The Mostly Disney Mom Blog

Tips, Tricks and lots of information on Walt Disney World happenings.

The best tips for Disney World on a budget!

picmonkey_image (1)

For anyone who loves to visit Walt Disney World, and wants to visit often, there comes a time when you realize that it can get expensive to visit. Even just one day at the parks can set a family of four back well over $200 just for food, snacks and drinks. Everyone who visits wants to learn new ways of saving money there. Allow me to present my favorite money-saving tips for visiting Disney World.

  • Bring your own refillable mug/cup/bottle. Water bottles can be heavy and are not the best for the environment (my exception is from May through November, when frozen water bottles can be the best). Refillable bottles are even available with filters, just in case you don’t like the way the water fountain water tastes. There are plenty of water fountains all over the parks, so take advantage! You can also request free cups of water from any quick service or regular restaurant.
  • If you plan on visiting the parks more than 10 days over the course of the year, even if it’s on more than one vacation-get annual passes. It is well publicized how pricey admission is, and there are increases periodically so if you are planning in advance and using today’s prices to budget, they very well may change anytime. Also, each day above your fourth is so much less than a three day ticket, so it pays to visit longer!
  • If you are staying at a Disney resort, get the dining plan! There are three dine plans to choose from, and anyone can save money fast by using the dining plans (we’re talking up to 40%). After all, it’s easy to say that you won’t spend as much or that you’ll leave the parks to eat and it’s another thing to do that. Take into account that leaving and coming back will waste an enormous park of your day, after all, parking and getting into the parks can take 30 minutes on a weekday (weekends can be even longer) There are even some times of the year when Disney offers FREE dining! (Check with the Disney website or your travel specialist for details on dates and resorts)
  • If booking a vacation, or even considering booking, consult with a Disney Destinations College of Knowledge Graduate, like myself! We can save you not just money by knowing all current promotions, but we are educated on the least expensive times to visit as well as know the resorts which give you the most bang for your buck! In addition, we are your concierge and can make all dining reservations and extras like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! You get all of that with no extra charge to you, how great is that?
  • Bring some snacks! It’s so easy to throw some granola bars or apples in your bag for Disney World. For other great ideas on what to being, check out my post on the Ultimate Backpack List here!
  • Think about souvenirs before you get there! If you have an idea of what you’re looking to bring home to remember the fun, you can do some research and plan a souvenir budget that won’t break the bank! If you wait until you get there, you may and most likely will, overspend. Some recommend to buy your souvenirs elsewhere before you go, but there are some things that are park exclusives and Disney quality is usually a million times better than stores like Wal-Mart, but if really is a matter of preference. The exception for me is Disney Store online, you can and should order souvenirs before you leave so they’ll arrive after you come home!
  • Bring glow sticks! Glow sticks will be your best friend if you plan to stick around for night time parades and/or fireworks. When the lights go down, the carts come out with some rather pricey “glowy” merchandise. Do yourself a favor and bring a bunch of your own, after all, they weigh next to nothing.
  • Speaking of souvenirs, be sure to get your FREE celebration button at guest relations at all of the theme parks (or Downtown Disney) or city hall in Magic Kingdom. You can currently get buttons to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, first visit, family reunion, just engaged, and for any reason “I’m Celebrating”. These are great to wear around the parks and to bring home to remember the fun!
  • If you don’t want to visit the parks for whatever reason, you can have a fabulous time touring the resorts! Each resort has it’s own special theme and can be a treat to take a close look around the lobby. During the Winter holidays, some resorts have amazing gingerbread displays. All year-round, you can visit Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and get a free lesson on hula-dancing and a lei, just make sure to visit Tuesday to Saturday at 3:45 PM.
  • Bring your own stroller. This one is a no-brainer for me because I’m not a fan of the strollers Disney has for rent, which are hard molded plastic. I like to bring my own and have a bright colored one that’s easy to spot in the sea of normal looking strollers. Many people but a cheap umbrella stroller and leave it or give it to another family who needs it! I love this idea of paying it forward, because it extends the Disney “magic” from guest to guest in a great way! Do yourself a favor and make sure the stroller is easy to open and close because if you will be taking the bus or parking, you’ll need to close it before boarding and you want to be able to do that fast.

If you have tips on how to save money at Disney World, feel free to add them below in the comments section.

If you are interested in booking or getting a quote for a Walt Disney World Vacation, feel free to comment with your email address or email me at

disneyabbe@gmail.com

picmonkey_image

10 Comments

  1. I’m glad you mentioned the dining plan. I can’t believe how many people don’t think of the dining plan as a way to save money. The question I often ask myself is: “What is my time worth?” No question that you can find cheaper food outside the parks but how long does that take and how many times are you willing to do it? As you said, admission is expensive. Are really getting your money’s worth by losing 3 to 4 hours to go find something to eat? Just a thought.

    Reply
    • So many people discount the dining plans automatically because it’s so much money or adds too much to the cost but wha they need to realize is that you are pre-paying for your food. If you don’t get the dining plan, then plan on bringing at least 30% more then you think you’ll need.

      Reply
      • Please sit down and do the math. For a lot of families the dining plan does not make sense and does not save money. I am not talking about leaving the parks. You can spend much less simply by watching where you eat. We bring our kids to WDW every year and have used the dining plan. When we simply looked at what we would have ordered ourselves (we don’t eat the amount of desert included) it turned out to be significantly less. If you have kids who are big eaters it might make sense but then I would suggest taking advantage of the buffets.

        Reply
        • I have seen some people who didn’t see the value in the dining plans, but for me as well as many others, I know for a fact that it not only adds vale to your vacation, but takes worry away from something that should not cause stress. Yes, my kids are big eater, they are also “adults” where Disney is concerned. I still have no problem with getting the dining plan and have always saved money using it. I guess if you don’t eat much or aren’t picky about where you eat, then you can certainly get away with paying out of pocket. My husband & I are somewhat “foodie”-ish and have definite opinions on where we want to eat when we visit Disney so we plan in advance, make reservations, and research what we will order is many cases beforehand. For families that don’t use up the dining plan credits, please know that you can use them the day you checkout as well. Taking home a caramel apple or other treat from the parks can be a great souvenir that can help continue the magic even at home.
          Thanks for reading and commenting!

          Reply
    • Another thing people don’t realize is how big the portions are. My wife and I can easily split any single meal between us at any quick service location (I wouldn’t recommend it for dinner). That saves us 50% instantly on food.

      Reply
      • Great point! The portions are pretty large so they can easily be shared by two people.

        Reply
  2. Great advise.

    Reply
    • Thank you!

      Reply
  3. We live in the PNW, but we have DW annual passes because they are worth it. For this year it will only cost us about $15/day to visit the parks. But, I think the dining plan is a waste of money. If you stay on property, most places now have mini fridges so we buy milk, cereal, and juice for breakfast. We usually do not eat lunch until mid afternoon going to quick service places. Then we snack on popcorn, ice cream, or strawberry waffles or whatever else sounds good for dinner. We spend less than $40/day for food where as the dining plan is about $110 for the 2 of us. Of course during each visit we have dined at most of the high end places. We also have a Disney/Chase credit card and usually earn close to $500 each year in Disney reward dollars that cushions the cost of food.

    Reply
    • Aren’t AP’s the best? I would imagine that 2 people could get away much easier without doing a dining plan. Since there are usually at least 4 of us, at least 2 children, it’s a bit more difficult to snack most of the day. We find that by dinner time, we are ravenous and require some sort of protein to keep us going. The Chase card is great, too! Thanks for the tips! (And for reading)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>