I'm planning my Disney trip right now! Check out the Unofficial
Guide to Walt Disney World for tons of great tips. I checked it out
from my library (had to put a hold on it). If you don't have time, here
are a couple of the standouts:
-disney.com offers advanced ticket purchases for 4-6% off gate prices.
-look into buying "bounce back" passes if you won't take advantage of
the hopper passes. These may only be available at the gate.
-I have a reservation for a theme suite at the Holiday Inn Family Suites Resort
for $89.00 a night using my entertainment card, compared to 150-175 rack room
prices. Go to www.holiday-inn.com
Under Rate Preference, choose Entertainment Card. -- Angie from GA
Look for your Disney Passes on eBay.
You can get big discounts from people who bought 4-5 day passes and
still have days remaining.
One way I save money when traveling is to purchase
Entertainment books from the destination I'm traveling to. You
also can check out who is offering discounts in each book buy going on www.entertainment.com.
They are currently offering discounts and free shipping for this years
books because it is late in their selling season. -- Vanessa from OH
When we visit Disney world we stay at the Disney budget hotel so you get free
bus shuttles to the resorts. Also we have a refrigerator in the room (usually
costs about $10 per night) and we bring breakfast items and cold cuts for lunch.
this way we go to the park 1st thing in the morning back by mid-afternoon for
lunch and a swim and then back to park for the rest of the night. -- Judy from
We take a family trip to Disneyworld every year. Last year I purchased
3-4 matching bright shirts for my boys, age 3 and 5, before our trip.
Watch the sale racks. For instance one set had Red and bright Yellow
stripes. I'd dress them the same each day. It made them so easy to
spot in a crowd. It really helped us keep tabs on them when they were
running around the kids play areas. -- Pam from CO
We've visited the Orlando area twice in the last 2 years. We got a 2-bedroom
suite at the Holiday Inn Family Suites for no more than $109 a night (some
nights were as low as $99). We booked on-line through different travel
companies. Which on-line company you use doesn't matter, but to get the price
you need to book it on-line or you'll pay a whole lot more. All rooms have
Nintendo 64's so if you have "64" games, bring them (they're expensive
to rent). They also have a fantastic free breakfast buffet so stuff yourself in
the morning. There is also free transportation to the Disney World Theme parks,
buts they are the only ones. If you want to go elsewhere you'll need a rental
car or a taxi. In addition, if your family drinks soda or coffee, purchase one
of their refillable coffee mugs as soon as you arrive. You can refill it for
free during your entire stay for free with soda, coffee, tea and/or icees, which
was well worth it for our 2-week stay. - Mary B, Alaska
Do not purchase souvenirs at the Disney Parks. Go to the local Walmart
and purchase lots of souvenirs for a fraction of the price! -- L. Dennis from PA
Another tip, Fodor's puts out this
great travel guide. It is well worth the price of the book. It will
help you plan your best route around the park, which rides are less crowded at
which time. Also, take advantage of the fast passes. You get a ride
pass and come back at a specific time with little to no wait. -- Laura from
Food portion sizes were pretty good, so we would either get 1 adult
size meal and share it (with my 5year old), or we would both get children's
meals if we wanted different things. There is a cart that does silhouettes
at MK of your child for only $7. This will be something to keep forever,
although it doesn't say Disney on it. At MGM you can go in the 5&10
store and get a Disney guest of honor badge for $7 personalized with
your child's name on it. This is also neat so the characters call you
child by their name. They can also keep this with their pins they
collect while at WDW. Did you know that they let a child and their
family ride in the front of the monorail with the driver? You just have
to ask if anyone is riding up front before you get on and they give your
