Reader Tips: 23 Ways to Save Money at Disneyland or Disney World!

Planning a trip to Disneyland or Disney World… and looking for ways to save BIG?

Check out these tips from your frugal friends shared right here, and on The Frugal Girls Facebook Page

Rebecca said: “Book through Disney. They have the best rates, and sometimes they give away the dining plan which is an amazing value.”

Peggy said: “Buy your tickets from Costco! We got the three day flex passes, which also include Universal Studios, Sea World & The San Diego Zoo/ Wildlife Park. It was SO much cheaper than buying directly from these parks (you can get adults & kids)!!”

Christine said: “Go off season if at all possible with a special.  Don’t buy souvenirs until near end of your trip, after you have really decided what you want.  Set a budget for gifts, and take a list of people who you are buying for.  You can get free water at any place in the park, so take Crystal Light packets to make it taste better. Enjoy the free things like monorail rides, boat rides and touring some of the resorts.”

Meg said: “We go to Walt Disney World almost every weekend & the biggest savers are to pack food, drinks, rain gear & use your camera instead of photo pass.”

Tiffany said: “I always stop in the quick service restaurants to get cups of water instead of paying for bottled water.”

Cheryl said: “We often shared meals and brought our own water bottles to refill instead of buying beverages in the park.”

Tiff said: “If you buy coffee, save your cup and you can get free refills all day long.  Get drinks at Rancho Del Zocalo (at Disneyland), and go back for free refills all day.”

Myra said: “Several restaurants from Disneyworld participate in  I’m not sure if Disneyland offers the same, but it’s worth checking. Also if you are a AAA member you can get discounts on the rental car, park tickets, hotels, etc. Have fun!”

Ashley said: “We try to eat outside of the park, especially at ‘All You Can Eat’ buffets for lunch.  It is usually cheaper, and you can have a big meal and a light snack at dinner time. You can go in and out of the park all you want.”

Kimberlee said: “We live near Disneyland and go a few times a year.  My advice would be get the Adult Chicken Meal @ the Plaza, located at the end of Main Street. We get two dinners and two extra biscuits, and it feeds our family of four. And when I go with my mom, we get the Alfredo Chicken at the Pizza Port to share. Don’t buy the kids meals, they are not worth the $$$!”

Karen said: “Pack food and drink!  I didn’t know we could take into the park, but we stocked up w/food from Walmart and ate our snacks and lunches from what we had packed – we saved TONS of money!”

Maura said: “We pack up one suitcase with snacks, bowls, cereal, spoons, foam coffee mugs and lids (and coffee/ filters), juice boxes, and eat breakfast in our room in the morning.  Then we have an empty suitcase at the end of the week for any souvenirs we may want to bring back.  We fly southwest so we don’t have the extra bag charge.”

Mary said: “Buy your souvenirs at Downtown Disney rather than inside the park. Buy your autograph books before you go into the park.  An interesting website to visit for some handy tips is the Touring Plans Blog.”

Brooke said: “There is a discount store in downtown Disney that has everything under $10 if you have kids that want something small to bring home.”

Stacie said: “The cheapest and best thing we did was take lots of colorful cardstock (from my stash of scrapbook stuff), and sharpie markers. Then we got autographs from all the characters we saw (and they are everywhere), and took photos with them. When we came home we put together a scrapbook with all the photos and autographs!  So fun and special and almost free!”

Amy said: “I take all of our own “glow” toys. Glow bracelets at Target are 15/$1. Dollartree had glow wands and swords, perfect for a little Tinkerbell or pirate. We also did pin trading this year for the first time.”

Becca said: “All the Walmarts near Disney carry many isles of Disney merchandise.  T-shirts are $5.00… not $20.00!  The products are all authentic Disney merchandise! Before the parks open, head to Walmart and make it a “that day” event!  Buy everyone a shirt to wear to Disney that day, a hat, and a toy for after, or a stuffed Mickey to carry that day!”

Nikki said: “Buy trading pins and lanyard on eBay!! Save major $$ and it does not matter what pins you get, since you will be trading them in the parks!! Buy tickets from local hospital, Disney donates them and the hospital discounts them to make money for the hospital!!”

Lauren said: “The Free app Undercover Tourist gave accurate wait times for rides, parade times and restaurant menus!!”

Shannon said: “Just went in July.  Download Ridemax – totally worth the money ($15).  It prints you a schedule – we didn’t wait more than 20 min. for any ride!”

