Think you won’t be able to stick to your Disney Vacation Budget once you arrive at Disney. Your worry is valid. This is why we’ve broken down all the Disney Vacation budget costs before. And shared a bunch of money-saving tips. Because we too have been guilty of arriving home realizing we probably shouldn’t have spent as much as we did! And wondering where it all went wrong. So, how do you fix this? You can stick to your Disney Vacation Budget with a little help upfront. Here are our top tips to make sure your Disney vacation is budget-friendly.
How to Stick to Your Disney Vacation Budget
Sticking to your Disney Vacation Budget can be made a whole lot easier if you just make it cheaper. This will help you save faster, and spend money appropriately. By choosing cheaper times to visit, being strategic about your spending, and planning out miscellaneous expenses you can stay within your vacation budget. Here’s how.
Make it Cheaper By Visiting During Off-Peak Times
There are simply times when it is CHEAPER to visit Walt Disney World. Typically this is in the months of September, early November, and January. But of course, there are busy weeks to consider no matter when you go. Check out our Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to Visit Walt Disney World post for all the details regarding the best times to visit if you want to save some money.
Have at least one Park-Free day
If you’re planning on a budget you’re probably hyper-aware that you need to fit all the things into this one vacation. But, if you’re only focused on going to the parks you’re going to miss some of the best parts about Walt Disney World. Visiting the resorts and Disney springs are free. You can boat over to Wilderness Lodge to see the geyser, or hike at the campground. Wander around the Grand Floridian and listen to the piano. Or lounge on the beach at The Polynesian. There is so much to do that would cost less than the 100 dollars per person the park’s admission will require. We’ve even included a non-park day touring plan in our vacation planner so you can still make this day feel special.
Grab a special souvenir BEFORE your Disney Vacation Trip
If putting aside 40-60 dollars per person for a souvenir seems impossible then grab a Disney shirt from our shop ahead of time to make your vacation extra magical. Our shirts are around 25 dollars and you can get them to match for everyone in your party. That way when you get into the parks you can promise everyone something smaller like a key chain and not feel too badly about it.
Use this cart Trick to get your Vacation CHEAPER
It’s no secret that Disney wants you to buy the vacation you add to your cart on their website. Because we know this, why not make them work for it? One of our favorite tricks after signing in to our Disney accounts is to add our ideal vacation to our carts. In fact, we go all the way to the last page. We choose the resort, set the number of tickets we’ll need, choose a dining plan, assign the family members we’re taking, and get to the last page right before purchase. Then, we’ll abandon the cart and close the page. You’ll get several emails about this “abandoned cart” over the next few days. Be sure to click through and visit your cart from at least one of those emails, but don’t purchase it yet. Visit it, and then close the page. In fact, you’re welcome to visit your cart over the next month as long as you make sure not to purchase.
By the time the second month arrives, Disney will send you a % off deal. This may or may not meet your needs just yet, but click through the deal, see what it looks like, modify your cart if you want but don’t purchase anything, and close the page. It really is all about just tricking the computer. Disney will send deals that get better and better over the next couple of months and this gives you the opportunity to get a better rate. If you’re an avid Disney traveler, know that this works better with newbies, so use a different email or have someone else in your party be the one using this trick with their Disney account.
Don’t Buy ANYTHING without first clearing your computer cache
You can stick to your Disney Vacation Budget by making your actual vacation cheaper to start with! Your computer stores all your information. Scary, yes, but true. When you visit the same website over and over, it’s learning that you like that site. Suddenly prices start to get higher each time you visit and by the time you’re ready to purchase anything, they’re way higher than you remember. The way to beat that for anything you’re considering purchasing is done a few ways.
- Clear your cache on your internet browser. Just go to settings and clear it.
- Download a browser you’ve never used before like firefox or brave.
- Access the Disney or Airline site from a public computer at the library or your friend’s house.
When going to the Disney or Airline site for the first time after the cache is cleared or the new browser downloaded, don’t sign in just yet, browse prices first and note how they are lower. Add to your cart and then sign in. Adding the items to your cart at a certain price should lock in the lower price before you sign in and remind the computer its you again.
Buy your Disney Vacation With Gift Cards
Most stores have perks for purchasing gift cards. Whether they’re fuel discounts, or a percentage off for certain types of gift card purchases, you can save money by collecting the amount you’ll need on gift cards and earning the rewards for buying them. We also like putting our dining, souvenirs, and other things on gift cards, which helps us stick to the budget a little better.
Bring a water bottle that can fit in your day bag
You can ward off headaches and money spent on special drinks a little better if you have an empty water bottle available for quick water refills.
Uber or have a friend drive you to the airport if you’re flying
This could easily save you hundreds of dollars in airport parking during your vacation.
Purchase an EZ Pass if you’re driving
Depending on where you’re driving from you may or may not encounter toll roads. But having an EZ pass will make sure you are ready and prevent you from having to pay tolls along the way. You have to load it with 25 dollars to activate it, but all that money goes to your future tolls. And if you accidentally exit the toll road via an EZ pass lane without this little device you could be charged 32 dollars.
Drive your own car to Disney
If you’ve made the decision to drive you can forego rental costs altogether by just driving your own car. If you’re leasing you’ll want to be careful of adding the extra mileage that may cost you later, but if you own your car a quick checkup at the mechanic to make sure it’s okay for a road trip will be cheaper than a rental. Check out our 5 reasons you may want to Drive to Disney.
Plan out your coffee or alcohol
Everyone vacations differently. We love coffee. A lot. If you’re planning on fancy drinks or coffee drinks, set a daily limit for yourself. Alcoholic Drinks at Disney are usually around the 12-15 dollar mark and that’s just for 1 drink. Budget this in ahead of time so you know how much to allow. If you visit some special bars, like the Ale and Compass at Yacht Club, check the drink menu and prices first, so you can think through the extra costs.
Don’t link your Credit Card to your Magic Band
Yes, it does feel extra magical to just be able to scan your magic band everywhere including the gift shop checkout, but attaching your magic band to your credit card will start working against you by day three of your trip when you suddenly realize you need more stuff, drinks, food than you thought and “who cares, you’re on vacation.” The problem with this usually comes in the form of a 600-dollar bill at the end of your trip you weren’t expecting.
Bring your own Breakfast Snacks
We usually bring kind bars or think thin bars and tea for the mornings in our hotel. If we’re staying somewhere where breakfast is free this isn’t necessary but its a great way to save some money by not having to buy breakfast.
Visit Walt Disney World During an EPCOT Festival
Believe it or not, you can save tons of Disney Dining money by using Epcot Festival days as a reason not to pay full price for meals! If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you can often use snack credits for almost full-size portions of food. Or if you are not, can find great deals for 8 bucks or less at festival kitchens. So no matter which of the Epcot Festivals you are visiting, know that you can most likely pay less for a full day’s worth of meals. Check out all the Annual Festivals at EPCOT Park to see what’s happening during your vacation.
Get the Free Souvenirs
You can check any gift shop or cast member for the “I’m Celebrating” buttons. These are given for free and are custom to whatever you may be celebrating. Hint: You can always be celebrating something. You can also get a Pirate Map at the Treasures of the Seven Seas at Pirates of the Caribbean hut when you play the game. Check out the BEST Free Souvenirs at Walt Disney World.
Stick to Your Disney Vacation Budget with these Hacks
Sticking to your Disney Vacation budget is just about making different choices. Little things like free souvenirs, having backup granola bars for breakfast and taking advantage of a park-free day are easy ways to make it manageable. What are your favorite tricks for sticking to a Disney Vacation Budget? Let us know.
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.