Are you dying to go on a Disney World vacation, but need to spend a little less this time around? Many will say it can’t be done, but we beg to differ. While Disney World will never be an inexpensivevacation option, it definitely is possible to cut corners and save a bit of money here and there—something that really adds up to a lot by the time vacation is over.
So what can you do to save a few bucks while still having a blast in your favorite theme parks in the world? Well, it all starts with planning and thoughtful decisions.
Below are some of the best money saving decisions you can make before and during your trip to ensure you spend as little as possible so you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Go During Off Season
First and foremost, it’s important to note that prices for rooms will be significantly cheaper during the off season. Additionally, crowd levels will be lower, meaning shorter waits and thus a smaller amount of time spent in the parks (if the budget requires it). Therefore, an off-season trip is the easiest on the wallet.
2. Pitch a Tent
Can’t afford a room even during the off season? You might consider camping in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. This option is great because you get all the benefits of staying on Disney property for a much smaller price. Of course, if you don’t own an RV or know anyone who’d let you borrow theirs, staying here would also mean sleeping in a tent, so depending on how you feel about that, this may or may not work for you.
3. Pack Food
Pack food in your suitcases, or order it to be delivered from Garden Grocers. Use this food to prepare breakfast in your room before leaving in the mornings. Additionally, pack some snacks to take with you into the parks and eat throughout the day. This will save you a significant amount of money on all those meals at Disney restaurants.
4. Shop Beforehand
Anyone who’s ever been to Disney World can tell you that the place is packed with gift shops. This is great for shoppers with money burning a hole in their pocket, but not so much for those who are trying to save money. In order to avoid spending way too much money on souvenirs, purchase some gifts beforehand and dole them out throughout the trip. These gifts can be purchased from Walmart, the Disney Store Outlet, or even the dollar store for a fraction of what you’d pay in Disney World.
5. Grab Cheap Starbucks Cards
Every single Disney World park has a Starbucks. Once in a while, Groupon will sell Starbucks cards at half-off. Watch for these deals and snatch up those discounted cards whenever possible. The cards can then be used during your trip to buy coffee, snacks, and sandwiches.
6. Invest in an Annual Pass
This one might seem crazy, but it can actually save you money. If you plan to visit Disney two years in a row, plan the trips to be 11 months apart. Purchase Annual Passes for the family, and your tickets will be taken care of for both trips. Not only that, you will also receive free parking and discounts on certain food, drink, and merchandise during both visits.
7. Use a Disney Visa Card
Get a Disney Visa Card. Use the card to pay all of your bills and pay the balance off in full every single month. Slowly, you will accumulate points to put toward your trip, and over the course of the year you should gather enough to put a sizable dent in your vacation costs. Just be sure you don’t spend more than what you have.Instead, treat the card like a debit card and only ever swipe it if the money in your account will cover the purchase.
8. Buy Discounted Disney Gift Cards
Occasionally, places like Sam’s Club and Costco will carry slightly discounted Disney gift cards. Picking these up and using them to purchase your tickets, room, and food will save you a little bit. Of course, you can buy the cards with your Disney Visa to add to the savings.
9. Drink Free Water
When on vacation, it can be tempting to treat yourself to lots of soda and alcoholic beverages. However, when you’re walking all day in the Florida heat, what your body really needs is water. Rather than opting for sweet drinks, stay hydrated and save some serious dough by drinking the free cups of water found at counter-service locations.
10. Look for Toppings Bars
Eating in Disney can get pricey fast. You can get more bang for your buck by eating at locations with toppings bars. Order a burger and pile it high with whatever is on that toppings bar. You can probably make your meal big enough to share, and even if not, at least it’ll keep you full for a while longer.
11. Split Meals
Speaking of sharing meals, meal splitting is actually a great way to save money in Disney. Many places have huge portion sizes that can easily be split between two people. If you are too hungry to share one meal between two people, consider splitting two meals between three people. Another great option is to order a pizza from the hotel food court to share, or get a family fried chicken meal to-go from Fort Wilderness.
12. Use Magical Express
If you’re flying in and staying onsite, be sure to use Magical Express. This free shuttle bus will take you from the airport to your hotel at no extra charge. This is great not only because it is free transportation, but also because it means you won’t have to pay for parking (which all Disney hotels are now charging for).
13. Schedule Rest Days
Our last tip is to schedule in rest days. Park tickets are expensive, and honestly, there is plenty to do on Disney property without ever stepping foot in the parks. Therefore, you can save quite a bit of money by cutting one day off your tickets and enjoying a relaxing day by the hotel pool or exploring the many amazing Disney World resort hotels.
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 Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!