While Walt Disney World is often associated with being extremely expensive, it doesn’t have to be that way. Aside from the obvious, such as choosing a resort within your price range, and checking for airfare until a good deal comes up, here are 7 more ways to do Disney on a budget:
7. Pay off your vacation weekly, instead of all at once, or by using a credit card.
If you book a vacation package through Disney, you have the ability to put some money down to book the trip, and make payments in the time prior to your arrival. If you can easily pay x amount per week, rather than charging a vacation or paying for it all up front, this can save you money in the long run. Even if you do still end up spending the same amount of money, having the cost of the trip spread out won’t have you breaking the bank all at once.
6. Take advantage of gift cards.
Similarly to paying off your trip weekly, I often find it helpful to put a certain amount of money on a Disney gift card per week, that way you have this money saved for when you are there. If you put money on a Disney gift card, you can use it for shopping and dining, or you can use your Magic Band to charge these items, and then use the gift card to pay off the bill when you check out of your resort. Gift cards are also a great way to control souvenir shopping for kids—tell them they have x amount on a gift card, so they can still choose what they want to buy, but they’ll understand in advance that there is a limit and they need to choose carefully.
5. Know what discounts you’re eligible for.
If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, annual passholder, or using a Disney Visa card (on a purchase of $50 or more usually for the VISA) you get 10% off your purchase at all Disney merchandise locations. Just make sure that you have the correct cards and photo IDs ready at the cash register. Occasionally, Disney holds merchandise promotions in the form of coupons at the bottom of receipts from quick service restaurants. These coupons generally entitle you to 20% off a purchase made between park opening and 1:00 PM, and apply to specific stores.
4. Purchase the dining plan (if it’s right for you.)
Whether or not the dining plan is right for your family depends on how much you’re going to eat and which restaurants you’ll want to be eating at. Look at menus online and compare the cost of what you’d be spending out of pocket to what the dining plan costs, to determine which is a better value for you.
3. If you don’t get the dining plan, share meals & eat at more reasonably priced locations.
Without the dining plan, there are still plenty of options for affordable food at Walt Disney World. Consider how much food you’ll actually be able to eat, keeping in mind that in most cases you will not be bringing home leftovers. Following from this, I find that two adults can often share one meal at a quick service location. Also do some research and check for table service restaurants that are on the more affordable end of Disney dining. My favorites include the Sci-Fi Dine in Theater, the Plaza Restaurant, and the Grand Floridian Café.
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2. Bring your own snacks.
If you’re worried about snacks adding up on your vacation, plan on bringing some of your own. You are more than welcome to bring your own food into the parks. If you have your heart set on some Disney food, those gift cards you’ve saved up will come in handy, so any extra food will essentially already be paid for.
1. Never pay for water.
So many Disney guests complain about the number of water bottles they purchase each day and how quickly they add up. Water can be free though, so there is really no need to pay almost $3/bottle for it. Go to the counter of any quick service restaurant and ask for a cup of water instead of buying bottles. The water at these locations is filtered and typically comes from the soda machine. You can always bring a MiO or Crystal light squeeze bottle too to flavor your water.