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Guest Post: 20 Hip Tips to Save at Disney

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20 Hip Tips to Save at Disney

Guest Post by Julie Harrington-Travel Planner

1. Large families traveling to Disney World may think they have no option but to break the bank when staying on a property at Disney World. However, keep in mind that you can get two guaranteed connecting rooms at one of Disney World’s Value Resorts. Put one adult in each room and split the kids up between the rooms. This will give you 2 bathrooms to share and double the space making for a more economical option for families with multiple children.

2. Disney Chase Visa Card Holders can save 10% off for merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney World. You can also save at select dining locations throughout Disney World and earn Disney Gift Cards. Click here to view all the perks.

3. Instead of hitting the parks for every day of your vacation, cut back on one day of your park ticket and opt to explore your resort or other resorts at Disney World.

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4. Do you drink a lot of soda? Since buying soda can add up really quickly, consider purchasing a refillable mug at your Disney Resort for just $14.95 and refill as much as you would like at the beverage station at your resort. This mug will also be a great souvenir from your trip.

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5. Character dining has become a “must do” on many family’s lists when planning a Disney vacation. If you are looking for a fun character experience without the large price tag, take your kiddos over to the Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Campground for the Chip n Dale Campfire Sing-a-long. This is a free event (all you need to purchase is a S’mores kit if you want to have a snack!). Sit around the campfire, sing some songs and get a surprise visit from Chip n Dale.

6. Bring glowsticks from home. You can find these in all different styles, from eyeglasses, wands, swords, etc. Disney can really get ya with the cost of their glow in the dark items during their night time parades.

7. Schedule your souvenir shopping. I know this sounds strange, but if you do not allow yourself to buy stuff randomly throughout your trip and stick to a certain time, it will allow you to stick to a tighter budget and be more aware of what you are spending. Also, consider giving everyone a souvenir allowance.

8. Time for a cool down when you’re at Epcot? Hit Club Cool. Not only will you get out of the heat, but you can enjoy FREE soda sampling. Taste soda from around the world – give your taste buds a party without spending a dime.

9. Pass on Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and/or Pirate’s League. Instead, find one of the face painting booths throughout the Disney World Theme Parks and have the kids get their face painted for a fraction of the cost. Plus, they will have much more designs and themes to pick from.

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10. Keep your receipts from purchases made at Disney World. On the bottom of some receipts, you may find a money-saving coupon valid for specific stores at select times during your stay (like 10-20% off merchandise etc.).

11. Looking for something extra fun to do at Disney? Don’t want to spend the money on tours, boat rentals or all the other “extras.” Take part in the Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure or coming this spring Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom. Both of these are interactive, clue hunting adventures where you either save World Showcase from Dr. Doofenshmirtz or earn badges just like Russell from Disney Pixar’s UP. These do not cost money; they are attractions available to all theme park guests.

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12. Drink lots of water, not only to stay hydrated but to ward off any of the unnecessary urges to snack while your touring the parks.

13. Bring your own snacks/food into the parks. You are allowed to bring a soft case cooler and food into the theme parks (note that the cooler or bag can be no larger than 24″ x 15″ x 18″). Also note that Animal Kingdom does have restrictions on plastic straws and they are prohibited from the park to keep the animals safe.

14. If you purchased the Plus Dining Plan and want to get the most bang for your buck, you can extend your dining credits by splitting meals. Disney’s portions are large, so two adults can easily share one adult quick service meal. Kids can also split meals if you do not have big eaters.

15. Use your Disney Dining Plan snack credit for breakfast. If you are a light eater in the morning, you can use your snack credit for a muffin, piece of fruit and other available breakfast options.

16. The longer you stay, the bigger VALUE you get at Disney World. The daily cost of a Park ticket decreases in price based on the number of days that you purchase. As you can see from the graphic above, the 3-day ticket and the 5-day ticket do not vary much in price. Note that each ticket provides access to one theme park per day, and all ticket days must be used within 14 days of first use.

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17. Make your own Disney shirts. There are many tutorials online like the one found here where you can learn to create your own shirts to wear at Disney for a fraction of the cost of a shirt purchased at Disney.

18. Most of us like to enjoy a nice meal here and there while we are at Disney World. If you have a favorite restaurant or maybe a new one you want to try, reserve the latest breakfast seating and have that be your lunch for the day. Breakfast is typically the least expensive meal.

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19. Harmony Barber Shop is one of those places at Disney that is often overlooked. Right on Main St USA in Magic Kingdom, head to the Barber Shop so your child can get their first haircut or maybe get a special glitter gel hairdo. This is another great option to replace the expensive Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and/or Pirate’s League.

