22 Mar

How to Save Money at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Photo courtesy of my handsome husband Alex Opalinski

To say I love Disney World would be an understatement. My husband and I got married there after all! You can blame his family for giving me Disney fever. While a trip to Disney is never a steal, there are plenty of ways to cut costs at the world of the Mouse. Here are my favorite ways to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation:

BYOP – Bring Your Own Ponchos!

Many convenience items, like ponchos, have huge markups in the parks. Stay dry and save major moola by buying your own $1 ponchos and stowing them in a pocket or purse. This is crucial during the rainy summer and early fall seasons! I recommend stashing a few per person. They come folded into ridiculously tiny squares and you can toss them at the end of the day instead of trying to re-fold.    

Book early for free and reduced dinning plans.

Fall is the season of the free dining plan at Disney, though offerings and times can jump around from year to year. Our most recent booking for a summer Disney trip offered one free quick service meal and drink per person per day. The catch? Book early and stay on Disney property! We had to book by the end of February to land this deal. Here’s a little pro-tip: if the deal says 6-night/5-day stay, try selecting only 3 or 4 days anyway and see if you still land the deal. While Disney pushes longer reservations, some deals will allow a limited number of guests to take advantage of the extra perks even on shorter stays. If you’re unsure, check the details page.

Drink for free!

Free water, that is. It’s good for you, tastes delicious in the hot, humid Florida summers, and a nice, cold glass is absolutely free at Disney’s in-park food kiosks and restaurants. Scope out vendors with the shortest lines if you don’t plan to purchase any specific food items.

Purchase Disney gift cards ahead of time

Buy Disney gift cards at Target using your Target Red Card and you’ll save 5%! Don’t qualify for a Target credit card? You can sign up for a Target debit card and still take advantage of 5% off your Target purchases. Not only will you save money on your gift cards, it’s a great way to set an in-park spending budget and stick to it. Check beforehand to see if the restaurants you plan to visit will accept gift cards as payment.

Take advantage of your annual pass discount.

Lucky enough to be an annual pass holder? Prepare for discounts galore! You’ll have access to special deals on reservations plus up to 20% off merchandise and 10% off select dining at Disney World. Ask before every purchase if your discount applies; the worst they can say is no! To make sure you’re getting the best deal on reservations, book over the phone. When we held annual passes we called to make a reservation because of a technical issue when booking online and the cast member found us an even better deal not yet advertised online.

Pay with a Disney Visa card.

While the point of this blog is paying off debt, not raising it, if you qualify for a Disney Visa card and can stick to a pre-determined budget that you pay off immediately after your vacation, this is a great way to earn cash back! Chase, who manages Disney’s credit card services, frequently offers deals such as $100 back if you spend $500 within a set number of months after opening your account. Plus you receive reward points for each dollar you spend. Pay for your hotel, tickets, and in-park purchases with your Disney Visa and you can easily rack up $100-$200 in Disney gift cards by the end of your trip! Then use your earnings to fund your next trip or purchase souvenirs online you passed up in-person in the parks.

Happy Vacationing!

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