I came across this list of ‘Money-Saving Tips for Disney World’ on one of the fabulous Disney groups on Facebook. It was written by Sharon Jones just after getting back from Disney, and I thought it had some fantastic insights and really useful tips! Sharon is from Wales in the UK but there are so many tips here applicable to everyone! Sharon kindly gave me permission to publish here. Learn a bit more about her at the end of the post. This post may contain compensated links, please see my disclosure page.
Budgeting Hacks for Disney World
I have prepared this list after getting home from the most magical holiday with my family and thought it may help some of you out there save a bit of money etc so here goes – top money-saving tips from our holiday.
1) Get the kids eat free cards and use them if you have children saved us 100’s of dollars!!
2) Take a picnic to Disney parks or leave the parks and eat on the 192 then go back to the park.
3) Be ready to pay $20 for all Disney parks except for waterparks for parking each day. But if you leave a park you can use the receipt again for the same day. Also we found if you just want to go for the fireworks and not do a Disney park that day, if you go for around the 8pm mark the parking payment booths are shut so free parking!!
4) Book all your fast passes as soon as you can but book them earlier in the day as once you have used your allocated 3 you can then keep booking one and once that used one again etc. Also as soon as you have scanned in the rides look for your next fast pass!! Get loads more rides done.
5) Take cordial concentrate in the little bottles to the parks with you and ask for iced water which is free. Drinks are $5 each on average and if you times that by 4 = $20 a time and you’d need at least 5 rounds a day so that’s $100 each day on drinks alone.
6) Search for flights and play around on dates/airports to get cheapest flights we used Skyscanner.
7) Look at Owners’ Direct for villas and also Facebook sites.
8) When booking your park tickets ring them up and ask for any extras they are willing to throw in for free! We got Wild Florida airboat ride tickets, Outta control dinner magic show/or the choice of free entry to Wonderworks, as well as eat and play cards, kids eat free cards etc.
9) The Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica park package is a very good deal as it includes free parking.
10) Get the most out of the free Memory Maker on your Disney passes and when you see a photographer (loads around the parks) ask them to take photos and don’t forget to ask for the magic shots!!
Make sure you sort your holiday insurance out early on. It’s not just for while you are away, it’s to cover you if something happens and you can’t go too. You can either take out insurance at the time of booking with your holiday company or use an insurance comparison website like AA Insurance (yes, AA the breakdown service), then you can check it’s covering for all the eventualities you might be concerned about and can compare like for like insurance to get the best deal.
Sharon’s Money-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World, Florida
11) Aldi is a lot cheaper than Publix and Walmart but there isn’t as much choice on some things. Also Dollar tree is amazing!!
12) Diesel is green pump and Petrol is black pumps total opposite to the UK!!
13) We used our Santander Zero account debit card got the best rates and used same as here!! We took a lot of dollars over too which we ordered on line and got a much better rate.
14) Ross for Less is a great shop as is J C Penney, Converse outlets etc.
15) Do not upgrade hire car at the desk but do book a big enough car before you go to get your luggage in. It was suggested we should upgrade and they were going to charge us $150 extra – but we said no as we can get our cases supposedly into the car we had booked. Got to the Alamo car park and we were given an upgrade anyway to a huge Dodge 7 seater!! Also book in on line before you go, saves the hassle at the desk.
16) If going to MCO try and keep your suitcases with you once off the first carousel and do not put on the second to the main airport as it takes ages to get your luggage again.
17) Buy trading pins from Ebay. We did this and bought 50 for £27 inc p&p my girls had a fantastic time trading it was so much fun.
18) Get a Landry card (Landry site to register) they cost $25 each which is added to the card, then make sure it’s your birthday when you go as they give you a free $25 extra as a birthday present so that’s $50 for $25!! We did this for me and hubby, so had a card each. Used one at the Rainforest Cafe and other at Bubba Gump’s. They can be used at Trex, Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs as well as Rainforest Cafe in Animal kingdom. Also priority seating when you show the card. Eg over and hour wait in Bubba Gump’s at Universal board walk we where seated within minutes and the manager comes to introduce themselves etc.
19) Don’t over pack no-one dresses up really to go out just shorts and t-shirt and maybe a cardigan.
20) Slazenger/Karrimor walking sandals are great for the parks and water rides as comfortable and dry off quickly.
21) Water shoes are a must in water parks – stops feet burning on the paths and good for grip.
22) We booked the dolphin encounter at Seaworld, it cost $15 &tax each and yes you will get wet when they say “do you want to?” We bought the photo key pass for around $80 as the photos are $20 each individually and we had over 60 from everything in the park. Buy this earlier on though as photographers are all around the park – also includes ride photos. Bit of a faff getting them on your photo key as you need to go to the customer relations by the park entrance to get them added. So my tip is to write down times of each thing you do so they can add them quicker otherwise it takes ages!!
Tricks to Save Money in Disney World
23) Wear comfortable clothes for travelling – for my girls they had a t-shirt and cycle shorts and a warm tracksuit so they could strip off when they arrived.
24) Ponderosa was the girls’ favourite restaurant and with the kids eat free card you can get them the all you can eat buffet for free.
25) We ate at Millers Ale House, Sizzlers, Ponderosa, Cici’s Pizza, McDonalds etc. They all accepted the kids at free cards. It’s worth printing off the lists of restaurants from the site and keeping in the car!!
