50 Tips for Doing Disney on a Budget

50 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget 

disney on a budget 2017

A trip to Walt Disney World is a dream come true for most people.  The challenge is finding tips and tricks that are going to actually save you money and help you go to Disney on a budget.   Luckily, there are many ways to cut corners from the moment you leave your home.  The perfect Disney vacation is not out of your reach.


We are going to break this down into 4 categories:

Getting There & Getting Around



Tickets & More

Getting There & Getting Around


SkyScanner is one of my favorite flight tools and that’s because you can look at prices for flights across an entire month.  I use this option when I am unsure of my vacation dates and you should too!  That way you can build your vacation around the cheaper dates.  

Driving to Disney World

I am fully aware how long and and tiring a drive to Disney can be.  I actually have something similar to a diary entry (hehe) on my most recent drive to Disney.  But it can be significantly cheaper for your family depending on the family size, and time of year.  Use the AAA Gas Calculator to estimate gas costs.

Disney’s Magical Express

There’s nothing better than to get off the plane, onto this comfortable and magical bus FOR FREE. As long as you are staying at the WDW Resort, I would click here and make sure to use this awesome, free resource. A cab to Disney can run $60 each way while renting a car can cost hundreds.  



Disney’s Transportation System

Take advantage of Disney’s free transportation. Yea you heard read right. FREE

JetBlue Getaways

If you’ve read my story and why PlanningTheMagic exists, you know that JetBlue Getaways saved me. Often, on various sites, you’ll see hotel and flight “packages” that are the same price as getting them individually. JetBlue Getaways is super discounted. Watch the video below and see how it’s done.

Don’t Rent a Car and Use Uber

I have found from all my various trips to Disney that not renting a car is the way to go. When you stay on the Disney property, Disney’s free transportation is your best friend in helping you get around, and did I mention it’s free! And for the moments where you leave the park whether it’s to one of the other local attractions, or grocery shopping -there is always Uber. Uber is a taxi service which is usually less expensive than the other taxi companies. This is a way to save hundreds on your trip. Learn how to use Uber and get a free trip. 

Credit Card Points

There might be something better than a free bus ride (Magical Express).  A free flight and/or hotel room!  If you plan correctly and use PointsToNeverland.com, you will find your way to high valued freebies

Check out the newly updated Disney on a Budget ebook!

disney on a budget
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Value Season

Value season, or basically the time when kids are in school, always is the best time to go to Disney. Crowds are smaller, flights are cheaper, and usually Disney has a special/discount going on.

Fee-free Travel Agent

Many don’t know that travel agents are free, and if you get a good one it is so worth it. Travel agents who specialize in Disney will know all of the ins-and-outs. They will know how to get discounts and even adjust your package once it books. Imagine waking up to an email about hundreds of dollars of savings. Click the photo below to find out more about Darren, an awarding Disney travel agent.

disney on a budget 2017

Hotel Tonight – Phone App

If you have the flexibility to wait last minute – you can use this cool phone app called Hotel Tonight. You can score last minute, non-Disney hotel rooms for cheap. Included in this are the Disney Springs hotels on Disney property.

Rent DVC Points

If you are considering staying at a Deluxe of Deluxe Villa resort at Disney World, help yourself and save more than 50% by renting DVC points from David’s. Read more here.

Consider Camping

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge can sleep up to 10 people for $50/night. It is a super good value for bigger families and you get all of the same perks for being at a Disney resort. 

Disney Spring’s Resorts Discount

Disney Springs hotels are the perfect compromise to stay on site but not at a Disney hotel. If you decide to go this route make sure to head over to MouseSavers.com and take advantage of their discounted rates.

Stay Offsite

There’s no doubt an offsite hotel is going to be cheaper. Just not more convenient. Use sites such as Priceline and Orbitz to find a room at the low end of $30/night.  Here is a video from my Definitive Guide to Planning a Disney Vacation.

Rent a House

A lot of people don’t ever think of renting a home when going on a Disney vacation but it really can bring you significant savings when traveling with a large group. There are homes that are less than 5 miles from Disney that are less than $100/night and fit 10 individuals. Think of how nice having a private pool would be. For more information, I suggest AllStar Vacation Homes.



Plan Out Your Meals

You really can’t go wrong by doing the research and outlining what your meals at Disney will look like. Not to say that you have to plan every meal out but doing the research will go a long way.

Pack It Up

Bring your own water and snacks to the park to cut out what can become an excessive cost.

Disney’s Famous Free Dining Special

Disney often will have special deals going on but the Free Dining is the most well known. With certain vacation package purchases Disney will throw in free dining of some sort. This special often comes out in April and covers fall dates.

Garden Grocer

Use this grocery delivery service to get groceries delivered to your hotel for a $14 fee. Use groceries to save on meals all around.

