How We Saved Hundreds of Dollars at Walt Disney World

We recently took a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) with our three kids (3, 7, and 11). It’s true what they say… Disney is the most expensive day ever! We also had a checker at a Disney Springs store tell us that Disney makes dollars, not sense (after we joked about how much the item we were looking at was). Here are a few tips I have to help you save money on your next visit to WDW.

1. We stayed off property
A few years ago, we went to Disneyland CA and stayed at a Disney resort. It was nice when the kids were younger because we were able to easily get back to our room for breaks. It was extremely convenient… however, it was very, very expensive. We decided that would be the last time we spent that much money on a room.

This time to WDW we decided to stay off property. We found a great deal through our Hilton Honors program. We scored a 2 bedroom (family room, full kitchen, washer/dryer) 7-night deal for under $1000. This resort was amazing, it had a huge pool with a water slide, daily activities a playground and children activity center. We saved a ton of money right off the bat. Sure, we were going to miss the magic Disney hour… but we were ok with that. The kids were also happy just spending a day at the pool!

2. We drove to FL
We have a family of five and also handle multiple food allergies, flying is just too expensive and unsafe for our conditions. We packed up everything we needed (including our waffle maker and safe foods) and started on our 16-hour journey. The kids love driving and seeing all the different cities and stopping at unique places along the way. We stopped for gas 3-4 times to fill up and saved a ton of money on flights and transportation rental! Speaking of our waffle maker.. we use our waffle maker multiple times per week to make safe waffles for our kids with food allergies. We have a boring 4 black 4 plate maker. The kids grandma purchased a fun knew avengers waffle maker for use before we left. I was able to surprise the kids with Avenger waffles for our first breakfast! We download 3 very important Apps for our drive.. Waze (alerted us of accidents, traffic jams, stopped cars, and police cars), Gas Buddy (to find the cheapest gas), and SitorSquat (To find clean bathrooms).

You can check it out here Marvel Avengers Waffle Maker

3. We pre-purchased items.
We knew beforehand that the kids were going to want to buy all the toys they saw at the DW stores. So, I decided to set a budget for each child and purchase some items for them before we left. I packed the toys and brought them out as surprises throughout our day at Disney. Glow sticks were super important to buy... once it starts to get dark, carts full a flashy fun glow in the dark items come out and it looks so fun (but expensive). We pre purchased fun glow sticks and wands at the dollar store and brought them with. Kids were surprised and enjoyed them.. we saved stress and money! We also bought the kids matching Disney pajamas and t-shirts before we left. I found great deals at our local Disney Outlet store,, and Amazon.The kids pictured below with some of their glow stick toys. Find our LED glow wands at the Dollar Tree.

Also, pre purchasing clothing items is a money maker! Just purchase through your Ebates (now Rakuten) or MyPoints account to get money back!

4. We brought re-usable cups/water bottles
As you are aware it is very hot and humid in Florida. Magic Kingdom lacks shade and places to sit. You will get very thirsty. We prefilled our water bottles and filled them up as we went. You can get free cups of ice water at all the quick serve food locations and they also have plenty of drinking fountains. Don’t waste money on water bottles! Also, to avoid spending more money on themed reusable cups at the park, but some before you go. Here are the ones we purchased. Check out some deals at The Disney Store.

5. The Bubble Blowers
If you haven’t been to Disney yet, you may be surprised at the amount of Bubble Blower toys they have. They are so darn cute, and flashy and I’m sure they’re really fun… but they were $25 a piece. With three kids that would cost us $75 for 3 bubble blowers! So instead I purchased light up bubble blowers at Target for $4.99 each and surprised the kids as soon as they started asking for them! This was an easy $60 saving! In a hurry? Check out these bubble blowers, for quicker delivery. Bubble Blaster Set with LED Light Up and Sound

6. The Misting Fans
In the heat of Florida, with all the walking and standing in humid lines these fans are a must have. However, Disney sells them for $22 a piece… again with 3 kids (to avoid the fighting) that would be $66 spent on three. I was able to find similar fan water bottles at our local grocery store for $6.99 each. A nice $45 in savings! We gave those to the kids as soon as we entered the park and they were a big hit! We bought blue ones. Deluxe Misting Fan 
7. We brought Lunch and Snacks
Food at Disney, as you probably could guess is also expensive. We packed a soft sided cooler (a large Trader Joe’s one) and packed a sandwich, chips and fruit cup for every family member. We also packed enough small snacks to last the day. We then only had to budget for one meal (dinner) and splurged on a Disney dessert. We had a stroller with us so it was easier to carry our food. If you won’t be using a stroller you can store your food in a locker or wear a backpack cooler like this one Insulated Cooler Backpack  
8. Fast Passes, DAS Pass, and Visa Cardholder Specials
We received 3 free fast pass reservations when we booked our tickets. My advice is to book you fast passes early in the day/afternoon… you are only allowed 3 at a time, we had a fast pass booked for 7:00 pm and ended up canceling it so we could book other rides earlier. Download the My Disney App to book them quicker. If you have a disability and need assistance with rides, waiting in line or other accommodations. If you are a Disney Visa cardmember you qualify for a special character experience at the parks… Be sure to ask a cast member where the experience is located. We had an amazing character experience at Hollywood Studies with Kylo Ren!

9. Freebie
Head over to the guest services building at the entrance of the parks and pick out a free pin. Our kids loved getting their 1st Visit button and wore them proudly around the park. Random cast members would also come up to them and Welcome them on the first visit, which made them feel special!

1. Autograph Book
Head over to the dollar store before you leave and grab a cute notebook and pen for your kids to get character autographs. No need to spend a ton of money at the park for one.

Other Tips: Utilize the rider swap if you have children to young to go on rides or not interested in certain rides.

  • Don’t forget batteries for your spray fans and bubble makers! We got to the park on the first day and realized we hadn’t installed the batteries for our spray fans and wasted time searching for some at a store. We spent $6.99 for 4 batteries.
  • Instead of pre-purchasing toys.. give each child a set amount of money to spend, either cash or Disney gift card you can give them that day (you can score discounted Disney Gift Cards before you go).
  • Try to remember you are at Disney World to have fun… It will be hot… crowded… and noisy… try to leave that stress and worry at the door. Go with the flow and enjoy your time!
  • You don’t need to spend every day at Disney Parks… you’ll want to take a break in between park days. There are several cheaper options around Orlando that are just as fun and offer unique experience for your family. We drove to Clearwater Beach for a day and enjoyed every minute!