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Walt Disney World Budget Tips From a Penny Pincher

Walt Disney World is one of the most visited vacation resorts in the world, with an average annual attendance of more than 52 million visitors.  Because of its immense popularity and the cost of adding new attractions, new hotels, and refurbishing existing attractions, the price of a Walt Disney World vacation can be quite challenging for visitors who are on a tight budget.  There are, however, ways to trim that budget and still have an exciting, magical Disney vacation.  Here are some suggestions from a penny pincher that may help you plan your trip on a budget.


1.  Stay Off Property

If you want to save on hotel accommodations, staying off Disney World property is an option.  There are many highly recommended, inexpensive hotels and rental properties near to Walt Disney World, and most of the hotels offer free transportation to and from the main entrance of Disney World, Disney Springs, and other surrounding attractions.  This is a good choice, especially if you are on a strict budget.

2.  Disney World Vacation Packages and Free Dining

If you do some creative planning by purchasing a Walt Disney World Vacation Package, you can shave a little off your budget by choosing packages that include a Disney Dining Plan (a prepaid meal plan so guests can budget their dining costs with a set number of credits that can be redeemed for snacks or meals).  There is an extra charge added to whatever Disney Vacation Package you choose, but by planning ahead these packages are designed to save you money.  As an added bonus, watch for the Free Dining Plan offer on certain dates at select Disney Hotels.  When this option is added to your package your meal expenses will plummet.  This is a very sought after perk, so watch for this offer as it will sell out quickly.

World Premiere Food Court
Photo credit Disney

3.  Pressed Pennies

One of the all-time favorite cheap Disney souvenirs, especially for “penny pinchers” is the pressed penny.  Simply drop two quarters into the penny press machine, choose your favorite design, take a shiny new penny and put it in the special slot and watch as your penny is transformed into an oblong flat Disney keepsake.  It makes a great souvenir, and you can purchase specially designed collector’s pressed pennies book to keep up with all your new pressed pennies.  The pressed penny machines are located at all four theme parks, water parks, Disney resort hotles, and Disney Springs.

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4.  Themed Popcorn Buckets

Walt Disney World is famous for having the best tasting popcorn in all the world.  It is so popular that getting a freshly popped serving is almost a 100% guarantee.  Now, this awesome popcorn comes in flavors, like butter toffee almond, caramel, parmesan garlic, cheddar, and chocolate with sea salt and can be found at all four theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.  The refillable bucket, with refills costing only $2; a real bargain, can be refilled wherever fresh, hot popcorn is sold.  Delightfully themed Disney character buckets make great souvenirs, and they can also be refilled, so your getting a great snack plus a collectible souvenir.  These special buckets can be found on Ebay, so hang onto yours.  In a few years, your Disney popcorn bucket may be a hot item on the internet.

5.  Epcot’s World Showcase (Kidcot Fun Stop)

If you have young children, a tour of Disney’s World Showcase is a great way for them to interact with cast members from other countries and learn from them their homeland’s culture and customs.  Also, each country has an area called “Kidcot Fun Stop” where children can collect stamps and create a personalized souvenir.  Each child is given art supplies so they can draw, color, and create their own personal keepsake, activity cards, and a memento from each country, plus ziploc bags to keep all their collectibles in.  For penny pinchers, these are fantastic, FREE, souvenirs for your little ones.

6.  Free Water

That’s right.  At Walt Disney World, you can request a copy of water at any quick service location, at no charge.  Also, you can bring your own bottled water and refill it at multiple water fountains located at all four theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.  This is definitely a penny pincher’s delight.

7.  Kid’s Meals

One way I have found to save a few dollars is to order the cheaper Kid’s Meals at restaurants in all four theme parks and restaurants and diners at Disney Springs.  You don’t need children to order a Kid’s Meal, and the menu choices are wholesome and varied.  For instance, my two adult daughters and myself visit Walt Disney World annually, and the Kid’s Meal option is a perfect choice for us, especially for that mid-day meal.  We will order separate Kid’s Meal choices, and share them all.  It’s fun and cheaper than a full meal.  You really don’t need to fill up at lunch time because you will be hitting the rides and attractions the rest of the day.  This way you not only save money; you also avoid any kind of intestinal problems.

8.  BYOG–Bring Your Own Groceries

This is a great way to save money and enjoy a meal in your Hotel room.  If you are staying on property, pack a lunch, then catch a bus to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.  Take a stroll down the boardwalk, play some carnival games, go shopping, then enjoy your picnic lunch at one of the outdoor seating areas along the water.  There are also places at the theme parks where you can enjoy a picnic.  Load up your backpack, find a great outdoor seating area, eat while watching the crowds go by, and save a little money at the same time.

9.  PhotoPass

Disney’s PhotoPass is a service that is offered in which professional photographers who are located throughout the theme parks capture those memorable moments at the parks where the whole family or group will be in the photo. Many guests do not want to purchase a special package, so they shy away from these photographers.

Disney World Photo Pass

10. Ride the Rails, a Monorail Adventure

If you are staying on property or off, there is an excellent free adventure that is a delight for the entire family.   Once you arrive at the Magic Kingdom or Ticket and Transportation Center, you can board the Resort Monorail which has stops at the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.  What better way to enjoy the majesty of Walt Disney World than an exciting ride on a sleek, smooth monorail with a fantastic bird’s eye view of Bay Lake, the Magic Kingdom, and  beautiful Disney Resorts .  Disembark at any or all of the Resorts and check out the restaurants, shops, beautifully designed lobbies, and unique atmosphere of each one.  I love a ride on a Disney monorail, and it’s such a great way to relax and savor the beauty and wonder of Walt Disney World Resort.

A Walt Disney World vacation is for some is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and for others it is an annual or daily trip.  In any case, we all like to save money, and many of us are “penny pinchers” and look for any discount or special deal we can get for our Disney vacation.  There are many “freebies” and special rates offered throughout the year.  There are also simple ways like the ones I’ve described to lighten the monetary load.  Check out any legitimate offers and take advantage of as many as you can, and have a great vacation at the “Most Magical Place on Earth”!

About DisneyFanatic

After his 1st trip to Disney World when he was 5 years old, Disney Fanatic has been hooked on all things Disney ever since!