Our family is getting really excited about our upcoming Disney trip. The only issue is that we want to do Disney World on a budget. Lucky for me, I have a good friend who is a Disney expert. In order to prepare, I’ve asked Kathryn to share her favorite tips. These are 18 of the best tips for doing Disney World on a budget.[bctt tweet=”Every #DisneyLover needs these 18 tips to enjoy Disney on a budget.”]
Pack your own snacks
Disney allows you to bring food and drinks into the park. You can even pack a soft cooler!! Just no big hard top coolers. Snacks in the parks are very expensive and you will do a lot of walking, so you will have quite the appetite and those food stands are tempting!
Say no to sides
Most counter service restaurants are set up to offer meals with drinks and a side. You can ask for your entree without sides even if it is not listed on the menu and it will usually save you over $2.
Bring your own water bottle
Save on water! Don’t spend $2-4 on a bottle of water. You will drink A LOT walking around in the heat and it adds up FAST. I like to take a Brita filter water bottle and fill it up at water fountains.[bctt tweet=”Pro Disney Tip: Bring your own water bottle.”]
If you don’t want to carry a water bottle, you can request a FREE cup of ice water at any counter service restaurant. Sometimes I just ask for a cup of ice at the outdoor stands with a soda fountain for my water bottle if I don’t want to wait in line at a counter service restaurant.
Consider becoming an annual pass holder
Annual Pass holders receive a discount card! Even if you just take one vacation to Disney a year, getting an annual pass might be worth it for your family. You can get 10% off on food, resorts, merchandise and other goodies too! Some places do not accept it, but I always make sure to ask. Some of the gift shops sell snacks if you decide not to pack them, so this could save you money instead of purchasing something from a food and beverage stand. Annual Passholders also get FREE PARKING! This is huge. It’s $17 a day to park at Disney World. It is also a time saver to drive (most of the time) if you are park hopping because the transportation systems can get very busy and it can sometimes take an hour to get from park to park, while driving only takes about 20 minutes.
Get a hotel outside the park
Stay off property in a cheaper hotel if you are going to spend all day in the parks and don’t plan on getting a dining plan. I stay in a super cheap hotel because I end up getting there very late at night and leaving very early in the morning, since I want to spend as much time at the parks as possible. I don’t use the perks of a nice hotel anyway because I’m basically there just to sleep.
Book a hotel with a continental breakfast
The only amenity I would recommend is continental breakfast. If you can eat for free before going to the parks, you will save a lot of money.
Stay in a Disney Resort for less
If you choose to stay on property, AAA or military discounts are offered if that applies to you. Or you can choose to camp to save money while staying on a Disney property! Fort Wilderness is Disney’s campground and reservations start at just $50.
Skip the souvenirs
Don’t spend time and money shopping for souvenirs or in a boutique for the kids in the parks. Dress them up before you go and get souvenirs elsewhere. The prices you’ll pay in the parks are much higher than if you purchase them before your trip.
But enjoy the free souvenirs
There are a few free souvenirs you can get for fun in the parks too! You can get a free celebration button at Guest Relations at the front of every park if you ask. Some table service restaurants will even serve you a free dessert if they see your birthday button! There is a game for the kids in Magic Kingdom called Sorcerers of the Magic Kindom, which gives you 5 random collectible cards to play with each day you enter the park and can be played at your leisure, even from trip to trip.
Enjoy inexpensive souvenirs
You can buy collectible pins outside of the park (just make sure they aren’t knockoffs) and you can trade them with cast members inside the parks. There are pressed penny stations so that you can collect them as a cheap souvenir as well. If you would like to give your kids the option to buy souvenirs in the park but don’t want to spend too much money, buy them a Disney gift card that they can use until the money is gone.
Make your own autograph book
If you have kids that will be wanting autographs from the characters, make an autograph book instead of buying one. They are very expensive in the parks and you can easily make one by buying a small journal that they can decorate with Disney stickers before the trip.
Spend money wisely and use credit card rewards
If you are going to Disney frequently, it would be nice to get rewarded for the money you spend there! You don’t need the Chase Disney Rewards Visa card if you don’t want to! Ask your bank if they do cash back rewards on any of their credit cards. Some may have an annual fee, but the rewards might be worth it for you depending on how much you use it!
Vacation in the off season
Go during the off season if you can. The parks will be less crowded and it will be cheaper. Even the savings on a hotel alone is worth it. Off season times are between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, during December before Christmas and in January.
Don’t spend money on buying the professional photos. The photographers will take a picture for you with your camera or smartphone for free if you ask.
Bring a stroller, don’t rent one
Stroller rentals are $15 a day. Disney allows personal strollers in the parks. Just check the size parameters to make sure your stroller is not too big.
Use Disney’s Wifi
Connect to Disney’s Free WiFi to avoid data charges. Disney has a free app that you can use to make reservations, reserve fast passes, see ride wait times, and more. But using the app can use a lot of data if you are not connected to wifi. I also like to turn my phone on Airplane mode when I am not using it so that I don’t run out of battery while I am at the parks. I have seen some families use walkie talkies to communicate at the parks too. Some areas can have low cell signal, which can be frustrating when trying to coordinate with people you separate from.
If it rains, buying a poncho is pricy at about $10 each! Compact umbrellas are allowed in the parks, but they are heavy to carry when you are not using them and a pain to use in the parks as well.
Skip the lockers
Lockers are $8-$10 a day with a $5 key deposit. Disney allows backpacks! My mom likes to carry a fanny pack and attaches her water bottle to the strap, which is a good option too but doesn’t allow much room for snacks if that is your plan. I haven’t had any issues carrying my bag or backpack on to any ride in Disney World.
Do you have any extra tips to share?