Check out our list of six tips on how you can save money on your next Disney World trip.
1. Book a Private Rental
One of the easiest ways to save money is to book a private rental house or condo. You can find some awesome deals on places near Disney at rates much lower than you would pay if you stayed on site. There are a number of online sites that deal with private vacation rentals, but I’d recommend sticking with some of the more popular and reputable ones.
I personally like to recommend Airbnb because the company acts as the middleman in the rental and offers great customer service. With Airbnb the property owner isn’t released your money until twenty-four hours after you have checked in. In the event that you show up and the rental isn’t as it was described online, you can contact Airbnb and freeze the payment.
Another idea would be to split the expense of a private vacation rental with friends. You can literally rent an entire home by the week for the price of two nights at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Add to that the fact that your vacation home will most likely have it’s own pool and the idea becomes very appealing. If you have friends or family that you wouldn’t mind vacationing with, invite them down and go in on a four-bedroom house. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much space you’d have compared to a traditional hotel room and you’ll have all the amenities of a house to go with it. Areas to look for house rentals are: Kissimmee, Davenport, and Clermont. Be sure to check out the location on Google maps just to be sure of the area and how far it’s located from Disney.
Word of advice with private rentals: read the reviews. Don’t stay in something that hasn’t been reviewed before. You don’t want to be the test dummy. Instead look for rentals that have lots of recent reviews and make sure that they are positive. Keep in mind, everyone has different taste so some may comment on their distaste for the hard mattress while others found it extremely comfortable. The real things you should be looking for are comments about the cleanliness of the rental, and comments about the owner or property manager. If a problem does arise a good property manager or owner should be easily available to help resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Be on the lookout for deals during the low season. Typically the best time to visit Disney is anytime when kids are in school, and most private rentals will offer deep discounts during this time period. Also, don’t be afraid to make someone an offer on a last minute rental. If you’re planning a last minute trip and you find a rental that still has availability, the owner might be willing to take a reduced rate rather than have the rental sit empty for the week.
2. Purchase Discounted Tickets
Do not pay full price for Disney World tickets. You can pre-purchase discounted tickets online and save quite a bit of money. The real savings here is with multi-day passes and remember you aren’t restricted to just discount Disney tickets. Tickets are available for Universal, SeaWorld, and most of the major attractions in Orlando. This is probably the easiest way to save money and with ticket prices recently rising at the Magic Kingdom, it’s certainly something to look into.
Both companies offer similar deals and a great savings. Take note of the 5-day “Magic Your Way” ticket, which is the same price as a 4-day ticket if you went directly through Disney. See the benefit!
Both of these companies are well established and have a proven track record of providing customers with the best deals on tickets. Beware of companies you may see at gas stations or rest areas trying to sell tickets. While not all of these companies are bad, you certainly don’t want to find out that the tickets you purchased aren’t valid and be force to pony up even more money to buy legitimate tickets.
3. Buy Discount Merchandise
Upon arriving in Orlando you will quickly notice all the merchandise stores catered to tourists. Most of these places will sell licensed Disney merchandise and you’ll find it for much cheaper than you will at the parks or at Downtown Disney. The local Walmart is also packed full of autograph books, mugs, t-shirts, etc. It’s a good idea if you’re traveling with young children to buy some of the light up Disney toys at Walmart and store them away for when you get to the park. That way when your little one sees the toys being sold during the parade you can pull out your pre-purchased item and not have to tell them “no” or pay the majorly inflated Disney prices. The closest Walmart to Disney World is located on 535 just south of the Disney entrance.
If you want 100% authentic Disney merchandise there are two Disney outlet stores located in the Premium Outlet malls, which are located on the north and south ends of International Drive. Both stores carry the same merchandise that you would find in the parks, but at much cheaper prices.
4. Pack Snacks
Food sold in the parks is majorly overpriced. Instead of spending a fortune on quick service foods pack a few snacks. Also if you’re staying off site in a private rental most will have kitchens. Take advantage of this and cook some meals at home. Dining out every night can add up quickly and the extra savings can go towards another day at the parks, or a fun activity for the family. If your little ones like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I recommend packing a few frozen Smuckers sandwiches. They will thaw-out throughout your day at the parks and they come ready to go, so you won’t have to worry about making anything.
Keep in mind the one free thing you can get in the parks is a cup of water; therefore, don’t worry about packing drinks. Any counter service location will be happy to give you a cup.
5. Visit Free Attractions
Downtown Disney (soon to be known as Disney Springs) is basically an outdoor shopping mall, but unlike any other you’ve seen before. It is free to walk around and see the sights and makes for a great nighttime destination. Downtown Disney features various Disney stores, such as Disney’s largest merchandise store, The World of Disney. Take in the sights of the larger than life Lego-brick creations, and enjoy the nighttime musical performances. There’s plenty to do here without spending a dime. For those of you looking to splurge on an memorable dinner, Downtown Disney features numerous over-the-top dining experiences where you can dine with the dinosaurs at T-Rex, enjoy desserts with the apes of the Rainforest Café, or even dine on a turn-of-the century steam-boat. There are plenty of options for everyone within Downtown Disney and best of all you don’t have to pony up $100 for admission like other Disney attractions.
Universal Orlando’s equivalent to Downtown Disney is CityWalk. This outdoor entertainment complex is one of the best nightlife spots in all of Orlando. For the over 21 crowd, this is where you’ll want to go. CityWalk is home to numerous dance clubs and bars, along with some very cool themed restaurants. On slower weeknights the cover charge to get into the clubs is lifted, but otherwise a party-pass for all of CityWalk’s clubs can be purchased for $6 through a discount ticket broker (normally $12).
6. Consider Annual Passes
This may sound somewhat crazy, but if you are someone who lives within driving distance to Disney World, or have a lot of frequent flyers miles that go to waste, then buying an annual pass might not be a bad idea. If used frequently annual passes come with a lot of great benefits, which will help you to save you money in the long run. An annual pass to Disney World totals out to $675.21 with tax included. With single day tickets running just over $100 it’s easy to see how people visiting for longer stays can really save with an annual pass. Also remember that annual passes include free parking, which is currently $15 and discounts on Disney merchandise and dining experiences. Remember that you get discounted annual passes from the ticket brokers we mentioned above.
If you have a tip you’d like to share feel free to share below in the comments.