WDW Money Saving Tips
If it's your birthday, be sure to wear your complimentary birthday button around the parks and resorts! You can get them at Guest Services at each park, or ask the front desk at your hotel to see if they have any birthday buttons. At the very least, cast members will give you a nice birthday greeting throughout the day, but you can sometimes get special treatment, like a free dessert or FastPass. This might also work for special occasions like anniversaries. Thanks to David for this tip!
Use your AAA card at Earl Of Sandwich in Downtown Disney and get 15% off your total. It's not advertised there, so you need to show them your card when you are paying. This is better than the 10% discount for Annual Passholders. Thanks to Meredith for this tip!
eBay can be a great resource for buying cheap Vinylmation or Disney Pins. We’ve been able to find reputable sellers who will sell a lot of pins or Vinyls for the fraction of their retail price. It’s great to buy a bunch of these and then go in and trade with Cast Members. Beware of knockoffs, though. Some shady people sell counterfeit pins and Vinylmation, and cast members will not trade for knockoffs.
Disney has a 15% discount on tours available for Annual Passholders, and the discount applies for the whole group. Gayle writes, "I recently booked a tour for a party of six at WDW. The reservation center gave me the 15% Annual Passholder discount on the entire party. That saved me $90.00!" Thanks to Gayle for this tip!
Join the Earl of Sandwich eClub. You get a free brownie for signing up, and a free sandwich coupon for your birthday. This is a great way to get a free lunch at Downtown Disney if you are visiting WDW around your birthday.
An excellent option for lunch is the Fish and Chips in the United Kingdom at Epcot — but don’t go in the Rose and Crown Pub. Try Yorkshire County Fish Shop, the food stand located right next to it (towards France). It’s a cheaper and faster option, which leaves you more time to experience Epcot!
Yorkshire County Fish Shop in UK is one of the best counter service options at WDW.
Magic Kingdom’s fireworks are spectacular, but did you know that there are ways to see them outside of the park? The Contemporary’s California Grill offers its diners an amazing view from the top of the Contemporary, which is a definite bonus to getting a great meal. What about a couple of options that don’t require you to pay any money? The beach at the Polynesian offers a great view over the water of the fireworks, and, like the California Grill, they will play the music from the fireworks. Lastly, the by the ferry docks at the Transportation and Ticket Center is actually a great place to see the fireworks, and this option has the fewest crowds. If you time it right, you could even watch the fireworks while riding a ferry. All of these options offer something slightly different, so try out one of them next time you go to Disney World!
Save money at Disney World counter service restaurants throughout the parks by requesting the entree without the sides. They normally don’t list this as an option on the menu, but they will do this. By ordering a sandwich without the fries, you can often save over $2!
We just came back from a six day trip to WDW and saved over $900 on food. We had a party of six adults and one child and we went on the Disney Dining Plan which I think is part of the Magic Your Way program. For $30 per person per day, we ate like kings. Each day we each got one counter service meal which could be used for lunch or breakfast, (we used them for lunch since it includes one drink, one entree, and one dessert), one snack (ice cream, popsicle, popcorn, soft drink or bottled water), and then one table service meal for dinner. There was a list of restaurants participating in this plan so you had to stick to these restaurants but we got to try so many of the restaurants that we wouldn't have gone to otherwise, including, Boma, the Rose and Crown and Cinderella's Royal Table. Thanks to Amy for this tip!
We were lucky enough to get the Disney Dining Plan included in our booking, this was a great bonus it saved us a fortune. Disney has done this promotion several times over the last few years. If you can get the free Disney Dining Plan during your trip to Disney World, I definitely would say get it! It's a great value!!! Thanks to Steve for this tip!
At Club Cool at Epcot, you can sample Coca Cola products from around the world for free. This is a great way to get a cool refreshing treat for free, but be warned: Try Italy’s Beverly at your own risk. It is extremely bitter.
We like to only eat at the World Showcase restaurants at Epcot, but after our first trip to Disney World we discovered how expensive it was to have dinner there. Now, instead of having dinner, we have a late lunch. We try and book the last lunch seating, which works out great! You get a large portion of food at about half the price. Then in the evening, we just grab a snack or eat after we leave the park. It has saved us a lot of money on our Disney World trips. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
Try a late lunch to save money at Epcot's restaurants.
If you are planning to go to WDW at the end of August, be prepared for evening showers. It's a good idea to take your own poncho, since they are normally under $5. Of course, you can buy a poncho at Disney World, but those can sell for $10 each. Thanks to Miros for this tip!
To save time in the morning, I brought my own cereal, bowls and spoons. My husband went to the food court to buy milk for the kids' breakfast and coffee for us. We would take turns in the shower while the others ate. This took us about one hour each morning, and we'd be ready to head into the parks. It sure beats sitting at a table waiting to place orders and get fed. The kids thought it was fun too. We also brought along snacks (zip-lock baggies with trail mix) so that during the day we weren't spending a lot of money on junk food. We usually skipped a sit down lunch and opted only for a sit down dinner. It worked great! Thanks to Mike and Gina for this tip!
