7 Tips to Help You Save Money at Disney World
Looking for ways to save money at Disney World? Look no further!
Many families have to save up for years to be able to fund a Disney vacation. What many people are surprised by when they make it to Disney is how much MORE money you might end up spending once you’re there.
Let’s face it, Disney is designed to make you want to spend all of your money. However, there is a way to have a magical time without draining your bank account.
7 Tips to Help You Do Disney World on a Budget
1. Be Selective About Meals
When it comes to doing Disney World on a budget, your biggest expenses (outside of tickets and lodging) can easily become food and drink. With prices in most places within the park charging $10 and up per person, the costs can add up quickly. I recommend a few measures to save money on food while at Disney World.
First of all, I would definitely eat breakfast before you head out for the day. Whether you make your own breakfast or take advantage of continental breakfast at your hotel, it’s better than paying the high prices for the breakfast options at the park. If you are staying somewhere that has a kitchen, that’s even better. Pick up some groceries and cook a nice, hearty meal that will keep your family full for a few hours.
Secondly, I would be sure to pack some food to take with you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they won’t allow you to bring your own food with you. Pack some sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and plenty of bottled water in a small cooler and you should be good to go. If you take a break back at your room during the day, I would consider using that time to prep your dinner or to refill your cooler for the rest of the day.
If you do decide that you want to try some of the meals at Disney, you won’t be disappointed by the options. They have some wonderful restaurants and snacks. The main thing is just being a bit strategic about where you eat and how much you spend.
Fortunately, AllEars.Net has done the footwork for you. They have a long list of current menus from just about every eating establishment at Disney – with the prices. Spend some time browsing to see what you want to try and choose the options that fit your budget.
Another quick food tip: If your kids are super excited about having a meal with one of the Disney characters, your best bet is to plan to do one for breakfast or lunch. The dinner prices can be twice as high!
2. Check Your Receipts
Whenever you buy something at Disney World, make sure you check the receipt carefully. Some receipts from park restaurants will include discounts that you can use at other Disney retailers. You can use those discounts to buy things that you already planned on buying or that were originally out of your price range. Be sure to check right away, though because sometimes you have to use them that same day.
3. Use the Disney Shuttle
If you decide to save money by staying at a hotel outside of the park, check at your hotel’s front desk to find out if there is a free shuttle that goes back and forth to Disney throughout the day.
A lot of families use these shuttles instead of driving to the park each day. With parking fees starting at $20, it’s a smart decision! Check out these hotels near Disney World with shuttles to the parks.
4. Use Disney’s Free Wifi
More than likely, while you’re at Disney World you’re going to want to share pictures and videos with your friends and family. Instead of dealing with roaming charges or using up all of your data, take advantage of Disney World’s free WiFi network, Disney Guest. That way, you don’t have to worry about being hit with a larger-than-usual cell phone bill after your vacation.
To connect, simply use your device to connect to the network and the accept the terms and conditions. It may not be the fastest connection ever, but it’s free and will get the job done.
5. Create Your Own Autograph Book
Part of the magic of Disney for kids is meeting all of the characters. You can even get their autographs. Collecting autographs from all of your kids’ favorite character can be a really fun activity. Disney even sells autograph books that range from $7.95 to $30.
Rather than springing for this, create your own autograph book. It can be as simple as buying a photo album, a cute notebook, or a scrapbook. Then you can fill it with pictures of your family’s time at the park, including any pictures you take with the characters.
Ask the characters to sign the pages they’re on (or handy little index cards) and you have the perfect keepsake to remember your Disney vacation. Each family member could even have their own! My daughter had her favorite Disney Princess, Rapunzel, sign her t-shirt! Note that you can’t be WEARING the t-shirt while the character signs it!
6. Make a Budget and Stick to It
As you can imagine, there are tons of things at Disney World that will have you thinking “shut up and take my money!”. However, if you are like most people, you don’t have an endless supply of money at your disposal. The fact that you’re even reading this article shows that you want to save money while still having a great vacation.
A big part of that is making sure you stick to a budget. Sticking to a budget when it comes to planning your vacation is one thing. Sticking to it when you are there, in the thick of family-friendly temptation may be an entirely different story.
Before you head to Disney, sit down with your family and make a financial plan. Decide ahead of time how much money you choose to spend on food, drinks, souvenirs, and extras. You can even go the extra step of breaking this amount down per day and even per person.
One brilliant idea that I have seen others do is to give each person in your family a Disney gift card and tell them that that is all of the money they have to buy souvenirs and snacks. Once that money is gone, that’s it. The goal is to set aside a specific amount of money to spend at Disney and to not go over that amount. If you run out of money before your vacation is over, feel free to stop a Disney employee and ask for ideas on free things you can do to pass the time. That’s what they’re there for – to make sure your family has a magical experience.
7. Visit the Resorts
Even if you’re not staying at one of the Disney World Resorts, they are still very much worth a visit. You can use free Disney World transportation to get to all 8 resorts.
At the resorts, your family can engage in fun activities. For example, you can:
- Visit the big arcade at the Contemporary Resort
- Visit Lilo’s Playhouse or take hula dancing lessons at the Polynesian Resort
- Dance with Cinderella and Prince Charming at the Grand Floridian Resort
- Roast marshmallows with Chip and Dale at Fort Wilderness Resort
- Participate in a Disney Trivia Scavenger Hunt at the Epcot-area resorts
- Catch a magic show at the Boardwalk Inn Resort
- Listen to African storytelling at the Animal Kingdom Lodge; and
- Enjoy a movie under the stars at the Port Orleans Resorts
The resorts are honestly really fun! In fact, many families spend days resort-hopping.
These are just a few tips that can help you save money at Disney World and make the most out of your family vacation. You can definitely have a magical time at Disney World without going broke!
Have you managed to do Disney World on a budget? If so, let us know in the comments what your top tip is for saving big at Disney World!
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