My favorite subject! Going to Disney on a budget changed my life for the better over a decade ago. And I have 0 reason to gatekeep. I want us all to be able to go to Disney as much as possible.
This year, I continued my extensive, lifelong, research on Disney vacations, which included the Disney College of Knowledge, meaning I can now plan your Disney vacation.
I am going to take what most of you think is a Disney vacation cost, and cut it in half.
Table of Contents
Here’s what we found:
When you’re on a tight budget, $5,000 can take years to save or just be plain impossible. If I asked some of the people close to me how long it will take them to save up for a Disney World trip, many would tell me they can’t. That they’re struggling just to keep food on the table.
It’s a real dilemma and more common than some of us think. Let’s start this journey with what my budget would be for a 5 night/6-day Disney vacation for a family of 4 (two adults and two children).
Spending on a 5-night/6-day Disney Vacation (for four):
Park Tickets: $1042
When planning a trip to Disney on a budget, there are two main types of accommodations; a Disney hotel or a non-Disney hotel.
Cheapest: A hotel not on Disney property.
Cheapest for a bigger family: AirBnB
The truth is, Disney World resorts are some of the most expensive resorts rarely going below $137 per night.
Can we still find a way to fit it into your budget? We sure can! It’s almost never a bad idea to make an effort to stay on Disney property.
But being on a tight budget is ok and that’s why I have some of the best budget hotels near Disney listed.
I mentioned AirBnB before but wanted to elaborate. People rent out their entire homes/apartments through a platform called AirBnB. I’m talking about a full 3 bedroom condo with pool access for $68 per night.
Airbnb is perfect for Disney on a budget whether you’re a party of 3 or 10 but especially if you’re a large family.
I wrote a whole post on it here if you want to check it out.
More Disney on a Budget Accommodations
There’s another trick I have to share with you. One that can save you up to 70% off Deluxe resorts at Disney and even be cheaper than a Disney value resort.
Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s timeshare program. You rent someone’s timeshare for about $14/point. A room that sleeps up to 5 can go as low as 9 points per night which means $126/night. Learn more here.
Check out the newly updated Disney on a Budget ebook!
Remember, I plan a Disney vacation now. And I have saved my client’s hundreds of dollars by switching their dates around.
But alas, even when your dates are strict, there are ways to save money. If you haven’t considered pulling your kids out of school yet, now is a good time. Many parents have opposing views of this that you can read about here.
#1 – Drive if you can. A drive to Disney costs $4 per hour driven, meaning a 20-hour drive will cost you $80. In addition, you can bring anything you want like a cooler full of food, and go as far as meal prepping meals from home. Chances are your room will have a microwave.
#2 – The best airlines to find inexpensive flights are JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier airlines. When you book through them, pay attention to baggage feed.
#3 – When you search for flights only use 1 adult as you search. Putting anymore will start adding seat selection to the algorithm and show you higher prices.
#4 – Skyscanner and Kayak are the best search engines to use.
I’ll save the rest of my tricks for my eBook, aka how I fly for under $30 each way.
I am so weak for the amazing souvenirs offered by Disney, specifically at the park. From Mickey ears to the best mugs ever, and home decor…I want it all. Not to mention an Alex and Ani bracelet to bring home to my mom.
Know that souvenirs can attach and eat up your Disney budget so very quickly.
So here’s what you do. Get as many souvenirs as you can before you go. Walmart and JcPenny have Princess dress for like 70% off. While stores like Dollar Tree have a ton of Disney stuff.
A trick done by many of my readers that I love is bringing inexpensive Disney souvenirs with you and surprising your kids each morning with something new.
Next, make sure you set a strict souvenir budget for the vacation. In fact, put that money on some Disney or Visa gift cards to keep control.
When I am on vacation, I added up costs for food and souvenirs every night when I get back to the room. It’s the only way I make sure I don’t overspend and my spending is kept real.
On any vacation, you can spend as little or as much as you want on food and drinks. Especially when alcohol prices mimic those of NYC ($12 per drink not including tip).
Saving on your food budget is all about planning what you’re going to eat.
A quick tip: bring stuff from home OR get groceries at Disney World. You can even have them delivered.
Between groceries and the fact that 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.
When I plan a Disney vacation, I plan for $40 a day per person.
What’s up with the ticket prices?????
In 1971, Disney World ticket was $3.50 which adjusted to 2019 inflation is a little less than $22.00 (source)
Today a one day ticket can reach up to $137 per adult. It’s increasingly difficult to save money on Disney World tickets. Which is why I save this section for last. I want you to know that you can save so much money everywhere else, these ticket prices start seeming more digestible.
As we talk about Disney tickets, just remember the amazing service provided by Disney and the cost of those rides and upkeep takes.
Disney takes all of my money.
There are two places you can get Disney World tickets and eBay isn’t one of them. Either buy your tickets right from Disney World or from an authorized ticket seller.
GetAwayToday provides the best tickets and service point-blank. The worst is having a family emergency and being stuck with thousands of dollars going to waste after being on hold for 30 minutes. I’ve been in this situation before, and it’s not easy.
Tip: Be careful with what kind of tickets you buy and how many days. So many families overbuy and waste their days as they expire 14 days after first use. You can always add on days but can’t take away.
Same goes with add-ons, don’t buy something you don’t have time to use.
Tip: 1 and 2-day tickets are always the cheapest when purchased from Disney World
I focus on two things, saving money and making money. Where I can’t find more savings, I make up with making more money.
And there isn’t anything I haven’t tried yet to make money which is how I know all the tricks. Last year I spent $800 on a New Years’ trip to Disney for two, but over $200 of that came from the money I had made using Swagbucks.
I have at least 3 posts about Swagbucks including a full review because it has been a huge success for me. t’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 or gift cards. But I make money using Discover and Offers. Recently I signed up for Hulu for two months, spent $12, and was given $18 by Swagbucks.
All I had to do was remember to cancel and I had $4. In a year you can find infinite ways to do just that. Your earning potential is unlimited.
I just started planning Disney vacations as a travel agent and was able to save someone $400 on their vacation just by switching the weeks. Fill out a quote request, its free!