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Saving up for a trip to Disney can take a bit of patience and planning. We have assembled some of the top tips to save money at Disney we use for every trip. Using these tips could save you big bucks on your next Disney Getaway. Also, check out our articles on 10 Free Things to Do At Disney World and 10 Free Things To Do At Disney Springs.
Buy Disney Gift Cards at Target, Sam’s Club or Costco
Disney Gift Cards are a great way to save up because so many retailers and credit card companies offer deals and discounts. Sam’s Club and Costco often run 2.5-5% off their Disney Gift Cards which adds up quite fast on a longer stay. Target offers 5% cashback using their Red card on purchases as well as Discover for certain retailers throughout the year.
We recommend checking out these offers because one other perk is Disney lets you combine your gift cards into one larger one. This option provides the ability to pay for your entire stay, tours, food, etc with the gift cards that you purchased for less than face value essentially giving you a discount on your entire vacation.
Get Free Water, Don’t Buy Water Bottles
Don’t pay $5 for a water bottle! Florida can get extremely hot and for health and safety, attractions in Florida have to offer free water. Disney does have free water that you can enjoy to cool off.
To get free water at Disney, visit any counter-service location or any location that serves fountain drinks (not bottled) and ask for a cup of ice water. You will be given a small cup with ice water free of charge. If you are really thirsty, ask for two.
You also don’t need to stand in the long line either. To order a cup of water, simply walk up to the mobile order pickup spot and ask a cast member for a cup of water. Often they will have these cups premade and sometimes will have them sitting out on a tray for you to just grab and go. Some locations have even started putting out a water station with cups for you to make your own cup of water.
Tip: Bring a reusable water bottle with you and fill it with ice at the hotel before heading to the parks. Throughout the day, just keep refilling it and you will always have ice water available.
Bring Your Own Snacks & Food
Did you know that you can bring your own snacks & food into Walt Disney World? We often learn that most do not know that they can bring their own food into Walt Disney World.
Disney does allow outside food, snacks, and drinks to be brought into the parks. This is a great way to save money. Eating at Disney can get expensive, for example, a Mickey Pretzel goes for over $7 now! Bringing your own snacks can be a great way to stretch your budget and stay full throughout your day at the parks.
Check out our article on bringing your own food to Disney World for more information and tips.
Buy Kids Meals for Lunches
With so many great options for breakfast and dinner at Walt Disney World, most visitors want just a small tie over to get them through the day. Disney food can get expensive, even snacks around Disney can be expensive. When you need a smaller meal at a more affordable price, order a kid’s meal.
This money-saving tip for Disney only works at the counter service locations as most table service locations will not allow you to purchase a kids meal for an adult.
The kid’s meals at Disney can be enough for an adult to hold themselves over till the next big meal. They often include the main entree (such as chicken nuggets or a small burger), 2 small sides (fries or fruit) and a small drink which can be refillable at certain counter-service locations. These meals are normally around $8 compared to $14 – $18 for a regular meal with a drink.
Some Disney meals can be way too much for one person to eat in one sitting. Split these meals with others in your party to save a few bucks. There are several Quick Service locations with platters that are just too much for one person. One notable one is the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler at Flame Tree BBQ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This platter includes a large portion of these 3 amazing bbq meats, baked beans, and coleslaw.
Note: You can’t split meals at all-you-care-to-enjoy locations. These locations are a per person charge.
Buy a Souvenir Popcorn Bucket
If you or your family love popcorn, you can save money by buying a souvenir popcorn bucket. These buckets can be refilled at any popcorn stand at any of the four parks and Disney Springs for only $2 for your entire stay. A typical souvenir popcorn bucket costs between $10 – $20 and many of the popcorn buckets are collectible items that you can put on display when you get home. If you were to buy popcorn one-off, the price is $5 per box.
Tip: Bring your popcorn buckets with you on your next visit. While Disney states the buckets are refillable during your stay, they will often refill souvenir popcorn buckets for years after. Your experience may vary, but, we have found this to be true in most cases.
Eat At Disney Springs
Another money-saving tip for Disney World is to not eat at the parks. Rather than eating at one of the parks, hold out till park close and then head over to Disney Springs. There are many cheaper options for quick service meals at Disney Springs, many between $6 and $10. If you are looking for something a little fancier, most of the table-service restaurants at Disney Springs will also be cheaper than the locations inside the parks.
Almost all locations at Disney Springs will accept Disney Dining Plan which can allow for an amazing meal at an affordable price.
Stay Off Property
Disney resorts have a lot to offer from free Disney Transportation, great amenities, fully connected stay and much more. All these benefits do come at a price and that price can get expensive, especially for larger families.
