Our trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park was pure magic. Every moment we spent inside the park brought me so much joy. It’s definitely the most magical place on Earth from the castles to the fairytales and seeing your favorite characters come to life.
Disney World definitely a place I believe that everyone should experience at least once. But, with the costs rising yearly, this could easily be a pricey vacation. Here are 10 cost-saving tips that helped our trip to Disney not break our bank account.
Buy T-shirts and ears before you go
If you’re anything like me, you love coordinating with your family especially while on vacation. Instead of waiting until we arrived at the park, I order us matching tees from Etsy. The price was affordable, shipping was fast, and we arrived at the park ready to go.
Same with Minnie ears. I scored matching ears for my daughter and me from The Daydream Republic and the total combined was less than the price of one pair inside the park. Preparing early is key.
You obviously can skip this step if wearing Disney T-shirts and/or ears isn’t your thing. That even bigger savings for you.
Skip the in-park souvenirs and buy merch before your trip
My life mantra is to “Collect Memories, Not Things.” If you can, skip purchasing in-park souvenirs. Special moments and memories will last a lifetime. That snowglobe you just had to have could easily end up or eBay in a few years or better yet not make it back home and you’ll be out quite a bit of cash.
If there is something that you know your children would love, consider taking a trip to your local Disney store or Disney.com and buy a few of their favorite things to surprise them with before the trip. You can take these items in the park with you and your kids won’t even notice that their bubble machine is different. They’ll just be excited to see the bubbles float away in the air.
Ask for gift cards for upcoming birthday and/or holiday gifts
Have a birthday or special holiday coming up? Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for Disney gift cards instead of something you may never use. This will cut your out-of-pocket cost back and help fund your trip. How rewarding will it be for them to know that they contributed to something that you’ll cherish forever?
Buy discounted gift cards from Sam’s Club or Target
Paying for all (or part) of your Disney World vacation with a discounted gift card is an easy way to save a little bit of cash. You can save up to 5% on your trip just by buying gift cards in advance from BJ’s Wholesale, Sam’s Club, or Target.
Each store have their pros and cons though. You have to have a membership to both BJ’s Wholesale and Sam’s Club to purchase gift cards, but doing so will save you 4%. You’ll be able to snag a $100 gift card for $96. The savings may seem small, but they will definitely add up.
Note: Purchasing a membership just to buy a gift card won’t offset the difference. You can always check with a family member or friend to see if they can purchase the gift cards for you.
Target on the other hand doesn’t sell discounted Disney gift cards; however, you can save 5% by purchasing gift cards online or in-store with your Target REDcard. If you don’t have a REDcard, it’s free to sign up. I personally used the REDcard debit card, but there is a credit card version available as well.
Go when the kids are little
Visiting Disney World can be expensive. Did you know that children 2 and under are free? Yep, you read that correctly. All the more reason why you should take the kids when they are little. The savings on their park admission alone will definitely add up.
In my opinion, kids are never too young to visit Disney. There is so much they can do. There are many attractions without height restrictions and our 10-month-old enjoyed every moment of it. While he may not remember his first trip, my husband and I will cherish those memories forever.
The experience of staying on property at a Disney World Resort will make your trip that much more magical, but that does come with a steep cost. If you can afford it, this would definitely be the area to splurge. Your trip can still be magical by staying off-site as well. Orlando, FL is a vacation hotspot and there are so many vacation rentals in the city. Some are even as close as five miles away from the park.
During our most recent visit, we booked a vacation rental through AIRBNB and it was the best. It was 20 minutes away from Magic Kingdom and situated in a prime location nearby so many stores such as Walmart, Target, Chickfila, and much more. What we loved the most about it was that we had a private pool and the kids’ rooms were Disney-themed. It was such a nice touch and my daughter loved every moment we were there.
Eat breakfast before you head into the park
Grabbing breakfast before you head into the park is a great way to cut down costs. We didn’t want to bother with cooking at our vacation home, so we grabbed Chickfila on our way to the park. But, to cut costs even further you could definitely go grocery shopping or have groceries delivered and cook a nice breakfast before you go. Depending on how big your party is, this may be the best way to go.
Bring your own water and snacks
Kids are always hungry and thirsty and buying water at $2-$3 each adds up quickly. We purchased a small case of water from Target the night before and froze the bottles. They all fit securely in the cooler and were easy to pop in and out whenever someone needed a drink. Some bottles even had ice remaining at the end of the night.
For snacks, we packed the kids’ favorites so that they were readily available when requested. This is also great for picky eaters. That way you aren’t spending money on something they may not like, which may end up just going to waste.
This hack was probably the best during our most recent trip to Magic Kingdom. And it’s not even because it helped us saved money. We were able to skip the lines, find a shaded spot to rest, and get a cold drink. This would also come in handy if ride wait lines are long and you become a bit thirsty, but do note that food and drinks aren’t allowed on rides, so you’ll need to finish it up before you board.
Plan in advance so that you can save
This one is probably a no-brainer, but as soon as you decide you want to vacation at Disney, start planning to save up. Estimate the price you anticipate your trip costing and divide that amount by the number of months remaining until you’re set to leave. That’s the number you should plan to save every month.
If you’re planning to visit Disney in 12 months and you expect to spend $4,000, $333 would be your magic number. If this amount seems out of reach, get creative. See if there are any expenses you could pause for a while or maybe pick up a temporary side gig to help fund your trip. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Use cashback apps to get Free Disney gift cards
Speaking of adding a part-time job temporarily, using cashback apps is a great hack that doesn’t require too much effort. Some of my favorites are Ratuken, iBotta, and Fetch Rewards. They are all so easy to use.
When shopping online, you can shop directly through the Ratuken app and earn cashback rewards on each qualifying purchase. IBotta and Fetch Rewards work pretty similarly, but you’ll need to upload your recipe after you make an in-store purchase to collect points.
Through either service, once you have enough rewards built up, you can exchange them for cash and/or Disney gift cards. Who doesn’t like free money especially when you can collect it through purchases you planned to make anyway. Win-win!
There you have it. 10 ways you can save on your next visit to Walt Disney World. This may help you make the vacation of your dreams a reality, stretch your trip an additional day or two, or even start saving for your next visit.
Do you have any tips that helped you save on a Walt Disney World vacation? Chime in the comments below.