25 Ways to Save Money at Disney World


Looking for easy ways to save money at Disney? Check out these Disney money saving tips, including easy ones that are simple to try on your next trip.

Like a good Floridian, Disney was a huge part of my childhood. It was literally the only place we vacationed for most of my childhood because my mom was a cast member. We’re annual passholders now and I take our toddlers all the time.

I’m also forever frugal and often do a day at the parks without spending any money (well, outside of gas to get there and our already-purchased annual pass). Since Disney is stupid expensive, I put together a list of ways to save money at Disney World to help make it a little more affordable to families.

Given our proximity to Disney, many families in our area are annual passholders too. Plus, many visitors to the St. Pete-Clearwater area add on Disney days to their beach vacations. We hope this list will save you some money, whether you’re local or a visitor.

Let’s save some cash!

1. Check for discounts

Disney regularly runs special offers and deals, especially during lower crowd times. For example, they recently ran a special for free dining plans when you booked hotel and ticket packages which is a huge savings if you were already booking these things.

The specials change all the time and there are different specials for different groups. For example, we personally take advantage of their Florida resident deals on hotels and annual passholder discounts on food and hotels.

So, don’t forget to check out the list of their current special offers before booking.

magic kingdom castle looking up from the base of the castle

2. Travel off-peak

Disney has implemented surge pricing on many things like theme park tickets and Genie+, and they often raise prices in October ahead of the holiday rush. Hotel stays also have bigger discounts during non-peak times.

3. Strategize park days to minimize crowds

If you are strategic about when you visit which park, you have the best shot of less crowds. Visiting during a lower crowd time means you may not need Genie+ (or it’ll be cheaper) and will have a better shot at free Virtual Queues so you don’t have to buy an Individual Lightning Lane for the most popular rides.

For example, we try to visit Animal Kingdom in the afternoon instead of the morning because lines tend to go down as the day goes on. Animal Kingdom doesn’t offer a night show so many people hop to a different park for the second half of the day.

Similarly, Epcot is known for being busier Friday-Sundays as locals visit the park. We also love to visit a park on a day it closes early because it’ll usually have less crowds. Conversely, Hollywood Studios is pretty consistently busy so that’s a park you can visit anytime.

4. Rope drop or stay late

Getting to the park for rope drop or staying late into the evening is a way to ride more rides with less wait time. On some days, this strategy can save you the expense of buying Genie+. And as a bonus, early morning and night are the coolest times of day so you’ll beat Florida’s heat too.

epcot ball at night light up in a peach color
Epcot ball at night

5. Go before your kid turns 3

Going to Disney before your kid hits 3 cut off can save you so much money. Kids under 3 are free at Disney, which means you don’t have to buy them a park ticket, Genie+ or some meals like character dining.

6. Cut park-hopping

Adding park hopping to your tickets can add a lot of money to your Disney budget. You can easily spend a full day in each of the Disney World parks so you don’t really need to park hop to have a great trip.

You’re paying for added flexibility, which can be nice but is definitely not a necessity.

Plus, transportation between parks can eat up a lot of time in your day. We have annual passes and rarely hop because of the time involved since we have very small children.

7. Use gift cards

You can often find discounted Disney gift cards at Costco or Target that you can use during your vacation. Costco’s deal is not always offered but you can sometimes find gift cards for 10% off. At Target you can use a Target RedCard for 5% off.

I would find it stressful to carry large gift cards on a park day but you can also use them for bigger pre-paid purchases like hotel stays (disclaimer: always verify gift card rules before purchasing as they’re subject to change).

8. Pre-buy souvenirs & snag freebies

You can save money on Disney merch by buying souvenirs before your trip and gifting them to your kids during your vacation. If your kids are young enough, this likely will still feel magical to them without the hurt on your wallet. You can find some really affordable ideas on our list of the best Dollar Tree items for a Disney trip.

