As fun as it is, Walt Disney World vacations are also expensive. Especially when traveling with a family, many guests are looking to save as much as possible on their Disney vacation. There are layers to how extreme you can go in vacation penny pinching. I hope that this article can provide some ideas for ways to save on your next Disney vacation!
1. Know Your Goal
Saving money can be tough, the best way to begin is to know what goal you have in mind. Maybe you are looking for a way to do a Disney vacation sooner than you originally planned. Perhaps you want to save enough money to return to Walt Disney World later in the year or you hope to save enough to budget for a vacation extra like a dinner show or trip to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for your little one. Knowing your saving goal from the start will keep you motivated and diligent as you plan and make spending decisions during your vacation.
2. Hack Your Travel Dates
So much saving can happen by playing around with travel dates. If you have any flexibility in vacation time and can visit Walt Disney World during a slower time of year, you will reap savings rewards of lower ticket and resort prices. If you are serious about saving on a Walt Disney World vacation, the best thing you can do is be super flexible with travel dates and be willing to vacation during a time you may not have originally considered.
3. Coupon for Vacation Necessities
Regardless of if you are normally a couponer or not, taking the time to shop sales and snag coupon and rebate deals for your Disney vacation will pay off. Three months before your vacation make a list of the items you will need to purchase like snacks, sunscreen, toiletries etc. Glance at grocery store and drugstore sales ads in the months leading up to your vacation to buy these items on sale and with coupons. Stack savings by adding rebates to your shopping trip and you may just make money on vacation essentials that you were going to buy anyway!
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4. Harness Those Reward Points
If you are not already using a credit card that gives you cashback or travel rewards, start looking for the best fit at the onset of your vacation planning process. Do not pay for a Walt Disney World vacation without getting some form of reward for spending. If you already use a credit card reward system, plan in the months leading up to your vacation to use the reward points/cashback you have earned to offset vacation costs. Regardless of if this means using airline miles to travel to Orlando or cashback to gas up the car and buy snacks for the trip, use reward points to work for you.
5. Gift Your Disney Vacation
A trend in gift giving has families and friends gifting experiences instead of items. My family loves reducing clutter and holiday stress by gifting money/gift cards toward vacations and experiences instead of gifting items. Why not gift your kids or spouse with a Walt Disney World vacation? By going light on kid gifting for holidays and birthdays and involving kids in vacation planning you can give your child vacation memories they will never forget. Skip spouse gifts and you may be able to roll significant funds into your Disney vacation account. If you are like me and have family members that insist on gifting you during holidays, share your dream Disney vacation vision with them. Disney gift cards are a great way for family that want to know what you would like to receive, to buy you a gift you will enjoy as a family. After your trip, send photos of your vacation to family members thanking them for the gift card and sharing some things you loved about your vacation.
6. Bring Your Own Groceries
Dining costs during a Disney vacation can add up quickly. Save money of food by bringing your own snacks and sandwich materials to offset or eliminate dining costs on your vacation. Pace yourself to save as much money as you choose. My family never buys breakfast on a Disney vacation; we just grab a banana and granola bar from our snack bag. On lower budget vacations, we choose to eliminate dining costs by eating sandwiches and ready-made food at our resort. Microwave popcorn for resort movie nights and mac and cheese cups are great snack options for resort guests to microwave in a hotel room. If you do not have a microwave in your room no worries, you can take your food to the quick service eatery in your resort to use their microwave for food prep.
7. Use Discounted Gift Cards
Use gift card websites to buy discounted cards to use on vacation. Websites like Raise and Gift Card Granny buy unwanted gift cards from people and sell them to others at a discounted rate. Set alerts to get emails when Disney gift cards or cards to pay for grocery and transportation costs are posted. You can score gift cards for as much as 10% off!
8. Look for WDW Dining Hacks
Bringing groceries to Walt Disney World is the biggest penny pinching hack. However, there are other ways to hack Disney dining to save! Buying a large pizza to split between the family in your resort room is a great way to enjoy a cheaper dinner in during your vacation. When dining at quick service and table service dining, take the time to research portion sizes and find menu options that can be shared between family members. If you opt to splurge on a table service dining experience, see if cheaper lunch or breakfast dining options are available. Dining during lunch or breakfast saves a few dollars per family member and still allows you to enjoy the dining experience.
9. Value Resorts Only
Value Resorts are the cheapest Disney resort option and can add up to big savings- quick. All Disney resorts run seasonal specials occasionally. However, the cheapest lodging option will always be staying at a Value Resort. Value Resort pricing is nearly always the same cost as staying at a nearby resort off the property and has all the Disney Resort guest perks.
10. BYOS: Bring Your Own Souvenirs
Saying no to souvenirs, or bringing your own for the kids can save a sizeable sum. Buy small prizes and fun character themed items at a discount or dollar store prior to your vacation and surprise kids each day of the trip. Shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to buy Disney clothes, stuffed animals and toys prior to your vacation at a steep discount. Surprise your kids with Disney plush at half the price it is sold in the park.
11. Stay Hydrated: AKA Water Only
Drink costs are a completely unnecessary expense on a Disney vacation. Florida heat means you need to stay hydrated; lucky for you water is free. Bring water bottles to the parks to refill during the day, ask for a cup of ice water with quick service meals you purchase and refrain from buying soft drinks or alcohol on your vacation. Sure, buying refillable family mugs at your resort or snagging a mixed drink by the pool is tempting, but your wallet will thank you later!