Disney on a Budget 2019 – the Ultimate Guide

I love Disney.

I’m not sure why I’m like this.

But I do know that I also love making multiple Disney vacations a possibility for all families.

So for the 2019 Disney on a Budget guide, we have a lot to discuss.  

Let’s start with how much people think, or usually spend on Disney vacations.

I’m always shocked by answers so here are a few:

Some of my twitter friends helped too!

disney on a budget 2019
disney on a budget 2019

Obviously, these numbers are super high. Especially when you’re on a budget or are trying to fit multiple high cost item into this year. For me, I wanted my floors refinished, so I had to find ways to cut costs everywhere else.

Here’s a story that will become relevant later.

Let me tell you a little bit about my most recent trip to Disney World for NYE.

It was only two of us and we drove from NJ. The flights around New Years were too expensive and driving gives much more flexibility for arrival and departure time.

We were at Disney for 4 days, one day at the park for NYE.  We spent $575, including park tickets, food, gas, etc.

What’s more? Since it was such a short stay, I only used two of my Disney on a Budget tips.

So get ready because we have a ton of good stuff to discuss here. Let’s start by breaking down our goal budget.

Here’s my budget.  These are real numbers that I ran:

Spending on a 5-night/6-day Disney Vacation (for four):

Accommodations:  $215

Transportation:  $300

Souvenirs: $100

Food:  $400

Park Tickets: $1212

Total: $ 2, 227

Realistically, you can spend as much as you want on a Disney vacation.  $10,000 for only two people even, but the averages all of our friends have provided, shows us there is a ton of money to be saved.  

Let me show you exactly how to do that.

Accommodations

Goal cost:  $215

There are absolutely the most options when it comes to where you’re going to sleep while in Orlando. But let’s cut to the chase and then elaborate later.

Cheapest for a family of 4 or less

Off-site hotel

Cheapest for anything bigger than 4

AirBnB

As you can see, neither of these suggestions are on Disney property. Because the truth is, staying at Disney is the most expensive place to stay.

Is it out of reach? Heck no.  

In fact, I suggest it.  I suggest you save and squeeze in every other aspect of your Disney vacation….except here. Splurge a little and get yourself into a Disney resort.

I’m going to provide you with so many money saving tips that hopefully a little more per night is possible for you. I’m also going to show you how to get a room that sleeps up to 5 people at Disney for approximately $130 per night.

Now if you’re really tight, as even I have been on a few of my 30+ trips, I have a few recommendations for you.

Ramada Gateway

This the hotel I stayed at on my first adult trip to Disney. When I was 21 and working 12-hour shifts as a lifeguard trying to afford Disney.

This hotel consists of a tower of rooms and another very large part that has outdoor entrances to the rooms, three pools, and so much more.  

I stayed here for $20/night once and it isn’t the budget Inn (no offense), it’s nice.

A decent hotel, on a budget, will cost anywhere between $20-$65 per night stayed. Use websites like Expedia or Priceline to find more options. Search “Lake Buena Vista” as the city.

AirBnB is an online bed and breakfast marketplace.  People rent their entire empty homes out or empty spare bedrooms.  It’s been a blessing to all budget travelers, all over the world. It’s very, very safe.  I’ve used it a ton of times including in the Finger Lakes, VA, Key West, and Rhode Island.   

disney on a budget

Staying at Disney for Less

There’s this secret to staying at Disney World for less that almost no one knows about. That secret is renting Disney Vacation club points. I can go on for a whole post about this, and I did. Long story short, Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s timeshare program. You rent’s someone’s timeshare for about $14/per point. A room that sleeps up to 5 can go as low as 9 points per night. Learn more here.

Transportation

Goal cost: $300

I know that many of you have to travel when things like school schedules allow.  Unfortunately, that’s most people which means higher prices on pretty much everything. Including airline tickets.

I suggest seriously consider pulling your kids out of school. Many parents have opposing views of this that you can read about here. As someone who was pulled out of school, and is highly successful. I am testament that’s it’s fine.  As is my little sister who is 16 now. I just pulled her out this September (2018) for Disney and she remained on the honor roll.  

I’ll save the cheap Disney flights, ($19 each way), trick for my eBook, however, the #1 way to save on airline tickets is to fly smaller, cheaper airlines. So no American or United.  Try JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, etc

When you search for flights, only look for one adult, vs your entire party. On one flight there are many different priced seats, when you put 4, the search engine will try to find 4 together no matter the cost. Searching for just one adult will show you the lowest price.  

DRIVE

A family of 3 or more will save a ton by driving. To give you an idea, you will spend $4 in gas per hour you drive. In addition, you can bring anything and everything to help you save.  

Example: when I drive to Disney I bring food with me to reheat and eat for dinner. This last time we had chicken and mashed potatoes packed in containers. We had it for dinner the day we arrived (arrival time 11am).  

If you had to pick between driving and another day at Disney, what would you choose?

Souvenirs

Goal cost: $100

Disney has so many amazing souvenirs.  From the ears, to the mugs, the shirts, backpacks, and so much more.  I think every Alex and Ani or Pandora fan has at least one Disney piece.

With that being said, souvenirs will quickly eat up your budget.  Especially with children!

First things first, get as many souvenirs before you go. Walmart and JcPenny have Princess dresses for like 70% off.  While stores like Dollar Tree have a ton of Disney stuff.

A trick done by many that I love, is bringing inexpensive Disney souvenirs with you and surprising your kids each morning with something new.  

Disney Outlet stores also have great deals on cups, mugs, towels, and more!  You can also find Disney shirts for the family almost any where. I have a Mickey shirt from Target that I see at the parks all the time.  Amazon also has a ton of great priced options.