child a co-pilots license... I saved it for our WDW scrapbook!! Neat-o
and free!!! and FUN!! -- Staci from MO
The night before put bottles of water in the freezer if you happen to be
staying in an efficiency. When you take your things to the park, take one
backpack and put your things including the frozen water - our kids took turns
carrying it around. Believe me by the time you get thirsty, your water
will be starting to defrost and it will be nice and cold. You will
appreciate the refreshment and save from buying the expensive drinks in the park
all day. -- Laura from VA
If you have a couple of families going together, don't bother staying on site
at Disney. It's a lot cheaper to rent a house! -- Jennifer from DE
We try to take our kids to Disney World every summer, but with a family of 4
kids (soon to be 5), we are always trying to save $$. We have stayed at
the budget and the moderate Hotels on Disney grounds and nothing compares to the
"Holiday Inn Family Suites Resort"! This place is GREAT, you get
a LARGE kids suite with a private bedroom with a King bed for the adults and
another separate bedroom that has bunk beds, a single bed, painted theme walls,
a TV, for the kids. There is also a Large bathroom, wet bar area with
small fridge and, sink and cabinets and a small kitchen table. The sofa
also pulls out to make another bed! The hotel itself has 2 VERY big pools and
very nice play areas in and out of the water. FREE breakfast buffet every
morning (this is GREAT), plus kids eat FREE for lunch and dinner with a paid
adult at there restaurants in the hotel (Pizza Hut, A&W Rootbeer, Hotel
restaurant), FREE shuttles to all the parks (only located 1 mile from the Disney
World Resort), Game Room Kids Train every morning, and soo much more! All
of that for CHEAPER then a normal room at a Disney Resort. The kids were
disappointed when we stayed at the resort 1 year after staying there, we shouldn't
stay anywhere else now! Make sure to bring a bunch of your own snacks and
water bottles into the park, especially fresh fruit, everything is very pricey
there. We always try to eat a large breakfast at the resort (since it is a
buffet), a mild lunch at the parks (or FREE for the kids at the Hotel if you go
back for a swim or nap) and a big dinner off the property. Have fun!! --
Traci from IL
The best thing that we found was a book called Birnbaum's. It gives
lots of hints and ideas. We also used the strollers. We have 3 kids
but even out 7 & 9 yr old used the stroller (we used the double at $13 per
day it was worth it). We stored our back packs (which held snacks and
water bottles) so we didn't have to carry everything with us. We kept our
valuables (camera, wallet, asthma meds, etc) in a large fanny pack that I could
wear on the rides. And for little ones (even as old as 4 yrs old) bring a
change of clothes. My little guy fell asleep wet himself accidents happen.
Go around their schedules. Let them relax by the hotel pool in the
afternoon then go back at night. Don't do it all in one day! -- Patti
My best Disney tip is, the night before you go to Disney freeze a couple of
bottled waters. Take them out of the freezer right before you leave for
the park. By the time you and your kids get thirsty they water is ice
cold. Once all of the water is gone then you can fill the bottles back up
at the drinking fountain. Water at those parks are $2.50 plus. Think
of all of the savings. -- Beth from FL
My whole family (grandparents, aunt and uncles, everyone) went to Disney
World last May when my daughter was only 4 months old. I bought a little
sun umbrella that has an adjustable clip from WalMart ($3 or $4) before we set
out for the day and when we got there my husband fastened it onto our baby's
stroller, so not only did she have top protection from the stroller's shade but
front protection as well from the umbrella. I felt so bad for the tiny
babies who were cooked from the sun at the end of the day. One great thing
about Disney is that they have nursing mothers rooms, out of the sun, AIR
CONDITIONED, and peaceful! -- Carrie from GA
Disney Tip! Stay at a hotel that is a little outside of Disney.
We have stayed at a nice hotel less than 2 miles from Disney for $50 per night!
