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Tips to Visiting Disney on a Budget You Would Never Think About

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Money Saving Tips WDW

A trip to Walt Disney World is a dream come true for many people. It can be a challenge trying to find tips and tricks that are going to actually save you money and help you go to Disney on a budget.

How much does a Disney vacation cost?

The short answer – LOTS! The longer answer: There is no set answer. Each family is different and requires different accommodations, foods, etc. Honestly, if you look at all you find on-line, it often looks like the average family of 4 needs around $5,000 for a week stay at WDW. Start adding on lots of extras, and that number could easily double.

Luckily, there are many ways to cut corners that will help you save some money and have a wonderful and magical vacation to Walt Disney World. 

There is no doubt about it that a Walt Disney World vacation is pricey. When planning a Walt Disney World trip you can often feel like you have to save for years in order to do everything there is to do.

Most importantly – know what you can afford. Don’t stay at a deluxe Disney resort if your budget is moderate or value. Don’t over-plan and include lots of extra add-ons that just keep raising your bill.

You will never be able to save thousands when it comes to visiting Disney, but you can save some in little ways that will all add up to some decent savings.

The biggest saving will always come from Walt Disney World in the form of the Free Dining Promotion. Booking your vacation during that time period means you do not have to pay for food while on vacation. There are very specific guidelines like the fact that you must book a full price package in order to get free dining, so do the math!

Unless you get it free under a promotion, don’t buy it. The cost will far exceed what you will spend on food unless your family eats a tremendous amount of food every day.

Purchase park passes for a small discount. There are several options for doing this. A few suggestions are Undercover Tourist, purchasing Disney Gift Cards at Target with your Red Card for a 5% discount and then using those gift cards to purchase your park passes, Costco and BJ’s – just to name a few. The small savings on one ticket may not seem like alot, but purchase for a family of 5 or 6 and the savings add up.

money saving tips wdw

Skip the Park Hopper add on unless you know for sure you will be moving from park to park during the day. Moving from park to park with little ones can be a hassle and time consuming. 

Skip the Water Parks add on unless you know you will be spending a day or two at one of the Disney water parks.

Don’t purchase park passes for arrival and departure day. This will save you the cost of 2 days on your pass. Use your arrival day to tour your resort and relax from your travels so you can start out fresh and ready to go the next morning. Add in a “FREE” day to your vacation and you will save the cost of 3 days on your passes.

Spend a FREE day. By including a “free” day in your vacation, you will require one less day of park passes. You can swim at your resort, spend the day strolling through Disney Springs, tour different Disney resorts or take a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) tour. If you take a DVC tour, you are usually gifted a small Disney gift card too! 

money saving tips wdw

Bring your own snacks – If you are able to drive to Orlando – bring snacks, water and/or breakfast foods. This will allow you to eat breakfast in your room and bring snacks into the parks with you each day. I find I save lots of money this way. I bring a case of water from Walmart (cost around $3 for the case) vs. buying bottled water in the parks for $3 each bottle.

Be flexible with your travel dates. Disney has different rates for different seasons. Compare different dates to see which time of year will be less expensive. They also offer discounts for certain dates. Plan your visits to fit in with one of the offered promotions.

Even after booking, continue to check for new discounts and call Disney reservations to see if it can be applied to your booking.

Don’t over-eat and over spend! Because many of the food items at Disney are large, I tend to waste food and money if I order a regular meal at one of the quick service locations.

To solve this problem, I often order a kids meal for myself or share the adult meal with another family member.

The Memory Maker add on isn’t necessary. All PhotoPass photographers will take a picture of your family with your phone/camera. All you have to do is ask.

money saving tips wdw

No need to take a fireworks cruise. You can see the fireworks from many places for free. Just look up! If you add several extras onto your trip you can easily add on a thousand dollars to your costs.

Refillable Mug is nice if you get it free with a free Disney Dining Plan. If you have to pay for it – PASS. The refillable mug is only usable to refill at your resort. You can’t refill it in the parks so unless you plan to stay and eat/drink at your hotel all day, don’t waste your money. 

Choose your character meals wisely. Breakfast and lunch with the characters is usually less expensive than dinner with the characters. Same characters. If you really want to add on a character meal, make it breakfast rather than dinner.

Get two meals in one. Most of the character meals are buffet style. Plan your breakfast with Mickey for one of the latest breakfast slots. This will allow you to eat enough to cover both breakfast and lunch. You may just need a snack mid-afternoon. You can use the same system for a character dinner. Choose the earliest time slot and use the meal as a late lunch/early dinner.

money saving tips wdw

Eat inexpensively in Epcot World Showcase. Many of the kiosks spread out throughout the countries offer small, tasty items for just a few dollars. The portions are more than enough for lunch and at a fraction of the cost of visiting a quick service or table service restaurant in the park.

Set a souvenir budget. Give each child a Disney gift card with a certain amount on it. When that amount is gone. No more souvenirs. Let the kids earn their souvenir money before your trip and spend their own cash – it’s amazing how few things they really NEED when paying for it themselves. 

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