Best Ways to Plan a Disney Trip on a Budget
Planning a family trip to Disney can be a lot of fun. What isn’t so fun, though, is the cost of going to Disney World. On average, a family of four will have to dish out close to $6,000.
This might sound like bad news for your trip, but there are plenty of ways for families to save money at Disney. You can absolutely go to Disney World on a budget, and potentially save thousands of dollars!
You just need to plan carefully and be willing to spend a little less on certain parts of your trip. I've partnered travel agent Leenora Hicks, of Storybook World Travel to provide you with some top money-saving tips for Disney World, and to share some insight that will help you spend your money wisely at this beloved theme park.
1. Fit a Few Non-Park Days Into Your Trip
While Disney World will be at the center of your family trip, you don’t have to spend every day at the park. Some people might not agree with this statement, but you can still have a lot of fun with a few non-park days. In fact, your kids might actually enjoy having one or two days to relax after all the walking you’ll do!
Best of all, you don’t have to miss out on the Disney World experience even when you spend a day or two away from the park. For families staying on a Disney property, the hotel will be themed and have that special Disney magic. So, I suggest doing a pool day or two at your hotel.
If your kids want to go out, try going to Disney Springs. This massive tourist attraction has great shopping options, Disney-themed entertainment, and amazing fine dining. It’s free to enter and you’ll still get a taste of Disney away from the park.
2. Try Visiting One Park Per Day
Park hopper tickets and other add-ons might seem like a good way to spend your money. If you are going to Disney on a budget I highly suggest skipping park hopping tickets. Instead, plan to visit one park each day.
This will save you a ton of money and your trip to Disney will be much less rushed and hectic.
Each day you can pick out one park to visit and plan which rides and attractions you will see. From doing research online, I found that you can save up to 70 dollars on each ticket, per day!
3. Book Your Trip Early and Purchase a Ticket Package
I suggest booking your trip as soon as possible. Disney releases ticket dates during June or July almost a full year in advance. Booking your tickets right away will allow you to pick the best dates with the best prices!
For families that are staying at Disney for multiple days, I also recommend getting a ticket package to save extra money. You won’t get any major discounts on park tickets, but combining your tickets with your lodging has many benefits.
Depending on your Disney ticket packages you could get discounts on park food and nearby restaurants. Some packages even offer discounts on local activities like bike rentals, bowling, and shopping.
In addition, you’ll have more time to budget and plan your trip. To make a reservation all you have to do is put down a $200 deposit. You pay for the rest of your trip 30 days before you check into your Disney hotel.
4. Book A Disney Hotel or Resort
If you don’t end up getting a park ticket package, it’s still worth it to stay on Disney property. Many people mistakenly think that Disney resorts are way out of their budgets. While some of the Disney hotels can be super expensive there are budget options for families that want to spend less.
Nearby hotels and motels might seem less expensive at first, but with many tourists coming through prices can go up at any time. It’s best to stay at a hotel on Disney property. Not only will you save a ton on your room, but there are other hidden savings.
You get free transportation to Disney World. Hotel guests also get to enter the park early which means you can do more in a day and get the most out of your money. If you do decide to drive to the park you will get free parking.
5. Buy Souvenirs Outside The Park
It’s tempting to buy mickey ears and other iconic souvenirs while you’re roaming around Disney. You’ll be better off getting your souvenirs outside of the park. Many of the same souvenirs and gifts found inside the park can be bought at nearby shopping locations for far less money.
You can save even more money if you purchase Disney items online on Amazon. There are tons of great deals if you take the time to look for them!
6. Make Your Own Food
You might not know this, but you can actually bring outside food into Disney World. Themed food at Disney can be fun to eat, but it costs a lot of money, especially if you go to one of the restaurants at the park. This is why I suggest making your own food to take into the park.
Make a quick trip to the grocery store after you check into your hotel. Then follow a food budget so you don’t overspend. You want to pack easy-to-transport foods like sandwiches and small snacks. You can even bring a small cooler with you to the park. Store your extra food in your hotel room fridge.
7. Get Refillable Cups & Popcorn Buckets
For the most part, I wouldn’t suggest getting food or drinks while you are at the park. There are definitely some cheap food and drink options, but you’ll save a ton more money by bringing your own food.
However, if you want a money-saving option buy refillable cups and popcorn buckets at your Disney Resort. You can fill these up as much as you want throughout your trip for no extra fee and share them with your family. The total cost is around 20 dollars, but you can’t refill these at the park only at your resort.
You can get a refillable popcorn bucket as a snack for around $10 to $25 at Disney. Refills are only $2.25 which isn’t that bad, and you get a nice souvenir to bring home!
8. Visit Disney During Less Popular Seasons
Finally, if you are planning a budget trip to Disney, reserve dates that are less popular. It might be more exciting to go to Disney during the middle of summer and the holidays, but it will cost more money. That’s why it’s best to go when Disney is less crowded. Tickets will be more reasonably priced during the low season, and the lines for rides and other attractions will be shorter.
The best times to go to Disney on a budget is during early October and September. Mid-January to February is also less crowded. And again, planning your trip up to a year in advance will bring down the cost of tickets majorly.
Concluding Thoughts on Your Family Trip to Disney
A family trip to Disney will be something that you and your kids will never forget. However, we all have to keep the costs in mind. Disney isn’t cheap, and a trip to this famous park isn’t getting cheaper anytime soon.
So, if you really plan on going to Disney try to stick to a budget. I outlined some simple ways you can plan your trip and spend less. Before you really commit to this vacation make sure you have enough money saved up.
You want to be in a good place financially before you go to Disney. Even on a budget, this trip can get pricey. So, keep all the tips I mentioned in mind as you figure out what you want to do.
*For more information on how to plan the perfect Disney vacation, be sure to follow Leenora Hicks, Concierge Vacation Planner, Storybook World Travel on Facebook*