Powered by Mom’s Travel Tips – Going to Disney on a Budget
Simple ways to save for your family vacation – Disney on a Budget
Whether it’s a trip to Disney World or Disney Land it can get super expensive. Especially for a family of 4-6 people. I know people that have spent almost $10,000 dollars on a Disney vacation. That is easy to do if you go for every bell and whistle there is. But if you are like me and strive to keep a budget and don’t have that much money lying around, there are ways to do Disney on a budget.
The biggest tip I can give is to start a basic plan that includes your budget. Then you need to figure out what things you must have and what things you can do without. Once you have that finished you can start figuring out how to do your must-haves cheaper. There are all kinds of money saving tips for Disney and I have listed some of the best. If you take your time, research, and save you can have the Disney trip of your dreams without going broke.
Don’t Pay Full Price For Tickets
If you are a member of AAA or another travel site, you could get a member discount on tickets. Have someone in the family that is retired or active? Disney offers special pricing for active and former members of the military. Also, some big companies, unions, and government agencies offer special rates for tickets. It may take a bit of research but you may find the tickets for a cheaper price.
Skip the Park Hopper
This is a big money saver that will help you do Disney on a budget and still have a ton of fun. Yes, it is really nice to hop around to the different parks, but it also eats up a lot of time. You can save time and money by spending the full day in one park. Plan which park you want to go to each day and then only buy tickets for that day. It will save you a bundle because the Park Hopper is a very expensive upgrade.
Choose A Value Resort Or Stay Off Site
Visiting Disney on a budget means you need to look at your hotel choices. The value resorts offer great perks such as early admission and free bus rides to the park. If you stay off site you won’t have those perks. But, if your budget is really tight and you don’t mind renting a car, plus paying for parking, then staying off site may be the best bet. You can also stay at a Disney Springs Resort, many of which offer free shuttles and other perks. We stayed at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Disney Springs, it was a fabulous choice, we used their free shuttles and went to the Disney character breakfast at the resort. You can read our review of this resort HERE.
We enjoyed the water park area at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Disney Springs. This was during the summer and it wasn’t crazy busy. If you’re taking a day or afternoon off from the parks it’s a great time to enjoy the hotel while everyone else are enjoying the parks.
Skip The Dining Plan and Share Meals
While the dining plan sounds like a great value, it can add quite a bit to your total. You do get a lot of food but there are ways to eat well without breaking the bank. Disney does allow meals to be shared. The meals at Disney are large on portions so you could easily split a meal with your spouse or your child. Another great way to save money is skip the character dining and just dine at the quick service restaurants. They offer great food that is cheaper. If you really want to stretch your dollar, eat one meal in the park (lunch is the cheapest) and eat the rest of your meals outside the park. Orlando has some great restaurants and you can feed a family of four way cheaper at Applebee’s than Le Cellier.
Bring Your Own Souvenirs
Disney upsells their merchandise in the park. If you must have souvenirs for the kids, buy them before you go. A lot of times you can great items on clearance at the Disney Store. The Dollar Store, Target, and Walmart have great Disney character items that are a lot cheaper. Each day as you leave the room set one out on the pillow. Then when your child wants something from the park just say “Mickey left you a surprise in the room!” This is a big one for us when doing Disney on a budget, it saves us tons. I always mention it and for other fabulous tips like this you can check out our Disneyland Family Vacation Tips where we mention this and other tips.
The Disney shirts that my daughter and I are wearing below were purchased before our trip at a fraction of the cost. We can get a few extra goodies when we buy these types of souvenirs before we go because we get them for a much better price. My daughter is always thrilled because she’s getting a ton of Disney items and I’m happy because it doesn’t break my budget.
Take Advantage of Gift Cards
When you are saving money it is hard not to dip into it. You start with “Well, I will just borrow from it” and then before you know it, it’s gone. It doesn’t happen to everyone but for those of us that it does happen to, there is a solution. Disney Gift Cards. When you have money for your trip, put it on a gift card. That way it is there and you can’t use it. Also, it is a great way to pay for all of those extras in Disney without using your bank card or cash.
If you are taking the kids consider asking family members, etc. for gift cards for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. This will decrease the clutter in your house and also give them some spending money for the parks. Just beware, once it is on the card you can’t get it back. If you use the gift cards to pay for things for the trip, keep them because if for some reason you have to cancel the money goes back on the gift card.
Skip A Day In The Park
If you are staying 5 days or more you are going to get tired of going to the parks. All that walking, the sun, and the heat are going to get to you. The best thing to do is skip the parks one day. If you are staying a resort relax by the pool or take advantage of one of the free activities happening. If you want to keep “doing Disney” take a trip to Disney Springs. You can shop, take advantage of the free entertainment, and have a pretty good meal that is not terribly expensive. It will ease your budget and also give you a break from the crowds.
There’s so much to see in Disney Springs, check out our photo album of all the sights we managed to check out while we were there. GO HERE. We not only saw this balloon from our hotel room at Disney Springs but went for a closer look.