20. Before heading to Disney World, talk to your children about souvenirs and spending money. I suggest putting a set amount of money on a gift card for each child. Let them know that this is their money to spend and once it is gone, there is no more. This is also a great teaching tool as well.

Do you have any hip tips to share? If so, please share them with us in the comments below!

(A BIG thanks to Julie Harrington-Travel Planner with Family Time Getaways for all these awesome tips! If you need help planning an upcoming Disney vacation, you can contact Julie via email julie@familytimegetaways.com or follow her on Facebook.)

Join The Discussion

Comments 147

  1. Julie

    Thank you for the list. It was great to see a list that didn’t involve any cheating of the system 🙂

  2. Michelle l

    One of my favorite tips for saving money at Disney is to skip purchasing water in plastic bottles. Ice water is free from any counter service location. You can also bring crystal light or mio and turn your free ice water into a great tasting drink!

    • Sarah A

      We also ordered a case of water from Costco.com and had it delivered to our Disney hotel. They will hold packages for you at the desk for several says before your arrival and deliver it to your room after you check-in. 🙂

  3. Denise

    Give your kids “coupons” before heading on your vacation for items you would purchase anyways. They can “redeem” them to you. For instance ours were:
    1 autograph book (buy fun pens ahead of time, park ones are expensive)
    1 Mickey ears
    1 build your own lightsabers
    1 pick your own souvenir

  4. Denise

    Purchase items ahead of time to give kids as a daily souvenir. Place item on the table with a note to the housekeeper to please place on the kids pillows for when you come back for the night. This allows to purchase ahead of time souvenirs that are a surprise, but quite cheaper than purchasing in parks. Items I did were clearance items from the Disney outlet store, Disney items from Dollar Tree, Target dollar spot and Walmart. Keep your eyes peeled for the few months before your trip and you can get fantastic deals!

  5. Denise

    Book when it’s a “free Disney dining” time. As long as one of your days are included in the dates allowed for the Free Disney dining times, your entire trip will be included in the free Disney dining.

  6. Denise

    The app “Disney World Magic Guide” is the best use of a paid app. http://itun.es/us/X5EZv.i It has the most accurate wait times for rides, lists if its a fast pass ride, shows you WHERE the character spots are and WHICH characters will be there, menus for eating places, etc. This is for ALL their parks and Downtown Disney. Tip: find which rides have Fast Passes. Look at the wait times on the app. Then head to the ones with a low wait time and also send someone from your party directly to one with the most wait time to get your Fast Passes!

  7. Denise

    Purchase ahead of time the fan/squirt water bottle on a strap in the fan section of Walmart. They are 1/3 of the cost as in the parks.

  8. Cindy

    We went to the barbor shop for my sons first haircut and he got his haircut a set of mickey ears and certificte for like $15 (that was 4 years ago so I am sure it is more expensive) I got all four boys hair cuts there and for the bigger boys they put hidden Mickeys on the back of thier heads with hair paint. My dad even got a trim and shave there too. Anther good option is to try the cabins in fort wilderness campground. They sleep 6 and are great for bigger families.

  9. aurora

    The best way to save at Disney is working there you enter everyday for free, and after the first week, there is no magic, lol.

    How about take the same amount of money many people waste to go to an overprice place like Disney, and use it to go other place in the world instead?

    • Sarah

      I don’t know- I’ve lived abroad and traveled internationally many times in addition to slipping a bit of sight-seeing into any trip to visit family in the U.S. I still love going to Disney. The fact of the matter is that Disney is *really good* at customer service, crowd control, and cleanliness- and I don’t mind paying extra for that. Their food, though more expensive than making your own, is a better value than at most theme parks I’ve visited- we count eating as part of the experience because it’s so tasty! I’m sorry the magic wore off for you- I have family members and friends who have worked for Disney and still love going to the parks.

    • calie

      How about not commenting when you are a party pooper? If you think that it’s a WASTE to spend on the overprice Disney, then YOU don’t go.

  10. Michele Drapeau

    We just got back from Disney World a few weeks ago. Prior to our trip I found some fabulous souveneirs for the kids (SO inexpensive!) & every day on our trip I gave them a new treasure! They were so thrilled that they never asked to shop while we were at the parks!

    • Michele D.

      Me again! Sorry….meant to mention that I found the treasures on ebay and Walmart.com but I’m sure you can also find some sales at the Disney store.

  11. Erin

    The last time I visited Disney World, my sister and I stopped by one of the face painting booths. We didn’t want to have our whole faces painted so we asked if we could just have a small Mickey painted on. Not only did the cast member do a great job of coming up with a cute design for us, he painted both of our faces for free! We weren’t expecting that, but it definitely was a nice surprise!

