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5 Steps To A Successfully Frugal Walt Disney World Trip

May 31, 2019

Figuring out how to have a frugal vacation may take time, in both planning and saving!

But, if it means going on that magical vacation, it’s totally worth it!

With the amount of advertising Disney has and the number of bloggers, such as myself, constantly talking about how magical Walt Disney World is, it’s hard to NOT want the same experience for yourself and your family.

5 Steps To A Successfully Frugal Walt Disney World Trip

5 steps to a successfully frugal Walt Disney World Trip

I understand that going on a frugal Disney vacation is the goal. But, the first, and most important, thing to remember is that if you’re determined to get to Walt Disney World, you have to have a realistic dollar amount in mind.

As a Travel Agent, you start learning how much things generally cost.

So, when I see posts stating that their family of 4 flew to Orlando and staying at a Deluxe Resort for a week for only $1200, right away I can tell you that this family PLANNED HARD.

In most cases, they’re using airline miles that they’ve accumulated, they’re Passholders (meaning they’re using discounts on rooms and their tickets are already paid for), and/or they’re using reputable sites like Swagbucks and Ibotta to limit their “out of pocket” costs.

Trust me…even their frugal vacation is still costing $5000+, and Disney is getting every penny of that.

So, how do they get that $5000 for just $1200 out of pocket?

Being creative with their savings plan and Planning…lots of planning! And you can do the same!

Posing with Prince Eric in the Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation

1. Pick the Right Resort

Whether you’re staying on or off Disney Property, it’s important to do the math and budget for everything.

Disney Resorts

In my book, time is money. And any additional travel time it takes to go back and forth between the Parks and my Hotel is the same as wasting money.

So, it makes sense that if you want to be on a Disney Vacation, that you want to be on Disney Property.

Besides staying inside the magical “Disney Bubble,” rides to and from the airport, Parks, and your Resort are all free for Disney Resort Guests!

If you’re bringing a car with you, just remember to budget overnight parking fees.

Off-property Hotels

If you find a good deal at a nearby off-site hotel, and it works for your family, by all means, book it!

Many of these nearby hotels also offer free shuttles to the Parks.

But, if they do offer transportation, do your homework. How reliable is it? What hours do they offer this transportation? And do you have to call for your ride or are there many shuttles that come throughout the day?

This “free” perk may not be much of a perk if you end up waiting around for hours or you miss your shuttle and you have to call for an uber/lyft.

Posing with Goofy at Disney's Pop Century

2. Have a “Meal Plan”

Whether it’s the Disney Dining Plan or not, have a plan for how you’re going to eat while at Walt Disney World.

If being frugal is your goal, then multiple character dining probably won’t be a part of your plans.

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge in any Disney treats. Many Quick Service meals and snacks can easily be shared.

And refillable mugs have a one-time cost. But, they give you unlimited refills of coffee, teas, hot chocolate, and sodas at every Resort for your entire stay (and you get a super cute Souvenir to bring home with you).

To cut that cost down significantly, bring food into the Parks. Just be sure that your cooler is small, soft sided, doesn’t contain any glass, and no loose ice (reusable ice packs and loose ice in ziplock bags are ok).

Disney Refillable Mugs

3. Disney fun on a frugal budget?

There are many activities that can be do outside of the Parks that are either free, or cheaper than Park Tickets.

Staying on property or booking a Disney Vacation Package? You’ll receive a coupon for free tickets to one of Disney’s 2 mini-golf courses. They come with your MagicBands, so make sure you look through the entire box.

Spend a day lounging at the pool, walk around Disney Springs, go horseback riding, rent a bike, go fishing, and/or enjoy a campfire sing-a-long with Chip and Dale. All of these are options, outside of the Parks, that is cheaper than the cost of a Theme Park Ticket.

Chip and Dale'e Campfire Sing-a-long at Disney's Fort Wilderness

4. Be Creative With Souvenirs

Just because something came right from Walt Disney World, doesn’t mean it’s more magical (sorry Mickey).

Buy before or after your vacation for better deals

For small children, buy things ahead of time at the Dollar Store, Target, Walmart, etc…and hand new toys to them over the course of the vacation.

If you see something in the Parks you like, check Shop Disney. They have official Disney Parks Merchandise, but they have more sales than the Parks do.

Buy outside of the Parks

If you really want to buy something from Walt Disney World, there are plenty of stores in Disney Springs that aren’t actually owned by Disney, meaning better deals for you.

If you have a car, you may also want to check out the 2 Disney Character Warehouse outlet stores not too far from Walt Disney World Property.

While not the most ideal situation, you can get authentic Disney Parks merchandise for much much less. Sometimes it’s the very same merchandise that is being sold for full price in the Parks!

Rows of MagicBands sold at Walt Disney World

5. Do Your Homework

I can’t stress this one enough.

Play around with deals and ticket options to see which options are best for the time of year you’re going to Walt Disney World.

Only one discount can be applied to Disney Vacation Packages. But, you can purchase a room-only deal and a ticket-only deal separately to save the most money.

Just remember to link everything on My Disney Experience.

Going to Walt Disney World in Summer 2019? Disney is releasing a Summer One World Ticket that is sure to save everyone money on Theme Park and Water Park Tickets this summer. If you haven’t heard about these tickets, you should definitely check it out.

While I do suggest purchasing Park Tickets straight through Disney, Undercover Tourist is a safe and reputable seller. And you’ll always save money when you purchase tickets through their website.

  • Reply
    Amy Olivieri
    June 3, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    “In my book, time is money. And any additional travel time it takes to go back and forth between the Parks and my Hotel is the same as wasting money.”

    This is exactly how I feel! It’s worth it to me to pay the extra money to stay on property. Free airport shuttle and free Disney buses make the resort costs worth it!

    • Reply
      Catherine
      June 3, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      YES! And we figured that any savings we would get by booking off-property would be non-existent after we paid for a rental car and Parking. With 4 of us traveling, it would easier to rent a car than call an uber or lyft. But, we always stay on-property, so we don’t have to worry about any of those travel issues or costs.

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