How to Stay On Budget at WDW

Creating a budget for your next Disney World trip and sticking to it is possible. Not only will this allow you to enjoy your vacation without worrying about money, but will help you to afford more vacations in the future by not constantly overspending. If you’ve had trouble staying within your budget, here are a few tips.

5. Take Advantage of Free Experiences and Offerings

One way to stay within your budget is to not spend more than you need to. While a Disney vacation can be expensive, there are actually a number of things that are offered for free. Did you know you can get free cups of water at any food vendor that supplies water on tap? Instead of spending money on sugary drinks, simply ask for a cup of water to go with your meal. You’ll still have to pay for bottles of water. Free snack samples can also sometimes be found at the Confectionary on Main Street and Club Cool in Epcot offers free samples of different Coke products from around the world.

You can also get free celebration buttons and stickers throughout the parks. For other souvenirs, you can take home your own handmade drawing of a Disney character by participating in the Animation Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, collect Wilderness Explorer Badges in Animal Kingdom, up to five free Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom trading cards, and crafts at the Kidcot Fun Stops at each country in World Showcase. Check out “11 Completely Free Things To Do At Walt Disney World.”

Taking advantage of the free Disney transportation, including the Magical Express from the Orlando airport, is also a great way to avoid excessive parking fees and stay within your budget.

4. Bring Items From Home With You

Instead of spending an excessive amount on items that are marked up, because it’s Disney, bring the things you’ll need from home. Bring your own poncho or a sweatshirt for rainy or cold weather so you don’t have to buy one there. Pack a selection of travel approved snacks to hold your party over between meals and avoid purchasing extra food items. Anticipate what you may need and pack what you can.

3. Utilize the Dining Plan

If you constantly find yourself going over your food budget on family trips, consider taking part in the Disney Dining Plan. This allows you to pay one fee up front for snack and meal credits to be used however you want throughout your vacation. This gives you the flexibility to choose what you’d like, regardless of the price of the individual item or meal. Tips for table service meals is not included, but if you don’t plan on ordering appetizers or alcoholic beverages, you shouldn’t have to pay anything else at the restaurants. Families typically save up to 20% of their usual food expenses by participating in the Dining Plan and you can, too. Check out “Disney Dining Plan 101 – 8 FAQ’s.”

2. Limit Souvenir Spending

Besides food, souvenirs are one of the top expenses for a Disney vacation. Before you leave, make a plan as to how much, or how many souvenirs, each person in your party is allowed. This will force each person to really think about their decisions and not impulse buy what they see as they see it. Also consider only leaving so much room in your luggage for extra items so you’re forced to only bring back so much. Create a budget just for souvenirs and keep track of your expenses after each day of your vacation. If you have some left over, then you can splurge. If you spend it all early, be content with window shopping.

1. Use Disney Gift Cards

With the Magic Bands, guests can have their credit cards connected to their wrist bands for easy use during purchases. The problem with this is that it’s too convenient and too easy to lose track of how much has been spent. Whether for food, souvenirs, or other expenses, try putting a set dollar amount on a Disney Gift Card that you can use to make purchases throughout your stay. You’ll be able to keep track of how much you have left and will have set a firm limit on what you can spend.

Staying within your Disney vacation budget is possible. It just takes some preparation, organization, and discipline. Set a realistic budget that works with your finances and what you’d like to do, and stick to it. You’ll find a lot of creative solutions that are cost-effective and a lot of fun. Then you can start saving up for the next trip.

BONUS TIP: 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 Examiner.com, 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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