Going to Disney on a Budget

Powered by Mom’s Travel Tips – Going to Disney on a Budget

Simple ways to save for your family vacation – Disney on a Budget

Whether it’s a trip to Disney World or Disney Land it can get super expensive. Especially for a family of 4-6 people. I know people that have spent almost $10,000 dollars on a Disney vacation. That is easy to do if you go for every bell and whistle there is. But if you are like me and strive to keep a budget and don’t have that much money laying around, there are ways to do Disney on a budget.

Disney on a budgetThe biggest tip I can give is to start a basic plan that includes your budget. Then you need to figure out what things you must have and what things you can do without. Once you have that finished you can start figuring out how to do your must-haves cheaper. There are all kinds of money saving tips for Disney and I have listed some of the best. If you take your time, research, and save you can have the Disney trip of your dreams without going broke.

Don’t Pay Full Price For Tickets

If you are a member of AAA or another travel site, you could get a member discount on tickets. Have someone in the family that is retired or active? Disney offers special pricing for active and former members of the military. Also, some big companies, unions, and government agencies offer special rates for tickets. It may take a bit of research but you may find the tickets for a cheaper price.

Disney Castle

Skip the Park Hopper

This is a big money saver that will help you do Disney on a budget and still have a ton of fun. Yes, it is really nice to hop around to the different parks, but it also eats up a lot of time. You can save time and money by spending the full day in one park. Plan which park you want to go to each day and then only buy tickets for that day. It will save you a bundle because the Park Hopper is a very expensive upgrade.

Choose A Value Resort Or Stay Off Site

Visiting Disney on a budget means you need to look at your hotel choices. The value resorts offer great perks such as early admission and free bus rides to the park. If you stay off site you won’t have those perks. But, if your budget is really tight and you don’t mind renting a car, plus paying for parking, then staying off site may be the best bet. You can also stay at a Disney Springs Resort, many of which offer free shuttles and other perks. We stayed at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Disney Springs, it was a fabulous choice, we used their free shuttles and went to the Disney character breakfast at the resort. You can read our review of this resort HERE

We enjoyed the water park area at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Disney Springs. This was during the summer and it wasn’t crazy busy. If you’re taking a day or afternoon off from the parks it’s a great time to enjoy the hotel while everyone else are enjoying the parks.

wyndham lake buena vista disney springs

Skip The Dining Plan and Share Meals

While the dining plan sounds like a great value, it can add quite a bit to your total. You do get a lot of food but there are ways to eat well without breaking the bank. Disney does allow meals to be shared. The meals at Disney are large on portions so you could easily split a meal with your spouse or your child. Another great way to save money is skip the character dining and just dine at the quick service restaurants. They offer great food that is cheaper. If you really want to stretch your dollar, eat one meal in the park (lunch is the cheapest) and eat the rest of your meals outside the park. Orlando has some great restaurants and you can feed a family of four way cheaper at Applebee’s than Le Cellier.

Bring Your Own Souvenirs

Disney upsells their merchandise in the park. If you must have souvenirs for the kids, buy them before you go. A lot of times you can great items on clearance at the Disney Store. The Dollar Store, Target, and Walmart have great Disney character items that are a lot cheaper. Each day as you leave the room set one out on the pillow. Then when your child wants something from the park just say “Mickey left you a surprise in the room!” This is a big one for us when doing Disney on a budget, it saves us tons. I always mention it and for other fabulous tips like this you can check out our Disneyland Family Vacation Tips where we mention this and other tips.

The Disney shirts that my daughter and I are wearing below were purchased before our trip at a fraction of the cost. We can get a few extra goodies when we buy these types of souvenirs before we go because we get them for a much better price. My daughter is always thrilled because she’s getting a ton of Disney items and I’m happy because it doesn’t break my budget.

Disney on a budget

Take Advantage of Gift Cards

When you are saving money it is hard not to dip into it. You start with “Well, I will just borrow from it” and then before you know it, it’s gone. It doesn’t happen to everyone but for those of us that it does happen to, there is a solution. Disney Gift Cards. When you have money for your trip, put it on a gift card. That way it is there and you can’t use it. Also, it is a great way to pay for all of those extras in Disney without using your bank card or cash.

If you are taking the kids consider asking family members, etc. for gift cards for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. This will decrease the clutter in your house and also give them some spending money for the parks. Just beware, once it is on the card you can’t get it back. If you use the gift cards to pay for things for the trip, keep them because if for some reason you have to cancel the money goes back on the gift card.

Skip A Day In The Park

If you are staying 5 days or more you are going to get tired of going to the parks. All that walking, the sun, and the heat are going to get to you. The best thing to do is skip the parks one day. If you are staying a resort relax by the pool or take advantage of one of the free activities happening. If you want to keep “doing Disney” take a trip to Disney Springs. You can shop, take advantage of the free entertainment, and have a pretty good meal that is not terribly expensive. It will ease your budget and also give you a break from the crowds.

There’s so much to see in Disney Springs, check out our photo album of all the sights we managed to check out while we were there. GO HERE.  We not only saw this balloon from our hotel room at Disney Springs but went for a closer look.

Disney Springs Balloon

Save on Memory Maker

I highly encourage anyone that visits Disney to purchase the Memory Maker. It is the best way to capture memories of your trip. If you’re doing Disney on a budget you’ll have to decide if you’d rather lug your camera around or utilize the Memory Maker. Photographers are everywhere and you can get some really great professional shots. It can be expensive though. So always check the Disney vacation website. Sometimes they have great deals on the Memory Maker. The best part? If you are like me, when you are on vacation you are always behind the camera. With the Memory Maker you will be in all the pictures!

