The Ultimate Savings Guide for A Disney Vacation

With inflation and rising vacation costs, it’s no surprise that one of the most researched questions about a Disney vacation revolves around cost. Now more than ever, couples, families, and adult friend groups wonder if they can afford a Disney vacation. How can you cut costs on a Disney vacation? How can Guests save money on Disney Park tickets? How to save for a Disney World vacation? These are all standard Disney searches from prospective Disney Guests.

This article will provide Disney tips on what costs to expect on your magical Vacation, how to plan for success, and how to budget your vacation dollars. We will even mix in some tips from long-time Disney World pros to help you push your Disney dollars even further in this the ultimate savings guide for a Disney vacation.

Ultimate Guide to Saving Money on a Disney World Vacation

It’s wise to begin planning for a Disney World vacation at least 12-18 months from your target vacation date. Although there is no way to make a Walt Disney World vacation cheaper, budgeting over the long term makes the Vacation more affordable. Plan for your Vacation and save for a year to ensure you feel conformable with what you plan on spending. This timeline also allows space for the rest of the family to get involved with the planning and saving.


Did you know ticket prices decrease by the day at Walt Disney World? A ten-day ticket is the cheapest option when you evaluate ticket cost per day. This means that going on one ten-day trip to Walt Disney World is cheaper than going on two five-day trips when considering ticket costs. If your family is like mine and looking to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth twice a year, you might reconsider and book one longer trip instead of two shorter ones. Not to mention, this means you will also save on travel costs to and from Orlando.

Choosing Your Travel Season

Though this tip is not universally helpful, it can lead to significant vacation savings. If you have flexibility on when you can travel to Walt Disney World Resort, take full advantage of that ability by visiting in a slower season of the year. If a work or school schedule limits you, you may only be available to travel during the busiest times of the year (summer, holiday breaks, etc.). Still, this tip is a money-saver worth considering.

Disney Ticket Calendar Website Booking

Credit: Disney Website

If you are trying to decode the Disney World language surrounding “peak season,” I can help. Peak season is defined as the busiest time of the year in Disney Parks. Holidays break, midsummer, and Disney event weekends are all peak travel times. Some of these shoulder-to-shoulder Park days will likely come as no surprise, like July 4, New Year’s Eve, and December when  Walt Disney World Resort is decorated for Christmas.


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However, you may not anticipate some other busy times, like the first and last weekend of an EPCOT Festival. RunDisney Race Weekends and Florida school’s spring break weeks, to name just a few. Be sure to research previous Disney crowd patterns online (some websites and apps specialize in this area) if traveling outside peak season is possible for your family.

runDisney 90s merchandise (3)

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You can still have a fantastic Disney experience in peak season. Still, if you are planning a vacation with a budget in mind, avoiding peak season visits is a way to cut costs. Resorts will be cheaper, and you may even enjoy a lower Park ticket price if you visit during some of the slowest days of the year.

How to Save Money for Disney World

It costs a lot to visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2023. Between Park tickets, lodging, dining, souvenirs, and transportation costs (if you stay off the Disney Property), price estimations can climb to around $350 per day per adult. The tricky thing is promotions, package deals, and the travel season you visit all heavily affect pricing. The Disney dining choices you make and the Park tickets you buy also impact total cost, so calculating a hard and fast cost per day is not simple.

Walt Disney World Reservations Christmas 2022

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The great news is you can easily estimate costs with the help of a Disney Cast Member on the Disney website. The chat function on the site and the vacation planning tool are beneficial as you map out a potential vacation budget for your Walt Disney World Resort Vacation.

Souvenirs and Reward Points Travel

Going light on souvenirs and extras is a great way to save your budget. After all, Walt Disney World Parks are so fun; skipping the shopping spree at Emporium or Disney Springs’ World of Disney is no big deal for many Guests. If you want to budget for souvenirs, I suggest you allow $35 per family member for one souvenir each.

BouTiki at Disney's Polynesian Resort

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Are you worried about little ones star-struck by merchandise in the Parks? Plan ahead! Big box stores, overstock stores, and dollar stores have fantastic Disney souvenirs you can pick up for the kids before your Vacation. Coloring books, reusable bags, stickers, glow toys and necklaces, bubbles, and small toys that are all Disney themed are fun surprises to pack in your suitcase and surprise kids with on Vacation. Shopping ahead also eliminates the need to buy these fun prizes after arriving at Walt Disney World.