Similarly, some kids will be just as delighted by the little freebies you can get throughout Disney as they would a bought souvenir. You can get free stickers, visit buttons and character autograph cards throughout Disney World. My kids are little so an autograph card from Figment was as treasured during one of our park days. You can also get a free lei at the Polynesian hotel, even if you’re just visiting.

little mickey and donald figurines in packaging being held up by a hand at the dollar tree
Dollar Tree Disney figurines

9. Bring your own bubble gun & poncho

You can save some cash at Disney by coming prepared with your own poncho and/or bubble gun. Florida weather can be stormy, especially on a summer afternoon, and the markup on ponchos at the park is ridiculous. Bringing your own will save you from having to drop lots of money to keep your whole family dry.

TIP: Don’t forget a rain cover for your stroller too!

Similarly, the bubble wands at Disney are magical but are hard on the wallet. Grab cheap ones before you head to the park so your kids can still get in on the bubble fun (and you don’t have to worry about losing an expensive souvenir all day).

10. Use your phone or Apple Watch instead of Magic Bands

Sure, Magic Bands can be convenient but they are an added cost and only usable at Disney. You can actually set up an Apple Watch to work like a Magic Band that you can use to tap into the park, into rides and to pay for things (source). This will save money and also save you from having to keep track of an extra thing. (Note: it won’t work for opening a hotel room door but you can use your phone for that).

11. Pack food

Disney lets you bring almost any food you want into the parks, save for alcohol and things in glass containers. You can find their food policy here. I always pack approximately a thousand snacks and at least one meal for our park days.

For example, when we were there a couple days ago, I brought us all Uncrustable pb&j’s from Costco that cost less than a dollar each. An Uncrustable kids meal at a park? Almost $7!

I’ve also found that a lot of the snacks that influencers make look so beautiful on social media are only okay when I try them. Quick service food at Disney can also be hit or miss depending on the restaurant.

Plus, having food already on hand will save you time. We ate our Uncrustables last trip while waiting in a line so we didn’t lose time stopping to order food and eat.

12. Don’t buy water

Disney knows Florida is hot and is very good about giving free water glasses at food places throughout the park. You can use Quick Service restaurants drink filling stations or ask for cups of water if they don’t have one. You can do this even if you don’t buy anything at the restaurant.

You can also use the Disney Experience app to locate restrooms which almost always have water fountains nearby.

13. Split meals

Listen, Disney is a theme park and food is definitely overpriced. If you’re a light eater, one way to save money on buying food at the park is to split meals. As long as you aren’t at a buffet or prix fixe location, splitting meals is usually an option. At Quick Service places, you can ask for an extra plate to more easily split if needed.

a wookie cookie at hollywood studios held up by a hand. large cookie with a chocolate bar on it to look like a star wars belt
We split this Wookie Cookie 3-ways and still didn’t finish it

14. Order kids meals

If you don’t want to split food, you can also order off the kids menu at Quick Service restaurants to save money and get a smaller portion. Kids meals come with a drink and a side too. This is also a good strategy if you plan to do a lot of snacking in the park and don’t want a huge meal filling you up.

15. Stay at an on-property hotel

Staying on Disney property may actually save you money depending on the hotel price (they vary by season). Staying on property gives you free transportation, which run more frequently and get you better access than off-property shuttles (which drop you at the Transportation and Ticketing Center for Magic Kingdon).

This means you don’t have to pay for parking at the park or use Ubers to get around. It’ll also save you time because our experience with off-property shuttles is they don’t run as frequently, in general.

Plus, you’ll get early entry into the theme parks each morning. Early entry can save you money if you’re able to hit the big rides before the crowds without having to buy Genie+.

16. Stay at a Value Resort

I know many people feel like a nice hotel at Disney is worth the splurge but we’ve always had good experiences at the Value Resorts. If you’re spending all day at the parks, hotel is a great place to save money.

If you want a touch of luxury while also enjoying Value Resort prices, stay at Pop Century for its Skyliner access. It’ll be a little more expensive than All-Star hotels but you can take the Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Mater statue at Disney's art of animation hotel
Theming at Disney’s Art of Animation value resort

17. Camp at Fort Wilderness

Camping at Fort Wilderness can save you money in a few ways. First, a camp site is often cheaper or as cheap as a Value Resort. You can also fit more people on a camp site than you can in a hotel room so this is a big money saver for bigger families.

