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Ask The Readers: How can we save money on a Disney vacation?

Today’s question is from Dana:

My parents would like to take my husband and I on a Disney vacation this year. This is a generous offer and I want to make sure we do everything we can to help save them money on the trip.

It has been 15 years since any of us have been to Disney and we are sure a lot has changed — like the passes to reserve a spot in line. We do not have children; it will just be 4 adults acting like kids while on vacation. Do you have any tips or sources to help us save money on this trip? -Dana

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  • h. says:

    I have found I can always book through my local travel agent cheaper than directly through Disney as she keeps up with all discounts. I also believe Feb. Is the cheapest month to go.

  • Courtnee says:

    I used the Florida Children’s Hospital website to buy my admission tickets! I saved a lot of money off of them and proceeds went to the childrens hospital!

  • Meghan says:

    We just went to Disney in November, and we saved a TON of money by not staying at a Disney resort or buying the Disney meal plan. We stayed at a fabulous Marriott timeshare property (we booked our room like a regular hotel room, it was not a timeshare) about 20 minutes from the Magic Kingdom…..the resort had multiple pools, activities for kids and adults, a nature trail, etc. It was less than $100/night, and the cheapest Disney resort room we could find was closer to $200. Even with paying for parking each day ($14), we saved a lot of money.

    The Disney resorts do offer some perks like getting into the parks early, but with smaller kids we knew that our days would be packed enough with the regular hours so we didn’t need/want the extra time.

    Our room had a microwave and refrigerator, so I went to a nearby grocery store and bought breakfast foods, lunch supplies, and snacks (and we brought some from home, too). We ate an easy breakfast in our hotel room and packed a lunch and snacks everyday. This allowed us to skip the “Disney meal plan”, which seemed very overpriced for the offerings and for how much our family eats (2 adults, a 6 year old and a 3 year old).

    We thoroughly enjoyed our Disney vacation and didn’t feel that we “missed out” by not staying at a Disney resort or eating in all the Disney restaurants. We have several sets of friends who are going soon and whose trips will cost at least double, if not more, than ours did because they are staying on the Disney property and eating all their meals through Disney.

    • Kim says:

      I agree not staying on property and not getting meal plan. We stay in Windsor Hills which is a 5 star resort 2 miles from entrance of Disney. They have everything from 1-2 bedroom condos, 3 bedroom 3 bath townhouses with private screened heated pools (if needed heat), to 6 bedroom 6 bath houses with heated pools and hot tubs. They also have a club house with a pool, two water slides and splash pad. We go grocery shopping at the super Target for the week…saves bundles and saves when you go off season as well. It is worth taking the kids out of school in our opinion, to miss the crowds. You can also search anywhere you go, but even Orlando around Disney, for vacation rentals by owner at and find awesome homes,that is what we like to do when we vacation so we feel at home while we are out of our real home. Hotels don’t do it for us. We also have food allergies in our family so it is easier to cook for ourselves than to depend on restaurants. Hope that helps!

      • Lea Stormhammer says:

        Funny, we found the opposite! I guess it depends on what you’re looking for but we found that staying on site and having a meal plan was cheaper since we’d have had to rent a vehicle that can hold six (four adults and two kids). We also did not want the hastle of making, taking, etc. food. We did bring snacks – granola bars, etc. but used the meal plan for meals. We found 1 meal and 2 snacks (through their program) per day more than sufficient for our food needs, so maybe that was it! We also went over Christmas, so perhaps the other hotels were more expensive then.

        We went in December 2011, with my folks for 2 kids under 12 and 4 adults.


        • Katie says:

          Timely, we’re going to Disneyworld soon. Like you, we found being car-less and staying on property to be cheaper! Subscribing to disneyfamilydeals ( got me an extra 25% off of the already super low prices of the value resorts for this time of year. Our reservations came out to $64 a night (70-something on the weekends) at Disney’s all star music resort. Recently they sent out another of the same deal for vacations this spring, so it seems to be ongoing if you can get the reservation code. For park tickets, we went through my mom’s aarp discount. We got about $30 off each 5-day park hopper.

        • Claire says:

          I’m pretty sure that when you stay on Disney property, if you have to fly in (I think this only applies to the Orlando airport?), you get complementary transportation to & from the resort, so that’s something else you will not have to pay for if you stay on site.

          • Lea Stormhammer says:

            Yep – they have a whole section of the airport just for transportation to and from the Disney Resorts! It was fabulous and included in the whole package. We flew into Orlando, so I’m not sure about anywhere else……

            Transportation between parks if free too.


      • julie says:

        This was a VERY helpful response. Thank you

        • Boysmom says:

          I own a condo that is minutes to Disney. We actually rent it out when we aren’t using it. We charge $80 per night. We do have a managment company that is on site to help with anything. It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo. Has laundry in the condo and a full use kitchen. Cable and internet also. The local Walmart is just down the street. We have found that the best time to go is middle of December or beginning of January. As most American’s are spending time with family for the holidays. I have purchased tickets at the places that sell them at the gas stations. I was leary the first time if they were legit and we had no problems. I have used them several times in the past 6 years. Our condo in located right off the main drag in Kissimmee.

          If you are interested in more information just email me. [email protected]

    • Sakura says:

      We live in Utah and went to Disneyworld for 9 days in Oct/Nov. We stayed at the Polynesian and thought it was wonderful. We received free transportation to and from the airport, free shuttle/boat/monorail service to the parks and downtown disney. One way to save some money is to check if the park hopper passes are cheaper than just one park per day but purchase multiple days. We found that we really only went to one park each day then headed to dinner or Downtown Disney. When we booked we did do the meal plan, and to our surprise the had a promotion to comp our entire meal plan. That saved us quite a bit of money. Our trip cost a little more but you can stay at a cheaper resort hotel and still enjoy the perks of Disney. The Animation Hotel is wonderful, the rooms are beautiful. If you plan on eating at Disney restaurants while your there be sure to make reservations in advance, like months. It can be difficult to get in save day at times. I didn’t find a difference in price by using a travel agent or the disney website, but I enjoyed having a travel agent to talk with. This was our first trip to Disneyworld so I wanted to make sure it was wonderful. Since we are in the west we usually go to Disneyland. Just be sure to plan early for the best deals.

  • Megan says:

    Surprisingly they are very open to bringing food and drink into the park. I saw people pull out a full on picnic lunch. There is a nice blog called dedicated to this topic.

  • Debi says:

    2 great sites! &

  • Jordan says:

    Disney allows you to bring snacks and drinks into the park. My family also brings two bottles of water for everyone and a few different snacks. A water bottle alone costs about $2. It sucks to have to carry around a bag all day, but it’s better than wasting money!

    We’ve also found that eating a big breakfast helps before going. This makes it where we aren’t hungry until about mid afternoon. This works perfect because it’s before the dinner crowd hits the restaurants so we can actually find some place to sit down and relax. Then we generally eat after we leave the park. This way you’re only eating once at the park since meals can run around $8 a person.

    • Claire says:

      You can also bring just 1 water bottle per person. At the restaurants/cafes in DW we stopped at, we asked nicely & they were more than happy to let us refill our bottles with ice water for no charge.

  • Anonymous says:

    There is way too much to share on saving money for Disney in just one response, but I will say this planning ahead will help tremendously. We love visiting Disney and do not spend near the amount others do on trips like these, which allows us to go more often. It really can be affordable with good planning.

  • Jennifer says:

    Go to multiple parks for multiple days otherwise if you go for a few days it is $100+/day, but after a certain amount of days, the price per day goes down. Also bring in food and drink into the parks as the food is very expensive. It is also much cheaper to stay at a hotel off the parkgrounds.

  • Heather @ My Kansas Life says:

    Don’t stay at the Disney resorts! Try to get a room at a hotel with a kitchenette so you can cook your own meals at “home.” It’s often cheaper to stay off-property and rent a car to drive into the parks.

    You can make the take-your-own-snacks idea fun by packing ziplocs of different snacks for each day you’ll be there. Then, the kids can pick a bag to take each day so they don’t get tired of having the same choices every day.

  • Christy says:

    The time of year that you visit will have the biggest impact on the cost, if you plan to stay in the park resorts. I like to stay on property so these are my tips:

    Since you may not have to deal with school schedules with all adults, go during the off-peak times. The week AFTER Thanksgiving is a great time to visit because the parks are less crowded and decorated for Christmas! The first 2 weeks of December are also good. The weather can be cold but it usually doesn’t last all day or for many days in a row. Anytime school is in session is a good time to visit.

    As far as food, we bring snacks for breakfast. Depending on your appetites, you can probably share meals. Some Disney quick-service restaurants have large portions, such as Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom. They serve a 1/2 chicken and ribs plate that can feed 2 people.

    The Fastpass that saves your place in line isn’t something you have to pay for in Disney (yet)! If you haven’t already, check out It’s a forum of people talking about all things Disney.

    Have a great trip!

    • Boysmom says:

      We were actually there the second week in December this past year and it was 80’s the entire week. I thought it would be cooler but I wore tanks and capris.

  • Siobhan @MoneyDearest says:

    You can go up to any counter and ask for free ice water.

    AAA is probably your best bet on ticket prices if you aren’t staying in a Disney Hotel.

    I like to stay at the Wyndham Hotel, its right next to Downtown Disney and is about $59 a night, they have buses to the parks.

  • Angela says:

    Try to schedule your trip when Disney offers free dining! The down side is there will be more people there but the savings is well worth it.

  • Rebecca says:

    There’s a great post today on ‘Or so she says …’ with a lot of tips and a discount for Disney trips booked in 2013. Here’s the link:

  • nicole says:

    i’ve been wondering the same thing about sea world, except with kids…

    • Siobhan @MoneyDearest says:

      I’ve been to Seaworld, it was actually only slightly more expensive to buy a Season Pass than just a day pass. So if you plan to go 2-3 times during your trip I would look into that option.

    • Mandy W. says:

      We went to Sea World just for the day last year (we were staying at a condo on the beach an hour north), and the biggest thing we discovered was to go to any of the shows as early as possible in the morning. That way when the park gets crowded later in the afternoon, you can take advantage of everyone else being in the shows, and your wait times in line aren’t so bad. Case in point: we were there on July 3, one of the busiest days of the year. During the afternoon showing of the big Shamu show, we went to the underground viewing tank to see the “other” Shamu, and there were only two other families down there!