  12. Ali

    As for the first “tip”, for large families, it’s much cheaper to get a suite at an off site hotel nearby. In many locations, the driving time to Disney parks is the same as a Disney resort. We’re staying at a hotel next week for $130/ night with full kitchen, two rooms, two tvs, free full breakfast (no Disney resort gives you free breakfast), and free dinner four nights a week. Food is one of the biggest expenses for a large family at Disney, so that is where you need to look at saving money. Also, another tip about staying away from the parks for one of your days, once you get over a four day ticket for Disney, extra days are only like an extra $8 per person per day, not worth it to waste a day at the hotel. But totally worth it to putter around the Magic Kingdom and find hidden gems. Don’t forget to go on old favorites like Carosel of Progress and the People Mover, those are some of my kids favorites! And also there are two Disney parks outlet stores in Orlando. They carry older stuff from the park stores and much cheaper. Try a shopping trip there.

    • amanda

      o wow good tips what hotel i have three little biys and the food is gonn b the biggest expense!!!

    • Sam

      What hotel did you stay at? We are contemplating staying off site our next trip.

      Thanks!

    • Patricia

      Hi Ali could you Please tell me what hotel did you stay at? I have a biga family and it would be great to know! Thanks!

    • Dorene

      Would love to know what hotel !

  13. Dawn

    At the magic kingdom, eat at Cosmic Rays. Order a double cheeseburger combo and an extra bun. (the bun is less than a dollar, I think) They don’t mind if people do this and they have a topping bar like no other, so you can load both burgers and share the very large order of fries. As a former Magic Kingdom cast member. this is my second best money saving tip. The first is to go in the fall, when the weather is cooler and the parks are less crowded.

    • jackie

      Oooh. Thank you for the tip !

    • Sarah

      Going when it’s less crowded is definitely a great tip! You can literally double your value-for-dollar because you’ll spend more time riding rides and less time standing in lines. When I lived in Los Angeles, we went to Disney during the week and during an off-peak season- we were able to ride everything we wanted 2 and 3 times in one day. We went back in the summer on a weekend and didn’t even get to ride everything we wanted, much less multiple times (even with the use of fast passes).

    • Lori

      Awesome tip about the double cheeseburger! Wish we’d have thought of that, and will try it the next time we go.

  14. mascrapping

    Love this blog. I am starting a month long series on two scrapbook albums I made from a week long trip we made to Disney.

  15. Susan

    I get the best Disney tips from “Be Our Guest Podcast” – download it to your iPhone for free from iTunes. They do podcasts on everything related – parks, resorts, dining, crusing, etc. I listed almost every day. It’s a real treat for a true Disney fan. 🙂

  16. Shari W.

    I really like RideMax software/app. It lets you choose all of the rides you want to go on and then plans your day to minimize your wait times. We had Disneyland annual passes and used it for most of our visits. Some people don’t like to stay on a schedule, but we were so thrilled with the shorter wait times that we didn’t mind, and we were able to make changes to the schedule with the app if we really didn’t want to stick to it.

    My other tip is MouseSavers. I got lots of great ideas from that website including a few I’ve seen here.

    Last one (promise!) is that pin trading is one of the most fun experiences we’ve had at Disney. I ordered them in advance (but be careful, there are lots of knock offs online and it isn’t very fair to trade fakes for real pins) and we LOVED trading with the Disney crew members.

  17. Rin

    My family found that the best purchase of the whole trip was the Memory Maker. If you purchase it ahead of time, it is around $160 but it means that ANY photo taken of you in the park by Disney staff (or the rides) get downloaded to you and you have the rights to print them and such. We did that. We had 10 people in our party, and the memory maker was good for all of us for the ONE fee of $160. We ended up getting 450 photos of us, plus another 30 or so stock photos from the parks that we can use for memory books, our video that I put together, and prints. Considering how much one would pay for the photos individually or even in packages, it’s a FANTASTIC deal and a great way to ….well, make memories. 🙂

  18. Emma

    The best way to save the most amount of money (in my opinon) is to go during “Hurricane Season”. If you stay on property (some select hotels excluded) and buy atleast a 2-Day ticket and 3 night stay minimum you could be eligable for free dining. My Fiance and I are taking advantage of this offer because we are HUGE Disney nerds and by planning our Disneymoon around free dinning, we are going to save $600. Free dinning for this coming Hurricane Season is going to be announced and offered in the next couple weeks (normally early May). If you plan on going in fall, I would recommend this option.

  19. Charity

    I have to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this site.
    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts
    by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has
    inspired me to get my own blog now 😉

    Chelsea Tröja

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