I’m going to Disney greater than 20 occasions a 12 months, listed below are my prime 19 ideas to save cash and have enjoyable

While you go to Walt Disney World as usually as I do — each for…

I’m going to Disney greater than 20 occasions a 12 months, listed below are my prime 19 ideas to save cash and have enjoyable

While you go to Walt Disney World as usually as I do — each for work as a theme park reporter and with my household for enjoyable — you find yourself with fairly a number of methods up your sleeve to make the journey as magical and inexpensive as potential.

From snagging hard-to-get eating reservations and discovering secret eats to studying which rides to skip at rope drop (aka park opening) and the place and when to do your character eating, these tried-and-true insider ideas will prevent money and time, and assist you’ve the very best Walt Disney World trip.

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Save on snacks with $2.25 popcorn refills

Identical to all over the place else on the planet, Walt Disney World has seen costs go up on all the pieces from park tickets to meals and drinks. A method we hold our snack spend down is by shopping for popcorn in a memento bucket as our first snack of the journey.

A memento bucket crammed with popcorn begins at $13 (extra for the additional elaborate buckets), however then you possibly can have it refilled for $2.25 a refill for the size of your keep. We stock our bucket with us all day, each day, and hold it crammed to stave off main snack assaults. Then once we do splurge on goodies like churros and Mickey pretzels with cheese, we purchase much less and share as a result of we aren’t tremendous hungry after the inexpensive popcorn refills.

There are even two kinds of specialty popcorn which are eligible for the discounted refills. You may get maple popcorn from the popcorn stand outdoors the Canada pavilion at Epcot and Buttered Blue Grains (tastes like common popcorn however with a inexperienced/blue hue) from Kat Saka’s Kettle within the Market at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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Use secret menus


Here is a secret that first-time or occasional guests to Disney might not know: there are off-menu “secret menu gadgets.”

Whereas some spots, like Dealer Sam’s Grog Grotto, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, Jungle Navigation Co., and Ltd. Skipper Canteen are higher identified for repeatedly providing “secret” menu gadgets, many eating places round Walt Disney World have further off-menu gadgets out there in the event you simply ask.

Typically secret menus may even prevent some large bucks. A sneaky approach to dig into one in every of Disney World’s most craveable carbs, ‘Ohana noodles, with out paying the hefty prix fixe worth of an ‘Ohana dinner, is to order a bowl from Tambu Lounge subsequent door. They’re not on the menu — however you simply must ask!

One in every of my favourite spots to attempt rotating off-menu gadgets is Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the place you’ll usually discover a number of choices not listed on Nomad’s on-line menu.

Some, like The Land salad made with produce from Epcot’s Dwelling with the Land attraction, come from Tiffins, the table-service restaurant subsequent door.

Typically off-menu gadgets can be found to accommodate particular dietary restrictions. Geyser Level Bar & Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is well-known for its Bison Cheeseburger, but it surely additionally gives an off-menu vegetarian burger made with a plant-based patty.


Eat at lounges, not full-service eating places

The key to a pleasing Disney World journey is placing a steadiness between going laborious and maximizing your park time and taking sufficient breaks to recollect you’re really on a trip. My favourite approach to decelerate is with a leisurely meal, however conventional table-service eating places on Disney property could be very expensive.

As an alternative, most of my go-to spots for a relaxed lunch or dinner are Disney World’s many atmospheric lounges, the place you’ll be seated (usually in air-conditioning) and have a server, however can order from a menu of smaller plates, lighter bites and artistic cocktails with out feeling the stress to order an costly, multicourse meal.

For instance, at House 220 in Epcot, the set lunch menu prices $55 for adults and $29 for youngsters. That is a hefty worth if what you actually need is a spot to sit down and an opportunity to see the home windows out into house. Nonetheless, within the lounge you possibly can nonetheless see the home windows, and heavy appetizers can be found for $12 to $18.


A few of my favourite lounges at Disney World are:

  • Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • Geyser Level Bar & Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
  • Dahlia Lounge in Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
  • Bar Riva at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
  • Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
  • Steakhouse 71 Lounge at Disney’s Modern Resort.
  • House 220 Lounge at Epcot.
  • Sanaa Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village.
  • Dealer Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs.

Purchase Gas Rods on Amazon, however swap them within the parks

A Walt Disney World trip has turn out to be synonymous with being glued to your cellphone. You’ll want it to entry My Disney Expertise to handle eating, Genie+ and Particular person Lightning reservations, the Play Disney Parks Cell App and, effectively, all the opposite belongings you want your cellphone for.

