In the famous words of Rumplestiltskin, "All magic comes at a price, dearies." And for the Disney Parks, that's definitely an accurate statement. Don't get us wrong, visiting the most magical places on earth is definitely something we recommend, but they can sometimes leave a castle-sized dent in your wallet.
Don't panic, while a trip to the Disney Parks can cost up to four digits, there are ways you can save a little here and there. If you're looking to party like a princess but save like Scrooge McDuck, we've got you covered. Here are ten ways to save money on your Disney trip.
10 When Do You Go?
Before we even buy our tickets (which should always be Park-Hopper), we need to decide when to go to the parks. There are two good rules of thumb when buying park tickets or vacation plans, buy early and choose your dates carefully.
Prices and offers do vary at different times of the year. This is especially true for holiday celebrations, spring breaks, or special events that occur in the parks. Before you even think about buying tickets, think about when you want to go. Check the parks' calendar to see the rates before you decide. You might rack up a great deal.
9 When Do You Fly?
Another question to strongly consider is not only what time of year do you go, but what day do you fly out of? Unless you either live close enough to drive or are comfortable with long road trips, you are going to have to fly. And we all know airline tickets can be a hassle.
The most expensive flights are almost always on the weekend and near holidays, so avoid those if you can. Some airlines even have special offers and discounts for flying certain days, so watch for those as well. A cheap flight might save you the most money in the long run.
8 Where Do You Stay?
It's fine to stay off resort property if you want to save, but you still need to decide where. Disney offers a list of good-neighbor hotels for families staying on a budget, plus there are dozens of location-based hotels near the parks that offer complimentary transport to and from your park of choice.
You don't have to stay on the resorts, but you don't have to break the bank on a suite either. You can even stay at a Holiday Inn near Disney Springs if you really want to. Keep in mind, location does factor into your overall stay price.
7 Value Resorts
If you do choose to stay on park property, we highly recommend staying at the value resorts, even if you're not visiting on a budget. For something called a "Value Resort" they're certainly one of the nicest places we've ever stayed. They're not as big as some of the other resorts, but they have their perks.
The rooms might be a little snug, but the beds are always soft, the food courts offer great options, and all the fun activities Disney has to offer are a short bus or Uber drive away. Let's just say good things come in small packages.
6 The Basic Meal Plan
Though not the thriftiest option, it does offer security and peace of mind when it comes to your food. Disney has some of the best food in any theme park we've ever visited, especially if you go to Epcot (Food and Wine Festival or not). You may not use all your meal points, but it's definitely something worth considering.
So much vacation money is spent on food alone. Don't get us wrong, Disney's eats are definitely worth the extra buck, but it stinks going over budget. So consider the basic/standard meal plan for a little snack security.
5 Eat on a Gift Card
If you don't want to spend money on a meal plan, consider using a Disney gift card to pay for your meals. You can put as much or as little on it as you need, and if the occasion arises you can always add more. $100 on a gift card can go a long way when it comes to food alone.
We found this a surprisingly effective way to both save a little money and have a little food insurance. With some meals going well over $20, it helps to have a little extra put away. If you're planning on eating well at the parks, this little beauty can save you a lot.
4 Drink Responsibly
Whether you have a meal plan or a gift card or not, some of the most expensive items on the list will definitely be alcoholic drinks. Aside from one or two special items like the Bailey's Shake from Hole in the Wall or special seasonal offers during Epcot's Food and Wine, we recommend leaving them off your list.
We understand if you want to try some of the more rare and exotic wines and cocktails, but unless that's something you plan to factor into your budget, skip the alcohol and stick to soda or some of their complimentary ice water.
3 Off Park Activities
The Disney Parks are absolutely the reason to take a vacation like this, but there are ways to have fun without even stepping foot on park property. Don't get us wrong, visiting the parks is absolutely mandatory, but Disney offers so much more than rides on their resorts.
We highly recommend checking out the Fantasia Gardens mini-golf, exploring the resorts (preferably the Boardwalk), and just spending an entire day in Disney Springs. The Walt Disney World Resort offers so much to see and do, more than you'd even imagine. You can still get your Disney fix, no castle required.
2 Trade For Pins
This might not be a tip for everyone, but it is a biggie for many die-hard Disney fans. If you engage in the Disney Pin Trading culture, try to keep a limit on how many you buy and focus more on the trading side of the equation.
We get it, the rarer pins and special editions are all valuable and worth an occasional splurge, that's fine. But some of the more common pins can easier be traded for, especially if it's with a Disney Cast Member with an impressive pinboard. Pins are a great souvenir, but they are certainly addictive for dedicated collectors.
1 Be Selective of Souvenirs
Aside fromark tickets, some of the most money you'll probably spend will be on souvenirs. your p Trust us, it's okay to find a piece of the magic to take home with you, no argument there. But if we're being entirely honest, some souvenirs are cheap cash grabs and not worth the plastic.
When getting a Disney souvenir, try sticking to something you can only get there, and not at your local Disney Store or Walmart. Ear hats, pins, and park-specific apparel are all great, but definitely put the accessibility into account with the price. The parks have loads to offer, just don't be too dazzled by the glamor you forget the cost.