3 Things to Consider to Save Money in Disney World

Disneyworld is quite possibly my favorite place in the entire world.  My family has gone every year since I was a toddler and I just came back from my 12th trip, which was planned almost entirely by yours truly.  So I have compiled some tips to navigate the world of Disney on a budget.

1. Hotel

Truthfully, I’m a *major* hotel snob.  This last trip was the first time I have ever stayed anywhere other than the Grand Floridian which was definitely different, but was not the end of the world.  I stayed at a nearby Embassy Suites which was free because my father had an accumulation of Hilton Honor points saved up.  Of course, not everyone has Hilton points saved up so I urge you to try the All Star Resorts and Art of Animation.  They are not at the same level of the Grand Floridian, but as a college student, you’ll probably be spending little time at your hotel except to sleep, in which case, the All Stars are perfect! If your family is military, call Disney to get the military discount which is up to 40% of your room rate.  Either way, an Embassy Suites or Double Tree is great, as is an All Star Resort. 


Photograph by Author


2. Consider a rental car

If you aren’t flying to Orlando, and if you aren’t staying at a monorail resort (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian), then transportation, while readily available in many options, can be time consuming and reduce the time you could be spending in the park.  Our rental car was $100 for 3 days and since everything in Disney is so close, you really won’t be using any gas so that doesn’t have to factor in.  If you stay at a Disney resort, parking is complimentary at the parks and then you are free to come and go as often as you like and don’t have to wait on the buses, boats, or monorails’ schedules, nor do you have to wait in lines that can be incredibly long, especially at peak times of the year and even peak times of the day (i.e. right after Wishes or parking closing).  Do weigh your options—would you rather have another $100 to spend on souvenirs, or would you rather have convenience and not have to rely on bus schedules? It depends on the trip for me and it will for you, too.


3. Food

My family has always done a multitude of character meals so that we don’t have to wait in lines to meet characters in the park, but they are also quite pricey.  For this last trip, we decided to limit ourselves to one character meal which saved literally hundreds of dollars (character meals are generally buffet style and thus have a set price, no matter what or how much you eat). Our hotel had complimentary breakfast but if yours is not, consider bringing granola bars and yogurt with you (or stopping at a grocery store once you’ve arrived) and saving money by not buying breakfast.  Another tip, if you do have a rental car (or your own car if you drive), you can do Preferred Parking at the parks for $15 if you’re staying at a Disney resort or an additional $15 if you are staying off property.  Not only does this get you parking as close to the park entrance as possible, but each person in your vehicle is given a bottle of water, which you can refill throughout the day, saving several dollars per person per day, because buying bottled water in the parks is overpriced.