Everybody wants to know how to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth for less. No matter someone’s income level, career, family size, or favorite Disney film, a Walt Disney World Resort trip can be expensive. With that being said (and widely already known), let’s explore over 50 ways to save money on your Walt Disney World vacation.
Saving Money on Your Hotel (14)
The cost of where you stay while at Walt Disney World could easily be the most expensive part of your trip. There are many ways to save money regarding this potentially costly decision.
Plan and Compare Prices
Planning early can be one of the best ways to save money. This rule generally applies to any hotel, whether Disney-owned or not.
Consider Off-Peak Seasons
Try to visit Walt Disney World during less busy times of the year. Resorts tend to be more affordable when the parks are less crowded. This often coincides with the school schedule and holidays. As such, the summer, spring break, and the holiday season are the busiest times in Orlando. This is often because they have special events, longer hours, and more things to enjoy. However, remember this also means more crowds (and a lot more money).
Stay Off Property
Walt Disney World Resort offers several hotels on the property around its four theme parks and Disney Springs area. However, you can often find many other hotels, rental properties, and even resorts that may provide better deals than Disney offers. Although you may miss out on certain theme park benefits, such as early park admission or more accessible transportation to and from the theme parks, you could easily save hundreds of dollars.
Consider Disney Value Resorts
If you still prefer to stay at a Disney Resort hotel, there are ways to save some money. Disney offers a wide range of resort options, including Value Resorts, that are typically more budget-friendly. These resorts still provide the magical Disney experience without the high price tag of Deluxe accommodations at places like the Contemporary Resort or The Grand Floridian.
Explore Travel Rewards Programs
If you have loyalty points with a hotel chain (or a travel credit card), you can often find hotels and book them using points, rewards, or miles. Even if you don’t have enough to cover an entire stay, using these rewards to pay for even a few nights could save you hundreds.
Consider renting a vacation home or condo if traveling with a larger group. This can be a more cost-effective option compared to booking multiple hotel rooms. Plus, you’ll benefit from shared living spaces, additional bathrooms, and a kitchen.
Opt for a Shorter Stay
This is an option many people don’t like to think about, but it, too, can save a lot of money. It can be argued that whether you visit Walt Disney World for a whole month, you will still never get to see and do everything you want. But if you are considering a trip that’s two weeks, ten days, or even one week, you could shave off a day or two of the trip and giving up some of the less important attractions.
Since many hotels charge different prices on different nights of the week, you can get a significant discount if you stay Sunday-Friday instead of an entire week.
Use Discount Websites and Apps
There are dozens – perhaps hundreds of discount travel websites nowadays. Using Hotels.com, Expedia.com, Booking.com, Travelocity.com, and many others, you can sometimes find travel deals or promotions you won’t find when booking directly with a hotel or resort.
Use A Travel Agent
As with discount travel websites, a professional travel agent can often get you a rate that is cheaper than what you can find on your own. Many travel agents specialize in Orlando and even Walt Disney World vacations and can also provide you with some useful tips and knowledge.
Take Advantage of Military Discounts
Walt Disney World frequently offers special discounts and accommodations for military personnel. If you, a family member, or a person in your travel party is a military member, you can take advantage of special pricing.
Take Advantage of Visa Discounts
If you have a Disney Visa credit card, Disney provides discounted rates on specific resort hotels at certain times of the year. These can sometimes be as much as 35% off standard room rates and even include Deluxe Resorts.
If your travel dates are flexible, play around with various dates. Prices can drastically fluctuate weekly, even during peak or non-peak times.
Look for Package Deals
Walt Disney World often offers vacation packages, including accommodations and park tickets. These packages can sometimes result in significant savings compared to booking each component separately.
Find a Hotel With Free Activities
Whether staying on Disney property or elsewhere, many hotels will have free activities such as pool access, playgrounds, and sports activities. Taking advantage of these unique amenities can add incredible value to your Disney vacation while saving you the expense of another day in the parks.
Saving Money on Disney Park Tickets (10)
Walt Disney World tickets are another expense that can add up quickly. With options for multiple days, park hoppers, and other add-ons, they can not only be confusing but also become a huge percentage of your overall vacation cost. Here are some top ways to buy Disney tickets on a budget…
Buy Tickets Online and in Advance
Purchasing your Walt Disney World park tickets in advance will almost always cost less than buying it at the gate.
Know How Many Days You Plan to Visit
Multi-day tickets provide a better value per day compared to single-day tickets. The more days you plan to spend at the parks, the lower the daily cost of admission. However, it’s also important not to buy days you don’t plan to use. So before you even arrive in Orlando, you should know how many days you plan to spend at Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Related: Disney’s New $59 Weekday Ticket
Skip the Park Hopper Option
Park Hopper tickets allow you to visit multiple Walt Disney World parks in a single day. While convenient, a Park Hopper ticket is more expensive than regular Disney theme park tickets. In addition, hopping from park to park will take some time out of your day.
