You, like most people going to Disney World, are probably looking for the best deal when it comes to your vacation. Because lets admit it, Disney World is pretty dang expensive.
But it doesn’t have to be out of reach. With some simple planning, some good hacks and a few secrets, you can be on the way to the trip of a lifetime.
Sure, you can get a package deal because your ‘on vacation’ and don’t want to worry about money at a time like this.
But instead, I’ll encourage you to vacation to your budget, NOT the one that Disney wants you to spend! Disney is a business after all, and they are happy to take your money.
Let’s strike a balanced budget full of fun and some frugal options for an absolutely magical, and totally unforgettable Disney World Vacation!
This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you, check out my affiliate disclosure for more information and all the legal mumbo jumbo.
Tips, hacks and secrets to get you saving the most money at Disney World
Plan your meals for ultimate money saving goodness!
Let me let you in on a secret, many of the table service resturants serve the same food, the same portions (they are pretty large!) and the same automsphere at lunch AND at dinner. But dinner time they charge a lot more.
Get the cheapest souvenirs you can find at Disney World
There’s not many things you can get for less than a dollar in the US- and certainly not at a theme park.
But there ARE a few things you left in 2020.
Pressed pennies anyone? Yep, these little guys are a great way to have fun AND stay on a budget.
Go the best time of the year for budget friendliness
Which, in case your wondering when the best times to go to Disney World are, the months of January and September tend to be the ‘cheapest’ and the most expensive is November and December.
Bring it in
The food that it- I don’t care what anyone says. When my kids are screaming I end up spending 40 dollars on ice cream and 50 dollars on bottle water. No thanks. Bring in some water and snacks so you don’t end up spending more out of desperation from the long lines and hunger.
Spend time in the parks on the right days
Disney changes their pricing daily- it’s fascinating from a marketing standpoint but not so great if your watching your budget.
There’s a reason they don’t have the prices online or on the app for their restaurants.
The days that err on the less expensive side are the weekdays, with the weekends being more expensive.
It’s raining… it’s pouring
Please- if there’s one thing you do, plan for the weather. You don’t want to buy a 25 dollar umbrella, 50 dollar rain coat or a 15 dollar umbrella. Personally, I grab a big pack of ponchos from amazon to bring with me, because I’m not about that 15 dollar poncho life.
Plan to relax
Relax? On vacation? HA.
Well- you can relax at Disney World and it’s recommended. Take a day off from the parks and enjoy many of the cheap and free things at the parks. This will save you from paying for a park ticket and give your feet a break! (after all, you’ll walk like 13 miles)
And a little TMI- this could save you on your visit if you’ve got the thunder thighs like I do. The solution to chub rub and hating your thighs- I always bring this with me when I go to Disney World.
Get your groceries Delivered
At least snacks- especially if you have kids. The amount of sugar filled expensive options at Disney World is insane (in both the good and bad way) so stock up with the less expensive options
People swear by staying on property because it ‘saves money’ but I’ve done the math a 100 times and I’ve never seen it if your resort has transportation to the parks and can offer things like free breakfast.
Especially somewhere like the swan and dolphin where you can use points to pay for your stay.
Avoid deals that are too good to be true
30 dollar tickets? nah bro, you’re getting scammed. If it’s too good to be true, it really is.
Skip IT- even if everyone says it’s a great deal- it’s only a great deal because they get paid when you buy it
Again, you’ve got the diehards that swear up and down that this saves money AND A FEW YEARS AGO IT WAS TRUE. But now to use the free dining promotion you have to have a park hopper ticket and stay on property, and it just doesn’t hit the same way.
It is SO much cheaper to bring in your own bottled water or bring in a water bottle to refill.
let me say it again for the people in the back.
SO. MUCH. CHEAPER
Make it a double adventure!
This may sound counterintuitive, but getting an annual pass can provide more savings if you plan to come more than once.
Annual passholders get discounts on food, merchandise and hotel stays, and it really makes a difference if this isn’t a once in a lifetime trip. Plus there’s so many cheap and fun things to do around the parks!
Or consider a special event pass
Disney has lots of ‘extra’ options that can be a big bonus to your budget.
For example, you can skip a regular park ticket and instead get a special events ticket like for Mickey’s Not so scary halloween party.
So sleep in that day, then go to the party that night. This way you save the cost of a ticket you’ll only use for half the day.
Make use of all the free and cheap things you can do at Disney World
SO MANY FREE AND CHEAP THINGS I CAN’T LIST THEM ALL
Let’s do my top 5 favorite
Free- go to the fort wilderness campground singalong and hang out with some hilarious folks and chip and dale
Free- chill out at the pool all day and put your feet up
Free- walk around Disney Springs and check out the World’s largest Disney Store
Cheap- go putt putt golfing! You normally get a coupon if you preorder your magic bands and stay on property.
Cheap- dining outside the parks at the character meals on property
Skip the Park Hopper Pass
This is an extra expense that hardly ever is a make or break for your vacation. PLUS if you decide you want it after your there, you can always add it on (but you can’t take it off)
Save your cash for the parks
CASH-people. NOT card. I get in SO much trouble when I have a card (or magic band) because you don’t realize how much you’ve spent.
Put it on a gift card, or take actual cash so you don’t overspend.
Also, Disney has a new credit card policy that puts a lot of unnecessary holds on your account- so it’s even more important to have cash. I’ve talked to too many people who were stranded because of excess charges on their account and having to wait on hold with Disney to resolve it.
Purchase souvenirs for the kids ahead of time
Which is easy enough, or swing by the character warehouse while your in town. Both of those options could save you 50-75% on souvenirs.
Bring enough Footwear
Because Disney KNOWS that you will need new shoes. They have them in every single store and they are 60 dollars for a pair of Mickey Crocs you’ll never wear again.
The photopass can be great… but it can also suck. If you have an annual pass, it’s included in most tickets. You can also get a steep discount if you are in the military and purchase it on base.
Here’s what people might not know… DON’T buy it but do USE it. What wait? scan your card, get them loaded to the online portal, then pick out the 2-4 that you like and order them as individual prints or as photoproducts right through Disney. This could cost around 30-60 dollars for pictures you actually enjoy, without spending 200 dollars. BUT if all the pictures suck (because sometimes they do) don’t order anything and then you aren’t out any coin.
Basically… It’s NOT HARD TO SAVE money if you know what you’re doing.
Because if you don’t pay attention, you could easily spend thousands of extra dollars on a week vacation.