Disney World is an EXPENSIVE place.
Still, there are some tips and tricks to SERIOUSLY save. If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Disney World soon, we want to make sure you’re able to save every penny possible. But what if you’re not just interested in saving a couple of pennies? What if you want to save a LOT more. It IS possible! Here are 5 ways to save $1,000 on your Disney trip!
1. Skip the Dining Costs
We know, we know. It sounds crazy. Can you REALLY save a grand by being smart and thrifty about your dining choices? Yes, you can — and we’re gonna show you how! We’re taking you through the math behind some BIG savings. The following approximations are based on a family of four (let’s figure the kiddos are both over 9, but the numbers really don’t change too much if they’re younger) taking a six-day Disney vacation.
Skip paying for water.
We LIVE by the free water tip in Disney World. If you’ve read DFB before, it’s basically our mantra at this point. 😂 As pros, we try to skip paying for bottles of water as much as we can! If you bring in your own reusable water bottles or ask for free water at quick-service spots, you could find yourself saving more than you might think.
If a family of four skips out on buying two water bottles at $3.50 each per person each day of a six-day trip, they’re looking at savings of approximately $170! Those free cups of water don’t look so bad now, do they? This same logic applies if you forgo bottled or fountain sodas in exchange for water throughout your days.
Share quick service meals.
Disney portions are HUGE and we’re big advocates of the “sharing is caring” way of thinking. If you’re traveling with light eaters, or even just regular eaters, you can probably get by with splitting one quick-service meal between two people.
For our math, we’re going to say a quick service meal averages about $13 per person (this can fluctuate a fair bit depending on what you order and where, and kids’ meals are often cheaper by a few bucks, but after tax, most adult entrees land around here). If a family of four ordered two meals for lunch each day instead of the usual four at an average price of $13, you’re looking at saving approximately $156 over the course of your six-day trip!
Only eat one table-service meal each day.
Swapping out one of your table-service meals each day for a quick-service meal can mean big savings too. We’re basing our logic off of a very generalized $28 per person at most sit-down locations. Some spots will average more, some less, and kids’ options are considerably cheaper, but averaged out, this felt like a safe “per person” number to us. Compared to our $13 per person for a fast food meal, that makes a 4-person table-service meal average $112, or roughly $60 bucks more per meal than a fast food option might cost.
So, if you skipped one table-service meal each day in favor of a quick-service meal for a 6-day trip, you’re looking at saving $360.
Bring your own food for breakfast and lunch.
The USDA recommends budgeting about $175 for a low-moderate grocery budget to feed a family of four for a week. Adjust that to only include 2 meals a day and we’re looking at a recommended $117 on groceries to cover breakfast and lunch.
Remember, we figured a fast food meal will cost that family of four about $52, so if you were planning all quick-service meals for breakfast and lunch, say, then you’re looking at savings of $624 if you opt to eat groceries you purchased every day for breakfast and lunch for the full 6-day trip. Take out the cost of groceries and you’re saving $507.
That number goes UP if one of the meals you skip each day is a table-service meal. Skipping one quick-service meal and one table-service meal each day (meaning you only order one fast food meal per day) would save you $984 less the cost of groceries — tallying savings at $867.
Using a combination of these four dining hacks over the course of your trip can add up to big savings QUICK. Granted, on a Disney World trip, one thing many people (including us) look forward to is enjoying the food in the parks, so decide if passing on those meals is right for you. The ability to stick with this strict of a meal plan on vaca will vary depending on your family and your wants and needs. BUT if you’re all-in on planning a Disney World trip and trying to make the math work out, this is one way you can pinch those pennies.
Keep checking on those Disney World Resort hotel discounts.
Disney regularly releases special offers on park tickets and hotel bookings and some of these can mean really really big savings. Definitely check the offers when you’re booking, but don’t get dismayed if you don’t see one that works for your plans! If you’re booking far out, seasonal hotel discounts may not be out yet, but if you pay attention to Disney’s discounts pages throughout the time before your trip arrives, you can call and add an offer to your booking it is valid!
If you’re worried you’ll miss a big discount, use travel agents! We like to use Small World Vacations whenever we plan a trip. Travel agents are a completely FREE service and they will do the heavy discount searching FOR YOU. Whether it’s during the initial planning or watching for discounts that apply to pop up, they’ve got you covered so that you’ll get the best rates on your trip without you having to be on the hunt for the best deals all the time.
We’ll take a look at the two big deals going on currently to show you just how these offers can save you $1,000.
Get 2 Extra Days Added to Your Park Ticket
There is a deal currently that allows guests to get 2 extra days added to their ticket when they buy a 4-night/3-day room-and-ticket package at select Disney Resort hotels, valid for arrivals most nights January 8, 2021, through September 25, 2021. This deal alone won’t save a family of four a full $1,000, but larger groups could save the full grand!
Without the deal, a family of four would need to pay a minimum of $1,760 for 5-day tickets (depending on when they choose to visit). With the deal, the family is paying the price of 3-day tickets ($1,260) for five days in the parks. That amounts to savings of $500 on five days of park tickets, which is still a significant amount of money saved. If you’re traveling with a group of eight or more, this special offer could save you $1,000 or more.
Save Up to 35% on Rooms
Another deal that Disney is offering right now is one where guests can save up to 35% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights January 3 through April 17, 2021. If you book this offer under certain circumstances we’ll explain below, it’ll net you big savings! Let’s look at it for a family of four for 6 nights.
You won’t find MAJOR savings when booking a lower level resort. You’ll save 20% on Disney Value Resorts and 25% at Disney Moderate Resorts. With lower rates, that would amount to a few hundred dollars in savings. With the 6-night example, you would save $240 at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and $345 at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for instance.
BUT, if you look at some of the Disney Deluxe Resorts or Disney Deluxe Villas, savings can get HIGH with that full 35% off. For instance, booking this offer on a 6-night vacation at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort ($700 per night base) would save you $1,470! WOW.
So, if you book any applicable Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa for 6-nights or more at a base rate of approximately $475 or more, you can save upwards of $1,000 with this special offer!
These deals rotate regularly, but you can always check DFB to make sure you’re up to date with the latest special offers.
Visit at the right time of year.
Visiting at the slower times of the year could EASILY save you $1,000. Resort hotel rates can almost DOUBLE from the cheapest time of the year to the peak week of Christmas or mid-summer and ticket prices can increase by about 25%.
For example, a family of four taking a 4-night, 5-day vacation at Disney’s Contemporary Resort during one of the least expensive times of year (early September) would pay approximately $480 per night and $88 per day for basic park tickets. That’s about $3,350 for a room and tickets.
The same trip during Christmas week would cost approximately $775 per night and approximately $117 per day for park tickets. That’s roughly $5,385 for the same room and tickets; meaning a savings of over two thousand dollars just for going at a different time of year! This obviously varies based on your plans, but you get the point! If you are flexible and OK not visiting on Christmas week or at peak summer times, you could save bundles.
Take Advantage of Merch Savings Hacks
Much like the food hacks, this next one is an umbrella of tips that used together could save you $1,000 or could do the trick in specific situations. On their own, they might not bring you major savings, but for the frugal-minded, they can get you far! We’re talking merchandise hacks!
Get a credit card.
No no, we don’t mean max out a credit card with a Disney World trip and deal with it later! We mean smartly using a card’s rewards programs to your benefit. This one has a MAJOR “your mileage may vary” asterisk next to it because it’s a credit card and everyone’s situation is wildly different. Many credit cards with a solid rewards program, especially ones based on travel points, can help get you some Disney trip savings, so really do your research and see if going the credit card route is right for your family and their spending habits!
For our example, let’s look at the most common card you might have seen if you’ve planned a Disney trip before: the Disney Visa Card. This is a card that has basically tailored its rewards program to Disney savings. It’s not the best card out there in terms of how much you can earn back, but it does come with a few nice perks we’ll explain below. You’ll have to do the math to see if it works out for you but it could act like a (slow) Disney World savings account for your family.
For the Premier Visa Card, you get 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars for every purchase made at most gas stations, grocery stores, many restaurants, and Disney locations. Everywhere else, you earn 1% back. This means for every $100 you spend, you get $2. If you solely used your card for purchasing your essentials like groceries and gas and paid down the balance each month, over time this could reach $1000 (You’d have to spend…$50,000…but it’s possible). They also offer a $200 credit right now once you spend enough money in the first three months.
The other perks to this particular card are more rapidly accessible. You get 10% off when shopping on shopDisney.com or at Disney Stores. You also can score 10% off at many shopping and dining locations around Disney World, among other things. Plus, cardholders get access to special photo ops in the parks!
Remember this is a big maybe for some folks and in many cases, there will be a much better card for you out there than the Disney Visa, so really do the research on this one if you want to go this route.
Skip the matching shirts.
Okay, this one might sound kind of crazy. But YES, skipping the personalized matching shirts could literally save you $1,000. We know, we know, that’s WILD. If your family is one that goes the matching shirt direction, you could be saving the BIG BUCKS by using your plain old clothes.
Personalized shirts can go from $15 to $25 on Etsy. If you’re a family of six (two kids, mom, dad, and grandparents) or more, going to Disney for a week or more and are known to rock a matching set of shirts each day (it’s more common than you think!) those skipping out on a $25 personalized shirt for each day of the trip means you could save upwards of $1,050!
Merchandise is expensive in Disney World as well, so if you’re looking for a little extra savings shop online or at Disney Character Warehouse Outlets in advance to save a few dollars and give yourself a set merchandise budget.
Cut down on travel costs!
And finally, if you live within a reasonable distance, driving can save you a lot over flying. It really depends on if you’re willing (and able!) to spend the extra time and effort it takes to drive! If you are, you could find yourself saving the big bucks.
For example, let’s use a family of four driving from the middle of the country (we’ll use Wichita, Kansas!). Round trip, a 24 MPG average car will cost (with current gas prices) about $200 in gas with a roughly $70 hotel room on the way. Your trip to and from Orlando will end up costing approximately $540 for the drive. (Not counting road snacks!)
In a regular year, plane tickets from Wichita to Orlando average $400 round trip. So, to fly, you’re paying $1,600, not counting any rental transportation upon arrival. That’s a difference of $1,060. Big savings! Keep in mind, bringing a car does come with a cost — if staying on-site, you have to pay resort parking fees each night of your stay, though theme park parking will be included with your stay. For a 5-night trip, tack on $75-125 total, depending on level of resort selected.
Granted you have to have the spare time to do a 2 day each way drive (and the mental fortitude to spend that long in the car with everyone 😉) but if you can swing it, it can mean a HUGE savings.
So there ya have it! Those are our BEST tips for saving $1,000 in Disney World. Some are easier than you might have realized but others definitely take a bit of willpower. If you’re dead set that a trip to Disney World is in your near future, with some smart planning and research you can make it much more affordable than you might have first though! As always, stay tuned to DFB for all the latest and greatest tips and tricks for your Disney trip.