Walt Disney World prices can add up pretty quickly. We asked our travel advisors for the average cost for two adults and two children staying on-site for 5 days and 6 nights at the parks. You can expect to pay from $2,800–$6,600 and this doesn’t include your flights. Disney is not an inexpensive vacation. However, our experts found some unique ways to save a few bucks.
Meet The Experts
- Sarah Armbruster is an avid Disney World traveler and planner. Her family holds annual passes, which helps her provide great information for your next trip.
- Seana Beard is an event planner and has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. She uses these skills to plan your next magical trip to Disney.
- Chris Cook-Leitz has been planning Disney vacations for more than 15 years. She owns her own travel business and goes the extra mile to create the perfect trip to Disney.
- Laura Liden uses her hospitality experience to create a one-of-a-kind experience at Disney. She’s been creating memories for families for more than 10 years.
1. Pre-Purchase Photos
Photographers are all over Disney parks and love to capture your special moments. Some of the attractions even have photos and videos of guests. Cook-Leitz suggests purchasing Disney’s Memory Maker in advance, which gives you digital access to all of the photos that Disney takes while you are in the parks. And the best part is that everyone in your family can be in the photo (says the mom who is often not in photos). The pre-purchase price for Memory Maker is $30 less than buying it during or after your vacation. With this digital access, you can download and print your photos at home for a fraction of the cost of having them printed by Disney.
2. Stretch Quick-Service Dining
Liden has used this trick for years. She says quick-service meals can offer enough food for more than one person. For example, order a double burger and ask to purchase an extra bun. You now have 2 sandwiches and can share the fries. Even by purchasing an extra bun (usually only $1–$2 more), you’ve saved around $8–$10 on a second meal. Another favorite option is a dish at Capt. Cook’s. Liden says the Thai coconut meatballs are filling and delicious!
3. Take Advantage Of Refillables
Refillable Popcorn Buckets
While the cost of the bucket seems initially pricey ($10–$28), you can purchase refills for $2 each during your entire stay. Liden says this helps with snack cravings and saves you money when you consider a standard popcorn will run you approximately $5 and is not refillable.
All Disney resorts offer a refillable mug in their quick-service dining locations. These are available for use while at the resort and they typically have a refill station near the pools also. They offer sodas, tea, Powerade, and even coffee. Liden says to keep in mind the mugs are not available for refill in the parks, but they will keep your beverages cool when you purchase a drink in the park, or you can fill it with water from one of the water stations.
4. Order Groceries Ahead
Another cost-saving tip is to order groceries from a local delivery service. Liden says having snacks in your room for a quick breakfast or evening snack can save you a lot. All resorts have a mini fridge and the villas even have full-size refrigerators so you can keep small snacks and beverages cold.
Seana Beard agrees. She suggests ordering from Amazon, Wal-Mart, or one of her favorites, Magical Vacation Services. She usually orders for delivery just before her arrival. Items are dropped off and kept safe at Bell Services.
5. Pre-Purchase Gift Cards
Armbruster has this tip for clients: Pre-purchase gift cards. She says to go to Sam’s Club or Costco to buy gift cards. They are sold at less than face value and will save you money. They can be used to pay for your vacation package before you leave or for souvenirs or snacks while you are at the parks.
6. Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
Another tip, pick up the souvenirs before you go. Armbruster suggests checking out the Shop Disney site or even other stores to get your grandkids Mickey ears or princess dresses before you go. Disney runs specials throughout the year that allow you to get official Disney merchandise at a price that is sure to be less than in the parks. You could put them in your suitcase ahead of time and surprise the kids with them when you get there! It might curb the souvenir shopping and, if you have girls that are doing the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, it is sure to save you money if they have their dresses and shoes ahead of time.
Pro Tip: Head to Target, Wal-Mart, or even the grocery store once you arrive to pick up your Disney shirts or your favorite stuffed animals for less than you’d pay at the parks.
7. Order Off The Kids’ Menu
Beard says adults can order off the kids’ menu. This is a great tip and particularly helpful on those hot days when a big heavy meal just won’t sit well. Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT has grilled salmon with two sides for around $8 and the portions are large enough to nourish most adults.
8. Magical Extras
Take advantage of the freebies! Beard says that when booking a package, tickets, and resort stay, you will receive your “Magical Extras” which include discount offers at select Disney Springs shops and dining spots. It also includes free rounds of mini golf. If that isn’t your style, most resorts have lots of free fun to dabble in like movies under the stars, campfires, and scavenger hunts. If you have built in a resort day to take a break from the bustle of the parks, don’t forget to give these options a try.
9. Buy Essentials Before You Go
The general rule of thumb is that, if you buy it in the parks, it will cost a pretty penny. Before your trip, Cook-Lietz says to think about the things you can purchase at home and take with you to help limit in-park purchases. Ponchos can be found for as little as a dollar in stores. When it starts to rain at Disney, the $12 ponchos will be your only option. Never forget to pack your own sunscreen. What might cost you $8 at home could cost you twice that in the parks or at the resorts. Beard suggests packing the little extras as well. She makes sure to pack essentials like band-aids and over-the-counter medicines to save a few bucks.
Purchase your family Disney shirts at home, or make them yourself. The quality will likely be better and the cost will be much lower.
Pro Tip: Autograph books in the parks can be pricey, but you can make a pretty cool autograph book with supplies you can get at your local craft store. And if you have a Cricut, you can make a really fancy autograph book.
10. Pack Snacks
Pack a few small snacks that don’t take up a ton of room in your carry-on. Armbruster says these could be a lifesaver for the picky eaters in your family. They may cost a couple of dollars and take up some space, but they could cost you almost double that at the resorts.
11. Pack Your Lunch
This is an easy way to save money. Beard says to pack your lunch! Walt Disney World lets you bring food, snacks, and beverages into the parks. That makes it ideal for filling a cooler bag or your backpack with sandwiches, tortilla wraps, or Lunchables. This is a great option for saving time as well! It will keep you from having to stop midday to dine in a restaurant. You can eat a quick PB and J during a shady rest, on a bench watching the Dapper Dans perform, or in a line that is moving slower than it should. Bringing your own food in the parks can save you from those hangry midday meltdowns as well.
12. Bring Your Own Water
Cook-Leitz and Liden suggest packing your own water bottle for your trip. The park is filled with refill stations and you can typically ask for a cup of free ice at most quick-dining locations.
13. Bring Your Own Stroller
If your grandkids still ride in a stroller, Cook-Letiz says to bring your own instead of renting one. Most airlines allow strollers to fly free and it also means that you have a stroller for times that you are not in the parks. When your child falls asleep at the end of the day, it’s much easier to push them back to the bus, car, monorail, or boat than being forced to carry them after returning the stroller. With Disney rentals costing $15 per day for a single stroller and $31 per day for a double stroller, the costs can add up.
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