Five Ways to Avoid Overspending in Walt Disney Disney World

There’s no way around it, a Walt Disney World vacation is not cheap. Between tickets, accommodations, meals, souvenirs, and uncharge experiences, a trip to the “Most Magical Place on Earth” can be very cost-prohibitive. However, believe it or not, there are actually are some ways to avoid overspending and to save money at the vacation kingdom. These are five of the easiest to implement on your next Walt Disney World trip.

Caribbean Beach Resort Reflection Landscape
Caribbean Beach Resort reflected in Barefoot Bay 

Accommodations

There are numerous advantages to staying on Disney property (earlier access to FastPasses, Extra Magic Hours, transportation, etc.), however doing so doesn’t mean you have go for the Deluxe Resorts. Disney’s Value and Moderate Resorts offer the same basic benefits and Disney atmosphere at sometimes a fraction of the price.

Port Orleans — Riverside

They may be missing some important qualities — prime location on the Monorail, signature dining, recreational activities — but if you’re just looking for a place to lay your head and maybe relax by the pool, Values and Moderates can really work for you — and save you some money!

All Star Sports is the OG Value Resort!

Bring in Outside Food

While admittedly food is a major part of the theme park equation, you can avoid spending too much on sweet snacks and small meals by bringing food into the parks, including a homemade lunch and snacks like granola bars. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge a bit, but if you limit your in-park food purchases to dinner and perhaps one snack, you can definitely save some cash.

Mickey Pretzel

Use Disney Gift Cards

A quick trick to stick to your budget on a Disney vacation is to put your daily cash allowance on a gift card for each day of your stay. That way, you’ll have a definitive amount to spend each day – outside of emergency situations, of course – and once you’re out, you can simply stop spending for the day.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Passholder Gift Card ©Disney

This strategy requires some serious planning, starting with menus from around the World so you’ll know how much to budget for meals and snacks. Check out AllEars’ menus here — with a handy search function!

Buy Disney Souvenirs Beforehand

If you’re traveling with younger children, you’re likely going to hear countless requests for light-up wands, plush characters, and every other toy you can possibly imagine. A quick way to honor some of these requests without going over your spending limit is to pick up Disney toys before you leave for your trip. You can introduce a new toy or souvenir of the day, or save them for when your little one makes a special request.

Plush Minnie and Mickey

Remember that you can often find in-park souvenirs online at ShopDisney, where you can capitalize on sales in order to stock up before you go.

Minimize Impulse Purchases

If you have older children who can tell the difference between items available at Disney Parks and those that can be purchased outside the parks, don’t fret, there’s still a way you can avoid overspending at Walt Disney World. Institute a rule that each member of your group can pick up one souvenir item a day – within a set budget parameter – and stick to it. That way, everyone knows not to buy the first item they see but rather to make sure they truly want something before spending on it.

Do we really need another pair of Minnie ears?

Saving money at Walt Disney World isn’t easy, but every little bit helps. Try these tips to save here and there, and browse tips from AllEars readers to find strategies to save even more!

Budget Tips from Readers around the World

Most recent tip: My husband and I like to travel, and Disney trips are high on our list of things to do. Through the years as we traveled we realized there are a lot of expenses that are obvious and can be budgeted for, and others that are not so obvious that can impact that budget. So I started to make a list of all those hidden expenses. Charges for parking at hotels, tips for shuttles to and from the airport, tips for housekeeping at hotels, tips for meals (this one can really add up), and other things. After we had our list, we set out a coffee can and every time we came in the door we put any ones or other bills in the can. You would be surprised how quickly it all adds up! I would then figure out how much I would need for each category, such as room tips and then I will roll them up and label them and set them aside. For meal tips, we figured how much we would spend on food each day and then we would figure 20 percent of that for each days meal tips. I also made an extra roll for things I might have missed. I can't tell you how much this helped our budget and eased our minds. It's sometimes taking care of the little stuff that can make a big difference. - Randi B.

Have you ever used any of these ticks to avoid overspending at Walt Disney World? Do you have any tips and tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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3 Replies to “Five Ways to Avoid Overspending in Walt Disney Disney World”

  1. We take pictures of the things we’d like to buy to help avoid impulse purchases. We take a picture of the person holding the item, a picture of the price tag, and a picture of the store we found it in. Then while we’re waiting in line, we go through the pictures and talk about which one we like best. We delete the price tag photos (and sometimes the store photos) for the ones we aren’t going to buy. The trick is to balance when we’re going to go ahead and make the purchase, since there’s often a lot of walking involved in heading back to a store to find something!
    This trick works really well at Disneyland, where it’s easy to park hop back and forth and make one purchase at the end of the day. The only time we’ve had a problem with it was when the store had sold out of the size sweatshirt we wanted, but because we’d taken a picture of the price tag, the CM was able to look it up and found it at another store for us. When we got to that store, they had it already waiting for us at the counter.

  2. I agree with Ken: Impulse purchases are fun, so you need at least one. I think the “buy souvenirs in advance” idea would work only with toddlers. Otherwise, the child is quickly going to figure out the scam.

    For older kids, I would give them the challenge/fun/responsibility of buying their own souvenirs. My brother used to give each of his children a certain amount of money that was theirs to spend however they wanted on souvenirs. He encouraged them to shop wisely, figure out tax, keep a running total, and other math skills. It worked great; he limited his expenses, and the kids got what they wanted and learned something as well.

  3. Aren’t impulse purchases one of the bestest parts of a vacation? If you don’t make at least one impulse purchase I’d say the place wasn’t worth going.