Saving money on a Disney Vacation or at Walt Disney World while you’re in the parks doesn’t have to be elusive. It’s easy when you know where to look for deals, where to cut corners, and how to vacation so that you’re saving money before you even get there. Here are all the ways you can Save Money at Disney in 2021.
Ok, to get started with our How to Save Money at Disney list, it’s important to do all the things that automatically get you on the Disney nice list. Make sure you have a My Disney Experience account and have been sent away for Adventures by Disney or Disney Vacation Club DVD. Even having an account on shopDisney.com, which automatically syncs to your Disney account sends the signal that you mean business and are ready to take a Disney vacation.
Sign up for Emails
A tried and true trick to get those email discounts is to just make sure you’re signed up for all the Disney emails. Discounts are generated to guests who routinely visit the Disney website, or add vacations to their carts and then don’t checkout. Much like any good “abandoned cart” email you see from retailers, Disney has the same things in place. So you can take advantage of it, by browsing your vacations months ahead of your planned booking to score the best deals. Sign up for a Disney account here.
Visit During the Cheapest Times at Walt Disney World
Make it easy on yourself and plan your Disney vacation during one of the cheapest times of the year. We actually learned this trick on our recent DVC tour. As there is actually a calendar that shows the cheapest times to visit Walt Disney World. And frankly, until there is an update to this pricing schedule we’re gonna treat it like the gospel it is. The cheapest times to book usually mean low crowds, lower ride waits, and cheaper ticket and resort rates. Disney calls this the Adventure Season. And if you’re looking to save on your overall trip to Walt Disney World, here are the dates you should consider booking.
- Sept 1-30
- Dec 1-14
Visit Disney During the Off-Season
Disney’s Off-Season has slowly been dwindling the last few years. And with everything happening in 2021 for the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World you can expect some natural busyness around the ride and restaurant openings, as well as around October 1, 2020, when The World’s Most Magical Celebration begins. The general off-season is before March 4, the end of August to the end of September, and the first three weeks of November. You can check out the Disney World Event Calendar for 2021 for a better idea of major events that could affect your vacation.
Get the Cheapest Tickets to Disney World
Peruse the Online Ticket Price Calendar for the Cheapest Days to Visit
Disney World has a ticket-by-day structure that allows you a sneak peek into cheaper days on a monthly calendar. Generally, the cheapest days are in January, February, August, and September. Click the link to check the per-day ticket prices and scroll down to the calendar section.
Only buy tickets for the days you’re in the parks
In general, it’s easy to not get park tickets your first day or your last day of any Disney Vacation. This gives you time to settle into the resort, look around, and get acclimated. We also love arrival or departure days to be at Disney Springs. A great dinner your first night at Disney Springs means you can wake up refreshed for your 1st parks day on Day 2 of your vacation. Additionally, a late-night before departure day makes you want to sleep in a little before packing up for the airport or drive home. If you’re looking to save yet another day without park tickets we always recommend a resort crawl on the monorail, boardwalk, or gondolas. All free, and no park ticket required.
Not staying on-site? Buy Discounted Tickets
The cheapest way to get tickets for 3 days or more is through The Official Ticket Center. They are a trusted retailer of discounted Disney tickets and Orlando’s #1 Ticket agency. We also trust Undercover Tourist for discounted tickets and either place works well if you’re not staying on Disney property with a Magic Your Way package. It’s worth noting that if you’re vacationing at WDW and need a resort and tickets- the package deals are usually cheaper than trying to purchase these things separately
If Visiting a Water Park, buy the Park Hopper Plus
If the Water Parks are in your plans, consider adding the Park Hopper Plus to your vacation package instead. While water park tickets will cost you 60 bucks per person per day, a park hopper plus add-on is closer to a 22 dollar upgrade and if you were adding the park hopper anyway, it’s a substantial saving.
Plan for One Park Per Day
If you’re ready to exercise your vacation planning muscle, focus on just doing one park per day. While we love the park hopper and have become somewhat addicted since becoming pass holders, in the good ‘ol days we just planned one park per day, to save some money by not getting the park hopper. And truthfully, you don’t really need it! There is so much to do in each park and at the resorts or Disney Springs that one day is hardly enough for one park, let alone multiple parks. Check out the checklists for each of Walt Disney World’s four parks so you can maximize your one-day per park experience.
The Disney Mid-Day Magic Ticket
If you want to do Disney in tandem to another vacation, or know that you’re not getting the kids out of bed, or the pool, before 12 noon, grab the mid day ticket instead of a full day. You can save 30 bucks or more just by being a little strategic and realistic about your vacation plans.
Go 4 days or more for the Lowest ticket-per-day-prices
One of our favorite ways to save money at Disney is to just Stay Longer!!! At the 4 day mark, tickets begin to dip below 100 bucks per ticket, and at the 6 or 7 day mark they get close to 60 bucks per day. That said, a longer vacation is always cheaper to some extent just because the per day ticket price drops. In truth the best Disney vacations usually last 9-10 days, though we’ll stay for longer whenever we can get it.
Get the Disney World Specials
Get the Disney Free Dining Plan Offer!
With special dates and resorts released a couple of times a year, it pays to keep an eye on the FREE Dining Plan Offer. Most often you can get this offer when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day vacation package including a Room at Select Disney Resort Hotels and a Ticket WITH Park Hopper Option, but ONLY during special offer times. Keep an eye on this post for updated Free Dining offers. The Free Dining Offers are by far the best Money Saving Tips for a Disney Vacation in 2020, but not always offered. so whether it’s this year or in 2021, keep an eye on this offer.
