Find out how to plan a Disney vacation on a budget. We have 11 money saving tips for Disney.

Magic Kingdom photo.

How to plan a Disney Vacation on a budget

A Disney Vacation is something most families hope to do at some point in their children’s lives.  This type of vacation takes a great deal of planning. When people hear the word “Disney” they immediately think expensive.

Now, this is definitely not an inexpensive vacation but I have several tips for you to plan a Disney Vacation on a budget. Depending on your family size, you could save hundreds of dollars with these tips and tricks.

I promise, by the end of this post you will have some great tips to planning a Disney vacation while still saving money.

Mickey Mouse looking into a mirror.

1. Bring your own snacks and drinks into Disney Parks

Did you know that Disney allows visitors to bring in small coolers and lunch boxes with food and drinks inside?  This alone is a HUGE savings. If you have a family of 4 and each purchased a $5 drink inside Disney that is $20.

Or you can be the family that simply grabs a juice box or bottle of water out of their backpack to the tune of $3 total at most for those same 4 drinks.

Not only does this save a ton of money but anyone with children knows that they are not the best at waiting in lines. By packing your own snacks and drinks from the grocery store , you also avoid the hassle of waiting in LONG lines to purchase them.

Items that pack well:  juice boxes, bottled water (pack some flavored water packets), goldfish, fruit snacks, pop corn, string cheese (put with ice pack) and granola bars are just a few things that are easy to pack. All of these items will help you plan a Vacation on a Budget.

If you are bringing a stroller, you can hang the lunchbox or small cooler on the handles.

2. Pack a Picnic Lunch or Dinner

If you are really trying to save money, pack your meals and bring them into the parks. Maybe you want to take the family to an expensive character meal? Well, this is a great way to save money so you can spend it on something that the family really wants to do.

Disney has lots of tables and places to eat. If you have seen those lines, it’s so nice to just plop down with your ready made lunch. You can rent lockers if you don’t want to carry these items around and it’s still a huge savings.

Another tip- pack frozen Copycat Uncrustables and they will be ready to eat by the time lunchtime rolls around.

3. Save on Souvenirs by purchasing before your trip

Most kid’s don’t really care where items come from as long as they have something special. Many things sold at Disney World are identical to what the Disney Store sells.  

You can search for authentic Disney Parks merchandise and save a ton. Shop before your trip and pack several special items for your kids. Some ideas to grab before the trip: T-shirts, stuffed animals, autograph books, dress up items.

You can decide when to hand out these items but some people like to do it in the morning before leaving the hotel. Others like to do it when you return as a reward for good behavior.

If the items are small, you can just pop them into your backpack and take them in the parks and hand them out during the day.

4. Pack Rain Ponchos

It’s Florida, it will rain. And in that rain, you will feel compelled to spend an unseen amount of money on Disney ponchos that you will never use again.

Do yourself a favor and go to your local dollar store and buy a couple of packs. Even Amazon has them for very inexpensive.

They are thin and light and can easily be thrown in your backpack. For a couple of dollars, your entire family will be set for less than what you would have spent on just one at Disney World.

5. Don’t buy the Park Hopper Tickets

This is a fairly expensive add on option to your already expensive park tickets. In theory, it seems like a great idea to be able to bounce between multiple theme parks but in reality the kids will be tired.

It is no fun when you are rushing around checking things off a to do list trying to run between multiple parks. Just save yourself the money and your sanity. It can be really daunting to go from Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom and more.

Disney characters on main street.

6. Buy Autograph Books and Pens before your Trip

Dollar Tree has really large character pens that are perfect to grab to use at Disney World. You will love paying so little for this versus $6 at Disney World.

Also, Dollar Tree and other places have character notebooks for cheap. Grab one if your child’s favorite character and you have saved another $11 per child. I just saw on Amazon that they have Disney Autograph books for inexpensive too.

7. Stay Outside the Park

Many nearby hotels will offer deep discounts to lure people that might otherwise stay on site. Now, keep in mind staying on Disney property definitely has it’s benefits like the free transportation to Disney Parks.  

You can always rent a car if needed. Often rental cars have deals you can snag if you are not picky about what it is. I would just suggest adding up all the costs to ensure you are getting the most savings.

Magic Kingdom photo.

8. Disney Dining Program

Please note: The Disney dining plan was suspended at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is still unavailable. However, Disney does plan to bring it back but has not set a date at this time.

I know some may say this is not a budget friendly idea but for those looking to take all the planning out, it’s an option. If you plan to do several character meals, it actually can be cheaper to do it through the Dining Program even when some restaurants count toward 2 meals. Those experiences inside Cinderella’s Castle or at Chef Mickey are not cheap.

If you have several of these on your agenda, you might want to add up the cost of purchasing each meal versus using dining program credits and and see what your best bet it is.

It really will come down to how many dining experiences you plan to do and how large your family is when thinking about Disney Dining vacation packages.

9. Let your Kid’s Dress Up with Costumes you Packed

Disney is such a magical place and your kids will see tons of other children walking around in costumes. Why spend tons of money in the parks for the exact same thing you can buy at Disney Store?

Or if you are looking to spend even less, just stop at Target or shop online before your trip. Amazon has several are on sale right now.

If you do plan on doing character dining experiences, this is another time to pack those costumes to wear to dinner. You will save a TON.

10. Bring your own Strollers

Even if you’re children are older, consider still bringing a stroller. Little legs will get tired and you might consider renting an overpriced stroller or worse buying one in the gift shop.

Save yourself the money now and buy an inexpensive umbrella stroller. Even if you have to leave it there, you will still come out saving money versus renting one.

11. Give your kid’s a Disney Gift Card

Sam’s Club and sometimes Costco will offer Disney gift cards for a small discount. Grab them before the trip and hand them out to your kids.

Simply explain to the kids they have a budget. Once it’s gone, it is gone! Also, some credit cards also allow you to earn points redeemable for gift cards.

Give these Disney vacation tips a try.

 Hopefully as you plan your trip to Disney World, you will take some of these tips to help you save money.

Don’t forget Disney offers so much to do at hotels and also Disney Springs. You might consider a couple of non park days when visiting Disney for vacation.

Have you been to Disney? What tips do you have to plan a Disney vacation on a budget?

More Disney Tips:

More money saving tips:

Find out how to plan a Disney vacation on a budget. We have 11 money saving tips for Disney. The best Disney tips that will save you the most money on your trip.  Learn how to plan a budget Disney World Vacation. #onecrazymom #disneyworld #disneyvacation #moneysaving #savingtips

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