Bonus Tip– You can’t bring a cooler into the park but you can bring a backpack full of snacks and drinks. If you are an Amazon prime member have water, small snacks, fruit juice pouches, etc. delivered to your resort. They will be there when you arrive and you will save a bundle when you get hungry!

Make sure to also check out our 5 Dining Secrets at Disney – Disney Dining Plan travel article.

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  1. Jennifer Racut says:

    I really like these savings tips. I would love to take my family to Disney one day.

  2. Sam Spieller says:

    Leaving things for your kid to find in the room is a good idea. I’ll have to try that! Thanks!

  3. I can’t wait to take my family there!

  4. Mary Cloud says:

    Great tips. I’ve been wanting to go to Disney for years so I will probably use some of these tips.

  5. I appreciate your help with Disney really can get expensive

  6. Disney can be so much fun! Making a budget plan is a great, realistic way to travel and have fun.

  7. A good memory is what Disney is for me. Free because a relative worked there. So always lots of passes back in the day. Great place. Great tips :o)

  8. ashley meyer says:

    great tips we have been thinking about taking the oldest to disney either this year or next

  9. Jeena Bittenbender says:

    Smart money saving tips. I’m going to take the Grandkids next year. I’m thinking about adding a backpack to your list and a small thermal pouch for sandwiches. Then there will be no meals bought at the park. I 100% agree with taking a day off to just chill. It’s exhausting to spend all day at a park, let alone days in a row. Thank you for the great advice!! I appreciate it.

  10. Jessica Pollock says:

    Great tips and advice!

  11. Jessica C. says:

    Great tips! I’ve heard about people saving more money by taking an Instant Pot along and cooking their own meals in their hotel rooms.

  12. I would love to take my kids there one day

  13. ellen beck says:

    We went to Disneyland, found out how high it was and left :/ For some their budgets will not allow this no matter how frugal you are. I would if I went use discounts and take our own food.

  14. Margot C says:

    Good advice, it is o hard to plan right to not go there and blow all of your money. It’s worse than Vegas, really.

  15. Susan Smith says:

    Great tips, we never buy souvenirs as they are so overpriced. We always try to save money buy staying in less expensive hotels. We don’t spend much time there anyway.

  16. gloria patterson says:

    so many great idea here BUT have to say this one is the smartest…….. hen when your child wants something from the park just say “Mickey left you a surprise in the room!” …. I am going to steal and other ideas/suggestions

  17. Michelle L says:

    Disney is so much fun

  18. such great tips, thank you! I hope to be able to take my kids to Disney one day!

  19. Thanks for the tips! I love saving money!

  20. Chantelle Knick says:

    Great tips! Even if you have lots of money…why not save it?

  21. When we went to a convention in Aanaheim in 1984, a local recommended a couple of very inexpensive motels, the Magic Lamp and the Magic Castle, which were next door to the convention center and right acrossnthenstreet from Disneyland. I wonder if they’re still there?

  22. What a great article. I loved the tips.

  23. Going to Disney with your family is becoming very expensive. These are great tips!

  24. Cynthia R says:

    Disney Springs sounds and looks nice. We’ve never been there before. We also choose to open a Disney credit card with came with a disney gift card we could use at the park. That was a great way to our spend food/souvenirs.

  25. Darla Peduzzi says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I didn’t know you could save with being an AAA member.

  26. Terry Poage says:

    I really liked Disney World went there once for my Cousins wedding, but everything was so expensive even at the hotel we stayed in. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  27. Perfect timing…planning a trip

  28. Linda Szymoniak says:

    It’s been years since we last went to Disneyworld. I was shocked just how expensive our trip ended up costing. You have some great ideas.

  29. Darcy Koch says:

    I highly recommend reading these tips if you plan on visiting Disney. I have never been there, but friends have and said it can get quite expensive.

  30. Jerry Marquardt says:

    This is a very nice option other thatn going on that purposely high budget. I appreciate the tips and pointers on staying on some sort of budget, although it is hard to do so when everything runs so high in the first place.

  31. Wendy Pence says:

    We just went to Disney a couple of weeks ago. Had a complete blast! Took tons of pics but we are planning on purchasing some from the Memory Maker, a few of those were really good and/or downright hilarious!

  32. Jasmine P says:

    Great tips!!! Thanks for sharing!

  33. This is such a helpful post that I am going to share with my children because they try to go every few years and they need to do it on a budget. My grandchildren all love going to Disneyland, haven’t gotten to Disneyworld yet.

  34. Terry Stebbins says:

    Love Disney and so many great tips to save money!

  35. accontests6 says:

    Thank you for the tips. Disney only seems to get more expensive every year so this helps.

  36. Lots of great advice. Our family has been very spoiled over the years…living just 20 minutes away from Disneyland. We used to have annual passes. Sadly, it has gotten waaaayyy too expensive to have passes now for our family of 5. Even when we did…we would often take our own food for lunch and eat in the designated picnic area just outside the park. It was always hard going on Star Tours and then exiting out thru the Star Wars store when our boys were Star Wars fanatics! We had to remind them….”Those are much cheaper at Target!”

  37. We used most of your tips when we took the kids to Disney. It was a huge help!

  38. Trina Flynn says:

    I just became a AAA member and will defiantly look into Disney discounts in the near future. I have vacationed in Florida twice and never had a chance to see Disneyworld. Next vacation I will make Disneyworld my first priority!

  39. justin orkin says:

    I didn’t realize they had large portions at places like that. I think they’re normal sized for most people, but it is a good idea to be careful with your money at Disneyworld

  40. Deborah D says:

    I never thought about programs like AAA having a discount. This is very good information.

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