This hotel had 2 huge beds, microwave, fridge, 2 pools. They also provided
shuttle service if you wanted to Disney. The other nice thing about
staying just outside of Disney is there are lots of other attractions, shops,
and restaurants that are nice to go to also. If you have relatives that
live in Florida another great tip is to just go to Downtown Disney. The
shops are fun and you can have a great Disney experience without going to a
park. We go about once a year. -- Tricia from WI
We went to Disney last year with a 3 yr old and 5 yr old and here is how we
1. Brought along instant oatmeal and breakfast bars for the boys for
2. Brought along our own snacks and juice pouches to take to the park.
We took a backpack and then put all the stuff you have to lug to the park in one
place. The space that your snacks took in your suitcases now can hold your
3. If you stay on site, buy their travel mugs. You can then fill up
as many times as you want with either coffee, juice, or soda at the hotel.
4. We went in January after all the crowds had left. The weather was
great and there were no crowds. No long lines to see the characters.
The prices are also the lowest.
5. No need to comparison shop between the park shops and the Disney hotel
shops. . . Everything is the same. But buy your autograph book before you
even step into the first park. You'll see lots of characters and will want
to be prepared.
6. My boys loved the playgrounds at Disney MGM and Animal Kingdom.
It wore them out and we didn't spend any money to do it.
7. In Animal Kingdom, one of the restaurants served a half chicken,
potatoes and green beans for the same price as another restaurant's pizza
dinner. Look to see which each restaurant sells what so you get the best
deal. -- Deb from MD
When traveling with kids to Disney, we have found the easiest is to stay on
the property. They have value resorts which are really nice, considering
you don't spend a lot of time in the room. Then you catch a bus everywhere, no
car seats to deal with, no parking fees and very easy and fun for the kids. Also,
do hopper passes if going for a few days, you can hop from park to park during
the day. animal kingdom does not take all day, mgm, not very
good for young ages, really only 2-3 good shows for them. so worth
going on a hopper. -- Carol from FL
Disney World Tip: Stay at the All Star
Resorts. They are in the park, provide free bus service to all the parks,
have a food court that is cheaper than eating in the parks, has a pool, movies
non-stop, and laundry facilities. You can get pizza delivered to your
room, and they have a video game room and gift shop for all the Mickey Mouse
stuff you don't want to carry through the parks with you and items you forgot to
bring from home (like Tylenol). The rooms are not big, but you only sleep and
shower there anyway. You also get into the parks an hour before the
general public if you stay at one of the WDW Resorts which can help you get to
some of the attractions with the long lines. I have stayed at the All Star
Music twice and All Star Movies once and definitely will again. I also
take a soft back-pack with me to the parks with snacks, water, etc. These
are very expensive in the park. You can buy fresh fruit, snacks and wate
or juice at the food court at the resort. It's cheaper than in the parks.
Or you can bring your own if you drive to WDW. -- Debbie from TX
We went to Disney in January for a friend's wedding (held IN Disneyworld!)...
a couple of moneysaving ideas:
1. GO OFF SEASON! Not only is it cheaper, but you will see much more
and have much more fun. We had one sunny Saturday during our trip when the
parks were MOBBED. It was awful - every other day, we waited no more than
15 minutes for any ride (taking advantage of FastPass when available, but often
2. BRING FILM! I brought 6 disposable cameras with us (so I could
put them in postage paid mailers as we used them) - purchased at Staples on
Black Friday for $1.00 each. (one for each day in the park, plus the
wedding) In Animal Kingdom, my son went crazy with the camera on the safari, so
I had to buy another one at Disney - $24.00 !!!!
3. Pack snacks and water so you only have to spend cash on meals.
Carry in a backpack, which can also hold sweaters, autographs books (again bring
from home) and purchases.
4. We shopped sales before leaving home, so my kids went already wearing
new Disney clothes bought a T-J Maxx, etc. We splurged on Mickey Hats/Ears
when we arrived... and they each had Disney Money of their own to spend (we told
family/friends about the trip, and encouraged Disney money as Christmas gifts).
The hardest part was convincing them that they had all week - and that just
about every item was available in every park, so nothing need be bought
immediately, just because you saw it!
