Sure, you can get a package deal because your ‘on vacation’ and don’t want to worry about money at a time like this…
But instead, I’ll encourage you to vacation to your budget, NOT the one that Disney wants you to spend! Disney is a business after all, and they are happy to take your money.
Let’s strike a balanced budget full of fun and some frugal options for an absolutely magical, and totally unforgettable Disney World Vacation!
Avoid deals that are too good to be true
30 dollar tickets? nah bro, you’re getting scammed. If it’s too good to be true, it really is.
There are tons of ticket scalpers in real life around the parks, and also on places like eBay and the forums. I would advise you to skip ALL of those options as you could end up without tickets and without your money. For best options in 2021, you’ve got to go with somewhere like Get Away Today (who also normally has some great promos!), or another authorized reseller. (Just make sure it’s legit!)
Go the best time of the year for budget friendliness
Which, in case your wondering when the best times to go to Disney World are, the months of January and September tend to be the ‘cheapest’ and the most expensive is November and December.
Let’s say you can’t sneak away because of work or school… well in those cases, you need to stay on the best days! The most budget friendly days are checking in on a Sunday and out on a Thursday, but you can play with your days and the resort booking options to see how this will impact your trip.
and BIG HINT, only 25% of people visiting Disney World stay in the resorts, so if it’s not in your budget, don’t worry! There’s great hotels outside of the Walt Disney World Bubble.
This post may contain affiliate links, read my full disclosure here.
Get the cheapest souvenirs you can find at Disney World
There’s not many things you can get for less than a dollar in the US- and certainly not at a theme park.
But there ARE a few things.
Pressed pennies anyone? Yep, these little guys are a great way to have fun AND stay on a budget.
Looking for some great options for souvenirs instead? Why not head over to one of these secret places to get cheap Disney World merch (and yes, it’s authentic!)
Bring it in, and in, and in
The food that it- I don’t care what anyone says. When my kids are screaming I end up spending 40 dollars on ice cream and 50 dollars on bottle water.
EEEKKKKKKKK. No thanks.
Bring in some water and snacks so you don’t end up spending more out of desperation from the long lines and hunger. Getchu some Amazon Prime Water, and a couple of bags of snacks you know your family will love!
Want to take it up a level? Of course you do. Hop over to this complete guide for saving mega bucks on your food budget
Spend time in the parks on the right days
Disney changes their pricing daily- it’s fascinating from a marketing standpoint but not so great if your watching your budget * if you are on regular tickets* Those of you with annual passes or shades of green tickets can skip this!
There’s a reason they don’t have the prices online or on the app most of their restaurants, instead, they have the ever elusive ‘pricing scale’. In off seasons and middle of the week days, you’ll find that pricing for meals and snacks can change by dollars or cents.
The days that err on the less expensive side are the weekdays, with the weekends being more expensive in the months of January, February, October and November. The rest of the months tend to be expensive no matter the day BUT the difference is that you might not get the dining options you want. (so plan ahead to save money!)
It’s raining… it’s pouring
Please- if there’s one thing you do, plan for the weather. You don’t want to buy a 25 dollar umbrella, 50 dollar rain coat or a 15 dollar umbrella. Personally, I grab a big pack of ponchos from amazon to bring with me, because I’m not about that 15 dollar poncho life.
Plan to relax
Relax? On vacation? HA.
Well- you can relax at Disney World and it’s recommended. Take a day off from the parks and enjoy many of the cheap and free things at the parks. This will save you from paying for a park ticket and give your feet a break! (after all, you’ll walk like 13 miles)
People swear by staying on property because it ‘saves money’ but I’ve done the math a 100 times and I’ve never seen it if your resort has transportation to the parks and can offer things like free breakfast.
Especially somewhere like the swan and dolphin where you can use points to pay for your stay. Or do a Priceline deal if you want budget friendly and don’t care where you end up!
The good news is that almost 75% of the people visiting Disney World stay off property, and I know quite a few that enjoy the accommodations at Universal better, even though they end up driving over to Disney!
It is SO much cheaper to bring in your own bottled water or bring in a water bottle to refill.
let me say it again for the people in the back.
SO. MUCH. CHEAPER
Disney has tons and tons of the new refillable water stations in every park and I love them. It’s good for your wallet, and good for the enviroment! I love using my HydroFlask while I’m there, especially because I know it won’t leak on me!
Real talk though, Disney doesn’t allow glass. So plastic or stainless steel water bottles only!
Make it a double adventure!
This may sound counterintuitive, but getting an annual pass can provide more savings if you plan to come more than once.
Annual passholders get discounts on food, merchandise and hotel stays, and it really makes a difference if this isn’t a once in a lifetime trip. Plus there’s so many cheap and fun things to do around the parks!
Or consider a special event pass
Disney has lots of ‘extra’ options that can be a big bonus to your budget.
For example, you can skip a regular park ticket and instead get a special events ticket like for Mickey’s Not so scary halloween party.
So sleep in that day, then go to the party that night. This way you save the cost of a ticket you’ll only use for half the day.
Make use of all the free and cheap things you can do at Disney World
SO MANY FREE AND CHEAP THINGS I CAN’T LIST THEM ALL
Let’s do my top 5 favorite
Free- go to the fort wilderness campground singalong and hang out with some hilarious folks and chip and dale
Free- chill out at the pool all day and put your feet up
Free- walk around Disney Springs and check out the World’s largest Disney Store
Cheap- go putt putt golfing! You normally get a coupon if you preorder your magic bands and stay on property.
Cheap- dining outside the parks at the character meals on property
Skip the Park Hopper Pass
This is an extra expense that hardly ever is a make or break for your vacation. PLUS if you decide you want it after your there, you can always add it on (but you can’t take it off)
Save your cash for the parks
CASH-people. NOT card. I get in SO much trouble when I have a card (or magic band) because you don’t realize how much you’ve spent. YES DISNEY STILL TAKES CASH IN 2021. You might not feel comfortable so…
Put it on a gift card!
or take actual cash so you don’t overspend and leave it in the safe.
Also, Disney has a new credit card policy that puts a lot of unnecessary holds on your account- so it’s even more important to have cash. I’ve talked to too many people who were stranded because of excess charges on their account and having to wait on hold with Disney to resolve it.
Bring enough Footwear
Because Disney KNOWS that you will need new shoes. They have them in every single store and they are 60 dollars for a pair of Mickey Crocs you’ll never wear again.
The photopass can be great… but it can also suck. If you have an annual pass, it’s included in most tickets. You can also get a steep discount if you are in the military and purchase it on base.
Here’s what people might not know… DON’T buy it but do USE it.
What wait? scan your card, get them loaded to the online portal, then pick out the 2-4 that you like and order them as individual prints or as photoproducts right through Disney. This could cost around 30-60 dollars for pictures you actually enjoy, without spending 200 dollars. BUT if all the pictures suck (because sometimes they do) don’t order anything and then you aren’t out any coin.
with the masks and hardly any photographers around, pictures in 2021 have been rough! This picture (and one more) we’re the only ones that turned out nice looking. it’s sad to me to pay for photopass and not get much benefit from it!
Basically… It’s NOT HARD TO SAVE money if you know what you’re doing.
Because if you don’t pay attention, you could easily spend thousands of extra dollars on a week vacation.