Heading to Orlando, FL to experience the wonderful Walt Disney World Resort is an experience that creates memories to last a lifetime. Kids and adults alike just can’t wait to head south to see the amazing resort, from the rides to the shows to the hotels to the places to eat, be entertained, explore, and so much more.
A Disney vacation is certainly a ton of fun, but spending money when you can save big bucks instead makes the trip even better. Of course, you’re on vacation after all, and splurging more than usual is expected, yet you can use the significant amount of money you save with these 25 useful hacks on something else that brings a smile to your face. Not to mention, along with watching where your hard-earned dollars go, saving time, reaping rewards, and having that extra edge while on vacation at Disney is just as valuable as what’s in your wallet. Any hack that serves you well is worth looking into.
Check out these 25 cheap Disney hacks you wish you knew sooner. You may not have been able to make the most of them on your last trip to Disney, but if you ever have the opportunity to go again, make this time full of hacks at “the happiest place on Earth!” As for those who will be headed to Disney for the first time, you’re in luck. Use these 25 tips to make that first trip to Disney even more unforgettable. Have fun on your vacation!
25 Tots (3 and Under) Don’t Need a Ticket
Before you shell out cash to get your tot a ticket, it is important to know that children under three years of age just don’t need one. They can get in without one as long as they’re with a guardian (obviously) and you’ve paid for your tickets as well as those for the others in your group over age three. Perhaps you figured everyone along for the ride must pay their way into the park, but it’s not so. Save those bucks for an extra snack or a toy for the littlest member of your family who won’t be able to enjoy the “big kid” rides. No ticket, no problem!
24 Pre-Pay Online for a Park Stroller
If you require a stroller for your child while at Disney, you can rent one from the resort…but it’ll cost ya. While you won’t be able to get a single or double (two seats) stroller for your little one for free, if you go online and pre-pay for a stroller for multi-day use, you’ll get a decent discount. It’s just a few bucks savings-wise, but every penny counts. Plus, if you’re going to be at Disney for a long vacation, those dollars will add up. Don’t forget, pre-paying will give you peace of mind that there will be a stroller awaiting you. Plus, you’ll save time when you get to the park since you’ve already paid.
23 Save on Parking by Taking a Shuttle from the Hotel
Hotels both on the property and off will offer shuttle buses to where you want to be…the heart of the resort. Not only is hopping on a bus convenient but doing so will save you money since you won’t have to deal with parking fees. Plus, parking can be a hassle, so this hack will save you money and a headache! Gather up the family, your gear, and your excitement for a day at Disney and let the shuttle bus get you there safely and smoothly. And after a long day of fun in the sun, who really feels like driving back to the hotel anyway?
22 Get the $10 MaxPass Right from Your Smartphone
The MaxPass is relatively new, and the perks are priceless. For just $10, the MaxPass can be accessed from and paid on your smartphone and delivers plenty of Disney-related perks that wind up paying for themselves. Unlike the FastPass, which you need to obtain in-person, the MaxPass is more modern, allowing technology to make the process as swift and simple as a swipe. You’ll have better access to rides, park photos, and much more, all in one place – convenient and cool. The MaxPass will maximize your Disney vacation, making things more streamlined and efficient, giving you more time to do what you’re there for…to have fun!
21 Military Families Get a Decent Deal
Those who are active military members, have since retired, or are part of a military family get special perks at the park – well-deserved, indeed. Money-saving promo tickets are available at discounted rates for those who’ve served our country and for their families. They can be purchased in multi-day units depending upon how long you’ll be vacationing at the resort. Not only are the tickets nicely discounted, but they come with added perks and bonuses too good to pass up. The men and women of the military deserve special treatment from Mickey and friends, and Disney knows every dime makes a difference.
20 If You Use a Travel Agent, Select an ‘Authorized Disney Vacation Planner’
Sometimes planning a vacation isn’t a one-person show. If you seek out a travel agent to make your Disney trip go smoothly, be sure your agent is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. These specialized agents know the ins and outs of all that is Disney, cluing you into special perks, savings, bonuses, and more. You’ll get the best advice on everything from plane fare to hotel booking to where to dine with savings and simplicity in mind. Your agent will work with you to figure out the best time to travel and when and how you’ll be able to make the most of your trip. While any agent can be helpful, a Disney-savvy one is just another step in the right direction.
19 Pack Take-Along Snacks
Buying snacks at the resort is fun, but the high prices outweigh the deliciousness. Prices can be sky-high for items that would cost a fraction of the price someplace else. Perhaps you can spend on resort snacking on an occasion or two during your vacation, but for the most part, packing take-along snacks will save you lots of dough. Make little zip baggies of easy-to-eat snacks, especially for the kids who will ask for every treat they see along the way while at the park. Pre-packaged snacks will keep their bellies from growling and will keep your money in your pocket. Pack mini pretzels, baby carrots, raisins, trail mix, animal crackers, fruit chews, and the like. This way, you won’t be tempted to spend when you start to smell something sweet or savory wafting through the air.
