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25+ Crucial Tips for Planning for Disney World on a Budget


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through a link.

Disney World on a Budget- Magic Kingdom Castle

If you’re looking to save money on your Disney World vacation, you’ve come to the right place! If so, you’re in luck! This post will share tips and tricks to help you save money while still having a magical experience. So get ready to take your family to Disney World on a budget!


Airline Tips

Tampa International Airport

Choose Nearby Airports

Before booking your Disney vacation, check the airports nearby Orlando International Airport for cheaper flight options.

Flying into a smaller airport may save you a lot of money compared to flying into Orlando or Miami. For example, the Tampa International Airport is only about an hour from Disney World, and flights into Tampa are often much cheaper than flights into Orlando.

Note: Check to see if you’ll save more by calculating the total cost, including airport transportations, rental car, and parking fees.

Aim for Non-Peak Season

There are a few reasons why you should book flights during non-peak season. For starters, the crowds will be smaller, and you’ll have more space to move about the airport and on the plane.

Flight prices will also be lower since there is less demand, so you can save significant money on your travel costs. Additionally, there can be long airport security lines. During peak seasons, wait times can be up to 2 hours long.

Car Tips

Entrance of Walt Disney World - Disney World on a Budget

Drive to Walt Disney World

I have personally driven to Disney World on numerous occasions, and I can say without a doubt that it is one of the best ways to go.

Not only does it save you money on airfare, but it also allows you to take your time and enjoy the scenery along the way. I have made many beautiful memories while driving to Disney World, and I highly recommend it.

Plus, you’ll have your vehicle to use when you get there, which will come in handy for touring the parks. You’ll also be able to avoid the hassle and expense of airport parking and shuttle services.

Airport Transportation

Disney hotel guests now have to find a way to get to Disney World from the airport now that Disney’s Magical Express Bus service has been discontinued. 

I would recommend using shuttle services such as Mears Connect and Sunshine Flyer or rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

Before choosing either method, you should always calculate the total cost of each transportation method to save you the most money. The total cost will vary depending on how many people you’re traveling with.

Shuttle services will charge for each person, while rideshare services don’t charge per person. Go to the Mears Connect or Sunshine Flyer page to see how much it costs for each person. Check Uber and Lyft’s fare estimates to get an idea of how much their ride will cost.

Hotel/Resort Accommodations

Stay at a Value Disney Resort

Disney's Pop Century Resort - Disney World on a Budget

Staying at Disney value resorts is a great way to save on your Disney World vacation if you’re looking to stay at a Disney hotel on a budget. Rooms at a Disney value resort are smaller than in other resorts. However, they still offer all the amenities you expect from a Disney resort, including free transportation to and from the parks and early park entry.

Book Early

There are many reasons why you should book early for hotel rooms. One reason is that you can get a better price if you book early. Prices tend to go up as the date of your stay gets closer, so the earlier you book, the better price you’ll likely get.

Another reason is that hotels/resorts often fill up quickly, especially during busy seasons like holidays and weekends. So if you wait until the last minute to book, you might not be able to find a room that meets your needs and fits your budget.

By booking early, you’ll have plenty of choices to choose from and can get the best deal possible!

Stay Off-Site

Walt Disney World Dolphin - Disney World on a Budget

Disney World is a vast and fantastic place, and it’s definitely worth a visit. However, if you’re like most people and don’t want to spend your entire vacation in the park, there are many other great things to do in the area. One of the best options is to stay at an off-site hotel.

There are a few reasons why this is a good idea. First of all, off-site hotels tend to be a lot cheaper than Disney resorts. This can save you a lot of money, especially if you’re traveling with a large group.

Additionally, off-site hotel rooms are often much bigger than Disney hotels, so they can accommodate more people. They also offer amenities, such as pools, restaurants, and shops.

Overall, staying at an off-site hotel is a great way to get the most out of your Disney World trip.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

I highly recommend staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for a few reasons. These two hotels offer great value for your money, especially compared to other Disney World resorts. They’re located right on Disney property, meaning you can easily access all the theme parks. You can even walk to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios (a 10 to 15-minute walk)!

They offer free transportation to and from each theme park, so you can skip the rental car. I do have to warn you that buses can get a bit crowded during peak times (park opening and closing times).

Tip: If you see a long line for bus transportation, you can always walk to Disney’s Yacht club or Boardwalk Inn located right next door and hop onto the buses there.

Another big reason is that you can take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours. The Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours perks are critical to getting the most out of your Disney World trip.

