Saving Money at Walt Disney World

by MouseStation Crew, staff writer

MouseStation 223 - Saving Money at Walt Disney World

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Featured Topic - Saving Money at Walt Disney World

In this week's feature, Mark and Mike talk about ways to save money on trips to Walt Disney World.


There are several ways to look at saving money on your lodging. There are multiple times during the year that Disney offers discounts off of the rack rates. Look into traveling between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in late January through early February, and late August through late September. During late August through late September, you may run into a free dining promotion. Watch the Park Updates here on MousePlanet for the release of discounts.

You may think to try to stay at an inexpensive hotel along U.S. 192, but there are some hidden costs that you may want to be aware of, such as the need to rent a car due to limited shuttle service as well as the cost of parking at the theme parks.

You might want to stay at a Downtown Disney hotel, as they have more regular bus service than the off-property hotels. The Best Western generally has the lowest rates on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, but some of the others like the Regal Sun, the Doubletree and the Royal Plaza may also have low rates. If you have a larger group that will require multiple rooms, you might want to consider the family suites at the All Star resorts, the Fort Wilderness Cabins, or renting a vacation home off-site, which has relatively inexpensive costs for accommodations from two to seven bedrooms. You can rent off property vacation homes from MousePlanet sponsor Advantage Vacation Homes. If you're staying at accommodations with kitchen facilities, that could save you a bit of money.

When traveling, keep your eye out for discounts or special deals. Also, you can avoid the new baggage fees by taking less clothing and do laundry once or twice during your trip. Also, if you're going to be visiting regularly, you can rent an Owner's Locker (a MousePlanet sponsor), which will reduce the amount of stuff that you have to bring back and forth each trip, maybe saving you a suitcase for each trip as well as making it easier to get through security because you keep your liquids in Florida.

To get from the airport to your hotel, Disney's Magical Express gets you back and forth for free. If you need to get stuff from the supermarket, many limo services give you a grocery stop on your way to your resort, or you can use a service like to have the groceries delivered to the resort for you. If you do need your own vehicle for any reason, book your car early and then check back regularly to see if there are better discounts released in the interim. You can also check at the counter to see if the counter prices are cheaper than your reservation price.

Tickets can be bought in advance, and there are a few reputable ticket sellers. We recommend MousePlanet sponsor Orlando Fun Tickets. Beware of some of the fly-by-night discounters, as there have been many who claim to be selling discount tickets that are actually not valid. Mark and Mike disagree on the "free" tickets that you can get by attending timeshare presentations. (Of course, Mike now works in timeshare sales, so he may be biased.)

If you don't catch a free dining special, you can save money on food by limiting your table service meals and eating any table service meals that you do eat during lunch hours, as table service meals are a lot less expensive than at dinner.

Another way to save money on food is to eat a meal or two off property, if you have a rental car. You can also get food from a supermarket and eat breakfast in your room, make sandwiches to bring with you to the park, and even use the kitchen in your resort (if you have a kitchen) to cook a couple of meals and eat in, as well as heating up leftovers from your other meals.

Trail's End Buffeteria is a great value of food for the amount that you pay.

Mike also recommends the book Disney on a Dime if you want to pinch all of your pennies to get tips like ordering a double burger and an extra roll to have two hamburgers for much less than ordering two burgers. Mark also noted that you can order just the sandwich from counter service restaurants if you don't want the fries or if you want to share fries, even though the sign boards only show the meal deals.

Inexpensive souveniers include mouse ear hats (though the make-your-own-ears can be very expensive), lanyard ID badge holders, pens and autograph books (or make your own autograph books before you leave home). Some people collect paper goods, like a stack of Disney napkins so that you can remember your trip at meals for weeks after you get home. Other people collect the Mickey-head plates from kids' meals. Park guide maps are a free collectible. You can also collect the Disney candies that come in tins (so you keep the tins as a souvenir).

Some people buy Disney merchandise before they leave home and give them to their kids so that they're Disney merchandise that they get during their trip that doesn't carry the inflated theme park pricing. If you can go off property, there are the Disney outlet stores in nearby outlet centers that give you discontinued theme park-specific merchandise at a fraction of the cost.

Some families prepurchase the PhotoPass CD at a discount, then seek out every PhotoPass photographer than they can find to get as many "free" photos as they can.

Mike also recommends pressed pennies, though it can get a bit expensive if you try to get every single one. There's also a pressed penny album that you can buy.

Park passes, unused FastPasses, Disney toiletries from the room, Disney hotel pens are all free things that you can get. Monorail co-pilot licenses are also free when you ride in the cockpit.

What do you think? Let us know by sending us an email or calling our toll-free feedback line (1-866-939-2278)!

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