Posted on March 21, 2011

Saving Money on Your Trip to Disney World… and Share Your Own Tips!

mc disney world

I KNOW we have a TON of Disney experts in our audience!  So many of you have helped other readers (and myself) learn ways to save when planning (and carrying out) a trip to the Walt Disney World parks.

One of my favorite sites for tips about everything Disney is www.mousesavers.com.  So much great info!

While planning our trip to Disney, I found the following books to be invaluable – not just during the planning process but also during our time in the parks.  (A huge thanks to Jenny for recommending most of them!)

:: Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2011: with Universal Orlando, SeaWorld & Aquatica

:: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2011

:: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Pocket Parks Guide 2011

:: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2011

:: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World For Kids 2011 <– SO CUTE!

Then I got this email with some fabulous tips from my pal kc:

There’s like NO “cheap” way of doing Disney…but there’s the Disney Meal Plan that you can work to your advantage if you’re resourceful, and you can always save $$ on a hotel.  So I am booking our trip through Southwest Vacations because Shop At Home offers 6% cash back right now- so I’m getting over $150 back on our trip. I’m bundling all our extras into the vacation package so I get more cash back in the end.  Also- Disney has 2 promos going on right now (for the Disney hotels) – $$ or %% of per night OR kids stay/play free. It ended up being over $100 less (for our scenario) to pay full price for the room and do the free kids tickets. At least I feel like I’m getting a TINY deal. :)

I would say that’s a HUGE deal with some SERIOUS savings!!

So let’s hear it – what are your VERY BEST tips for saving money on a Disney trip?

Some reader faves…
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  • Katie K

    Disney is one of the best places to go on vacation. In the last 6 years, our family has been twice. The last trip in Nov ’09, was awesome. We were lucky enough to get the meal plan as part of our trip and it sure makes a difference. We also packed our own snacks and bottled water. We also brought the flavors for the bottled water, iced tea, lemonade, etc. It was a nice change of pace from just plain water. Taking snacks really helps save a few bucks when you need that little something to hold you over between meals. Disney also lets you carry snacks and drinks into the park in small coolers.

  • Julie

    If you have a little time before your trip, an excellent tool to use is the Chase Disney Visa. You earn 1% of your spending and that becomes Disney Rewards Dollars. You redeem your points to a gift card and use it like cash on-property, online, or at the Disney Store. We’ve used our points for passes, food, hotel rooms, etc. If you’re already going to spend money on a credit card, this a great way to get some Disney cash.

  • Kelly

    Hi everyone

    We went to Disney in 2007 through Make-a-Wish as my youngest daughter was born with severe brain injury. We didn’t think she was going to be with us much longer, so I chose to take her to Disney when she was 4 years old. 4 of my 6 kids and I went. So, a lot of my advice would not be applicable because Make-a-Wish provided all the funds, details, everything! We had a great time and the best part is that Bella is now 8 years old, has defied all the odds thus far, is doing great, is learning how to walk in a walker, eating through her mouth now instead of a feeding tube, gaining weight (finally), and “talking” with her computer that she uses with her eyes to communicate. She is in school, is learning to put her letters together. An amazing little girl… but onto Disney.

    Anyhow, I do have a couple of tips. For any families thinking of going, if you do know of a family tha has a child with a life-threatening illness or disease, have that family contact their local Make-a-Wish. The child does not have to be terminal to get help. It is truly a once in a lifetime vacation for most families. The fireworks at Cinderella’s palace were amazing!!! It all was amazing.

    My tips:

    First of all for all of the families that take advantage of Giant Eagle’s gas perks, they sell Disney gift cards. So, for every $50.00 you spend on a gift card, you would get $3.00 back in gas. If you don’t live by a Giant Eagle or a Get/Go gas station, see if one of your fellow shoppers/couponers would be willing to bargain with you to get those gas perks dollars in exchange for $$ or other gift cards,etc. I have attached a link to where you can buy gift cards online through Giant Eagle. I haven’t tried this, but I imagine that even if you go through ShopatHome or Ebates, you could still use your gift cards to pay for your trip. And you can buy gift cards in bulk too. If you don’t have a giant eagle card, sign up for one, and you could at least use those cards for purchases at Disney, and probably online, like I stated before to pay for your trip. There are also gift cards for some of the airlines too.

    Say for instance you buy $3,000 worth of gift cards for your trip, you would get 20 cents for every $100.00 you spend. For $1,000 of disney cards that would be $2.00. For $3,000, that would be $6.00. Since Giant Eagle limits you to 30 gallons at one time (fuel perks have to be used in 90 days), you would have $6.00 x 30 (gallons). That would give you $180.00 back in gas/fuel perks. Just a thought. Most families spend more than $3,000. And look around on Giant Eagle’s website for the airlines, and other gift cards you may be using. A lot of the restaurants that are here in Ohio, are in Florida too.

    Also, I used my AAA card too. Always ask for discounts. A lot of times there is a yes. The up to date books at the libraries about Disney are great, as are the websites.

    We went at the end of February and the weather was perfect. As the months go by, it does get really HOT, so be aware of that. Also, another suggestion would be to ship items to your hotel (non-valuable replaceable ones) to save on airlines charging you anyhow. Plus you don’t have to drag it with you. Also, the same goes for when you go home. I know the kids love souveniers, but just watch how much they are getting as the luggage fills up fast.

    So, to sum all this up, use whatever rebate sources you can. You are going to spend the money anyway, so might as well get some of it back. Check out AAA’s website to see if it goes through ebates, etc if you are going to buy traveler’s gift cards, etc. to get some of that money back too.

    Oh, and take your digital camera. Those disposable ones cost so much to process a roll of 35 mm film, that buying 5 or 6 cameras and then having them developed would buy you a digital one. Plus you never know how those photos are going to turn out.

    Since Walmart has ship to store, you could order your sunscreen, etc., online and pick it up at the stores in the Orlando area. That way you don’t have to pack it, and can use it up while you are there and throw it away when used up. Cashback on shopathome is usually higher than ebates and I just used Walmart ship to store for some items for my kids and got 2 percent back.

    Giant Eagle’s website:

    http://www.gianteagle.com

    http://www.gianteagle.com/GiftCards/Details.aspx?groupcode=DY&N=0&sid=12EDB50858CC

    Have fun!!!

    Kelly

    • What wonderful tips – thank you for them, and for sharing your story, Kelly!

  • Cara

    A friend is planning a trip to Disney and getting lots of advice on Facebook, so I’ve been keeping track of it for our future Disney trip:) One idea is to try to find a house to rent on VRBO.com — especially if you’re going with a group/extended family. This makes it easy to make meals (one person said they brought their crockpot with them to make a meal to be ready for dinner every night – genius!).
    We’re using VRBO.com for a Europe trip with my in-laws this summer…saving SO much money over hotel rooms and staying in gorgeous 2-3 bedroom houses with full kitchens is wonderful:)

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  • Tami

    The mousesavers.com just save me over $100.00 more than my BJ’s discount, which was already pretty good on a minivan rental at Dollar. Thanks!

  • Ashley

    Weve never been to disney.
    Money is too tight for us still.
    We live “out in the sticks” so we dont go places often. When we do, we make a day of it. We pack lots of water. We use the formula dispensers to carry flavor powders in to change up from water.
    I know id do this for a trip to disney too!

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