Walt Disney World might be "The Happiest Place on Earth," but it surely isn't the cheapest. With hotels, tickets, food, drinks, and, of course, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, the day-trip can turn into a money-losing nightmare.
Thankfully, there's a way to do Disney cheap! From using those hotel points to doing something as simple as browsing for ticket deals, here are some money-saving hacks to make that next Disney vacation the cheapest yet.
Discount Ticket Sellers Are Key
Instead of buying park tickets at full price, think about going through a legitimate, authorized discount ticket seller. According to Mouse Hacks, sellers such as Undercover Tourist typically have deals that can be as much as 10% off the "actual Disney ticket price."
The thing is, it's exactly the same product and results in the same experience. Only, by buying from a discount seller, a person will have a bit of extra spending money to use inside the park!
Give Kids The "Disney Souvenir Experience" Before Disney
For anyone with little ones, going to Disney is almost a rite of passage. They get the Mickey or Minnie ears, maybe a t-shirt, glow-in-the-dark toys for the night-time parades, the works! Unfortunately, that's all very pricey.
It's a good idea to give kids the same merchandise experience, but before stepping foot in the park. Head over to a costume or even department store before the Disney vacation to pick up discount ears, shirts, and anything else a child might need for a fantastic time!
Pack Snacks And Lunches
It's fun to grab a hot pretzel, various candy, or even a pickle on a stick when visiting the Disney parks. The only thing is that doing so starts to leave that wallet a bit dry.
The good news is there is no rule against people bringing food into the park! Packing something as simple as PB&J sandwiches, a baggie of goldfish or pretzels, and a few protein bars will save a lot of money.
Always Check The Disney Website Before Buying
As a general rule, it's always a smart idea to check the Disney website before purchasing any tickets, hotels, or even transportation. This is because Disney is starting to post various deals online.
Deals such as "mid-day magic," which allows visitors to only visit the park afternoon, at a discounted price. Another deal Disney is known to throw into the ring is "4-park magic," a discounted deal to visit each park for a full day over a four-day period.
Plan A Day To Do Something Else
It might sound silly considering most people go to Disney to enjoy the various parks. But there are many other, and cheaper, activities to do around the area, things that will have wallets everyone sighing in relief!
For people who opt to save money by taking a day off from the parks, think about dinner at Chef Mickey's, grab a meal, and then a movie at Disney Springs, or go watch the Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant on the beach of the Polynesian Resort!
Annual Passes Are Huge Money Savers
For those who go to Disney World more than once during the year, an annual pass to the parks isn't a horrible option. Instead of buying tickets each time they want to go to the parks, the annual pass is a one-and-done payment option.
Of course, the price is around $1,300, not to mention the other expenses that will inevitably pop up on a Disney vacation. As of 2021, this program seems to only be in effect at the Florida parks, not California.
"Scenic Restaurants" Are Best For Breakfast And Lunch
There are many Disney restaurants to try, with more than one of them being extremely scenic and full of characters. The thing is, these experiences can get very pricey very quickly, so it's best to try this little money-saving hack out for size.
Since people don't typically venture to these restaurants for the fantastic food but the scenery, it's best to go for breakfast or lunch since dinner tends to be priced higher than either of those meals.
Avoid Any And All Sales On eBay And Craigslist
While there are many discount websites for tickets, airfare, and even rental cars, there are a few shady websites that people should steer clear of when it comes to planning a cheap Disney vacation.
eBay and Craigslist might be great for some things, but booking a trip to Disney isn't one of them. These two sites are notorious for scams and ripping people off. So, if you're trying to save money, these sites are definitely something to avoid!
Put Together A Fastpass+ Strategy
The best way to save money is to ensure you're using your time in the parks wisely. This means mastering the art of Fastpass+ since lines for various rides can have people waiting up to an hour.
With Fastpass+, people can look at those long lines and skip right ahead to the front of the pack, making the most of their time in a park. Keep in mind that this is only good for about three rides/experiences, so choose wisely!
Cut Costs And Skip The Park Hopper Ticket Option
Going to multiple parks in a day might sound attractive to some people, but it might not be worth the extra money. Going from approximately $500 for a normal five-day ticket to $585 with Park Hopper, it might not be worth the cash for a few reasons.