      Hope that helps!

  • Christina Stone says:

    Well first off go in the off season. January is the best time I’ve been. And don’t do the eating pass. It’s a waste of time and extra money. It really doesn’t save money, even though they say it does. If you don’t plan on go to different parks in one day, skip the park hopper. That’ll save a couple hundred. If you eat breakfast where your staying or somewhere cheap, and pack a lunch or go back to your hotel to eat, and only eat one meal at Disney, that will save you LOTS. Set a spending limit on souvenirs. Don’t stay at the fancy hotels, they aren’t that much better than the basic hotels but you pay way more.

  • Tracy says:

    rent a house. There a lots of houses for rent that are just a short drive away from Disney. We rented a 3 bedroom house in a residential area, with a living room, dining room, full eat in kitchen, and a private pool at the house, for less than $100 a night. You can cook at the house for breakfast and dinner and save a ton vs eating out every meal. Check out sites like to find houses and condos near Disney. Another tip, park at Downtown Disney for free and then take the free shuttle to Disney.

    • Miranda says:

      Wow! Can you tell me the info for the house you stayed at? Sounds GREAT!


      • Boysmom says:

        That is awesome. We go to Orlando several times a year as we own a condo down there. We go to downtown disney all the time and didn’t know there was a shuttle. Miranda we rent out our condo that is minutes from everything.

  • Vanessa says:

    Here is a website about ways to save money/time on a Disney vacation. My family recently used it to find out about discounted tickets. It has information for both Disneyland and Disneyworld vacations, cruises and other Disney vacations.

  • Jolene says:

    We made sure we stay at a hotel that offers a free full breakfast, not a “continental” breakfast. That can save quite a bit.

  • Michelle says:

    You will find so much help and ideas and it is nicely organized!

  • Christy says:

    For tickets I’d check ticketmania depending on how many days you want to go and if you want hoppers and all that stuff. I’ve been told mousesavers is a great resource. You can take food in the park so we always packed sandwiches, snacks, and water bottles to save money. Check groupon and living social for deals of places to stay…I just saw some condo place on there the other day. Don’t buy souveniers at the park, check the local walmarts and disney outlets. I saw someone say the other day that there is a big target somewhere nearby there and if you are going to buy anything at the park go to target and by a disney gift card with your red card to save 5%. Lots of deals out there, just takes some work.

  • Erin U says:

    We actually just went to Disney just a month ago with my parents, though we have two young daughters as well. It had been about 12 years since I had been back too, so I learned a lot just from experience.

    The biggest money saver for us was that you can now bring food into the parks, which is what we did. If your hotel has breakfast included in the price, take advantage of it and then pack a sack lunch/water. You could also pick up some easy/make ahead/to go breakfast items and keep in the fridge in your hotel, pack your lunch, and perhaps indulge at dinner or plan dinners ahead to have in the hotel. There are a number of possibilities. I hear that there ARE lockers you can rent if you want to walk sans backpack through the park but we had adults take turns carrying or, have each adult carry a small/light travel bag with their own food/bottle. They will check your bag at the gate though, so just be prepared and you will want to check on the Disney site for those things that are not allowed to be brought into the park. There were a few restaurants we knew for sure that we wanted to eat at while we were there so we chose those spots in advance, making reservations if necessary, and ate our own food the rest of the week.

    Another thing you’ll want to consider is what all you want to do, even if its just a general idea, and if you want to visit all four parks or not. If not, you could save by only purchasing tickets for those you want to go to. If you want to go through all four, consider hopper passes or 4-5 day passes that allow you plenty of time to go through the parks, take breaks, etc. The hopper passes allow you to move around to any of the parks throughout the day, as much as you want. If you want to just do one park a day though, you can opt for say, a 4 day pass and still hit each one, but save a little money.

    Parking is usually expensive, so if you are at a hotel that will shuttle to the parks/get you to the monorail, that will save money daily. You do have to be aware of the shuttle schedule to time your arrival/departure each day. If you drive in yourself you have more flexibility in scheduling but the shuttles do run fairly regularly so its not a big problem. The only thing that I didn’t like about the shuttles was that they could be crowded at times because a lot of people take advantage of it. However, saving money was worth it to use for other things we wanted.

    Also, fyi, the passes to reserve spots in line are completely free/included in your ticket price and are optional. Basically, if you want to go on a ride/show, you can go to a designated kiosk located in the park, put your park ticket in, and it will pop out a reserved time for you to show up at the entrance of the ride/show printed. They are nice if the attraction you want is very busy/long wait times and you would rather do something else while you wait than stand in line longer.

    Hope that helps!

  • Jennifer says:

    Go to Great deals on lots of things. Also check out Great tips there, too. AAA has WDW discounts. Also, the time of year has a HUGE effect on prices at WDW resorts. We live in FL and are WDW passholders for the past 8 years. Let me know if I can help you any further!

  • Kelsey Scarbrough says:

    We live in FL, so vacationing to Orlando is convenient, but still very expensive. In order to save money, we either for for the day, or we book a hotel that includes breakfast. I have stayed at four star hotels that include breakfast for close to $60 per night. You can pack a lunch, or at least pack snacks so you’re not tempted to purchase pricey products in the park. Keep in mind that there is a $15 + fee for parking every day. In order to save money and enjoy the park experience, we chose to purchase annual passes to Universal & Islands of Adventure this year. We’ve saved lots of money & still get to enjoy the “Orlando” experience. Also, don’t forget the free resource of Downtown Disney Have fun!

  • Tina says:

    Camp—Disney has a wonderful campground w/ free transportation to all parks. You can eat all meals there. Some days we returned to campsite at lunch—great way to rest and save $ too. Disney also allows you to bring food into the park—we brought all snacks/meals into the park for our 3 days.

    • Dana says:

      Tina, Thanks for your input on my question! My family camped both times we went when I was younger. Now that they are older, Mom and Dad aren’t really up for toting the camper from Illinois to Florida. But I must agree, their campgrounds are fantastic. I remember seeing armadillos all over in the bushes!

    • CeeJay says:

      Is Camp Disney the same as Fort Wilderness? I’ve not heard of Camp Disney…

  • Donna says:

    There are several dates that you can save 30% off at select resorts, this is posted on the disney site. is the best information on traveling to WDW, how to save money… do you want the dining plan. You CAN bring snacks to the park. So we carried a backpack and had snacks in it, we have kids though.
    Yes you can still have the FASTPASS. If you stay on disney property(the only way to go really) you will enjoy extra hours at the parks, early opening, or later hours.
    If you want to be pin trader, and who doesn’t…. buy these on ebay before you go. Maybe not so much for all of you, but I always buy these and give them to my kids to trade…. saves so much$$$$.

  • Kate says:

    We just got back from a Disney vacation over Christmas. I have been twice with my parents as a teen then college age, this trip was with my husbands family. Both trips were totally different. My parents always stay off resort to save money and return mid day everyday to eat and avoid the crowds. This trip we stayed on resort and got a meal plan. I loved staying on resort and having a meal plan. The meal plan seems pricey up front, but it is a ton of food and we never worried about how much we were spending day to day or having to leave to eat. Each meal came with a drink, at our resort we had refillable drink mugs so we would get bottled water with our meal, fill a soda for free to drink and pack the water for park days.
    A big money saver would be to go at an unpopular time- September, late January. Times kids are just getting back into school and not likely to be taken out. At Christmas all of the prices were jacked up (one buffet was $50 that week and is $35 other times). You are able to find package deals sometimes for these times that save money or include something else free.

  • michelle says:

    Kristen at has awesome tips! Their family saves for a Disney trip every year. A tip from Kristen…..every food stand at Disney gives out free cups of water….just ask 🙂 Enjoy the trip!

  • Regina says:

    Disney will be changing to the scanable wristband sometime this year. So depending on when you go will determine how you will work the fastpass system. Currently, you can fastpass several different rides for convenience. This is already built into your ticket, there is no additional purchase to take advantage of this service. But there is a limit on how many and when you can do multiple fastpasses as of right now. When the new system is put in place you will be able to choose ahead of time what and when before entering the park.
    AAA has saved us lots on the tickets and stays. So I recommend pricing through Disney full price for your time, then price through Disney with a discount of whatever is being offered and then finally through AAA or other alternate sources.
    Since you won’t have any children and you can enjoy some of the night life and finer dining, then the dining plan may be an option that is more appealing to your group. There are also several pages that you can follow in order to get great advice on planning., Disney’s Cheapskate Princess and Mousesavers are all pages that I have picked up on recently to help with planning. Undercovertourist is also a valid ticket source and you can save a little more on tickets through them than anyone. They even beat AAA’s prices by a few bucks on the tickets. And there is usually a code attached to the Mousesaver’s newsletter to get a few more dollars off. Every little bit helps when you are planning something like this. also has lots of deals to the Orlando area restaurants. Halfoffdepot, deal chicken, sweet jack and all those sites too have area attractions for a discount. But read the fine print on those.

  • Mark says:

    See if your library has the book “The unofficial guide to Walt Disney World.” There is so much information in that book about saving time and money at WDW that I couldn’t even begin to mention it all.

  • Lynette says:

    Tickets are by far your biggest expense. We got them through Undercover Tourist which were discounted beyond Disney rates. Also, we got tickets for every day we were going to be there. After 3 or 4 days, the cost to add a day is nominal, I think it was $5 per ticket. We figured even if we were going to do pool days, we might go into the park at night for the parade or fireworks or just spend a morning or whatever. This gave us some flexibility. We also did a timeshare (that we booked through a friend). We stayed 7 nights in a 3 bedroom condo for under $500. We couldn’t come close at a Disney resort and needed the extra rooms for the kids.

  • Mary says:

    The first thing that pops into my mind is plan, plan, plan. Go to one location a day. And for sure get the “meal plan” that they offer, it is such a great thing to have. And don’t rush, that will just make everyone irritable.

    For us, we went to Epcot on Day 1, Day 2 was Magic Kingdom, Day 3 Universal Studios, Day 4 Animal Kingdom, and day 5 was WHATEVER WE WANTED. I appreciated that last day to do something new or revisit things we liked.

