If you’ve been trying to plan a Disney vacation, then you already know that things can get quite pricey. The cost of accommodations, transportation, park tickets, and dining can all add up quickly. With that in mind, I’ve devised several useful tips for saving money at Disney World that are designed for you to have a magical time at Disney World without breaking your bank account. I posted a video describing these tips on YouTube, but they are also described in more detail, along with a few additional tips, below.
Tip #1: Avoid Peak Seasons
- If you travel to Disney during the off-season, hotels will be cheaper, and the parks will be much less crowded. In general, January, September, November, and Early December are the least busy times of year. This means that hotels will be trying to fill up their rooms by offering lower rates. Likewise, remember that Disney will always be busier, and therefore more expensive, during the holidays. This includes Spring Break/March Break, Easter Break, Summer Vacation, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
- If you do want to visit the parks for the Christmas season, note that Disney starts decorating the parks starting after Halloween, and everything is fully decked out around Thanksgiving. If you can afford time off from work in early December, it is the perfect time to go – the parks will be virtually empty and prices will be substantially cheaper.
Tip #2: Stay in a Hotel not Operated by Disney
- Disney hotels can be incredibly expensive. If you are looking for proximity to the theme parks, there are still plenty of hotels not operated by Disney that are actually located within the Disney grounds. There is a long strip of hotels situated on Hotel Plaza Blvd which are just a short walk away from Downtown Disney. In addition, many of these hotels offer complementary shuttles to and from the theme parks, which eliminates the need for a rental car and helps you avoid parking fees at the theme parks ($14 per car!). Depending on the time of year, many of these hotels can range from $100-200/night, while the Disney resorts often start at $250/night
Tip #3: Purchase Multi-Day Tickets
- The price of Disney tickets starts at $85 for a single day (for Adults ages 10 and up, and not including tax). But as you purchase more days, the price per day drops substantially. Take a look at this chart taken from the Disney website that lists ticket prices in $USD, including tax. It breaks ticket prices down for you based on their total cost, as well as the price per day.
- As you can see, buying a single day of park admission would cost you $90, but the daily price drops as more days are purchased. For example, buying a 4-Day ticket works out to just over $64 per day, and a 10-Day ticket works out to $31 per day.
- Keep in mind that while the cost per day will drop as you purchase more days, the total price will obviously increase. So you won’t really be “saving money” so much as lowering your admission cost per day. Also remember that tickets expire 14 days after their first use, so you can’t buy a 10-Day ticket and use it over three separate visits to Disney World. (Yes, you could purchase a no-expiry option to keep the tickets valid for eternity, but this will be discussed further in another article).
Tip #4: Use the Park Hopper Option Wisely
- The “base ticket” only allows you to visit one park in a day. If you want to visit multiple parks in a day, you can add on a Park Hopper for an additional $55. This option allows you to visit more than one park in a day; for example, you could go to Magic Kingdom in the morning, hop on the monorail over to Epcot for the afternoon, and take the ferry to Hollywood Studios for the evening.
- An example of how you could use this option to save money is by buying a 2-Day park hopper ticket ($237.50) rather than a 4-Day regular ticket ($258.80). By park hopping between two or more parks each day, you could then see all 4 parks in only 2 days. In this situation, the Park Hopper would be the clear choice, and is great if you plan on doing other things in Orlando and only have a limited number of days to allocate to the Disney theme parks. However, if you’re not intending on park hopping, don’t buy the option, or you’ll just be spending money unnecessarily. Also keep in mind that traveling between the parks takes time, so you’ll be spending time traveling that you could be spending on rides. During busy times of year, the Park Hopper option really isn’t worth it, but during the off-season it is a great way to see all the parks in a limited number of days.
Tip #5: Use Authorized Dealers for Discounts
- While Disney no longer offers a discount for purchasing tickets online rather than buying them at the gate, there are certain authorized Disney ticket dealers online that offer Disney tickets at a slightly discounted rate. In addition, if you have a CAA or AAA membership, you can save money by purchasing 5 or 7 day park hopper tickets online.
Tip #6: Bring your own Water and Snacks
- Not surprisingly, the cost of food and drinks while on vacation can add up quite quickly. To minimize your expense, bring snacks along with you to the theme parks. You can opt for healthy snacks like grapes, apple slices, or carrots in zip-loc bags, or treats like cookies, crackers, chips, and granola bars. These will keep you full in between meals and you won’t have to pay for snacks at the parks. Also be sure to bring your own water bottle that you can refill from a water fountain. You definitely will want to stay hydrated while walking around all day under the hot Florida sun, and at $2.50 per bottle, the savings quickly adds up.
Tip #7: Share Large Meals
- Many of the meals sold at the parks are quite large, and you may be able to split one meal between two people, especially two children. In Tomorrowland, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe sells a half chicken meal for $9.69 that is the perfect size for sharing. For heartier appetites, the same restaurant also serves a chicken and rib combo meal for $14.19. When shared between two people this works out to just about $7 per person, which is still cheaper than the least expensive burger item on the park menus.
Tip #8: Buy a Refillable Resort Mug
- If you do end up staying in a Disney resort, you may consider purchasing a refillable mug. It sells for $14 and it entitles you to free refills of soda, iced tea, coffee and hot chocolate throughout the duration of your stay. This is a good deal if you normally would purchase these drinks on a regular basis. If not, stick to bottled water, or make a trip to a nearby grocery store and buy some drinks from there.
I hope these tips will help make your Disney vacation and save you money along the way. If you have any other money-saving suggestions, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list for others to see! Also be sure to check out the other videos I’ve posted in my Disney series, and if you liked what you saw, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.