Early Theme Park Entry allows guests to get into the theme parks 30 minutes before the public, which means you can get on some of the most popular rides without waiting in line.

Extended Evening Hours allow you to stay in the parks on select days for two hours after they close to the public, giving you more time to experience all that Disney World offers. With these two perks, you can maximize your time at Disney World!

Book a Room Using a Third Party Website

Although I tend to prefer booking Disney Resorts directly through the official Walt Disney World Resort website, I must admit that opting for third-party sites can have its own set of advantages.

Third-party websites offer great deals on rooms at Disney resorts and good neighbor hotels. You can often save money by booking through a third-party website rather than directly through Disney or off-site hotel website. This will, of course, depend on the season for when you’re going and whether or not the hotel/resort has special offers.

For Disney Hotels, waiting for Disney discounts can be a gamble, especially when you have to reserve a room early before Disney posts its special offers. Several times, I’ve regretted reserving through the official Disney website, wishing that I had booked with a different booking site, which could’ve saved so much more money.

The best way to snag a great deal is to use Tripadvisor! Tripadvisor allows you to compare prices from various travel booking sites.

I know many families that book through Tripadvisor for Disney hotels and have not had any problems!

Last time, I was able to book an off-site hotel room at Walt Disney World Swan for almost half the price from Tripadvisor!

Note: Remember, booking through third-party websites has its benefits, but it also comes with risks. To ensure a smooth experience, make sure to do your research and check everything before confirming your reservations.

Extra: Rent DVC Points

So this trick is more for those planning on booking a Disney Deluxe Villa room, hence extra.

Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare service where members buy points they can use yearly to stay at Disney. Sometimes members cannot use up their points and look to rent them out to others. Sites like David’s Vacation Club Rentals allow you to rent DVC points from members! The great part is that you don’t have to be a DVC member to rent them!

Renting points can be an amazing way to get access to some of the more luxurious resorts on Walt Disney World property for less. These Deluxe Villa rooms tend to have amenities such as a kitchen, washer, and dryer. These rooms can be great if you’re traveling with a large group. You’ll get all the benefits of being a Disney resort guest, including free Disney transportation, early theme park admission, and extended evening hours.

So if you’re looking for an affordable way to stay in a deluxe resort or want to experience some of the more luxurious resorts on Walt Disney World property, renting points from the Disney Vacation Club is a great option!

Park Tickets

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios - Disney World on a Budget

Buy from Third-Party Sites

Disney park tickets can be expensive, but you can often save money by buying them from a third-party site. These sites have special deals and discounts you can’t get by buying Disney tickets directly from Disney. So, if you’re looking to save some money on your next trip to Disney World, check out a third-party ticket site first! I strongly recommend purchasing from Undercover Tourist, an authorized Disney Ticket Seller.

If you’re a AAA member I highly recommend checking their ticket website for discounted Disney World Tickets!

Note: Avoid buying park tickets sold on eBay or Craigslist. You may risk buying non-valid park tickets.

Avoid Holidays, Events, and School Breaks

Peak season is the most expensive time to visit Disney World. The parks are busier, and the prices for hotel rooms and theme park tickets are higher. You’ll save a lot of money if you avoid traveling to Disney during 3-day weekends, holidays, Disney events (such as the Disney marathon), spring break, and summer.

Skip the Park-Hopper tickets

Disney offers a variety of ticket options, and the park hopper ticket is the most expensive. If you’re only going for a few days, spending the extra money on the park hopper ticket is probably not worth it. Instead, opt for the regular one-park ticket and plan your days accordingly. Traveling to other Disney parks takes time and can get exhausting. You can always use the park hopper to hop from park to park if you need to, but chances are you’ll be just fine sticking to one theme park.

Credit Card

Use Credit Card Rewards

When it comes to budget-friendly Disney vacations, exchanging your credit card rewards for Disney gift cards is a great way to go. Most credit card companies offer points or miles for every dollar you spend, which can be redeemed for gift cards or other merchandise. For example, if you have a card that offers 1 point per dollar, you could trade in $100 worth of rewards for a $100 Disney gift card. This can come in handy if you’re trying to stick to a budget while still enjoying all the magic that Disney has to offer.

Check your credit card reward system to see what kind of options you have.

Sign Up For a Disney Credit Card

If your credit card company doesn’t offer an option to redeem points as Disney gift cards, sign up for a Disney credit card!

