Let’s face it, Disney isn’t cheap. We love it. We give it all the money we can. But it’s incredibly expensive. That’s why saving money anywhere you can is a great idea! It’s always going to be a splurge. You’re never going to save your way into making it “cheap,” but it doesn’t have to break the bank either. We’ve come up with some of our best ways to save money on your next trip so that you can make incredible family memories without giving yourself an ulcer.
Buy Gift Cards
I cannot stress this enough. There are so many ways a gift card can help not only save you money but keep your budget on track too.
I buy my gift cards from Target using my RedCard. Not only do I save 5% on them, but I also get 1% cash back on top of that with My Circle. When you’re talking about the thousands of dollars a Disney trip costs, that adds up.in fact, I usually end up buying a few more gift cards for my trip with the cashback, which generally equates to a meal or a souvenir or two practically free.
There are other ways to save on gift cards, too. Warehouse clubs like Sams or Costco often have discounted Disney gift cards (though I still find Target to be the better deal).
Gift Cards can also save you from overspending. I never ever take a debit or credit card into the parks (and I don’t link one to my magic bad either). I love food. And merchandise. And balloons. And shiny things. I don’t know if I have the willpower to resist if I had unbridled access to all of my funds or not, but for the sake of my mortgage, I never plan to find out. My food and shopping money is entirely on a gift card. That way, when it’s spent, it’s spent. I can’t decide “oh, just a little more.” This keeps me on budget and not going home to declare bankruptcy.
Don’t buy bottled water
Bottled water is one of the highest margin items in the parks. You can get a 40 pack of bottled water from a store for what a single bottle will cost you at Magic Kingdom. Bring your water with you. Disney allows outside food and drink, so you can really save a lot. For those that want to save even further, Disney will give a free ice water cup at any quick service restaurant. Orlando water takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s really not so bad if it comes from a filtered soda machine.
Shop for souvenirs on the last day
I get it. There is so much stuff, and all of it is amazing. However, if you buy the first thing you see, you’ll be guaranteed to find something you love in the next shop. And the next. And the next. And…I get it. There’s a lot. Before you know it, you’ve bought hundreds of dollars of souvenirs. Or worse, you’ve spent your entire budget and then find the one item you can’t live without and now can’t buy—instead, window shop throughout the week. Most items can be found in multiple Mark’s at various locations (the exception to this would be EPCOT’s World Showcase), so you’re not going to miss out by not buying now. Then at the end of the week, look at your spending limit and decide what you loved the most and get only those items.
Travel in the “off-season”
While there isn’t really any time that’s low crowd anymore, certain times if the year is cheaper, January-March and September- November are usually the least expensive months. The weather is great as the summer heat has either not started yet, or it’s just beginning to slack off. Most importantly, however, you will save hundreds of dollars.
Book as soon as you decide to go, even if it’s a year away
It’s just an unfortunate fact that prices will only increase. That means rack rates will never be lower than when you decide to go. It really doesn’t make sense to wait on discounts either because Disney will allow you to retroactively apply any discounts that apply to your trip when they are released. Since the discounts are usually limited, it pays off to have your room already booked. Back when the free dining deal was a thing, I’d book my room months in advance during the time period it was usually active. That way, when the deal dropped, I only had to apply to my already booked room and didn’t have to try to fight for availability.
Book Character Breakfasts
If character dining is on your must-do list (and really it should be), try to book breakfast rather than lunch or dinner. Character dining is pricey, but breakfast is the cheapest meal of the day. You’ll save $10-25 per person by doing breakfast instead of dinner. With the exception of Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios, the characters are the same at all restaurants, no matter which meal you choose. A family of four could save up to $100 by choosing breakfast over lunch or dinner.
Every little bit counts when you’re at Walt Disney World. Combining these tips could save you a fair bit of money. After these savings, you’ll be ready to book your next trip!