Save on Memory Maker
I highly encourage anyone that visits Disney to purchase the Memory Maker. It is the best way to capture memories of your trip. If you’re doing Disney on a budget you’ll have to decide if you’d rather lug your camera around or utilize the Memory Maker. Photographers are everywhere and you can get some really great professional shots. It can be expensive though. So always check the Disney vacation website. Sometimes they have great deals on the Memory Maker. The best part? If you are like me, when you are on vacation you are always behind the camera. With the Memory Maker you will be in all the pictures!
Bonus Tip– You can’t bring a cooler into the park but you can bring a backpack full of snacks and drinks. If you are an Amazon prime member have water, small snacks, fruit juice pouches, etc. delivered to your resort. They will be there when you arrive and you will save a bundle when you get hungry!
Make sure to also check out our 5 Dining Secrets at Disney – Disney Dining Plan travel article.
87 thoughts on “Going to Disney on a Budget”
We are planning for our first Disney trip this year. Thanks for sharing all useful tips.
Thank you for the tips. My grandkids will be big enough until I save for the trip.
My niece is saving money for a Disney trip her daughter is almost 2 and she figures she can pay for the trip in another year.
“When you have money for your trip, put it on a gift card.” — Passing this one on to her
I would love to take my kids to Disneyland. I am saving for our trip. Thanks for sharing all great tips.
Thanks for the tips
Those are all great tips and we’ve definitely used them all. I’m going to check out your review of Wyndham Lake Buena Vista at Disney Springs!
I would love to go to Disney, I will read more of this blog review, great information because I’m definitely on a budget.
Thanks for all of these tips. My family has been meaning to go to Disney for quite some time now. Will have to show this to my husband!
Great tips. I am older and I cant believe the entrance fees. I mean they are crazy high! I know AA, AARP and some others do give discounts on thet. I think I would for sure stay off site and see the attractions around there .
Those are some solidly good tips on saving money at Disney. It can be super expensive with adults and children’s entrance fees. Then, add on how expensive the drinks and foods are and you’ve spent a fortune. I will definitely remember these tips for my next trip there.
I need all the tips I can get! Thank you!
So happy to see this information since we are going next month! Thank you!
Love the tips. I love going to Disney and love that we can discover ways to make the tip cheaper.. (ie CAA Discounts).. etc.
That’s what I thought as all when we thought about going to Disney world. But we went last September with 5000$ and we got a meal plan and enjoyed it
These are great tips, I had no idea about a lot of these. Thank you so much for sharing! I used to live in Orlando so I still have a lot of friends there, I am hoping one of them will be able to help me out with some tickets. I still haven’t had the chance to take my three littles there yet! 🙂
I love these tips for saving money it can get really costly to go to Disney our last trip was so expensive have not been in almost 5 years
We do all of these except for the Memory Maker, but my husband’s a big photographer!
Maybe someday my family will be able to afford a Disney trip. Thanks for the tips!
These are some great tips ,for visiting an awesome place.
Thank you for the tips! I have always wanted to go and with some money saving help, maybe I finally can! Thank you!
Aww, I never thought about AAA and I have a card also! Thanks so much for sharing!
Great tips to save thanks for sharing these.
There are some good tips here. I didn’t know you can save on Memory Maker.
I will bookmark this to show to my sister.
These are some good tips.
Thank you for the tips. We hope to take the grandkids to Disney sometime. I know they would love it. We took our kids when they were little.
I want to take my Grandkids next year, thanks for your tips. It seems to go up every year. I’ve never been and I want them to be able to go also. I’m so excited.
Skipping the park hopper ticket is such an excellent tip! I have an annual pass and I don’t even like going from park to park in one day. If you are taking Disney transportation (which is great!) you sometimes have to wait 10-15 minutes for a bus. If you are driving yourself, you still have to get back to your car, drive to another park, get parked (and since you are visiting a second park later in the day you will more than likely be parked further away), and still make it back up to the gates, which is still going to cost you at least 20-30 minutes of time. Your time is valuable, spend as much as you can in the park!
Great read and tips to make for a great trip! Thanks again!
I love going to Disney but it can be so expensive. I did not realize you could do this with Amazon. What a great idea. Thank you for these great tips
Disney is expensive, and all ideas to help make it cheaper are wonderful. Your thoughts on the hopper are interesting. I really like your ideas about skipping eating at the park and bringing in your own snacks. Also, what a fun, creative idea to bring your own souvenirs. “A surprise in the room”…that’s great!
Thanks for the tips. Going to disney with three kids can cost so much so any deals or savings help so much!
I’ll usually bring my lunch into the parks
I love Disney and people who think they have to spend a fortune just has not traveled with me. Like you we plan ahead. I also found when my kids were small to do the outlet area for Disney toys or yard sales before we even went. That way we pull out a cool toy at the park and they remember getting it there.
Great info. This will be useful for when I take my kids.
I knew about AAA discount but all the other tips are pure genius. Really creative about pre-purchase souvenirs and leaving on pillow for kids to “find”.
Great tips! We never did park hopper tickets when I went as a kid. It just eats up time and money.
Thank you for the tips. I can’t wait t take my children to Disneyland
Thanks for sharing! I have always wanted to go to Disney!