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You don’t have to shell out every vacation dollar; you can pay for part of your trip using travel points. With so many great credit card cash-back programs, you can likely rack up points and travel miles to help you save on Vacation cash. Fuel reward credit cards for those driving to Walt Disney World, sky miles for those flying, and cash-back rewards to help with extra vacation expenses are all helpful ways to enjoy a cheaper Walt Disney World vacation. Just remember to pay off your credit card balance in full every month!

Dining Costs

Credit: Disney Tips

My family’s daily dining budget varies based on whether we are indulging in a table service meal or sticking to quick service meals. Planning to spend approximately $90 per adult per day when enjoying a table service meal and around $60 per adult per day when dining on exclusively quick service is expected. There are plenty of ways to save dining cash by bringing snacks and drinks into the Disney Parks, sharing meals and snacks, or eating a meal daily in your Resort Room.

Save Your Budget Through Disney Dining

Are you looking to tighten your belt regarding your dining budget? Save money by buying only one meal a day. Water, soft drinks, snacks, breakfast, and lunch can be served from an in-room grocery stash. If you are driving to Walt Disney World, hit a nearby grocery store on your way to the Disney Property to purchase beverages, breakfast food, snack food, and lunch options to pack for the Park. No car? No problem! You can use Instacart delivery or Amazon Fresh to have groceries delivered to your Disney Resort.

Fruit Snacks for the Parks

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You can chow down at a table service or a fun quick service restaurant at night without breaking the bank. Buying only one meal daily frees up your budget, reduces spending guilt, and makes you even more excited to enjoy a table service dining experience each evening.


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Bring your refillable water bottle to eliminate the cost of beverages with meals and snacks. Skip the breakfast cost each morning by eating a packaged pastry or granola bar while you get ready for the day. Skipping breakfast coffee and Park beverage costs can add up to significant savings by the end of a Disney vacation. You still have ample opportunity to enjoy yummy Disney eats.

Did you know you can share food at many Disney quick service and table service restaurants? Sharing is another great way to save cash and indulge in yummy meals on Vacation. Some Disney dining portions are enormous, and you cannot take leftovers with you as you dash around the Disney Parks.

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

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Unless the menu prohibits it, consider splitting an entrée with a family member to avoid wasting food and help your vacation dollar stretch further. My husband and I love visiting Disney’s Contemporary Resort to dine at California Grill. We split an appetizer, sushi course, entrée, and dessert to save money and enjoy tasting more dishes. The obvious exceptions to this tip are dinner shows, bottomless dining deals, and buffets.


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A common question in vacation planning is just how vital is table service dining at Walt Disney World? Will your family’s Vacation be negatively affected if you choose not to book table service meals or if you choose to trim your dining budget to save cash? The answer is that it depends on your family.

Related: This Process Is About to Change at Select Disney Resorts

Baseline Trip Summary of Costs


Walt Disney World ticket prices vary by Park, Park Hopper option, and the time of year you visit. Take the time to research and understand Walt Disney World tickets on the Disney website. Weigh all the options to understand what days you need to spend extra money for a Park Hopper option. Some days you will enjoy staying in one Park for the day. If you visit during a hot time of the year, you may want to visit a Disney Water Park. Theme Park ticket planning is a big part of the vacation booking process and has significant budget implications.

Hop on a chat with a booking Cast Member on the Disney website to ask any questions about tickets, expirations, or the booking process. Taking your time researching and booking after you have run the numbers can help you make an informed decision when purchasing Park tickets. After you have purchased Disney World tickets, you will still need to secure a Park reservation for each day you are in a Disney Park. The great news is, ironing out all the details in the booking process means the annoying details of your Disney World trip are over, and you can enjoy the magic on Vacation!

Take A Break From the Parks

Enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World without the cost of a Park ticket by planning a day or multiple days outside the Park. My family enjoys spending the day in the Resort pool, sleeping in, and enjoying an afternoon at Disney Springs. Walt Disney World Resorts are beautiful and unique, so you can spend a day of Resort hopping via Disney transportation to enjoy the sights, sounds, shopping, and snacks at each Resort.

Mickey and Minnie Disney World Tickets Cards

credit: Disney

If you drive to Orlando, you could even hop in a car and explore other parts of the city. Universal City Walk, nearby Disney shops, Celebration Florida, and other Orlando hot spots are all great options to fill a day and skip the cost of Park tickets. Regardless of what you choose to do with your day out of the Park, get away from the idea that you must buy a Disney World Park ticket each day to enjoy Walt Disney World.

Breaking from the Parks adds significant savings and is often a needed change of pace after days of early mornings, late nights, and miles of daily walking in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios.