    That’s my two cents. 🙂

  • Lilliana says:

    * Bring your own snacks and drinks into the park to save on food.

    * All the little quick food places offer free water. Although I have read that Orlando water tastes funny, so bring Crystal Light packets to flavor it.

    * Go during the off season. February and Mid-October have the lowest attendance.

    * If you plan to do Pin Trading, buy your starter pins on Ebay. You can get them for $1 each or less rather than $6-$12ea at the park. Just be sure they are official pins!

    * Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort hosts a nightly campfire and sing-along. Disney Resort guests may attend the evening campfire free of charge.

    * Enjoy Downtown Disney and Disney Boardwalk

    You should also check out Couponing To Disney to see not only how she saves in the park but how she saves to get to the park.

  • Allison says:

    You could check out the blog Couponing to Disney:
    I sometimes read it for the retail deals, freebies, etc., but I know she also posts a lot of tips about visiting the park. Good luck!

  • Rebecca says:

    Staying at one of the resort hotels will save a lot on the traveling and parking costs. We stayed at the All Star Movies Resort last year and by doing so, each day one of the parks opens an hour earlier for resort guests. Also, grab a resort souvenir mug, refills are FREE for your entire stay at the resort! You can resort hop on a day that you arrive, there is a lot to do for FREE without using a day at the parks. Don’t miss out on Downtown Disney, the local shopping center for souvenirs, can be reached by resort shuttles. Also, check out the local Wal-Mart for shirts and other gadgets for souvenirs, too. Snacks are allowed into the park if you have a backpack. Bottles of water can be refilled at water fountains inside the park. Consider dining inside one of the parks for dinner service and maybe a quick service meal for lunch. You can do this all on a budget. There is so much to do at each park, but if you have the time, schedule two days just in Magic Kingdom alone. Check out the park maps and decide what attractions are on the must do list. Research those, many will fill up fast and some are prone to breakage throughout the day. And yes, they do have fast passes for line waiting alternatives, but sometimes it is quicker to just stand in the line. (This is only for the park in Florida, I haven’t been to the one in California.)

  • Erin @ My Mommy World says:

    I just wrote a post last week on our recent trip:

  • Courtney says:

    Food in the parks is very expensive. I would suggest a hearty breakfast before entering the parks and then just eating once midday for lunch/dinner. I have never stayed in any of the Disney resorts, but while they would be convenient they are very pricy. You might be able to get a package deal through Disney, otherwise check out cheaper hotels in the area. There are lots of options. I would recommend the Park Hopper tickets, as you can visit multiple parks in the same day. If you’re speaking of Disney World in Florida, I think adults would most enjoy Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom is also fun, but I think you could split one day beteeen Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.

    • Lisa says:

      Watch for when Disney offers a free dining plan if you stay at one of their resorts. It is a great savings! We have stayed at a Disney resort and offsite and while both were fun, we enjoyed onsite much more. We didn’t even have to rent a car as they pick you up at the airport for free. So between no car rental or gas, no parking, and free food it more than made up for the more expensive room cost of staying in a Disney resort.

  • Michelle says:

    I highly recommend stayin in one of the non-disney hotels/resorts that are in downtown Disney! Great transportation, awesome price and nice restaurants within walking distance. Perfect for a group of adults going to Disney!

  • Shana says:

    Are you going to Disney World or DisneyLand? I don’t know anything about Disney Land, but we just recently finished planning our Disney World vacation for later this year. The biggest money saver for us was using to book our hotel at an “off” Disney property. We were able to get a 3 star, 1 bedroom condo, full kitchen, sleeps 6 for six nights for a total of $236, including resort fee, taxes and fees, that is less then $40 a night! This will also help us save money on food, since we will have breakfast each morning in our room and be able to have other meals there as well. We do want to experience some “Disney Dining” but I used to look up the menus for restaurants. We found that most restaurants offer similar menus for lunch and dinner but the lunch prices are substantially lower, so we made 2 lunch reservations. Disney World allows you to bring in soft sided coolers, so we are packing snacks to keep us going the rest of the day. Also, at Disney World, the counter service places will refill a water bottle with ice water for free, we each family member is taking water bottle from home that we can have filled up throughout the day, saves money and keeps my family from consuming empty calories on soda! We are going in May, so I am checking sites like groupon, living social, ect to purchase bargains for other restaurants around Orlando. Also, check to see if you qualify for any discounts on tickets. My husband is retired Navy, so we qualified for a military discount. We thought the military discount was only for active duty. Also, read everything about the theme park tickets to be sure you don’t buy add-ons you will not use. Determine how many days you want to go to the park, will you use the park hopper? There are so many different types of theme park passes, if you don’t take time to read through them all, you may spend more then necessary for add on items you will not use. list different discount codes and/or groups. Mousesavers also has some other great tips for doing Disney on a budget. We are also hitting the Disney outlet store in our area on the way to Disney World to maybe get a few bargains on Disney items so we are not tempted to purchase at the inflated theme park prices. Good luck and have a great time at Disney!!

  • Amy R says:

    I am sooooo excited about this post! I have wanted to go to Disneyworld my whole life! My hubby and I decided that whatever it takes, we’re going to spend Thanksgiving at Disneyworld this year! We have 3 kids, 13,6, and 3. All of these tips will help make this a great trip!

    • Lori says:

      Amy, just a word of warning – Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year at Florida theme parks with crazy crowds (sometimes at capacity on major holidays). Any holiday weekend or will be very crowded actually. If possible, try to go the first 2 weeks of December, my favorite (Christmas and after again, is near capacity). Look at the disney resort rates for different dates to figure out the best (lowest prices translate to low crowds) times to go.

      • Shaylin says:

        We just went to Disney World and arrived the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and stayed 8 days – it was perfect. I would wait until after the Thanksgiving weekend is over and then go. Once school gets out it gets busy but if you go right after Thanksgiving all the holiday events and extras will be happening. We also paid for the Very Merry Christmas Party. Most people stayed for the extra shows, fireworks etc,. So during that time we went and rode all the rides we wanted to – over and over! Some we didn’t even have to get off, we just went another round!

  • Stephanie says:

    We just got back in November and had a fabulous time! The best tip that I can give you is to bring a water bottle. My family loves the Crystal Light mix ins and we never paid for drink!

    We brought packaged oatmeal, granola bars and cereal bars for breakfast/snacks. Our hotel had a microwave in the food court. Oh, and you CAN bring in food to Disney parks.

    • Stephanie says:

      I forgot to mention that we saved a fortune by NOT buying park hopper tickets. We looked at the schedule and determined which park had the parade/night fireworks etc…which one would give us the biggest bang for the day. We did that park that day. There were things we didn’t get to do in the park. So, lesson learned that you can save money by not going to different parks. There’s plenty to do to stay busy throughout the day.

      We also suggest not buying a park ticket for one day. The resorts have a ton of free activities and it is a blast to hang out at the pools. Ours was empty during the day!! That was a great relaxation day away from the crowds in the park.

      We always stay on property. We’ve found that the hotels that are close are not all that clean/up-kept and we wasted a ton of time in the morning getting up, waiting for a free shuttle or paying for a rental car to drive on property to then wait for the shuttle to get to the park entrance. You may be able to find a nicer one than where we stayed but I wasn’t willing to take the chance again. Especially when I saw how much time we wasted. And let’s face it tickets to Disney are expensive so time is money. Disney hotels are very affordable right now. We found great discounts buy google searches. We called a travel agent but had found a better deal ourselves.

  • Debbie L. says:

    The biggest way to save is to spend a lot of time planning. A Disney vacation, contrary to what is often thought, does not need to break the bank. You can do it inexpensively–we did–but again, it takes planning. You can stay in a Disney resort for a good price, if you plan ahead. We stayed in a value resort and it was great and we got a great deal. There are also some great deals off-property but you will likely need to rent a car and so you need to figure that cost in, too. There are also some additional perks to staying on-site so make sure to investigate everything before making a decision.

    There are tons of resources online to help you as well as books. I would recommend the book “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World” which is really helpful. The authors also have a Web site and app where you can get tons of statistical information on crowds, etc., which is really helpful as well as the ability to create touring plans to significantly lessen the time you spend in line. We used touring plans and things went very smoothly. Another great online resource is MouseSavers. Just Google it and that site will give you loads of info and deals.

  • Tammy says:

    Which Disney Are You Going To???

  • Angie says:

    If anyone mentions Disney I start having dreams of going back myself. The best advice is to shop around for pricing. AAA will give you a quote and they have a few perks with their packages that are kinda nice. Parking being one of the best! We always purchase the meal plan (not quick service) – don’t stop listening to me here – and here is why. We would spend more on meals and such in the parks if we didn’t have it. We like having our reservations made for our main meal of the day. It gives us down time to relax and we eat so much better than if we skimped on meals. Our energy level stays up and overall attitude is better. We love it. So, consider it. AND we like to eat, so eating good is built-in as part of our vacation experience. The other thing is to ASK. If you have even the faintest idea of a question ASK. It is amazing what you can get when you just talk to the cast members. We talked to everyone and got free ears, opened the Animal Kingdom Park one morning, and got to sit down on the floor at the Lion King show. I’m sure I forgot something. I’m anxious to hear what other people are going to post!

  • Whitney says:

    If any in your party are lucky enough to have a military ID (active, or retired) stay at Shades of Green, the military owned Disney resort hotel. Prices are ridiculously cheap, there are no taxes on the room, and Disney passes bought there are tax free, too

  • We just went to Disneyland in May, and have so many money-saving tips!

    1. Don’t eat in the park, if you can help it. Downtown Disney has lots of great restaurants that have huge food portions that can be shared. Chain restaurants don’t up their prices just because they are near Disney.

    2. Stay at a hotel (not a Disney Resort) that provides free breakfast. Fill up first thing in the morning. Grab a few extra pieces of fruit to take into the park with you as a snack. The hotel we stayed at also offered free “appetizers” in the evening…they provided enough food for this to be considered a great dinner!

    3. Don’t buy drinks. All food places inside Disneyland (and I’m assuming Disney World) have to provide you with drinking water from the soda fountain, if requested. And it’s free.

    4. If you are a souvenir type person, or want to wear Disney attire, shop at Walmart. I got some Disney shirts for myself, my husband, and my 2 kids, for under $8 a piece.

