Sometimes the magic of Disney comes with a side of sticker shock. Although a trip to Disney often comes with a bit of a steep price-tag, there are ways to have both a happy wallet and a magical Disney vacation. Here are 8 tips for keeping your vacation easy on the budget but still full of Disney magic.
1. Brown bag it!
One of the biggest expenses on any vacation is food. Three meals a day, plus snacks and goodies in between (you are on vacation after all!) can add up quickly. The trick is to know when to save and when to splurge. For days in the parks, pack a meal and/or your own snacks. This method is definitely cheaper and probably healthier than buying all of your meals from restaurants in the parks. Light, non-refrigerated, and easy to transport foods like whole fruit, sandwiches, and granola bars are a few good options.
2. Sit down for lunch.
You can still enjoy the amazing Disney restaurants on a tight budget by being flexible with dining times. If you’re going to eat one sit down meal a day, choose lunch. It will be cheaper and will likely fill you up for most of the day. Bonus! In the hotter months, it’s nice to take a midday rest in an air-conditioned restaurant during the peak of the heat instead of in the evening when it’s often cooler and more comfortable to be outside. Be sure to plan your reservation around any stage shows that you want to see that operate during the day.
3. Make resort reservations by phone.
It may take a little bit longer than point and click online, but talking to a real live cast member could save you money by asking if there are any deals and specials offered at the time of your visit. During some seasons, Disney offers special discounts on things like the Disney Dining Plan and resort packages.
4. Get creative with gifts and souvenirs.
Instead of buying souvenirs for family and friends, take pictures with them in mind or send them postcards from Disney. Just purchase a postcard (usually about $1 or so individually, or can be purchased in a pack) and some stamps, then stop by Guest Relations located near the park entrance or at the Disney Springs Marketplace to have it mailed from Walt Disney World.
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5. Collect autographs instead of buying souvenirs.
DIY your own autograph book to collect signatures from all of your favorite characters! It’s cheaper than buying the ones in the parks, and you can personalize it however you want! Don’t forget to write your name and address in the front in case it gets lost. This could be a fun activity to do as a family as excitement builds for vacation time!
6. Don’t forget the essentials!
Make sure to bring items like painkillers, tissues, sunscreen, and sunglasses so you don’t end up spending your vacation budget on incidentals. These items can be purchased in the resorts and at the parks, but often for higher prices than you would pay at your local store.
7. Buy more, pay less for strollers and wheelchairs.
If renting strollers or wheelchairs at the park, buying the multi-day ticket will save you a few extra dollars. Be sure to keep the tickets for each day in a safe place. Hold on to the receipt and keep it separate from the tickets. If you lose your tickets but have the receipt, you can still use the days of rental you purchased.
8. Stay at a Value Resort
If you are debating between staying on or off property, consider staying at one of Disney’s value resorts. All-Star and Pop Century are great options with all of the benefits of staying at a Disney resort like transportation to the parks and Disney Springs as well as Extra Magic Hours, but with a lower price-tag than many of the other Disney resorts.
What are your best tight-budget tips for a Disney trip?