26) Take things like paracetamol, rehydrate powders, plasters (band-aids) etc with you.
27) Meat is not cheap over there and it worked out cheaper to eat out most of the time, could believe that chicken wings are double the price of chicken portions!!!
28) Groupon Orlando is fantastic saves you a fortune eg our cruise on the Dolfun down the Indian and Banana river seeing wild river dolphins but sadly when we went no manatees. Should be $24 each but cost me $36 for the four of us with Groupon but did have to pay tax on the boat of 7%.
29) Remember tax is added to everything so the price on items is not what you pay!! Add 7% also tips which is around the 15% of the full price of food before discounts.
30) I did get bitten by mosquitos and a spider so take a good repellent with you.
31) Take antihistamines about 7 days before going and use sensitive 50 factor suncream unperfumed – it stops prickly heat. Also wear a cap as I burnt my head only place I burnt when there.
32) Beware of mobility scooters in parks they ran over my daughter’s feet and they are lethal!!
33) Take zip bags with you to put your phones etc in on water rides also your cordial concentrates.
33) A bumbag is ideal for the parks used ours loads, just put it around your waist on rides.
34) Make sure you have change for the toll roads from the airport. Cost $1.25 and $2,25 also fill up before the toll roads to the airport as if you come off for fuel you get recharged again for going back on!
35) Buy a insulated rucksack use it as hand luggage for the plane. Freeze bottles of water – works a treat to keep your picnic chilled all day. We made pasta salads with cheese, pesto, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, sweet corn etc also same veg but ranch dressing and tuna. Took cheap plastic tubs over with us bought from home bargains (like the Chinese takeaway type) a whole 500g bag if pasta once cooked split into two bowls one for each type then each bowl will do 4 tubs so that’s one day’s lunch of tuna pasta salad and one of cheese pesto pasta salad. We took apples, satsumas, crisps (small bags) raisins etc the insulated bag keep the bottles of frozen water still frozen by the end of the day!!
36) Got my girls the Birmbaum kids guide to Disney book off Amazon for £7.99 best book for kids’ areas for autographs, photos etc
37) Pickup coupon leaflets from shops, restaurant s etc also good free road maps which are so helpful when you get lost. Also ask your hire car company for a map sometimes they will give them.
Saving Money on your Disney Family Vacation
38) We took our own booster seats cost about £6 each polystyrene ones as the hire car companies charge around $6 each per day. We throw them away at the airport at the end of the holiday.
39) We went out with three cases but had a spare inside one of them so coming home we had loads of room for our bargain shopping. Also took own shampoos, shower gel, pasta and sauce, cereal, noodles, tea coffee etc but wrote every item on piece paper to give to customs as you have to declare food or you will receive huge fines.
40) If flying with Virgin, join their flying club as you can then book your seats for free 72hrs before rather than 24hrs and it’s free to join.
41) SeaWorld have phones close to their entrance which are free for local call.
42) Free WiFi at all parks.
43) Buy your Disney toys from Walmart or outlets eg large Mickey $12.99 instead of $39 in parks
44) Do your Esta in good time in case there are any issues.
45) Remember to download your photos from Memory Maker before they expire.
46) Well worth buying the magic bands which are $13.99 plus tax as it’s so much easier than getting your card out for each ride also you get extras like videos etc and they look cool.
47) Make sure you visit the cool club in Epcot to try the different sodas for free.
48) Please if visiting water parks with children, doesn’t matter if they are strong swimmers please put the free life jackets on for the wave pools as the waves are really strong, and I saw a girl in a lot of trouble there.
49) We got our Disney clothes from Sports Direct, Primark, H&M much cheaper than buying there and look out for sales.
50) The crushed coins in each park are a lovely keep sake for kids and cost 51c
51) Sign up to all restaurants about a week before you go – you get a free flat bread at Miller’s Ale House, free burger meal at Sizzlers, free starter like the onion bloom at Texas Roadhouse. You can’t use your kids eat free and coupons at the same time, but if you don’t have kids it’s a great saving. Also make sure your birthday is when you are away!!
52) Those with pushchairs beware of the little thieves with bushy tails (squirrels) was in stitches at them steal food out of bags at the bottom of strollers – clever little so & so’s!!
It’s hard to get your head around how much of a hard slog each park is in heat and on your feet we called it boot camp but it’s so well worth doing and we had the best time ever even with blisters and aches and pains and feeling like we were literally melting – we had a heatwave 42.5 degrees!
I live on a small holding just outside Caernarfon, North Wales, I am married with two girls aged 10 & 7 yrs. I am partially disabled after a horse accident two and a half years ago where I almost lost my right arm and have very limited movement. Couldn’t write, cut food, drive etc but I can now hence the list!! I am waiting on yet another operation at the moment. I also suffer from a rare form of trigeminal neuralgia called SUNA – it’s old fashioned name is suicide disease lol. So it’s been a hard one as I no longer work, but think bringing up kids is hard enough haha! I am almost so an older mum. It took 6yrs to have Hannah my eldest who is competing at Cardiff on Sunday in the Welsh championships with gymnastics. My little one, Krista is a good runner can do 3k in 13mins 18. I still ride and we have had to adapt a lot of things to make it possible and still have our four horses. It was a complete freak accident not really pony’s fault.
If you are looking for more money saving tips, have a look at these suggestions from Our 3 Kids v the World. Not specifically Disney, but have a look here for another great money saving post for budget travelling.