How to Save Money at Disney World

Tips on saving money for your (expensive!) trip to Walt Disney World

Take pictures of other people’s balloons—then you don’t have to buy them yourself!

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Tips to Save Money at Disney World

We all know that Disney World is insanely expensive to visit. We also know that, despite the prices continually going up, we’re going to continue to shell out the money, because, well, it’s Disney!

But there are things we can do to decrease the price tag a little bit, so then we can save up more money for our next Disney trip!

So here are some tips on how to save money at Disney World.

Staying at Disney

(This is the Grand Floridian Resort—AKA: a resort you visit, but don’t stay at!)

Go During the “Off” Season

Hotel prices at Disney vary widely throughout the year, so you can save money at Disney by staying during the cheapest times. If you have flexible dates, check out the rate calendar for each resort to compare prices.

To get to the rate calendar, just type in any dates for the resort where you want to stay. When the results come up, click “Rate Details” underneath the advertised price.

This will bring up a pop-up window. In the lower left of the pop-up window, click “View Rate Calendar” to see all the available prices for that resort throughout the year.

When is the cheapest time of year to go to Disney World?

The cheapest hotel prices are:

  • January-cheapest prices available

  • February-first two weeks

  • August

  • September

  • October

  • November-except Thanksgiving week

Things to note:

  • Check the rate calendar to make sure you are getting the cheapest price.

  • August, September & October are peak hurricane season—thus the lower prices. Orlando is usually out of the way of most hurricanes, but it’s something to be aware of.

  • Theme park prices also vary during the year. The cheapest theme park prices are in September. Check theme park ticket prices.

What are the best days of the week to stay at Disney?

The cheapest hotel prices will be Sunday night through Thursday night. Avoid staying on Friday and Saturday nights if you can.

We usually fly into Disney on a Sunday, and then check out on Friday. That way you get almost a whole week at Disney, but you don’t have to pay weekend prices

  • You can drop off your luggage if you arrive early, and also store your luggage at your hotel after you check out. So you can spend the maximum amount of time at Disney as possible!

Stay at a Value Resort

(and go visit the other ones for free!)

Save money at Disney by staying at a value resort. You can usually find rooms here for the cost of an average hotel room (or even cheaper!) outside of Disney. The value resorts are:

  • All Star Sports

  • All Star Movies

  • All Star Music

  • Pop Century

My choice would be Pop Century, which is a little more expensive than the other three, but newer and much more conveniently located.

If you stay at Pop Century, you can ride the skyliner to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, as well as some of the other nearby deluxe resorts, like the Boardwalk.

The All Star Resorts are the cheapest, and at the right time of year can be even more affordable than a lot of regular hotels. But you also still get to take advantage of free Disney transportation, plus be constantly immersed in Disney magic!

All Disney resorts have free activities like “Movies Under the Stars!” Check out the “activities” tab on your particular resort for more info.

Food at Disney

One meal usually has plenty of food to share!

Bring Your Own Food into the Park

If you’re trying to save money at Disney (and calories), you are allowed to bring your own food into the parks (food at Disney ain’t cheap).

You could bring in sandwiches for lunch, or at least some snacks to keep you from buying too many Mickey ice cream bars.

Also be sure to bring a reusable water bottle.

  • I highly suggest using a filtered water bottle in Florida!

You can also request a cup of water at any stand or foodcourt in the parks.

Leave the Park/Resort for Dinner

You are allowed in and out of the parks during the day, so if you have a kitchen it might actually be a good idea to head back to your room for dinner (and maybe a quick nap).

All rooms come equipped with a mini fridge, coffee maker and microwave. The studios and villas at the deluxe resorts have full kitchens.

There is no shame in taking a break from the parks during the day. They can really wipe it out of you!

If you have a car, or hire an uber, head off site for dinner. There are plenty of (normal priced) restaurants just outside of Walt Disney World.

  • There is also a McDonald’s conveniently located right by the All-Star Resorts on Disney property.

Share a Meal

Disney portion sizes are usually pretty large, so it’s easy to share a meal with someone else for at least one of your meals (especially because that leaves more room for Mickey ice cream bars!). To be honest, I usually regret not splitting a meal when I decide I need to get a whole one for myself.

