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Budget-Friendly Disney Trips Really Are Possible

It is no secret that Walt Disney World trips are EXPENSIVE. There is so much to see, do, and eat – it all adds up. Plus Disney isn’t really known for doing specials or discounts in the parks. After spending 15 years at Walt Disney World, here are some ways I have found to help me save a few dollars in the parks!

1. Buy more days

Disney likes to say that the more days you play, the less you pay. This basically means that the more days you add to your ticket, the less each day costs. A one-day ticket costs around $110, whereas for 10 days it could be as low as $56 per day. Taking an extra day or two on one vacation can help you cross off more items on your Disney bucket list in a cost-effective way.

ticket price calendar
credit: Disney

2. Visit the parks on a weekday

If you can afford taking a “mental health day” from work or even have enough absences for your kids to miss school during the week, DO IT! The weekdays tend to be cheaper by at least $10 per person. Take the time to look over the ticket calendars on Disney’s website and find the cheaper days. You can see in the calendar above there is even a $30 difference between a Sunday and a Wednesday. Game-changer!

3. Don’t buy the park hopper

Adding the Park Hopper option costs an extra $65 per person. The great thing is that this is only a one-time fee, not per day. But for a family of four, that is an extra $200. Park hopping is not necessary for a successful Disney vacation. I personally like to stick to one place each day so I can soak in all that it has to offer. If I have too many options I tend to get overwhelmed.

The interesting thing about Disney’s tickets is that you must buy the park hopper option for your whole vacation. There is no option to pick and choose which days to apply the add-on.

child on Main Street in the snow during Christmas party
credit: Disney

4. Maximize your park days

If you arrive in Orlando any time after noon, don’t worry about getting a park ticket for the day. There are PLENTY of things to do at Walt Disney World that don’t require a ticket. Check out this article for some of our favorites! Mini golf, resort hopping, and even a dinner reservation at California Grill to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks are just a couple of amazing options. Spend money on tickets for the days you can really maximize your time

5. Share your meal

Disney serves pretty large portions of food. try splitting your meals between a couple of people. This will help maximize your dollar and decrease waste.

6. Order from the kids’ menu

I personally order from the kids’ menu often, especially when I am in the parks by myself. They have plates very similar to the grown up menu. And it is honestly the perfect portion size for me. Plus those plates are significantly cheaper. It’s one of the best ways I have found to save a few dollars on my trip.

7. Kids can share adult meal

Similarly, if you have two kids eating the same meal, have them share an adult portion. Paying for one of those is going to be cheaper than two of the child options.

Bottles of Dasani water

8. Don’t buy water bottles

If you are looking for a cheap (free) way to stay hydrated, go to a quick service restaurant and ask for a cup of water. They will always give it to you without charge. Disney has also been adding water bottle refill stations in new-build areas of the parks. Slowly but surly they are making it easier to refill our emotional support water bottles!

Night Blossom

9. BYOB – Bring Your Own Booze

Alcohol at Disney World is EXPENSIVE. I will usually splurge on one drink at EPCOT, but then supplement with my own alcohol. I have a water bottle that is designated for my Disney booze. This way I can buy cheap bottles of wine in the store and fill the bottle before leaving for the parks in the morning. Some people will also add liquor to their soda bottles. However you need to add to the fun without spending $15 for a sip of alcohol!

Mother daughter photo at Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

10. Don’t buy the Memory Maker

The $200 you spend on unlimited PhotoPass downloads is honestly not work it. Most of the lines for Disney photographers are long, plus their photos really aren’t that good. Instead, if you find a PhotoPass photographer in a spot you really want to capture, have them take a photo with your phone or camera. You are not required to take pictures with theirs. If those lines are too long, take a chance and ask a stranger to help get family photos! They end up being really great, or super entertaining!


11. Pack your own snacks

Disney snacks and treats can be decent, but it is no secret that they are EXPENSIVE. All of the snacks can really add up. It is super helpful for your wallet to pack a handful of snacks in your park bag. I love bringing along some granola bars and an apple for my long park days. It helps keep the hanger at bay and I am able to fully enjoy my time in the parks.

World of Disney at Disney Springs
credit: Disney

12. Buy a Disney gift card from Target

If you have a Target red card, buy your Disney gift cards from the store before you leave! The Target Red Card gives you 5% off of your purchase, so you are automatically saving money by just buying money. We usually grab a couple of $100 gift cards and use those for all of our purchases on our trip. A little can go a long way!

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