A Disney vacation is an expensive vacation. For a typical family of four, one week at the most magical place on Earth can easily amount to upwards of five grand. For most people, $5000 is a lot of money. In my experience, many Disney vacationers want to save as much money as they can, but often come to a crossroads and think that, in order to save money, you have to sacrifice the quality of your vacation. However, there are many ways to save money and maintain the same level of fun and immersion at Disney World.
Here are my top five money-saving tips that won’t sacrifice the integrity of your vacation.
Use a reusable water bottle
This one may sound self-explanatory, but a surprising amount of people continuously buy water bottles at the park! Not only is it a waste of plastic, but it gets extremely expensive. One water bottle at Disney can cost almost $5.00, and, after days of buying them, it tends to add up. Next trip, save yourself some money (and help slow climate change), and bring a reusable water bottle to refill at one of the many water fountains in the parks.
Buy a popcorn bucket
This one is a little more individualized, but if popcorn is one of your favorite Disney snacks, take note. A normal popcorn bucket at Walt Disney World costs $10.00, and refills are only $2.00 each. These refills are cheap in comparison to the cost of a normal popcorn snack, which is $5.00 a pop. Buy the bucket once, refill twice, and you’ve already saved a dollar using the popcorn bucket than if you had bought a regular box of popcorn three times. Not to mention the popcorn bucket holds more popcorn than a regular popcorn box.
Various popcorn buckets collected through the years.
Consider using the Disney Dining Plan (or Tables in Wonderland)
The Disney Dining Plan can be tricky. If you have a big family, or your family eats a lot, this might be worth it to you. But not everyone can eat the amount of food necessary to make the plan worthwhile. If you cannot eat enough food to satisfy the dining plan, then you might have just spent more money on the plan than you would have on food without it.
Tables in Wonderland is the Disney Vacation Club version of a dining plan. For $150, you can get anywhere from 10-15% off of your meal. However, not every restaurant takes Tables in Wonderland. It would also be smart to calculate the amount of money you would save with this program, and see if it would pay for itself and then some. All in all, you want to consider the dining plan, but also recognize that it can sometimes be a waste of money.
This one may sound strange, but hear me out. I love to look at authentic Disney art in the art galleries around Disney World. But, being a broke college student, I unfortunately cannot afford any actual art. So what do I do instead? I buy Disney postcards! These can be found in pretty much every art gallery in Disney, as well as select stores and attraction gift shops. The best part is that a surprisingly large collection of Disney art has been copied and translated into postcards; that way you can get the Disney art you want, but for $5.00 instead of $150.00.
Two of my many framed postcards.
Skip the park hopper
For years, my family bought the park hopper ticket for almost every day of our trip; and, for years, we wasted hundreds of dollars on it. Why? Because we never ended up using it! Eventually, we stopped wasting our money on the park hopper, and our vacations remained the same as they have always been.
I find that skipping between even just two parks in one day can be both exhausting and a waste of time. Waiting for transportation, and entering and exiting parks multiple times in one day, can take up lots of precious time that could be spent on more rides, meeting characters, or trying new food. Now, if you only have a couple of days and want to hit all the parks, a park hopper would be worth it as it allows you to visit multiple parks on the same day. But, if you’re in Disney World for four or more days, allot one day (or more) per park. This way, you save money, and you can take your time and really experience each park for what it is.
Do you already use any of these money savers? Do you have others to share? Let me know in the comments!