If you are currently planning a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth, I am willing to bet you are looking for every single way you can save a little cash. It doesn’t matter if you are heading to Disneyland or Disney World because they’re two sides of the same coin – a very expensive coin.
Heading to Disney is amazing. It really is a magical experience, and there isn’t anything like it. But, do you really want to be forever in debt because you spent a week with Mickey and friends?
I can’t really get you discounted tickets (I’m convinced those do not exist, so do not fall into the tourist trap souvenir shop claims), but I can help you save a little bit here and there during your visit. After all, any little bit helps, right?
Stay Somewhere Else
Sorry, Disney Resorts fans. The Disney-owned accommodations are so expensive. It’s really cool to have all that Disney-themed goodness overflow into your hotel, and it does come with a few extra perks. However, you can cut the cost of your stay by half if you just book a room elsewhere. Even with the added cost of parking, you would save enough for an entire family to eat in the park multiple times a day.
Pick Up Disney Gift Cards Ahead of Time
Did you know that you can use Disney gift cards at Disney World and Disneyland? Not only can you use these gift cards within the parks, but you can even use them to purchase park tickets.
So how does this save you money? Because if you plan ahead, you can actually pick up Disney gift cards at a discount – thereby making your purchases cheaper. Some warehouse clubs offer them at a discounted rate, like at BJ’s and Sam’s Club. Other stores, like Kroger, may accumulate points that can then be used to get gift cards for cheap.
Personally, my favorite method is with Target. While the store doesn’t actually sell discounted gift cards, Target RedCard holders get 5% off their purchases. You can use that discount on Disney gift cards!
Skip the Park Hopper Option
I do think that having the option to visit multiple parks in one day is pretty cool, but if you’re trying to save money on your trip, you should just skip it. It isn’t wildly expensive or anything, but once you start adding up the cost of multiple days, and multiple people on vacation together, that “small” cost adds up pretty quickly. Instead, plan on sticking to one park per day. You will likely see more and be able to do more, as traveling won’t eat up park hours, either.
Eat Some Meals Outside the Parks
I love all of the amazing food choices inside the parks, and I am certainly not telling you to avoid eating inside the park at all. However, it is important to plan ahead if you are actively trying to keep the cost of your vacation down. Food prices at Disney Parks have gone up again, and portions simultaneously went down. It is even more expensive if you are looking at table service vs. quick-service restaurants.
In order to save money on food, start by packing snacks. While some other theme parks out there don’t allow outside food and beverages, Disney will let you bring in snacks and water bottles. And hey, if you’re not a huge fan of water, pack a few water flavor packets!
Take a look at food options at the park you will be visiting ahead of time. Decide what is most important to you – as in, is there a particular restaurant you just absolutely need to experience – and then plan to eat other meals that day outside the park (or from your snack stash!). Always eat a good breakfast before you head to the park, so you don’t find yourself making rash decisions while you’re hangry.
Visit During the Off Season
To save money, avoid going during peak times. If you plan your vacation during the “off season” months, you’ll wind up saving a good amount of money. During times when people are less likely to visit the parks, ticket prices go down.
On top of saving money on your park tickets, you’ll also be able to save money elsewhere. You’ll find that airfare, lodging, and more all fluctuate the same, too.
If you’re trying to save money, it’s also worth noting that the days of the week matter, too. Avoid the weekend at all costs if you’re trying to save cash. Those weekend tickets are always more expensive than during the week, unless there is a holiday.
As an added bonus, Visiting Disney during these times will also mean smaller and fewer crowds. You’ll be able to see and do more without the lines!