18 Travel Off-Season or Mid-Week
Most people have the same vacation time off. Be it holiday break, spring break, etc., for the most part, the major vacations occur at the same time for the masses. This means that people head to Disney at around the same time, making the park crowded, costs high, and the overall experience not as efficient as it can be – both monetarily and conveniently. If you are able to, travel off-season when the majority of travelers are not vacationing. Perhaps you can put in a request at work early on so you can book your Disney trip at a less popular time. Even better, aim for a mid-week trip, also off-season. You’ll have a better chance of getting lower-priced plane tickets, hotel rooms, and the park will be less crowded, meaning shorter lines and more fun for you and your family.
17 Sign Up for a Disney Visa Card and Save $ on Dining and Other Perks
If you are a Disney fanatic and think you’ll go to the resort on numerous occasions over your lifetime, consider your love of Disney when you sign up for your next credit card. Choose a Disney Visa and you’ll save money at the resort on things like Disney toys and collectibles, clothing, souvenirs, and other themed merchandise. You can also save money on meals – up to 10% at participating restaurants. The Disney Visa also has other perks like cardholder specials throughout the park, financing for your trip, and so on. Too bad Donald Duck won’t pay your credit card bill though!
16 Make Breakfast Your Big Meal Out
When you are on vacation, enjoying indulgent meals is something everyone looks forward to. But when you’re with family, the tab can add up fast. A few appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert will cost you, and no matter how tasty the treats may have been, you’ll probably regret spending so much on the meal. If you want to eat out, consider making the “most important meal of the day” the one you plan for. Not only is breakfast food generally cheaper than a lunch or dinner out, but you’ll fill up and fuel up for a long day of Disney fun. Lunch and dinner can be something simpler and more budget-friendly, saving you lots of money and time on the phone trying to get a reservation.
15 Buy Souvenirs at the Disney Character Warehouse
You are going to want to leave Disney with something (or many things) special to remember it by. A souvenir is something to cherish for years to come, especially for children who want the Disney magic to last long after you get back home. But Disney items can cost plenty; they know you’ll buy their gear while you’re vacationing. But instead of getting your goodies in the heart of the resort, head to the Disney Character Warehouse and you will find prices slashed on stuff that’s just as great at what you’d find at the park. The items are nice, new(ish), and perfectly priced so you can even buy more than you would have been able to at full price. The items that are not sold at the Disney shops are shipped to the warehouse so they can restock. And you become the owner of some pretty cool stuff at a reduced price. It’s a win-win!
14 Get Free Pins if it’s Your Birthday or a Special Occasion
Lots of people make Disney their destination for a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or another milestone. And the folks at Disney want to get in on the celebration with you. Collecting pins at the park is a pastime visitors cherish, and if it is your special day, let someone at the park know and you can score some free pins. This small but sentimental token of your trip to Disney will be a collectable you’ll appreciate and hold on to for years to come. Ask and you shall receive! After all, it is your special day…the staff is there to make it even more perfect with pins.
13 Save Money and Avoid the Rush by Dining During Off-Hours
Just like traveling off-season can mean savings, dining off-hours will save you too. Eat an early supper and you may be offered a bar menu or a late-day menu with items that cost far less than the entrees come dinnertime. Plus, you’ll avoid the crowds, meaning your meal will not be as rushed and the restaurant won’t be as loud. Plan your day accordingly and you can make your mealtime a real money-saver. Early dinners are perfect for families with little kids or for those adults who’ll get a second wind after-hours and want to experience the nightlife after a post-supper snooze.
12 Head to the Park Early Morning When It’s Less Crowded
They say the early bird catches the worm, but in your case, you’ll catch all the main attractions when you get up with the sunrise and head to the park first thing when it opens. People tend to filter into the park closer to noon time, so be one of those chipper “morning people” and you’ll get the park at its best…with less wait-time, cooler weather, and more room to explore. The crowds will come, but by then, you will have made your way to a number of rides and attractions, taken pics with the characters without too long a wait, and so on. Just get a good night’s rest the night before and you’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for an early beginning to your day of fun.
11 Be Flexible with Meal Reservations – People Cancel Last Minute and You Can Get In
You may find yourself frustrated that you can’t seem to get a dinner reservation at one of the popular dining spots at the resort. Unless you book months in advance, you might not be able to get a table at a place you were looking forward to trying. But don’t give up so fast. If you can be flexible and go with the flow, you may be able to snag a seat last minute. People scrap their pre-made plans all the time, particularly when they are vacationing. So hold tight, give a call to your restaurant of choice, and they just may get an opening you will happily fill in for. As long as you can keep your schedule loose, dinner at the coolest spot in town can be part of your Disney trip.
10 Use the MyDisney Experience App
Everyone uses apps these days, including the folks at Disney. And they want you to get in on the app action too with the MyDisney Experience app. This handy app is perfect for keeping all your Disney-related plans in one place, making the trip more coordinated for you and your family. With the MyDisney Experience app, you can peruse the park maps, keep your FastPasses in order, check on the expected wait times for your favorite rides, keep tabs on your itinerary, and so on. You’ll be super-organized and won’t have to worry about papers and tickets floating about. One app means one spot for all your Disney stuff!
