We go to Disney World several times a year, so saving money for us is crucial. Without saving as much money as possible, we wouldn’t be able to get down to Walt Disney World as often as we do.
I would love to share our best tips for saving money on your Walt Disney World Vacation to help you save money on your next Disney trip! Use our tricks we have learned over the years.
How to Save Money at Disney World?
You can save money in so many ways at Disney World. Save money on drinks, dining, snacks, tickets, resorts or hotels, transportation, souvenirs, and so much more with our 100 tips to save money.
Taking a Disney vacation can be a magical time for any family, but it can also be an expensive one. So I have gathered the tips my husband and I use to save money throughout the years, and I hope they will help you stretch the magic just a little further.
Here are a few things to remember as you try to save on your trip:
- Avoid going into debt for your vacation (it’s not worth the stress later on).
- Don’t feel bad if you don’t buy a souvenir; chances are it won’t be used for long.
- No matter what, you’re in Disney World. Enjoy your vacation!
- You are on vacation, so slow down, and breathe, and everything will be okay.
- It’s alright to indulge some; this isn’t everyday life, just budget for the extras.
Save Money on Drinks at Disney World
- Drink Tap Water Instead of Soda: Much cheaper and keeps you hydrated in the hot Florida sun.
- Stay Hydrated with Free Water: Instead of buying bottled water, get a cup of free ice water from any quick-service restaurant.
- Bring a Reusable Water Bottle: Free water is available at quick-service locations and bottle filling stations. Refillable Water bottles make staying hydrated easy. In EPCOT there are two bottle filling stations one is near the Canada Pavilion at the Odyssey. The other is near the refreshment port. In Magic Kingdom there is a bottle filler near Tron. In Hollywood Studios there is a bottle filler in Star Wars Land in the marketplace. Animal Kingdom’s bottle filling stations are in line queues for both Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can also fill bottles of water at any of the resort dining areas on Disney property and at the water park.
- Limit Alcohol Purchases: These can be quite pricey in the parks.
- Don’t buy the Refillable Mugs at Disney World resorts: Seems easy enough right? Don’t be tempted by sodas and you can save quite a bit at every meal while at Disney World or anywhere really. You can refill the mugs at any Disney resort while there, in case you decide to do some resort hopping after hitting up the parks. However you can no fill up the mugs while in the parks, including the water parks. You can ask for a free cup of ice water at any location that serves fountain drinks, including bars. That in itself is a park hack, to get ice water often, and stay hydrated! You will combat the often salty foods, and avoid dehydration. That said, if you’re staying on site for 3 or more nights, and you’re going to drink soda consider purchasing the refillable mugs at your resort.You can refill often, and you would need to get at least 2 refills per day to make it worth your while. Please note, that means coffee, tea or soda.
Save Money on Snacks
- Use a Grocery Delivery Service: For in-room meals like breakfast and snacks. We did a cost comparison for groceries and found that Walmart was the cheapest delivery service. Check out the entire comparison and grocery tips: Grocery Delivery Tips for Walt Disney World.
- Bring Your Own Snacks: Food in the park can be expensive. You can carry snacks and drinks into the park with you and even coolers. Disney’s only rule is no loose ice in coolers. You can use ice packs or bring plastic bags to fill with ice at your hotel.
- Keep Snacks in Your Hotel Room: For late-night hunger. Having easy access to snacks in your hotel room will prevent you from impulse buying in the parks.
- Use a Refillable Popcorn Bucket: If you’re a popcorn fan, it’s a good deal. It is one of the cheapest snacks you can buy at Disney World.
- Snack on a Disney Pickle: This is another cheap snack you can find at the parks.
- Bring a Small Backpack: To carry snacks and water.
Save Money on Disney Dining
- Prepare Meals in Your Room: If you have a kitchenette like the DVC rooms do, you can make a full meal. This is a big perk for renting DVC points.
- Plan a Picnic in Your Hotel Room: Or at free park areas. It’s easy to buy sandwich fixings and chips with your grocery delivery for cheap lunches or dinners. Make it fun by turning it into a picnic. You can bring your own food into Disney.
- Eat Breakfast Before Arriving: To avoid high-cost meals in the park. Breakfast is an easy meal to eat in your room whether you have a kitchen or not. Grocery Delivery can save you so much money.
- Choose Less Expensive Dining Times: Often lunch is cheaper than dinner. If you want to snag some sit-down reservations it will be cheaper at lunch time. Check out prices in the My Disney Experience App.