There are many resorts and hotels just off property from Disney. These are still within a few minutes of Walt Disney World, however, they can be less expensive. Some of these resorts will also offer transportation to and from the airport as well as transportation to Walt Disney World and even other Orlando attractions & theme parks. In addition, some of these resorts participate in Disney’s Partner Hotel program which offers many of the benefits that staying at a Disney Resort can bring you such as transportation, free magic bands, Fastpass+ booking windows and more.
If traveling with a larger family or staying for an extended period of time, take a look at Airbnb. There are many vacation homes just a few minutes outside of Disney World that you can find at a much lower rate than a hotel. These are great for larger families that may need a few extra rooms and beds to accommodate everyone. Some of these homes will even have private pools so you can still enjoy a swim in the Florida sun.
For Character Meals, Do Breakfast
Character meals can be fun for the whole family and your kids, as well as your inner-child, will love them. These meals come with a hefty price tag.
Breakfast is always cheaper for a character meal. You can save some money and enjoy seeing all the characters you would normally see during a lunch or dinner with your breakfast instead.
As an added bonus, most children are in a better mood in the mornings rather than the evenings after a long day in the heat and crowds at a park. This can make the character meal a better experience for them as well.
Buy Souvenirs At The Outlets
Souvenirs can quickly eat through a Disney Trip budget when buying items full price at the parks. Luckily, there are two Disney branded outlet stores at the local outlet malls. Items can be found for prices that are much more affordable. For example, we have seen Mickey Ears at the outlet for $3 – 5 that are normally $27 – 30 at the parks.
Both stores, Disney’s Character Warehouse, are located near Disney. The closest is Disney’s Character Warehouse at Orlando Premium Outlets off of Vineland Rd. You can also visit their second store just a few minutes north at Orlando International Premium Outlets off of International Drive across from Universal Orlando Resort.
Buy An Annual Pass (If It Makes Sense)
A common question is “When is an annual pass worth it?” and hopefully this will help you out. Annual Pass holders get to take advantage of a ton of Table Service dining discounts, hotel discounts, merchandise discounts and even get added perks like magnets.
Annual Passes don’t always make sense, but it is always good to run the numbers because if even 1 person in your party has the pass you are able to claim the discounts. Run the numbers of how ticket costs, discounts, Photopass, and even your hotel discounts to find out if this will help you save money on your next Disney trip.
Take A Day Off
Time and time again I hear people say they wish they had planned a “down day”. This can be as simple as hanging out at the resort, taking a shopping day at Disney Springs, or even just enjoying the pool. If you are not at the parks the amount you spend that day will most certainly be less. There is a ton of free things to do around Disney Resorts from animation lessons to pool parties and everything in between. Remember to ask the Cast Members when you check-in for a schedule of events going on throughout the property.
In addition to the many things you can do within the “Disney Bubble”, there are also many things you can do off property near Disney World. These can be a short drive away. If you have a rental car, we suggest heading 20 minutes northwest and checking out the real Florida by visiting the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, a free experience open Fridays through Sunday bringing you up close with Florida wildlife in their natural habitat.
Deliver Groceries To The Hotel
There are a lot of hotels around and on Disney property that have kitchens, kitchenettes, or mini-fridges. This affords you the ability to order groceries from a variety of services including Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and even Walmart Grocery delivery. All you have to do is download the app and then place your order. Your groceries will be delivered right to your room for you and this can save you a good bit especially since you can take your own food into the park.
Don’t Rent A Car, Use Disney Transportation
Car rentals get expensive quickly especially factoring in the ever-changing gas prices. Disney offers multiple ways to get around property and also to the property from the airport. Disney’s Magical Express is a free transportation offering from the airport to your Disney hotel. This is a great way to not need a car while on property.
Once you arrive, there are even more ways to get around the massive Disney complex including boat, Skyliner, buses, Minnie-van, and monorail. If for some reason you do want to leave the Disney Bubble you can get an Uber or Lyft from just about any resort, park or shopping area.
Rent Strollers, Wheelchairs and ECVs From Third-Parties
Traveling with your stroller, wheelchair or ECV is not always convenient, but Disney has contracts with 3rd parties to ensure that you can enjoy your trip. Renting at the parks is going to be a more expensive option so utilizing approved 3rd parties is the way to save money on longer-term rentals.
ScooterBug is a 3rd party company that works directly with Disney to provide strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs direct to your hotel. In addition, there are other 3rd party companies that will deliver to resorts around Walt Disney World. For strollers, a popular one is Main Street Strollers.
What Are Your Tips To Save Money at Disney?
We would love to hear from you on some of your tips to save money at Disney World. Please share your money-saving tips for Disney below in the comments section.