Disney World Budget Tips
View tips for
I recently took my three grandkids to Walt Disney World. Because we were on a budget, we brought our picnic lunch with us each day. In order to keep it cold until lunchtime I froze a few drink pouches to put in the cooler instead of ice packs. I also had one for each of us that wasn't frozen to have with lunch. The drinks would thaw out by mid-afternoon and be ready for a cool drink when the kids were hot and thirsty. - Denise Eaton
Rent a villa off property. There is a huge over-supply of very good quality villas and for larger parties especially (that would need more than one hotel room) they offer fantastic value as well as all the conveniences of a modern home, particularly if families don't want to "Mickey Overdose" and want to enjoy other Orlando attractions. - Brian Hatton
I saw that I could get a great welcome gift in my room if I order it through the Disney Florist, but they are so expensive, so I am improvising. I have already purchased (on clearance) an autograph book & pen, 7 Disney t-shirts, a photo album, Mickey ears, a Lightning McQueen lanyard with several trading pins (I only paid $1 each for them on ebay) and a few other surprises I have picked up along the way. I will be shipping this box to my resort (in a Disney.com box) with a note to my son from Mickey Mouse. My son won't care that the room isn't decorated with everything laid out on the bed. I think the box full of surprises from Mickey will be just as exciting to receive upon arrival. The total amount I've spent on everything is less than $50 (plus ground shipping to the resort). The cast member I spoke with at my resort already confirmed that they will hold my package until we check in, so I can send it ground knowing it will be kept safe until my arrival. Compared to the Disney Florist packages, this is a bargain! Also, I don't need to worry about buying these items at a premium while I'm at Disney. - Lori Eckhart
EDITOR'S NOTE: When shipping a box to your resort ahead of your arrival please remember to address the box to the name the reservation is in as well as the date of arrival.
We went to the Chip and Dale's Campfire Singalong. The event is free. There is singing and dancing for the kids. A gentleman comes out and plays his guitar with Disney type songs. They build 2 fires at each end of the little theater area. You can bring your own marshmallows/smore ingredients. Or you can purchase the makings onsite. If I remember, the S'mores kits were about $12.00. Chip and Dale come around so you can take pictures with your family or get autographs. We missed this the first time we came to Disney but got a chance to participate this last trip. We would recommend this to a family with younger children. My daughter was 12 and still enjoyed it. - Carol Kuhar
If you're not on the Disney Dining Plan, I recommend purchasing a Disney gift card to pay for all of your snacks and incidentals. I wish I had done this. We just got home and I have a very thick stack of credit card receipts for amounts ranging from under $3 to $10. It would have been much easier to just buy a $50 or $75 gift card and use that each time we purchased a drink, ice cream, etc. - Christy B.
Our big money-saving tip is to stay at a Disney value resort the first night of our stay, since we get in late. Then the next morning we take a taxi to our Deluxe resort, stopping at the Hess gas station to pick up bottled water. - Sandie Albrecht
We had resigned ourselves to staying off-site due to a tight budget. But then we remembered Fort Wilderness campground -- all the perks of staying onsite at a fraction of the cost, since we will be sharing our campsite with friends. We are so looking forward to it! - Ky in Gulfport, MS
Explore the world of vacation homes and condos. Remember, a 15-minute drive can save you literally hundreds of dollars. When you get a place to stay, look for somewhere with laundry machines in the unit or available in the complex.You can carry much less luggage and not have to worry about paying baggage fees to the airline. It won't hurt anyone to do one load of laundry on a four- or five-day trip. If you are renting a vacation home or condo, you will probably have to do it anyway for towels. - Tom Galloway
I usually know well in advance about when we'll be traveling, and since we love the Epcot resorts I will book a room at The Walt Disney World Dolphin using any and all discounts I can think of (government employee, Starwood preferred guest, Annual Pass, whatever). I'll book 9 to 11 months in advance for at least seven nights. I can usually "modify" a few days either way depending on my flight without a price increase. You need to pay a one-night deposit, but that's OK. I've kept my reservation, modified it, and even cancelled it with no problems. The reservationist even gave me ideas for nabbing a better deal once! - Mary Ann W.
We're a family of eight, traveling with the in-laws and wife's sister's family, making our party size 14 people strong! We decided to stay off-property at a four-bedroom, 2,340-square-foot condo at Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa. Thanks to AllEars.Net we got 10 percent off and, along with other discounts, our room cost was under $1,000 dollars for four nights! Yeah, yeah you're going to tell me about all we are missing by staying off-property, but before you go there let me tell you the difference and savings: At Port Orleans Riverside Resort the room size was 370 square feet with only two queen-sized beds and one bath! The total for three rooms at Port Orleans Riverside came to $2,489, not including theme park tickets! Staying at Lighthouse Key we got a four-bedroom luxury condo with two king master suites, a queen suite, and a twin bed with trundle bed kids' suite with three baths and full kitchen, living room and laundry room. With our savings, we were able to buy theme park tickets and an all-week premium parking pass for Disney, SeaWorld tickets, and a $145 reservation at Splitsville! - Nick G.
The best discount for Sammy Duvall's Watersports at the Contemporary last summer was from AllEars.Net. Thank you! - Gail
My cardinal rule for Disney vacations is to have everything paid for before we leave. I bring a coupon folio with cash for tips for our full service meals, the boys have their spending money, my sister and I have our money. Meals, transportation, park entry, it's ALL paid up already, so we feel like we're staying for free and I know when I get home I won't be facing a mountain of debt. How does this save me money? NO INCIDENTALS, NO SURPRISES. Do I spend more money than others do on their trips? I'm sure I do! I've seen some miraculously affordable plans. But I always come in on or under OUR budget, and to me the workable budget is almost more important than the dollar figure itself. - Susan
Please call your credit/debit card company before leaving home and alert them to all the places you will be traveling. My card was locked out at Disneyland after I bought my annual pass! The companies are trying to minimize credit card fraud. The worst thing is if customer service isn't there 24/7, and you can't use your card until they reopen. - Leslie Seibert
BJ's Wholesale Club now sells Disney gift cards at a reduced rate. You can buy them in denominations of $25, $50, and $100. The $100 card sells for $95.99. I bought 10, which we will use to pay for some of next year's trip... that's a $40 savings on every $1,000 spent! - Brian McKenna
If you are a Target credit card or Target debit card holder, you can purchase Disney gift cards in store and receive a 5% discount. The cards at my local Target are available in $50 denominations so I have started putting aside money $50 at a time. Every time I get $50 saved, I purchase a gift card using my Target debit card. By doing this I can get $1000 worth of Disney gift cards for $950, $2000 for $1900, etc. - Stephanie