Disney credit cards are a great way to get discounts on your next Disney trip. You’ll get a 10% discount on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations within the resorts. This includes purchases made at Disney Store locations and You’ll also get 10% off select dining locations within the parks on non-blackout days. Plus, you can earn rewards points from your everyday purchases that can be redeemed for free Disney vacations.

So if you’re planning a trip to Disney World, check out the Disney credit card.

Discounted Disney Gift Cards

Star Wars Bottle at Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World - Disney World on a Budget

You can buy discounted Disney gift cards at Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Costco, and Target. You can also purchase them at your local grocery store that offers fuel points. Use these for anything you want- hotel stays or meals! Just make sure to hold on to your gift cards just in case you have to cancel or return an item.

Drinks and Foods

Order or Buy Groceries

Ordering groceries can be a great way to save on food expenses. Eating park foods, even at quick service restaurants, and snacks can get pretty expensive.

By ordering groceries, you can pack your own food and snack to eat at the parks. Have your groceries delivered to your resort using services such as AmazonFresh, Walmart+, and Instacart.

If you’re renting a car, stop by one of the local grocery stores to purchase food and snacks.

Note: Contact the hotel you’ll be staying at if they allow grocery delivery service.

Order Kid’s Meal

When you go to Disney World, order from the kid’s meal. This way, you can get a smaller portion of food that’s still very tasty. I order from a kid’s meal whenever I’m not really hungry.

Note: Some table service restaurants will charge you adult prices so check with the waiter beforehand!

Buy a Refillable Popcorn Bucket on Your First Day

Popcorn Bucket Walt Disney World - Disney World on a Budget

If you love eating popcorn, buy a refillable popcorn bucket on your first day at the parks! It’s a great deal. A regular refillable bucket costs around $13; refills are just around $2. Plus, these buckets are souvenir-worthy!

Bring a Water Bottle

Bring your own water bottle to avoid spending money on drinks! Bottled water/soda is expensive inside the park. It’s hot in Orlando, and you’ll want to stay hydrated. There are refill stations throughout the parks where you can refill your bottle. You can also get water for free at quick and table service restaurants. A reusable water bottle will save you money in the long run.

If you don’t like the taste of water or want something different, I recommend bringing a packet of drink mix like Crystal Light to change the flavor!

Join Loyalty Programs or Subscribe for E-mails

An easy way to save on food expenses on your trip is to join the restaurant’s loyalty programs. These programs offer discounts/rewards and other benefits, such as priority seating and free meals.

Some loyalty programs include the Levy Restaurants Loyalty ProgramLandry’s Loyalty Program, and Earl of Sandwich Royalty Club. Subscribe to e-mails from the Patina Restaurant Group to receive special offers and coupons. Joining/subscribing is easy, and the benefits are well worth it.

Buy Disney Gear Beforehand

If you purchase Disney gear before your trip, you’ll be able to save money while still enjoying the magic of Disney. Most Disney merchandise is expensive in the parks, so it’s best to buy beforehand.

If you want official Disney merchandise, buy from shopDisney! They usually have special discounts and deals throughout the year.

Another place I recommend looking for is thredUP.

ThredUP is a consignment shop for clothes and accessories, and they have a pretty large selection of Disney clothing. Plus, you can save up to 90% off the original price when you buy Disney clothing from thredUP!

If you’re looking for unique, cheap Disney gear? Go to Etsy. You can find all sorts of handmade and vintage Disney-themed items there. Plus, buying things from Etsy helps support small businesses and artists, so you can feel good about your purchase!

Note: Want a fun, creative option? Create your own Disney ears or shirts! You can buy supplies from Amazon or craft stores such as JOANN!


Disney Springs Shopping - Disney World on a Budget

Check ShopDisney

There’s no need to break the bank when it comes to Disney souvenirs. In fact, you can buy some great items right on shopDisney.

ShopDisney has a fantastic selection of souvenirs, from t-shirts and hats to figurines and mugs. You’re sure to find something perfect for everyone on your list.

Also, Disney souvenirs can be a bit pricey in the parks, but on shop Disney, you’ll find great deals on all kinds of items. You might be able to buy park items for cheaper!

Shopping for Disney souvenirs online is the easiest way to get what you need. Just browse, select, and check out – it’s that simple! Plus, you won’t have to worry about fitting your souvenirs into your luggage!

If you are looking for a special gift or just some extra magic for your collection, head to shopDisney and take advantage of their great prices and selection!