    Also, when you purchase your tickets, keep an eye out for online e-ticket specials. We got a 5-day park hopper for the price of a 3-day. Huge savings.

  • Tess says:

    There is a great book…the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It has excellent tips for planning your vacation starting with when to go and where to stay all the way through mapping out your time in the parks. I got it at my local library.

  • Melissa Durbin says:

    We have been several times, there are many ways you can save money. There is tons of information out there to help you save – I don’t think you need to purchase a book to get this information. Some of my favorites are,, & All are FULL of information! One thing I do – never pay full price for a Disney vacation! Take advantage of the specials! If you don’t know of a special, call Disney and ask them, sometimes they offer unadvertised specials. I do suggest staying on Disney property and going for the Dining Plan. It just makes your vacation all the much more enjoyable!

  • Kellie says:

    Check out this blog: Couponing To Disney at She has great ideas for money saving tips for Disney trips!

  • Laura says:

  • Julie says:

    We just went to SeaWorld in November and my money-saving tip would be to book a hotel that offers free shuttle to the parks you want to go to, free breakfast, and alot of them have free quick-passes to the park you’re visiting so you can get in the “no-waiting line”. We staying a Residence Inn & Suites by Marriott and they had all the above, we had a small kitchen in our suite so we could hop the shuttle back to the hotel, eat in our room, and hop the next shuttle back to the park. Saves tons of money because food there is expensive!

    All that said, we did SeaWorld and not Disney, so I don’t know if the shuttle situation is the same or not.

  • Stacey says:

    My in-laws have a time-share just minutes away from Disney World. That saves is a TON of money. We can make all our meals if we want to since it has a full kitchen. We’ve stayed in property before and choose the Sports Resort hotel as it and others are the lowest end options. We skipped the meal plan too. You can eat on your own for less and since you’re all adults could probably get by on breakfast & dinner and snacks in between. The meal plan is convenient but not a money saver. You also can’t get a meal plan if you don’t purchase an entire vacation package from Disney.

    Be careful where you get park tickets. We saw someone being turned away because they were sold counterfeit tickets. The cheapest tickets we’ve found are through A park hopper is definitely worth the extra price, especially for adults who can get through the park more quickly than families with kids.

    We’re considering a trip to Disneyland to see the new Cars land. I would love suggestions for money saving ideas. We’ve never been and can’t afford the $6,000-$7,000 package from Disney.

    • Tiffany says:

      My little moneysaver is to stop at any quick service restaurant with a soda fountain and get cups of ice water for free instead of buying bottled waters.

      There are lots of little things to do for cheap if you don’t want to hit the parks like visiting the resorts (which are amazing,) watching the Electrical Water Pageant, and seeing Yeehaw Bob (

      I second undercover tourist and mousesavers. Great legit sites. is another site that could maximize your time. It does cost a bit to join, but the amount of information is provides is worth it. I am even a Disney veteran and I found it useful.

      • Tabitha says:

        Another great site that cost 25 dollars but helps you plan EVERY DETAIL is My husband and I have used it twice in the past three years and have been thrilled with the results. It lets you know all the ends and outs – from when to ride certain rides without lines to how much your meals will cost and where to get the best deals.

  • Renee says:

    We just recently took a trip and I suggest going through a travel agent. We are members through aaa California, we happen to use them and were able to receive discounts. Depending on how long your stay will be. The food is very costly. We traveled by car and was able to pack non perishable items for breakfast and snacks. Such as fruits, cereal, muffins, bagels, horizon milk boxes, juices and a case of water. By doing that we were able to save on not eating out a lot.

  • Kaitlin L says:

    We booked our hotel last year through (Buena Vista Suites) for an average of $79/night…great deal, and it included breakfast. We also got our tickets through Touringplans and tourguidemike will give you more tips for saving money and for making the most efficient use of your time (you can cater your schedule to the ages of your group – I would highly recommend following their tips – they are mostly spot on with which parks to avoid on which days, etc.)

    • Kristi says:

      Not sure if you are into this or not…but they have this lanyard/pin thing that “everyone” does there. If you purchase all of that there it is really ridiculous. But we bought a cheap lanyard and a lot of 30ish pins on ebay and then traded and traded and traded all day every day we were there and ended up with the pins we wanted. It’s a fun something to do in line or during down time. All of the workers in the park have them and trade with you as well. I think you can only trade with them 2 at a time. Anyways, this might not save on your trip but it was something fun to do with the kids – or the kids at heart.

  • Joanna says:

    My husband’s parents took their entire family to Disneyland/California Adventure last June. We packed food in, which worked great. My husband and brother-in-law also used a service called “RideMax” which helped us fit as much into each day as possible. It was exhausting, but fun! I recommend it to anyone planning a Disney vacation (California or Florida). RideMax helps you plan and organize your use of fast passes and are pretty good at estimating how long the lines will be for each ride. You can schedule each day to fit in anything you want to do there.

  • Jenn says:

    We visit Disney often, typically with kids. Here are a few ways that we save money.

    1 – DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT buy Park Hopper tickets (these are the only tickets that AAA offers). Instead, buy Magic Your Way passes (the best deal is to go for 5 days) where you go to one park per day. You’ll save a lot of money and time (because it typically takes at least 60 minutes to get from 1 park to the next). Buy the tickets on Undercover Tourist.

    2 – Stay at a Disney resort (an All-Star resort or Art of Animation are the cheapest). Try to book the resort when Disney is offering free dining. The free dining meal plan gives each person per night a snack, a quick service meal, and a sit down meal. With free dining, you will SAVE so much money. And, you get a free refillable mug (all the free fountain drinks, tea, and coffee that you’d like to enjoy while at any of the Disney Resorts) for each person.

    3 – At a Disney resort, you get into the parks early or can stay late (depending on when the Extra Magic Hours are). Transportation into the parks is FREE, saving you a lot of money in parking fees and hassle. And, if you are flying to Disney, you’ll get FREE magical express transportation from the airport directly to your hotel.

    4 – Do NOT go anytime in the summer, during Spring Break, over Easter, or between Christmas and New Years. The room rates are the most expensive then and the parks are the most crowded. The best time to go is either the week AFTER Thanksgiving, in January (not during the Disney Marathon though), or in the fall (September or October). Mid-week is best, try to avoid weekends.

    Disney is expensive, anyway you look at it. But, there are at least a few ways to save money.

    Check out – and for other tips

  • Erin says:

    Go off season… January is my favorite month (but wait until after new years) The nearby hotels and attractions have cheaper rates not to mention Disney is so much more enjoyable minus the crowds! Most of the rides don’t even have lines.

  • cmack says:

    set up an acct at touring becuase that will tell you how long the lines will be at each park and I would suggest doing the park in a different order meaning don’t just go around the park according to the map because everyone else will be doin the same thing and it will save you time and money.

  • Maggie says:

    We booked our Disney trip a month before I lost my job a few years ago but decided to keep our reservations and continue to go on our trip but we had to cut our budget down significantly since we had reduced income. We stayed in a hotel off of Disney grounds that provided a free breakfast and happy hour and also offered a free shuttle to the parks. So we ate our breakfasts at the hotel and brought sandwiches that we made in the room with us to the park. We each had a refillable water bottle that we threw in a book bag and took turns carrying around the park. We rented a locker at the park which was $12 a day but when you turned in the key you got $7 back. One night we ate at the park but went for burgers, they were huge so my son and I could split it. The other nights we ate something cheap or back at the hotel at the happy hour. They had tacos one night and chicken tenders another. And always had fresh fruit out to help yourself. I believe it was an embassy suites, they were great and definitely saved us some money!!

  • Jaclyn says:

    Don’t go!

  • Heather Bateman says:

    I am a travel agent with AAA and have to say that there are tons of ways that you can save with Disney. Booking through AAA also adds several benefits you won’t find anywhere else. I always recommend going through a travel agent, they are sure to find you great deals. Right now Disney is running a Spring Special and it is Disney month with AAA (added extra benefits.) We also offer a free year subscription to They have a tone of ideas and things that you can use to help you plan your visit to disney. The dining plans aren’t a must, but I highly recommend them. All meals, or at least most, can be paid for before you every step foot in the park. Plus you can use it for Character Dining and Shows. If there are any questions I can help you with please let me know and I will try mty best to answer them for you. You can message me at my work address [email protected]. I hope I have provided a little insight into Disney.

  • Amy says:

    *Check out books on just such topics from your local library. We found some great tips and hints there.
    *Go during off season.
    *Try a special event, such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. A few years ago, we found this was the perfect time for a group of adults to go! The kids were all doing their thing, and we walked onto almost every single ride!!! Price was cheaper b/c the hours were just evening. We still had time to do everything we wanted.
    *Don’t overlook going the Disney plan route. We found cheaper rates staying elsewhere and driving, but the daily perks, meal plans, and transportation arrangements offered by Disney would’ve made us have a MUCH better overall experience. The next time we will spend the money for their vacation plan IF we plan just to go to Disney or to Disney for the vast majority of time (this time we went to Disney, Sea World, and other places, so staying on Disney property wouldn’t have been such a great plan overall).
    *Plan to spend money. Just save before and plan to spend money to have your Disney vacation. You don’t want to leave wishing you had eaten that pineapple ice cream (but didn’t want to spend the money) or to have breakfast with the characters you love (even though the cost is high). Don’t spend money on things you don’t care about though (that t-shirt that will live in the bottom of your closet).

  • Ann says:

    The best resources are & These sites will give you great ideas on how to save and get you up to speed on what’s new at Disney.

  • gina says:

    We went 3 years ago and saved a TON of money! We stayed at a condo with my family which really cut down on cost. We took a cooler into the park and they are fine with that. We did buy some things in there, just not everything. There are some great money saving websites out there with tips. We bought out tickets through yhe longer you go, the cheaper it gets. The park hopper pass is the way to go, just for the day. We found the option to hop to different parks was not worth the money or time by the time you drive, park and get into park etc. Also I bought an entertainment book for the area to have coupons for the area.

