sign up bonus if you register via this link.
Ther bottom line
Rather than denying yourself and your family a trip to Disney World because you think you can’t afford it, simply follow these money saving tips.
If you use some of the above tips and methods, you can save yourself a lot of money at Disney World.