While Disney World might be the most magical place on Earth, and Disneyland the happiest place on Earth, the Disney parks are also notorious for being some of the most expensive places on Earth! Paying over $5 for a bottle of water and over $30 for a pair of Mickey ears doesn’t sound too magical, does it? But don’t worry! With some planning, there are ways to cut costs without missing out on any of the fun of a Disney vacation. I hope that the following tips are useful in helping you to maximize the fun while minimizing the cost. Here are some topics on how to save money in Disney:

Table of Contents

How to Save Money on Food in Disney

Disney snack display case
  • Order kids’ meals: Counter-service restaurants in Disney allow “kids of all ages” to order kids’ meals. The kids’ meals are typically much cheaper than adult meals, and even include a beverage. Not to mention, counter-service restaurants usually have excellent choices on the kids’ menu, and the portion size is usually good as well.
  • Share meals: If you are visiting the Disney parks with a group of people (family, friends, etc.), splitting meals is an excellent way to save some money. If the people in your group aren’t big eaters, the portion sizes are often large enough for everyone to have enough when sharing. From trips I’ve gone on, our group of four would usually split three meals at the counter-service restaurants. Not to mention, sharing meals gives you the flexibility to try a few different menu items rather than having to choose just one.
  • Trade a meal for desserts/snacks: Whether you’re a Disney regular or not, you’ve probably heard of some of Disney’s most iconic snacks and desserts. Disney is known for Dole Whip, Mickey pretzels, turkey legs, the “Kitchen Sink” ice cream sundae, and much more. The cost of all of these items is certainly less than your average meal in Disney, so why not have a big, delicious dessert or snack instead of a meal? You’re in Disney, and Disney calories don’t count, right? So go ahead and have that giant ice cream sundae instead of a meal!

How to Save Money on Drinks in Disney

Disney beverage mugs
  • Don’t buy bottled water: This is a big one! The price of bottled water constantly increases in Disney. While staying hydrated is very important, there’s a much better way to get water for free (and no, it’s not from a water fountain). All counter-service restaurants in Disney give out complimentary cups of ice water. Even if you aren’t eating at that restaurant, stop by when you need a drink, and the cast members will get you a cup of ice-cold water. Not only do you not have to pay a ridiculous amount for the water, but it also stays cold longer because of the ice. A cold bottle of water only lasts a few minutes in the high temperatures before it gets warm and unpleasant to drink and carry around with you.
  • Try to limit alcohol consumption: Disney charges a premium for all alcoholic beverages. While those over 21 might want to treat themselves every once in a while, passing on alcoholic beverages can really help cut your bill. Not to mention, alcoholic beverages could end up making you thirstier in those high temperatures, so try to opt for one of those complimentary cups of ice water instead.

How to Save Money on Merchandise/Souvenirs in Disney

Disney souvenirs
  • Shop online: A lot of the merchandise available at stores in Disney are also available on Disney’s online shopping site (called shopDisney). What’s different about shopDisney is that they frequently have sales and coupons, something that stores on Disney property almost never have! On my last trip, I found some cute home and décor items that I wanted to purchase. I decided to go online to see if the items were available on shopDisney, and lo and behold, all of the items were there. Not only were they there, but they were significantly cheaper than at the parks! I ordered them online, saved a bunch of money, and I didn’t need to struggle to fit all of those items in my suitcase. It was a win-win situation for me! While you might not want to tell your 5-year-old that they can’t have that Mickey Mouse stuffed animal right now because you’re going to order it for less money online, keep this strategy in mind for other souvenirs.

How to Save Money on Park Tickets in Disney

Tower of Terror ride in Disney
  • Try to avoid scheduling your trip during peak seasons: Ticket prices are heavily reliant on the season and holidays. Scheduling your vacation during the off-season can help to cut the cost of ticket prices. Not to mention, there will hopefully be lighter crowds.
  • Park tickets are typically cheaper during the week: Ticket prices are typically less expensive Mondays through Thursdays, and crowds are generally lighter during the week as well because of fewer locals.
  • Watch for package deals or specials: Disney occasionally offers promotions on tickets when purchased as a bundle package with a hotel room. Also, they occasionally offer specials, where you can earn bonus days when you purchase a certain number (like buy a four-day ticket, earn two bonus days for free).

How to Save Money on Hotel Rooms in Disney

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
  • Try to avoid scheduling your trip during peak seasons: Much like ticket prices, the prices of hotel rooms are heavily reliant on the season and holidays. Scheduling your vacation around these busier times can help you get a better room rate.
  • Room rates are typically better on certain days of the week: Hotel room prices are typically less expensive Sunday through Thursday nights, so scheduling your hotel stay then can help save some money.
  • Watch for package deals or discounts: Again, like park tickets, Disney generally offers promotional discounts during certain times of the year. Taking advantage of these discounts can be very beneficial, but rooms fill up quickly, so be on the lookout for specials!
  • Select a hotel level based on your budget: Disney breaks up its hotels into different levels, with the “value” level representing the cheapest hotels. If you want to stay on Disney property, staying at a value hotel is a great option, and there is no shame in doing so. All rooms on Disney property are held to strict standards, so you can still expect a nice stay at one of these resorts. Your room might not be as large as one of the “moderate” or “deluxe” resorts, but if you plan to conquer all the parks, you won’t be spending much time in the room anyways.

Additional Tips

Disney Skyliner gondolas
  • Be a smart packer: Try to plan ahead and take all personal care items that you need or might need, as they might be available for purchase in Disney, but for a steep price. One of the best things to pack is disposable rain ponchos. They are extremely small to take with you in a backpack, and you can often find them for a dollar at the dollar store. In comparison, Disney charges somewhere around $12 for one adult rain poncho. Yikes! Another thing that can be good to pack is snacks. Taking something like granola bars is great because they make for a quick and easy snack, or even an on-the-go breakfast if you’re in a rush.
  • Enjoy some free entertainment: Believe it or not, there are a lot of fun things that you can do by just being on Disney property. Spending a day at the pool, wandering around the hotel, and going for a ride on the Disney Skyliner are all activities that you can enjoy without ever bringing out your wallet.
  • Check for discounts if you’re a veteran, first responder, etc.: Disney does typically offer discounts on things like park tickets, merchandise, and sometimes even hotel rooms.  
  • Check for discounts if you’re a DVC member, Annual Passholder, D23 member, or Disney Visa cardholder: The amounts and locations where discounts are offered vary, so you might as well ask the cast member wherever you go.

While Disney is certainly expensive, it’s hard to put a price on the memories you leave with. I hope that you find some of these tips and tricks for how to save money in Disney helpful, and that they help you have a magical vacation without breaking the bank.

Mickey on a Disney parade float

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

-Walt Disney