Congratulations, you’re going to Walt Disney World! Once you’ve decided to take a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, you’re bound to hear a family member, friend, or person you barely know on Facebook say, “Wow, that sounds expensive.” Truth is, they aren’t totally wrong. A Disney Vacation can be expensive. But what many people don’t know is that there are tons of tips and tricks to save money! If you want to save money on your next Disney trip, or are working the numbers to see if a Disney vacation is right for you, then you’ve come to the right place! Here are our best tips and tricks for saving money at Walt Disney World.
Travel in the Off-Season
With work, school, and other commitments traveling in the off-season isn’t always an option, and that’s okay. But if you are able to visit Disney on a less crowded date, this is a great way to save money! Disney resorts and park tickets are priced based on demand, typically higher in the summer and around holidays. Though some would argue that Walt Disney World doesn’t have an off-season anymore, there are times when tickets are less expensive. The most expensive single park day ticket in 2022 is $159 and occurs from Christmas to New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, if you decide to travel the 3rd week of September that same ticket will cost you $109. That’s a $50 difference per person per day, which adds up fast! Ticket prices are also a great indicator of the crowd levels- lower prices mean lower crowds! To really save money on tickets, skip the park hopper option as well.
Book with a Travel Agent
If you have never used a travel agent, it may be a surprise to find out that many travel agents will book your travel at no cost to you! Time is money and having someone who knows the ins and outs of the always-evolving Disney system is priceless. An experienced travel agent can help tailor your trip to your needs making every dollar you spend worth it. Most importantly travel agents constantly monitor Disney discounts and make sure you are getting the best deal. One of the best reasons to book your vacation through a travel agent is that they can even apply discounts to your trip that become available after you’ve booked! This way you can be sure you’re getting the very best deal at the time you travel.
Order Groceries or Cook in the Room
Delivery services have changed the way guests eat on a Disney Vacation. Before, if you didn’t have a rental car, you were pretty much confined to eating on property. Now with grocery delivery services and food delivery via rideshare platforms your options are endless. If you’re looking to save money on some of your meals, then order groceries to your room and cook! (Making a freezer pizza counts as cooking!) While major companies like Amazon offer this service, we recommend using local or cast member-owned services like Magical Vacation Grocers LLC or Dee’s Deliveries. Having one meal a day in your room will majorly reduce your Disney dining bill. Another benefit of ordering groceries for the start of your trip is that you can order things like ponchos and sunscreen for much less than you would spend in the parks.
If cooking doesn’t sound like your idea of a vacation or your room doesn’t have a kitchenette, you can always order a meal right to your resort. Services like Uber Eats or Grubhub make ordering from a non-Disney restaurant a breeze! The best thing about these services is that you can order from a variety of restaurants at a variety of price points. Many of these services are adding features where you can also order from convenience stores so order some soda for the room and save money buying it elsewhere!
Take Advantage of Free Stuff
People love to talk about how expensive a Disney vacation can be, but often overlook that there are free things at Disney! A major free offering at Disney is free transportation. It is totally possible to land at Orlando International Airport and not spend a dollar on transportation until you’re home again. To and from the airport, you can take Disney’s Magical Express to your on-property hotel (at least for the rest of 2021) and from there you have multiple options for getting to the parks. Depending on your resort you can take a bus, a boat, the Skyliner, or the Monorail to the parks and Disney Springs. Some resorts are even within walking distance from these locations!
Other things you can get for free include free cups of water at food locations, free celebration badges at merchandise locations, and free activities like earning a Wilderness Explorer Badge in Animal Kingdom or free outdoor movies at the resorts. Don’t forget, Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk are both free to visit!
Use Your Discounts
Before heading to Disney, make sure you know if you qualify for any discounts! The most obvious are Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members. The standard for both is 10% off on food excluding alcoholic beverages and 20% off on merchandise. While these are the base offerings, there are promotions where you will see these amounts increase such as 30% of merchandise. If you are both an AP and DVC member you cannot combine the discounts. Pro Tip: if you are an AP or a DVC member, buy your bottled water at a merchandise location, not a dining location, and receive a bigger discount!
The other consistent discount you can count on Disney running is a military discount. Disney’s military discount is available to military personnel and their spouses and includes reduced prices on tickets, resort rooms, and memory maker. If you are a member of the military, make sure you check out Shades of Green, Disney’s resort that is exclusive to military families.
Save on Souvenirs
While Disney has some amazing merch and you’re bound to buy something there, you can save a lot of money if you look for souvenirs elsewhere. First, you can make or buy Ears for much cheaper than you’ll find on property or on ShopDisney. Disney sells their ears for $25-$35, but you can find similar Ears at Target or Walmart for $10-$15. Many stores around the resort have Disney products with a much lower price tag. You can even get Disney souvenirs at the Orlando Airport! If you feel like venturing off property, make sure you check out Disney’s Character Warehouse at the Orlando International Premium Outlets. Here you will find official Disney merch at outlet prices!
While you may be able to control your spending it’s a lot harder to say no when it’s your kids asking. Our favorite hack is to buy Disney toys in advance at somewhere like Walmart then pack them and give them to your kids at your resort! This way they are getting a new Disney toy (that stays in the room and doesn’t need to be carried through the parks) and it doesn’t break the budget!
What other tips and tricks do you have for saving money at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!