This year we went to Disney for half price the average cost. It is one of our favorite places to visit! We go often (and share new Disney tips every time)
We love to go and see all that there is to see and to go to Disney at half price is even better! I am going to share my favorite money saving tips with you, as well as some tips that we learned from our own experience. To make it even easier, I will add my Amazon affiliate links to the products that I mention, so you can find them right away. I hope that you get some great info today! Share your own tips in the comments for future readers! 🙂 Thanks!
The problem? It is too expensive for our family of 6 (which really is our family of 8, because we always bring my parents to help with our four kids. One child to one adult… it makes Disney much more stress-free for us this way.)
Why is it so expensive? We would need two hotel rooms! You see, hotels are usually set up for families of 4. We rarely go on trips because it is very hard to find a hotel that can fit our family, without costing a fortune (and if you have kids, you can understand how expensive raising a family can be!) We have tried to get two rooms, but that means that our family is split up and then it sort of contradicts the reason for the vacation- togetherness.
This year we have been thinking of alternatives and a way to go to Disney at half-price and we finally landed on it… We rent a house for $100 a day (they come with pools! Just look up “vacation rental homes by owner, Disney”). How to save money at Disney:
- If you get a house: We got a five bedroom home, with a covered pool, a living room, dining room, kitchen and garage for $97/day. We paid $15 extra to have the pool heated, since we went in early spring (this was a waste of money, let me tell you. It was H-O-T in Florida in the spring).
- You can drive to Disney every day. (Parking at Disney is about $17 a day (you can leave and come back anytime and you only pay that fee once a day)
- Save money on food. Pack your own food. We packed sandwiches and granola bars (& other snacks/drinks). We just ate our sandwiches while we were waiting in line. We didn’t have to take an hour long break to do it, because we already had a built-in hour long break while we were in line. It certainly made the lines go faster, too! Don’t forget to pack wipes for your hands! Oh! Here is how we did it: We packed this bag full of snacks and frozen water bottles and we put them on the back of our stroller. (You can refill the water bottles for free in the park). We took a “standing board” for the stroller and used that for our bag.
- If you rent a house, go to the grocery store when you get there. We found a Harris Teeter right near our house and just went shopping when we got there. We grabbed everything that we needed for the week and we took our leftovers home in our cooler at the end of the trip. (Pack a cooler!)With a house, you have your own kitchen right there with you, so just take what you need every day. You can come back home for dinner and a little rest before going back (or staying home & swimming in your pool!) No need to spend money on food just because it is prepared by someone else.
- Take Crock-Pot ready meals (in freezer bags) on your trip. Take a crock-pot, too, and every morning, when you wake up, put a meal into the crockpot. It will be ready for you when you get back from your long, fun, exhausting day at Disney! This is our favorite crock-pot meal and it is SO SIMPLE!
- If you buy food at the park, just split it for your kids. We bought one ice cream cone and split it into two cups. The $5.00 ice cream cones are huge and too much for our preschoolers to eat themselves, so splitting it into cups is perfect and we saved 50%. We did this for double cheeseburgers too. You can buy an extra bun for a fraction of the cost and turn one cheeseburger into two.
- We don’t pay for pictures… we just take our own. They aren’t the best-quality, but they are good enough for a memory.
- Get your tickets ahead of time and find the best discount! The last time that we went, we bought it when Travelzoo and AAA were having the same special- buy 3 days of tickets, get 2 days for free! Call around and find the best deals. Start planning this months before you go. (Ps- the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets per day. An even better option is to go through a travel agent that specializes in Disney (for no extra money)! So for our next trip, we are using a travel agent that will literally take over the planning for you (and it is 100% FREE!!!).
- Disney Travel Agents do it all. They find the best deals (like how you can get a free dining plan for the week). They suggest which Fast Past tickets to get. They set up the apps for you, tell you the best spot for the fireworks, when to go to which park, which rides are best for your kids at their current ages, etc…
- Avoid spending money at the park. Places like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Pirates League charge around $50, or more, to make over your daughter or son as a princess or a mini Jack Sparrow, but you can do this yourself in your room, or you can even head to the Harmony Barber Shop on Town Square in the Magic Kingdom and have them put glitter or paint in your child’s hair for $5.
- If you DO want to eat at the parks, eat your biggest meal for lunch, when the prices are cheaper. Save your snacking or smaller meals for dinner. (Also- the kids portion of food is a lot bigger at Disney when you buy them at the concession stands, so an adult could get away with ordering a kid-sized portion)
- Take an autograph book (buy it ahead of time at the dollar store) instead of buying one at Disney.
- Take a tour of their Disney Vacation Club rooms and you will get an ice cream party for the kids, plus free fast-pass tickets (we got 3 per person!)
- If you are thirsty and your water is gone, any concession stand will give you cups of ice for free. Fill them up at the water fountain.
- Buy a gift-card for Disney before you go. Many stores like Kroger will run a special where they will give you money off of your gas purchase when you purchase a gift card.
- Have a “free” day by hanging out at Downtown Disney (this is only free if you don’t buy while you are there!) You don’t need a ticket to get in, so this is good for a travel day, when you don’t want to waste a ticket on a just a few hours of fun.
- Take your own souvenirs that you buy before you leave. Hide them in your bag and on the last day, have your kids walk out with another adult, while you stay behind to “grab one more thing”. Grab the souvenirs and put them on your child’s pillow or seat with a note from their favorite Disney Character telling your child how wonderful it was to spend time with them during the week. This surprise will be a great ending to your trip (and save you money from buying overpriced things at the park.)
Here are a few more things that you might want to get before going:
1. I’m lost bands – these are a must-have, in my opinion. I worry so much about our kids getting lost! 2. This Fitletic Band was our very best purchase ever for Disney! It held our credit card and our phones. It was wonderful! You can’t see it under your shirt, so it doesn’t even look like you are wearing one. (Plus, you can wear it on all of the rides). A few more fun tips: 1. If you’re staying on-site, you can request a wake-up call from a character! (ex: Olaf, Mickey Mouse or Ariel). When the phone rings, put it on speakerphone so everyone can hear it.
2. Get the My Disney Experience to find Wait Times, Disney maps, where to find the characters, FastPass+ reservations and dining info.
3. Use the Rider Switch system at Disney. It lets the grown up ride while the kids wait in line with the other grown up. Just tell a cast member that you want to do the rider switch and you will get a pass. We used it a lot (it works like a fast-pass). After you ride, you will hand it to the other adult in your group and they will ride right away. Our kids loved it because our older son wanted to ride everything, so he got to go twice… once with me & once with Mickey.
4. Put your kids in bright colored clothing. We put each of our boys in the same colored bright-green shirts. (We ended up just washing them every night & using the same ones every day because we found that it was much easier to have them in the same colored shirts.)
5. Visit the Boardwalk. Most people don’t know that this is even real, but it is. They have restaurants, shops, dueling pianos, street performers and more… it is beautiful!
6. Save your souvenir purchases for the end of the last day- you don’t want to have to carry things around all day long and your child will surely see many more things along the trip, so if you buy on day one, you will be buying again on day two, three, etc… We told the kids before we started: “You can buy one toy on the very last day. If you ask us today, we will say No. If you ask us tomorrow, we will say No. You will get a chance on the last day. We will let you look around in a very big store and you will have $30 to spend on whatever you want.”