Regularly Check Disney Special Offer Page
Believe it or not, Walt Disney World’s Special Offer Page is updated FIRST and regularly whenever a new offer drops. This includes room only, package and free dining deals. Check out the page for all current offers. One of the best Money Saving Tips for a Disney Vacation in 2020, be sure to keep an eye on this page.
Book Through a Travel Specialist
You know Disney Certified Planners are 100% FREE to use! Here are 10 reasons why we suggest using a travel agent. Not only can they help you stay on track with your Disney planning dates and deadlines, but also make sure you’re finding the best deal along the way.
Access Disney’s Website through a Rebate Site first
Ever use Rakuten, formerly Ebates? This rebate site/ app just requires you to go through them first. By typing in your site/ store they’ll redirect you to whatever retailer and then give you a rebate just for shopping. Sign up through this link and you’ll get $10 just for joining! We also like Shopkick to help us earn gift cards.
Save Money on Disney Resorts
Book with a Third Party
Nervous about booking with a third party? We have talked about booking through a third party before. And yes, truthfully, Disney themselves is sometimes just cheaper. BUT, to Save Money at Disney, a third-party deal is always worth a look before a final decision. We most like hotels.com for Disney resort stays. After you make a reservation you can call Disney and connect your room to your My Disney Experience account.
Stay Off Property
We’re always a little hesitant about staying off the property on a Walt Disney World vacation. Mainly because so much of the magic is about staying on-site. Especially when Value Resorts can go as low as 60 bucks during deal times. But, if you’re staying far enough outside of Orlando or combining beach/ Universal Studios vacation, it may be your cheapest option. We most like Holiday Inn Express for the Free Continental Breakfast and cheap rates. Check out our pros and cons of staying off property post.
Saving Money at Walt Disney World
Take the DVC Tour on your first day
Ever consider the Disney Vacation club? Depending on where you’re staying you have the chance to get up to a 150 dollar gift card just for taking the tour. And seeing what the DVC is all about. Plus ice cream in the ice cream parlor afterwards. Not too sales-y, these people really just want to clear up all your curiosities. It’s a win-win. You get transported at a time of your choice to and from the DVC office where you’ll get the spiel on cost, benefits, etc. plus take a tour of a DVC villa while you’re there. Then you can use that gift card for a meal or souvenirs later, regardless of whether or not you decide to become a DVC member.
Be Strategic about Meals
If you’re not on the Disney Dining Plan, food can be the most expensive thing! In our Disney Budget post, we shared that you need about 70 dollars a day/ per person just for food- and that’s including 1 quick service, a snack/drink, and 1 sit-down meal. It’s not even including full sit-down breakfast, so that amount could definitely go up. That said, there are ways that you can save money on food. Plan for a light breakfast in your room by packing granola bars, yogurt, pop tarts to hold you over until lunch. Limit your sit-down meals to just 3 or 4 for your entire vacation. And plan quick service meals (closer to 15 dollars a person) for the rest of them.
A little planning ahead of time when you’re booking your table service restaurants can give you insight as to per person costs. Remember, Disney automatically charges an 18% gratuity for parties of 6 people or more. If you’re looking to Save Money at Disney and be serious about it, check out how to set up your Disney Dining Budget to make sure you’re not dropping thousands on food.
Buy Disney Giftcards at a Discount
Gift card hacks are becoming the norm! Whether you’re buying your gift cards at a local store that gives you discounts on gas or groceries, OR saving 5% at Target on Disney gift cards when you use your RedCard be on the lookout for gift card deals to get you to Disney a little cheaper.
Use your Disney Magical Extras!
With your vacation package, you will get a card that offers miniature golf, access to the ESPN complex, and coupons for tons of restaurants and stores at Disney Springs. So you can save 10% or more on everything. Check out the Magical Extras for 2021 here.
Grab the FREE Souvenirs at Disney World
Those Disney gift shops can get dangerous! Mainly because you always need another poncho, pair of Mickey Ears, snacks or gift you forgot to grab for someone. So, make this easy on yourself and just try to grab all the Free Disney Souvenirs instead! While a celebration button may not make a great gift for someone, it may help you get free things like cupcakes, congratulations, and special treatment across the parks.
Use the EPCOT Festival Kitchens to Supplement Meals
While there is nothing like a good sit-down dinner, during EPCOT festivals, you can actually get away with just eating a few dishes from the outdoor kitchens. Definitely take advantage of this major way to save money at Disney. By not footing the bill for lunch or dinner costing upwards of 100 bucks. Instead, have everyone in your party choose 2 or 3 dishes at the festival to hold them over instead. That bill can easily go from like $50 bucks a person to $15, so it’s a great option if you’re sticking to a Disney Dining Budget.
And if you’re visiting during the cheapest times to go to Disney World there are festivals that annually happen during each of these date ranges.
Beware the Annual Price Increases at Walt Disney World
Ahhh, Walt Disney World Price Increases. Every February, June, and October, historically, we’ve seen price increases on tickets, rooms, and/ or annual passes. If you’re hoping to renew a pass or book a vacation do so before these months in general. While we sometimes hear ahead of time about the looming price hikes at Disney, sometimes they drop without warning. Don’t get caught off guard. If you’re looking for a cheap vacation, booking sooner with the deals available now is usually going to be cheaper than waiting.
Money-Saving Tips for a Disney Vacation in 2021
Need more ideas? Check out our 12 Ways to Save Money post and our Disney on a Budget post to get you started. Hopefully, this has given you a look at a ton of ways to save on your vacation. While we never suggest going completely budget-focused on a Disney Vacation, if you’re aim is just to get there…there are tons of ways to do just that, and can sometimes be cheaper than other family vacations.