A trip to Walt Disney World Resort doesn't have to be a strain on your cash flow. There are ways to enjoy Walt Disney World on a budget from booking flights to dining on Disney's delectables to taking home those magical memories.
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Read on for some tips to help you make the most of your dollars while visiting the Orlando resort.
Flights to Walt Disney World
Round-trip tickets can put a dent in your savings account, especially if there are multiple people in your party. If you research different airlines and the days of the week you plan to fly, you can save some serious money.
Trips are usually cheaper when the flights depart and return on weekdays. Booking your trip on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday could save you a few pennies. Keep in mind to add in parking fees and/or baggage fees as some independent airlines may likely have hidden costs.
Walt Disney World Resort Tickets
When thinking of visiting any theme park, look at the calendar for the best prices on tickets and hotels. Vacationing off-season (non-holidays, non-school breaks) is the best practice in saving. Walt Disney World Resort's ticket prices reflect the seasonal prices with the new tiered tickets as well. The busier the day, the more it's going to cost you, so again, always look off-season.
Once you plan your itinerary, be sure to have your tickets before you head to any theme park. It's faster and saves you the hassle of determining which ticket you really want. Most tickets can be purchased online whether through a travel agent, Disney website, or other entity but remember, pre-planning is key.
Travel agents are another great alternative for discounted tickets and usually involves a package deal with a hotel. You can research local travel agents near you or reach out to friends and family for recommendations. Word of mouth is huge. Our trusted partner, Get Away Today, also offers vacations to Walt Disney World so we recommend beginning there first.
Another ticket purchase option includes the Costco.com travel site. Packages to Orlando are available at a cheaper rate combining tickets with a hotel stay on or near property.
Cheap Walt Disney World Hotels
Again, like booking flights, think of looking off-season to reserve your stay when the prices are lower.
With more than 30 hotels on property, Walt Disney World has a myriad of options for any type of budget. For a cheaper selection, visit the All-Star Resorts including All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, and All-Star Sports Resorts. These value venues were created for vacationers on a budget. Pop and Art of Animation are two more budget-friendly locations on site as well.
Staying off-property is another way to enjoy Walt Disney World on a budget. Ask about AAA or military discounts and check for free amenities. Some locations may offer microwaves and/or small refrigerators. Stock up on needed snacks/small meals and save your money for a splurge entrée inside the Resort. Also, look for free breakfast buffet options at hotels/motels.
Save Money on Transportation at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is approximately 30 miles from the Orlando International Airport. But no need to worry about how to get to your destination.
Disney's Magical Express
For guests staying on property, Disney's Magical Express offers complimentary pickup from the airport straight to your hotel. Just remember to book your reservations for the shuttle through your travel agent or online if you're piecing together your own itinerary. Information and your own set of luggage tags will be sent to your home a few weeks prior to your departure.
If you don't plan to stay on property, look for a hotel/motel that offers free shuttle service to and from the airport. This will save a bit on the transportation element which can add up quickly.
Cheap Transportation around Walt Disney World
If you're staying on-site at the Walt Disney World resort the cheapest way to get around is to take advantage of the free transportation offered to hotel guests! Guests at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can take advantage of complimentary bus service to and from all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney Resort hotels and the Disney Springs Area.
Guests can also take advantage of complimentary boat and monorail service to select areas of the Walt Disney World resort.
The Minnie Lyft cars are a fun option but paying for Uber/Lyft can add up when you can just take the complimentary transportation services.
Saving Money on Food at Walt Disney World
It's easy to write an entire article just on cheap foods at Disney theme parks so I'll try to keep this section streamlined as much as possible. The easiest tip is to bring your own foods such as snacks, sandwiches, and definitely bottled water. You can bring perishables although there are a few guidelines including no glass containers, coolers must be under the size guidelines, and absolutely no alcoholic beverages permitted.
