There are many ways to save money at Walt Disney World. Bringing snacks, water bottles, and everyday "just in case" items into the parks is literally saving you time and cash. To purchase these items in the parks had you forgotten them is a huge difference in price. What about big ticket items and philosophically different ways to go about your vacation? There are many ways to save and splurge, but the best vacation is about having a plan so you don't have to worry about money. So, let's start...
#1. Nothing says family (like Ohana?) like fitting 10 people onto a campsite at Fort Wilderness.
If you can fit two families (4 adults, 6 children or similar) or a Spring Break crew of college students on a campsite at Fort Wilderness, your "room rate" drops significantly by splitting the bill.
The location is just a friendship boat away from the Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort, and monorail line. Sharing amenities at the comfort stations could be a deal-breaker for some, but there's always alternatives to roughing it. Renting a tow-able or borrowing one from a relative could be an option. Pop-ups, tents and camper vans fit into the category that gives you the lowest rate because these sites only offer water, cable, and electric hook ups, but spots are limited...
#2. Forgo the dining plan, especially if sodas are not for you.
Planning on which places you want to eat and how much the meal will cost can help you a great deal. If you're not a soda person or not going to order the most expensive thing on the menu, look into just paying out of pocket for your meals. Soda prices add up quickly and they're included if you're on a dining plan. If you're trying to make a conscious effort to stay light on your feet (or healthier) while at the parks, it's a good idea to pack a water bottle with a filter attached to drink instead of sodas.
#3. Use the Disney transportation options, that's why they're there.
I don't have to explain this to the "un-packers" who've started their vacation, but for folks who want to move around and rent a car or use their own to drive around the property, save your money. Don't forget that the monorail is a form of transportation as well!
Disney has a reliable bus line for getting around the property, and honestly, it's a stressful job that I would not want. Having a well-trained driver to keep you safe while you sit back and relax is just one less thing to worry about. (Don't get me wrong, accidents do happen, but Disney usually steps up to make things right if such an event were to occur.)
#4. 1 Toy, 1 Shirt, 1 Accessory.
The Big 3. Keep this in mind for the next trip to keep your souvenir budget in order. Many places off property have discounts on Disney merchandise and are a great option if you see that they're selling items you'd want. Of course, as anything with these outlets, stock will change frequently, so you may be let down (or surprised!).
Another thing to add is that paying with a Disney Visa Card will get you discounts on merchandise, so be sure to utilize any offers or benefits, like free Photo Pass photos at certain Character Spots. A neat trick parents use is bringing glow sticks or light up fidget spinners so they're kids don't feel left out at a night show.
#5. Take a day off to enjoy the resort.
Weather is always in play for Central Florida, so make sure you keep an eye on any nasty weather and change plans where you see fit. EPCOT and Animal Kingdom are great parks to visit in the rain since many of the attractions are inside pavilions or buildings. Don't forget to pack a poncho and flip flops. Plan a splurge if your resort has a signature restaurant.
There could be other factors in taking a day off as well, such as considering the health of members in your party. Sometimes you can't go at a break-neck pace, even though your heart wants to do so. Taking a day off to rest your feet and give other folks a breather is often times a necessity. Besides, depending on how many days you are staying, taking one day off from a park could save you anywhere from $45-$90, which could pay for a nice meal or character buffet. It's all about priorities, and getting those aligned with the members in your party; the earlier the better.