Hacks for saving money at Walt Disney World

Do you want to bring your family to Walt Disney World, but are a little shocked at the cost of the vacation? Below are some hacks that can save you hundreds of dollars on your Disney World Vacation.

  • Leave the Disney resort to buy souvenirs – The problem with buying souvenirs at the Walt Disney Resort is that they are rather expensive. I would not say they are overpriced, but it is like shopping for a premium brand. Even a t-shirt is going to cost you $20 or more. If you really want to save money there are many discount stores within a few miles of the Disney World property, that sell discounted Disney merchandise. For what it would cost you to buy one t-shirt at Disney World, you can get four t-shirts at the discount stores.
  • Purchase emergency Ponchos at Walmart – If you are unfamiliar with central Florida weather, this might sound weird. However, it rains a lot there, especially in the summer, when there is an afternoon thunderstorm almost every day. Disney is aware of this and just about every store has ponchos that they keep hidden at the cash register. As soon as it looks like it will rain the ponchos are put on display and sell for $10. I like to go to Walmart or Academy and purchase the $1 emergency ponchos prior to my trip. In their packaging these ponchos are just the right size to put in your pocket.  Then if it rains you have a poncho at the ready and have saved yourself $9.
  • Purchase glow in the dark necklaces/ toys at the dollar store – When my children were young, they always wanted the glow in the dark toys, necklaces and bracelets that Disney sells prior to the fireworks, night time shows or night time parades. After a couple of years of spending $20 or more on things that stopped glowing and were thrown away before we left for home, we figured out that we could by similar toys at the dollar store. Every day at Disney we would bring a few to the park and when my kids saw the glow in the dark stuff for sale, we would pull some out of our backpack. The kids were happy and we saved a lot of money.
  • Look into staying at facilities that are not owned by Disney – Like souvenirs, when you stay at a Disney hotel you are paying for the brand. If you do a little homework you may be able to save yourself a lot of money by staying at a property not owned by Disney. For example I usually travel with a party of six, since 2012 we have been staying in condos or townhouses about 2.5 miles away from Disney World. We have far more space and a full kitchen, and even with the $20 per day parking we can stay for a week for about $400 less than the cost of two rooms or a family suite at a Disney value resort.
  • Don’t buy more ticket than you need – By this I mean do not spring for ticket extras like park hopper or water parks unless you are positive that you are going to use those features. Actually, I recommend that you just get the base ticket, as Disney allows you to upgrade your tickets within 14 days of the tickets first use. You can upgrade your tickets at guest relations, the theme park ticket window, or the concierge desk of a Disney hotel. So if you don’t buy enough options on your ticket you can always upgrade, however if you buy options on your ticket that you do not use, you can not get your money back.
  • Eat Breakfast in your room – Bringing food with you to Disney World, or having it shipped to you using Amazon or a service like GardenGrocer.com, is a fantastic way to save on breakfast.  Even just buying a one serving box of cereal or an muffin at the Disney food courts will cost you $2.50 to $3.  Using GardenGrocer.com as an example you can get 8 single serving boxes of cereal for $6.50.
  • Bring snacks into the park – Did you know that you can bring a backpack or cooler into Disney World?  As long as it is smaller than 24″ X 15″ X 18″ you can bring it in.  Disney security will want to check it, to be sure that you are not trying to bring alcohol or some other banned items into the park.  An item that is not banned is food.  When my children were young I used to run into a problem where they will tell us they were hungry, we would buy them something and they would eat two bites then tell us they were full.  So we started to bring a back pack with their favorite snacks in it.  A snack size bag of gold fish is far cheaper then anything you will be able to purchase for a snack from Disney. If you really want to save money you can pack sandwiches or other foods that travel well.  I once saw a family that brought a loaf of bread, and a jar of peanut butter.  They made peanut butter sandwiches for themselves while waiting in line for Splash Mountain.  If you are traveling by airplane to Orlando you can do the same thing I suggested about breakfast food, and use Amazon or GardenGrocer.com to order food and have it delivered to you resort.
  • Eat at table services restaurants at lunch – If you are planning on enjoying the food that Disney has to offer consider eating at lunch time instead of at dinner.  The lunch menu at many of the table service restaurants is cheaper than the dinner menu.  I suggest you make an informed decision though, by looking at the menus on the My Disney Experience app, to make sure you are not missing your must have meal, by eating at lunch instead of dinner.
  • Order a cup of ice water / And bring a water bottle to the park – Orlando during the summer is hot, and you will need to drink lots of water in order to stay hydrated.  With as much walking as you will do in Disney World this is even true in the winter. However, you do not need to spend $3 on a bottle of water every time you need a drink at Disney World.  At counter service and table service restaurants you can order a cup of ice water for free.  Something else you can do is bring a water bottle to the park.  My family carries RTIC water bottles and refills them with the free ice water from the restaurants when we eat lunch and dinner.

