11 Pro Tips for Stretching Your Disney Vacation Budget
To most of us, the phrase “money is no object” doesn’t apply. We want to enjoy the better things in life, but we must do it on a budget.
When you travel, you want to get the most from your money, though. After all, you worked hard for it.
How do you do that in a tourist mecca like Walt Disney World? It’s not always easy, but MickeyBlog‘s here to help.
Here are 11 pro tips for getting the most out of your vacation budget.
Buy Disney Gift Cards for Cheap
Let’s start with the one that you can do long before you leave for your trip.
Several vendors sell Disney gift cards for less than the stated price. For example, a $50 card might cost $47.50, thanks to a five percent discount.
Some sellers have proven more reliable than others. So, I would suggest researching reviews before buying.
However, two trusted vendors offer significant savings. I’m referencing Costco and Target.
You can sometimes save as much as 12 percent on gift cards there. Then, you can use them for Disney park purchases and even some online transactions.
Consider a Kitchenette
Okay, this advice won’t work for everyone. It’s more for the people who don’t mind cooking on vacation.
I’m not one of them. In fact, I rarely cook at home, as my recipes tend to taste…poisonous.
Still, I know that some folks enjoy cooking meals, even on vacation. For them, a solid money-saving tip involves booking specific hotel rooms.
Some Disney suites come with kitchens, but they’re not much more costly than standard rooms.
Since saving money on Table Service meals is challenging, you may find that you’ll eat better in your own room.
Also, the financial savings from cooking yourself often more than compensates for the increased cost of a room with a kitchenette.
I’d advise that you ask a MickeyTravels agent for more information about this option.
These professionals know Disney better than anybody else on the planet, and their services are free to you! Why wouldn’t you inquire with them?
Eat at Festivals
EPCOT’s World Showcase serves some of the tastiest cuisines in Orlando Florida the south. I’m not even exaggerating.
The pavilions here flex their collective muscle by serving international flavors that are otherwise hard to find.
You can walk around World Showcase Lagoon and get your choice of dozens of restaurants, each of which serves delicious food.
However, the real value comes during EPCOT events like the current one, Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.
You’ll find Outdoor Kitchens here that sell decadent cuisine for less than $10.
You can’t even match that deal in your hometown! The fact that you can eat that cheap at Disney is ridiculous. Take full advantage of it!
Know Your Discount Options
Do you have active military status? Have you joined AAA? Did you stay at Disney recently?
Answering yes to any of these questions could entitle you to a discount. Disney resorts offer Bounceback savings for a quick return visit.
Members of the military and AAA also receive savings on their hotel stays.
You might also receive a discount as an annual passholder or member of the Disney Vacation Club or Tables in Wonderland.
Research your potential discounts before you leave. That way, you’ll know which of them can save you some money.
Pay Attention to Ticket Throw-ins
You should always read the back of your admission tickets and annual passes. Some of the throw-ins may surprise you.
For instance, many Park Hopper passes include a free round of mini-golf or greens fees for an actual round of golf.
You could have free admission to a water park or ESPN Wide World of Sports as well.
You’ll find lots of goodies available, allowing you to maximize the value of your tickets.
Set Up Airfare Alerts
Since Walt Disney World caters to so many out-of-state guests, odds are good that you’ll fly into town.
As such, you should plan well ahead of time for your trip. Once you’ve settled on dates, schedule airfare alerts for potential travel dates.
You’ll receive automatic notifications when an airline offers an abnormally good deal for flights into Orlando.
This step could save you hundreds of dollars, possibly even thousands depending on where you live and the size of your traveling party.
Skip the MagicBand
Disney no longer gives away MagicBands. Instead, you can buy them starting at $10, which admittedly isn’t much.
However, I recently asked whether you need a MagicBand at Walt Disney World these days.
Even though I own at least 25 of them – no joke – I had to admit that they’re no longer necessary. And that makes me sad.
Shop at the Outlet Store
When you visit any Disney shop, let’s be honest. You’re gonna spend a lot of money, even if you have discounts.
Souvenir and merchandising shopping represent the simplest ways to blow your budget.
You can still stretch your dollars, though! Once Disney moves its merchandise out of the stores, it usually has a surplus.
So, the company has opened two outlet stores in Orlando. You can find some staggeringly great deals at these places.
You’ll frequently find merchandise for 60-80 percent…and it’s high quality, too! I mean, Disney had just sold it in the parks a few months ago.
By taking a trip to one of the outlet malls, you can buy much more stuff while spending the same amount of money…or less!
Stay at Pop Century
Okay, this advice is more specific than I generally get about a Disney stay. I believe all the hotels possess unique selling points.
So, I’m not suggesting Disney’s Pop Century Resort is better or worse than anywhere else.
In fact, I must confess that I recently attempted to talk someone out of staying here for their honeymoon, encouraging a monorail resort instead.
However, I believe that Pop Century provides the best bang for the buck at the moment.
The explanation involves the introduction of the Disney Skyliner. It connects this hotel and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to two different theme parks.
When you stay here, you’re 15 minutes or less away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Better yet, the trip remains consistent.
You don’t have to worry about arrival times for buses or boats. The gondolas are always moving. And Pop Century generally costs less than Art of Animation.
I view this resort as the sweet spot for pricing vs. value. Of course, you should get an expert opinion to verify. Again, check with MickeyTravels!
Use Mobile Ordering
When you eat at Quick Service restaurants or order Table Service to Go, you use the My Disney Experience app.
Nobody’s watching you, and there’s no rush for you to order. As such, you can take your sweet time and find the best value for your meal.
Order whatever you want and then pay attention to the total at the end. If you’re unsatisfied with the price, go back and buy something cheaper!
You’ve got all the time in the world to deduce the most reasonable price to pay for good food.
Mobile Ordering gives you complete control over your food budget, and you should take advantage of that.
Wear a Button
Let’s end with a silly tip with some hidden benefits.
Whenever you’re celebrating something at Walt Disney World, you should ask for a button.
Then, pin the button on your shirt/pants/bag/backpack and wear it all day.
Depending on the celebration, you may receive a bit of Pixie Dust. Cast members love to create Magic Moments for guests.
Someone might give you something like a free snack, merchandise, or the like as a way to enhance your celebration.
Now, nothing is ever guaranteed, but I’ve been treated exceptionally well on some birthdays and anniversaries.
Also, some cast members get a kick of “weird” celebration buttons. So, feel free to be creative!
Wear a button that says you’ve survived the apocalypse or found the perfect hairstyle or learned how to play the ukulele.
You’re at Disney! Have fun with your buttons!