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How to Save Money on a Disney Vacation

You might be able to save a few bucks by skipping the resort restaurants or bringing food into the park with you, but there are other ways as well! Here are som

1. Book your trip during the least expensive times

The first thing you can do to save money on your Disney vacation is book off-season. This means that you should pick a time when most people are not visiting the parks, which will mean lower crowds and lower prices. The best times to visit Disneyland in California are from January through March or from September through November; likewise, you'll find much cheaper travel costs during these months if you're traveling to Florida's Walt Disney World Resort. Other ways that you can save money on your trip include booking during slower periods like weekdays or first few weeks of the year (weekends tend to be more expensive), booking at least two weeks in advance (this will help ensure availability), and booking directly with Disney rather than through an online 3rd party reseller such as Expedia or Orbitz (which sometimes charge additional fees).

2. Rethink where you're staying

  • Rethink where you're staying

A hotel room is the most expensive option for your vacation, so finding one that's cheaper and closer to your destination is crucial. There are many options for saving money on a Disney trip:

  • Renting a house instead of a hotel can save you up to 50% off the cost of your trip.
  • If renting from an owner, look at Craigslist or VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) websites and check reviews before making any agreements.
  • If renting from an agency, consider all options before booking a place—some might be close enough to walk or take public transportation rather than drive every day

3. Skip the resort restaurants

If you're staying at one of the Disney resorts, you'll probably be tempted to eat at the resort restaurants. They are expensive and don't have great options for dinner or breakfast. The best thing to do is ask your friends or family if they want to go out for dinner after you check into your hotel. Then treat them with dinner on your way back from the parks (or even before) so that they can buy their own snacks and drinks in the park. If they want dessert, take them somewhere else in town where they won't have wait 30 minutes just to get a table and then another 30 minutes for their food—but if it's not too late!

4. Bring your own food and drinks into the park

Disney World allows you to bring food and drinks into the park, but there are some rules. You cannot bring in any food or drink that requires cooking or refrigeration. You can't bring in alcohol either, but don't worry—there are plenty of places to get your fix without breaking the bank. If you're concerned about getting thirsty while waiting for a character meet-and-greet or on your way back from Space Mountain, consider bringing a small water bottle with you. It's also smart to keep a supply of sunscreen with you at all times!

On top of that, if it's hot out (and we know it will be), remember not to leave anything out in the sun for too long: Don't forget about what could happen when temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit!

5. Avoid splurging on souvenirs

  • If you can't help yourself, try to resist the urge to buy souvenirs until the very end of your trip. The more time you spend in Disneyland or Disney World, the more likely you are to buy something while on an adrenaline high and forget about how much money it all costs at checkout.
  • Try to avoid buying souvenirs when other members of your family are urging you toward their favorite store—it's tough not to cave into peer pressure when everyone around seems so happy with what they've found!

6. Be picky about fast passes

Fast passes are a great way to avoid long wait times, but you have to be picky about where you use them.

  • Fast passes are not for shows (like Fantasmic!), parades (like Festival of Fantasy), character meet and greets, or restaurants. They're only for rides.
  • So when do you not use fast passes? If there's something really popular going on in the park (like the fireworks show Wishes), or if it's raining and you don't want to wait in line for attractions that have covered waiting areas like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Space Mountain, keep your fast pass handy just in case the weather clears up!

7. Skip the Disney character meals

The Disney character meals are great for families with young children, but you can save money and still meet the characters.

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  • If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel and have access to the parks before they open to guests, you can get your photo taken with them while they are getting ready for their day. This is a great way to meet your favorite characters without paying $50-100 per family member at a restaurant. Plus, this option usually has shorter lines than when waiting in line after breakfast or lunch rushes.
  • If your child isn’t ready to say goodbye to their favorite characters yet, they will be able to see them again later in the park or on an attraction like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Toy Story Mania! You could also wait until your next trip when children might have grown out of their obsession with a certain character (I promise it happens).

8. Skip the water parks (they're not included in your basic ticket)

If you have a trip to Walt Disney World planned, you'll want to make sure you don't miss out on the water parks. But one thing that can be confusing is that they're not included with your basic ticket. You'll need to purchase an additional ticket for each person in your party if you want access to these areas.

However, there are several reasons why skipping these attractions might be worth it:

  • They're expensive! The cost of the regular tickets for Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon alone will add up quickly when you consider how many days of fun they provide at other locations on property. So it's definitely worth considering whether or not this is something that's worth spending extra money on;
  • They're not as crowded! While both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are busy during peak seasons (especially early mornings), they don't get quite as packed as other parks like Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom do during those times;
  • They aren't clean! While I'm sure that the staff at each location does their best job keeping things tidy when possible, sometimes accidents happen - especially when thousands of people visit each day;
  • They're not safe! In addition to being overcrowded and dirty (see above), these locations also present risks such as drowning hazards due to high waves/swirling currents during summer months;

Therefore: Skip Water Parks When Possible! There are plenty more things within reach whose prices won't break your budget quite so hard."

9. Look for discounts on tickets and extras

  • Discounts on tickets and extras are available on the Disney website.
  • Discounts on tickets and extras are available at third party sites, like Undercover Tourist, who offer discounts for hotel stays as well.
  • Discounts on tickets and extras are even sometimes offered by social media accounts like @DisneylandHappenings!

Save money while having fun at Disney Parks!

When planning a Disney vacation, it's easy to get swept up in the excitement of planning your trip. But while there are many ways to save money during your stay at Disney Parks, don't forget that some of the best savings are found outside the park gates.

  • Booking the right time: Disney is known for its high prices, which can sometimes be more than $200 per night at an off-site hotel and $100+ per person for food inside park gates. However, if you are willing to stay off-site or bring your own food into parks—or both—you can reduce those costs significantly.
  • Bringing snacks: For example, if you have kids who love Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and popcorn as much as I do (well... maybe not quite), then consider taking snacks with you from home rather than buying them from vendors inside parks or buying overpriced versions from kiosks around town.


We hope that you’re ready to plan your next trip to Disney! The biggest takeaway from this article should be that there are many ways to save money. From choosing the best time of year to visit and getting great discounts on tickets, food, souvenirs and more; it’s all about being smart about how much you spend at Disney Parks. Good luck!


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Shanon Sandquist

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