- Research Restaurant Menus Online: To find affordable options, you can look on Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience App to budget for food. They will list prices for each restaurant there.
- Eat at Disney Springs: Sometimes cheaper than in the parks.
- Share Desserts: They’re often large enough or you can skip dessert to save money as well. Though I would find room in the budget for one Mickey Mouse Ice Cream.
- Book During Kids ‘Eat Free’ Promotions: At certain restaurants or hotels. As of today, January 30th, if you book through a travel agent you can get half off kids theme park tickets and dining for kids aged 3-9. The trips must be booked for March 3rd – March 24th or April 7th – June 30th. Look for “Kids Eat Free Promotions” on the Disney website for the most updated unformation.
- Eat at Quick Service Restaurants: Quick-service dining is cheaper than sit-down restaurants. You can create a food budget by looking at the My Disney Experience App where the prices are listed.
- Share Meals: Portions can be large. My husband and I often share meals especially when they are big to save money.
- Use Disney’s Mobile Ordering Service: To save time and avoid impulse buys. You can mobile order on the My Disney Experience App.
Read More: Mobile Ordering at Disney World
- Order Kid’s Meals: Ordering from the kid’s menu. We have been ordering from the kid’s menu for years now at quick-service restaurants, and table service (non-character meals). Each kid’s meal comes with a half portion of whatever the adult size is (or basic items like chicken tenders and basic cheeseburgers)
- Avoid Disney Dining Plans: You have to eat when you go on vacation, and Disney counts on you spending big money when you dine out. The Disney Dining Plan is often more expensive than you would typically spend on food while there especially if you use any of our money saving tips!
- Lounges for Signature Restaurants Offer Great Food for Less: This is a great way to enjoy a last-minute trip to Disney World, and save money. We rarely book signature restaurants and opt for sitting in the lounges and bars. We have the best luck when we go to the lounges such as Steakhouse 71, Shula’s Steakhouse, Il Mulino, or California Grill. My husband and I can share appetizers or larger meals along with a few beverages. If you have a larger crowd, for example 2 adults and 2 kids, try the lounges at Steakhouse 71 inside the Contemporary Resort, Ale and Compass Lounge or Crew’s Cup both located at the Yacht Club. The perks at all three of these lounges is they have a more relaxed place to sit with like love seats, and couches. Not to mention they are quieter and air conditioned from the Florida heat. Ordering off the menus there usually allow you to smaller version of the larger meals. One of our favorite things at Steakhouse 71, for example, was getting the rosemary bread, with the sauces they have to offer. It was an excellent value at $15 versus paying $150 for a full-on dinner. During the warmer months at Walt Disney World, I don’t always feel like eating a heavy full-on meal.
- Skip Character Meals: You’re not paying for the food, you’re paying the high prices for the characters. Even if this is your first visit, try to see if the characters have a meet and greet somewhere else in the parks. If you research it out, you can find freebie opportunities to find where characters will be within the parks, and resorts such as hanging out by campfires, and there will be minimal to no waits to hang out with them. The best character meal that we would splurge on is Toppolinos Terrace Breakfast.
- Monitor Special Promotions: Like free dining plan offers.
Save Money on Theme Park Tickets at Walt Disney World
- Skip the Park Hopper Option: If you won’t use the park hopper ticket, there is no need to spend the extra money. There is so much to do in every park that you can spend an entire day in each park. There are also a lot of options for activities at the resort, Disney Springs, and surrounding areas. Park hoppers allow for more flexibility, but they do cost extra money and can be a great way to save some money on tickets.
- Skip paying for Lightening Lanes or Disney Genie Plus: One of the largest profit makers for the Disney Company per their shareholders call was the adoption of Lightening Lane by park goers. At $15 per day, per person, a family of four visiting just each park each day is looking at shelling out an extra $240. This does not include include more popular rides that can charge just up to $30 for just a single ride. This cost is also rising all the time and is subject to the time of year. These higher prices for Genie+ and ILL are additional costs for guests. Does anyone else miss the FREE fast pass system? If you’re like me and want to ride still everything the top attractions without waiting 3 hours, there is an answer. Rope Drop. We’ve written articles for rope dropping each park, and the basic note is, get up early for each park.
- Rope Drop: Rope Drop, Rope Drop, Rope Drop! Rope Drop is one of the easiest ways to avoid paying extra for Genie+ and being able to ride everything you want to.
