50 Tips for Doing Disney on a Budget

50 Tips for doing Disney on a Budget 

[Click here for 2019/updated version]

disney on a budget tips 2018

[Click here for 2019 post]

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

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.

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.


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.

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

My card of choice is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

discounted disney gift cards

Here’s why:

    • 1%-3% rewards
    • 50,000 point sign up bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Travel insurance
    • Car rental insurance
    • 1:1 transfer to reward programs (like Southwest Rapid Rewards)
    • No blackout dates, no travel restrictions.
    • & more


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 from 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.


I earned $400 in the last three months for free. Ebates is a cash back portal that helps you earn money easily and for free.  Right now, if you sign up, they’ll give you a $10 bonus.  Interested in free money?  Click below ↓
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back


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.

My suggestion is Your Story Travel Co., click here for a quote.  

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.

Free Disney Vacation Planning Videos

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.

Shop This Post

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.31.04 PM

36 thoughts on “50 Tips for Doing Disney on a Budget

  • at

    These are all great tips. We go to DIsney every year and it is EXPENSIVE. I am all for saving money where ever I can!

  • at

    These are all great tips. We live in Florida, so we get discounts on tickets and room prices throughout the year. We’ve been a few times. These are all wonderful for those who don’t have the discounts.

  • at

    This is a wealth of information! I am dying to take my kiddos since my two year old has a new found obsession with Minnie Mouse! Pinning this!

  • at

    We LOVE Disneyland but it is expensive and we can’t afford to go every year. I am filing these tips away for our next visit. Thank you!!

  • at

    My parents randomly decided to go to Disney World this weekend, so I’ll be sending this their way!

  • at

    I like all these ideas especially the shirts and souvenirs off site and away from the parks but it sometimes is fun for kids to go to the shops unfortunately. Food in the room can also be a big saving.

  • at

    It’s so nice to see so many options to make going to Disney so much more budget-friendly for families. I think these are definitely going to make the planning easier!

  • at

    These are such great tips for visiting Disney on a budget! I have used a few of these when we’ve been, but will have to look into some of the others in the future. I’m especially curious about the Hotel Tonight Phone App.

  • at

    I was just thinking about attempting a Walt Disney World trip in the next couple of years, so this post is so helpful! I hadn’t thought about NOT renting a car…until now.

    • at

      I try to avoid a car at all costs. Happy to help!

  • at

    We go to Disney as much as we can! I just love going there with the kids, it’s so much fun and brings out the child in you. The thing is, it can be really expensive. I think these tips are going to help!

  • at

    These are awesome Disney Tips. I am a Florida native so we go to Disney often and what you said about ponchos is dead on. I try to find them at the Dollar Tree when I can and stock up b/c I hate paying so much for a piece of plastic lol

    • at

      Same! Target and Walmart have them for like a $1.20 each too. I have a ton at home because every time I see them for cheap I get them

  • at

    These are all great ways of visiting Disney on a budget. I like the sound of splitting meals to share costs and flippers sounds like a great place for pizza x

  • at

    I think youhave everything covered for ways to save money and get your family to Disney! We went this summer for one day. We wanted AK and MK, but they dont’ sell tickets to just those two parks so we had to purchase the all access park passes. I wish they would come up with different ticketing to save some money for this!

    • at

      How did visiting both parks in one day work out for you?

  • at

    Oh my word!!!! The whole tip about Amazon pantr is a game changer for every vacation! Could you imagine just having groceries waiting for you at a rental house?

  • at

    We are currently planning our trip for this Spring. This is very helpful! I am looking for airfare right now.

  • at

    With our little one arriving in 5 weeks … we have been discussing Disney and other kinds of trips coming up our way. We definitely could use all the tips so we can prepare ahead of time. I love these 50 tips!

  • at

    Thanks for all of the tips on visiting Disney on a budget. My husband and I have always wanted to visit, but have always worried about not having enough money.

  • at

    We are planning a trip to Disney World in March. I’ll use some of your tips!

  • at

    My favorite thing about Disney is the pennies! I used to collect them as a child! I need to take my son!

  • at

    I definitely learned my lesson about the meal plan. While I would still do it in the future, I would be a lot smarter about it and know which restaurants to skip, which ones are 2 meals, and which are must visits.

  • at

    We have definitely been thinking about visiting Disney in 2018. These are some great tips to help us out in planning.

  • at

    these are some amazing tips. I did not know that most Disney hotels have a small fridge, that would come in handy for sure. Oh, and the grocery delivery to the hotel is genius. Blessings!

  • at

    We are taking the kids to Disney for the first time next February and cannot wait! I have been reading up so much to find the best tips. I have never heard of Sky Scanner so thank you for that!

  • at

    These are some great tips for doing Disney on a budget. I would love to be able to save some money on our Disney vacation in the future.

  • at

    Awesome tips! We road trip to Disneyland often and are an ultimate Disney loving family. Driving and bring our own snacks and meals definitely makes a difference in what we spend while traveling.

Comments are closed.