Amazon Pantry

We are huge fans of Amazon. I just recently pre-ordered Harry Potter and The Cursed Child off of Amazon. With Amazon Pantry you can send yourself non-perishable groceries. Your Disney resort will hold your package for you. Shipping is free for Prime Members and also orders over $35.

Grocery Store aka Publix

The most obvious way to get groceries, there is a Publix a few miles from Disney and a mini fridge in every Disney hotel room.

Know your Quick Service Options

Not all food locations at Disney are created equally. Some locations provide better quality or more food than others. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is a good example of a great location. Do your research to easily find the right places to eat.


Skip Disney’s Meal Plan

I do a very detailed layout in my eBook about why the dining plan is not for those who are looking to save money or get the most bang for their buck. You want to use groceries for some of your meals, plus discounts for restaurants, etc. The dining plan will take away that flexibility.

Eat Breakfast In Your Room

I do this every trip. It saves me a whole lot of money and a ton of time. I like to get to the parks a few minutes before they officially open, for that reason, I’m having breakfast on the go. Granola bars, yogurt, and especially coffee.

Who Doesn’t LOVE Pizza

I look forward to Flippers when I head to Disney. You can feed a family of 4 quite cheaply. Please try the breadsticks!

Split Meals 

We talked about Quick Service locations not being created equally.  Many Disney meals come with sides and extras that make them very shareable.  I rarely can finish an entire meal on my own.

Earl of Sandwich

Earl of Sandwich is great!  Even people who don’t like sandwiches love this place.  Sign up for their newsletter for coupons to use at their Disney Springs location!

A La Carte

Disney meals come with a few sides you might not like so it’s important that you are aware of the ability to order an entree “a la carte” to avoid wasting money.


Saving on Theme Park Tickets, Free Things to do, and More!

Pre-Purchase Souvenirs 

This is so important that I have an entire post written up on it.  Souvenirs can really burn a hole in your pocket while you are at Disney World.  If you pre-buy and surprise your kids with a few a day, you will save a ton of money!


This site allows you to purchase discounted gift cards from multiple retailers.  I’ve used them myself without issue.  There are giftcards offered for gas, restaurants, Disney, etc. You can get giftcards for 5-12% off here. 

Free Disney GiftCards 

Asking for Disney gift cards on Holidays like Christmas or on your birthday is a great way to save money! The gift cards can be used for just about anything, whether it’s for paying off your Disney package, park tickets, meals, or buying fun souvenirs at the park! The possibilities are endless with Disney gift cards.


UnderCover Tourist

WDW ticket discounts are so hard to come by but  Undercover Tourist is an authorized dealer that will save you the most money possible.  Expect to save as much as $40/ticket.


AAA members get discounts on Disney hotels and tickets.  With the basic membership being anywhere between $53-$65 it can definitely be worth it.

Disney’s Boardwalk

One of my favorite things to do on a day where I am not visiting any parks, or have some down time is to visit the Disney Boardwalk located at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. There’s so much to do here from the different restaurants, ice cream parlors, arcades, and of course fun magic tricks! It’s a great place to take the kids for free or for a nice walk down the boardwalk and watching the amazing shows, and not to forget the delicious funnel cake!

Free Picture Memories

Believe it or not, any Disney photographer will take your photo for free with your own camera.

Disney Vacation Savings Account

There’s nothing more rewarding than to see your savings add up.  Set aside an account for your Disney vacation to motivate yourself and keep on track.  I use an online savings account called Ally Bank.  Watch the video to see more information and how to set it up.

Loose Change Jar

I remember back in 2009ish, I had a 1991 Acura Legend that needed some type of repair.  I took my change jar and got $90 out of it!  I was a happy teenager!  Do the same thing for your Disney vacation and see how fast your change adds up.


Rain, Rain, Go Away

Ponchos are sold at stores like Walmart, Target, and Amazon for about $1.50/each.  At Disney they’re about $10/each. Here’s an example 


I actually just got started with Swagbucks.  Basically, this site allows you to take surveys, watch videos and more to earn Swagbucks that you can convert to giftcards.  I read an article on a woman who paid for 95% of her $3500 Disney vacation with Swagbuck’s gift cards.  I’d love to just pay for Christmas gifts with this.  

Chip And Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long

Join Chip and Dale for a nighttime celebration around the fire. Roast s’mores with your own supplies which will make this activity free!

Know Your Ticket Options

The worse thing you can do is over-buy park days or add on options you don’t need.  Do research, go to Chapter 3 of my planning guide for all of the information you need.

One Park a Day Keeps the Debt Away

If you’ve never been to Disney World before then it can get a little bit overwhelming to plan your agenda for your trip. I think a good place to start, that’s going to save you a ton of time and money, is to commit to one park a day. Here’s a chart I created that’s part of my guide to planning a Disney vacation. As you can see you can easily dedicate a full day or more to any given theme park.

disney on a budget 2017

Buy Disney Apparel Elsewhere

You’ll see most of the people at Disney with the cutest shirts.  Disney shirts.  Bring yours with you to avoid the high costs at the park.  Buy these at Walmart or Target. This one is so cute!

