Good Tricks to Do Disney Cheaply?

Updated on January 27, 2012
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

I'm on a few of the newletters for tips and tricks, but want to hear what you mamas have done.
I've heard to buy my tickets from AAA, if possible (which we can).

Where do you find the hotel discounts?
How do you manage food cheaply without hauling a cooler into the park?

We'll use miles to fly, so I'm not concerned about airfare, fortunately.

We're going next year at this time, since that seems to be the cheapest time to go...
Oh, and the kids will be 4 and 2 at the time...

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answers from Springfield on

We stayed in a condo, ate breakfast before we left and packed lunches. We did not bring a cooler, so we drank warm water, soda, juice boxes. I really didn't mind. We also make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, though you could do use small ice packs if you really want to have cold cuts. We also brought fresh fruit, chips and cookies. Honestly, we just snacked throughout the day and ate as we walked. Very relaxing. But we also sat under a tree a few times and had a "picnic." I just carried the food and drinks in a backpack. It wasn't really a big deal.

You could stay at a hotel that include a free continental breakfast. That would really help.

We ate out for dinner each night. It was a nice, relaxing way to end the day. We did eat dinner at the park a couple of times (including a princess dinner for the nieces).


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answers from New York on

The first step is to "accept the things you cannot change", like the simple fact that everything in Disney is expensive. We went the day after Christmas as a day trip (in FL visiting family) and the tickets alone are going to cost you just under $400. If you can go through AAA, do it!

As for food, go with the meal plan. We did it and it worked out well. There were a lot of options and with small children we had no intention of eating in the "fine dining" restaurants!

I would strongly suggest that you look into their "trip packages". The reason I would suggest this is simple- getting in-and-out of the park is a pain, but if you are there for multiple days and have a room with a kitchenette you can eat breakfast and lunch in your suite and have dinner in the park. Because you aren't "commuting" to-and-from a hotel, you wil save the daily parking fee and can take the park transportation anywhere you want to go. You can also go back to your room for naps and then hit the parks again when you are refreshed. You also wouldn't need to rent a car.

As kids (grew up in FL), we would go to Disney for 3 days each summer because that's when there are the fewest crowds. We always stayed at one of the "lesser hotels" in Disney and maximized their "free amenities".
Remember that in the "cooler months" it can take you an hour to get into the compound, park the car and actually get into the parks- if not more because of the crowds.

Start a little "Disney fund" for each of your children. Drop a quarter in there each time they help around the house, do something nice for one another, etc. When it's time to go, count it up and there's their souvenier money! We did this with my son starting in July... by December he had enough in his little bank for a stuffed animal and a bubble gun!

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answers from Norfolk on

We rent a house when we go to Orlando. That way we can cook comfortably. We brought a backpack with snacks in it to the parks. When we've gone to the parks later in the day, after 5 o'clock or so, the parking attendants have just waved us through without charging the $16 for parking.

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answers from Minneapolis on

You can get rooms this time of the year in the value resorts for right around $100 a night. You will pay that anywhere you stay but won't get the bennefits of Disney (extra hr in the parks, free shuttle to/from the parks and to/from the airport, buy something in the park have it sent to your room). You may also want to consider that your kids will probably need a break from the parks at sometime during the day. Disney is a lot to take in and your kids will be on stimulation overload!
Disney is ALWAYS running promos. Go on the web site and sign up for email notifications. They usually run a discount hotel stay or free dining plan this time of the year.
I have been to Disney several times and won't even consider staying off site.
Happy planning!!

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answers from Lakeland on

The tickets are expensive so I would check about the AAA discount. You can call or email their guest services and find out.

I think it is cheaper to stay off site. If it is just you, hubby and the kids you can either rent a condo or stay in one of the outside hotels that offer a full kitchen. Buying food outside is so much cheaper, you can put stuff in a backpack or small cooler. If you are bringing a stroller you can have a small cooler and leave it in the stroller. If you can do two meals outside the park you will save a lot that way. There are so many restaurants around and any type of food you can think of.