Disney Springs Ticket Center

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Costco Tickets


You are not alone if you’ve heard about buying Walt Disney World Park tickets from Costco. While tickets cannot be purchased individually from Costco, you can buy them as Part of a larger Orlando vacation package that includes lodging, transportation, and more. This option might be worth checking out if you have a Costco membership.

How to Stay on Budget at Disney World


How much you expect to spend on lodging varies based on the season you are traveling and what type of Resort you choose. Staying off the property at a nearby Orlando hotel is another good option that might be right for your family. You can have a great time at an off-the-property hotel, and if you choose to stay at a Disney Resort, you need not worry about breaking the bank and staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort. Of course, the luxury is nice, but families can have just as much fun at a Disney Moderate Resort or Disney Value Resort.


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Wondering how much time you’ll spend at your Resort? The answer is – that it depends. My family strategically plans our Park and Resort days based on where we stay. For us, a more expensive Resort means more Resort days with no Park tickets purchased. This lets us thoroughly enjoy the Resort amenities while saving cash on Disney Park tickets. We stay exclusively at Value Resorts during long weekend visits to Walt Disney World Resort, knowing that these quick trips will mean long Park days where we will spend almost no time in the Resort room.


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If you are interested in staying at a Disney Resort Hotel but worry it’s beyond your budget, I’d urge you to price it out. Depending on your travel season Walt Disney World Value Resorts offer hotel rooms competitive with some hotels off the property and include amenities like transportation to Disney Parks and extra magic hours in the Park. Guests staying on the property can enjoy no drive time, gas costs, traffic stress, and no Disney Park parking fees.

 All your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

Plan at Home Save $$ on Vacation

You can skip this tip if you are all set, clothes and gear-wise, for your Walt Disney World vacation. If not, heed this tip and second-hand shop for Park gear. There is no need to be overwhelmed with costs as you prepare each kid’s suitcase for a Disney vacation. Thrift and second-hand shops like Goodwill are great go-to spots to grab t-shirts, shorts, and hats for a Vacation. Your family will be running around the parks with only a need to be cool and comfy on Vacation. Do not be ashamed to cut costs by buying vacation clothes second-hand.


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While you may not have much control over Walt Disney World vacation pricing, you do have control over vacation supplies, clothes, and souvenirs. Plan for your Vacation in the months leading up to the trip by couponing for the snacks, toiletries, sunscreen, and medications your family will need.

Refilling a first aid and medicine kit the week of a vacation and buying enough sunscreen, after-sun lotion, toiletries, and insect repellant for the whole family will easily top $100. Planning, shopping sales, using coupons and rebates, and stockpiling cut costs.

Packing Toiletries

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Avoid paying stroller rental costs and losing time standing in a rental line by bringing your stroller. This also means your child can relax in the stroller as you wait on Disney transportation at the end of the day.

Related: New Villa Concept Art Revealed at One of Disney’s Most Iconic Resorts

Pacing Your Vacation Payment

If spreading your payments out over the months leading up to your Vacation would be helpful, Disney has you covered. When you book a vacation package with tickets and lodging, you can pay for your Vacation in more affordable installments. Check the Disney website and chat with a Cast Member to learn more about paying in installments to budget for your Vacation in the months leading up to your trip to Disney World.

My First Disney Getaway Package Walt Disney World

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Transportation Costs

If you stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, you can hop on Disney transportation and head to Disney Parks and Disney Springs stress-free. Hotel prices off the property and Walt Disney World Resort prices vary by season and Resort, but we suggest pricing resorts on the Disney Property before deciding. Even if dollar-for-dollar you do not find a Resort hotel room to be cheaper- the value you get for the vacation investment may still be worthwhile.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Parking Lot

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An alternate option is a nearby hotel off the property that offers a shuttle service to the Parks. Be sure to research shuttle details when booking to ensure you understand shuttle availability and run times. Guests staying off the Disney Property that drive to Orlando could also drive to the Parks daily. This means you’ll have the flexibility to arrive early to make  “rope drop” each morning. That said, it does cost $25 per day to park at a Disney Park in the standard parking area.

Final Thoughts

While I firmly believe that you cannot “do Disney World cheap” or “do Disney on a dime,” there are ways to make informed decisions about your spending on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. You don’t have to indulge in expensive table service meals daily, you need not enter a Disney Park each day, and you can pace your saving and vacation spending by planning carefully.

Plan your Vacation with plenty of advance notice, cash in credit card reward points to offset expenses, and decide what your lodging, dining, and Park must-dos are for your family. You don’t have to do it all to have a great time. Regardless of how you plan to budget your vacation cash, we hope this Disney World vacation savings guide is helpful for your family.

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.