Order a Kid’s Meal!

I honestly really love ordering kid’s meals. They come with smaller portions, healthier options, two sides, plus they get chocolate milk (win!)!

Plus, they’re a lot cheaper, so that can really help you save money at Disney!

Technically, if you’re not a kid, you’re not supposed to order a kid’s meal. But I just don’t always want a giant hamburger and fries. Sometimes I just want those apple slices and choccy milk.

  • Pro tip: If you’re guarding the free table you managed to find while your husband goes up and orders the meals…they’ll never know you’re over 10.

  • Ordering on the app is another great way to hide the fact that you’re not a kid!

Disney Mugs

What is a Disney Mug?

Disney mugs are another way for you to spend money at Disney. BUT, you can refill them for free.

Look for them in any resort dining area. Mugs cost about $20 for the actual mug, and then you can refill it for free for however long you are staying. You can also upgrade to other special souvenir mugs.

Once a mug is activated, you can refill it at any beverage station at a Disney resort. So if you’re resort hopping and visiting all the fancy resorts, you can take your mug along and fill it up! And then you can sit in the lobby of the Grand Floridian, drinking coffee from your Disney mug like you totally can afford to stay there!

Are Disney Mugs Worth the Cost?

If it’s your first trip to Disney, the Disney mugs are probably worth the cost, because you can keep it as a souvenir, plus it’s useful during your trip!

Something to consider when activating your Disney mug: How far is your room from the dining hall? How easy is it going to be if you’re up in your room at night craving hot choccy to come down to the dining hall to get it? Will you stop to fill up on your way to the parks, or is it too far out of the way?

If you plan to fill it up several times a day, then yes, it is definitely worth it. Especially if you’re going to chill by the pool.

But if the dining hall is really out of the way, it may end up being more of a hassle to try to get your money’s worth. But either way, at least you leave with a useful souvenir. And it’s made in the small town where I work! So you can feel good about supporting small town businesses!

Free (and cheap) Activities

Don’t Go into the Parks Every Day

I would highly suggest to not pack your Disney vacay as full of everything as possible. Take some time to breathe, relax, and just enjoy being there.

There are A LOT of things you can do besides just visiting the parks. I have a whole list of free and cheap activities to do at Disney World in between park days, like mini golf and pin trading.

Go to a Waterpark

Another alternative to one of the 4 main theme parks is to visit a water park. The water parks are fun (and still expensive), but a bit cheaper than a Magic Kingdom park ticket. The two water parks are:

Disney waterparks have their own version of the refillable mugs that are good for the day. You can also reactivate a waterpark mug on another day at a lower cost.

Check out these ideas of free (and cheap) things to do to save money at Disney:

Disney Gear

Buy Your “Disney Gear” Ahead of Time

I’ll admit, as soon as I get to Disney World, I want to buy everything. Just because I want to hold my precious souvenir in my fancy Disney bag and then carry it around Disney Springs for the rest of the day showing off to everyone else that I too bought something at Disney.

And then I have to wear all of the Disney merchandise I bought so that I can also walk around all day showing off to everyone else that I too bought Disney stuff at Disney.

But you don’t have to buy it at Disney!

By all means, get yourself a souvenir, but save money at Disney by stocking up on your outfits and Mickey ears ahead of time.

Buy Online:

I really love buying Minnie ears on Etsy. They are absolutely adorable, come in endless options, and are hand made by individuals at small businesses (so you def can feel good about blowing all your stimmies on Minnie ears!).

You can also find lots of shirts & dresses to wear on Etsy.

You can also buy a whole bunch of pins to trade on Ebay, or basically find whatever else you’re looking for cheaper online than at Disney.

The Disney Outlets:

If you have (or hire) transportation in Orlando, you can buy your ears (and other gear) at one of the two Disney Outlets.

So the moral of the story is, buy Disney souvenirs before you get to Disney.

Any other ideas?

Be sure to share your tips for how to save money at Disney World in the comments below! So we can all have a trip to the most magical (and expensive) place on earth that’s a little more affordable!

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World?

Save one of the pins below for future trip planning (and saving!):