[no_toc]Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can seem financially stressful. Airfare or gas? Off-site or on-site, meal plan or pack a lunch? How much to spend on souvenirs? So many options and the mouse is very good about getting you to spend your money. Though I adore Mickey Mouse and his house, I don’t want to lose mine to visit his. Here are some great tips to help you save money at Disney World and enjoy the magic for less.
How to Save Money at Disney World
1. Save Money at Disney World with Fuel Rewards
Since I am about 2 hours from Disney, I drive. With the price of gas and the number of miles I get per gallon, it normally costs around $50 round trip. I have managed to cut that price in half using Fuel Rewards. Fuel Rewards is a reward program through many grocery store chains where you earn 5¢-10¢ off per gallon for each certain product that you buy. When you add coupons on top of Fuel Rewards that is when the real savings start! I have seen people get gas for less than a dollar a gallon. If you have to fly to Disney, take the money you would have spent on gas and add it to your Disney fund!
2. Save Money at Disney by Staying Off Property.
Since I have my vehicle with me, this is easy for me to do. You can get some really nice resorts in the area for very cheap with Hotwire.com. I have two great tips for Hotwire. First, check the Hotwire prices for extra fees such as parking and resort fees. Those extra fees can add up and make the deal not so great. Second, to enjoy a nice vacation without worries, make sure you’re the hotel you are picking has a 75%+ approval rating. I say 75% percent, because you can never please some people.
3. Save Money at Disney by Shopping Off Property for Souvenirs
Disney is very good at getting your money. There are 4 ways to save on Disney souvenirs.
- Visit the Character Warehouse. The one I like is on Vineland Ave. The address is 8200 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32821. This is not a touristy shop, so you won’t see chintzy flamingos and crazy beach towels. You will see authentic Disney items at a great price. You can even trade pins with the cast members.
- Shop at home at ShopDisney.com. They have many park items and there is usually a coupon code available to get you a discount.
- Shop Walmart. I am not kidding. My husband needed something; I can’t remember what so we decided to go to the Walmart near Disney to get it. While we were there we discovered a whole section of Disney parks merchandise, right down to the famous Mickey Ponchos for a lot less money.
- Shop the Dollar Tree. Pre-pack surprise souvenirs from the Dollar Tree and give them to your kids each day. Maybe have them “dropped” off by Mickey or Tinkerbell with a cute note. When they are little it doesn’t matter to them if it is Dollar Tree or Disney parks merchandise.
4. Save Money at Disney by Packing Meals
Food can almost cost you more than park admission unless you have a free dining package. Well, since I rarely stay on property, I never even have the chance to get free dining. I save on dining by packing some food. Disney allows you to bring food into the parks and offers several areas where you can picnic. Another way to save on food is to never buy water. Bring a reusable water bottle and any quick-service restaurant will gladly fill it for you. Finally, every day does not need a deluxe dining experience. If I am going for a week I choose 3-4 days where I will get a character or signature dining experience. Then I go to Target and buy Disney gift cards with my Red Card (not a credit card) and save an extra 5%- bringing my food cost down even more.
5. Save Money by Taking Your Own Pictures
You can buy the Disney Memory Maker for $169. That can be pricey and it is really not needed. All Photopass photographers will take your phone and/or camera and take pictures for you. You will miss out on Magic Shots, which are added Disney animations added to your photos, and a few rides photos but honestly if you are pinching pennies to come to Disney then those are something to give up.
6. Save Money at Disney by Enjoying the Free Stuff
Since the parks can be costly without an annual pass, take a few days off from the parks. Disney has so many free or cheap ways to spend time there. Check out my list of 20+ Free and Cheap things to do in Disney Springs here. You can also resort hop, this is especially beautiful during the Christmas season. I like going to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out the animals, the Polynesian to make a lei, the Grand Floridian to listen to the piano player or band, and the Art of Animation to take advantage of all the photo opps.
7. Save Money at Disney by using an Authorized Disney Travel Agent
If you are staying on property and getting a ticket package, the best way to get savings is through an authorized Disney travel agent. I use and prefer Favorite Grampy Travels. They get you the best savings for your trip (without you having to do all the work of finding them), plus many of them throw in some really cool freebies! If a promotion or deal comes up after you have booked your vacation, the travel agent will automatically give you the lower price.
8. Save Money by Buying Tickets through Undercover Tourist
If you prefer not to use a travel agent and like planning everything yourself or if you are staying off property then Undercover Tourist will have great ticket discounts for you. Discounts are great if you are planning 3 or more park days, anything less then buying tickets directly from the Disney website is best. If you are looking for more ways to save on tickets, check on my post on how to get Discounted Disney World Tickets.
If you are looking for more Money Saving Disney Tips I recommend these books:
- (FREE with KindleUnlimited) Disney World: Super Savings Guide
- 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World: Bonus! 40 Free Things to Enjoy, Eat, Do and Collect!
Post originally published December 5th, 2013.