It’s not your imagination: Traveling to Disneyland and Walt Disney World keeps getting more expensive. Tickets, flights, food and lodging can easily cost a family of four an average of $1,000 a day. Snagging a bargain travel deal to the world’s top family destination spot may seem impossible, but with careful planning and expert advice, saving on your next Disney vacation is doable.
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We researched the best Disney deals and spoke to planDisney panel members (regulars who have “mastered the art of planning” vacations to Disneyland and Walt Disney World) who offered insider tips on how to save big on your next trip to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Stock up on discounted Disney gift cards
The perks for joining Sam’s Club go way beyond free samples: They include Disney gift cards at a discount. Use those cards to book travel to any of Disney’s domestic properties and cruises, plus passes to the park, meals, gifts, and merchandise on ShopDisney.com and in all Disney stores. Membership to Sam’s Club starts at $45 for a year.
Book travel on Kayak
An easy way to save money on your Disney trip? Use Kayak. The travel booking site can help you get the cheapest plane tickets possible by setting price alerts to receive notifications when fares drop. After searching for your airfare, simply turn on the “track prices” alert. When the airfare goes up or down, you get a notification via email.
Another way it helps you save: Comparing prices of flights, hotels, and car rentals against hundreds of travel websites at once. Kayak also offers suggestions as to whether you should book your trip ASAP or wait for prices to drop, using its own algorithm.
Book via a Disney Vacation travel agent
Many Disney regulars use travel agents or websites that specialize in Disney vacations. They can help you save big on everything from daily passes to the park to hotels. Just as important: They can help with dinner reservations (which you should make months ahead of time) and character meet-and-greets.
Buy passes through an authorized third-party vendor
You can often save money on Disney passes by purchasing ahead of time. Authorized third-party vendors, such as Undercover Tourist, sell Disney passes at a discount. For the deepest discounts, book passes for multiple days.
Book a vacation rental
Save money on lodging and food, especially if you have a large family, by renting an entire home or apartment. Since many of the resorts in the Disney vicinity charge daily resort fees, you may be able to save by renting a property with multiple rooms and a kitchen. Some of the rentals on sites like VRBO are even located within resorts, or timeshares near the property, offering many of the same amenities as the more expensive properties.
Disney Parks tip: Travel during the week or offseason
Avoid long lines and crowds, and save money by visiting Disney during the offseason or on weekdays. Plane tickets, hotels, and even daily passes can go down in price during less popular dates. One planDisney panel member points out that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tend to be the lowest-priced days. In general, smaller crowds means cheaper tickets. That means avoiding major holidays and marathon weekends, going when most kids are in school, and going when the weather is hot.
Check special offers on the Disney website
One planDisney panel member suggests regularly checking the “special offers” tab on the Disney website to stay updated on the best deals.
For example, with the fabulous “Stay in the Magic and Save” special offer currently running, guests staying for five nights at select Disney Resorts Collection hotels through July 7, 2022, can save up to $100 per night.
Another insider tip? Even if you already booked your trip, if a new offer pops up, just call the Disney Resort Hotel Reservations team to take advantage of the better deal.
See if you qualify for a discount
Walt Disney World Resort offers plenty of discounts to select groups.
There are military discounts for eligible active, retired, and disabled service members and their spouses in the form of promotional passes and even reduced rates at select Disney Resorts Collection hotels, says a planDisney panel member. Eligible Service Members may purchase their tickets from their local base or order them through Shades of Green.
Also, Florida residents get discounts on season passes, theme park tickets and even hotels. Residents can also purchase discounted tickets for children under the age of 18 who reside out of state. Teachers are also eligible for discounted passes.
Take advantage of freebies
Not everything at Walt Disney World involves spending money.
One planDisney panel member points out that low-cost or no-cost fun activities within and around the parks actually exist. For example, Disney Springs is free (parking, too) and often has complimentary outdoor entertainment options like live music and performances. Other fun freebies that can be found around the Resort are ‘Celebration’ buttons, and Mickey stickers, often presented to children by cast members.
Use Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy points
Redeem your Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy points to save big on your vacation, or earn the points while staying at an official Walt Disney World hotel. Hilton Orlando Buena Vista – Disney Springs Area and Signia by Hilton – Orlando Bonnet Creek are part of the Hilton family, while the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan fall under the Marriott Bonvoy umbrella.
Book through Costco Travel
Booking a Disney vacation through Costco may save you a lot of money, while adding value to your trip. Waived resort fees, resort credits, room upgrades, included meals and free Disney gift cards with a package purchase are a few ways members save big on their vacations.
Plus, if you’re not a Costco member, now is a great time to change that: The warehouse chain is currently offering a $10 gift card to new Gold Star members, and $20 gift cards to new Executive members. (Executive memberships offer a 2% rebate on Costco purchases — a neat way to save just a little more on your next Disney Parks trip.)
Buy your Disney Parks gear ahead of time
Once you book your vacation, consider some new gear.
Disney rolling carryon luggage
Board your flight to Disney in style with themed carryon luggage. Chose from Mickey and Minnie Mouse in paradise, or a sticker-style casing featuring your favorite Star Wars characters with these hardshell luggage options, surprisingly affordable at shopDisney at less than $65.
Simple Modern Disney backpack
Avoid the price tags at the parks by ordering ahead of time on Amazon. Simple Modern offers a variety of Disney-themed prints, including Mickey Mouse, Cars and this Disney princess-themed version in two sizes.
Mickey Mouse custom family T-shirts
Choose a color and add your family name to this customizable T-shirt to wear around Walt Disney World with your pack. And, if your kids wander off at the park, security will know who they belong to. After your trip, it becomes a keepsake to remember fun times for years to come.
“Star Wars” Crocs
If you’re bold enough to wear them, Crocs make for comfortable footwear for rain or shine. Instead of just a plain color, these “Star Wars” Crocs, featuring the Child, available in both children and adult sizes, will add a little Mandalorian spirt to your step.
Vapur flexible water bottle
Leave your bulky, heavy water bottle at home and pack a few Vapur flexible water bottles instead. Available in various sizes and colors, they stand tall when filled with water, but fold up when empty. Each comes with a handy carabiner to easily hook onto your backpack or stroller.
Anker PowerCore III wireless portable charger
Taking photos, uploading posts to social media and using the Disney app while at the parks can drain phone batteries quickly. Make sure to pack a wireless portable charger so your electronics don’t run out of juice. Whether you’re an iPhone user or Android user, the Anker PowerCore III offers high speed USB charging up to 18 watts.