How to Do Disney on a Budget

So many families want to experience Walt Disney World, but are concerned about the cost of the most magical place on Earth! The biggest question I get as a travel agent specializing in Disney Destinations is, “How can I afford a trip to Walt Disney World”? I tell all my clients that Walt Disney World can be done on a variety of budgets. If you want to experience the parks, we can work within your budget (for the most part! It’s not going to be free…and it will cost…but there are lots of options to help keep cost low).

Here are my hints for saving the most money on a Disney Vacation:

How to do Disney on a Budget Raleigh Moms Blog

Go When Others Are In School

The best way to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation is to go when most kids are in school. We are lucky enough to be in year round school, so we always go to Disney in late January, when the parks are not at all crowded. Not only is it cheaper, but not fighting crowds can make the trip much more enjoyable! I understand this isn’t always feasible, so there are several other great ways to save…

Stay On Property

There are numerous options for hotels near Walt Disney World for every budget, but I always recommend Disney hotels for their amenities and experiences. When you stay at a Disney property you get free transportation to the parks. While it doesn’t sounds like a big savings, a lot of hotels charge for transportation to and from the parks, and you do have to pay for parking at each Disney theme park, which can add up! You can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (extra time in the parks reserved just for people staying at a Disney property). If you are flying, you also receive the free Magical Express bus transportation from the airport to the resort. But don’t feel like you will break the bank with all these extras; Disney’s Value Resorts are affordable options for families themed with fun in mind.  

Bring Your Own Food

Did you know that you can take your own food into the parks? It’s true. Disney has very little restriction on what food you can take into the parks (no alcohol!). So feasibly you could bring all your meals in. I love seeing folks in the parks having impromptu picnics from their backpacks.  If you forget to pack drink, don’t worry; at all Quick Service restaurants you can ask for a cup of ice water…for free!
I personally love the food at Walt Disney World though, and my husband is not a fan of picnic lunches! We usually purchase a vacation package with one of the Disney Dining Plans, which turns our vacation almost into an all-inclusive trip.  Disney runs special packages throughout the year when you can get the Disney Dining Plan for a discount; sometimes you can even get it for free with your whole package. There are so many amazing restaurants on property, and the Disney Dining Plan is a great way to experience them.

Mickey SouvenEars!

Disney has some fantastic merchandise; the shops are a dangerous place for me! You can really blow your budget the minute you step inside a Disney shop, so I believe you have to have a plan, and you have to set expectations up front…and it is a good idea  to start planning months before your trip.

Get your kids to start a Disney Fund. Give them cash for chores or helping out around the house. Then before your trip, take them to Target and get Disney Gift Cards to use as their spending money. They will get excited for the trip every time they do a chore!
When you first enter the parks, find Guest Services, and get a celebration pin (for free!). Everyone is celebrating something when they visit the parks…find your celebration pin and wear it with pride. Collect all your pins from over the years to remember what you were celebrating on each trip.
Make sure you pick up a set of Mickey Ears. It’s the perfect souvenir. If you are celebrating a birthday or a first visit, they will often embroider the ears with your name for free (not always…but often!).


Allison Hart Photo

For more tips, the latest happenings, or for more information about planning your magical vacation, please follow my Facebook page at  or email me at [email protected] to help you create a trip that will fit within your budget. Happy Travels!

*This post was sponsored and written by Allison at Marvelous Mouse Travels. Did you know it is free to work with a Marvelous Mouse travel specialist?

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