3 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Disney World Vacation
We are 100% a Disney World family. But we’re also a family on a budget, so we know a thing or two about how to save money on a Disney World Vacation. Family vacations can be crazy expensive and, as much fun as they can be, it can be a bit unnerving that a week away (or less) could cost the equivalent of a monthly mortgage or two…or three. Incredible, right?
That being said, a vacation to Walt Disney World is seriously magical. We’re lucky that, when we visit Walt Disney World, we can typically spend at least a week in the happiest place on earth. Months, even years later, my boys still talk about their Walt Disney World vacations and BEG to go back. Not gonna lie, I would love to go back to Walt Disney World as much as they ask!
Since I love a good deal, when we booked our very first trip, I knew I was going to have to find some ways to save money on a Disney World Vacation. Every little bit of savings makes me happy because that means that I could put that money towards something else amazing. I dug around different Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, and websites and found success using three main ways to save money on a Disney World vacation.
Pay for your Trip with Gift Cards
In my area, BJs Wholesale Club sells Disney gift cards at a discount. Buying these gift cards will usually save you between 5% and 6% depending on the quantity you buy and depending on if they’re running any additional sales. If you do not have a BJs Wholesale Club in your area, you might want to sign up for their “online only” membership. I would definitely purchase that membership through Rakuten to save a little extra as well.
In addition to the 5-6% savings offered by BJs, you could save 5% on the purchase of Disney gift cards when using your Target Red Card. As if you needed another reason to go shopping at Target, right?
Not only do we pay for our hotel stay with Disney gift cards, but we also pay for our meals and park souvenirs with Disney gift cards. While it’s super helpful to save on purchases at the hotel and parks, I really love being able to save on purchases at Disney Springs!
Always and forever known by many as “Downtown Disney” (you, too?), Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping mall complete with many attractions and amazing restaurants. In addition to having quite a few Disney-themed stores, Disney Springs also has some of my other favorite stores such as Alex and Ani, Coach, Sephora, and, one of my newer obsessions: Sugarboo & Co.
Now, to make it even easier, you’re able to combine all the gift cards you purchase on this Disney Gift Card website. Basically, by entering in individual gift card codes, it turns all the gift cards into one big card (not an actual card, but just a card number) up to $1,000. It totally came in handy when it came time to submit our final payments!
Bring Food & Drinks from Home
Since we stay on property while on our Disney World vacation, we eat all of our meals on property as well. This doesn’t mean that all of your meals need to be purchased at Disney, though! One of the easiest ways to save money on a Disney World vacation is to bring food and drinks from home.
For breakfast, we bring packets of instant oatmeal and granola bars. We run water through the coffee maker and make the oatmeal with the cups and plastic ware that is provided in the room. For coffee, we bring travel coffee mugs and bought little packets of instant coffee from Trader Joes. Instant coffee is, in my opinion, usually pretty gross, but we really liked these little packets! They even came with creamer and sugar, so we didn’t have to worry about bringing or buying those.
As for snacks, we do splurge for the occasional Mickey Bar or Dole Whip, but we also bring individual packets of fruit snacks, granola bars, and such in our backpack. Doing this saves SO much money since a quick snack for a family of four could be upwards of $15 depending on what snacks are chosen. Consider 2 snacks a day during a 5 day vacation…that’s at least $150 saved just by bringing a few boxes of snack foods from home. *PRO-TIP: leave the outer packaging for these snacks at home and pack loose (individually wrapped) snacks in your luggage.
Instead of buying a beverage when we want a flavored drink, we bring a bunch of those little bottles of flavor liquids (technical term, right?) and individual drink powders to flavor our water instead of paying out the wazoo (another technical term) for juices or soda. These Stur Natural Water Enhancers are all delicious. I also love Aldi’s Fit & Active Liquid Water Enhancer – the Strawberry Watermelon flavor is my favorite!
Stay on Property
I’m sure this is certainly on a case-by-case scenario, but I definitely feel that staying on property does help us to save time & money on a Disney World Vacation. We usually stay at Pop Century, which is a Value Resort Hotel on Disney property. I dream of staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Polynesian Village Resort one day, but staying the Pop Century has worked out perfectly for us for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is their food court! There were some nights when I didn’t make a reservation for dinner, so we would eat at the food court where we could get a pretty good pizza meal, enough to feed all four of us, for way less than eating in a park restaurant!
Here are just a few perks of staying on property
- no need to spend $25/day for parking your car at one of the parks each day
- no need to rent a car because there is free transportation to the parks and Disney Springs from the resorts (Pop Century even has it’s own bus so you wouldn’t have to stop at other resorts to pick up passengers on the way to a park!). You can even ride the Magical Express to and from the airport!
- purchases made in the parks can be sent back to your hotel room instead of having to carry them all.day.long.
- ability to reserve Fast Passes 60 days in advance of your arrival instead of 30 days ahead if staying off property
- more time to spend in the parks with Extra Magic Hours
- a little extra Disney magic for your entire stay!
Those are just a few ways our family is able to save money on a Disney World vacation! Have any tips that you’d add to this list? Share them on our Facebook Page! We hope you have a magical Disney vacation and make a ton of amazing memories with your family!
Looking for even more way to save money on a Disney World vacation? Sign up for a Rakuten account and start earning cash back on your purchases!
Traveling with a toddler? Check out our tips for traveling with a toddler so your trip goes as smooth as possible!