I love visiting Disney World, and we work hard to make this a reality every year. You will be pleased to know that there are still plenty of ways that you can save money at Disney World, from travelling there to the food you eat in the parks. Here are my favourite Disney World money saving tips and hacks.
Travelling to Disney World can be expensive and make up a large chunk of your expenditure. Here are my money saving tips for getting there.
- Get best value for money when looking at your flights by looking around price comparison websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak. Don't forget to g to the airline direct. As a general rule I try to only fly with Virgin now – they always seem to have a sale over Easter which helps!
- Don't forget to use a cashback website such as Quidco or Top Cashback to get a little bit of money back from purchasing your flights.
- If the airline you are flying with offers a rewards program, be sure to join up to it. These are usually free and you can use your airmiles on future flights.
- Consider flying to an alternative airport such as Sanford or Tampa. Tampa is an hour's drive away and it is quite an easy drive to make. Be wary of this though, if you are staying at a Disney resort then you won't get free Magical Express to and from your hotel, so you will have to make your own transport arrangements at your own cost.
- If you are flying with Virgin Atlantic before 1st November 2016, be sure to look into Seat Plus. For just £65, you can grab yourself an extra seat on your flight, great for stretching out. Extra comfort seats (extra leg room, exit row seats, etc) start at £35 each, so it might work out cheaper to get a spare seat for your group. This works well in a couple – every time we have done this we have managed to get a set of 3 seats at the window.
- The cost of getting to your airport in the UK and paying for a hotel and parking (if necessary) can also add a hefty chunk of money to your costs. I love to get a hotel the night before we fly so that we can relax close to the airport, and I always check Holiday Extras for the best deal – it is worth pricing up airport parking and hotel together as well as separately. Make sure that you also factor in the cost of transfers if they aren't included. I can also highly recommend Travelodge at Gatwick Central as a great budget friendly place to stay before you fly from Gatwick.
Disney park tickets
Unless you are planning on visiting just one Disney park, I would strongly recommend that you purchase your tickets before you get there and not leave it until you are at the gate. For one thing, the lines at the gate can be really long just to buy your ticket – that's before you even start queuing to get inside. It can also get very pricey if you have to purchase tickets when you get there.
- Know which park(s) you want to visit! There are so many great parks to choose from, so My Voucher Codes came up with a great infographic to help you decide. You can click here to see the full infographic about picking the right park for you.
- Visitors from the UK get an amazing deal on tickets – we are able to purchase a 7 day, 14 day or even 21 day ticket – these options aren't available to guests visiting from America. A 21 day ticket from Florida Escapes will set you back over £300, but it works out under £16 per day to visit all 4 Disney theme parks, the two Disney water parks and use of Disney's miniature golf courses.
- If you don't want to make use of the 7, 14 or 21 day Disney tickets available to travellers from the UK, then you can look for places where you can buy Magic Your Way tickets tickets from.
- You also get Memory Maker included in your 7, 14 and 21 day tickets, which means you can make use of the photographers in Disney and get your on ride photos and extra magic shots all for free!
- If you are planning on visiting Disney World more than once in a 12 month period, and you aren't looking to make use of the free Disney dining offer then you might want to consider becoming an annual pass holder. As well as entry to Disney World parks for 12 months, you can also enjoy other bonuses including complimentary magic bands and special discounts. There are two annual passes to choose from – one that comes with water park access and one that comes without. These passes work out to cost between £570 and £650 depending on the exchange rate and which pass you opt for. The downside is that you can't book as many Fast Passes in advance and you don't get a Magic Band for free.
Disney hotel vs offsite
There is no denying that staying at a Disney hotel will set you back more, but staying at a Disney hotel can offer you great value for money, especially if you are able to make use of the free dining and $200 gift card offer.
Here's what you get included when you stay in a Disney hotel:
- Free transfers to and from the airport
- Free transport on Disney property
- Free parking at the theme parks
- Free Magic Bands
- Extra park hours exclusively for people staying in a Disney hotel
- If you are looking to stay offsite then hiring a private villa can be a minefield. I usually pop on to the Dibb villa search to find a villa to suit our needs. A villa gives you the opportunity to have your own private swimming pool and lots of space to stretch out. You can also save money by having some of your meals at the villa.
