I’m thrilled to have Cristina from The Littlest Fowler guest post on All Day Mom today with her insider tips on saving money at Walt Disney World! (She’s both a former Cast Member and a money-saving, Disney-loving mom!) Cristina is here to help put your WDW budget picture in perspective and show you how to save time and money as you plan your Disney vacation! This post promotes affiliate links for your convenience.
The other day, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across an offer for a FREE Kindle book on visiting Disneyland on a budget. Free + Disney = yes, please! I’ve never actually been to Disneyland, but I’m all for planning (way far) ahead, so I read it anyway. And it was good! So good in fact that I even let the writer know that I didn’t mind that it didn’t end up actually being free for me. A few friendly tweets later, and here I am guest posting for Carissa herself.
Other than my current job, Disney is the only other company that I’ve ever worked for – and three of those years were spent at Walt Disney World. Granted, a lot has changed in the years since I left, but planning my own family’s trips back have kept me up-to-date. We are hardly rolling in money, but epic trips to WDW are still absolutely possible. So without further ado, here are my favorite tips for before, during, and after your next trip to Walt Disney World:
Walt Disney World on a Budget: How to Save Money Before, During, and After Your Disney Vacation!
Walt Disney World on a Budget – BEFORE Your Vacation:
- DON’T assume you can wing it. There are some people who know exactly what they want to do, and map out exactly how they want to do it. There are others who opt to plan next to nothing before arriving at the gates. I fall decidedly in the middle of that spectrum. I usually decide ahead of time which five or six things I consider can’t-miss, and then let the rest of the day go as it will. If you don’t have as much experience in the parks, I would definitely recommend checking out a map and scanning the Walt Disney World site before your arrival – at the very least. In my experience, you always end up spending more when you go at it blindly.
- DO consider staying in an on-property resort. I know, I know. I thought this was a post about saving money…but hear me out. When staying at a Walt Disney World resort, they will pick you up at the airport and drop you off at your hotel. There are also busses, ferries, and monorails that can get you anywhere else you want to go on the property. All that to say, depending on the length of your trip, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars from not renting a car or paying for parking (currently a whopping $17 per day). Plus, when you stay on-property, you can reserve your FastPasses a full month sooner than if you don’t. There are obviously less expensive options elsewhere (especially if you’re driving to town anyway), but you can find great deals in the off-season (which is also great because of lower crowds) and the benefits are worth it.
Walt Disney World on a Budget – DURING Your Vacation:
- DON’T think you have to spend every day in the parks. Be sure to take advantage of all the amazing FREE activities Walt Disney World has to offer. Enjoy the Florida weather with some time by your hotel’s pool. Walk around the newly renovated Disney Springs. There are a ton of great shops that are fun to stroll through, even if you don’t plan on spending any money there. In the evening, many resorts offer free movies by the pool (or campfires at a select few), or you can visit one of my personal favorites – Disney’s Boardwalk. There are always fun entertainers around, and you can watch Epcot’s fireworks from there.
- DO remember you can pack food. A lot of people assume that you can’t bring your own food into the parks, but you CAN! I’m all for enjoying some of the treats in the parks that I can’t get outside of Walt Disney World (especially international delights from the World Showcase and pretty much anything from Beaches and Cream), but if you’re watching your spending, packing at least some snacks and/or bottles of water can save you quite a bit. Some favorites of mine are cheese cubes and dried fruit – they’re yummy, filling, and don’t take up much room in your bag or stroller.
Walt Disney World on a Budget – AFTER Your Vacation:
- DON’T dwell on what you missed. Unless you have unlimited time and money (and who does?), you won’t be able to see everything Walt Disney World has to offer. And that’s okay. I’m willing to bet you did get to see so many great things you didn’t plan on. When you start to think about the fact that you didn’t get to ride Space Mountain for a third time, instead think about how excited you were to run into your favorite Disney princess completely by accident. Didn’t get into Be Our Guest? How amazing was that special treat from the Main Street Bakery that you DID get?
- DO start saving for your next visit. There are so many ways to do this. Carissa’s Disneyland on a Budget is a great resource, and a lot of the ideas in there apply just as well for planning your trip to Walt Disney World. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer in this area is to think of the magic. I know, it sounds hokey, but that’s really what WDW is – pure magic. You have to remember that and how special your next trip could be when you’re tempted to spend your pennies elsewhere. I mean, why spend $5 on a cup of coffee? You could make coffee at home for pennies, and get yourself a Dole Whip in Adventureland. #WorthIt
And there you have it, folks. It’s hard to even scratch the surface of everything Walt Disney World has to offer, and the fun/affordable ways you can enjoy it in less than 1000 words. But, hey it’s somewhere to start. I’d love to answer any questions you might have about planning your next trip! Feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me over at TheLittlestFowler.com.
(Hopefully) SEE YA REAL SOON!
—Cristina Fowler for All Day Mom
More Disney on a Budget:
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What’s your best tip to visit Disney on a budget?