Second, set a strict budget for souvenirs. Seriously.  In fact, put that money on Disney gift cards and use it that way to stay on budget.  

On one of my super tight trips, I would literally add up costs every night before bed.  It’s the only way I could make sure that I wasn’t overspending.

Lastly…Wait. When you see something you like, use the Shop Disney App to save it to your cart and wait until the end of the vacation to buy your souvenirs. A lot of times waiting gives us the clarity we need to say no and then you can have everything shipped to home.

disney on a budget 2019

The souvenir goal cost of $100 is while you’re at Disney World.  That should be more than enough since you should be bringing a ton of stuff with you.  

Food

Goal cost: $400

A cocktail drink at Disney is at least $11.  Which is standard for places like NYC but when you’re paying $25 with tip, everytime you grab a drink for you and your partner, that adds up.

A quick tip, bring stuff from home OR get groceries at Disney World.  You can even have them delivered.

This last trip we brought two bottles of wine and like 10 bottles of beer, we put them in to-go cups and drank them just about everywhere.  We splurged for cocktails once, because we have a favorite, but otherwise we were good to go.

In Magic Kingdom, we got the foot long hotdog with mac n cheese and bacon on top plus fries for $16.  That was our lunch. We also had a sit down lunch where we ordered two appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks, we spent around $40.  These prices are for two.

A family of 4 can eat for less than $50 per meal, add in some meals in the room, things like eating offsite or ordering pizza and you will be well within our goal cost.  

Park Tickets

Goal cost: $1212

This is the biggest ticketed item on our budget, and accounts for almost half.  Why? Disney wants to make money (they make a whole lot with me), and they do make a ton of money so they can afford all this technology to triple check tickets and make sure you bought yours the right way.

My number one tip is to be careful how many park days, and if any, add-ons you choose.  Remember, you can always add more days at the parks but you won’t get a refund for what you don’t use.  Disney tickets expire 14 days after the first day you use it.

If you want to know is where to safely buy the cheapest, legitimate Walt Disney World multi-day tickets from an authorized reseller click here to buy via Park Savers, my recommended & Disney-authorized ticket seller. For the first time ever, you can use promo code PTM2 to get a bigger discount per ticket. If you’re visiting before December 31, 2019, you should buy your park tickets as soon as possible to lock-in lower pricing.

Good news, I have multiple posts dedicated to cheap Disney tickets.

Final Tip

Back to my $575 Disney vacation for two this past NYE.  I have a secret…. Between you and me, that vacation cost was more like $800 BUT $225 was free money I had gotten my hands on.  

Disney Tickets – $250

Tolls and Gas – $130

Food + Drinks + Groceries – $300

Hotel – $120 (3 nights)

$225, or 25% of my vacation was bought with FREE MONEY

The biggest chunk came from Swagbucks, $120 to be exact.  I always talk about this site because it has been a huge success for me.  It’s a website where you watch videos, take surveys, etc to earn SB which then can be redeemed for a number of things like cash, Walmart gift cards, Amazon gift cards, and so much more.

Your earning potential on Swagbucks is endless and only capped by how much time you can spend on it.  My girlfriend and I aim for $2 a day or $60 a month between the two of us. Simple math tells us that’s $720 free every year.  I work full time, blog full time, and go to school part-time, so if I have time, you do too! Full Swagbucks review, but just go sign up and get your free $10 bonus for doing so.  

I’ve proved to you that you can take a family of four to Disney World for six days for under  $2,300. Meaning, if you came to this post thinking $4,000 or $6,000, I just saved you $3,700 or now you can do two trips instead of one.

In addition,  now you have actual potential to earn free money. So if your vacation cost is $3,000 but now you’re earning $720 worth of free money in a year, it’s now $,2,280.  

What’s next?  How about where you’re going to eat?

Check out the newly updated Disney on a Budget ebook!

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17 thoughts on “Disney on a Budget 2019 – the Ultimate Guide

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    We love Disney so much! It’s a great family getaway. Being able to go there without breaking the bank would be so amazing.

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    We absolutely love Disney! We recently adopted a teenager and she’s never been to Disney, so we’re hoping to plan a trip sometime this year! Thanks for the budget tips! 🙂

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    I do like the idea of going with off-site hotels or even AirBnb. I’ve never tried that when visiting Disney before.

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    I love all your money saving tips! We are annual passholders, so we are at Disney at least once a month and I try to make it into a vacation as much as possible.

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      Really?! I’m jealous. What do you usually eat when you’re there?

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    If I went to Disney, I would probably spend too much too! I would probably drive too since we have not done planes as a family.

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    I’ve never been to Disney before. I just think it’s to expensive honestly. I’m a family of four and I honestly wish I could take my kids. I’m on a budget as well, so it’s nice to see some ways to be able to save.

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    Love the idea of doing Disney on a budget! Sometimes planning ahead is the best way to travel!

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    I hope to make to Disney some day. I will definitely use these tips especially staying off site.

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    These are great tips. I think that they will really work. We just need to plan in advance!

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    I love that you break this down with goal costs because it’s easy to let money get away from you at Disney. Sure it’s easy to spend too much. With a family of 6 it adds up so we need all the help we can get, and I love Disney trips!

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    We want to rent points to do the Polynesian hopefully one day – I may need to do some research on it!

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    WOW! That’s really reasonable. I thought it would cost a lot more to visit Disney. Now I know I can start making plans for a trip this fall!

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    Disney World is our favorite place to travel to! I cannot wait to get back there in Nov!

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    yasss girl disney is amazing im going in the summer! You laddies are amazing

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