  • sarah says:

    We were there three months ago and didn’t spend much. We stayed at a place called Bonnet Creek, which is talked about on the DIS Board web site. I purchased the stay on Ebay, which worked out fine and at a good nightly rate. It had a kitchen for meals. We packed snacks into the park for lunch. We qualified for the military-rate park passes, which was helpful. We intended to pay for everything, but my parents insisted on paying for all the passes, so that’s another tip – split the overall vacation costs (house rental, etc.) with your family or friends for a more affordable trip.

  • Em says:

    Would someone be willing to give a dollar amount of how much they spent?

    My husband and I have three children. We would probably go for 3 or 4 days and stay at a hotel and eat one meal in the park per day. Are we looking $500 or $2000. I am trying to save, but not even sure what kind of money I need.

    thank you!

    • Anonymous says:

      Em, can I ask how old your children are?

      2 and under are free, 3-10 pay kid prices and 11+ adult prices

      • Em says:

        12, 10 and 6..we think the perfect ages to go where everyone will remember it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Everyone will pay regular price except the 6 year old. Depending on the time of year, it will cost at least $2,000.

          We only have 4 in our family, but I am thinking you have to stay at Port Orleans or higher if you have 5 in your party.

          Our trips have cost us less than $3,000 for a family of 4 but our kids are younger than 10 so it’s a little cheaper.

    • Whitney says:

      The age of your children, and the meal you plan eat in the park can change your cost by hundreds of dollars. Kids under 3 get in free, and also eat free in certain restaurants. Were you planning on making your one meal a sit-down or counter service meal? Expect a sit down meal to cost twice as much (figure $25 at least per adult, $10-12 for each child). is THE resource for where and what to eat, and was an invaluable resource when we went. We had the Dining Plan (graciously paid for by my in-laws) but I still didn’t want to waste a single credit on any meal that was considered the best at that particular park.

      Just offhand, your cost will be much closer to $2000 than to $500. Consider that just passes alone (not park hopper, but not discounted) would be over $1000 for 3 days.

    • Kristin says:

      We went last week. It was my husband and I, and our 3 kids (8,4, & 6 months). We had a suite at Allstar Music for 6 nights, Dining Plan, and 5 day park hopper. We paid right at $2.400, not cheap…but worth every penny!!!

    • Jean Lynd says:

      We went Dec 31 through Jan 7th (2013). We stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground in our RV. 2 adults, 3 kids (12, 8 & 5). 6 days of Magic Your Way Tickets (no park hopper), and no dining plan. It was $2009 after all taxes, etc. It would have been cheaper if we’d not arrived on New Years, but it couldn’t be helped. We loved FWCG.

  • Deanne Townshend says:

    The park tickets’ prices decline tremendously the more days you are planning; there is less than $60 difference between 3 days and 10 days!

    A lot of people suggest passing on the dining plan, but if you want to do Character Dining (or if you’re a foodie like me!) the plan is well worth it. The way to save is by choosing the best plan for you; my husband and I did the plan with one table meal and one “quick” meal per day ( snacks), which was absolutely plenty for us. Just keep in mind that you need money for tips at table dining, but not for quick dining, and the meal plan works at Disney Resorts (even if you aren’t staying at the Resort).

  • amanda says:

    Don’t go! That will save you a ton of money. Worst trip of my life.

  • Jill says:

    The deals are out there–the first place to check is the Disney website specials page. You will see current specials on packages and room-only plans. The current room only deal is a great one for up to 30% on rooms with travel dates through mid-June. This will put you in the middle of the Disney magic for the same price as hotels that are not on site (special rate for Pop Century ranges from 79 to 100 per night depending on when you go.) If you use a travel agent, be sure they are a Disney specialist. They are the most knowledgeable about all Disney discounts and will usually apply the cheapest available option to your reservation.

    Tickets: Undercover Tourist is usually cheapest if you are staying offsite or booking a room only reservation through Disney. However, if you are wanting to book Free Dining or some of Disney’s other discount packages, they require that you book a minimum park ticket through Disney. For example: to book Free Dining, they require that you purchase at least a 2-day park ticket for each member of your party. If you want 5 day tickets, it would be cheaper to upgrade the required 2 day ticket to a 5 day than it would to purchase a 3 day ticket from Undercover Tourist for the additional days.

    Planning: has great advice on planning your park days based on past attendance, current specials, and projected crowds. His logic for his suggestions are explained in detail and they really make sense. Best of all–it’s FREE!

    Message Board Tips: Try–rumored to be the “largest Disney board” on the Internet. You will find lots of advice on everything Disney! Be sure to visit the Budget Board and the Disney for Adult Travelers (there are lots of adults being kids at Disney 🙂 is great too!

    We will be there in June and can not wait! We’ve been every year since my 13 year old was 3 and I don’t think we will ever get tired of it. It is truly the most magical place! I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  • KellyH says:

    If anyone is in the military or retired military, check to see if you can get discounted park passes. Last year, my brother in law- retired military- was able to purchase 4 day park hopper passes for a very, very good price.


    • Whitney says:

      Military discounted passes are currently always available. A lesser known fact – if you purchase them at Shades of Green (the military owned Disney resort) you also don’t pay the 6.5% tax rate. Each military ID holder (non-dependent) can purchase 6 passes, so it can help to vacation with a friend if you aren’t an ID holder.

      • Shana says:

        You can also buy a “card” at your local ITT office before you go, this way you won’t have to pay tax. You take the card to the Ticket Center when you get to WDW, and they give you your actual them park passes.

  • Kim says:

    Check out AAA and do a Disney package that includes dining. You can pick and choose. That is what we did but of course we have 4 children. I still think it will save you money. Also if you are staying at one of their resorts, you don’t have to drive your car anywhere! They will take you to all the parks! That will save you gas money! I hadn’t been in about 20 years. It is best to schedule it all ahead of time. Have fun!!!

  • Katie says:

    I would check out

  • anna says:

    They have the best park hopper/hotel packages I’ve seen.

  • Corinne says:

    No tips–I just have to say I think it is sooo cool that the 4 adults are going to Disneyland sans kids!!

    • Margaret says:

      I would buy the Birnbaum’s guide book and read all of mouse , especially section on saving money. Tons of tips you would never know anout otherwise. We like staying on property to ride the shuttles, otherwise you’ll pay to park at the parks. Staying at the Disney hotels also gives you the extra magic hours to have more time in the parks than general public. We like dining plan and the convenience of package is that all your tickets and meals are on your card. I’ve heard If you sign up for a free planning DVD, etc. on the Disney site , you’ll have better chance of being mailed a postcard with a free dining pin number that is tied to only your name and address. !

  • skitti says:


    Don’t buy the dining plan whatever you hear unless you eat a ridiculous amount of food for every meal … it’s just not worth it.

    Tickets: get park hoppers!

    Plan plan plan in advance so you all aren’t disappointed! (What rides are MUST RIDE, how much you want to spend per meal, do you want to sit down to eat every meal? etc.)

    Stay IN the park, but somewhere cheap (like pop century or art of animation) … and get separate rooms – may be awkward with all 4 of you in one small room. Don’t stay outside of the park!!!

    That’s just a few tips.

  • Kate says:

    When my husband and I lived in southern California, we were just ten minutes from Disneyland. We were able to get annual passes for less than $10 a month so, as young marrieds, we splurged on that and had the best dates there. It’s actually pretty easy to go on an affordable trip. My biggest piece of advice: bring your own food! Or even set aside $20-25 each day to have one meal in the park. You’re welcome to bring sandwiches, snacks, etc. in and that saved us a boatload of money.

  • kate says:

    When I went with a group of my (adult) girlfriends two summers ago, we saved money by staying in a non-disney hotel that had a kitchen, so we ate breakfast at home every day, and usually either lunch or dinner at home, with about 1 park meal per day. Bring drinks, snacks and possibly meals into the parks.

    But as far as maximizing the Disney experience – if someone in your party has a smartphone, a Disney app is an absolute must. There is at least one that tracks wait-times for most of the rides, so between that and the FastPass, we were able to be pretty strategic with which rides we went on at what times, and we really did not spend terribly much time waiting on line. Ride the most popular rides during the parade – we rode Splash Mountain three times without disembarking (during the fireworks which was actually really cool!), and only eventually got off so we could go do the same thing at Thunder Mountain Railroad.

  • Christine says:

    allegedly the Homewood Suites in Lake Buena Vista has free breakfast, free dinner&drinks M-Th, free shuttle to Epcot (where can pick up transfer to other disney properties). Per night < $80.
    Can anybody confirm? Quality of meals & property ?

  • Jessica- Mothering with Creativity says:

    Check Costco for tickets. We recently bought our tickets there for WAY cheaper than through Disney. A 4 day park hopper ticket was only $259, but included a $50 Costco cash card. We bought our first three tickets, and then used the gift cards toward purchasing the fourth ticket. We always stay at the Embassy Suites and pre-pay to get an extra discount (actually, this last time we redeemed air miles so it was free). The reason we stay there is because it is not a bad price, has a living room and a bedroom (we have 3 kids-the separation is nice), and they have an included cooked-to-order breakfast, which saves our family of 5 an average of $30 per morning (for that type of “nice” breakfast). They always have fruit, granola bars, and yogurts, too. We grab a couple for our mid-day snacks, which cuts down on the park snack costs. They also have water/soda/juice, so we fill our water bottles & sippy cups for the day for free! We eat at restaurants outside or near the park instead of always at the park to cut down food costs, too. And, we keep leftovers in the fridge at the hotel and have a “leftover” night while there. Have fun!

  • Holly @ Whole Sweet Home says:

    Where to start? My husband & I just took a 5 day Disney World vacation last September and we had a blast! I disagree about not staying at Disney, depending on when you go. We paid $92/night for our hotel room at Disney, had free shuttle from the airport & didn’t leave the resort the whole time so we saved a LOT by not having to rent any sort of transportation.
    – If you are flexible on times, September is the best time to go. It is the least expensive, and one of the least crowded times. You can even get a free dining plan (they have offered this promotion yearly for the last several years, and though it may not be out yet, it’s likely they will offer it again)
    – If you aren’t planning on spending much time in your room, the value hotels have the best price & are nice enough. We stayed at POP Century Resort & were pleased.
    – We shipped ourselves a package full of snacks and non-perishable goodies. That helped us save on overall food costs.
    – Tickets get cheaper (per day) as you buy more. If you are going to be there for 4+ days, I would get the single park per day tickets & choose just one park per day. There is more than enough to do all day in one park.
    – There are lots of fun free things to do around the Disney resort areas. You can watch the Wishes fireworks from the “beach” of the Polynesian resort, explore Downtown Disney (free chocolate sample at the Ghirardelli shop), explore Disney’s Boardwalk, etc. The nicer resorts are a lot of fun to just go and look at. We also enjoyed looking at the new Art of Animation resort.

