9 Things That Can Break Your Budget at Walt Disney World

It is possible to visit Walt Disney World on a budget. It is also way too easy to overdo it once you arrive. You don’t want to end up with a ton of credit card debt when you return home. If that is something that you’re worried about, pay in cash or use prepaid debit cards to keep your spending under control. Here are nine budget breakers that you will want to avoid or plan carefully if you’re visiting Disney on a budget. These aren’t big ticket items like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or a fireworks cruise. They are instead things that could be part of any vacation budget.


9) Souvenirs for Those Back Home

As soon as your friends and family find out that you’re heading to Florida, they’re going to wonder what you will bring back for them. If you have a list of people who you intend to buy for, don’t purchase souvenirs in the parks. You can find great keepsakes with “Disney” and “Florida” on them in local department stores and gift shops, and you’ll pay a lot less.

8) Alcohol

Drinks at Walt Disney World can be costly. Before shelling out extra money for another drink, think about what you could spend that money on instead. Alcohol can also dehydrate you, which is something that you don’t want to happen under the hot Florida sun. An occasional drink if you’re of age is fine, but remember that costs will add up quickly.

7) Meals

Food at Walt Disney World can be expensive. Since Disney allows you to bring food into the parks, take advantage of it. Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and enjoy them for lunch. Split the meals that you do buy in the parks and save money that way. Order a burger or individual pizza without the side, you’ll be surprised by how much less you’ll pay since it’s not listed on the menu. Make an appetizer your meal. Skip dessert. You don’t want to be stuffed when hitting many of the rides, so cut back on how much you order and save some money.

6) Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan can either save you a lot of money or break your budget. With the basic plan, you will prepay for two counter service meals and one snack a day. It’s a great deal; if you’re going to use it. In order to qualify for the Disney Dining Plan you will need to stay at a Disney Resort, you have to buy it for the length of your stay, and everyone in your room has to be on the plan. If your trip is going to be all things Disney, it might make sense for you. If you’re planning on hitting some of the other Orlando area attractions, the Disney Dining Plan could kill your budget.

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5) T-shirts

No doubt about it, t-shirts make great souvenirs! They also make expensive souvenirs, especially when you buy them at Walt Disney World. Do not let t-shirts be an impulse buy. Limit the number of t-shirts that each member of your family will purchase. When you see a shirt that you like, take a picture and make a note of the shop and the price. Don’t buy any t-shirts until the end of the day or even better, the end of your trip. That way you’ll have the ones that you really want. You won’t end up with t-shirts that were great at first, but later aren’t quite as desirable because you saw something better.

4) Snacks

Snacks can cost both time and money. You don’t want to wait in a long line, and you don’t want to pay the premium price. Pack some snacks and bring them into the parks with you. Crackers, apples, granola bars, and similar items are healthy and easy to carry. The snacks will keep your family from being grumpy while waiting for the next meal, and you won’t have wasted part of your budget. Make an exception for special items, such as Mickey Ice Cream Bars. They don’t cost too much, and they should be part of any Walt Disney World vacation.

3) Soda/Water

Just like snacks and sandwiches, you can bring bottled water and soda into the parks. (No glass containers are allowed.) You might want to bring an empty bottle and keep filling it up at the many water fountains. You can also ask for a free cup of ice water at the quick service dining locations, even if you don’t order anything to eat. The heat, humidity, and walking can take a toll, but you don’t need to let the price of drinks take a toll on your budget.

2) Accommodations

Unless you have family or friends in Central Florida, where you stay will take up a large part of your vacation budget. For some people, staying on property is the way to go. They will save money by taking Disney’s Magical Express and buying the Disney Dining Plan. Other people decide that accommodations are just a place to sleep, and don’t mind staying at a discount hotel near the Main Gate. If it’s a large party, sometimes a vacation home makes the most sense. Whatever you prefer, shop around and ask for deals. Go to a discount travel website and play with the numbers. You might be surprised by how much money you can save.

1) Toys Found Elsewhere

One of the easiest ways to ruin your budget is to buy things that you don’t need. It is even worse when you buy toys and other items that you can find back home. Many Star Wars toys, plush animals, lighted toys, and other fun things are available back home for a lot less. If there is a toy that you really want to buy for your child and it’s only sold at Walt Disney World it’s one thing, but you don’t want to spend your vacation budget on something that is much cheaper back home.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.