Whereas my first line of protection towards a useless battery is a robust transportable charger like this one from Anker, I additionally advocate at all times having a Gas Rod available as a backup in case you drain your first charging financial institution.

Gas Rods are swappable at stations throughout Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts. You should buy them within the parks for $30 every however you possibly can doubtlessly save a number of {dollars} by ordering on Amazon earlier than your journey.


Know the ‘different’ spot to get widespread treats

Proper alongside Disney World “must-rides” are “must-eats,” and Disney World execs know that the preferred spot isn’t at all times the one place to get a few of Disney World’s finest meals.

For Dole Whip, Disney World’s iconic frozen deal with, ditch the Magic Kingdom crowds and escape to Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Swirls on the Water at Disney Springs additionally serves rotating flights, usually with flavors you gained’t discover elsewhere. And since this Dole Whip is not within the park, you possibly can take pleasure in it on a day you are not utilizing a ticket, in the event you’re planning a “down day” in your agenda.

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It’s laborious to overlook the odor — or the queue out the door — for cult-favorite Werther’s Unique Caramel Popcorn from Karamell Küche within the Germany pavilion at Epcot.

However do you know similar caramel popcorn can also be made recent at Magic Kingdom? You may snag a bag at Huge High Souvenirs within the Storybook Circus space of Fantasyland.


Do dinner and a film with desk service to-go

When you possibly can’t get a reservation, or simply don’t really feel like sitting down in a restaurant after a protracted day on the park, a terrific various dinner choice is to order meals to go from a few of Disney World’s hottest resort table-service eating places. Simply kind “to go” into the search bar in My Disney Expertise and also you’ll see an inventory of eating places the place you possibly can mobile-order a full meal.

A few of our favorites embody Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk, Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Outdated Key West Resort, and Ale & Compass at Disney’s Yacht Membership Resort.


You may deliver dinner again to your room or eat it at an outside desk on the resort, however our go-to transfer is dinner and a film.

Disney resorts present films on large outside screens most evenings (simply examine the schedule posted at every resort), and we deliver a picnic blanket, and decide up dinner to go and watch whereas we eat.

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Create your individual DIY souvenirs


Recreation Forged Members at Disney World resorts run each day actions, from poolside trivia to night s’mores across the campfire and flicks below the celebs. Additionally they provide paid actions that make enjoyable DIY souvenirs, like tie-dyed Mickey T-shirts.

One in every of our favourite DIY actions — an ideal break on a wet afternoon — is making our personal kukui nut leis at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. For $15 for teenagers and $20 for adults, you possibly can select your individual coloured nuts and string and discover ways to make your individual necklace.

A number of Disney World resorts even have Group Halls the place company can watch films, play video games and make crafts, each free and for a small charge. My youngsters like to cease in on a wet day and make solar catchers, mini canvas work, glazed ceramics and extra.

Snag hard-to-get eating reservations

Disney World eating reservations are formally open for reserving 60 days prematurely, however company staying on Disney World property with their keep linked in My Disney Expertise can e book reservations for the size of their keep. In different phrases, for a five-day keep, these company can really e book some meals 65 days prematurely.

Which means that generally probably the most fascinating reservations get scooped up greater than 60 days prematurely.


However don’t surrender in the event you didn’t get that coveted House 220, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, or Oga’s Cantina reservation. Disney World fees a cancellation charge for no-shows for reservations not canceled by 11:59 p.m. the night time earlier than, so in the event you examine periodically the day earlier than you’re hoping to go, you simply may snag a desk at one in every of Disney World’s hottest eating places.

You too can use a software resembling Mouse Eating in the event you want just a little additional assist discovering that powerful availability.

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How one can get free ice water

It’s by no means a nasty thought to deliver a refillable water bottle with you to the parks, however in the event you do end up needing some water, you possibly can ask for a free cup of ice water at any quick-service location that serves fountain drinks. Typically, a Forged Member might be stationed on the door checking for Cell Order return notifications, and you’ll simply allow them to know you’d like a cup of ice water they usually’ll direct you to a numbered pick-up counter.

Break up your keep into 2 lodges

Nothing beats the comfort of staying on property, however all Walt Disney World resorts aren’t created equal in terms of worth or ease of entry to the magic. After all, the closest resorts to the theme parks are additionally the costliest, however since time is cash on a Walt Disney World trip, generally it pays to prioritize location. Nonetheless, different occasions, it makes extra sense to stretch your price range. With a cut up keep, you are able to do each.

