When planning a trip to the Disney Parks, you’ll be faced with A LOT of decisions. While some of them will be total no-brainers, others can be quite difficult to make– especially when it comes to managing your budget!
That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top 9 toughest options you’ll face when it comes to splurging or saving on a Disney vacation!
ParkHopper and ParkHopper Plus
While the convenience of splitting up days between different Parks can’t be beat, this ticket add-on can really add on the bucks! If you’re more of a planner, you can probably get by just fine without the approximate $60 per person ParkHopper; planning for just one Park per day certainly simplifies some things.
As for the $80 per person ParkHopper Plus that allows you extras like Disney water parks: you can always enjoy the pools and amenities at your Resort instead!
Length of Stay
Planning the duration of your trip to Disney is another tricky one. You want to stay long enough to experience everything on your must-do list and maybe even enjoy a few repeats (I know I’m not satisfied unless I get to ride Pirates at least FOUR times!).
But keep in mind that while the cost of your Park admission goes down each extra day, you’ll actually be spending more on additional nights at your Resort, eating more meals, and possibly buying more souvenirs!
Choosing a Value, Moderate, or Deluxe Resort
I know, once you’ve stayed at a Moderate or Deluxe, it can be really hard to recommit to a Value resort — but you can save a TON of money this way! And I’ve gotta say, I’ve stayed at several Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Resorts, and I’ve never regretted any of ‘em!
If you absolutely MUST stay at a deluxe resort, look into renting Disney Vacation Club points from an online broker– yup, it’s actually a thing, and it’s a fraction of the cost of staying in the non-DVC rooms at these high-end resorts!
Leave the Car at Home
Parking prices at Walt Disney World have exploded in recent years! You can really hang onto some cash by using the free Disney Bus Transportation instead of bringing or renting a car. It currently costs $22 per day to park at the theme parks or $45 a day for preferred parking.
And parking rates went up recently at the Resorts too! The new costs are $15 a night to park at a Value Resort, $20 for Moderate, and $25 for Deluxe! You may be tired and sweaty when the parks close and you’re standing on a crowded bus, but your wallet will thank you!
Pulling Your Kids out of School
While some parents fear the ridicule of teachers and other parents, many families are already hip to this money-saving tip! There are just too many positives to outweigh the perceived cons here! Park tickets and Resort rates are significantly cheaper — not to mention the crowds tend to be lighter — when you travel while most kiddos are in school! It’s definitely something to at least consider, particularly when your kids are young!
Choose your Enchanted Extras wisely
Dessert parties, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, After Hours, VIP tours– these are just a few of the upgrades that Disney has to offer for an additional cost. But are these add-ons really necessary for a good time at Disney? Sure, they’re A LOT of fun, but I think it’s safe to say you’ll have a magical vacation even without any enchanted extras!
To Refillable Mug or Not to Refillable Mug
While unlimited fountain drinks, iced tea, and coffee may sound like a dream come true, at $18.99 a pop, we’re talking almost $100 bucks for a family of five! But the biggest drawback of a Refillable Mug is that you can only use these 16 oz. cups at your resort!
So unless you’re planning on spending a lot of time hanging out in your room or you plan to bring your mug to the Parks to fill at water fountains and Bottle Refill stations, take it from me: skip the mug.
It’s notoriously difficult to decide if a Disney Dining Plan is best for you and your family. Basically it boils down to is one simple question: do you enjoying ordering the most expensive item on the menu? If so, you can probably save a few bucks by going with the Plan, otherwise the savings will probably be negligible, and you may be left with more food than you know what to do with!
My best money-saving dining advice is this: use counter service hacks! While it’s not widely known or advertised on Disney menus, you can order just the entree at most Disney counter service restaurants and skip the side of chips or extra fries to save a few dollars. Or share a large Quick Service meal between two people. Then you can use your saved cash to have a snack later when the hunger pangs kick back in!
Having photos of everyone together is a great way to remember your vacation, but the PhotoPass Memory Maker is expensive– it costs $169 when purchased in advance or $199 at the Parks!
Unless it’s your honeymoon or you’re celebrating a really special occasion, this perk might be a bit out of your budget. A trick my party and I have picked up is getting our pictures taken by PhotoPass photographers and having them snap a few pics with our phones or cameras. Then if there are any PhotoPass photos I want, I can purchase and download them individually for around $15.00 each — but I also have a ton of freebies too!