Look for Special Promotions
Walt Disney World Resort occasionally offers special ticket promotions, especially during off-peak seasons, and to Florida residents. Look for any discounts, deals, or bundled packages available during your travel dates.
Consider Annual Passes
Although Annual Passes can be expensive, they may be a good option if you plan to visit Walt Disney World parks multiple times within a year (or even during an extended vacation).
Look for Discounted Tickets from Authorized Sellers
Many authorized ticket resellers offer discounted Walt Disney World tickets. Some of them, UndercoverTourist.com, for example, will often be able to sell you tickets at prices lower than what you will find on Walt Disney World’s website.
Use Credit Card Rewards or Points
If you have a credit card with rewards or points, check if you can use them to purchase Walt Disney World tickets. One of the best options is the Disney Chase Visa credit card.
If you have this card, you can use Disney reward dollars to purchase a Disney park ticket. You can also get a Disney gift card with the reward dollars to offset the cost of other theme park expenses.
Skip The Water Park Add Ons
Walt Disney World offers a pair of water parks and minigolf courses that can also be added to your Walt Disney World ticket. If you want to save money on your ticket prices, this is one element you can avoid.
Plan No-Park Days
Consider few days during your Disney vacation when you don’t visit the theme parks. Taking a day or two to visit Disney Springs (which is free) or relax at the hotel pool not only gives you a chance to rest but saves you from having to add additional days to your Disney ticket.
Avoid Special Events
Disney offers many special events, especially during Halloween and Christmastime. But these unique celebrations and parties are often much more money than your standard Disney park ticket. Although these can be a fun add-on during a Disney vacation, it’s best to avoid them when booking on a budget.
Saving Money on Food at the Parks (11)
Food at the four theme parks (and even at the resorts) can add up quickly. But there are still a few ways to save a couple hundred dollars off your Disney vacation when it comes to sustenance.
Bring Your Own Snacks and Water
Bringing your own snacks and refillable water bottles can save you from having to shell out a few bucks throughout your day. Disney theme parks, just like concerts and sports stadiums, provide many drinks and food items that can be extremely expensive (considering what you’re getting).
Eat Before You Arrive
If you plan to visit the parks in the morning, grabbing a quick bite to eat at your hotel (especially if it’s a complimentary breakfast) is a great way to save money. Being full before you leave for the day may help you avoid morning snacks at the theme park or even skip a midday meal.
Consider the Disney Dining Plan
As of this writing, Disney Dining Plans are currently not available. However, they will be returning in 2024. If you visit the parks in 2024, the plans allow you to pre-pay for meals and snacks at a discounted rate. They can be cost-effective, especially if you plan to eat at sit-down restaurants.
Portions at Walt Disney World can be pretty large. But even when they aren’t, eating a large meal before hopping on Space Mountain is not necessarily a good idea. Sharing meals, snacks, or even drinks with friends or family can cut the cost in half.
Order Off the Kid’s Menu
Similar to sharing meals, this is another way to reduce expenses and portion size. Kids meals often provide enough food for an average adult but at significantly less money. In addition, they may come with a drink, whereas adult meals may not.
Eat Outside the Park
Walt Disney World exists in a bit of a bubble. However, if you are staying at a nearby hotel and have snacks or food in your room or can find cheaper alternatives to theme park dining, it’s always a surefire to save some money. Just be mindful that the time it may take you to leave the park and come back (especially at Magic Kingdom Park) can cost you extra time in the park.
Research Menus in Advance
Checking out the menus you plan to visit can help you make informed choices and avoid surprises at the cash register. It will also help you get your food sooner (and there’s also mobile orders you can use, too).
Look for Snack Carts
Instead of sitting down for a full meal at a restaurant or a quick service location, consider grabbing snacks from carts around the parks.
You can find options like popcorn, pretzels, and ice cream that are often more affordable than a multi-course meal at Cinderella Castle.
Skip the Alcohol
Although this may be controversial, hear me out. As always, alcoholic drinks can be a costly add-on.
But, if you indulge in a drink, it’s best to be conservative, especially at Walt Disney World, where drinks can be $20 apiece. Besides, there are many places around Orlando to grab a drink after a day at the parks (and often for less).
Consider a Refillable Popcorn Bucket
You can purchase the bucket and refill it multiple times throughout your trip for $2 each time.
Skip Table Dining
Although table dining can be a fun and unique experience, it’s often not worth the price Disney will charge.
You can easily save a lot of money by opting for quick service locations or snack carts. In addition to saving money, it will also save you time.