Check out the usual sites like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline etc. Or Google search for hotels in the area. Also if you are willing to drive about 20 to 30 minutes from the park there are deals in the towns just below the Disney.

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answers from Tallahassee on

We went to Disney last June and we rented a townhouse. Whenever we go again we will definitely do the same thing. It was great because we had a full kitchen, washer & dryer and separate bedrooms so we didn't have to go to bed at the same time we put our daughter to bed and we were able to go back and rest when we got tired. We went on and rented a townhome in Windsor Hills (less than 2 miles from the entrance to Disney). They have a nice community pool with a water slide but we also had our own private splash pool inside a screened in porch right off the back of our townhouse. The townhouse we rented even had strollers and coolers that we could have used if we needed them.

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answers from Boston on

I don't think you can ever do Disney "cheaply", but you can definitely save costs in some areas. Are you looking to stay on property or off property? There tends to be a lot of cheaper accommodations if you don't want to stay on Disney property. If you do plan on staying on property, you can look into the All Star hotels. If you register on the Disney website, they usually send info about different promotions during the year. I think you can often get rooms for 30% off or something like that. As far as food goes, the cheapest option is to bring food with you. If you aren't doing that, I would suggest eating a big breakfast before entering the park and bring snacks with you. Then just eat a counter service lunch and leave the parks for dinner. We went a few years ago (my kids were 1.5 and almost 4 at the time). We stayed on property and bought the meal plan. We went at this time of year and the hotel rooms were a little cheaper. We stayed at the Port Orleans resort for about the same price as the All Star hotels. Since one of your kids will be under 3, you can save money there. We had enough food for the 4 of us using the meal plan for 3 (with buying a few supplemental things along the way). Definitely check out the moms panel on the Disney web site and allears. THey should have some advice there. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

I'm confused. Go figure! How much at the tickets through AAA?


answers from Houston on

I would suggest buying the trip as a package. Once you start to piece things together, the cost will quickly surpass a package deal.
Buy a meal plan, there are several level/options.
Buy the park hopper passes (so you're not tied to one park per day)
Stay at one of the resorts, or Allstar hotels and use the bus/monorail.
And you will read/hear to start booking dinner reservations about a year out, that is true.



answers from Chicago on

We took our kids - 4 1/2 and almost 6 - to Disney World the week after Thanksgiving. Another slow time. We stayed off site in a condo at Lake Buena Vista Resort and Spa. The full kitchen was great to have. The only thing is that we had our own car as we visited family in Florida for Thanksgiving. So we didn't have the rental car cost. We brought in a small cooler with water, drinks, and small snacks. There are also books about travelling to Disney that are available at libraries and/or bookstores with great information. Do your research before you decide what will work best for your family. We had an awesome time, but I had subscribed to the sites and checked out the books. I knew what to expect and what was important to us and what we could skip.

Also you could ask for Disney gift cards for Christmas to use for food and shopping at the parks.



answers from Chicago on

With the ages of your kids, you do NOT need to spend the extra $ on park hopper passes. My kids were 5 and 2 when we went two years ago, and one park per day was PLENTY! We had a condo right off the property (my parents own a timeshare), so we ate breakfast and most dinners in our room, except for our one breakfast at Chef Mickey's and dinner with the princesses at Akershus that we paid for with our Disney credit card reward points (SO worth it!). We packed water bottles, snacks, and PB&J sandwiches in a backpack. I often let the girls eat in their stroller, and while waiting in lines. If you can get a good deal staying on the Disney property, you will save money on a rental car & parking. With our kids being so young, we found that a great schedule was to hit the park as soon as it opened, stay until about 1:00, head back to the condo for naps and food, then go back out for the evening and stay for the parade at night. We had so much fun, and my girls talk about it all the time. Hoping to go back next year. We were there just before they closed Ariel's grotto and the little Mickey and Minnie houses, so I'm anxious to see the new attractions.

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