- Look for Discounted Disney Tickets through Authorized Sellers: But be wary of scams. Undercover Tourist is a great resource. Make sure you do your research before purchasing discounted tickets so you don’t get caught in a scam. There are many scams out there!
- Avoid Peak Seasons: Prices for hotels and tickets are higher during holidays and summer. The time of year you go will impact both the cost of tickets as well as Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane costs. The cheapest months to go to Disney World are January and February.
- Buy Tickets in Advance: Often cheaper than buying at the gate. You also run the risk of them being sold out or being at capacity if you try to purchase at the gate.
- Consider Multi-Day Passes: Usually offer better value per day.
- Check for Special Offers on Disney’s Website: Especially during off-peak times, Disney may offer discounts though that is becoming rare.
- Consider Becoming an Annual Passholder: If you plan to visit multiple times a year or you are a Florida resident.
- Plan a Non-Park Day: Relax at the hotel or explore free areas like Disney Springs. There are so many things to do without park tickets that will save you money on your family vacation!
Save Money on Resorts or Hotels
- Priceline: We love to plan trips when resorts are cheap, as it helps indicate that Disney predicts that the crowds will be low during the visit. So that means less time waiting in lines, and more time in the actual attractions and saving money! That is how you win Disney in our minds! So we go to Priceline.com, putting in the dates we are thinking about. We search for the area “Lake Buena Vista, Florida”. Once the site loads it will show the discounts for Disney Onsite Resorts. Sometimes you can even check out just Disney Resorts via a click from Priceline. You can get discounts on the deluxe resorts, but the real savings is when you see Pop Century or Coronado Springs Resorts being shown. Compare them to what they are listed for on the official Disney website, but often times, often times you can see a $50 a night savings on Priceline. If they aren’t listed, then it’s going to be a busier time, and suggest looking at another time.
- Check for Educational Discounts: If you’re a teacher or student you can find deals on resorts like the Swan & Dolphin
- Check for Medical Professional Discounts: Nurses and doctors can also find deals on some resorts like the Swan & Dolphin.
- Use Military Discounts: Some resorts may offer a military discount. Shades of Green is also a resort that offers lower prices for military members and their families.
- Look for Experience Packages: Sometimes they offer savings on food, lodging, and tickets.
- Check the Official Disney Parks Blog: For current deals and offers.
- Look for Free Parking Options: Some Disney Springs hotels offer free parking.
- Check for Off-Season Rates: Lower prices for hotels and sometimes tickets.
- Choose Value Resorts: Disney’s budget-friendly hotel options.
- Use a Cash-Back Credit Card: Especially one with travel or entertainment rewards.
- Look for Discounts through AAA or Other Memberships: Such as Costco.
- Travel with a Group: Share costs like hotel rooms.
- Stay in an Off-Site Hotel: Off-site hotels outside Disney can be cheaper.
- Use a Disney Travel Agent: They can find deals and their services are usually free.
- Look for Package Deals: Sometimes includes dining or extra perks.
- Use Reward Points: For flights or hotel stays. We love the Marriott Reward system to use at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin resort.
- Check for Resident Discounts:Florida residents can save up to 30% on resorts, check the Disney website to see if there is an active deal.
- Avoid Upgraded Room Views: If you won’t spend much time in your room you won’t need the upgraded room view.
- Look for Free Disney Resort Activities: Like movie nights, s’mores, games, and the pool.
- Plan a Late Arrival or Early Departure Day: If you have a partial day that includes travel, find things to do that don’t require park tickets so you don’t waste an expensive theme park ticket for a partial day.
- Join Disney Vacation Club: If you travel to Disney frequently DVC may be worth it to you to save money.
- Look for Last-Minute Travel Deals: Sometimes available on flights or hotels.
- Avoid Holiday Weekends: Prices are usually higher.
- Consider Lesser-Known Disney Resorts: For better deals you can stay off property or at discounted resorts.
- Days of the Week: Monday through Wednesday tends to be the cheapest days to book a Disney World vacation. Sunday through Thursday are cheaper as well. A Friday or Saturday will be the most expensive.
Save Money on Disney Transportation
- Use Disney Transportation: It’s free and saves on parking fees.
- Book Flights Early: To get the best rates.
- Monitor Flight Prices Regularly: To get the best deal.
- Use Ride Share Services: Sometimes cheaper than parking or car rental.