9 Book a Hotel Off-Property
Your trip to Disney means you want to be in the center of it all, but booking a hotel off-property can be a real money-saver. So, your hotel may not have Mickey and Minnie to greet you, but as long as you are close enough to the resort, you’re just as good as there. And these off-property hotels often cost less per night than those in the heart of the hub. Before booking, compare rates online or ask your travel agent to assist you. Unless there is a special promo going on, the off-site hotels will always be less expensive than the on-property places. If you really need to see what the hotels on-property are like, take a walk inside one while you’re at the resort. Perhaps you can look around the lobby or grab a snack if there is an eatery inside. A few minutes away from the center of it all really isn’t a big deal. You can grab a shuttle to and from the hotel and you’ll save significantly, especially if your stay is long.
8 Check out “MouseSavers.com” for Disney Discounts
The name MouseSavers may sound funny, but it’s actually a smart way to save while you’re at Disney. This website offers tips, advice, deals, and more for those who are planning a trip to Disney and are savvy with their money. Check out their website for new updates regularly – from coupons to promos and more ways to save. And be sure to sign up for their newsletters and mailers so you are always among the first to hear about great Disney deals you can make use of. Every savings opportunity counts, and MouseSavers is the place to score the sweetest deals.
7 Sign Up for Disney Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.)
Say “yes” to Y.E.S.! Disney Youth Education Series is not only something smart for your child to be part of while you are on vacation, but will give you reduced rates for attractions and other events at the park. The educational programs provided by Y.E.S. are valuable for your children so they can learn while having fun. They can meet other kids their age, expand their minds, and see that education can be entertaining. And with this program comes perks – your family will get discounts all over Disney, making the enrollment with Y.E.S. worth it in more ways than one.
6 Don’t Buy Bottled Water – You Can Get Free Glasses from Vendors
The weather is hot at Disney and you’ll be doing lots of walking around, so it is of the utmost importance to remain well-hydrated. But bottled water, especially at a place like Disney, can be overpriced. And if you are with a sizeable group, all that water will become quite the expense. Forget the bottled water and ask for a cup from one of the on-site vendors or restaurants. They will give you a cold cup of H2O free of charge, keeping your body feeling cool and refreshed. Even if you buy a few bottles at the top of the day, refill them with water from a vendor. You will save money and protect the environment by using less plastic.
5 Get Free Coca-Cola Products at Epcot
Most people love to check out Epcot Center during their trip to Disney. Not only is Epcot a sight to see with so much going on, but you can snatch up some freebies while you’re there. While at Epcot, be sure to check out the Coca-Cola coolness at Club Cool. Here, you will have the opportunity to get some Coca-Cola items at no charge. Hang around for a while to sip and sample, making the excursion to Epcot well worth it. While you don’t want to get a sugar high (and crash), a few samples aren’t going to cause too much damage. Just be sure the little ones don’t go overboard. As for you? The kick of caffeine is probably something you’ll look forward to after all that action at the park has drained you of your energy!
4 Get a FastPass+
Free of charge but full of perks, the FastPass+ is something all Disney visitors can benefit from. When you pay for your ticket into the park, you get a FastPass+ free. These must-have passes give you benefits like getting to the head of the line for rides and attractions, making your day at Disney more time-effective and fun for the whole family. You can get more of these passes at various kiosks around the park, so you can keep reaping the rewards of the FastPass+ throughout the day and your stay. You may not get to cut the line in the lunchroom, but when it comes to Disney, the FastPass+ breaks all the rules!
3 You Can Get Autographs from Park Characters
All kids have their favorite Disney characters and taking pics with princesses and fuzzy animals is always a delight. Along with these photos, you can ask Snow White, Mickey Mouse, and the rest of the gang for their autographs, and they won’t ask for a dime. Have them sign a T-shirt, book, poster, or something else you’ve purchased along the way. How cool with the kids feel when they come home with a collection of Disney autographs to show their friends? It is something fun to do when you’re taking a break from the rides, and unlike the rides, you get to take these signatures home with you.
2 Get the Disney Photographers to Take Your Pics Without Purchasing a Package
While at Disney, the folks at the hotels and at the park will be likely to encourage you to purchase a photo package. While these packages are super-nice and something to treasure, they can be costly. You can use that money towards something else at the park and still get high-quality photos. Just ask one of the professional photographers at the park to snap a quick family pic or two with your camera when they aren’t busy with a customer. They will be happy to help out and their photo is sure to come out better than one you’d take. Say “cheese!”
1 Collect Free Disney Stickers from Park Characters
Many of the dressed-up characters walking around the park all day have some goodies on hand. Some carry stickers along with them and they give them out to kids all day. If you aren’t sure if a character has anything to give out for free, just ask! If they do not happen to have anything at the moment, they will be pleased to direct you to another character or staff member who has freebies to pass around. Kids love stickers for their books and albums, and the more they collect, the happier they’ll be. And you’ll be happy because they are free! Why not grab a few for yourself to add to your post-vacation Disney photo album?