blog, money saving tips

Saving for the Mouse.

Almost everyone who asks me about Disney trips wants to know how to save money. I’ve been fortunate through the years to stay at Disney World many times and also on many different budgets. Disney ain’t cheap but it’s totally doable on a budget and with all the new announcements at Disney, now is the time to book and trip and start saving.

In my experience, the biggest expenses for a Disney World vacation are likely to be a hotel, park tickets, and food. Transportation might also be a bit expensive depending on where you live.

For Hotel savings:

  1. Rent Vacation club points.
    • If you want to stay in a Deluxe Level Disney Hotel for Moderate Level prices you can rent DVC points. There are many websites out there and I recommend doing a google search but I’ve used DVC request before with no problems. I’ve also heard amazing things about DVC-Rental.com
  2. Stay off property.
    • I love staying on property, however, it can be huge savings for families over 6 who might otherwise need 2 rooms.
    • When staying off property keep in mind, parking every day at Disney World can range from $22-$50 a day depending on your car type. Make sure to add this fee to your off property daily rates.
  3. Hotel hop.
    • Split your stay, especially if you are getting in really late on your first day. Opt for a few nights off property or a value level Disney hotel for a few nights. When changing hotels, Disney World will even move your luggage, free of charge.
  4. Call Disney World for updated promos.
    • If you see a recent promo at Disney, make sure to call and see if you are eligible for the reduced rate. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask right?
Family suites Art of Animation, value level hotel.
A table that converts to a bed, Art of Animation Family Suite.

Theme park tickets savings, is it possible? 

In the 33 years, I’ve been going to Disney, Disney World has not frequently offered steep discounts on theme park tickets. If you are a Florida resident be sure to log in to your Disney World account to view annual pass discounts and payment plans.

  1. Check with your employer. 
    • It may be the case that your company may have a national discount program offering savings on theme park tickets.
  2.  Wait to add park hopper.
    • Rather than adding park hopping at the time you purchase your tickets, I recommend waiting as it can save you around $80 per person. Remember, you can always add more days and park hopping to your tickets once you are at Disney.

Transportation Savings:

  1. If flying, use mobile apps like “Hopper” to help you look for the best prices.
    • Hopper will also let you know if you should “wait” for lower fares. Because I’ve personally had a lot of success using Hopper to know when to book I highly recommend this app. Please note, Southwest fares are not included on Hopper, make sure to check Southwest airlines separately.
    • If you are traveling with your family, pay to check in only one large bag.
  2. Utilize Google Flights when searching for flights
    • Google flights is an amazing resource for flights. You can set up alerts, check the lowest cost days for travel and see what airlines are the cheapest. Be cautious of restricted fare flights, as most do not allow for changes, carry on luggage or seat assignments.

Food Tips:

  1. Kids Meals for everyone! 
    • This is my biggest savings tip for food at Disney. Keep in mind, you can order kids meals for everyone, even adults. Always ask about sides because most kids meals come with 2 sides, that you can choose. Please note, you can’t order kids meals for adults at table service restaurants.
  2. Refillable Mugs
    • Do you have a refillable mug from last trip or even just a nice travel mug from home? When staying at a Disney hotel, filtered water and ice are always free (iced tea, coffee, and hot chocolate also do not have the sensor mechanisms).
    • Not a soda drinker? Buy one coffee/tea cup and rinse and reuse your entire trip. I actually had a cast member offer this suggestion on my last trip.
    • Furthermore, as a family, we share one refillable mug with soda on our trips. We use our hydro flask to fill up with ice water. Don’t ever pay for a bottle of water at the parks, people! Ice water is FREE at every quick service/restaurant.
  3. Bring your own snacks 
    • We bring nuts, chips, cookies, fruit, crackers etc. Disney will allow you to bring in food and drinks, just no glass bottles and alcohol. But don’t forget to budget for some of your favorite Mickey-shaped treats!

Overall savings recommendations:

  1. Gift Cards
    • If you didn’t already know, you can get 5% off Disney gift cards at Target, with your Target red card. You can get Disney gift cards and pay for your entire vacation, which we’ve done. We used our savings on this for our souvenirs! It’s like getting free Disney merch!
    • I believe Sam’s Club also offers a discount on Disney gift cards although I haven’t personally tried, yet.
  2. Daily Budget
    • I love Magic Bands and using them for purchases is super fun and easy, but as a result, I can spend more than I planned. I set a budget of, say $100 a day for food and incidentals. You can use your target gift cards and bring only that $100 for the day. Finally, anything left over we save for a super special souvenir or experience.

I hope this helped y’all out. Do you have any suggestions or tips? Leave a comment below. Keep it Magical, Y’all.

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