- Pack Light to Avoid Baggage Fees: If flying.
Disney World Souvenirs – Save Money on Souvenirs
- Buy your Disney souvenirs ahead of time: One of the things I learned when getting rose gold ears for our wedding, my husband looked on eBay and found brand new ears for $10 shipped from a seller that bought them in Disneyland Shanghai. So instead of paying $30+tax for each pair, we were able to pick them up for $10 ahead of time. We were also able to find discounted Disney merchandise at the Disney Vineland outlet. Just a heads up, it’s a crapshoot sometimes going to the outlets. So if you have to take an Uber/Lyft there, considering checking out a few other shops and make it a short adventure. Earlier in the days are recommended, as you can see the latest things before the Disney shoppers come in and buy the good stuff to resell on eBay or their own Facebook groups.
- Walmart/Target nearby: They have large sections dedicated to Disney products, and they won’ be knock off tshirts, or in a questionable area. Along with that you can pick up some groceries for snacking, double bonus win!
- Check the Laundry Rooms At Disney World for Souvenirs: Now this is going to be an ultra cheap skate, along with being a hit or miss opportunity. A number of guests leave items in the hallways, and laundry rooms such as snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. Some folks even leave their refillable mugs they didn’t want to take, now that might be a bit cringe worth post-pandemic, but hey if you’re down with it, no judgements here.
- Join Disney Groups: The best way to get a heads up on a laundry room find, is to follow the resort you’re staying at Facebook groups. These are unofficial channels, but you can see if anyone has left something you can use while on your trip. You can also pass it on, by giving back this way as well. If you’re looking for some great Disney Groups to join, check out Walt Disney World SECRETS! and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin groups hosted by Magical Guides.
- Avoid Souvenir Shops: Or set a strict budget.
- Buy Autograph Books Offsite: Cheaper than in the parks.
- Bring Your Own Disney Themed Apparel: Instead of buying new in the park.
- Purchase Souvenirs at the End of Your Trip: To avoid impulse buys.
- Skip Expensive Photo Packages: Use your own camera or phone. Memory Maker is great, but this expense adds up so skip it to save some money!
- Set a Souvenir Budget for Kids: To manage expectations.
- Purchase Disney Gift Cards at a Discount: Sometimes available at large retailers like Sam’s Club, Target, and Costco.
- Avoid Impulse Buys: Stick to your list.
- Bring Your Own Costumes for Kids: Instead of buying at the park.
- Use a Water Misting Fan: To stay cool and avoid buying expensive fans. It will be hot in the parks most of the year, so plan ahead! Impulse buys like fans can really add up fast.
- Bubble Wands: These are a kid favorite, and many parents end up buying them in the parks. Buy a bubble wand ahead of time and bring it with you to avoid buying one in the park.
- Pack a Poncho from Home: Florida weather can be unpredictable and the ponchos in the park are a lot more expensive.
- Bring Your Own Glow Sticks: For night-time events.
- Buy Disney-Themed Items at Local Orlando Shops: Often cheaper. We love heading over to the outlets or to Celebration to shop for souvenirs. You can often find discounted Loungefly bags in celebration.
More Tips to Save on your Disney World Trip
- Plan a Budget: Stick to it to avoid overspending.
- Use Free Disney Planning Tools: To maximize your time and money.
- Avoid Pay-to-Play Games: Found in some park areas.
- Take Advantage of Free Activities: Like the resort’s pool.
- Bring Your Own Stroller: Rental fees add up quickly.
- Watch Fireworks from Outside the Park: Like from a nearby beach.
- Purchase an External Battery Charger: To avoid buying charging services.
- Consider a Disney Visa Card for Discounts: On merchandise, dining, and more.
- Bring Your Own Camera: Instead of renting or buying one.
- Bring Your Own Sunscreen: To avoid high prices in the parks.
- Check for Post-Holiday Discounts: Especially after Christmas.
- Use Discounted Gift Cards for Everything: From meals to souvenirs.
- Bring Your Own First Aid Kit: For minor cuts or headaches.
- Use the My Disney Experience App: To plan and save time.
- Use Heat-Resistant Cosmetics and Sunscreen: To avoid re-purchasing.
- Bring a Hat and Sunglasses: To avoid purchasing expensive ones.
Remember, while it’s important to save money, don’t forget to enjoy the experience and create wonderful memories! What is your favorite way to save money for your Disney trips? Do you have multiple ways to save money?