Relying on which park you’re visiting, some deluxe resorts can have you thru the park gates sooner than out of your automotive or bus cease. If you happen to’re headed to Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Modern Resort and Bay Lake Tower are only a few minutes away on foot and even have their very own safety checkpoint. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is equally handy — a simple 10-minute stroll alongside a phenomenal new walkway.

Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Yacht and Seashore Membership Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts are all walkable to Epcot’s Worldwide Gateway entrance and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Swan Reserve at Disney World. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Whereas I don’t advocate switching resorts each time you’re headed to a brand new park, splitting a keep between the monorail resorts and the Epcot resorts can hold you off the buses for many of your journey.

A cut up keep can also be an effective way to expertise a pricier deluxe resort for a part of your journey whereas additionally preserving the general value down. Deluxe resorts are sometimes $500 to $700 per night time whereas extra inexpensive resorts could be within the $150 to $300-per-night vary.

At all times dreamed of waking as much as the animals roaming the savanna off your balcony at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge? Splurge on a number of nights there when you prioritize visiting Animal Kingdom and take a bus or Minnie Van to Magic Kingdom, then hop to the extra inexpensive value-tier Disney’s Pop Century Resort, which gives unbeatable Disney Skyliner entry to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Fearful concerning the problem of transferring resorts? Sure, you’ll must repack and also you most likely might be and not using a room from check-out time (often about 11 a.m.) till check-in time (often about 4 p.m.), however you possibly can go away your packed baggage with bell companies within the morning whenever you head to a park they usually’ll switch your baggage to your subsequent Disney resort when you’re out having enjoyable. Then on the finish of your day, head to your subsequent resort and your baggage must be there ready for you.

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Save in your journey by paying with Disney Reward Playing cards


A simple approach to shave anyplace from 3% to 10% off the price of your journey is to purchase discounted Disney present playing cards and use them to pay for all the pieces — your Disney lodge, park tickets, merchandise, and eating. We even use present playing cards to save lots of on our Disney Trip Membership dues.

You may get them from Goal (5% low cost with a Goal Pink Card) or from Sam’s Membership and BJ’s (3%–4% low cost). Even when you aren’t getting a straight low cost, you possibly can doubtlessly earn bonus factors in your rewards bank card by shopping for Disney present playing cards strategically at grocery shops, workplace provide shops, and many others.

Some cash-back bank cards additionally provide wholesale warehouses of their quarterly cash-back classes, boosting your general financial savings. Chain retailers like Meijer, Kroger and Lowe’s additionally sometimes run promos that may nab you much more financial savings on present playing cards, often as much as about 10% off.

Assume it can rain — and plan accordingly

That is Central Florida, so anticipate it to rain. Being prepared for rain is a secret weapon of Disney World execs. The appropriate preparation can imply letting just a little rain roll off your (lined) again as an alternative of drenching your parade. My tried-and-true rain-ready park ideas are:

  • Put on waterproof sneakers (learn: no sneakers and socks to get soaked).
  • Carry a journey umbrella and a poncho or rain jacket.
  • Cowl your stroller with a water-resistant cowl each time you park it and there’s even the slightest probability of a bathe.
  • Think about the forecast whenever you select what to experience first (aka outside rides).

A lot of Walt Disney World’s outside points of interest shut quickly throughout rain and lightning, so when you have your coronary heart set on a top-tier experience like Slinky Canine Sprint, Check Monitor, Expedition Everest or Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice, don’t wait till the top of the day to attempt to experience — you may be out of luck.


Prioritize widespread outside rides in the course of the first half of the day, significantly in the summertime when afternoon showers are virtually assured.

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Plan a resort day — or 2!

There’s a lot to do round Walt Disney World outdoors the theme parks that you may simply fill a number of days with actions with out ever shopping for a park ticket. If you happen to’re visiting on a multiday park ticket reasonably than an annual move, contemplate loading the majority of your non-park actions right into a day (or days) whenever you skip the parks solely — together with your arrival and departure days.

Strive a spherical of mini golf — or 18 holes of the true factor — within the morning, some pool time within the afternoon and a go to to Disney Springs for dinner, procuring and a few Gideon’s cookies for dessert.

One other good time to plan a resort day is earlier than a celebration like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Get together, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Get together or Disney After Hours, lately introduced to be returning in January. These go effectively into the night time, so you will want to save lots of up some power!

Save character eating for non-park days

Character meals are usually a visit spotlight, however too usually company make the error of attempting to cram a morning character breakfast into an already full park day.

