Is this your first time visiting Walt Disney World? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been visiting Disney my entire life, and I happen to live just 20 minutes away. While many people believe “money saving” and “Disney World” can’t go together in the same sentence, they’re sorely mistaken. There are countless Disney World money saving tips that can make a Disney vacation affordable no matter your price range.
Are you ready to finally score that Disney vacation you’ve been dreaming of? Let’s get down to business. Get your notebook ready, you’re going to want to write this down!
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1. Stay Off Property (Or On Property!)
This first tip is confusing so stay with me. Staying on property at Disney World has its undeniable perks. It’s easy to get around, you get Extra Magic Hours, and the hotels are beautifully themed. However, that all comes at a cost when you compare prices with a lot of the “outside” hotels in the area.
Staying off property can save you a lot of cash. Then, you can just Uber or drive to the parks (did you know you only need one parking pass per day for all the parks?) on your own schedule. With off property hotels or vacation rentals, you can choose an accommodation that has everything you need, whether you want a full kitchen or an efficiency. Click here to get a $40 credit towards your first Airbnb trip for free!
On the other hand, there are real perks to staying on property. First, you’ll likely avoid some unexpected fees that can add up quickly. First of all, many off-property hotels in the Disney area and in Orlando charge nightly resort and parking fees. You might also need to rent a car. Then, you’ll need to pay for your own transportation, whether that’s in ridesharing, taxis, or Disney World parking passes.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide how much you can afford by taking all the numbers into consideration. If you plan to cook all meals yourself, for example, renting a vacation home off-property can save you a ton in dining costs. On the other hand, if paying for parking sounds like an expense you don’t need, stay on property.
2. Look For Discounts
Did you know there’s such thing as discounted Disney World park tickets? And no, I’m not talking about the sketchy carts around Lake Buena Vista offering extremely reduced prices on tickets. I’m talking about legitimate discounts available to certain visitors year-round. Here are the most common discounts:
- Advance Purchase Discount – You can save money just by thinking ahead! Purchasing your tickets at home instead of at the park at arrival can save you up to $22.00 on the Base, Park Hopper, or Park Hoppy Plus tickets of 3 days or more.
- Florida Resident Discount – Are you a Florida resident with proof of residency like a Florida’s driver’s license or state ID card? Then you can get quite a discount on both annual passes and day tickets!
- Military & Civil Service Discount – Active or retired US military can save up to 6.5% on tickets all year long, and this discount includes at least 50% of their party. These tickets must be purchased at your local base MWR/ITT office, and prices will vary by location.
- Corporate & Membership Discounts – If you belong to an employer or government organization that is part of the Magic Kingdom Club or if your company is a sponsor of the Walt Disney Company, you might be eligible for a discount on park tickets and merchandise. Speak to your company about whether this applies to you.
- Canadian Residency Discounts – During special windows, Candian residents are eligible to purchase specially priced tickets for anywhere between 4-days and 10-days. You can purchase your ticket online or by phone, and it is not available at the ticket booths in the parks. Some Park Hopper passes are sold at some CAA offices.
- Disney Vacation Club Membership Discounts – If you have an active DVC contract via Disney or resale, you can get a discount on an annual pass with even more discounts on renewals.
3. Travel During Off-Season
It’s true there hardly is an off-season anymore when it comes to travel to Disney World. While you used to be able to go between large holidays and see little to no crowds, this is a thing of the past. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan your trip wisely. You can always count on needing to pay more during the winter holidays, summer vacation, and any big event.
Travel in the off-season whenever possible. Not only will you save on airfare and hotel costs, but you’ll face way less stress in the parks. The period between Labor Day and Halloween as well as between spring break and summer vacation are still lower crowd seasons. For a complete guide, check out my post on the cheapest times to visit Disney World.
4. Sit-Down Meals at Lunch Time
Do your best meals at lunchtime. Heck, even do them at breakfast! You can eat at most of the top restaurants on property at lunch to avoid paying expensive dinner prices. Trust me, the food will still be amazing, and you’ll love having a chance to rest your feet in the middle of the day.
5. Split Your Meals
Speaking of meals, split them if you can. If you’ve had a meal in Disney, you know how big the portion sizes are. If you’re dining with a spouse or friends, consider splitting your portions to save costs and stomach aches.
Most restaurants have no problem with letting you order a single meal for two, and they can bring an extra plate. At most, the restaurant will charge an extra dollar or two for sharing, but that’s still much more affordable than two big plates of food.
6. Take a Day Off
Sure, visiting the parks are great, but why not take a day off? There are so many awesome (and free!) things to do in Orlando and near Disney that you can’t go wrong. From visiting the quirky shops on I-Drive to exploring downtown, there’s so much to see and do that doesn’t cost a dime.
If you’d rather stay on property, spend a day resort hopping or window shopping in Disney Springs. The Fort Wilderness Campground is a great spot for the whole family to enjoy a cheap or free day with a petting zoo, playground, general store, and other outdoor fun.
7. Deliver Snacks and Water to the Hotel
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get snacks, water, and other supplies delivered to your hotel. In Orlando, there’s same-day delivery on many food items through Prime Now, so you can get your purchases ASAP if you time things right.
Deliver things like water, non-perishable snacks, and anything else you might have forgotten right to your hotel. This is significantly cheaper than purchasing these things at your hotel or in the park, and you only have to pay the delivery fee and a tip to your driver.
If you have a kitchen and want to cook, you can get groceries brought to your location with Shipt or Garden Grocer. This saves you major time, and it’s very affordable. Not to mention you won’t have to drop major cash on meals and treats.
8. Purchase an Annual Pass
While this won’t make sense for everyone, purchasing an annual pass is one of the best Disney World money saving tips if you play your cards right. Oftentimes, a several-day vacation is already as expensive or more expensive than the price of an annual pass. This is even truer if you plan to visit Disney World again in the same 12-month period.
Even if you can’t swing the pass for all members of your party, purchasing one for a single person in your group can add up to big benefits. If one member of your family gets an annual pass, you can take advantage of hotel, merchandise, and restaurant discounts.
9. BYO Stroller
Stroller rentals are Disney are no joke. Getting a double stroller for a week-long trip will run you almost $200. Let’s be real, you could buy a new stroller for that price. If you can’t bring your own stroller, consider renting one from a local 3rd party company. These are usually less than half the price of Disney’s strollers, and they can even be delivered to your hotel. The Disney strollers are hard plastic, so it’s not like you’re losing out on anything by making the switch.
10. Check Your Reservation
If you book early, you might be afraid of missing out on any special discounts that pop up throughout the year. It’s always a good idea to book early, and this is no different for your Disney World vacation. Luckily, you can always call Disney or your travel agent and ask to re-book at your lower rate. Check your reservation regularly to see if you qualify for any new discounts before your trip.
The Best Disney World Money Saving Tips
As you can see, it’s completely possible to save money during your trip to Disney. These Disney World money saving tips are so easy anyone can do them. As long as you’re willing to learn a bit about the discounts and 3rd party options, you can create trip memories that last a lifetime without breaking the bank.
Did I miss any of the best tips? Let me know in the comments! If you’re planning a Disney World trip on a budget, check out our full budgeting section for more ideas.