Park hopping takes time since you'd have to get on a bus or boat to get to another park. There is such a thing as planning a day; park hopping, most simply put, is exhausting! Save the money and get a normal ticket.
When it comes to a Walt Disney World vacation, there is no telling what could happen. That's why it's important to pack everything since prices around the parks and resorts skyrocket.
This means packing things like ibuprofen for headaches, bandaids for any cuts and scrapes that may occur when little ones are running through the concrete parks, Dramamine for motion sickness, and ponchos for the freak rain showers that might occur.
Skyscanner And Hopper Are Key To Searching Cheap Flights
One of the bigger expenses for a Disney trip is the airfare, depending on where a person is flying from. Even so, there are ways to get cheaper flights. It's just a matter of knowing when and where to look!
Two great phone applications to utilize are Hopper and Skyscanner. The former is an application that tells the user the date which flights will be the cheapest, while Skyscanner is known to have some of the cheaper flights around!
Forgot Snacks? Split A Meal
While bringing food into the park is definitely cheaper than purchasing meals, there is a way to go about dining inside the parks that won't break the bank. Instead of buying two entrees at a restaurant, think about splitting a meal.
Various locations, such as Pecos Bill's, give portion sizes large enough to fill two adults without making them feel as though they're ready for a nap and not for another go-around on Splash Mountian!
Don't Pay For Bottled Water
Like sporting events and concerts, bottled water can get pretty pricey at Disney World. So, skip over the purchase altogether. Instead, on hot days, go to a Disney quick service location. There, they hand out free cups of ice water.
Or, there is nothing wrong with bringing a reusable water bottle into the park! There are multiple water bottle refill stations located in various areas, the perfect way to save while staying totally hydrated all day!
Pick A Cheaper Week
Picking dates is the first step to any vacation. But when it comes to Disney World, there are specific dates people are going to want to work around, as they are by far the cheapest dates to visit the theme parks.
According to Mouse Hacking, the cheapest dates are as follows: "[From] the start of the year until Presidents' Day weekend. Once that weekend passes, the cheapest times are late August / early September."
Value Resorts = Big Savings
Booking value resorts and campgrounds around the parks at Disney World is a great way to save money, considering people don't typically go on vacation to lounge around the hotel.
Two great options for people looking into value resorts are the Art of Animation Resort and the Pop Century Resort. While the former is around $171/night if booked over Priceline, the latter, from the same company, is priced around $141/night.
Borrow Disney's Photographer, But Use Your Camera
The magical effects Disney's photographers craft up are very cool keepsakes, but expensive ones. A way to save money is to skip the professional picture but snag the photographer for an impromptu photoshoot -- using your camera or phone, of course!
Disney photographers tend to be more than happy to help out, giving expert angles for each photo without any cost. The cost is around $150 for Memory Maker, including the Main Street shots and any photos on rides.
The Chase Disney Visa Has Big Savings
For people looking to save on their next trip to Disney World, think about applying for a Chase Disney Visa credit card. This particular card is great for savings, giving holders 15% off most park tours Disney has to offer, such as Backstage Tales and Keys to the Kingdom.
Of course, that's not all Chase Disney Visa holders can expect. The credit card also offers discounts on various merchandise, which is known to put a dent in bank accounts!
Utilize Hotel Room Microwaves And Minifridges
It might sound strange, but utilizing hotel room microwaves and minifridges to their full advantage is an easy way to save money. This means taking leftovers home to reheat the next morning and purchasing drinks and other snacks to stick into the minifridge.
The latter will come at a much cheaper cost than anything inside the parks. Most people are typically very excited when they have morning leftovers and somewhere to heat them up, especially if that means saving money on Mickey Mouse pancakes.
Consider Driving Instead Of Disney Transportation
For people who live close enough, driving to the Disney parks instead of using public transportation saves money in a weird and unexpected way.
Not only is it free to park at the resorts as well as the parks (if you're staying at a resort), but it is the easiest way to utilize time since a family wouldn't have to rely on public transportation. And a flexible schedule is the best way to save money since you're making the most of your time.