My first visit to Disney World was in 1977. My parents drove me seventeen hours straight to see the great Mickey Mouse. That was when I fell in love with all things Walt Disney World.
Since my first trip, I have visited Disney World and even Disney Land over sixteen times as a child and as a parent. I have picked up a few tips and tricks over the years. Today I’d like to share some of the ways I’ve learned to save money when visiting the parks.
Disney is expensive. There’s no other way to put it. But guess what-it’s worth every penny to see your child’s face light up with wonder when she rides It’s A Small World for the very first time. Or to hear your son declare his love for Star Wars after visiting Hollywood Studios and meeting Chubacca with his dad.
Unforgettable memories are made at Disney World.
Look, I think every child should experience the magic of Disney at least once in their lifetime, but parents don’t have to break the bank to do it! You also don’t have to parade around reminding each family member about “the budget.” Nope! Cause there’s no fun in that!
Want to know what else isn’t fun? Feeling like you’re missing out on something. You know, FOMO? Well, you don’t have to sacrifice anything to save money with these tips and tricks! By the way, if you find yourself suffering from FOMO on the regular you should really read this funny post I wrote about how we spent our Spring Break.
Now onto to Disney!
17 Ways to Save Money on A Disney Vacation and Not Feel Like You’re Missing Out
Walt Disney World offers Discounts to members of the military, AARP members, AAA users, and D23 fans. Do not purchase your tickets until you check if your family is eligible. You can check out all of the discounts on their website!
YOU CAN BOOK YOUR TRIP
Instead of paying a travel agent, do it yourself! Awesome discount Disney packages are available through sites like The Undercover Tourist. You can shop around, but they almost always offer the best discounts around-plus they’re legit.
Do not buy your tickets from eBay or Craig’s List. Scammers are everywhere! My suggestion would be to go with a well established business like the Undercover Tourist to save money and to have peace of mind!
EAT DINNER AT LUNCH TIME
Dining at Disney can be expensive. By eating your biggest meal of the day at lunch, you save money because the restaurants charge more at dinner. For the same thing.
ORDER A KID’S MEAL
Adults are allowed to be a kid in every way at Disney! Save your money by ordering a kid’s meal at any counter-service restaurant on the property. You’ll get plenty of food for half the price. And nobody is going to look at you funny for doing it.
SKIP THE PEAK SEASONS
Save money by visiting the parks during the value season.
Here are the times worth considering.
January 17- February 17
February 27 – March 9
August 20 – August 31
September 5- 7
September 11 -14
October 30-November 2
Added Bonus: You’ll spend less time waiting in lines!
SKIP THE PARK HOPPER
Disney World consists of four parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
The Park Hopper Pass allows you to visit more than one park in a day, but honestly, there’s no need to spend the additional $40-$60 more when there is so much to do at each park.
PACK YOUR SOUVENIRS
Buy a Disney Lanyard before you even cross the Florida or Cali state line. Chances are your kid will be as into collecting the Disney pins as mine, and this will save you a ton. They are going to trade them anyway so it doesn’t really matter what they start off with!
Pack what you can eat for breakfast in the room. This will save you a lot of money each day on meals. Pack snacks your kids will eat like granola bars and crackers. If you can’t pack them, there are several grocery store delivery services in the area, or you could catch a cab and go. Disney allows you to bring food and drink to the parks so take what you can carry in a backpack. This will save you money and possibly your sanity in long lines.
PACK RAIN PONCHOS
Order some like these before your trip and you’ll save big! See, you’re going to need them on Splash Mountain & they know this-so they sell them there for a whopping $8-$10 each! Oh, and afternoon rain showers are a regular thing in Orlando so you need to make like a Boy Scout & be prepared. A Mickey Mouse Rain Parka is not the souvenir your kids want to bring home!
PACK REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLES
Bottles like these can save you a ton of money when you factor in that water costs around $4 a bottle! We love these because they are foldable, collapsible, and leak proof! Disney is not the place you want to play the Who Spilled Their Juice In Mommy’s Backpack Game! Trust me, I know! Disney makes it easy to fill these up by providing fill stations all over the parks!
PACK A COOLER BACKPACK
No, I’m not saying you need to take the most on-trend backpack to Disney!
I’m telling you to purchase a backpack that is a cooler!
On one of our family trips to Disney a few years back we witnessed a family calmly picnicking by Cinderella’s Castle as we were, well, as I was struggling to keep my oldest daughter from throwing her little sister off the picturesque bridge nearby. As our girls were fighting over whether we were going to go to Epcot verses staying at Magic Kingdom the hubs and I drooled over the magic he spotted while trying to find a hidden Mickey.
Backpack money saving magic.
I swear I saw dollar signs in his eyes as he was adding up all of the water bottles and snacks this smart couple had loaded into their cooler/backpack. Before we left to go to Soaring, yep, my middle child won that argument, I asked the happy family about their backpack. I purchased mine on the bus to Epcot.
It’s comfortable enough for me to carry around-even with my jacked up back. And the size doesn’t break any of the Disney World rules and regulations!
But if you’re like me you’ll want to double check. Hey, I get it…you’re planning a big vacation! Here’s the link with all of that info!
BRING YOUR OWN AUTOGRAPH BOOK
This one is fantastic!
Instead of shelling out more cash on blank pages why not buy something that has cool info on the 150 plus Disney characters?
Bonus: Your kids can read the book while standing in line to make the time go faster & easier!
BRING YOUR OWN STROLLER
Disney does have a stroller rental service, but it will cost you around $15 per day.
RENT A STROLLER AHEAD
If you can’t bring your stroller, save money by renting online! Find out more by visiting their website right here!
BRING YOUR OWN COSTUME
Little girls love the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but your wallet may not. Save some cash by reusing that Elsa costume she wore last Halloween.
Quick Tip: If you are interested in booking the Boutique for your daughter or son, plan ahead! They book fast! I will tell you that LK did this when she was 7 and it was worth every penny! But no matter how your child found her way into that costume, she will be called Princess by every single cast member and Disney employee she encounters for the rest of the day. It’s so sweet to see your kid’s experience this! So pack it, buy it, or book it!
DISNEY VISA REWARDS CARD
Save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney parks, resorts, and stores when you use the Disney Rewards Card. You will also get access to exclusive character experiences, discounts on dining, special financing on vacations, and more.
I hope you’ve found some tips here to help you save money on your next Disney World Vacation! Is there anything that you would like to know more about? Please let me know in the comments section! I love hearing from you!