  • Maria says:

    One of the best things we did was to eat breakfast in our room and take lunch in a cooler to Disney. You can rent a locker to store your cooler. We froze mandarin orange and also applesauce fruit cups. By the time we had lunch these were slushy and so refreshing! We also froze water bottles and Gatorade bottles. The water melted too slowly, but the Gatorade turned slushy…such a treat when we were hot and dehydrated. We also brought little snack packages for between meals…packaged cookies, etc. Cheese sticks would be great, too! We bought glow in the dark bracelets at the Dollar Tree before our trip, and gave them to all the kids during the laser/light/fireworks show. Instead of being tempted by the vendors selling light-up doodads, we had our own. Thinking ahead by anticipating needs like sunscreen, sunglasses, visors, etc. will save you money, too!

    • Shana says:

      This is so true!! Planning ahead is key! Remember, it is FL (we are FL residents) and the weather is unpredictable! You will need sunscreen and rain gear everyday! Pick up cheap ponchos and sunblock before you leave home. You don’t want to be forced to buy these items inside the parks!

  • Jennifer says:

    OH, the timing of this is perfect as we’re heading to Disney in a few months {compliments of my inlaws}. We do have tots but look forward to reading the responses because I’m sure they’ll help us too!!

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    I just took a look at DisneyWorld Resort web site and the rooms at the Value Priced hotels start at $85 per night. Transportation to and from both the airport and the parks is included. For 4 adults in one room, they add a surcharge (I’m assuming they don’t want folks to crowd in like sardines or something).

    We spent 6 days there in December 2011 (over Christmas) and saved quite a bit by staying on site and having a meal plan. We picked the 1 sit down meal per day 2 snacks. Not sure if they still have that one or not. Then we also got the mugs a few others have written about and used those for drinks.

    Honestly, since this was our Christmas present to ourselves and my parents that year (4 adults and 2 kids total) and we’d been saving for 6 years to go, we decided to treat ourselves by not making our own meals and staying on site where we wouldn’t have to rent a car. We had a fantastic trip and really enjoyed the time we spent there, even though it was very crowded since it was Christmas time. We wanted to experience the magical moments with our kids while they were still little enough to really think they’re magic and spend time as a family. We didn’t want to have to mess with transportation, meals, backpacks, etc. I guess my biggest suggestion is to figure out what the purpose of your visit is – is it to “do” Disney? Have a relaxing vacation with everything taken care of? Excitement? Adventure? Some combination? – and then spend your money accordingly.


  • Katie Anderson says:

    I haven’t read all answers, so mine might be a repeat. My husband and I went to Florida and Disney World last year with some friends (a family of 5). We went online and found a 4BR 3BA townhome that we rented. It was only about a 20 minute drive to Disney World and about an hour to the beach. We paid less than $100/night and were able to split that between the two families. Much cheaper than a motel, especially a Disney motel! Also, they have fully equipped kitchens, complete with dishes and everything, so you can make meals there and not have to eat out every meal, which will save a lot of money as well! We stayed at Bella Vida, but you could google vacation rentals and find many different ones. We also went to a time share presentation to get our Disney tickets discounted. I think they were about half price and just one day admission, which is what we did, as we did other things on other days. I am not sure that it was worth it, since we were there for several hours, but that is a way of saving money.

  • Julie says:

    I think there is a bit of difference between Disney Land vs. World. The on site hotels at Disneyland are very expensive relative to hotels around the area. However, Disney World has much more variety (price-wise) with their on site properties. I would stay on site if at all possible as it makes managing a long day easier. Even without kids your feet are going to be tired! This isn’t a money saving idea but I’ve learned after many trips there that it is nice to plan to take in a few of the shows throughout the day – you can sit for a while and rest while enjoying a show.

    The first thing I always do when I get into the park is rent a locker. You can keep extra jackets etc. in there in case the weather gets cold or wet, and if you purchase anything you can always stash it there. So much nicer not to walk around the park with a heavy pack!

  • Precious says:

    We just got back from a week at Disney World this past weekend. The cheapest place that we ate at was called Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney. They have the best sandwiches that I have ever eaten.

  • Jean Lynd says:

    A few things:
    1) I just went there earlier this month, so I scoured the net trying to learn & save. A great website is
    2) You do NOT have to buy food there. You are allowed to bring in any food that doesn’t “require heating”. We would eat a good bfast before going, take a backpack filled with snacks & bottled waters (you can refill at the fountains), and then eat a late lunch or early dinner back at our RV.
    3) IF you have access to an RV you can SAVE $$. If you go during off-season, you can get campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground for about $60 nightly. You may even check into renting an RV (they have some that will come set it up for you at Disney, you can probably find more at or google it). When you stay in an RV at Disney FWCG, you get all the extras of staying on-site. And honestly, FWCG is AMAZING. Pool with waterslides, hot tub, tennis, horseback riding, boating, jetskis rental, canoeing, nightly Chip n Dale fireside show, smores roast & outdoor big-screen Disney movie viewing. You can catch Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks show from the marina at FWCG. Oh, and you still have either buses (Epcot, Animal Kingdome & Hollywood Studios) or boat travel (Magic Kingdom), free, to the different parks & back. I would SO stay there again in a heartbeat. We all LOVED it. And b/c you have an RV kitchen, you can cook, which saves you money. Just stock up at a walmart or whatever before you go or after you arrive if you rent.
    4) You can also save money by NOT buying the park hopper passes, which add some serious costs per person, per day.
    5) If you are doing any serious travel to get there, I would NOT worry with buying park tickets for either the day you arrive or depart. Who has the energy to go battle the parks after you’ve flown/driven half the day? Or do the park then drive/fly back home the same night? NOT ME!!! There is so much to do at FWCG, you can tackle some of that on your arrival day if you’re afraid you’ll be fored.
    6) Good luck! It’s a truly, truly magical experience. And if you are celeberating ANYTHING, be sure to mention it so you can get a big button to wear. The cast members will constantly wish you a Happy Birthday (or whatever), you may possibly get some nice perks…my daughter was having her birthday while there, so she wore her pin all 6 days. The entire confectionery store sang her happy birthday & then a higher-up cast member gave all 3 of my kiddos their choice of high end candy from the bakery display (about $20 worth!), handed me & hubs cotton candy. Later, another cast member whisked my girls off to sprinkle fairy dust in their hair before they met Merida for a character meet n greet. Such a wonderful, magical place. I really am ready to go back already!

  • Kate says:

    We’ve stayed on and off property, and our experiences have always been better on property. Our biggest savings came from working with a travel agent who specializes in Disney. She will book your trip for you and then keep looking for specials that will make your trip cheaper. Her name is Beth Foss, by the way. Her email is [email protected]. She has done a WONDERFUL job for us on our last several trips. She lives in the area and seems to know everything about Disney.

    • Caroline says:

      There are a lot of good tips for saving money listed here and having just been on an adult-only trip to Disney two weeks ago, I wanted to share a few thoughts. Our group went for the race weekend and as such we were able to receive discount rates for the resort.

      Being Disney, they know how to do things! There is a complimentary shuttle set up between the airport and resort – they even take care of retrieving luggage from baggage claim and have it brought to your room! Busses run continuously between the resorts and parks and we often went from our room to a park within 20 minutes. Our group also took advantage of “magic hours” as guests of the resort. Not having children in our party made this a GREAT perk, especially with night hours. We were able to do several rides at Magic Kingdom (multiple times) due to lines being just a couple minutes. Throughout the day we stood in lines with young children, so it was nice to have a couple hours each day with minimal lines!

      It’s often listed as a way to save money, but paying for the Park Hopper is a nice option. It’s not a per day fee but just an option you can add to the base ticket. We found it to be worth it’s price. It greatly increases your flexibility! Depending on your interests you may not want to spend a whole day in a park or maybe there is a special show you want to see one day. I wouldn’t want to take children all throughout the parks each day, but as an adult it was great to be able to come and go as we pleased.

      Even though Disney does a wonderful job with transportation, for personal reasons, our group rented a car. We got a great price online for economy rental that easily fit our group. If you are interested in a car, I recommend E-Z Rental. The resort does not charge parking and as a guest you are not charged the $14 for parking at any of the theme parks. We stopped at local grocery store to purchase water, soft drinks and snacks that we took into the park each day.

      Even though our trip was cost-effective, we do know that we could have been more frugal. However being at the resort, renting a car, and paying for the Park Hopper option ADDED VALUE to our trip. Planning a trip to Disney as/with adults versus children makes a big difference! It’s wonderful you want to off-set costs for your in-laws, but just keep in mind that a couple “splurges” will make for a smoother, stress-free trip and give you all more time to enjoy each other and the parks!

    • Melanie says:

      I don’t know if you need to take a stroller or not but we have a 2 and 3 year old girls and we own a double stroller but it is such a pain to use. Instead of renting one from Disney we rented from kingdom strollers in Orlando, fl and paid around 70 dollars for 6 days, including insurance for theft or any damage, and I was so glad we did! The stroller was at our Disney hotel when we arrived and we were allowed to take it with us everywhere, unlike Disney strollers that you can’t take out of the park. Also I want worried about ice cream or soda spills because of extra insurance! And on the kid note my mom bought Minnie Mouse dolls at walmart for 9.99 before that I packed in my diaper bag and pulled them out so they thought I ad just bought them we found almost identical dolls at the parks fr double that, so I recommend being a little sneaky! And for our old son I bought a prepaid gift card before we went with money for him so he knew once his money was gone he was done shopping! Enjoy your trip we are season pass holders and love it!

  • Patti - [email protected] says:

    I am a Disney vacation planner and I specialize in saving my clients money. I focus on lots of different ways to do that on my blog as well. Using a travel agent is free, and can save time, money and hassle.

