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
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