Going on a Disney Vacation is one of those ultimate goals to do as a family. But it’s no secret that it can be expensive! Many people save for years just to be able to go once in their lifetime! Well, I’m here to tell you ways to save money on your Disney Vacation so maybe it doesn’t have to be once in a lifetime!
Having worked at Walt Disney World, I didn’t make that much money (it was more for the experience than the pay), so I used some of these tips for myself to help save myself money! The tips I didn’t use while working there, I’ve learned from friends and family that go often as well as Disney messaging boards that I used to frequent during my time before and after working for the mouse.
1. Book through an authorized seller to get good deals on hotels and tickets
I will always recommend booking through an authorized seller to get the best deal on hotels and tickets. My favorite for Disneyland is Get Away Today and you can save even MORE with them by using the code TwoGeeks to get an additional $10 off!
Another great reason for booking through an authorized seller is that many times they run specials that save you even more! Get Away Today is currently running a special where select hotels get an extra night free and another special has an extra day free with a park hopper ticket!
2. Stay offsite
Staying onsite definitely has its perks but you’re typically paying extra for those perks. If you’re looking to save some money, I recommend booking a hotel off site. Most of these hotels have buses that you can utilize as transportation to and from the parks.
3. If staying onsite use Disney transportation
If you’re the type of person who just has to stay in a Disney hotel (which there’s nothing wrong with that), make sure you utilize the Disney buses. All of their buses are free, including the ones to and from the hotel (for Walt Disney World at least. For Disneyland, there is a fee for airport transportation services).
4. Go in the off season
Going in the off season will save you money because prices are lower during those times. Hotels lower their rates to entice people to come during those slower times to help fill the hotels.
Ticket prices are also cheaper during the off season since it’s considered a non-peak time. And with fewer guests in the park during the off-season, you won’t feel as crowded so it’s a win-win!
5. Buy a multi-day pass
Buying a multi-day pass saves you money because the more days you buy, the less it becomes per day. But make sure you only buy a number of days you actually need. Disney park tickets do expire so you don’t want to lose out on any days that went unused.
6. Don’t get the park hopper
The park hopper option is great but it adds extra money that you can use elsewhere. There’s plenty to do in one park that you don’t have to go from park to park all the time.
And if the park you’re going to that day closes a bit earlier than other parks, use that rest of the day to explore places like Downtown Disney and Disney Springs, or take a dip in your hotel’s pool!
7. Bring your own princess dresses and costumes
Letting your kids dress up in princess dresses and other costumes is a lot of fun but the dresses in the parks aren’t cheap! (plus they can be pretty itchy too!) If you know your kid is going to want to dress up, I recommend bringing your own costumes with you. There are a lot of great places to buy costumes such as Walmart, Target, and even Etsy has some affordable, homemade costumes.
8. Buy souvenirs ahead of time and bring them to give to kids throughout the day
Getting souvenirs on your Disney Vacation is a part of the experience, but while you’re kids get excited to see all these fun toys, you’re seeing dollar signs in your eyes. One way to help curb the pleas and begging from your kids is to take along some cheaper Disney toys that you buy from Target or Walmart and hide them in your bag to give to them when you see those wide eyes coming!
9. Bring your own food
Did you know that Disney allows you to bring your own food into the parks? The only stipulation is no glass bottles or hard sided coolers. But a soft cooler is perfect for sandwiches and snacks to eat when hunger strikes!
10. Free water at the quick service locations
Another great tip is you can get free water cups at the quick service locations. You also don’t need to stand in line for this free water either! Just go up to the pick up counter and ask for one. A lot of times they have them ready to go!
And if you want to save that water for later, you can put it in your own water bottle that you bring into the parks to carry around. I prefer doing this rather than using the drinking fountains to fill up as that water is usually warm, and in Walt Disney World the water in the drinking fountain doesn’t taste very good.
11. Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast
I’m a big fan of staying in a hotel that offers free breakfast. It’s a great way to help lower the cost of your vacation. Even if you like hitting the parks early, you can find something from the breakfast to take on the go!
12. Don’t get the Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is convenient, but it’s not really a money saver, especially if you don’t want to eat in a full-service restaurant every day for one or two of your meals. It also gives you a lot of food that you normally wouldn’t eat every day.
It also gives you a lot of food that you normally wouldn’t eat every day. I honestly can’t tell you how many times guests scramble to use the rest of their credits (usually snack credits) on their last day because they weren’t hungry after eating so much at mealtime. Because of this, I recommend setting your own budget for meals and follow that instead.
13. Share meals
At the same time that Disney food is amazing, their portions are also HUGE! I often times find I’m not able to finish my meal and that makes me feel like I’m wasting money. To help curb that feeling, I highly recommend sharing meals so none of that food goes to waste. And if you’re still hungry afterward, you can get an extra side, dessert, or a snack from a cart which is ultimately more cheaper than buying two large adult meals.
You can also share meals at the full-service restaurants as well, albeit for a small fee. This is especially helpful if you want to try an appetizer and/or dessert!
14. Use cash only (for souvenirs and snacks)
A credit card or even charging back to your room makes it really easy to just swipe and buy, leaving you to be shocked when the room bill comes at the end of the trip or when your credit card bill comes in the mail.
A good way to get around this shock is to only use cash for souvenirs and snack. You can still use your card for your hotel and travel purchases since there aren’t any surprises when it comes to those purchases. But using cash allows you to know ahead of time the amount of cash you have to use for those unplanned purchases and once the cash is gone, that’s it!
15. Set a budget and don’t go over it by making impulse buys
This tip is an extension of the previous tip. Setting an overall budget will help you to ultimately keep the cost of your Disney vacation affordable.
And in keeping with the budget, don’t make impulse buys that put you over the budget. There are a lot of fun things to buy at Disney, and if you know there’s a larger purchase (like a purse or jewelry) that you will want to make, add it to your budget ahead of time!
As you can see there are a lot of great ways that you can save money on a Disney Vacation to make it affordable and achievable when you didn’t think it was possible to take your family there!
Have a favorite Disney money saving tip that I forgot? Let me know in the comments below!
Jessica Brown says
#14 I’m not sure if carrying cash is safe/convenient nowadays but maybe if it’s put on a gift card you can still have a budget but don’t have to worry about carrying cash and change. I know Target at different times of the year has discounts on gift cards and if you use it for a Disney card you can save even More!
I also am using the Qapital app to automate my savings for different goals. https://get.qapital.com/bzAc/80NlyEl1BI Use this link to get started!
I don’t usually carry cash because I’m worried about losing it but I carried both cash and gift cards at Disneyland and it was great for staying within my budget!