  • Kate says:

    Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Crystal for including this question and to everyone for their advice! My husband and I are attending a conference at one of the Disney resorts this spring, and if I hadn’t read these comments (and been directed to the mousesavers site), I probably would not have realized that a stress-free Disney trip seems to take a lot more advance planning than we usually put into our travels (and we’re not even going to the parks!). So thanks again for saving us a lot of headaches when we get there!

  • Patti says:

    We have four in our family and went to the Florida Disney in May 2011. We are members of AAA. Through them we booked a condo for about $70 a night at the Swiss owned resort called Hapimag. It was beautiful. It was in Kissimmee behind Medieval Times, about 15 min from the Disney parks. We had 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, pools, playground. So we were able to cook a lot of meals there. There was a WalMart near our condo. We were able to take food into the Disney parks. They just check your bags. If you buy food in the parks, look at the number of $ beside the restaurant. One $ meant meals were a lower price range. Two $ meant a higher price range, etc. We were able to get kids’ meals for $5.oo in the parks. We got souveniers and t-shirts at a WalMart near our condo. We also got our Disney passes through AAA. We did not get the Park Hopper tickets because we figured one park a day was plenty. We did a four day pass so we could go to each park, then we could spend a day at Sea World. We drove from PA. I think the total amount we spent for the trip was under $3000.

  • Deb says:

    Subscribe to newsletters. Undercover Tourist offers discount tickets to her readers. The link to the discounted prices is in the monthly newsletter (sent on the 15th of each month). Scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter & you will see the link. There is a link on her website but better prices through the newsletter.

    Have fun!

  • Nicole says:

    Disney World is our family’s favorite vacation spot. As soon as we return from a trip we are discussing what to do next time and beginning to save. Here is a tip to stretch the dining plan if you decide to go that route. Experiencing the different restaurants is one of my favorite parts of the trip. I love to try the food and visit the other resorts. However, it is a lot of food. Some restaurants charge two dining plan “credits” for one meal so you will find they can go faster than you think. My husband and I will share a meal to stretch how long our credits will last. I was told by a Disney representative that most restaurants will not have a problem with that so long as the meal is not an all-you-can-eat, buffet, or attached to a package such as the Fantasmic dining option at Hollywood studios. In October, we shared a nice steak dinner, dessert, and a latte at the California Grill. By sharing we spent two credits for our meal at a signature restaurant instead of four. Then, we also only had to tip on an amount of food we would normally order and not two huge meals. Also, if you visit an a la carte restaurant such as Starring Rolls ,for example, rather than burning up all your snack credits to get coffee and a breakfast pastry, the castmembers can help you group the items to create a counter service meal. Then, you are using one counter service meal for two people to eat breakfast and then a few hours later you can share another counter service meal for lunch and then go to a nice dinner. Just be sure you use all credits in all three categories or the meal plan is definitely a waste.

  • Melissa Bell says:

    CELEBRATION, FL!!! We were at Disney last month, and met some friends for breakfast. They recommended a place in Celebration, FL. This is just about 10 minutes from the resort area. The community is really pretty, and they have fantastic restaurants that are very affordable!! We will be eating most of our meals there from now on when we visit. They also have a lot of free community activities and a farmers market on Sunday morning! The corner diner (Main Street Cafe, I think) has the BEST breakfasts!! Have fun!

  • ClareC. says:

    You asked about one of my favorite topics: Disney! I’ve been on quite a few Disney World trips, both with my kids and before they were born. The websites mentioned in quite a few other responses: and are some of my go-to resources as well. Traveling in the off-season is probably the number one way to save money. Secondly, I find that food tends to be the one item that costs more than you are planning on. The free ice water, taking snacks into the parks, and eating more counter service meals (rather than table service) can all save you money. We also take breakfast foods with us and eat in our room every morning. (We usually stay on property.) Thirdly, as in all things, think really hard before you go about what is important to you and what makes a vacation special in your eyes. Spend on that accordingly and cut corners elsewhere. My husband and I went to Disney alone for our first anniversary. He planned the whole trip for me as a surprise, since I love Disney, even though he really does not. We both enjoy special meals and we celebrated our anniversary at Victoria and Albert’s. Was that a frugal choice? Of course not, but it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and worth every penny. Have a wonderful trip!

  • Melissa says:

    We went in October 2009, with three kids in tow, and another family, with 4 kids. We split the cost of a rental house about 15 minutes away, and only spent about $400 for a whole week to stay. We ate breakfast and supper at the house, and took easy lunches, snacks and water bottles, capri suns for the kids (frozen the night before to keep cool). Of course, you won’t need to worry about the kids. It is VERY EXPENSIVE to eat on site at the parks. You will also have to pay $15 to park each day. Of course for us, that was a small drawback considering the cost of housing for the week. Since you don’t have kids, souvenirs are really non essential. It’s a little easier to be disciplined about not buying things when there aren’t kids begging, but all in all, we LOVED IT, and want to go back soon! is a big help with discounts and ideas, and through that site, there is for tickets that we used to buy ours. Hope these tips help! ENJOY!!

  • Brie says:

    Look for tickets on ebay! My dad got them from someone who buys the 3-day (or some kind of pass like that) and then, when they don’t use all of the says, sells them to different people for each day at a much cheaper price. Plus, you can get into the park an hour earlier. You just need to arrange a pick-up time with the guy that morning since the people before you probably dropped them back off that night. Worked for us!

    • Jill says:

      Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Tickets on ebay could have no days left on them and you wouldn’t know until you got to the park. There is no way of checking this beforehand, you have to be at guest services or a resort concierge. Also, tickets are non-transferrable. At this point, you still have to scan your finger as you enter the parks. They do this as a form of identification. If the CMs find you using a ticket that has already been used by someone else, they can and will deny you entry. While the ebay process may have worked for some people, it is against Disney policy.

    • Kate SDDS says:

      it is against Disney policy to sell tickets on ebay – they could also be fake and Disneyland will NOT care and you will NOT get a refund from the fraud that sold it to you. DONT buy them on ebay or craigslist!

    • kelliinkc says:

      DO NOT DO THIS. It may have worked for you but it is not allowed by Disney. That is one of the reasons Disney is going to the electronic wristbands. Additionally, I have read where they are also initiating taking photos of each guest the first time they enter the park on their vacation. Your photo will then pop up each time you try to enter any park with one of your tickets. My husband and I were there the end of November and we had to scan our finger(print) at each turnstyle at each park as the card went through the machine. Not worth getting caught and turned away and then having to buy another ticket anyway.

  • lisa says:

    Read the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland (or world) for the current year. I check mine out at the library. Great guide with strategic plans that help you maximize the time you are there.

  • Kristi says:

    Not staying at a Disney hotel is going to save you a ton of money.
    Last time we went to Disney we stayed at a hotel that had a small kitchen in the room. I was able to keep milk, cereal, lunchmeat, snacks and juices in the fridge. We went out to dinner every night but it was nice to save money by eating breakfast and lunch in the rom. We also brought in a backpack with some snacks and water so we weren’t paying $5 for a bottle of water. The kids still got churros and all the other fun snacks at the park but having some stuff with us cut down on the cost.

    You should also check with AAA or Costco for discount tickets.

    • Karla says:

      Disney tickets do not expire so buy the most tickets you can afford, sometime you will go back. Don’t resell unused tickets, you won’t get full value.

      • Mark says:

        It used to be true that Disney tickets would not expire. If you bought tickets before this change was made the old tickets are still good. Now if you want to get tickets that don’t expire you have to pay extra for that option. You really have to do the math to see what is best for you. When we went a few years ago, we bought ten day passes with no expiration. It cost extra (and was a big up front outlay of cash) But we stayed off site and only went to parks for 3 days. We will be able to make 2 or 3 more trips with the tickets we have. (We also got options like water parks.) For the way we “do Disney” this made financial sense. For other people who have different ways of doing things they would pay more doing it our way.

      • Jill says:

        A regular Disney ticket that is purchased from ANYWHERE today will expire 14 days after the first day of use in a park. It is possible to add a non-expiring option to the ticket, but it adds a lot to the cost of the ticket. However, it could be worth it if you plan to travel to Disney in the future. Also, tickets can be upgraded withing this 14 day window as well. So let’s say you purchase a 4 day ticket. During your visit you decide that you LOVE the place and will definitely return next year or the year after or five years from now. It might be worth it to go to guest relations and upgrade your ticket to a non-expiring 10 day ticket. You would only pay the difference between the original 4 day ticket and the new 10 day non expiring ticket and you would be left with 6 days to use on future trips. This would probably be cheaper than purchasing a 6 day ticket on that next trip. Just be sure you have a way of keeping up with the tickets between this trip and the next one. (Although guest services has ways of looking up tickets you have purchased that may have been lost: it is helpful if you have the number from the back of the ticket, but they can also look it up if you bought it with a credit card and know when you purchased it.)

  • Becky says:

    I just want to reiterate the tips about saving money on food. Food and drink in the parks are VERY expensive and, in my opinion, the Disney food just wasn’t that good, generally speaking.

    If you are going to have a car, then I agree it will be much cheaper to stay off site. We stayed at Lake Eve Resort several years ago and it was fantastic. We had a 2 bedroom condo, with 2 full baths, full kitchen, living room, dining area, balcony, even a washer and dryer. It was very affordable for what we got. Also had a large pool and hot tub. There was a grocery store right down the street and it was only minutes away from the parks. And believe me, it was SOOOO nice to come back to our roomy condo after a long day in the park. When we were exhausted, it was such a pleasure to have the space to kick back on the sofa and put our feet up, or enjoy sitting on the balcony , rather than all 4 of us being crowded into a hotel room.

    As soon as we arrived in Orlando, we hit the grocery store and stocked up on breakfast foods and picnic foods. We ate a full breakfast every morning in our condo. Then we packed a picnic lunch of sandwiches and fruit which we carried into the park with us in a backpack. We took bottles of water which we refilled from water fountains throughout the day. We spent very little on food in the parks. Avoiding eating out for breakfast and lunch saved a ton of money. We usually splurged on a restaurant (outside the park — cheaper) for supper, but once or twice we just bought something easy like frozen pizza and salad, and ate back at our condo. This can save you hundreds of dollars over eating many meals out and eating in the parks.

