How to Have a Magical Disney Vacation without Breaking the Bank
on Jan 23, 2018, Updated Feb 27, 2020
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Going to Disney World can be a dream come true for large and small budgets alike. If you’re planning a trip to Disney World on a budget, these 11 tips will help you have the most magical family vacation without breaking the bank.
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Top 11 Secrets for Planning a Trip to Disney World on a Budget
1. Visit Disney World During the Off-Season
I have read that the least crowded time to visit Disney World is early December. Not only are rates a bit cheaper, but the crowds are fewer as well! That’s a winning combo for an awesome trip, as far I’m concerned. You can save even more money because hotel rates often go down in the off-season, as do rental cars rates.
And personally, I think the weather is a lot better in the off-peak season than it is in the middle of the summer. If at all possible when you’re planning a trip to Disney World on a budget, consider traveling during off peak times. It’s not so hot and you don’t swelter!
2. Consider Camping or a Vacation Rental Home
While staying in a Disney resort is a lot of fun, you don’t have to be in a resort to have a great Disney World vacation. Campgrounds are always budget friendly options, and vacation rental homes are a lot of fun too. If camping and rental homes aren’t for you, find an off-site hotel to save money as well.
We recently stayed at the Grove Resort Orlando in suite-style hotel rooms. The one to three bedroom suites at The Grove Resort include fully equipped kitchens so you can cook your own meals and washers and dryers as well. Being able to do laundry and cook your own food can really help you save money. Additionally, the resort features an included water park which the kids love. Staying out of Disney parks for one day of your trip is another great money-saving option. Read all about our hosted stay at The Grove Resort Orlando.
4. Buy Trading Pins / Autograph Books Online Before You Go.
One of my kids’ favorite things to do at Disney World was trade pins and collect autographs. But have you looked at the prices of those Disney trading pins? They’re very expensive to buy in the parks. We saved a lot of money on trading pins by buying them ahead of time on eBay. That gave the kids a base to start their trading fun at Disney World! The goal wasn’t to keep them anyway, so it doesn’t really matter how you build up a trading set, right?
5. Pack a Picnic
Of course you will want to have a couple of magical meals in the park, but snacks and water can be brought in the park. You can also keep a picnic lunch in your car and eat there to save more money! It does require exiting the park at meal time, but we were happy with the savings, so we didn’t mind the extra walk back to the car.
6. Take reusable water bottles and fill them up for free
Instead of buying a refillable soda cup at Disney World, take your own water bottle and fill it up for free! If you don’t want to risk losing your nice water bottles, you can always grab a pack of water at the grocery store and refill that bottle during the day. Not only is the water free, it’s also a lot healthier than sodas.
7. Take Your own Photos
The staged photos are Disney World are a lot of fun, but you can take your own pictures and save a bunch of money! Selfie sticks are banned at Disney World, but you can figure out how to take a few pictures without them. Pretend it’s 1988 and ask someone to take a picture for your family, even. 🙂
8. Pack proactively
Avoid having to buy expensive last minute necessities in the park by packing compact rain ponchos, headache and anti-nausea medications, band-aids, etc. If you’re not sure what all to take to Disney World, read Nicky’s comprehensive Disney World Packing Essentials list here.
9. Plan a daily budget and then stick to it!
One of the biggest ways to spend too much money very quickly is to not know what your plan is for the days you will be in the park. Scour blogs, websites and the Disneyland planning guide for the plans and make a budget. Then all you have to do is stick to that budget, and life will be golden. 😀
10. Shop carefully for those Disney souvenirs
The Souvenir shops at Disney World are fun to go it, but their merchandise is pretty expensive. If you’re staying off property in Orlando, you can find cheaper Disney World souvenirs, including t-shirts, swimsuits, hats, and mouse ears off property. Not only are there entire stores devoted to Disney World souvenirs, we found them at Walmart too!
11. Use reward points pay for your trip
If you use credit cards that reward you with money or travel points, use them to help offset the cost of the trip. You can use points to fly, points to ride on Amtrak, or even points on gas and groceries. Get creative and see how you can pay for your trip without actually forking over any cash!
Compare rates of planes first, but of you can get a better deal driving, then do that. Often times, flying can get very expensive if you try to pack everyone on a plane. Do the math and see if it’s cheaper to drive, however, add in the cost of food and lodging to get there.
If you like these tips for planning a trip to Disney World on a budget, you may like these posts too:
The Grove Resort Orlando – Great Option for Your Disney Vacay
Do you have a money saving tip for a fun family Disney World vacation that I didn’t share? Leave it in the comments!