It’s no secret that a Walt Disney World vacation can get expensive. Between travel, lodging, park tickets and food, everything can add up quickly!
For example, the average cost for a Disney vacation these days is around $5,000. But before you panic, here’s a list of my top tips and tricks for saving money on your Disney trip:
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1. Stay at an off-site hotel
I love staying at Disney resorts, but they are super expensive. My sister put it this way: Would you rather stay at the Grand Floridian or wake up at a Hilton near Disney Springs and start your day with an extra $500 in your pocket?
If you don’t want to let go of the perks that come with a Walt Disney World Resort hotel stay, you can also consider one of Disney’s value resorts.
Another compromise is a split-stay, where you might spend the first half of your trip off-property, then splurge on a deluxe resort for the last couple of days.
2. Travel with a group
Whether you’re splitting a hotel room four ways on a girls’ weekend getaway or renting an enormous house with extended family or friends, traveling with a group can stretch your dollar on a trip to Orlando.
3. Pack your snacks
As a mom of five, I always pack a ton of snacks when visiting Disney theme parks. However, we still like to treat ourselves to special snacks like Mickey Bars or soft pretzels.
Still, do I order a 20-pack of ring pops as part of my Amazon subscription and pack them in my minivan? Yes, I do.
And it keeps me from purchasing five individual lollipops multiple times on a weeklong trip. Plus, they’re great to pull out when waiting in line or for fireworks to keep the kiddos happy (and not fussing!)
4. Travel during off-peak times
If you’re able to travel when school is in session, you’ll save money and enjoy lighter crowds.
This might also help you avoid purchasing Disney’s Genie+ service.
Disney uses variable pricing on just about everything from park tickets to hotel rates. So if you can visit the parks on a weekday instead of the weekend, you’ll save a bit of dough.
5. Look for Disney’s special offers
You can typically find special offers for vacation packages, hotel stays and park tickets on Disney’s website.
Sometimes the offers are specifically for passholders, Florida residents or Disney Plus subscribers. However, some offers are available to anyone.
6. Take your kids before their third birthday
Kids are free before they turn three at Disney World. This makes it more affordable to travel with your little ones. Plus, if you make reservations at a table service restaurant that offers a buffet or family-style dining, kids under three will be free. This includes most character dining meals.
Note that at quick service restaurants or table service restaurants with traditional a la carte menus, you’ll still have to pay for kid’s meals for toddlers.
7. Build up Disney Rewards dollars with a Disney Visa credit card
We have a Disney Visa card that we use for most day-to-day purchases like online shopping, gas and groceries.
Each month, we earn Disney rewards dollars based on our total spending. We can then use these dollars on tickets, dining or merchandise at Disney World.
8. Cash in travel points to subsidize your air travel or hotel stay
Use your SkyMiles, Hilton Honors points or another travel rewards program to make your trip more affordable.
9. Purchase Disney gift cards at a discount
Many big box retailers sell Disney gift cards and offer promotions or discounts periodically.
For example, Kroger will offer a coupon that quadruples fuel points earned on gift card purchases. I can then purchase gift cards and get a generous discount on gas. Target Red Card users can also save 5% on Disney gift cards.
10. Skip the park hopper option if possible
As an annual passholder, I have to admit that I enjoy park hopping. However, it can save a lot of money to skip the park hopper tickets and visit only one park per day.
This is especially the case on longer trips where you’re able to visit all of the parks.
11. Get groceries delivered to your rental
Ordering groceries from a local retailer like Walmart can be a great idea for saving money on dining.
Most hotels have at least a mini refrigerator that you can keep stocked with yogurt or fruit for an on-the-go breakfast, which can be a big money saver.
12. Pack refillable water bottles
Bottled water usually costs about $3.50 in Disney parks. This is steep, and honestly, I think it’s meant to discourage the consumption of single-use plastics.
With this in mind, bringing your water bottles will help you stay hydrated without breaking the bank. We’re seeing more and more refilling stations throughout the parks. Also, you can get free cups of filtered ice water at any quick service location.
13. Purchase a souvenir popcorn bucket
We almost always purchase a popcorn bucket at the beginning of our trip and get multiple refills per day.
This makes for an inexpensive renewable snack and doubles as a souvenir to take home with you.
14. Skip the rental car
We usually drive to Orlando when we’ve got the whole family in tow. However, if we’re traveling without kids or for a quick weekend getaway, we’ll sometimes fly but still skip the rental car.
It’s easy to use Uber or Lyft to take you from the airport to your hotel. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you can use Disney transportation options. Many offsite hotels offer shuttle service to and from the parks.
15. Rent DVC points to stay at a deluxe resort for less
Disney has a timeshare program called Disney Vacation Club. Members receive an annual allotment of points that can be used to stay at various deluxe resorts, like Animal Kingdom Lodge.
It’s possible to rent these points from members who don’t plan on using them before they expire. This can allow you to stay at Disney Resort for a discount, especially if you’re flexible.
How much money should I save for Disney World?
Guests spend $5,000 on average on a Disney vacation. However, it’s possible to spend a lot more or a lot less depending on several factors.
These include the number of people in your travel party, travel expenses, where you stay and when you travel.
How much does the average person spend at Disney World?
The average per-person cost of a Disney vacation is around $250 per day. This includes park tickets, food and lodging. Of course, if you’re planning on visiting EPCOT during a festival and eating and drinking around the world, you may see this cost increase.
If you’re visiting Magic Kingdom, you might spend less if you are packing your own snacks and skipping Disney’s Genie+.
Is $1,000 enough for Disney World?
A couple or small family with children under three might be able to take a very short trip to Disney World with a $1,000 budget, depending on lodging and length of stay.
Is $3,000 enough for Disney World?
If you’re smart with how you spend your money, you can plan a Disney vacation for a small family for under $3,000. Keep in mind that it’s about $2,000 under the average amount spent, so you will want to be budget-conscious during your stay.
Do you have money-saving tips for visiting Disney World? If so, let us know in the comments!