So, you want to take your family to Disney World, but you’re not quite sure how to feasibly save the money you need? In this blog post, I share how to save for Disney World so that you can enjoy the vacation of your dreams with your family!
It’s no secret that going to Disney World is expensive. And you definitely don’t want to go into debt to do it. So, why not be prepared and save the money you need in advance?
And don’t worry. I am not suggesting anything crazy in this blog post. Everything included in this article is completely doable, so I am confident that you will be able to successfully save the money you need for your trip.
Let’s jump right in!
How To Save Money For Disney World
If you don’t want to come home with a whole bunch of vacation debt, then be sure to save for your vacation ahead of time. In this section, I have included 11 ideas you can use to help you save up enough money for your Disney World trip.
Start A Vacation Fund Account
Saving money can be difficult, especially when all of your money is mixed together in one account. To manage this, consider opening a separate account earmarked for your vacation funds.
Try to set up an account that you can manually transfer money into without having to physically go into your branch all the time. This will make it more accessible so that you can add money on the fly whenever possible. This will help you save more in the long run.
You may also want to consider setting up some automatic transfers from your main account to your vacation account. This will ensure that the saved balance is consistently growing.
Break It Down
Focusing on the large amount you need to save can be really overwhelming. So, to tackle your goal without getting completely overwhelmed, consider breaking it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. For example, it’s a lot easier to focus on saving $100 than it is to focus on saving $5,000.
When you do your breakdown, you want to make sure you will have enough money by the end of it. So instead of starting from now, reverse engineer the goal. To do this, take the total of what you expect to spend on this vacation, and divide it by how many months or weeks you have to save.
Your weekly or monthly amounts will be your smaller milestones to work towards. You can pick whichever one feels best for you.
Related Read: The Most Effective Ways To Save Money On A Low Income
The Change Jar
What do you currently do with your change? Does it end up sitting in the console of your car until you use it to buy a coffee? Does it stay buried in your purse? Instead, why not consider setting up a change jar? All of that miscellaneous change can add up really quickly, and you can use that money for your vacation.
You can have a change jar in the house, in your car, or even on your desk at work.
If you want to get your kids involved in the process, set up a little jar for them in their room too. Not only will this boost their excitement, but this can be a great learning opportunity for them on what it means to save money for a vacation.
Disney Gift Cards
Did you know that you can actually pay for your trip to Disney World with the use of a Disney gift card? To make this even sweeter, you can even find them at discounted rates occasionally. This is a hack that many people use to help them save money on their Disney World trips.
Here are my favorite places to find discounted Disney gift cards (subject to availability):
Raise: Discounts vary based on inventory. New users get a $5 sign-up bonus!
Best Buy: This retailer sometimes offers discounts on Disney gift cards! Grab one up if you happen to see it go on sale.
BJ’s Wholesale Club: Save on Disney gift cards with your BJ membership! Not a member? You can actually take advantage of the free one-day pass and grab the gift cards you need!
You can also ask your family and friends to give your family gift cards for the holidays, birthdays, or other miscellaneous gifts as well.
Using Found Money
When saving for your trip to Disney World, you can also make the decision to earmark any found money as money that will go towards your vacation. Found money can come in the form of:
- your tax refund
- a work bonus
- found change
Basically, any money you didn’t expect to receive would be set aside for your vacation savings.
Cut Back Your Budget
Have you looked at your monthly budget? There may also be some wiggle room within your budget where you could cut back on your spending. Some common areas include groceries, entertainment, and eating out.
While this particular option may take a bit of trial and error, it’s certainly worth the effort if you can manage to save a few extra dollars every month to put toward your trip.
Find A Side Hustle
If you are hoping to earn some extra money that you can use to save for your vacation, consider starting a side hustle.
There are side hustles you can do outside of your home like driving for Uber or getting a part-time job.
However, if you can’t work outside of the home, consider starting a side hustle from home. You can use marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork to find clients, or you can start your own freelance business that you market yourself to find clients. You can do any number of things as a freelancer including:
Simply list out the skills, knowledge, and experience you have, and do some research to find a side hustle option that is needed in the marketplace and that fits in with your schedule.
Related Read: Everything Needed To Start Mystery Shopping
Cut Unnecessary Expenses
You might be surprised when you look at your monthly spending to see how many unnecessary expenses you actually have. For example, how many television subscriptions do you have? Do you use and watch them all, or could you get rid of a couple of them?
Take some time to look at all your expenses, your monthly credit card statement, and all your recurring subscriptions, and see if there is anything you can cut out.
Any money saved from cutting back your expenses can then be put toward your vacation savings account.
Sell Unused Items
Do you have any unused items around your house that you could sell? Could you have a garage sale?
While you may not be getting any use from some of your possessions anymore, I can pretty much guarantee there is someone out there who would, and you can take all the money earned from those sales and put them towards your vacation savings.