Not everything at Disney World has to cost you lots of money. If you would like a great activity that is inexpensive, try Resort-hopping! If you stay on property, then you have unlimited access to all the Disney resorts. All the resorts are unique, and it's worth checking out each hotel's lobby. Take the time to Resort-hop and scope where your next stay might be. You might have some fun along the way! Thanks to Sarah K for this tip!
Even if you do buy your own cheaper and smaller pins at home before taking a trip to Walt Disney World, Cast Members will always trade with you. Don't feel bad for buying a bunch of cheap pins off of eBay and then trading them with a CM: they don't even buy their pins. They are provided to CMs by management, and those pins are free anyhow. I have personally seen the stacks of pins in the back offices of most parks and Cast Members just pick out of a big box. (Sidenote: when buying pins off of eBay, be sure you're not buying counterfeit or knock-off pins. Cast Members will only trade their pins for legit Disney pins.) Thanks to Mike for this tip!
We tell our boys we only buy souvenirs on the last day of our Disney World trip. They can look the whole time we are there, but by the time it's OK to buy they know what they really want, and it prevents the gimmies during the whole vacation, which can add up. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
If you’re thinking about buying a timeshare at one of the Disney resorts, look into purchasing on the resale market. Becoming a Disney Vacation Club member can save you a lot in the long-haul, but when you purchase directly from the resort the upfront expense is quite costly. A Disney timeshare resale can cost 65 percent less, which translates to thousands of dollars in savings.
Thinking about getting a timeshare? Consider the resale market.
Whenever I have visited Walt Disney World (always in July/August), it has been extremely hot. To save money on drinks, ask for a large cup of ice! The ice is free and cools you down. Counter service restaurants will always give you a free cup of ice or water. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Sometimes it is worth it to get an Annual Pass, even if you are only visiting once in the year. Annual Passholders receive discounts on resorts, food, merchandise, and much more. Plus, the Annual Pass gives you the freedom to visit the parks for only a few hours in the day without worrying about wasting on of the days on your ticket. If you haven’t considered a Disney World annual pass before, take a look at your WDW vacation plans. It might actually save you money.
I recently booked a 10 day trip to WDW for our July visit. I made reservations at the Caribbean Beach through Disney directly. With a little prodding I was upgraded to the Polynesian for almost the same price as the Caribbean Beach (I'm paying about $25.00 more per night). The nice WDW representative said that you have to ask if invitational upgrades are available, they won't offer it to you unless asked. These "invitations" aren't always available, but if they are they'll bump you up one class of Resort: Value to moderate or moderate to deluxe. It never hurts to ask! Thanks to Bruce for this tip!
Bring a backpack to the theme parks to carry extra water bottles and snacks. By buying them beforehand and bringing them into the parks with you, you can avoid some of the high prices for these items. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Don't be afraid to ASK for something. We recently stayed three nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge but had booked a room overlooking the pool (about $70/night less than a Savannah room, overlooking the animals). When we arrived we asked the very polite person behind the counter if we could get an upgrade to a Savannah room. She looked into and said yes. We saved $200 by asking that question AND had a much better room for three nights! Thanks to Jerry for this tip!
The best grocery store to shop at in the WDW area is Publix - much better prices than Gooding's. Take a right out of the main gate and go about two miles and look for the green Publix sign. I talked to the locals and that is where they go. They call Gooding's the tourist's grocery store. Thanks to Roger and Denise for this tip!
This Guide2WDW reader recommends going to Publix for groceries while at Disney World
We purchased our Disney World tickets with our AAA discount at the AAA office prior to our trip, and it saved us more money than purchasing a package through Disney. Be sure to check with AAA to see what discounts are currently available. Thanks to Kathy for this tip!
We just got back from a trip to WDW. We drove from North Carolina to Orlando, so we had packed a small cooler in the car for the drive down. We took sodas, bottled water and some snacks. I had heard about people renting refrigerators for their room, but there is an ice vending machine on each floor. We just kept changing out the ice each morning or evening when it had melted and kept things cold. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, so we went to the Mercantile and bought pints of milk every other day or so, some small boxes of cereal and some other "breakfast" foods and just kept ice in the cooler. We kept the milk cold and didn't have to buy breakfast everyday. We also had cold water and sodas for whenever. So, I would recommend packing a small cooler and just keeping ice in it. Save your money on a fridge for souvenirs! Thanks to Karen for this tip!