- If you are looking to save money whilst staying off site then check out hotels.com. Not only do they have a best price guarantee, for every 10 nights you stay somewhere, you will get one night free.
Things to buy before you get to Disney World
Another great way to save money at Disney World is to avoid buying items once you are there. This doesn't mean buying them from the UK, you can stil get great bargains from Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart etc when you get to Orlando. These are the things that I try to avoid buying in a Disney park, and pop to Poundland or a supermarket before we go:
- Ponchos – I don't do ponchos for water rides, but sometimes we have them for the tain.
- Fans – either those little hand held fans or the cooling mist spray fans.
- Bottled water (see below)
- Snacks (see below)
How much spending money you need for Orlando
Knowing how much spending money to take to Orlando can be hard to gauge. Disney World can be expensive and everything has a premium, but you can also save money by using the tips in this guide. I do a lot of shopping in Orlando – I always pack an empty suitcase and bring back lots of goodies. How much spending money you need will depend on how many of you there are, how long your stay is, what you plan on eating (free Disney dining cuts back on a lot of the spending!). I try to give myself £1,500 for 20+ day holidays to cover my shopping and my share of the fuel and eating out.
We also managed to visit Orlando on a budget where we kept our spending to around £75 ($100) each per day – the minimum that I would recommend is $100 per person per day if you need to pay for your food, $50-$75 per day if you are on the dining plan.
- Get a FREE currency card, usually priced at £9.95. You can top this up as you go along meaning that you won't change too much money and be left with leftover dollars that are expensive to convert back.
- Visit the outlets – I love a visit to the many, many outlets around Disney World. My favourite is Yankee Candle, of course, but there are also Disney outlets where you can pick up gifts and souvenirs for a fraction of the price in a Disney park!
- Check our the supermarkets for lots of Disney themed merchandise too, from clothing to key rings.
- Pick up coupon booklets from most diners and restaurants – I know that Denny's definitely have them at the front, and they come with lots of money off coupons for attractions outside of Disney World.
How to save money on food and drink at Disney World
Eating and drinking at Disney World can easily cost a fortune! There are still plenty of ways to save money at Disney World when it comes to food and drink. Whether you are on the dining plan or not, there are still plenty of ways that you can save money on food and drink at Disney World.
- Visit a supermarket to save tons of money on snacks, drinks and fruit. If you aren't hiring a car then you can easily get an Uber to the nearest supermarket to stock up on essentials.
- Bring your snacks to the parks with you.
- Have breakfast in your hotel room or villa – you can still enjoy the American experience by purchasing Lucky Charms or other American cereals. I do love a typical American breakfast at Denny's, but opting for a few breakfasts in the villa or hotel room means that the savings quickly mount up.
- Don't buy water in the parks – it is over $2.50 a bottle. Instead you can:
- Use the water fountains.
- Ask for free iced water at any location that has a soda fountain – think quick service restaurants and carts.
- Take your own bottles into the parks. You can often pick up 24 bottles of water from Walmart for under £5. Freeze them so that as it melts throughout the day you have a lovely cold drink.
- Get free sodas at A World of Coke at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and the Cool Club in Epcot. Here you can try Coke products from around the world, completely free. My favourite is Sparletta, which I used to drink growing up in South Africa.
- The portion sizes are huge, absolutely huge! The portion sizes combined with the temperature means that I never eat 3 meals a day whilst on holiday. You could easily skip one of the meals and opt for a snack if you're hungry, or order a meal to share. This can work in a variety of ways – you can order an adult meal and split it between 2 children; two people can share one meal or three people can easily share two meals.
- If a children's meal comes with anything fancy like a bucket and shovel, ask for the meal to come without it to save yourself a few dollars.
- Consider getting a resort mug – these are refillable at Disney hotels (not really worth it if you aren't staying in one) completely free after you've bought the cup. There are different packages to suit the length of your stay and you can fill them with soda and hot drinks.
Celebrating something? Get a free badge!
When tony proposed at Disney World, the photographer handed us our “just engaged” badges, and these badges were like gold dust.
Every where we went we were congratulated, which in itself was magical, but we also grabbed ourselves some freebies along the way from cast members looking to make our trip that extra bit magical. There are badges for pretty much anything – the birthday is likely to get you some free cupcakes at restaurant, yum!
I would love to hear about your Disney World money saving tips! Leave a comment below with your favourites.
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