Disney World Money-Saving Tips That Are Actually Myths

Whether this is your first or fiftieth time visiting Walt Disney World, everyone is looking to save a dollar. A Disney World vacation isn’t cheap, but are there ways you could save money while still getting the most out of your vacation? The answer is yes, but you need to evaluate what you want/ need out of your vacation. Some things are based on convenience while others are based on personal preference.

Here are the top three money-saving myths at Walt Disney World.

3. Myth: It’s easier to save up for a Disney vacation if you book directly with Disney.

Booking directly with Disney allows you the option of getting on a payment plan. You’ll make a $200 deposit (or sometimes a deposit equal to one-night’s room cost) then have the option to make payments with the remaining balance due no later than 45 days before arriving.

It is true that Disney occasionally offers discounts on room rates and dining plans (more on this later), but there are other travel sites (both nationally and locally) that may offer better deals especially if you bundle transportation (like a flight and/or rental car) with your hotel accommodations and tickets. Some sites may allow you to get on a payment plan like Disney while others require you to pay in full. However, the savings might outweigh the benefit of Disney’s payment plan.

You may not get the best deal if you book through Disney, so shop around.
You may not get the best deal if you book through Disney, so shop around.

2. Myth: When you consider the benefits of staying on-site, it’s ultimately less expensive than staying off-site.

Guests staying on Disney Property get several perks. The Magical Express will pick you up at Orlando International Airport and drop you off at the doorstep of your resort. Once you’re there, the Disney Buses and Ferries will transport you to the parks and shopping areas for free. You’ll also have exclusive access to parks during extra magic hours and free MagicBands that will hold your room key access, park tickets, dining reservations, etc. However, these benefits come at a cost that is sometimes double or more what you would pay at an off-site resort.

Off-site resorts often have shuttles to and from the airport and Disney World. Airport shuttles usually come with a fee, but this fee still probably won’t equal the amount of money you save by staying off-site. Although you won’t have access to extra magic hours, parks are usually open all day, and the extra hours may be too early or too late for your family. You can purchase MagicBands and link them to your MyDisneyExperience app. They will then work the same way that on-property guests’ MagicBands work.

Finally, if you plan to visit anywhere off of Disney property like Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, family or friends’ houses, or any number of surrounding destinations, you’ll have to rent a car or take a car service to get there anyway. Depending on how much time you’re planning to spend off-property, it might not be worth spending the money for a Disney Resort Hotel.

Depending on your plans, it may not save you money to stay at an on-site hotel.
Depending on your plans, it may not save you money to stay at an on-site hotel.

1. Myth: The Disney Dining Plan is a great deal.

The Disney Dining Plan (DDP), which is only available to on-site guests, is almost never a good deal even when it’s free.

When Disney offers the free dining plan, they’ll also usually offer a percentage off rack rates. These offers cannot be combined, and the room discount will almost always be a better deal than the free dining plan.

The least expensive DDP, called Quick Service Dining Plan, only allows for counter-service meals. These meals are often less expensive than the plan itself and the plan doesn’t include enough meals to not have to purchase additional food. On the other end of the spectrum, the Deluxe Dining Plan, which includes three meals and three snacks per day, is way too much food for one person. Because of this, some credits may end up going to waste.

Do you think the Disney Dining Plan is a good financial deal?