How To Do Disney On A Budget – 10 Money Saving Tips

Castle Money

It is possible to take a Disney vacation without breaking the bank. Disney insiders know the best way to experience the parks while still sticking to a budget. These tips and tricks work to create a low-cost trip that doesn’t feel like you’re losing out on the more pricey entertainments.

10. Travel Off Peak

Traveling during the summer or holiday periods may work best for everyone’s schedules, but it can also be the most expensive time to visit. Prices for hotels change throughout the year depending on the crowd level. The best times to go are in the winter right after the holiday season in January and February and then later in the fall in September and October when the prices are the lowest.

9. Stay at a Value Resort

The most affordable resorts on Disney property are the Value level hotels. These include the All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Pop Century, and Art of Animation resorts. The basic amenities provided still feel like a treat. There are multiple pools at each resort, a food court, and fun character themes for the buildings.

8. Free Transportation

No matter which hotel you stay at, so long as you’re on Disney property you can take advantage of free transportation. Starting from the Orlando International Airport, guests can ride the Magical Express bus service to their hotel for free. Once on property, there are buses, boats, and monorails that transport guests to the parks and Downtown Disney. This saves you from having to rent a car and pay parking fees that would otherwise apply. You may also like Disney Transportation 101 – 10 Tips For Getting Around Disney World

7. Check Special Offers

When booking your Disney vacation, be sure to check the Special Offers link on the main page of the websites for both Disney World and Disneyland. During select times of the year, discounts are offered such as a certain percentage off hotel stays or park tickets. Free Dining Plans are also offered. These can save you money or allow you to upgrade to a higher level hotel that would now fit into your budget. You could also consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!

6. Shop at Home

It’s no surprise that merchandise at the Disney parks gift shops are expensive. But did you know you can buy many of the same items in your local Disney Store for a lower price? Even the website can offer lower prices. With more Disney Parks merchandise available online and in stores, it’s easier than ever to do your shopping ahead of time. For clothing, you can find Disney shirts in many other stores besides the Disney Store at a more affordable price.

5. Shop in Downtown Disney

If you do end up shopping in Disney, make your purchases in Downtown Disney before buying in the actual parks. There is a slight difference in price even here as souvenirs can often be a little lower, about 10% or so, than the same items in the park. This isn’t true for all souvenirs, but it does apply to a number of them. Shop here first, then hit the parks.

4. Bring Food

Another great way to save money and stay on budget is by bringing your own food. This mean the nonperishable items that can be stored at room temperature. Things like cereal, bagels, granola bars, and snack items you may enjoy for breakfast or during the day can help cut on food costs. Still treat yourself to something special, but you won’t need to buy as much if you bring your own. Disney parks do allow food items so long as you’re not bringing a cooler, glass items, or alcoholic beverages.

3. Counter Service Instead of Table Service

Disney offers some great Counter Service meals that reduce the cost of each meal and the time spent eating it, allowing you more time to enjoy the parks. You can choose from sides, entrees, desserts and drinks like a regular Table Service restaurant, but instead you take your food and pick out your own table. Plus, you won’t have to pay a tip since you won’t have a waiter or waitress.

2. Avoid Park Hopper

If you plan on doing one park per day anyway, there’s no need to pay the extra fee to get the Park Hopper passes. The standard fee does allow you to leave and re-enter the same park that day if you want to eat at a resort.

1. Free Experiences

Disney parks do offer lots of free experiences for park guests. The favorite is Extra Magic Hours. If you’re staying on property, you’ll have access to select parks either before they open or after they close to the public. You can also get free water at any Counter Service food vendor, free soda at Club Cool in Ecpot, free Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards (the starter set), free crafts at each country in World Showcase, and so much more. Check out “12 Disney Freebies You’ll Love!”

Staying on budget and saving money for your next Disney vacation is absolutely possible. Just create a plan and stick to it. There are great ways to save and still have fun at Disney parks.

BONUS TIP: For more money saving tips, consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!


Kristina is a freelance writer and full-time marketer who is a loud and proud Disney fan. Besides Disney Fanatic and How To Disney, she has also written for, Disney Avenue, and XOJane. A frequent visitor to Disney World, she enjoys trying something new each trip and experiencing all Disney has to offer. She lives in New York with her cat, Lizzie.

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