As a seasoned veteran of Disney World with young children, I have learned a few ways to save money on our Disney Vacations that I wish I knew the first time! If you are a frugal parent like me, who starts saving a year in advance, or trying to figure out how you can ever go to Disney because it’s so expensive, this list is for you.
I also have a list of Ways to Save When Planning a Disney Trip.
Things to SKIP to save money:
1. Stroller Rentals: Bring your own from home to save the rental fees of about $16/day. You can find umbrella strollers that fold up nicely for around $25. If you have kids over 5, you may want to skip the strollers all together.
2. Eating Out Every Meal: I ship myself a package and pick it up when I check-in. I like to pack snacks, breakfast foods, drinks, and candy to save money at the Parks, and eat breakfast in the room. Find out how to ship yourself a package HERE. You can even go to a nearby store or place an order at GardenGrocer.com to get breakfast foods or lunchbox stuff to take with you. You can take food and drink into the Park! For a list of what’s allowed, click HERE.
3. Bottled Water: In the Parks you will pay about $2.50-$3 for a bottle of water. Ask for a free cup of ice water at the Quick Service restaurants. You can spice it up a little with flavored drops or a packet of lemonade. You could also bring a refillable water bottle too. I don’t like to carry stuff, so I just get a glass of water when needed. If you just HAVE to have bottled water, ship yourself a case from Amazon or Walmart.com and pick it up at the front desk (see #2.)
4. Weekends and Summer time: Resort Room rates are higher of Friday and Saturday nights, so if you want to save money, book a trip that is Sunday to Friday morning to avoid the jump in prices. There are value seasons when resort room rates are the lowest, such as some weeks in January, February, and September. Value seasons offer the lowest crowds and prices.
5. Park Hoppers: If it’s in your budget, I highly recommend Park Hopper tickets to be able to visit multiple Parks per day. But, if you want to save some cash, drop the Hoppers and just do one Park per day. If you want to leave that Park, you can always check out the new Disney Springs (Downtown), go Resort Hopping, swim, or do a round of mini-golf at Fantasia Gardens!
6. Character Meals: Unless you have the Basic Dining plan (also called Plus Dining) where you get 1 Table Service meal a day, skip the character meals. They run about $40-60 per adult. An 18% gratuity is added for parties of 6 or more, plus tax. It can be an extremely expensive meal. Although, the character experiences are a lot of fun, and the restaurants are great, you can meet these character in the Parks for free. This is why I DO recommend getting the Basic Dining Plan. You pre-pay for your meals so you don’t have to worry about these extra costs. Better yet, go in the Fall during FREE DINING!
7. Preferred Rooms: It’s not that bad to stay standard! I stayed in the VERY BACK of VERY LAST building at All-Star Music Resort once. It was a hike to get anywhere, but we had extra money for other things. Change your room to a standard room, which means you will have to walk further to get to the pools, bus stops, and food court, but the room rate goes down a lot. There are also standard “view” rooms too. This means you will be looking at another building or a parking lot out your window, versus a pool or water view.
8. Souvenir Overload: EVERY souvenir at Disney is cute! It’s so hard to pick the perfect one. This is how I avoid souvenir overload…be PATIENT! I wait until the end of the night, after I have seen everything to select a souvenir at the Park, OR go to Downtown Disney’s World of Disney Store to see everything all in once place! I could spend hours there! For the kids, we give them each a spending limit, on a gift card marked with their name. We advise them to pick one small thing a day only or save it all until we go Downtown. Better yet, buy souvenirs at home and secretly stash them in your suitcase. Five Below, Kohls, Walmart, and even online at the DisneyStore.com has cheaper (sometimes the same) stuff, especially during sales and free shipping promos.
9. Using Credit Cards: You already spent a lot to get to Disney, don’t charge up your card balance while there! Buy Gift Cards to help keep a budget. You will only spend what’s on the gift cards, and be more thrifty with a set limit. Don’t link your credit or debit card to your Magicband! Yes, it’s more convenient, but you may lose track of the amount spent, and have regrets later.
10. Holidays and Ticketed Events: Going during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Halloween weeks is not only more expensive, it’s way more crowded. For some it’s the only time they can go without missing school. But if you are on a budget, go between Holidays. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are SUCH magical events, you should experience them, if you can financially!! But they are expensive events too, at around $65/ticket. Instead, go to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, or the International Food and Wine Festival or Star Wars Weekends for funevents that don’t cost extra! These are free events that happen annually. Click the links to find out more!
Disney Trips CAN be affordable with the right saving and spending strategies! What tips and advice do you have for saving money? Please share in the comments!
If you need a Travel Specialist willing to work with you AND your budget, please contact me! I am a frugal Mom of 3 who always tries to find the most cost effective way to do EVERYTHING! Payment plans, itinerary planning, and free price quotes are just a few ways I can help you get on your way to the Happiest Place on Earth! Email me at Summer@WorldofMagicTravel.com or Follow me HERE on my Facebook Page.
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