You can also get your kids involved in this by encouraging them to sell some of their unused toys.
Eat Out Less
Eating out can be extremely expensive, especially when done regularly. To save money for your trip to Disney World, consider saving money by eating at home more often. You will thank yourself for it when you and your family are having an amazing time on your vacation.
If eating out is something that you do to save time, consider finding more 15-minute recipes or utilizing frozen meals.
If the problem is that you never have a plan on what to cook, so you just wind up grabbing something on the way home, then consider implementing a meal plan that you can follow.
Related Read: The Ultimate Monthly Meal Plan On A Budget
Use A Rewards Credit Card
If you are disciplined with the use of your credit card and you pay it off regularly, you should consider using a rewards credit card to your advantage to help you save on your Disney World trip.
While these cards typically have a much higher interest rate, they can also offer perks like cash back, points, etc. So, as long as you pay off your credit card each month without paying interest, you can use your credit card for your purchases to build up those benefits.
If your card offers cash back, use that money towards your trip.
If your card offers points, do some research to find out how you can use these points towards your flight, accommodations, meals, etc.
Use a Savings Tracker
One of the most motivating ways to stick to anything hard is to visualize your progress. We’ve created a FREE Disney Savings Tracker Printable that you can print out and start using to save up for your trip!
Once you have an estimated budget of how much your trip will cost, divide that amount by 36 which accounts for each space on the savings chart. Your goal will feel much more manageable once you start coloring in those squares!
How To Save for Disney World FAQ
How much money should I save up for Disney?
There are many circumstances that will dictate how much money you need to save for Disney World including:
- where you are traveling from
- the time of year
- how many days your trip will be
- how many days you will spend in the parks
- your accommodations
- how many “add-on” services you include in your trip
What I would recommend doing is getting a quote for your trip. Getting the quote costs nothing and will give you an accurate ballpark as to how much you should save. The most reliable places to get a quote will be from the Disney website or through a Disney travel agent.
You should also consider how much you want to save for food, entertainment, and souvenirs as well.
What is the average cost for a family of 4 to go to Disney World?
As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of different variables that will affect the price of a Disney World trip including where in the world you are traveling from, the time of year, etc., so it is nearly impossible to get an exact average cost.
However, if you are in North America, you can expect to spend anywhere from $4,000 to $5,500 for a 5-day vacation as a family of 4, according to MouseHacking. This is if you don’t plan on going all out on your vacation with all the perks, the nicest accommodations, etc.
However, if you’re open to pinching some pennies on your trip, you can absolutely do it for much less than $4,000! You’ll want to keep reading this article for those money-saving tips at Disney World shared below.
If your Disney-loving family is expanding with a new baby on the way: don’t miss these Disney pregnancy announcement ideas!
How do people afford Disney every year?
It’s no secret that going to Disney World is extremely expensive, so how do people afford to go every single year? The key is to learn how to be savvy with your planning and spending.
Our family took the effort to pay off almost $68K of debt in just 16 months. After we became debt free, we continued to live a frugal life which gave us the freedom to splurge on extra things such as frequent trips to Disney World when we budgeted for it.
We purchased Disney Annual Passes which helped us save money on tickets if we planned to go to Disney for more than a total of two weeks out of the year. It’s important to note that Disney Annual Passes have changed significantly in cost, structure, and availability as of late. I recommend doing the match on the current Annual Pass cost vs the projected cost of your upcoming trip’s tickets to see if it would pay off in the end. Disney Annual Passes are subject to availability and are sold on a limited-time basis.
Another thing you can do is make the habits that you fell into to save for this first trip to Disney World a permanent habit. Once you know how you can save money, it is much easier to keep doing it consistently.
Another strategy is to learn how you can save money on your Disney World vacation.
How To Save Money At Disney World
While there are plenty of things you can do to save for your trip to Disney World, there are also several things you can do to save money on the trip itself.
In this next section, I am sharing 11 money-saving hacks you can use when you book your trip or while you are actually on the vacation.
Visit During The Quiet Season
One thing that will dramatically impact the price is the time of year you choose to go. To save some money, consider going during the quiet season. Not only will you save money, but you will also get to enjoy the park with fewer people which is an added benefit.
The park is typically the busiest during the holidays and summer vacation. So, consider planning your trip in January after New Year’s is over, February, late September, October, or early November.
But keep in mind when we say, “quiet season” there really is not a time these days when crowds are low. But you can expect to find slightly lower prices during those non-peak times of the year.
Limit Yourself To One Park Per Day
A popular upsell benefit that Disney offers is called the Park Hopper. This additional pass allows you to hop between several parks each day. While this is a nice feature, it will add to the cost of your park admission tickets. Plus, you’ll eat up a lot of your time by commuting to/from different parks and you know what they say, “time is money!”