We stayed on Disney property, so we did not need a car. We did book Murray Hill's Transportation Company to pick us up from the airport. It was wonderful. Our driver was there when we got off the plane waiting for us. He helped us with our bags. For the cost of $50 you get a grocery stop at Publix, a local grocery store (far less expensive that some of the more touristy stores). We picked up bottled water and munchies as well as styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons, milk and cereal. We brought along a collapsible cooler to keep the milk and water in and then just kept filling up the cooler with ice from the hotel. Having cereal in the morning was quick and easy and a real money saver! Breakfast at the food court will run you about $30.00 for a family of four. Thanks to Jennifer for this tip!
There are two Disney Store outlets in the Orlando area that carry park merchandise. We’ve been there a few times, and we’ve found the items they have in stock to be great! We’ve even found some items that were still on sale in the parks at a deep discount. This is a great way to get save money on shirts, bags, Vinylmation figures, and pins. Read more about one of our trips to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet in Orlando here.
Guide2WDW reader Karen shares how spending $2 at a dollar store brightened up Fantasmic for herself and others: "Last year, my adult daughter bought a couple of packages of the neon necklaces and bracelets at a local dollar store before going to Disney World. We were at Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, where Disney sells neon necklaces for a large amount of money (much more than the dollar store). With a lot children around us looking disappointed because their parents thought the neon necklaces and bracelets were far too expensive, my daughter got hers out and handed them out around us. You should have seen the look in the children's eyes when she gave them out! They were thrilled to be a part of the neon light show after they turned out the lights at Fantasmic. She'll be doing it again when we go in October. It was worth the $2 she spent." Thanks to Karen H for this tip!
I have read several tips about sending packages to your hotel with snacks and other treats in the package. This is very costly even in comparison to buying treats at Disney World. What I have done in the past is pack another suitcase filled with snacks, crackers, candy, cereal bars, or whatever my children like for that moment. This way I haven't spent any money sending a package to the resort AND I have an extra empty suitcase for all the trinkets that are purchased in Disney World. Thanks to Molly for this tip!
Pack a suitcase full of snacks: Save money and have space for souvenirs on your return trip!
If you are in an area that Southwest services, get their Ding! service from their website and sign up for Rapid Rewards. Ding! is a free app for iPhone, Mac, and Windows PCs that gives you access to specials that they do not put on their website directly. I just purchased my flights for 4 people in late September/early October and saved over $100 off the lowest listed fares on the website. Thanks to Adolph for this tip!
We booked a room at Wilderness Lodge for $197 per night with AAA discount. I then bought an Annual Pass (just one) and it knocked me down to $155 per night plus I was eligible for the DDE card. You don't need an Annual Pass for everyone in your party, you just need one to get the discount. Thanks to Frank for this tip!
Believe it or not, the Hess gas stations on Disney property have cheap gas prices. The Chevron Station on SR 535 was $0.30 a gallon more than the Hess station on our last WDW vacation.
When it gets dark my kids always want the light/glow in the dark sticks, bracelets & necklaces. This can get very expensive with three kids. Before our vacation I pick these items up at Dollar Tree for $1.00 each & bring them with me instead of purchasing in the park. Thanks to Lisa for this tip!
Arlen shares a tip for saving some money while dining in the parks: "We pack our lunch in the morning and place it in collapsible cooler along with enough cold water bottles for our family. We then take the cooler with us to a Disney World park and place it into a locker at the beginning of the day. We provide our own lunches to save money so we don't feel bad spending at dinner at a Disney restaurant later on." Thanks to Arlen for this tip!
Sometimes it really pays be thorough about your vacation. Beth writes, "Since I am obsessive in nature, I have been calling the 407-WDW-MAGIC line every day the last four days since I made my WDW reservation. I get new information regarding my reservation every time I call, depending on who I talk to. First, I asked if I could apply my AAA discount and was told I couldn't since I have a package deal. Don't assume they are saving you money with package deal! I got a Magic Your Way package for four nights, and three base passes for the park. When I asked for the break down, the person said she didn't have one. I needed to just add it myself and figure it out. I was too trusting at the moment and didn't bother. I then did my homework and saw no savings! Even worse, I found the vacation insurance they include as part of the package costs over $100. I called the next day to take it off and the representative admitted that I wasn't saving anything with this package--it comes out the same (only when I asked her about it). I called again today, got someone else, and told her that I would like to purchase rooms and tickets separately so that I could apply my AAA discount. I saved $220 by changing this. In just two days, I have saved myself $320 dollars by just being a pest and calling them each day." Thanks to Beth for this tip!
Be thorough and ask for a breakdown of costs for your trip.
Guide2WDW reader Blaine advises to always call before you book your trip: "I was just reading an article stating to book everything online... Not so fast! Get the information and prices for your trip online, but call directly. They always have special codes that are not published to the general public if you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort. You have to ask for them. I found out a month before the Magic Your Way Tickets were upgraded for free to include the park hopper and more just by asking. ALWAYS CALL, either Walt Disney World Travel or your travel agent." Thanks to Blaine for this tip!