Visit Disney’s Character Warehouse

Disney’s Character Warehouse is a great place to visit if you are on a budget. They have all sorts of Disney items for a fraction of the cost of the parks. Disney’s Character Warehouse is located inside Orlando International Premium Outlets, a great place to visit on your non-park day.

Disney Park Map

Park maps are the perfect souvenirs. They’re a great way to remember your time at Disney World. You can keep it in a folder or frame it on your wall/desk.

Pressed Penny

Pennies are a great way to remember your visit to Disney World. They’re affordable, small, and come in a variety of designs. You can usually find pressed penny machines at Disney parks, Disney Resorts, as well as in Disney Springs.


Magic Kingdom Castle - Disney World on a Budget

Rent Strollers or ECVs Off Parks

When you’re visiting Disney parks, there are many things to consider when it comes to budgeting. One considerable expense can be renting a stroller or wheelchair.

A great money-saving tip for stroller rentals and ECVs is to rent them off the parks. A few different companies offer this service, which can save you a lot of money.

Plus, when your kid falls asleep at the end of the day, it can be hard to carry them around. Renting a stroller off parks is an excellent option so you can easily head back to the hotel and avoid waking them up.

Skip the Memory Maker

It’s tempting to buy the Memory Maker, but I would resist the urge if you’re going there on a budget. The PhotoPass service is expensive; a total of $169 for all your photos and videos from your vacation.

You can always ask the photographer/cast member at the PhotoPass Service area to take a picture with your own camera or phone!

Pack For the Unexpected

Predicting what might happen during your Disney trip is never really possible. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pack for the unexpected, just in case something comes up. You never know when you might need an extra pair of clothes, some sunscreen, bandages, or medication.

Also, Florida weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Pack some rain ponchos or umbrellas. Of course, you can buy these items at Disney, but they tend to be pricier than from your local grocery/drug store.

So be sure to pack everything you might need, just in case!

Plan a “Non-Park” Day

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Pool - Disney World on a Budget

When it comes to Disney, there are a lot of options to consider when it comes to budgeting. You can choose to do a Disney World vacation on a budget by planning ahead and making wise choices. One way to save money is to plan a “non-park” day. There are plenty of other things to do and see at Disney World that don’t cost as much.

Visit Disney Springs

If you’re looking to visit Disney on a budget, then you should definitely check out Disney Springs. There are tons of great shops and restaurants there that are affordable and family-friendly. You can find everything from souvenirs to dinner there, and you’ll be able to save some money compared to the prices at the theme parks. So if you’re looking for a fun, affordable day out at Disney, Disney Springs is the place to go!

Visit Swimming Pools

Visiting the swimming pools at Disney World on a budget is a great way to save money and still have a lot of fun. The pools offer plenty of space to swim and play, plus there are plenty of chairs and umbrellas available for relaxing in the sun. There are also several poolside bars where you can buy drinks and snacks, so you can enjoy a day at the pool without spending a lot of money.

Enjoy Free Activities at Disney Resort

Savannahs at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Disney World on a Budget

If you’re looking to visit Walt Disney World on a budget, there are plenty of free activities available at the resorts. You can enjoy campfires, movies under the stars, and live entertainment without spending a dime.

You can also head to Animal Kingdom Lodge to watch animals roam free on the expansive Savannahs.

Watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks

If you’re looking to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks without spending a dime, watch them from outside the park—from a nearby resort, for example. My favorite place is to watch the fireworks from the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Play Mini Golf

If you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive way to spend your day at Disney World, head to the mini golf course! You can play mini golf at Disney World for just $14 per adult and $12 per child. There are two miniature golf locations, and both are Disney-themed!

Extra: Visit Deluxe Resorts for Christmas Season

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Gingerbread House - Disney World on a Budget

The deluxe resorts are some of the most beautiful resorts on Disney property. They’re also home to some of the most extravagant Christmas decorations. During the holiday season, these resorts are decked out in garlands, lights, and ornaments. There’s usually a Christmas tree in the lobby and gingerbread decorations!

The Grand Floridian Resort is one of the best places to visit for Christmas decorations. Not only does the resort have a life-sized gingerbread house, but it also has a huge Christmas tree and festive lights throughout the property.

It’s a really magical experience for kids and adults alike!

What Next?

So there you have it! Top tips and tricks for visiting Disney world on a budget. I hope you find this information helpful and that it allows you to enjoy your Disney vacation experience even more. Be sure to save and share this post with your friends, and check out our other Disney-related posts below. Have a magical day!


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