Disney is a vacation that today’s parents realize is at least a likely probability, if not an annual thing. While we may not be on the annual side of things, we recognize that the Magic of Disney is something that our daughter should enjoy, at least once. To make sure it doesn’t break the vacation budget, I’ve come up with some ideas that helps make Disney not only worth your time but also, something affordable.
Ways to Save Money on a Disney Vacation
Many people tend to believe that Disney equates to splurge. It doesn’t though! The ticket prices are pretty much set in stone, and while there are a few discount sites, and military discounts, the prices are what they are. But, when it is your child’s first time to Disney, it is important to recognize that your child will not know what they are missing if you do leave a few things out. Plus, if you do end up heading to Disney again, that first trip likely sets the expectation. Remember, it is easier to upgrade later, they say, right?
But, any time you do Disney, it can be magical, because it is Disney! It is an awesome place to visit, so I would hardly say that there’s a “bad” way to do Disney. Instead, let’s focus on the small things you can do to save money at Disney.
Tip 1: Don’t try to do it all. Many people try to visit all the parks, but if you have a child who is under 44’’, there’s a big chance that they won’t enjoy most of a park-hopper experience, so you may save money by limiting yourself to Magic Kingdom. If all your children are older, than choose another park, since they likely want more of the ride experience than the Princess or character experience. Park hoppers can be worthwhile, but only if you really need to do all the parks, or if you have the right mix in your group. For a first visit, focus on one park and save money since Park Hopper tickets are more expensive.
Tip 2: Set a limit on souvenirs. Give everyone a limit and use it on the last day. Offer a reward to any kid who doesn’t buy a souvenir. It may be desert or keeping the cash for their piggy bank. As a general rule, they can walk out with something for $10, but most items cost much more than that. So focus on the amount and make sure it is set before you head there. My son loves stuffed animals, so I will bring his favorite with us, for example. This way, he won’t be reminded and want an expensive Pooh bear or something like that. If I had a daughter, I’d bring her in her princess costume so she wouldn’t ask for a $60 outfit while we’re there.
Tip 3: Get the most out of your time there by using the “pass the people in front of us rule.” If you do 12 rides in a day, and are able to get in front of one or two groups each time you get into line, you’ll save a lot of time, and likely get an extra ride or two out of your visit. PS: Don’t try to calculate the price per ride, you won’t be happy. Instead focus on the magic of the experience of Disney.
Tip 4: Food. Remember to not take the trip too seriously and believe you really need to do it all. If a $50+/plate meal isn’t something you can afford, don’t do it. You and your children will be okay if you miss out on the character meals. Instead, focus on the little experiences. There are free splash pad areas at Magic Kingdom – those small things may not be a big ride, but there’s no line, and it is a perfect time to take 20 minutes during the “peak” ride times to refocus, check on the line times (there are apps for that!), and take a bit of the snack you packed. Yes, that’s another final tip. There’s no restriction on bringing food into the park. Pack refillable water bottles (there are free fountains all over the park, and quick service restaurants will refill your bottle as well), some granola bars and apples. It will save you a lot of money and time. No waiting in line for snacks, and they’re easy to eat while you wait in a line.
What tips do you have for making a Disney vacation both magical AND affordable?