Unique Ways to Save Money at Disney World

I have covered Disney World occasionally on this blog, but many of my posts are aimed at those who have been to WDW many times like me. I would like to provide more help with Disney World vacation planning tips, especially for those out of state. Today, I have enlisted my friend Samantha to share the different ways to save money at Disney World that she has learned through the years. Since cost is a big factor in many families Disney vacations, I highly recommend trying some of these tips out for some significant Disney savings!

Guest Post by Samantha Tetrault of WDW Expert

Disney World might just be my favorite place on the planet, but it’s definitely not cheap. As a local, I’m lucky to have access to a Florida resident annual pass and some other perks, but that’s not always possible. 

The good news is Disney World doesn’t have to be costly. With a bit of planning and know-how, it’s easy to do Disney World on a budget. I’ve compiled a list of unique ways to save money at Disney World that you won’t find in the typical guidebooks. 

save money at disneyTyphoon Lagoon Glow Party

1. Limit Your Park Meals

Don’t get me wrong–I love Disney World food. It’s one of my favorite things about the park. But I’ll also be the first to admit that this is where the cost of your trip quickly adds up. The average meal at a Disney sit-down restaurant rests around $20 – $30 which is quite the pretty penny. 

If you can, limit your meals in the park. I highly recommend enjoying some of Disney’s more unique dining experiences, but don’t feel like you need to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the parks. Instead, I’d recommend only enjoying one meal a day in the park. Preferably do your lunch in the park since it’s typically the same meals as dinnertime but with a cheaper price tag. Otherwise, pack food or enjoy some of the local restaurants in the area. 

2. Share Meals

If you must eat in the park (I get it), then consider sharing meals. Disney World portions are huge! I rarely can eat my entire plate myself. Sharing a meal is really easy at quick-service restaurants, but it’s also possible at sit-down restaurants (usually with a small add-on fee). 

Sharing meals with your spouse, a friend, or kid makes it a lot easier to taste some of the best foods at Disney without getting a full meal for each person. In addition, though many quick-service restaurants advertise the entree and a side paired together, you can almost always ask for just the entree (ie. a burger without the fries) for a cheaper price. 

money saving wdwMickey waffles are best for sharing! 

3. Know What’s Free

You can save a bit just by knowing what Disney World has for free. You can get all of the following for free at the parks:

  • Transportation (assuming you’re staying at Disney resort or partner resort)
  • Ice water
  • Celebration buttons
  • Fast Passes
  • Cast member photos (with your own phone or camera)
  • The Disney World resorts and Disney Springs
  • Stickers
  • WiFi
  • Fireworks and parades

With all of this in mind, don’t worry about paying extra for things you don’t need. For example, don’t lug around endless water bottles or purchase water when you can get free ice water at any food location. Similarly, don’t splurge on a Minnie Van or uber if you can get free transportation through your resort. 

4. Go During the Offseason

While you don’t always have control over when you visit Disney World, visiting in the offseason is the best way to save. Not only will rooms and flights be cheaper, but you’ll have fewer crowds in the park throughout your stay. 

When exactly is the offseason? In general, the best months to visit are February, September, October, and early November. Steer clear of holidays, summer vacation, spring break, and large events like marathons. 

disney money saving tipsParks during a busy weekend in Galaxy’s Edge

5. Leave the Parks

That’s right, one of my tips isn’t about Disney at all! A lot of people stay within the “Disney World bubble” during their stay in Orlando, but there’s so much to see outside that small area. Visiting some of the awesome things in Orlando is cheap or free, and that means big savings without compromising on fun. 

Leave the parks to head to the beach, visit downtown Orlando, or explore a nearby city. There are also a lot of museums, parks, and other activities to do in Orlando that are much cheaper than a park ticket to Disney World. My favorites are:

  • Visit Wild Florida for an airboat ride and to see some of Florida’s wildlife
  • Take a trip to Wekiwa Springs for a day of kayaking and swimming
  • Explore Winter Park and Mills 50 to see a different side to Orlando
  • Have a touristy day trip through the excitement of Old Town and I-Drive
  • Resort hop through the Disney World hotels

6. Skip the Park Hopper

While I love park hopping, it is really expensive. Unless you have an annual pass (and you should if you’re a Florida resident), I’d recommend skipping this costly add on. While it’s nice to jump from park to park, especially if you’re in a time crunch, there’s more than enough to do in each park to fill an entire day. 

Instead, try to dedicate a full day to each park (or your favorites), and save the money from the park hopper. Even if you can’t fill a whole day at each park, you can always hit up Disney Springs or another inexpensive activity outside of the Disney Bubble. 

7. Stay Off Property

This is hard for me to admit as someone who loves staying on property, but if you’re trying to save money, definitely stay elsewhere. The Disney World resorts are costly, even the less expensive properties. Staying off property could save you big! 

Where are the best places to stay off property in Disney World? As someone who lives in the Lake Buena Vista area, I highly recommend the Disney Springs resorts. These are all within walking distance of Disney Springs, and they have transportation to the parks. Just beware they do have steep parking and resort fees, so add this into your budget. 

8. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)

As a local, I bring all my snacks into the park with me. When I would travel down from St. Augustine for day trips, I would pack all my meals since I was on a college budget! Even if you’re eating in the parks, bringing your own drinks, snacks, and extras equals big savings. 

If you’re staying in the area, you can use Amazon Prime Now to deliver to your hotel within a few hours. Some places even have 1-hour delivery. Otherwise, you can use a grocery delivery service or visit a local Publix. 

Saving Big in the Happiest Place on Earth

Disney World is well worth the money in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save while you’re at it. Whether you bring your own snacks or avoid peak seasons, there are a lot of unique ways to save money on your Disney World trip. 

If there’s one tip I could state again, it would be to escape the Disney Bubble at least a little bit! So many tourists miss out on the best parts of Central Florida because they’re so wrapped up in the theme parks. I get it—I love the theme parks. Still, you might be surprised by what you find outside of the Magic Kingdom. Amy’s blog has TONS of Florida bucket list inspiration, so there’s really no excuse. 

I hope these tips bring you some savings on your next Disney World adventure! How do you save at Disney? When is your next trip to the Mouse?

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About the author

Samantha Tetrault is a full-time writer, blogger, and podcaster from Orlando, Florida. While her day job is in content marketing, she moonlights as a Disney World blogger at WDWexpert. Follow along with her Orlando adventures on Instagram