These are great tips! If you are buying your meals, it may benefit you to get the Tables in Wonderland Card. Its definitely something to check into! We love Disney, but it is SO expensive.
Love the advice!! I would have never thought of bringing my own souvenirs for the kiddos!!! Definitely will be looking into the Memory Maker option!!!
I love all of these tips. They can help me a lot on my trip
these are all great tips. I am hoping to afford the trip in the next few years
Every year Disney gets more and more expensive and everyone is always looking to save money while there! I love your tip about buying shirts ahead of time. We have always done this and it helps the kids from asking for more junk while we are at the park!
My family loves Disney World and one of the best trips we had was staying in the campgrounds with our camper!
I really like these savings tips. I would love to take my family to Disney one day.
Leaving things for your kid to find in the room is a good idea. I’ll have to try that! Thanks!
I agree, great idea!
I can’t wait to take my family there!
Great tips. I’ve been wanting to go to Disney for years so I will probably use some of these tips.
I appreciate your help with Disney really can get expensive
Disney can be so much fun! Making a budget plan is a great, realistic way to travel and have fun.
A good memory is what Disney is for me. Free because a relative worked there. So always lots of passes back in the day. Great place. Great tips :o)
great tips we have been thinking about taking the oldest to disney either this year or next
Smart money saving tips. I’m going to take the Grandkids next year. I’m thinking about adding a backpack to your list and a small thermal pouch for sandwiches. Then there will be no meals bought at the park. I 100% agree with taking a day off to just chill. It’s exhausting to spend all day at a park, let alone days in a row. Thank you for the great advice!! I appreciate it.
Great tips and advice!
Great tips! I’ve heard about people saving more money by taking an Instant Pot along and cooking their own meals in their hotel rooms.
I would love to take my kids there one day
We went to Disneyland, found out how high it was and left :/ For some their budgets will not allow this no matter how frugal you are. I would if I went use discounts and take our own food.
Good advice, it is o hard to plan right to not go there and blow all of your money. It’s worse than Vegas, really.
Great tips, we never buy souvenirs as they are so overpriced. We always try to save money buy staying in less expensive hotels. We don’t spend much time there anyway.
so many great idea here BUT have to say this one is the smartest…….. hen when your child wants something from the park just say “Mickey left you a surprise in the room!” …. I am going to steal and other ideas/suggestions
Disney is so much fun
such great tips, thank you! I hope to be able to take my kids to Disney one day!
Thanks for the tips! I love saving money!
Great tips! Even if you have lots of money…why not save it?
When we went to a convention in Aanaheim in 1984, a local recommended a couple of very inexpensive motels, the Magic Lamp and the Magic Castle, which were next door to the convention center and right acrossnthenstreet from Disneyland. I wonder if they’re still there?
What a great article. I loved the tips.
Going to Disney with your family is becoming very expensive. These are great tips!
Disney Springs sounds and looks nice. We’ve never been there before. We also choose to open a Disney credit card with came with a disney gift card we could use at the park. That was a great way to our spend food/souvenirs.
Thanks for the great tips. I didn’t know you could save with being an AAA member.
I really liked Disney World went there once for my Cousins wedding, but everything was so expensive even at the hotel we stayed in. Thanks for sharing these tips.
Perfect timing…planning a trip
It’s been years since we last went to Disneyworld. I was shocked just how expensive our trip ended up costing. You have some great ideas.
I highly recommend reading these tips if you plan on visiting Disney. I have never been there, but friends have and said it can get quite expensive.
This is a very nice option other thatn going on that purposely high budget. I appreciate the tips and pointers on staying on some sort of budget, although it is hard to do so when everything runs so high in the first place.
We just went to Disney a couple of weeks ago. Had a complete blast! Took tons of pics but we are planning on purchasing some from the Memory Maker, a few of those were really good and/or downright hilarious!
Great tips!!! Thanks for sharing!
This is such a helpful post that I am going to share with my children because they try to go every few years and they need to do it on a budget. My grandchildren all love going to Disneyland, haven’t gotten to Disneyworld yet.
Love Disney and so many great tips to save money!
Thank you for the tips. Disney only seems to get more expensive every year so this helps.
Lots of great advice. Our family has been very spoiled over the years…living just 20 minutes away from Disneyland. We used to have annual passes. Sadly, it has gotten waaaayyy too expensive to have passes now for our family of 5. Even when we did…we would often take our own food for lunch and eat in the designated picnic area just outside the park. It was always hard going on Star Tours and then exiting out thru the Star Wars store when our boys were Star Wars fanatics! We had to remind them….”Those are much cheaper at Target!”
We used most of your tips when we took the kids to Disney. It was a huge help!
Thanks for sharing that Lynne that’s awesome to hear 🙂
I just became a AAA member and will defiantly look into Disney discounts in the near future. I have vacationed in Florida twice and never had a chance to see Disneyworld. Next vacation I will make Disneyworld my first priority!
I didn’t realize they had large portions at places like that. I think they’re normal sized for most people, but it is a good idea to be careful with your money at Disneyworld
I never thought about programs like AAA having a discount. This is very good information.