So do you have any other money savings ideas for Disney World?  Please leave your idea in the comments.  If you like what I have to say please share my blog.

Disney News – Week of Jan 7, 2018

In an early post I said I wanted to try to make Disney News a weekly post.  So far that has not happened.  In fact I was not planning on doing one this week as I am working on some ideas I have had for this website.  Then I saw this from WFTV channel 9.  Disney is planning on selling additional Fastpasses to guest that are staying on the club-level of the deluxe resorts.  These additional fastpasses will cost $50 per person per day, and the guest will be able to reserve their fastpasses 90 days before their stay.  I don’t like this primarily because if Disney starts to make a lot of money doing this, I can see a time when all fastpasses will have to be purchased, similar to the system that Six Flags parks use.  My fear is that unless you are willing to pay up for the extras, you will find it almost impossible to ride the most popular attractions.

Also happening this week as reported in the Orlando Sentinel, a door on Monorail Red opened while the train was in motion and nowhere near the station.  Guest recorded the incident and posted it to Youtube.  At the end of the video you can see the train pulling into the Epcot station and guest that were on that car trying to flag down a cast member to make them aware of the situation.  There seems to be a lot of issues with the current monorail trains. The current Mark VI model that is being used went into service in 1989.  I think that maybe it is time for Disney to consider replacing the current monorails with new ones.

In happier news for the Disney Company.  Pixar film Coco won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Motion picture Sunday evening.  If you have not seen it I highly recommend it.  I particularly liked the soundtrack which I bought the day after I saw the movie.  I was going to tell you about the story here, but I could not think of a way to do so without spoiling the plot.

ABC news is reporting that UCF celebrated their self proclaimed National title with a parade in the Magic Kingdom.  I don’t want this to become a sports blog, but really UCF.  Prior to your bowl game your best win was Memphis.  Now I get a home town team celebrating a perfect season at Disney World, but national champions, give us a break.

Finally, Mediapost is reporting that Ben Sherwood (President of the Disney-ABC TV Group) has revealed some of the details of Disney’s streaming service that is set to launch in 2019.  They plan to launch with 7000+ episodes from the Disney-ABC group library as well as three or four original shows.  I think this is a good start for a streaming service.  Especially, is a portion of those shows they have at launch are the kids shows from the Disney Channel.  My children are teens now, but about ten years ago I would have loved to have been able to stream old episodes of children shows (instead of the same four episodes of Bear in the Big Blue House that we had on DVD).

So what do you think?  Can you believe that 2019 is just next year? Please leave a comment and share.


Where I Stay when I go to Walt Disney World

In my previous post I listed the advantages and disadvantages of staying offsite versus staying on site at Walt Disney World.  I did this without mentioning where I like to stay and why.  Prior to 2012 I always stayed at one of the value resorts (Pop Century, All Star Music, All Start Sports, and All Start Movies).  The primary reason I stayed at thee locations was the price.  I did not care about the size of the room or the lack of amenities.  I spent most of my waking hours in the parks.  I did always have a few problems with the value resorts though.

  1. The rooms were small.  It seemed like we were always getting in each others way, and getting ready to go in the morning took longer as we all waited for our turn in the bathroom.
  2. The long walk to the food court and bus stops.  Depending on where our room was, it would take five to ten minutes of walking to get to either.  That made it a little inconvenient for getting a drink in our refillable mugs in the morning, or when we got back from the park in the evening.
  3. The buses were always packed, and it often took as much as an hour to get from my room to the front gate of the parks.

In 2012 this all changed for me, as we were traveling to Disney World with a friend who suggested renting a condo.  The place we finally choose was in a neighborhood called Windsor Hills.  The condo had 3 bed rooms and two bathrooms and it had a kitchen.  While we still eat most of our meals in the theme parks the kitchen made it easy to make a good breakfast.   An other advantage I quickly discovered was the additional room that we had, it no longer seemed like we were tripping over each other while we were getting ready in the morning.  I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the trip to the park was much quicker.  We almost always drive our own car to Disney World, and with the condo only being two and a half miles from World Drive we would get to the parking lots very quickly.  In fact, with the exception of the Magic Kingdom we were actually in the parks more quickly than when we stayed at Disney’s Value resorts.  Every vacation since 2012 we have stayed in Windsor Hills in either a Condo or a Townhouse.  The townhouses have three bedrooms and three bathrooms which we have found to be even more convenient.  We no longer have to wait on the bathroom when we are getting ready for bed, or to go to the parks.

If you are considering staying offsite be sure to look around, there are plenty of options that just may be more to your liking than a hotel room somewhere.  It also may be quite a bit cheaper, we stay at the townhouse for about $300 less per week than getting two rooms at a value resort (we usually have a group of six which necessitates the two rooms).