5. Borrow a good guidebook from the library - I read the
Guide to Walt Disney World cover to cover - and while not everything applied to my family (like which
rides to RUN to during the summer) - it was very helpful in deciding our
itinerary for the day - where to plan to eat - which days to do which parks,
etc. PrePlanning is a must!
6. Relax and have fun!!!! There really IS no place like Disney!
(Don't miss Fantasmic or the evening fireworks - choreographed to Disney music -
at Cinderella's castle - you can't help but feel "the magic!"
Everyone is a kid at DisneyWorld! -- Sue from PA
Book your own trip on the Disney website. We went to a travel agent and
she just called the same 800 number that we had to call. You can customize
everything for your own tastes. We booked our own flight and saved
hundreds. Plus, if you send away for the promotional video, you get a
discount code with it. -- Stephanie from WI
We used Priceline for our hotel room. We got a large beautiful suite at
the Hilton on Downtown Disney for $63 a night, unbelievable! We also spent
only 2 days at WDW and bought a 5 day ticket to Universal Studios/Islands of
Adventure for only $90 per adult ticket! It was an internet special, that
is less than $20 a day and we liked the Universal Parks better! -- Jennifer from
Read everything you can on the web. There are a lot of tips!
Also, with the price of drinks and snacks at Disney, we used UPS overnight to
ship ourselves snacks, drink boxes, bottled water, etc. When we arrived at
our hotel, the staff delivered our boxes to our hotel room. -- Chris from
We traveled to Disney last year and we were shocked at the price of soft
drinks! They were even $1.50 in the machine at the hotel. We immediately went to
the nearest grocery store and bought can drinks and bottle water and juice boxes
and filled our cooler. We took drinks in our stroller in a clear ziploc for easy
baggage checks. We saved a fortune since all three kids wanted their own soda
and it was 106 degrees! -- Harriet from SC
The best tip for saving money at Disney is to pack snacks and juice boxes for
the kiddies and adults. Yes, it's a pain to carry the food around, but you
can easily spend $20-25 for lunch or a snack and suddenly an entire day of
entertainment ends up costing quite a bit when you add in all the food stops.
Also, we have a 3 year old son and we simply don't buy him any souvenirs, Mickey
Mouse ears, huge lollipops of the characters, balloons, photos with Mickey, etc.
etc. etc. It's enough entertainment and fun to spend the day together at
the Magic Kingdom (or wherever) and all of that other stuff looses it's
excitement after the first 10 minutes anyway and you end up carting home tons of
I did break down and rent the stroller to avoid carrying ours around, but that
would be a good place to save $10. If your kids are older or used to
getting treats every time you turn around, simply talk with them beforehand
about the incredible treat they are going got have going to Disney itself and
tell them that they have a small allowance for 1 souvenir (make it small, so
it's a post card or key ring, etc.) Make a game of it and you'll find that
everyone has more fun.
Although Disney is THE BEST, it's easy to get carried away at these theme parks
and when the admission for the day is already over $50/person - there's simply
no need for all of the extra stuff. -- Diana from VT
On a recent trip to Disney, (our first with children!), we made arrangements
before we left with a "limousine" company. We were met at the
airport by a friendly driver who helped us load our bags. We asked him to
stop at the grocery store on the way to our hotel. All of this cost
$70/round trip, less than the "bus" from the airport to the park!
My husband and kids napped in the car while I did a "quick" run
through the store buying sandwich fixings, cereal bars and "special"
snacks. (The cookies we never buy at home...fruit snacks, etc.) I
also bought bottled water to take to the park. We rented a fridge from the
hotel($5-$10)/night. When the kids needed a snack after swimming or were
hungry "now", we were ready! Many of the hotels at Disney have a
snack bar set up. We went down for lettuce tomatoes and condiments when we
purchased a drink. (Spend the $7-$10 on the "souvenir cup". You
have something to remember you stay and the "free " refills pay for
themselves. May be you know a neighbor who stayed the same place you
are staying on your visit and you can "borrow" their cups...we did!)
