4 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Disney World Vacation

A Disney trip will cost big money no matter what you do, but there are ways to save money without sacrificing any fun.

Before you start planning a Disney World vacation, you need to understand that there’s no such thing as a cheap way to visit the Walt Disney DIS theme parks. Just getting into a single park for a single day costs between $109 and $159 based on the company’s variable pricing system where admission costs more during times when demand is higher. 

Prices do go down when you book a longer stay. A 5-day visit, buying single-park tickets with Sept, 14 (a Wednesday) being the first day of the trip would cost $456.36 per ticket. Add in Genie+, which is essentially required to have an enjoyable Disney World visit and you are looking at any extra $75 per person ($15 extra a day). That pushes the cost for a family of four on a four-day visit over $2,000.

That $2,000 does not buy you a place to stay, a single bite of food, or anyhting else. It simply gets you in the door and gets you faster access to certain rides through Genie+. But, while there’s nothing you can about the price of admission (and be incredibly wary of anyplace offering “discount” Disney World tickets), 

 And while there’s no way to make a Disney World vacation cheap, there are some ways to save money without sacrificing a good time.

1. Stay Off Disney Property 

While it seems blasphemous to Disney diehards to stay off property, you get a lot more bang for your buck staying at a non-Disney resort. Yes, you give up extra early morning access, which is a nice perk of staying in a Disney-owned or Disney partner hotel, but you pay a much lower price, often for a nicer/larger room (and you don’t have to get up super early).

Look for hotels that offer a shuttle to the parks because once you’re on Disney grounds you have access to the company’s transportation system (but you want to be able to get there without paying to park or paying for rideshare.

2. Eat Dinner Outside Disney’s Theme Parks

You can’t spend an entire day at any Disney World theme park without eating, but it makes more sense to have a hotel breakfast (which many hotels include) and then eat lunch and snacks at the theme parks. Even at Epcot — a park largely built around eating and drinking — you can get a good taste of the offerings at a much lower price by avoiding dinner.

And while Disney World’s theme parks do have a few special restaurants, you can generally find better or at least equal dining opportunities off property, Orlando is literally packed with every chain restaurant known to man, but it also has local options and even some affordable hidden gems.

3. Skip the Disney Souvenirs 

You can buy your kids a stuffed animal, a T-shirt or Mickey Mouse ears at all sorts of places all over Orlando for much less than you will pay in the park. There’s nothing special about most of the items sold in the Disney World parks and while there are a few exclusives, do you really need a T-shirt with Figment the dragon celebrating Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival?

4. Plan Your Trip Wisely

The ticket prices shared above are for September, a month when kids have just gone back to school and colleges are in session. It’s a month where Disney’s core audience isn’t available so tickets fall on the low end of the variable pricing model.

Any time kids are free to go to Disney World tickets will cost more. That includes much of the summer and pretty much the entire school year because it’s always school vacation somewhere. Any actual holiday will, of course, cost the most so your best prices will generally be when you would have to take your kids out of school to go.

If that’s not possible, look at late August and perhaps early June which can be sort of a split period where part of the country is in school and part isn’t. Of course, leaving the kids at home would be a cheaper option and give you more flexibility, but that may be a savings tip too far for many families.

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