7 Best Ways to Save Money on a Disney Vacation
You’re about to love me. I’m about to save you money! Yes, I’m about to reveal what’s behind the curtain and tell you the secrets that Disney doesn’t want you to know about vacation cost-cutting. Here are seven tips for saving money during a Disney vacation.
Have Groceries Delivered
Bottled water costs $3.50 at Walt Disney World at time of publication. I’m not saying that I walked uphill in the snow to get to school or anything, but come on! It’s water! Sticking it in a bottle doesn’t make it innately more valuable! You can buy a 12-count of bottled water on Amazon for $2.23. They’re pricing the same product at less than 19 cents.
I think I’ve made my point. Rather than spending your hard-earned money on tourist price markups in the parks, have some sundries delivered. You may be charged a package delivery fee of $5, but you’ll still save plenty of money overall. Amazon Prime Now will even deliver your goods within a few hours when you’re in a rush. Local services like Garden Grocer are also viable options. You could feasibly pay for an entire meal with your grocery savings…or much more if you’re willing to cook/eat in the room.
Pick the Right Days for Your Vacation
Disney recently switched to a surge pricing model for park admission. They charge more money on days where they anticipate large crowds. Conversely and conveniently, they charge less money on days with less attendance. Shrewd consumers can maximize their vacation budget by leaning into this trend.
For example, an early September vacation could cost as little as $59 per person per day for theme park tickets, possibly even less if Disney’s offering a good deal. Contrast that price with a single day of admission in late December ($129) or July ($122).
Even a seven-night stay during these timeframes costs $73-$78 per person. That’s $14-$19 per person per day you could save by planning your trip during the offseason. For a family of four, that’s potentially $392-$532 in total vacation savings!
Stock Up on Credit Card Points
Many banks have created credit card points programs that you can use to your advantage. I previously wrote about five of the best options. For Disney fans, my suggestion is simple. Presuming that you fly to the park, you should pick the credit card that offers the best mileage deal. Many sign-up bonuses are more than enough for two people to fly for free to Orlando. My family has done this many times and had great success.
When you’re at the park, your tactics should change. The Disney credit card frankly isn’t that great for non-Disney purchases. It’s only 1% in rewards for almost all other purchases. At the parks, however, it’s terrific. For starters, you may qualify for $250 in statement credit after $500 in purchases after sign-up.
Then, you’ll gain 2% in rewards for all Disney purchases. For a Walt Disney World vacation, these savings can add up quickly. Plus, you’ll get some Disney shopping discounts as a card-owner! These strategy lines up great with the next one…
Buy Disney Gift Cards
Are you not that great at savings? Don’t worry. That’s the case for many if not most people. With a bit of training, however, you can budget efficiently for a Disney vacation. The trick is to purchase Disney gift cards. During times when you know you’ll make a trip soon, buy an extra $25 Disney gift card whenever you’re out shopping.
You’ll hardly notice it in your daily budget, but you’ll be so grateful when you’re vacation rolls around. By that point, you might have hundreds of dollars in gift cards that you’re ready to spend!
There’s a second aspect to Disney gift card savings, too. Some major retailers will discount their gift cards as loss leaders. They’ll willingly sell Disney gift cards for 5-10% off of face value in the hopes that you’ll buy other stuff while you’re at the store. When available, these same deals are usually for sale online. You don’t even have to go in the store to load up on cheap gift cards. In the process, you’ve saved 5-10% off the price of your Disney vacation!
Get Your Pictures for Free!
I swear by the PhotoPass service. I deem it one of the best paid amenities at Walt Disney World. However, I get this service for free through my annual pass. I understand why you’d be hesitant to spend upwards of $200 for photographs during a short vacation. Here’s the thing, though! You don’t have to do that!
Disney’s photography experts won’t send you away if you don’t have PhotoPass. To the contrary, these kindly cast members will take a picture using your smartphone! All you have to do is ask them and then hand them the phone.
They’re familiar with most major makes and models and receive training in how to take the best shots with each device. You’ll get the best possible photograph taken by a Disney professional, and you’ll get it for free!
Visit the Character Warehouses
When you shop at the parks, you’ll pay full prices for your favorite merchandise. The temptation is hard to resist, but resist you must! You can find Disney products that you’ll like just as much for substantially less money. You just need to shop at the right place.
Disney’s Character Warehouse is an outlet store with two locations in the greater Orlando area. As you’ll see in this video, these stores sell officially licensed Disney merchandise at closeout prices. Smart shoppers can legitimately get three times as many products for the same amount of money.
Book a Vacation Package
I’m a fervent believer that having too much choice can get stressful. Planning a Walt Disney World vacation drives this point home. You must choose how many nights you’re vacationing, which hotel you’ll stay at, how many days you’ll spend at the park, whether you want the Disney Dining Plan, and so much more.
Thankfully, there’s a solution that will do most of the heavy lifting for you, reducing the number of stressful choices you must make. You can talk to an expert at MickeyTravels, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Their services are free to you, and they’ll find you the perfect package to take care of your family’s needs.
Depending on availability, you might even get your meals included free as part of the package! Excluding travel and impulse purchases, the package could feasibly be the full cost of your vacation!