The 3 Easiest Ways to Save Money at Disney World and Disneyland

I was 23 years old the first time I went to Disney World. We were driving back from Clearwater Beach, Florida and the GPS decided to route us through Orlando. I begged my now-husband to drive a bit out of our way and pass Disney World so I could finally see it! Luckily, he knew that you can’t actually see anything from the road so we drove into Magic Kindom at 4 p.m. and managed to hit all of the major rides before closing!

Paying full price for park tickets and only going for half the day didn’t make it the cheapest visit. Since then we’ve had the chance to plan (and budget!) for our Disney trips and I’ve found a few ways to save money. Below are some quick and easy ways to save on your next visit!

1. Skip the Parks

Hanging with Daisy at Mickey's Surf's Up! Breakfast - No Park Ticket Needed!
Hanging with Daisy at Mickey’s Surf’s Up! Breakfast – No Park Ticket Needed!

Instead of buying an expensive one day ticket, hang out in Disney Springs or Go to a Character Meal at a Disney Resort. This gives you a great taste of the magic, without splurging on expensive park tickets, especially if you’ll only be in the area for one day. We also like to end our short trips with a character breakfast at a resort so we don’t have to add a day to our park tickets, but still get to feel the Disney vibe. We loved Mickey’s Surf’s Up Breakfast at Disneyland and have plans to hang out with Stitch at the ‘Ohana breakfast at Disney World this summer. Bonus: Doing longer character meals on off days means more time for rides on park days!

2. Buy Disney Gift Cards at a Discount

Disney gift cards can be used to pay for resort stays, park tickets, and food and souvenirs in the parks making them as good as cash! There are a few different ways to buy Disney gift cards at a discount to reduce the cost of your trip.

Warehouse Clubs  – If you belong to Sam’s Club or BJ’s warehouse clubs, they sell Disney gift cards for about a 5 percent discount. Some credit cards (like the Discover It card and Chase Freedom card) offer quarterly spending bonuses at warehouse clubs that you can stack with the discounted gift cards

Target – If you hold a Target red card or debit card, you automatically get 5 percent off every purchase at Target. Pick up some Disney gift cards on your next Target run for an easy 5 percent discount.

Grocery Stores – Some credit cards offer bonus points or extra cashback at grocery stores. Additionally, Giant often runs promotions where buying gift cards earns you bonus Fuel Rewards.

3. Purchase Discounted Park Tickets

Sites like Undercover Tourist and ParkSavers are authorized to sell Disney World and Disneyland tickets and they do at prices that often beat Disney’s own prices. If you decide to buy discounted tickets, be sure to research the company to be sure you are purchasing valid tickets..

Bonus Tip: Save on Food and Drinks

These tips aren’t Disney specific, but still apply!

Ask for Free Ice Water – This is kind of a silly tip, but all of the quick service restaurants at Disney World and Disneyland will give you a glass of free ice water.

Bring Your Own Snacks and Water Bottles – Disney allows you to bring in a small cooler. Take advantage of this by packing your own snacks and water!

Split Meals – At Disney, the servers never make you feel guilty for splitting meals and there is no extra charge to do so.

These are a few simple ways that we’ve saved money on our trips. Stay tuned for my more advanced tips, where we dive into ways to save that require a bit more planning, getting you even more savings!

“Magic Kingdom Castle” by Mickey View on Flickr

Hains Point – A Not-So-Hidden DC Gem

View from Hains Point DC of planes taking off from DCA
View of the Airport from Hains Point

When you can’t decide between a leisurely stroll, a picnic, watching airplanes takeoff, playing on a playground, fishing, or feeding ducks, you need to head to Hains Point! During cherry blossom season, it’s also a great place to check out the blooms without the crowds.

Hains Point is a peninsula on the southern end of East Potomac Park and bordered by the Potomac River. There are many green spaces with picnic tables scattered throughout, most shaded by mature trees. While the two play areas–one geared towards younger kids and one geared towards older kids–don’t have any shade, there are plenty of shady spots closeby for parents to watch.

Hains Point DC Playground for older kids
Playground for Older Kids
Hains Point DC Playground for younger kids
Playground for Younger Kids

Walking paths on the water’s edge surround the area, making it a great way to spot ducks, boats, and even planes! Or grab a fishing pole and unpack your picnic while you enjoy the breeze.


Visiting the park is free and there is even plenty of free parking. The closest metro station (Smithsonian) is two miles away.

Penrose Square Spray Fountains

Enjoying the Fountains

Since summer in DC is hot, hot, hot, we are always looking for fun ways to cool off. The spray fountains at Penrose Square are always a hit with the kids. The fountains spray high, making it a fun game to see how many you can run underneath before getting wet!

Plenty of tables and chairs nearby make it easy for parents to grab a spot in the shade and watch while sipping a cup of coffee from Starbucks across the plaza or munching on a pizza from Marble & Rye.


Use of the spray fountains is free. Limited, metered street parking is available along with a parking garage, which is free for the first hour (rates start at $2 after that). While there are no public bathrooms, the nearby businesses do have bathrooms available for customers.