As an alternative, spend these helpful morning park hours crushing rides and save these character meals for a resort day, as a particular dinner in your arrival night time, or a farewell breakfast in your departure morning (one in every of our favourite, bittersweet traditions).


As an added bonus, the resorts are dwelling to most of the finest character meals at Disney World.

A few of our favorites are Breakfast à la Artwork with Mickey & Mates at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Story E book Eating at Artist Level with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Greatest Mates Breakfast that includes Lilo & Sew at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Modern Resort.

If you happen to do have your coronary heart set on a selected in-park character meal, like breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and Mates, which makes its long-awaited return to Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace Oct. 25, e book breakfast as late as potential and make it a brunch, saving your early-morning hours for when there are shorter waits on rides.

Don’t ‘rope drop’ the preferred experience

The alternative of FastPass+ with Disney Genie+ and Particular person Lightning Lane in 2021 necessitated some critical park technique revisions to determine the best way to reduce time spent in standby queues, on condition that the brand new system sometimes permits for fewer Lightning Lane reservations per day.

Among the best methods to get a soar begin on doing as many points of interest as potential in a day is to rope drop — this implies arriving on the park no less than half-hour forward of the official park opening (or the beginning of Early Theme Park Entry for Disney resort company) and heading straight in your first attraction the second the “rope drops” and also you’re capable of enter.


It could appear intuitive to beeline to the preferred experience on the park, which is often additionally the one that can value you probably the most to skip the road by buying an Particular person Lightning Lane. However, this isn’t at all times the most effective method.

Two of Disney World’s hottest rides, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Avatar Flight of Passage, are two of the priciest Particular person Lightning Lanes, however they’re additionally two of the longest queue, preshow and experience experiences. Which means that by the point you’ve exited both of those rides, your rope drop benefit is lengthy gone.

My most popular method is commonly to buy an Particular person Lightning Lane for these rides after which rope drop barely much less widespread rides which are nonetheless in your must-do listing. With that technique, it’s potential to get two to 3 different rides finished in the identical period of time earlier than the crowds begin to construct.

Mix this with Disney Genie+ and also you’ll simply knock out all the pieces you need to in a day.

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Commerce fireworks and parades for shorter waits

If parades and nighttime spectaculars aren’t a must-see or you’ve a number of days in the identical park, skip the present and hop in line for a well-liked experience as an alternative and also you’re all however assured a shorter wait.


Keep watch over character meet-and-greet hours

Many character meet-and-greets begin later and finish sooner than park open and shut, so when you have a must-meet character, make sure you examine their occasions in My Disney Expertise to keep away from the heartbreak of lacking out on a Winnie the Pooh hug or Wookiee fist bump from Chewbacca.

Order these fries prematurely

Cell Order is extensively out there at Disney World quick-service eating areas now (aka locations the place you are not waited on by a server), and it might prevent a ton of time. However on busy days at widespread spots, like Woody’s Lunch Field at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Casey’s Nook at Magic Kingdom, the return occasions can get backed up rapidly. Wait till you’re ravenous to put your Cell Order and you may find yourself with a return time hours later and “hanger” to take care of within the interim.


As an alternative, keep away from that complete scenario by both putting your order early within the day in your superb return time, or no less than maintaining a tally of return occasions and ensuring you get your order positioned earlier than these lunchtime return home windows are lengthy gone.

Think about Disney Trip Membership — or renting factors

I’m usually requested how our household affords to go to Walt Disney World — and keep in deluxe resorts — as usually as we do.

My prime reply (apart from having annual passes)? Disney’s Trip Membership. That is Disney’s extra versatile tackle the normal timeshare and DVC can ship vital financial savings over the lifetime of a membership for company who repeatedly keep at Disney’s deluxe tier of resorts.

Being a Disney Trip Membership member additionally will get you reductions on all the pieces from merchandise to after-hours occasions and entry to unique areas only for members like High of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower and a Disney Trip Membership Member Lounge at Epcot.

However even when shopping for an entire membership is not best for you, contemplate whether or not it can save you some cash in your subsequent journey simply by renting DVC factors. If you happen to occur to know somebody who has DVC factors they are not going to make use of that they may lease to you, that is one choice, however you may also flip to a bigger service, resembling David’s Trip Membership, that may deal with the logistics for you, too.

Associated: You may lease DVC factors by way of TPG’s companion, David’s Trip Membership

Backside line

Between having the proper gear in your theme park bag, figuring out concerning the hidden layers of magic constructed into Disney that may make your journey really feel extra magical and these sensible ideas that can prevent money and time, you are effectively in your approach to being a Disney World professional.