Disney Vacation Money Saving Tips

Disney Vacation Tips - Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse standing in front of Sleep Beauty's castle.

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This Disney Vacation Tips Page contains a growing number of money saving ideas for vacationing at Disney parks less expensively.

Disney Vacation Savings for Military Families

Shortly after September 11 (9/11), Disney Theme Parks began offering one free seven-day park hopper pass for active duty military personnel and half-off for immediate family members.

Editor’s Note: Disney has modified their Military Family Discount program. Read details on these two pages:


My husband had just returned from deployment, and our children, then 6 and 7 ½, were the perfect age for a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. With their discounted fare and some careful planning, we were able to enjoy an almost ten-day vacation for around $2,500 for a family of four (this included gas, lodging, and food).

Saving on Lodging

 Many of the park hotels offer discounts for military, but we found staying outside the park (Lake Buena Vista) was even less expensive. We took advantage of the free shuttles to the park. To save on dining, we packed our own breakfast and snack foods in a foot-locker, brought a toaster and small electric griddle for eggs. I was able to get half-off the cost of the daily rate for an in-room refrigerator by asking for a discount from the hotel.

Saving on Breakfast

 In the morning, we would have bagels and cream cheese, instant oatmeal or a quick scrambled egg sandwich and fruit.

Saving on Snacks

To save on food at the theme park, my children each had a small backpack that was stocked with a boxed drink, a crunchy snack, a sweet snack and fruit slices. (Prior to our trip, I gave each child seven sandwich bags {labeled with the seven days of the week we would be at the park) markers, crayons, and stickers. After decorating, they were allowed to fill each bag with the non-perishable snacks of their choice). This greatly reduced our food costs and kept the children content while waiting in line for rides. An added bonus was that no one was starving when it came time for lunch and we could often split just two adult meals.

Saving on Drinks

Drinks are also expensive at amusement parks, so every evening, I would freeze four half-bottles of water and we would bring them with us. We would re-fill our water bottles at water fountains and the frozen water would melt slowly enough to keep cold water always available.

Saving on Special Treats

We also kept a supply of late night snacks, hot chocolate and instant soups in our hotel room for any late night hunger pangs.

My husband teased me about our footlocker of food, but when he saw how much we saved, he always asks what we are bringing on our other vacations!   Lisa Perry – Katy, TX

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on a platform in Walt Disney World - Orlando.

A Disney Vacation On A Shoestring

My husband and I wanted to take our five children to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for an unforgettable Disney Vacation. Coming from Michigan we knew it would be expensive – so here’s what we did to save some money.

Going Off-Season

We went during “off season” and lodged in places where children stayed free.

Packed Our Own Food

For food, we had a van that we packed with a cooler filled with drinks, milk and juices and peanut butter and jelly and sandwich fixings. The cooler was replenished with food as we traveled and always added fresh ice at night. While driving we would stop at roadside parks and have lunch. Breakfast was cereal and bagels in our hotel rooms. We did eat out once a day for dinner.

Finding State Coupon Books

Also as we entered each state we stopped at the tourist information area to pick up coupon books that gave us discounts on attractions, hotels or motels and also restaurants.

Credit Union Discounted Disney Tickets

Through my husband’s credit union we got discount tickets to Walt Disney World.

Seeing Other Sights

We also stayed two nights right on the beach at Daytona. The hotel prices were very reasonable – due to off-season rates. With food, gas, and lodging, we spent less

With food, gas, and lodging, we spent less than $100 a day for seven people. The children also saved their money to spend on souvenirs, this way they were not begging us to pay for stuff.   I know some people have told us it would have been cheaper to camp. But by going our way, we didn’t have to purchase camping equipment or pull a trailer that would have used more gas. And, we still would have had to pay for campground fees. I also really enjoyed having a clean room, with baths for the kids and didn’t have to cook or pick up anything for a week. Fran – Michigan

Pay Less For Disney Vacation Lodging

A Disney For Rent sign in front of a house.

We’ve been taking a bi-annual trip to Disneyworld for a number of years. On our first trip, we discovered a great way to save big bucks on lodging. Rent a house! If you Google “Disney vacation homes in Florida,” you’ll find hundreds of matches.

Your homework is to wade through all the options and pick a home that best suits your needs and budget. It’s worth the time because you’ll end up with a home away from home that is much less expensive than you think.

Disney Rental House Amenities

Many of the homes are luxurious (3 to 7 bedrooms), often including multiple master suites, swimming pools, and game room facilities all for a fraction of the price of the most basic Disney resort or hotel. They are located 20 minutes or less from the parks, so you can save hundreds more if you prepare some of your meals in your rental home kitchen.

Sharing with Other Families

You’ll get even more bang for your buck by dividing up the cost between several families. But it doesn’t really matter how big your group is. After our Orlando rental advice, two friends traveled together and leased a condominium minutes from the park. A combined family of 14 rented two smaller homes side by side to accommodate their group.

Competition Keeps the Disney Rental Market Lower

Because so many investors are competing for your rental dollars, there are newer homes that are just entering the market which offer even more features for your money. And just like the off-season prices at the park, you’ll get even a better deal on your rental.

Renting a home for a Disney vacation is Orlando’s best kept secret and we love sharing it with other budget-conscious families.
Anna & John Oathout – Broken Arrow, OK

Disney Vacation Souvenirs

When I go to Disneyland or Disneyworld I usually get a charm for my bracelet. But I have a daughter that works there, so she can buy me one with her employee discount, and I pay her back! Kim Ross – Phoenix, AZ

When the kids were little we took them to Disneyland. We knew they would want expensive souvenirs… so, I bought several stuffed Disney characters/animals off Ebay (cheap) and one night while they were swimming at the hotel I put them on their bed. They loved them!
Debbi Clayton – Scottsdale, AZ 

Get more vacation souvenir ideas on this page.

Fireworks behind Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Walt Disney World - Orlando.

Here’s an unofficial Disney World Guide and also Disneyland Guide!

2 thoughts on “Disney Vacation Money Saving Tips

    1. Steve Economides

      Laura, Thanks for asking. Some of the info is older, but we added updated links – specifically for military family discounts.

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