As a parent of two toddlers that are avid Disney fans and Orlando area locals, we have learned how to do Disney World on a budget and do so regularly. While in the parks I often pause to smile at the families that have planned for a year or more and spent thousands upon thousands of dollars for their one time trip. Watching them makes my heart happy and keeps this local passholder humble about my ability to enjoy Disney World anytime I want. I have wanted to pause a few times to share some budget-friendly tips with families I see grabbing things they might not “have to”, but that would be a bit too aggressive. Here are a few of my go-to tips on how to do Disney World on a budget.
Look for Hotel Deals often and Consider Adjusting your Travel Dates
We’ve stayed at many Disney World resorts and have snagged some fantastic deals! Last summer we grabbed a value resort room for $80 on a Saturday night! You might have to be a bit more flexible with the date range you prefer when going to Disney World and be willing to try a hotel that might not have been on the top of your list.
I check the hotel rates often and adjust dates to see what special discounts are available. Disney passholders and Florida residents are able to take advantage of special rates, but there are also special deals during specific times of the year for everyone to partake in. Considering a last-minute summer trip or planning a trip in February when crowds are often at their lowest are great options.
Pack Food and Drinks
This applies to hotel stays and on the days you are spending inside the Disney World parks. We grab groceries to stock in our hotel room when staying on property and always pack lunches when going into the theme parks. I always bring in multiple water bottles, sandwiches, snacks, fruit chilled in a lunch box, and favorite sweet treats. Disney World snacks are fantastic, but limiting the budget to just buying one and packing snacks is the smarter financial option. You can fill up water bottles throughout the parks too!
There is no ticket required and no parking fee to enjoy all of the offerings at Disney Springs. There are shops, restaurants, movie theater, bowling, and live music at the Springs. My boys love making a visit there to play in the Lego store, which is absolutely free! During the summer months, I encourage families to take advantage of the splash pads as well.
Resort Hop and Monorail Rides
Visiting the Disney World resorts are free and a must. There are times that the resorts don’t allow parking due to capacity and at that point, I would recommend riding a Disney bus or the monorail to explore the resorts. The monorail will take you from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort, The Polynesian Resort, and The Grand Floridian. There is also an option to catch a boat ride from The Contemporary Resort to The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. You can easily spend hours exploring resorts via boat, monorail, or bus system. To view most of the moderate and value resorts you will have to take the bus or your car. I will add the bus system will be one of the slowest options, so plan accordingly.
Enjoy Festivals with a Group of People
The only way I’ve been able to partake in the Food & Wine Festival options (and there are SO many) is by attending in groups and prepping what we wanted to try that day. Epcot offers different festivals throughout the year and the Food & Wine tends to bring the largest of crowds. Sampling all the food and drink options can break the bank. When you plan to go in a group you can split the pairings and rotate out spending.
During one of my last visits at the Food & Wine Festival, I bought 2 food options and 1 drink BUT enjoyed 5 food options and 3 drink options by splitting and cost sharing with a group of friends. Yes, some of the food and drink options are on the smaller side which can be challenging when it comes to sharing, but if you want to partake in a heavy amount of taste testing throughout the festival this is the budget-friendly way to do so. Surprisingly I leave full each time I do this!
Enjoy the Disney World Freebies
You can learn more about free things available at Disney World here. Be sure to grab your free button regardless of what you’re celebrating, park maps, and Birthday treats during your visit. Another thing to keep in mind is that every Disney PhotoPass cast member will use your camera and/or phone to take photos, this is a good option if you don’t have the memory maker option.
There are so many ways to plan a very budget friendly Disney trip from an overnight stay to a day at Disney Springs with no park fees involved at all. When planning how to do Disney World on a budget consider what you want to spend a majority of your budget on and fill the rest in with what you already have access to. Some times we want to experience a resort and opt for no theme park and purchase groceries and other times we want a dining experience and then opt for that experience to be outside of the parks to limit park fees. Enjoy Disney World on a budget while creating magical memories.
You can find me pushing a double stroller through the magic most days.
I’m a toddler boy mom that has a passion for Florida living and all things Disney! As a Florida native and self proclaimed Disney staycation pro, I look forward to guiding you through the magic.