How to Save Money at Disney World
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In our family, the frantic finalizations for our Disney World trip have begun! We’re still a few months out, but for my family of 5, plus two grandparents, getting ourselves together is a bit like herding squirrels. Or cats. Make that wolverines. While our resort has been booked since the fall, there are plane tickets, dining reservations, and lots of packing still to do before taking off.
Before our 2022 trip, I was a Disney virgin. The most Disney I had ever been immersed in were the movies and the store. Thankfully, I’m resourceful, and spent months researching everything I thought I needed to know. Having now been to the most
expensive magical place on earth, I can confidently say that planning, combined with experience, has given me insight into some amazing ways to save money when planning a Disney vacation. If you’re looking for ways to keep the damage to your bank account to a minimum, you’ve come to the right place.
One of the easiest, and most significant ways to save money at Disney World is to book your park tickets through Undercover Tourist. This is a tip I learned compliments of TouringPlans and their Unofficial Guide to Disney World. For passes of 3 or more days, booking with Undercover Tourist consistently saves about $30-40/ticket. For a family of 5, this results in $150+ of savings, which is essentially enough to cover a meal at a decent Disney restaurant.
Undercover Tourist makes booking extremely simple. You literally pick the tickets you want to buy, then purchase them. They send you a confirmation e-mail with your ticket numbers, and you link them to your My Disney Experience account. Additionally, the ticket is refundable if unused, and the people at Undercover Tourist are delightful to work with.
Take Advantage of Disney World’s Park Hopper Pass
If you’ve read any of my previous Disney World posts, you’ll know that our first trip was a steep learning curve. One regret I had from our previous trip (and will not be making again) is foregoing the park hopper. What a waste of my time, patience, and money. I read so many articles and books about taking a midday rest. Yes. Absolutely do that. Something I didn’t consider was the amount of energy it takes to prepare for and execute even a single-day excursion with three little humans. At the time of our last Disney adventure, my little people were 10 months, 2.5, and 5. Once we returned to the resort for our afternoon siesta, there was literally zero percent chance I was taking my kids back out in a vehicle, but we also didn’t have enough time to fully enjoy the pool, either.
The solution to this issue (for us) is the park hopper. If you’re staying on the monorail or within walking distance of Epcot, this is a phenomenal option and can save money by touring one day less, but getting back full touring days. This only seems to work; however, if you’re touring for three days, which is the case for my family. We can really only handle three days of Disney chaos before we’re all a grumpy mess.
I love treats as much as the next person. I do not love the way I feel after eating restaurant meals and said treats for a solid week. By the time I get home, I’m bloated, grumpy, and craving nutritious food. I’m also an introvert. So combine feeling gross with being overwhelmed and hot for a week and I become an absolute ogre. Thoughts and prayers for the first jerk that gives me judgy side-eye on the plane ride home or makes a stupid comment about my baby needing to be fed/napped or having gas (true story). To avoid altercations with other passengers (or an air marshall), the solution I’ve created for this is:
- Eat breakfast at the park (thereby getting through security and into the park before the masses descend).
- Graze on *fun* snacks during the morning.
- Carry a packed (fresh) lunch using a backpack cooler and Bento boxes.
- Take a midday siesta in the room (and have a nutritious snack to balance out the morning sugar binge).
- Go to Epcot for dinner and more touring. (We prefer to stay at Beach Club so this is walkable for us)
Picnics are my absolute jam. If you’re with me, check out this post about great Disney picnic locations.
There are so many things I was hoping would continue after COVID. The big one was people staying home when they were sick. While that clearly didn’t stick, online grocery shopping did! Whether you rent a Villa through Dave’s, or you’re in a standard room, placing a grocery order and picking it up on your way into Orlando saves a significant amount of money (and traveling space). Luckily, Whole Foods, Target and Walmart are all within a short drive of Walt Disney World Resort.
By packing some healthy lunches or snacks into your day, you’ll be able to mitigate the sugar crash and still feel comfortable in your pants by the end of your vacation. If you’re wondering what types of snacks are both nutritious and take up minimal to no real-estate in a hotel fridge, don’t panic – I wouldn’t leave you hanging. Whether you have a small mini-fridge or an apartment-sized fridge, these options can help you stay on track and keep your mood even.
- Guacamole + plantain chips
- Apples + almond butter
- Rice cakes + peanut butter or almond butter
- Deconstructed nachos: cubed cheddar, tortilla chips, salsa, refried beans
- Grapes or mandarin oranges + cheese stick
- Applesauce + cheese cubes
- Cheerios and shelf-stable chocolate milk
- Homemade trail mix