Instead, save money and limit yourself to one park per day. Each park has so much to see, so there is no doubt that you will be busy for the day if you just stay in one.
Also take some time to do research in preparation for your trip so that you have a better idea of what is in each park, what attractions will suit you and your family best, etc.
Plan Out Rest Days
Going to Disney World, being on the move every single day, and all the activities can be extremely exhausting. So, it can’t hurt to plan a rest day or two in between the park days.
All the resorts in Disney World and most of the hotels in the immediate area have swimming pools that you can enjoy for free. If you know you will use the pool, you should factor this into the accommodations you choose.
There are also free activities you can do in Disney World like visiting Disney Springs for free, visiting the shops, taking the ferry boat around, etc. Go here for a list of 17 things you can do for free at Disney World.
Doing these activities will help you save money on your trip while still being immersed in the Disney bubble and your vacation.
Bring Your Own Food & Water
Like most parks and attractions around the world, food and bottled water inside are extremely costly. If you want to save some money on your trip, consider bringing your own food to the park.
I love to use my Walmart+ membership to get groceries delivered which makes bringing packed lunches even more accessible.
Some of the off-site resorts and hotels also offer continental breakfast options that you can take advantage of.
Ask For A Cup Of Ice Water, Not Bottled
If you run out of water or just want some fresh, cold water, you can ask most of the shops and food vendors for a cup of ice water which they will give to you free of charge. Whereas bottles of water can be extremely costly.
The parks also have water refill stations, so if your water bottle simply gets empty, take a look around for those refill stations instead of buying a new bottle.
Be Strategic When You Eat Out
There are a lot of really amazing restaurants at Disney World that add to the experience of the trip. However, you may not want to eat out all the time, because as mentioned above, this can get very costly. Instead, be strategic about when and where you will eat out.
For example, the breakfast and lunch menu will typically cost less than the dinner menu. Also, consider ordering an appetizer or kid’s meal (perfectly acceptable and often done by adults on Disney property) which usually costs less than an adult entree. Quick Service restaurants will be more budget-friendly than Table Service restaurants. And those Table Service restaurants with character meet & greets are the most pricey of all!
Also try to space it out when you are eating out, or save a restaurant you really want to try for your final meal at Disney World.
Buy Your Disney Swag Ahead Of Time
Part of the experience of going to Disney parks is wearing the swag. Where else can you run around in mouse ears all day long and not be looked at like a weirdo? But, buying the swag at the park as you’re planning out your Disney outfits can be incredibly expensive. Instead, buy your Disney gear ahead of time to save a considerable amount of money.
You can use the saved money towards the cost of the trip, souvenirs, or other experiences while you are at the park.
Check out these really cute Disney-themed drawstring bags! Get one for each member of the family!
You can’t go to Disney World without a pair of mouse ears to wear!
To save money, consider taking water in a bottle into the park with you. These Disney water bottles would be perfect!
Stay At The Value Resorts
There are certainly a lot of benefits to staying at one of the resorts right inside Disney World. This includes proximity to the parks, the option to get in the park 30 minutes early, complimentary transportation around the parks, free parking at the Parks, and other optional benefits.
If this sounds like something you would like to take advantage of, but you don’t want to spend a lot on the accommodations, take a look at the value resorts that are available. The value resorts will save you a considerable amount of money compared to the luxury resorts but still offer the same benefits as the other resorts.
If you are looking to save even more money, consider finding accommodations that are off-site. There are a lot of other hotels in the area that are available for a more affordable price.
With some of these hotels, free transportation to the park is offered, but with others, you will need to get to the park every day yourself. Be sure to factor in the cost of transportation and parking when you are creating your budget.
You can also stay further away from the park and look into renting a car or using a service like Uber or Lyft.
Book With A Disney Travel Agent
Booking with a Disney travel agent provides a lot of benefits including being able to tap into their expertise, potential for discounts, and thorough planning. All of this can save you time and money which is hugely important, especially for a big trip like this.
When you are looking for a Disney travel agent, be sure to do thorough research as not everyone who claims to be a Disney travel agent has the experience and connections available to be able to get you the best deals.
Go When Children Are Under 3
Did you know that children under the age of 3 can get into the park for free? You may want to factor your kid’s birthday into the timing of your planned trip to take advantage of these cost savings.
We took advantage of this several times before our kids turned 3. And it was incredibly memorable for us as parents to see Disney through their eyes. There are many attractions that the entire family can enjoy together!
Now that you have all the things you need to start saving and planning for your trip to Disney World, it’s time to get started. I hope that the tips and ideas shared in this post have given you the confidence that you will be able to successfully save all that you need for your family trip to Disney World!
And, while you’re in Florida, why not check out some beaches while you’re at it?! To help make sure you continue to stay within your vacation budget, we’ve put together our list of The Best Family Vacations in Florida on a Budget.
Don’t forget to print out your FREE Disney Savings Tracker linked above before you go!