It's no surprise that the Disney Parks draw millions of guests every year as people from around the globe flock to the popular theme parks to see the iconic characters, experience the rides and attractions, and eat tasty theme park treats. In 2018, an estimated 20.9 million guests visited the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and over 18 million paid a visit to its sister park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, making these two of the most-visited theme parks in the world.
Of course, a visit to see Mickey Mouse can be pretty pricey — a one-day, one-park ticket to Disney World will set you back around $109 per person (plus tax), while a ticket to one of Disneyland’s parks starts at $104, depending on the date. The entry fee alone can be enough to scare people off, especially if you’re thinking about taking the entire family to the parks. However, with a little extra planning, you can save hundreds on your Disney vacation. Here are 9 ways to save money at the Disney Parks before, during, and after your vacation.
Related: More Disney vacation tips
Before Your Disney Vacation:
Buy a Disney vacation package
One of the easiest ways to save on a Disney vacation is to book one of the company's vacation packages. With the vacation packages at Disney World, guests can choose from more than 25 Disney Resort Hotels and customize their tickets to access all four theme parks (along with the two water parks). A sample package that combines accommodations and park tickets for a family of four staying for six nights and seven days goes for around $106 per person, per day (for a total of $2,967), marking huge savings compared to buying tickets and booking a hotel separately. Similar vacation package options can be found for Disneyland, too.
Find accommodations just outside the park
Though it's tempting to stay within the park’s borders, it may be prudent to look for accommodations just outside its walls. The hotels outside of Disney World and Disneyland tend to be much cheaper than those with the Disney branding. And, larger families might be more comfortable in a bigger home booked via Airbnb. Plus, booking a home means you'll probably be able to access a kitchen, so you could save even more by cooking a few meals yourself.
Visit Disney during the off-season
In 2018, Disney World unveiled new dynamic pricing. This means that tickets are more expensive during popular times to visit (like school breaks and holidays), but it also means that people can find cheaper tickets on off-peak days, which most often occur during the off-peak seasons. If you can plan a trip to Disney World or Disneyland during a slower season, you’ll not only be rewarded with cheaper tickets, but you’ll also find fewer tourists and shorter lines for your favorite rides, making it a real win-win.
Use points to book your Disney vacation
According to The Points Guy, there are a few cards that allow users to purchase Disney tickets or book Disney hotels on points. Those cards include the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the Citi Premier Card, as well as the Disney Visa.
During Your Disney Vacation:
Take the Magical Express Bus from the airport
If you did book one of those aforementioned Disney vacations or are staying at one of Walt Disney World’s hotels, you can score a free ride to and from the Orlando International Airport on the Magical Express Bus. As an added bonus, they’ll even deliver your bags straight to your room.
Pack a lunch
If you’re trying to save a few bucks during your Disney vacation, you may want to pack lunch. A quick bite can run upwards of $50 for a family of four inside Disneyland or Disney World, and that’s not even counting the snacks. On the bright side, bringing your own lunch means you can bypass the lines at restaurants and get to your favorite rides a little faster.
Skip the Park Hopper Pass
If you’re visiting either park for multiple days, you may be tempted to upgrade your ticket with a Park Hopper Pass, which adds about $60 per person, per day, depending on your ticket package. This pass allows you to visit multiple parks in the same day. However, as anyone who’s ever visited a Disney park will tell you, you really do need an entire day (or more) to really experience each park. So, forgo the upgrade and just pick a different park for each day of your vacation instead.
After Your Disney Vacation:
Print your own photos
Throughout your time at the Disney Parks, you'll undoubtedly come across several photographers offering to take your picture. However, you’ll need to sign up for Disney Photo Pass and pay to download those photos, and that cost can really add up. Whether you own a DSLR camera or just snap photos on your phone, you can easily document your entire Disney experience on your own to save a few bucks. Then, use a website like Shutterfly to print those same 4x6 photos for just 18 cents a pop.
Buy souvenirs outside the parks
Again, we know it’s tempting to buy up an entire stock of Mickey ears when you’re at Disney World and Disneyland, however, you’ll save a bundle of cash if you just shop online before or after your trip. Anyone hunting for deals can also find a Disney Outlet near them.