    Also, don’t buy a lot of souvenirs. They are so overpriced, and they usually just end up collecting dust somewhere. Think about what you might want for a souvenir and set a budget so you avoid impulse buys. Take lots of photos and let your memories be the keepsake that you treasure from this vacation!

    Have a great time!

  • Delilah says:

    They have a military resort called Shades of Green. If you are retired or active duty you can stay there. A couple of times a year they have a deal where any veteran can stay, no matter how long their service. It is very reasonable and the rooms all have fridges which we loved. It is right on the golf course. Pretty.

  • Jennifer says:

    We are big fans of Disney – when we lived in Santa Monica we got Annual Passes. Now when we return for visits (we live in Australia) we go and stay for 2 nights at an off-Disney property and explore the parks for 2 days.

    We did go to DisneyWorld when we knew we were moving back to Aus (we were living in Texas at the time, so drove to Orlando). We stayed at Animal Kingdom which was a great facility, but we wouldn’t stay there again as you did have to wait quite awhile for their buses (which were free) and it was a distance from the parks.

    I would recommend if you’re going to DisneyWorld for 5+ days to stay at a Disney Park, possibly one with a Monarail station as it would be super convenient for you to get to the parks and around. We opted not to get the meal plan, but looked at it quite seriously.

    One thing we only discovered this past trip (we were in LA for Christmas) was the PhotoPass +. We’ve always had photos taken by the Disney staff who are all over the place, but its the first time we heard about the “” option. If you plan ahead, it costs $69 (we found out about it at our Character Dinner and paid $99). It allows you to get ALL the photos taken on rides, at character meals, and any others they take and you can download them to your computer or get a CD. The photos alone at a meal cost $35, and the rides are $15+ (which is why we’ve never bought them before). Our second day I left my hefty DSLR at the hotel and just let the Disney staff take all our photos – and I could be in them all!

    So if you think pictures for memories is going to be important to you, I highly recommend the PhotoPass+ – just make sure you go to at least a month before you go and look into it.

    • Jill says:

      I think Photopass works a little differently in Disney World. I purchased it for a large family trip two years ago and it cost $99 using a discount code. The regular price was around $149. We had to sign up for Photopass before our trip in order to get the discount. Not sure if it still works this way. Also, we were not able to get all of the pictures from the restuarants and rides put on photopass unless we purchased them first. Test Track was the only ride that we could put on our cards without purchasing. We just had to scan our card at the reader at the end of the ride. All other rides required purchasing the picture first and then they would add it to our card. A few of the table service places include a picture with the price of the meal. These pictures were put on our photopass without charging us. However, other places charge extra for the picture and we would have had to pay to have them added to the card. This was two years ago, so things may have changed. I would definitely check things out before going.

  • Michele says:

    Disney is so much fun!!! We just went this past December and had a blast. We are a family of 5 so eating out for us 3 times a day costs a lot. We rented a timeshare condo in Buena Vista rather than a hotel, got a good rate and it had kitchen, so we were able to cook breakfast and dinner every night, and then we brought a small cooler with us and packed our lunch every day and brought it into the parks with us.

    We purchased our park tickets from AAA and they seemed to have reasonable prices. Also, Sea World – which was my favorite – had a deal if you buy one day, they will let you validate your ticket to get a free day to go back. You should definitely look into that. The shows were amazing.

    Have fun!!!!!!!

  • Lydia says:

    Not 100% sure about this… but I think….. if you go in the month of your birthday, you get a free entrance pass for another time. A friend was trying to explain… and i think that is what she was saying (so if anyone shares birthday months try to go in that month)

  • Candice says:

    It doesn’t save you money per se, but will help you maximize your time at Disney. It is absolutely worth the small subscription fee. Another good resource worth the money is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Also, going in the down times doesn’t save you money, but will make your time much, MUCH, more enjoyable. October is a great time of year to go. The weather is gorgeous and the crowds are substantially smaller.

    The food at Disney is expensive and most of it is only mediocre. Packing refillable water bottles and filling snacks (trail mix, protein bars, etc.) will save you a substantial amount of money.

    We had enough hotel points to stay in a Marriott for free, so we chose one that had a free shuttle that ran several times in the morning and evening. This saved us the cost of a rental car. There is less flexibility in this, but several hundred dollars cheaper. We also decided if we wanted to leave the park at a time that the shuttles weren’t running, paying for a cab once or twice was still saving us money.

  • Dana says:

    Hands down the best way to save money is to stay in a condo offsite. We only paid $75 per night for a three bedroom wonderful condo on a resort with a huge pool, hot tub, etc, etc. we found it via We then made 50% of our meals at the condo which saved us a ton more.

    You can bring in drinks and food to Disney! Another huge money saver.

  • Kate SDDS says:

    Others may have already said this – but go during the ‘off season’ – typically January – March – we LOVE to go to Disneyland during February every couple of years – it is practically empty! The hours are shorter than during the summer and there are usually a couple rides closed for routine maintenance – but I promise you will get to do more during the off season than during June! Also go on a week day – Friday/Sat/Sunday are always much busier – also a Monday holiday is usually very busy too. The less time you spend in line (for everything from rides to the potty) is more time to enjoy – you will also get better seats at shows, the parades, etc! Hotels will also be cheaper at that time – we always go thru Hotwire or Priceline and use when we book for a little money back =)
    Make sure to bring your own water bottles! If you all wanted fun Disney attire watch for sales on disney store online rather than buying in the park (crazy expensive!)

    Have fun!

  • Lilliana says:

    List of a bunch of free stuff at Disney!

  • Kelly Hess says:

    Stay off property in a condo – we loved Windsor Hills!

  • Anna says:

    The “Fast Pass” is included in ALL tickets, so you don’t have to buy anything special for that.

    Disney lets you bring in whatever food you want, just no big coolers. So feel free to load up a backpack with food. So if you still want to eat out some you can but bringing lunch and eating breakfast before you go can save a ton of $$. Also bring water bottles and refill :). If its hot, go into any restaurant and ask for a cup of ice, its free, you can fill up with water from water fountain or just eat.

    Plan certain days for each park, that way you save on the park hopper. Its nice to have, but it also takes a decent chunk of time to park from park to park. So I’d forego it and decide how many days you want and which parks you want. Once you go for 3 days, each day after is very very discounted, you should be able to see ticket prices on the website.

    We have stayed on site and enjoyed Fort Wilderness, they have campsites and also have cabins. The cabins have full kitchens. The Disney POPcentury hotel and all-star hotels are part of their budget hotels and have good prices. They are simple rooms and not themed compared to other resorts but if youare just there to sleep they are so worth it. Transportation to the parks from the hotels is a lot easier than staying off, however if you can find a good deal, go for it. Keep in mind you will either need to have a hotel that will transfer you or pay for parking and driving yourself. Disney also offers free transfers from the airport, so you wouldn’t need to rent a car.

    During the summer, they have really long extended hours, and you get extra hours if you stay on site. However its HOT and super crowded. The least busy times are in the fall Oct/Nov and its super nice out.. but before Thanksgiving! Also Jan/Feb is nice after New years winds down and before Spring break starts up. Hotels are also cheapest during this time.

    Hope this Helps! Disney is super fun :). We had annual passes (gift from family) when we lived an hour away. Can’t wait to go back!

  • Erica says:

    Use to research hotel and ticket sales. Use their authorized ticket providers to purchase slightly discounted tickets. DO NOT buy tickets off craigslist or any of the ticket sales stands you might see on the side of the road. Often (not always) those are scams selling you used tickets which may or may not still have days on them.

    You can get ice water for free at any restaurant/counter service that has a soda fountain (i.e. not just selling bottles out of ice coolers). Just ask for ice water, instead of ordering a bottle of water. This saves us a TON of money! (I am lucky to live an hour away from WDW and visit almost every weekend.)

    Use to plan your trip too – often at Disney you can’t save a ton of money, just a little here and there, but you can save your time with good planning and preparation. They have a great podcast, too, called the Dis Unplugged, and they just finished doing “101” series (i.e. Magic Kingdom 101) which might be good for listening and learning what’s changed since you visited last!

    Splittsville just opened in Downtown Disney. Haven’t been yet, but reviews have been pretty positive, and might be a fun evening out one night for you guys. Also in Downtown Disney is Earl of Sandwich, which is a great way to get a made-to-order sandwich for less than $6 – one of the best deals on property, I think, and we eat there regularly.

    Most of all, savor the planning process and have a WONDERFUL MAGICAL vacation with your family!!

  • Kim S. says:

    This may be too late to respond; I’m a few days behind on reading posts. My family of 6 visited WDW in October. My two goals were to have fun while saving money. First I would say sign up for Mousesavers newsletters. They are packed with discount codes for hotels, tickets, and chocked full of helpful info. Also, I have found the best place to purchase tickets is Undercover Tourist. Sorry if these tips were already suggested. Have a great trip to the MousePalace.

    • Ann says:

      I didn’t see this on the list…there is a Disney Visa card where you get a $100 (or $200) gift card for Disney after you use the card 3 times. You also get 2% of grocery and gas purchases in “Disney Dollars”. So if you’re ok playing the credit card game (and pay it off every month, and request the gift card a month ahead) it’s a good way to get ahead.

      We brought water bottles and filled them at water fountains. That definitely saved a lot!

      I also bought some Disney trinkets ( a tiara and septer for my preschool daughter) from Michaels for $2, much better than anything at the stores.

      We also brought a book of Disney Princesses from home, and got signatures from the Princesses. Free! Epcot is the easiest place to get the signatures, there is a schedule of where the princesses will be with the maps.

      I’d recommend NOT getting the ParkHopper tickets; each park is big enough to take an entire day. The MouseSavers newsletter has links to better Undercover Tourist deals; when we went, it was buy a 3 day pass, get the 4th day free. The more days you go, the cheaper it is.

      And if you have a car and need a break from Disney, I highly recommend a day trip to Cocoa Beach or Blue Springs State Park (both are a 45 min-hour drive, but very worth it).

  • Renee says:

    Check out and sign up for email alerts. They were a great resource for new discounts when we went. I booked a package through Southwest which included transportation from and to the airport, hotel, and park tickets(watch for deals). later Disney released free dining package and when i called them they added it to my package with no problems! If history repeats itself I think they usually release the free dining promo late Feb/early March. Good luck and have a blast! if you go to Epcot dont miss the night show!

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