A Walt Disney World can be a bucket list vacation for families. This trip can also be very expensive, and while many families want to visit Walt Disney World, a budget is absolutely necessary. While some components of this vacation will always be expensive, there are still ways to save on a Disney World vacation.
Read our 21 tips and tricks to save on a Disney World vacation. If you’ve found other ways to reduce the cost and save money, leave us a comment below.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. We’ve received complimentary and discounted trips over the years, but have also paid our way many times.
22 Ways To Save On a Disney World Vacation
Lodging, tickets, transportation, and food are the most expensive components of a Walt Disney World vacation.
Save on Lodging
Stay offsite: This is something you’ll have to carefully consider. There are some benefits to staying onsite, which you’ll learn below. But in some cases, the cost to stay onsite is just too much and it can be more affordable to stay in a non-Disney hotel.
Offsite hotels may offer more space, free breakfast, and free evening receptions. It’s worth checking out the prices of these to decide if they are a better option for your family vacation.
Look at value hotels: If you do decide to stay on property, value resorts are a great option. These hotels offer most of the same great benefits as the more expensive hotels on property but are much more affordable.
Benefits include free transportation to the theme parks (bus transportation for all resorts, and Skyliner for the Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts), and early entry into the theme parks. These hotels also offer fantastic amenities and theming that kids will love.
Take advantage of pools and other resort amenities: You can save some money by choosing to take advantage of some of the free amenities and attractions offered by your Disney resort hotel. These include pools and water areas, movies under the stars, and other poolside activities.
Skip the rooms with a view: When you book a room at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, you’ll see different prices for different room types. Many of these rooms are the same, with varying prices due to the view that is offered.
While a room with a water or theme park view may seem appealing, if you are on a budget, you can save money by skipping the view and sticking with a traditional room. In most cases, you won’t be spending enough time in the room to benefit from a nice view.
Save on Tickets
Consider off-peak times: Disney tickets are expensive and can be a big component of the total cost of your Walt Disney World vacation. Ticket prices vary depending on the timing of your trip, so to save money, it’s best to consider traveling during off-peak times.
As a bonus, other components of your trip, like airfare and the hotel, should also be less expensive during off-peak times. Usually, the best time of year for your trip is when school is in session.
Visit for full days: When you purchase your tickets, you can buy for 1-10 days (beyond 10, it’s more affordable to purchase annual passes). As you add on days, the cost per day decreases. To save money, you should make sure you go for a longer trip, rather than multiple shorter trips.
In addition, while it may seem tiring, it’s best to visit for full days. That way, you won’t have to purchase extra days, and everything that comes with it – more food, extra hotel days, more time with a rental car.
Don’t get the park hopper: If you want to visit multiple multiple theme parks per day, you’ll have to get the park hopper option on your tickets. This is one separate fee that covers all of the days on your ticket. You aren’t able to purchase the park hopper for just one day. To save money, skip the park hopper option and instead spend one day per theme park.
Even if you don’t have the park hopper, you can leave the park and return to the same one later in the day. So, if you need to go back to the hotel for naps or other reasons, you can still do that without having the park hopper option.
Skip Genie+: Genie+ is an optional add-on to your Walt Disney World park tickets. It allows you to skip the standby queues and instead go to the shorter Genie+ line when you make a reservation for that attraction.
Genie+ can make your day at the park better, but if you are on a budget, you don’t need it. You can save money by skipping Genie+. To experience more rides in a day, consider utilizing the single-rider lines where available (and if you are okay with being separated).
Maximizing your day without Genie+ does require a plan – you’ll want to look at the rides in advance and figure out which are the most important to you. The free Disney Genie on the app also helps you maximize your day and doesn’t come with an additional cost.
Go to the parks early: In most cases, the theme parks can be quieter in the morning. Whether you have access to the early entry (from staying on property), or regular theme park hours, it’s best to arrive at the opening (known in the Disney communities as rope drop). That is when the lines are often the shortest.
Avoid after-hours events: Depending on when you visit Walt Disney World, you may be there during some after-hours events. These include Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
There’s an additional cost for these events, and they are quite pricey. So if you are on a budget, it’s best to skip them. In addition, on the day a park is hosting an after-hours event, the park will close early. So if you don’t have a ticket, you’ll want to skip that park so you can take advantage of the whole day.
Opt for a package deal: When you purchase your Disney vacation as a package, you can often take advantage of some great discounts. We recommend purchasing your vacation package from our affiliate Get Away Today, which offers great deals and can help you figure out the best deals for your family. Sometimes there are special offers on theme park tickets and/or vacation packages, including deals for Florida residents and military personnel, and some that include a free dining plan.