Freezing the bottles and then packing them in a knapsack for the day helped cut
down on the high prices in the park...not to mention the waiting in line!
Our food expenses were way below what we had budgeted and we were able to
splurge on a fun dinner for the 4 of us our last night in Florida! -- Jo
Saving Money at WDW: We go every year. When we arrive - we go to
the store and buy groceries, tea and water. If you stay in the resort you will
have a kitchen with dishes, fridge, etc. Raspberry tea from Lipton is a
favorite of the whole family. Make sure you put sunscreen on every day and
chapstick. Carry the chapstick in your backpack. We also carry a
small bottle with water which we spray on to our faces when we get hot.
The kids love this and kids around us will ask us to spray them also.
We have a backpack which we put water bottles in and a couple of the water
bottles are frozen the night before. They will melt by the time you use
them. The water can be refilled at fountains. We make our own peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches which we keep in a tupperware container that is
square. We buy the big box of nutter butter cookies (4 are wrapped in each
package-I believe there are 36 packages in the box) We take several of
these a day. We also bring the Smuckers and/or Kraft packages of crackers
with peanut butter and jelly which you spread on yourself. We have people
watching us eat these and saying that was a great idea. We take beef jerky
which is a favorite. I also slice apples and oranges and keep in a ziploc
bag. We take a banana for each person. You want to eat breakfast in
your room before you leave. Eat cereal or oatmeal or muffins.
Something that will fill you up and give you energy.
We have dinner in our room. Cold cuts, grilled cheese, pizza, brats, mac and
cheese, etc. Don't buy too much as you don't want to worry about what
you'll throw away when you leave. Swimming of an evening makes every one
Pack a light jacket as it can get chilly of an evening or rain. Go play in
the rain anyway as it does not last long. Talk to park employees and find
out (their name tags) where they are from. Sometimes they will treat the
kids to a WDW ice cream on a stick. If it is your child's birthday find
out where to get a birthday name tag; this will get you recognition from the
characters and sometimes a trip to the front of a line. Buy those glow in
the dark bracelets and necklaces from Oriental trading ahead of time and have
the kids wear one every evening. They will love this and you won't have to
buy them at the park which is very, very expensive.
We have the boys wear bright colors so that they are easier to keep your eyes
on. We always get a 2 seater stroller even though they may not use it most
of the time; they still get tired and need to rest their legs. We go for
5-7 days so that we are not rushed to try and see every thing in just a few
Do the Kids Centers from Family Fun at Epcot. This is a free craft which
is relaxing for everyone. Try and learn "thank you" in each
language and have your children say it to each host. You'll get a
We go first thing in the morning and head towards the back of the parks when the
gates open. Most people start at the beginning. When a parade is
starting; you will find characters by the front entrance of Magic Kingdom and no
waiting in line for pictures.
Bring rain jackets for the wet rides and just have a plastic bag to put them in
when you are finished. We also take advantage of the fast pass lines.
This will get you on the rides quicker and is worth coming back for while trying
We stay in a different resort each time and we don't have a favorite as they are
all so family friendly and fun for every one. You can pool hop at most of
the resorts and that is fun for the kids to try a different pool each day.
We always end our vacation with a few days on the beach just to wind down.
So, if you're able to do that - go to an area where you can take the kids to an
orange grove, or see alligators, etc.
Kathy in Littleton, Colo
Mom of 3 boys ages 6, 7 and 21
My best advice for theme park gimmies is to start looking at thrift stores
and garage sales a few months before you leave. This gives you time to get
things cleaned up. Put them in an extra bag in your suitcase. When
you get there you have plenty of items to stem off the gimmies before they even
start. This will work for most children if they have been brought up with
thrift store treasures. Both of my boys get more excited going to the
thrift store than to any BIG MART. -- Dana from NM
To save money at Disney, we bring a backpack filled with sandwiches, snacks
and cans of soda. If you don't want to lug it all around, rent a locker and
store it there. Also, when leaving for the night, use the monorail for the
contemporary hotel if the monorail to the parking lot is too long. You will stop
at the hotel and then the next stop is the parking lot! If you are staying at
one of the Disney resorts, buy a refillable cup and your drinks at that resort
are free. You can also purchase a refillable cup at Animal Kingdom which will
get you reduced price refills. Unfortunately, they do not offer this at any of
the other parks. -- Cherryl from FL
Give each child their own fanny pack. Fill it each morning with little
snacks. This gives them a sense of independence for their own snacking, plus it
helps cuts down on the $3 ice cream and expensive snacks.