Plan your meals for the day. Maybe have a light breakfast on the go, or fruit and granola bar at the hotel then splurge on a large lunch. Follow-up with a snack or small dinner and your wallet will thank you. You can also split your meals with others in your party. This is a great tips if you're traveling with kids (except teenagers who need constant feeding). Another trick I use is to just order the kids sized meals. The price is budget-friendly and the food quality is usually pretty good, especially with the pastas. This is a great way to visit Disney World on a budget.
Finally, if you're going all out for the Disney experience, look into the Disney Dining Packages. You can add different options onto your package to include snacks and meals at designated locations. If you plan this right, you can save money. But be wary of overbuying- too often guests are left redeeming unused vouchers on their last day.
Budget Friendly Souvenirs
Souvenirs are essential to any Disney vacation but how to buy for everyone in your party, especially if you're visiting Disney World on a budget? Look for the freebies, the cheapies, and stick to your cash limit.
Free Things at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World resort offers a plethora of “freebies” to take home with you. You may not realize that's what they are but these are great keepsakes to save as reminders of your Disney vacation. Stop at any guest service location to ask for a free button. If you're celebrating a milestone such as a birthday or anniversary, or even your first visit, you'll receive a special button. If you just want a button, ask for the celebratory button and celebrate being at Disney!
Several locations also offer free stickers and watercraft and monorail transportation cards. Any guest (not just kids) can ask for the cards while on any of the vehicles including the buses and trams.
And, if you're in EPCOT, most of the locations in World Showcase offer a KidCot arts/crafts station. Cast members share cultural aspects of each country and then kids can create a keepsake item to take home with them. Stop at each Pavilion- Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, UK, and Canada- to collect them all.
Getting freebies is a great way to plan for visiting Disney World on a budget!
Cheap Souvenirs at Walt Disney World
The easiest cheap souvenir is an autograph from your favorite characters. Although Mickey Mouse's signature is free, you'll still need an autograph book for collect the autographs. You can splurge on a Disney-themed book or shop online prior to your visit. Or pull out the craft supplies and create your own!
My favorite cheap souvenir is a pressed coin. Walt Disney World Resort has close to 500 pressed coin templates on property so you'll have plenty from which to choose. Collect your favorite character or theme coins. You can purchase book on property or find one before you arrive. Make sure to get shiny new pennies so they turn out nice!
Stick to a Budget
Sticking to a budget can be difficult especially when something shiny attracts your attention. If you have kids in your party, you know they'll want everything they see. A great tip to avoid this is to set aside a certain amount for that child and let him/her manage the money. One of the best tips I've heard of is to put the money on a Disney Gift Card and use that specifically for the souvenirs.
Time is Money- Use FastPass+
You know the saying, time is money! Make sure to read up on FastPass+ before your visit and make your FastPass reservations so you can skip long waits for the most popular attractions.
Everything you need to know about FastPass+ is in our guide- click here!
Assorted Walt Disney World Budget Tips
There are so many budget-friendly tricks and tips available online and through family and friends for visiting Disney World on a budget. A few more to mention are bring what you need beforehand. Grab the sunscreen, pack the rain poncho, and don't forget phone charging rods. Planning in advance will help you save on impulse purchases in the resort. To make sure you don't forget anything that may cost more in the parks, be sure to see our ultimate Walt Disney World packing list.
Another great piece of advice I've followed for visiting Disney World on a budget is to spend a day away from the parks. Maybe only buy a hopper-pass for three days if you're staying four. Spend that extra day exploring the Resort. Ride the monorails and watercrafts, or play a round of miniature golf at Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf at the Swan Hotel, or explore the different hotel lobbies and grounds.
Don't forget Disney Springs outdoor district is filled with foods and entertainment as well.
Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation!
Ready to visit Disney World on a budget? MickeyVisit.com always has the most current tricks and tips guidelines to help you make the most of your Disney vacation. For more budget-friendly ideas for any Disney vacation, be sure to sign up for our free newsletter.
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- A Day at Disney Springs
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- Guide to Walt Disney World Transportation
- Uber and Lyft at Walt Disney World