A vacation to Walt Disney World is not usually an inexpensive one. With more add-on experiences like special events, early morning magic, dessert parties and more, sometimes the cost can grow higher and higher. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money while at Disney World. While they may seem little, money saving tips at Walt Disney World can add up to make a significant difference to your vacation bottom-line. Here’s our list of 10 money saving tips that won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on quintessential Disney experiences.
10 – Share Meals and Snacks
The portion sizes at Disney are often more than enough to share. Of course, there are some things you never share, like a Dole Whip Float. However, other meals and snacks are easily shared between a couple people, like a big Mediterranean salad from the ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios, or the sweet treats from Karamell Küche in the Germany pavilion. Sharing food is a great way to save some money but also a good way to try a little bit of everything!
9 – Gift Cards
For Canadians, the exchange rate on the US Dollar as well as foreign currency exchange fees on credit cards can be a constant battle. Luckily, Disney gift cards can help! Disney gift cards purchased at the Disney Store (or places like Shoppers Drug Mart) in Canada can be used in the parks.
When you use a gift card loaded with Canadian funds, the current exchange rate will be applied at the time of your purchase in the parks. Gift cards purchased in Canada will help you avoid paying foreign exchange fees your bank charges you when you get American money, or when you use your Canadian credit card.
Disney gift cards also help you to set a budget and stick to it. Decide your souvenir budget ahead of time, load a gift card with that amount and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This is also an easy way to keep track of the money you’re spending and will help you avoid over-spending. After each transaction in the parks, your receipt will show you the remaining amount in US Dollars, so you can plan accordingly.
8 – Book with a Travel Agent
Booking your Disney vacation with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency can help you save money, even if you’re a Disney pro who has booked many vacations yourself. They are able to apply new magical offers to your vacation packages when they’re released by Disney, which can save you money.
Travel agents who specialize in Disney vacations monitor Disney offers and will wake up at the crack of dawn to get you the best offer they can. A good travel agent who loves Disney will work to save you money. They know the ins and outs of the resorts and the best times to travel in terms of value. They’re on your side to help you save on your vacation package.
7 – Princess Attire
The princess dresses and accessories that you see at Walt Disney World are pretty much (if not exactly) the same as the dresses at your local Disney Store. The difference being the dresses at the theme parks do have a higher price tag and there’s the exchange rate to consider. You can save money by purchasing princess dresses at home before you leave. You can still surprise your princess with the gown at Disney World or at your Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique appointment.
6 – Annual Passes
You might think it sounds expensive, and you’d be right, but becoming an annual passholder could save you money if you visit Disney twice, or more, in a 12-month period. It might even be worth it for just one member of your family to get an annual pass.
With the annual pass you can get free parking at the parks, you can access Annual Pass resort offers, there are reduced prices for special event tickets, passholders get 10% off most of the table service restaurants at Disney, the Memory Maker is included, and 10-20% off at most merchandise locations. There is the potential to save quite a bit just by purchasing one annual pass for your family, if you visit long enough or often enough, or plan on dining or shopping a lot.
5 – The Parties
Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party from late August until December. These seasonal events start later in the day at 7pm and are an additional cost. When planning to attend these events, you can save money by not using a regular day park ticket.
The party tickets grant you access to the parks at 4pm (2pm for DVC members), so instead of purchasing and using a regular park ticket on this day, spend the day at your resort or Disney Springs and then make your way over to Magic Kingdom at 4pm when your party ticket will grant you access.
4 – Don’t Drive
Disney resorts started charging resort guests overnight parking fees back in 2018. If you are planning on driving down to Florida, staying at a Disney resort will mean that you have additional fees to pay, when you park overnight. The current fees are:
- Disney Value Resorts: $15 US per night
- Disney Moderate Resorts: $20 US per night
- Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25 US per night.
If you can avoid having a car at Disney it might be worth it as these overnight parking fees can really add up over the length of your stay. For example, a 1-week stay (7-Day/6-Night) will mean an additional $90 USD for Value Resorts, $120 USD for Moderates and $150 for Deluxe Resorts.
3 – Tickets
For the last few years Disney has offered Canadian Resident Tickets, meaning if you’re a Canadian Resident you can save roughly 20% on 4-day or longer tickets. While Disney hasn’t announced whether the Canadian Resident Ticket offer will come back for 2021, we’re still hopeful!
You can also save some money on how many days of tickets you buy and what type of tickets. There are base tickets, which allow you to visit 1-park-per-day and for an additional cost you can upgrade to the Park Hopper tickets, which allow you to visit multiple parks per day. If you’re looking to save a few dollars, ask yourself if you really need the Park Hopper tickets. We tend not to park hop very much because it can be time consuming and we’re happy to spend a full day in one park. It’s easier to park hop when the park hours are longer during peak season like the summer. During other times of the year, like January or February, the parks close early, making it more difficult to park hop. Our advice is to give those Park Hoppers some serious thought.
Also, if you’re an avid Air Miles collector you can cash points in for Disney tickets as well. This is a fantastic way to get tickets without paying for them. It may take a while for your points to accumulate but it will definitely save you money once you get there.
2 – The Dining Plan
If you are a foodie, or plan most of your Disney vacation around what you’ll be eating like we do, a Disney Dining Plan can potentially save you money. This is especially true if you enjoy ordering the more decadent (read: expensive) menu items and if you enjoy snacks at the parks and resorts. If you’re a steak lover and enjoy having dessert with your sit-down meals, or you plan on doing character meals, the daily cost of the Disney Dining Plan can save you a healthy amount.
1 – Time of Year
Arguably one of the best ways to save the most money at Walt Disney World is deciding when you want to visit. Holidays are always considered peak season, as are summer, winter and spring breaks. These are the times when most people can get away and visit Disney, so resort prices are higher and the parks are busier. If you can be flexible and visit during off-peak seasons you will save money on resort stays and the new date-based tickets that Disney has implemented.
Avoiding all holidays, marathon weekends and the summer months is a great place to start when looking to visit Disney on a budget. The best times of year to look at for lower pricing are most dates in January and February, the second half of August and much of September. Remember, the cheaper times are often cheaper for a reason. The park hours are typically shorter, the weather may not be the most agreeable, and you’ll often see some attraction refurbishments taking place during the off-season. But you’ll save money! Plus, regardless of all that, you’re still at the most magical place on Earth and a Disney vacation is always magical.
Have you tried any of our Money Saving Tips? Do you have your own tips for saving money at Walt Disney World? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!