Disney Visa Credit Card by Chase

With Disney’s reward dollars and 0% promotional APR for 6 months on certain vacation purchases, this might be the right route for you.

Resort Adventures

Resort hopping is so much fun and FREE.  This never gets old for me.  Head to the Polynesian for dinner or Port Orleans Riverside for some beignets.

Pin Trading

Pin trading is an awesome Disney tradition.  I mostly collect my pins.  There are really nice pins you can get under $10.  

Pin’s off Amazon

We talked about pin trading and how some are collectible but some are great for trading!  Amazon and eBay allow you to buy them in bulk for cheap! Perfect way to start your collection and get your kids going. Here’s 25 for less than $1 each


“One of my favorite souvenirs to collect is the pressed pennies! They have them located everywhere throughout Disney along with the penny collector book with slots to save all your pressed pennies. What better way to remember all my favorite parks, and favorite rides, not to mention such an awesome collection starter!” -Lisa


I can completely understand how strollers can be a nuisance at Disney.  Especially since you have to close them on all Disney transportation (except the monorail), but bringing your own stroller is free.  Renting a stroller costs $15/day at Disney.  That’s over $100 for 7 days.



Plan Plan Plan

Plan your days at Disney as much as possible to make sure you are self-providing as much as you can (vs buying).  This will also give you the ability to find ways to cut your costs.


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Birnbaum’s Disney Guide Book

You can usually get the official Disney World Guide (Currently under $15).  The savings/budget part comes in with coupons that are in the back of the book.  

Make sure to share this if you think anyone you know would benefit from these tips.

What are your favorite Disney budget tips?  Comment below.
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35 thoughts on “50 Tips for Doing Disney on a Budget

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    This is an AMAZING collection of tips! One thing I love about Disney is you can certainly go ‘all out’ but you can have just as much fun on a much smaller budget, too.

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      Thanks Rachel! You are so right about that.

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    Tons of tips, thanks! It’s crazy how differently you plan for WDW on a budget than for Disneyland. Lots to consider so thank you!

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      I never thought of it that way. Alldaymom.com has a great Disneyland on a Budget eBook. Thanks!

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      It would be. I’d love to have my entire family there for a week and maybe hire a chef. That might burst the budget though

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    Great tips – my husband and I decided we’d be cutting our Disney budget in half next time by leaving our two kids at home (they’re adults now) 🙂

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    I love these tips!!! It is amazing especially when you go with kids how fast the trip can cost more money.

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    Budgetting ahead of time before travelling can saves you time and of course money. You need to go strictly with planning on things and make it happen so everyone is happy including you. Great tips!

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    I’m bookmarking this article. Disneyland is such a fun place to be and sometimes we do go over budget. These tips you shared are amazing! I learned a lot and will be wiser with spending on our next Disney trip!

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    Looking out for the best deals on everything is important, from your flight to your accommodations to the food. It would be awesome to be able to take the kids to Disneyland or Disneyworld despite being on a budget! These are awesome tips!

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    Skyscanner is something I use myself and it is brilliant for budgeting. I hope to be able to visit Disney one day it would be a lot of fun.

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    I love your tips. This post is very helpful to me, I am planning on visiting Disney this holiday season!

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    These are lovely tips. Renting a car and hotel are really expensive. Good to know about these tips.

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    I can’t even believe how much I learned with this post. I’m pinning it to my travel tips board. thank you!

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    This is great. I have heard it is very expensive!

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    These are gret tips! It is so cool that you are helping people make their dream trip to Disney a reality 🙂

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    These are awesome and helpful tips. Good thing we get to take advantage of the military discount. That’s a great help! Thanks for sharing!

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    I am so excited to take the kids to Disney next year. I am always looking for ways to save money on our trip. Thanks for the great tips.

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      Thanks Jessica! Hope you guys have a fantastic time 🙂

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    wow, these are great tips for doing Disney on a budget. I can’t wait for our next visit 🙂

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    Be careful and don’t get more gift cards than you can use. Unless you want to buy park tickets at the gate, you can only use one gift card when buying tickets online and two if ordering tickets from Fisney by phone.

    You can buy a whole cooked pizza at the Port Orleans hotel food court for maybe $13? It’s a real deal in Disney World.

    You can also buy food and drinks at better prices than Disney at the Speedway gas stations on property.

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    I love love love all of your tips. Just one thing though, it’s port orleans French quarter that has the beignets 😉

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    Great list of tips – we have used many of these on our multiple trips to Disney!
    Planning is essential – it saves time which means you get a better return for your investment!
    Also, condo rental is a great way to save money!

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    Disney gift cards can be combined onto one with a value of up to $1000. That way you can pay with one higher value card.

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