Stretching Your Travel Dollar

5 Surprising Ways to Save Money at Disney World

By Elaine JS

Disney World is the happiest place on earth. But now you can smile a little wider with a few tricks that will prove to your astonished family that you are a money-saving genius.

The longer you stay, the less you pay per day.

You can cut your per-day cost in half or more by simply staying longer. An adult one-day Magic Your Way base ticket is $94.79. A four-day ticket costs just $68.16 a day. A 10-day ticket drops to a measly $38.87 per day, a tremendous discount, especially when compounded by a family of 4. Plus, my children love that rather than a whirlwind 2-day visit, they get to enjoy a relaxing 10-day vacation. And with 4 parks, 2 waterparks, 6 golf courses, and a huge shopping-dining-entertainment complex, you’re not going to run out of things to do.

Enjoy the hospitality of the Mouse.

On our very first trip, staying on-site actually worked out to be cheaper than a nearby motel, largely because of the great free transportation options that saved us the cost of a rental car and expensive parking fees. Once we touched down, we were whisked from the airport to our hotel where buses, monorails, and boats efficiently brought us everywhere we wanted to go. To make it an even easier decision, Disney offers a wide range of resort choices ranging from luxurious Deluxe hotels and appealing Moderate properties to budget-oriented Value hotels that start at just $85 a night.

Use a Disney-specialist travel agent.

Using a middle man goes against the grain for most of us budget-minded folks. Consider this: with 24 resort hotels in 47 square miles and a dizzying array of ticket options, planning a Disney trip is daunting for any first-timer. A Disney-specialist travel agent can help you sort through your options to pick the best deal for you. Better yet, a knowledgeable travel agent will keep an eye on discounts for you and can save you money, even after you book. On my last trip, my Disney-specialist travel agent got wind of a new discount released several months after I booked. She promptly applied the discount to my booking, saving me over $200. Best of all, using a travel agent does not cost you a penny. In fact, my travel agent offered me a Disney gift card for as thanks for booking with her.

Eat All Your Meals On-Site.

This one is very counter-intuitive, especially since eating on-site is clearly more expensive than eating off-site. But time is money too. After spending hundreds of dollars on park tickets, you don’t want to waste hours of your day travelling off-site for meals. Disney has thought ahead and offers on-site guests the option to purchase the Disney Dining Plan, which can save you up to 30%. Over the past few years, Disney has sweetened the deal even more by offering my favourite promotion, Free Dining, where the dining plan is thrown in for free. I’ve used this discount to savour excellent steak dinners, countless Mickey ice cream bars, and a dream breakfast in Cinderella Castle.

Don’t stay for every minute of the entire day.

Every hour in Disney World is filled with miles of walking (an average of NINE miles a day) and a constant barrage of stimulation. If you plan to be there for opening (by the way, it’s the best way to see the most attractions in the least amount of time), then plan a mid-day break for a nap or a splash in the hotel pool before returning re-energized for the night-time entertainment. Finally, don’t make the classic rookie mistake of staying for “just one more ride” or you may be snapping at each other by the time you left the park. Remember, when it stops being fun, it’s not a vacation anymore.

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