Stephanie said: “Tip on Fastpasses… they can be used anytime after the first time printed on the ticket. Fastpasses are free and a great way to get on the more popular rides. However, it says on the ticket to return between times. Even if you missed the time to return by, you can still use them so don’t just throw them out!”

Julie said: “Check up on AffordingTheMouse.  She gives great tips on how to save money, what to expect at the Disney parks, and the latest Disney news. Her blog just saved our vacation $$$ by getting signed up for the free dining plan during our stay.”

Monica said: “If you haven’t found a place to stay, check out Homeaway. We got our OWN house with a pool for $500 a week (all taxes & cleaning included!).  Three bedroom, two bath, ten minutes to the parks!”


How Do YOU Save Money at Disneyland or Disney World??

Leave a comment and share your tips for stretching your dollars at Disney Parks…

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13 Responses to Reader Tips: 23 Ways to Save Money at Disneyland or Disney World!

  1. * eat breakfast in your room
    * bring a loaf of bread and PB&J to make sandwhiches to take with you to the park. Easy to eat a quick lunch while in line.
    * If your kids are “I want” kids, hit the dollar/discount stores before you leave for Disney and pick up little trinket Disney items to give the kids each day. Could be candy, bracelets, shirts, toys, etc.
    * have a plan for souveniers – how much do you intend to spend? Stick to it. We generally wait until the end of the trip and the kids know this so we rarely have too many problems. This also allows them to see things over the course of our visit before they make a decision. If they know they can only get one thing, they can be more selective. Don’t wait until the kids are too tired though, that will backfire every time! Hee hee!

  2. Katie Worsham says:

    I used the Book “Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids” and booked through Disney. I then paid off the vacation buying Disney Gift Cards through our Giant Eagle that offers Gas Rewards. So probably we had $8.00 of 30 gallons of gas = $240 of free gas for paying for a vacation we were going on anyway. I had bought those Giant Eagle cards with my Bank Card that I got Rewards points on too. – Cashed those in toward Marriott Gift Cards for the last part of vacation in the Keys. Plus bought more Marriott GC from Giant Eagle = MORE FREE GAS! And then we really utilized the book and websites for money saving deals and time savers. Best vacation ever!

  3. Katie Worsham says:

    We also packed snacks and a water bottle to refill. Even if you just have a few granola bars and such that helps take the edge off and the temptation to buy a $4 ice cream. We used our dining plan to the max though. It was well worth the $$.

  4. Lela says:
    If you want something really cheap you can camp in a tent for around $50 a night, however sleeping in a tent and walking around Disney all day is no longer my idea of a fun time.

  5. Michell says:

    We went with grandkids and for snacks I made homemade rice Krispy treats and wrapped individually they were great snacks waiting in Lines for all…they packaged easily and everyone loved it

  6. Valerie says:

    I hate to be a naysayer–and there are some great tips in the list–but the Fastpass comment by Stephanie is no longer true. Beginning this week (March 7, to be exact), Disney World is now cracking down on Fastpass return times, meaning you must return during the one hour window given on the Fastpass, with a few exceptions (mostly involving dining reservations). This is in anticipation of Disney’s new XPass feature that will allow guests to schedule some of their attractions at home, just as they do dining now.

  7. Frugal Mommy says:

    Myra commented that several restaurants in WDW participate in – which ones?!?! I am desperately trying to plan the most cost effective (not necessarily “cheap”) WDW world vacation that this family of 5 can actually afford (w/o charging ANY of it, including airfare) and it has become my goal and obsession to do so! With that being said, I am loving this topic. :)

  8. Gale says:

    Safeway or Vons in Southern CA sells dicount Tickets for admission to Disneyland. We are taking one of our Granddaughters and one of our grandsons there next week or so! That is where i found the cheapest price!

  9. Hilda says:

    A great way to save is to bring along your own snacks.

  10. Kari says:

    How are you all taking food into Disneyland? Their website says no outside food or drinks.

  11. Laura says:

    Free refills at Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland) are technically only available during the time you are dining there. It’s kind of like eating a meal at a fast food restaurant in your city, and then returning other times with your used cup, walking in, getting a refill, and then leaving the restaurant. And then repeating the process….

    For free coffee refills, the only place (at Disneyland) to get them is at the Market House on Main Street. You *must* keep your receipt to show the cast member each and every time you stop by for a refill.

  12. Laura says:

    Kari, you can take small snacks and bottled water into the park. Security will go through your bags, but they won’t confiscate your family’s non-outrageously-elaborate chow. My husband and I have brought in sandwiches, chips, and other small items with no problems.

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