25 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget from 25 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget

25 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget

Full Story

25 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget

Disney is one of the most magical places on earth, which makes it a wonderful family-friendly vacation destination. There are tons of family-friendly attractionsspectacular hotels to choose from and delicious dining options.

*Related: 20 Things at Walt Disney World You Haven’t Tried Yet

But for some people, a Disney vacation may be a little bit out of their price range, and as much as they would love for their family to reap the benefits, it just doesn’t seem financially possible. The thought, alone, of the amount of money you will spend on tickets, souvenirs and on-site resort fees, just to name a few, is scary.


Drive there

Make a trip to Disney even more amazing by going on a road trip to get there. You can find good flight deals depending on how early you plan to book a trip, but nothing beats the cheap price of gas – especially if you have to pay for 4-5 plane tickets.


Bring refillable water bottles

Do you want to spend $4-$5 for a water bottle? That’s more than at an airport. You and your kids will get thirsty often because of the excitement and running around. The cost will add up quickly. Bring your own bottle and keep refilling it. Quick-service restaurants will provide water, and ice, even if you don’t buy food.

Get membership discounts

Educate yourself on Disney’s membership discounts. Disney parks and resorts often provide discounts for those who have served or are serving in the military, AARP members, and AAA users.


Stay in a hotel off site

As tempting as Disney World resort vacation packages are, they are usually very pricy. Stay in a hotel off site instead. There are tons of great places to stay just a few minutes from Disney that offer shuttle services to the parks.


Keep your change

Change adds up. Have your entire family save all of their change throughout the trip. At the end, compile all of the change together and use it on small souvenirs.


Don’t pay for photos

Ask anyone, even the Disney characters around the park, and they will be glad to take a photo of you and your kids free of charge with your phone or camera.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Theme Park Tourist CC BY 4.0

Use Disney dollars

You can get cash from the ATM all over the resort and pay a transaction fee or you can use Disney dollars, which serve the same purpose as cash, and not pay any extra fees. New Disney dollars are no longer available to purchase, but guests may continue to use previously purchased ones at Walt Disney World Resort, the Disneyland Resort and select Disney Store locations in the U.S.

Don’t buy souvenirs at Disney

Disney parks have a ridiculous amount of souvenir shops, and as tempting as purchasing something from one of them may be, avoid them completely if you are trying to save money. You can purchase gifts at shops outside the parks or online for a much better price.

Check the weather before you go

The last thing you want to be is stuck in a rainstorm because you didn’t prepare for the day’s weather conditions. Make sure that you check the weather forecast to avoid having to purchase an overpriced rain poncho from one of the park’s stores.

Purchase the Disney dining plan

If you are staying on-site at Disney World, the best way to save money on food is by purchasing the Disney Dining Plan. It’s a great way to save money and eat conveniently in the parks. You will get a refillable mug that you can use for snacks and at restaurants.

Visit during the low season

Disney World is most crowded when kids are out of school — over the summer, Thanksgiving week, before and after New Year’s, Presidents Day weekend, and spring and winter breaks. Ticket prices usually increase during this time. Go during the low season instead — you will find cheaper hotel rooms.

Shutterstock/ Rob Wilson

Don’t eat breakfast in the park

Prepare breakfast in your hotel room or simply eat the continental breakfast in your hotel before you go to the park. This will save you money on having to purchase an extra meal for your family.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Josh Grenier / CC BY 4.0

Eat at their restaurants for lunch not dinner

Dinners cost more at any restaurant. If you absolutely must have a sit-down meal at a Disney location, save money by booking lunch instead of dinner. Go for a meal during non-peak eating times and the characters will visit your table more often.

Take advantage of free activities

Disney is expensive but the “happiest place on Earth” offers a lot of free entertainment opportunities. Go to Disney Springs for free boat rides from one complex to another, go on a free walking tour to see zebras, giraffes and other exotic animals at Animal Kingdom, stroll down the mile-long Disney’s BoardWalk and watch the fireworks over the park at night.

Shutterstock/ Katherine Welles

Set a budget

Before you head to Disney, sit down and write down all foreseeable expenses. This includes gas prices, meal costs, snacks, drinks and park passes. Reviewing a list of what you may potentially spend will help you decide where you can cut down so that you don’t go over budget.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Mark Goebel / CC BY 4.0

Ask for discounts

Disney is a gigantic property with an endless number of attractions, rides, and entertainment options. You should do your research to see what’s available and at what price, but make sure you always ask for discounts. There is almost always a promotion being offered.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Ken Lund CC BY 4.0

Bring snacks

Either make some easy snacks or buy a few before you enter the park. You are allowed to bring in food, which is great if you don’t usually eat big portions anyway. You can save a lot by avoiding eating meals at the on-site restaurants or vendors. Splurge on meals with the whole family and save on all the rest.


Your kids will want to have a souvenir to take home, and instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money in a Disney shop, purchase an autograph book instead. It’s the perfect way for them to take home memories of all the Disney characters, and the book only costs about $6.


Don’t drink soda

As much as you may try to refrain from spending money at Disney, you’re going to get thirsty, and instead of spending over $3 for a large soda, purchase water. Or better yet, bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

Go camping on-site

If you’re having trouble deciding on an off or on-site hotel, consider camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. This is by far the cheapest lodging option. The kids will love playing by the fire, the swimming pool, stargazing, and sleeping in a tent. Room for either a pop-up or camper van-type vehicle plus a tent or 2 tents is just $53 per night.

Buy your kid’s costumes ahead of time

Before you leave for Disney, buy your kids their costumes. Purchasing a princess dress from Disney is going to be a lot more expensive than anywhere else. Better yet, if your child already has a costume of their favorite character, just bring it with you.

Use discounted gift cards

Purchase discounted gift cards before you head to Disney – they can be used for literally everything in the park. The discounts are not tremendous but saving even 5 percent on a purchase you’re going to make anyway is worth it. Buy several discounted gift cards and the savings will add up. You can buy these cards at Target, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, to name a few.


Don’t make Disney the center of your trip

Disney is expensive, but it’s far from the only thing to do in your destination. Instead of making Disney the entire focus of your trip, plan a free day where you can explore the surroundings, and in turn, save some cash.

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock, Inc.

Buy Multiday/Park Hopper passes

If you and your family are planning on exploring the park for four or more days, you should definitely consider purchasing multi-day park passes. Websites such as parksavers.com offer seven-day Park Hopper passes for the same price of four separate day passes.


Go when your children are young

Go to the parks when your children are under 3 years old and save almost $300 – they will get free admission to the parks.

25 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget