How to do Disney World on a Budget

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 24, 2019

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March 29, 2016

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Have you always wanted to do Disney World, but the costs seemed overwhelming? Maybe you’ve already gone once and want to do it again, but this time you can’t be as free with money. Disney World will never be an inexpensive vacation, but there are ways to do it on a budget — and your trip can be one of the best you ever take.

Depending on airfare prices, how far you are from Disney and how many people are in your party, driving there instead of flying may make a lot of financial sense. Having a car instead of flying also gets rid of the need for a rental car, one main obstacle to getting a cheaper hotel room off Disney property.

As long as your food and drinks do not require heating, you can bring them into Disney. Even if you bring only one meal’s worth of food, the potential savings are big. For a useful souvenir, purchase a Disney mug that costs about $15, and fill it with water repeatedly to your heart’s content.

Tickets are cheaper in late summer and in winter, so try to plan your trip around off-peak times. If you possibly can, avoid peak summer hours when tickets cost more and the weather tends to bring many afternoon showers.

You really don’t need a lot of spending money in Disney. For instance, if you want photos with Disney cast members, they will take free pictures on your camera. Resist the urge to splurge on lots of pricey T-shirts and souvenirs.

If you want a package, buy it from an authorized third party instead of from Disney to save up to 20 percent off the official price tag. Scam alert: Be careful not to buy tickets on eBay and Craigslist, or from the advertisements you see on your way to the park.

Grocery stores such as Kroger offer fuel points that are tied to ordinary purchases, with extra points for gift cards. When you buy one or two Disney gift cards every month in anticipation of your trip, you save on gas while building up your Disney budget.

When you drive to Disney, you are almost always better off staying at an off-property hotel. If you arrive without a car, though, the cost of a rental might negate much of your savings. Do the math to see if the amount you will save is worth losing some proximity and convenience to Disney.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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