Save on Transportation
Start with the flight dates to get good times: You can get the best deal if you are flexible with your dates when flying for your Disney trip. I’d recommend that you start with your flight dates, and check prices.
Often, you can save some money when shifting your trip one or two days in either direction. This is typically the case when a holiday or long weekend falls during your vacation, but weekends may also be more expensive.
Drive to another airport: If you are traveling during a popular school vacation in your region, you may find that flights from your home airport are more expensive than during other weeks. If that’s the case, you may find a bargain by driving past your home airport and choosing one further way. For instance, during our winter break in Massachusetts, we’ve seen flights that are less expensive a few hours away in New York.
Use free transportation at the Disney Parks: If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, whether it’s a value, moderate, or deluxe resort, you’ll have access to free transportation to the theme parks. This transportation includes buses, the Disney Skyliner, boats, and the monorail – availability depends on the resort you are staying in.
When we visit the Disney theme parks, we never rent a car. Instead, we utilize free transportation to get where we are going.
Staying off-property? Some off-site hotels offer free shuttle service to the Walt Disney World resort.
Drive if possible: The best way to save on transportation is to consider driving to Central Florida if possible. You’ll save on transportation to Florida and can drive to some other off-property restaurants and grocery stores.
If you bring a car (or rent one), and stay on property, free parking is offered. You can park for free at the theme parks and the Disney Resort hotels.
Save on Food at Walt Disney World
Food can be a big part of your Walt Disney World vacation budget. While you may want to splurge on a special meal (especially the Disney character meals), there are ways to save on other food.
Get grocery delivery: If you are going to be on vacation for a little while, you may want to have some snacks and drinks available in your room. Consider getting staples like milk, juice, and water bottles, as well as snacks from a local grocery store, delivered to your room (if you don’t have a car). You’d be surprised at how much these things can add up if you purchase them in Disney shops and restaurants.
Pack a lunch/eat breakfast in your room: This tip goes with the one above. The cost of breakfast can add up if you eat out each day, or even if you pick it up at a quick service spot. Consider bringing your own food for breakfast(or having it delivered with your groceries).
We always travel with breakfast bars, and eat our breakfast in the room before we leave for the parks. You are also allowed to bring food into the parks (just no glass or alcohol), and can even bring a sandwich if you’d like. Get creative with this and you can save money.
Eat in quick-service restaurants: Of course, you’ll want to eat some meals out. Disney World has two main types of restaurants, table service and quick service restaurants. At a quick-service restaurant, you’ll place your order at a counter.
You can save money by eating at quick-service restaurants. In addition, some of the meals are so large that you can even consider sharing sharing.
Other Tips To Save Money
Bring souvenirs: Let’s face it, Disney souvenirs can be expensive. When traveling with younger kids, consider purchasing some souvenirs in advance. Whether you shop at a local discount mass retailer, online, or at shopDisney, you can find some great deals on things your kids will love.
When traveling with older children, you may want to provide a small budget for on-property souvenirs. If you have a car, you may also want to drive to the Disney Character Warehouse locations. These stores sell items that come from the Disney Cruise Line and Disney Parks.
Bring a stroller from home: Stroller rentals are available at the parks and can be very convenient, especially for those with slightly older kids who don’t always need a stroller. While they may not need one at the hotel and the airport, a theme park day can be tiring.
If you are on a budget and want to save money on your Disney World vacation, you can skip the rental and instead bring your own stroller. Consider a lightweight, foldable option that you can easily stick in the corner of your hotel room when you aren’t using it.
Use your own camera: Disney’s Memory Maker can be a great way to get nice photos, taken with a professional camera, by Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers. If you think you’ll want a lot of these photos, it’s more cost-effective to purchase the Memory Maker package rather than buy the photos individually.
However, to save money, consider just using your own camera/phone. You can easily take pictures of your kids in front of popular attractions and landmarks, and can often find a nearby tourist willing to take your photo for you.
Skip the Magic Bands: MagicBands are a wearable device that can enhance your Disney vacation and make it more convenient. You can use MagicBands to charge things to your room (if staying on property and have a credit card on file), for Genie+ and virtual queue returns, as admission tickets, and to enter your hotel room.
In the past, MagicBands were provided for free to guests who were staying on property. Now, however, you have to purchase these bands separately. While they are fun and convenient, you don’t need them. You will still receive key cards and tickets that operate in the same way.
Are you planning to travel to Walt Disney World? Which of these money-saving tips will you consider?