Second, Fort Wilderness has so many fun activities that you could do less theme park days and enjoy the free amenities at Fort Wilderness. Their pool has a water slide, which you won’t find at any of the Value Resorts.

And at night, you can see Chip and Dale at their free Campfire Sing-A-Long which is a lot of fun.

18. Rent vacation club points

Want to go a little fancier with your Disney hotel stay? Rent other people’s Disney Vacation Club stays at a discount. When people don’t need their vacation club points for the year, they sell them through sites like DVC Rental Store and David’s Vacation Club Rentals at a discount compared to booking a hotel directly.

If you’re flexible, you can find “confirmed reservations” for specific dates that can be even cheaper, especially if they’re last-minute deals.

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19. Stay off property

Staying off property can save a lot of money, but it depends on your circumstances. If you have your own vehicle that you can drive to the parks, you have more flexibility on where you stay and likely can find some good cheap options. For example, I was looking for a night this week and All-Stars were over $100 (with my annual pass discount) whereas hotels a 15-minute drive away were about $60.

But here are the caveats: if you drive and aren’t an annual pass holder, you’ll have to pay for parking at the parks which isn’t cheap. And for those without a car, relying on hotel shuttles can be a hassle and the cost of ride-hailing apps adds up.

20. Ask cast members to take photos

PhotoPass photographers are everywhere in the parks but buying a photo pass isn’t cheap (unless you’re an annual pass holder, and then I think it’s a great deal). These photographers are also happy to take a photo with your phone as well, so don’t be afraid to ask! This can save you money on having to buy a photo pass or individual photos later.

21. Do a non-park day

At Disney Springs, you can dig dinosaur bones, meet the Coca-cola bear, race Legos and play in a splash pad all for free.

There’s also lots of fun at Disney resorts, like seeing giraffes at Animal Kingdom Lodge, riding the Skyliner and playing on the Finding Nemo playground at Art of Animation (and visiting the Cars statues!)

22. Ride the free transportation all day

You could easily spend a day riding all the transportation around the property, all for free. You can ride the Skyliner, monorails, boats and buses while at Disney World.

For those not staying at the hotel, you can park for free at Disney Springs. Hop a resort bus and start your transportation day from there.

disney skyline station over the water with the skyliner lines and gondolas in the distance

23. Don’t miss freebies

Disney periodically announces freebie deals to entice people to visit. For example, they’ve announced that in 2025 hotel guests will get free admission to water parks on the the first day of their stay (

You can also get lots of little freebies throughout Disney. Things like getting “pixie dusted,” kids activities, scavenger hunts and stickers can add magic to your vacation without any cost so keep an eye out for them. One of my favorites is the free soda samples from around the world at the Cool Club in Epcot.

But be leery of some deals like a free dining plan when you book a vacation package. Usually it means you forgo other hotel & ticket discounts, and for many families it is not cost effective to get so much food.

24. BYO-stroller or mobility device

Renting a stroller at the parks is just not a good deal (and they aren’t very nice strollers). If you are a stroller family, it is worth the hassle of bringing your own both for the money savings and the quality.

Similarly, if you’re in a position to bring your own mobility aid like a wheelchair, this will also save you money. Also, if you rent a chair at the park, it can not leave that park. This could be a consideration if you also need the device for transportation after exiting the park.

red disney strollers lined up at animal kingdom

25. Do the math on an annual pass

Listen, Disney tickets are just stupid expensive now. For some families, it may actually be cheaper to get an annual pass than buying individual tickets. This is especially true if you’re a Florida resident and have more annual pass options (like a cheaper weekday-only pass).

Annual passes are nice because you feel less pressure to make a single day perfect. I find it allows me to relax more because otherwise I’d feel like I had to get my money’s worth.

A blurry picture of the magic kingdom castle in the background and text overlay saying "how to save money at Disney worth and keep the magic"

Read More:

If you’re heading to Disney, don’t miss our list of dollar store favorites for a Disney trip to save you money. You may also like our tips for going to Epcot with toddlers and preschoolers.

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