Saving Money on Other Items at the Parks (9)
Even after purchasing your Walt Disney World tickets, you can still spend quite a bit of money inside the gates. Merchandise, photos, and other add-ons can double the cost of your admission. Here are some of the best ways to save money while in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and/or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Skip the Photopass
Disney Photopass options allow you to capture memories of your vacation. However, using your smartphone, you can catch many of the same images (except maybe on-ride photos). Cast members will just as happily photograph you using your smartphone when meeting characters.
Skip Genie Plus
Genie Plus can be a great add-on to limit wait times and see more attractions during your theme park visit. However, the price of the feature can add up quickly, especially if you are in a large party or are visiting multiple days.
If you are interested in purchasing Genie Plus, it might be best to wait until your last day and buy it if there are attractions you want to see but still haven’t.
Skip Individual Lightning Lanes
As with Genie Plus, Individual Lightning Lanes are a great way to skip the regular line. However, these can be costly at prices that are around $20 a person per ride.
A family of five can easily add $100 to their park admission if each member purchases one. In addition, all attractions with Lightning Lanes do have standby or virtual queues – so you can still ride them without having to pay extra. It just may be a longer wait.
Buy Souvenirs Off Property
Many places in and around Orlando sell Disney souvenirs for a lot less than prices you’ll find on Disney property. Also, you can even purchase many Disney items online at significant discounts.
Bring Your Own Stroller and Baby Supplies
If you have a baby or toddler, bringing your stroller and supplies will save you hundreds. Although Walt Disney World rents strollers to parents, it can add up fast day over day.
In addition, Walt Disney World does sell baby supplies such as diapers and snacks at their Baby Care Centers. Although this feature is nice, you will pay extra for convenience.
Bring Your Own Rain Gear
It rains a lot in Central Florida. As such, Disney makes a lot of money selling ponchos and other rain supplies in their parks and resorts. Although buying a rain poncho with Mickey on it may be fun, it’s not a way to save money.
Bring Your Own Autograph Book
If traveling with kids (or a Disney adult) who wants to collect autographs of Disney characters, you can save money by bringing your notebook or pad. Characters will still sign it, and you can often get a better deal than what they will charge you in the theme parks.
Skip the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Although this has become a staple of many families at Walt Disney World, it can be an expensive makeover. If your little one wants to feel special, you can easily dress them up as a Disney Princess (or other character) before you arrive at the park.
Not only will this save you money, but it will save time, so you and them can enjoy more rides and shows.
Skip Lightsabers, Droid Building, And Other Extras
Just as with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, building a lightsaber or droid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can be fun for your child but can get costly. You should have no problem finding them a Star Wars souvenir outside the parks that costs less.
Saving Money on Transportation (6)
One of the final ways you can rack up a lot of extra costs on your Walt Disney World vacation is transportation. But we aren’t talking about airplane rides or your drive to the Orlando area. This is strictly transportation in and around Orlando and the Walt Disney World Resort after you’ve arrived.
Free Disney Hotel Transportation
Although we previously mentioned staying off Disney property could save you money on your hotel stay, staying at a Disney resort can save you on transportation. They all offer busses that can take you to and from the various parks, and some even have ferry, monorail, or skyliner transportation.
In addition, some are close enough to walk from the hotel to the theme park entrance. Although these are usually the more expensive hotels, the benefit is you may not need to rent a car, pay for Uber, or worry about the cost of theme park parking.
Free Non-Disney Hotel Transportation
Many hotels and resorts in the Orlando area also provide shuttle service to and from Walt Disney World. It may not be equal to Disney shuttles in that they may drop you off farther from the park entrances, but they may still be a free benefit you can use to save money.
Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft can be an affordable alternative to renting a car. Also, depending on your hotel location, taking an Uber or Lyft may be cheaper than driving your own vehicle and paying for parking at Walt Disney World.
Avoid Rental Cars
Piggybacking off the previous suggestions, renting a car can be a costly expense. In recent years, the car rental market has skyrocketed to costs that can add another $1,000 to your Disney vacation (if a week long). If you can avoid renting a car using ride-sharing services and hotel transportation, do it.
Book a Hotel Near Dining and Shopping
Whether staying on Walt Disney World property or not, choosing a place that offers dining and shopping nearby saves you on transportation. If you can easily stroll down the block or across the street and grab something to eat or buy souvenirs, it saves you from needing a car.
If driving to the theme parks, it’s best to take as few vehicles as possible. Since the parking rate is charged per vehicle and not per passenger, carpooling can save you half the parking costs if traveling with a large group.
There are many ways to save on a Disney vacation! However, it’s important to note that some of these suggestions come at a sacrifice. Whether that’s a shorter trip, staying off property, or reducing time and experiences in the park, just be sure it’s something you’re willing to give up.
There’s nothing worse than going to Walt Disney World and coming home with regrets. But other than that, happy planning!