Bring your own memo pad for autographs instead of buying one at the parks.
Buy your own disposable rain poncho for under a dollar at Walmart or Target
Use the website: www.allearsnet.com for
excellent money saving tips.
Pack a suitcase of snacks and food with you. When you leave that bag is used for
When scheduling a character meal, make it for breakfast or lunch. It is cheaper.
-- Dana from IA
If you stay on Disney resorts, buy the refillable cups! We drank for 8
days for the price of the cup (around $15). I also packed an extra
suitcase of snacks. We ate them all week and then loaded them with
souvenirs for the way home. I pre-purchased stuffed Mickey and Minnie
dolls at the Disney store in the mall and presented them to the kids before we
left for the plane ride. I also pre-purchased matching t-shirts from the
Disney markdown and "saved" them for the trip. Pack too much
film, it's about triple there. -- Lorie from IL
We have headed to Disney World several times in the last few years. My biggest
moneysaver? Checking certain websites on a regular basis such as www.mousesavers.com
These sites are brimming with expert information on how to save for a fabulous
trip to the house of mouse! -- Heather from CO
My husband and my son went to Walt Disney World last year for the Pop Warner
Super Bowl. As parents we found out a lot of things that we could have
done differently before going there. First, not to stay at the resort.
We could have saved a lot of money but Disney required that we stay there.
Stay in a hotel in Orlando close to the resort. Second, Have breakfast and
dinner in Orlando, you'll have more choices and better prices. Purchase Hopper
Passes for the time you are there. This will allow you to visit all the
parks as often as you like. There are free buses to take you around to all of
the parks. This is the best information that we can give. We had a football team
of 32 boys, so we learned a lot from that visit to Disney. So wear comfortable
clothes and good walking shoes. If it rains buy one of their ponchos for
$5.00. And have fun! -- Valerie from AZ
I wish we had known this four years ago when we went to Disney World! This
would have saved us A LOT of money! When you call 1-407-W-Disney to book your
room; ask for the ROOM ONLY with the Triple A discount. Triple A costs
approximately $41.00 a year, but you receive a nice discount on your room,
possibly three times that amount, depending on which Hotel you stay at. For
instance, if you choose to stay at the All Star Movies resort, your room would
only be $92.00 a night with your Triple A Discount. You must show your Triple A
Card when you check in during your stay. Also, another way to save a bundle is
to buy your Park Hopper Plus Tickets, good for all four theme parks plus one of
the water parks, at the Disney Store, instead of buying them when you book your
room. Length of stay passes are around $380 a ticket, with the Disney Store
discount, Children under 10 years old are $147 each and older children and
Adults are $197. It really pays to plan ahead! -- Carlie from NJ
Stay in Kissimmee! Close to park & a lot more affordable! -- Christine
Stay on site... it is very easy to get around and you can enter the parks
early and go back to the rooms to take naps if needed. It costs more but
makes the vacation more enjoyable. -- Barb from MN
My family is going to Disneyworld in October, but I've already began the
research for the best deals out there. There is a website called www.mousesavers.com
It is by far the best informational website I have found. -- Melissa from TX
Guide to Walt Disney World 2004
Walt Disney World®, Universal Orlando®, and Central Florida 2004 :
Where to Stay and Eat for All Budgets, Must See Sights and Local
Secrets, Ratings You Can Trust
Walt Disney World