Walt Disney World welcomes the New Year with new resorts, rides, shows, a continued Epcot overhaul, and continued 50th-anniversary celebrations. With so much going on in addition to all our beloved festivals and runDisney events, how can you possibly hope to save money when surely the parks will be packed all year long? Here’s a bunch of Money Saving Tips for 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. This includes Disney Destinations, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Parks in general. Discounts are generated to guests who routinely visit the Disney website, 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 here.
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. One of the Best Ways to Save Money on a Disney Vacation is to just keep an eye on this page! This includes room only, package, and free dining deals.
Book with a Third Party
Nervous about booking with a third party? We hear you and have talked about this before. And yes, truthfully, Disney themselves is sometimes just cheaper. BUT, thirds party deals are 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.
Book Through a Travel Specialist
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.
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 but not always offered.
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.
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.
Go 4 days or more for the Lowest ticket-per-day-prices
One of our favorite Money-Saving Tips for a Disney Vacation 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 9-12 days, though we’ll stay for longer whenever we can get it.
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.
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
Access Disney’s Website through a Rebate Site first
Ever use Rakuten, formerly Ebates? This rebate site/ app just requires you 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.
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 it’s all about. Plus ice cream in the ice cream parlor afterward. 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 a 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.
Go During the Off-Season
Disney’s Off-Season has slowly been dwindling the last few years. Check out the Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to visit Walt Disney World to get a feel for crowds, prices, and more. Traveling during the cheapest times means fewer people and lower costs.
Use the DVC Rate Calendar to Plan Low Cost/ Low Crowd Vacations
One of our favorite new hacks we learned on our DVC tour was that 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 lowest seasons to book are Adventure Season and Choice Season. Here’s where the dates fall for each.
- Sept 1-30
- Dec 1-14
- Oct 1-Nov 26
- Nov 30
- Dec 15-23
You can find even more dates to consider in our Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to Visit Walt Disney World Web Story.
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 here.
Only buy tickets for the days you’re in the parks
In general, it’s easy to not get park tickets on your first day of 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 Disney Springs days if we can swing it. A great dinner on 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 driving 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 are free, and no park ticket is required.
The Disney Mid-Day Magic Ticket
If you want to do Disney in tandem with another vacation, or know that you’re not getting the kids out of bed, or the pool, before 12 noon, grabs 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.
Beware the Disney Annual Price Increases
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.
Find the Free Disney Souvenirs
One of the best things about Disney is that you can still score free stuff, even when you don’t realize it! Check out all the Free Souvenirs at Disney World that you can collect along the way. All to help save you money while you’re on vacation.
Money-Saving Tips for a Disney Vacation
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.