Planning a Disney World Vacation on a Budget

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disney world

Visiting Disney World can be quite the chunk of change for most guests. Everyone has a different budget when going on vacation, but there are ways to make a Disney trip “work” despite how pricey it can be. Here is our guide for planning a Disney World vacation on a budget!

The first step is understanding the main expenses you will encounter on a Disney vacation. Besides the normal lodging, food, and admission expenses, you could also encounter transportation, souvenirs, and other unexpected expenses.

Types of expenses at Disney World

  • Tickets
  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Merchandise
  • Extra experiences or purchases that may come up last-minute.
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Breaking down each of those categories and finding ways to save money within each one can help you stay within your budget. We highly recommend working with an authorized Disney vacation planner to help you plan a magical trip within your budget!

Related – Best Dates in 2022 to Visit Disney World

Walt Disney World Park Tickets

Let’s start with the Disney World ticket category. Tickets to Walt Disney World can easily be the most expensive part of your trip. For 2021 the lowest price possible for a ticket into Disney World for a non-Florida resident is $109 per day. While hotels are also expensive, you have a lot more options and opportunities for saving.

Disney uses a dynamic pricing model for their tickets. That means that the price of tickets changes depending on how “in demand” Disney believes a certain day will be for their theme parks. Currently, the price range for a one-day, one-park ticket is $109-$159. Here’s how to get the least expensive park tickets.

  • Visit on a Weekday: Weekday tickets tend to be less expensive than weekend tickets
  • Avoid Holidays: The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year at Disney World. Not only does that mean higher crowds, but it also means higher ticket prices. Avoid late November, December, and early January.
  • Consider an Annual Pass: While new annual passes are not available for purchase right now, they have been shown to give the most savings if you plan to visit Disney World multiple times in 12 months.
disney world castle

Consider a Walt Disney World Vacation Package

Disney World offers various vacation packages that can not only simplify the planning process but also offer savings! Packages booked through Disney (or through an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner) allow you to bundle your hotel, tickets, and dining plans. (Note: Disney is not offering dining plans at the moment) Disney regularly offers discounts on vacation packages which can let you stay in the magic and save money!

If an on-site Disney World hotel does not fit your budget, consider booking an offsite Disney partner hotel. Disney has teamed up with hotels in the Walt Disney World Resort area that are not on Disney property. These hotels often offer perks like complimentary shuttles to the parks and even free breakfast! These hotels are almost always more affordable than on-site Disney hotels.

My DIsney Experience

How to Save on Food

While the dining plans are not currently available, we have some other great ways to save money on food! Disney allows you to bring your own food and beverages into the parks. This can be a great budget saver! Food in the parks can be expensive so bringing in your own snacks and drinks is a big help. Basically all hotel rooms have a mini-fridge for you to use so bringing your own food can be quite easy! You can order groceries and have them delivered to your hotel so you don’t have to figure out where to shop while on vacation. That can also leave you some money for that churro or Mickey bar you just have to have in the parks.

Related – Can I have Groceries Delivered to my Walt Disney World Resort?

Flower and Garden Merch


Disney provides guests with MANY opportunities to spend money while on vacation. Who can resist adding a new pair of Minnie ears to their collection or buying just one more Disney mug? And with exclusive merchandise only available during festivals or holidays, it can be tough to stay within your budget. If you want to take home a souvenir, or two, make sure you put that in your budget. As a family with kids, we make a rule that each child gets a certain price limit to spend on souvenirs. That helps us stay in budget and also teach our kids about spending. Win-win, right?!

Unexpected Expenses

It is always good to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Set aside some extra cash for your vacation. Someone gets sick and you need to purchase some medicine from the hotel gift shop? It happens! An unexpected Orlando downpour ruins your shoes so you have to buy that expensive pair of Disney sandals? Things can go wrong on vacation so be prepared for anything! We like to bring an extra $100 on vacation just in case something unexpected pops up. It gives us peace of mind.

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Potential additional costs at Disney World

  • Rental Car: Disney World is suspending Disney’s Magical Express in 2022 so there will no longer be a complimentary shuttle to get from the airport to your Disney hotel. If you want to be able to get around on your own you might want to rent a car.
  • Transportation: Disney offers complimentary transportation from Disney hotels to the Disney Parks as well as Disney Springs. If you don’t want to rely on Disney’s transportation, you’ll need to include the cost of Uber or other shuttles into your budget. This includes transportation from the airport to your hotel.
  • Parking your car overnight at the hotel, which can be an additional charge
  • Gratuities or tips: It is customary to tip servers at restaurants in Walt Disney World. Depending on your party size a gratuity may already be included on your bill so double-check before adding an additional tip. You can also leave a tip for your hotel housekeeping staff if you receive exceptional service. A typical housekeeping tip is $1 per guest in your party per day. Also, your bellhop who helps you move luggage to your hotel room can also be tipped for their service.
  • Photos: Disney offers Memory Maker which gives you all of your ride photos and any photos taken by a PhotoPass Photographer. Purchased in advance, Memory Maker is $169, and can save you money as purchasing the photos individually really adds up.

When all is said and done, planning ahead is what will really help you stay within your budget. Use a travel professional to help you plan and find the best deals to stay in that budget. If you’d like help with planning your next Disney vacation, contact me today for a free, no-obligation quote!

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Let our friends at Destinations to Travel help you book your next Disney Vacation. They are the preferred Travel Agency of Chip and Company and Disney Addicts, and who we use ourselves.

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