Disneys Magical Express Bus Stop sign at Disneys Wilderness Lodge

Top Five Tips for Making a Disney World Vacation Affordable

Like most things in this world, it seems like Disney World is getting more and more expensive.  Some people shy away from even looking at a Disney World vacation because they presume that it is out of their price range.

Sure, it is very easy (and fun) to book a fancy deluxe resort with all of the amenities, spend a week, eat at high end restaurants, and spend a fortune.  You can also make alternative decisions that put Disney more within reach of the average family.

Let’s take a look at the top five tips for making a Disney World vacation affordable.

1. Make your money work for you

If you’re planning a Disney World Vacation, apply for a Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase. There’s no application fee and no annual fee, and you can get a Disney Gift Card if someone invites you to join.

If you sign up for a Disney Credit Card, you might be eligible for a Disney Gift Card!
If you sign up for a Disney Credit Card, you might be eligible for a Disney Gift Card!

You’ll earn 1% back on your purchases and enjoy benefits at the Disney Store and in the theme parks. All of these perks can add up and help defray a part of your vacation if you use it properly. Charge your daily purchases to the card and watch the rewards dollars add up! You can apply these rewards dollars to your resort and ticket costs. This only works, though, if you pay it off every month and avoid interest fees.

2. Know when to visit

Disney World is busiest when kids are out of school with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, and The Fourth of July being the busiest days.  Sometimes the parks even close due to capacity during these seasons. Some people have to visit during these times to accommodate schedules, but they pay a premium for that convenience.

If you can plan your vacation while school is typically in session, you’ll not only avoid massive crowds, but you’ll also save money. Disney lowers costs of resort rooms and admission tickets during these times to attract more guests.

Not only will you save money on admission and Disney resort hotels, but you’ll normally enjoy less expensive airfare.

3. Invest in an annual pass

This tip can actually cost you more if you don’t use it wisely, so it’s not for everyone. If you can make it work for you, it can save you a lot of money!

If you plan to visit Disney World two or more times in a 364 day period and prefer the Park Hopper ticket option, purchasing and AP could work for you. A four-day Park Hopper ticket currently costs almost $500; Double that (because you’re going twice in a one-year period), and you’re spending almost $1,000, but you can get a Disney Platinum Plus Pass, the top of the line AP, for $100 less than two four-day passes will cost.

When you consider the benefits of the annual pass, it’s even more valuable. Fringe benefits include no blockout dates, free parking, special offers, dining, tours, and merchandise discounts.

Calculate the costs both ways (daily admission vs. annual pass) for your particular situation

4. Skip the Disney Dining Plan

This is a controversial topic because some people swear by the Disney Dining Plan (DDP).

However, when it comes to maximizing financial savings, it doesn’t usually save you money.

The biggest benefit with the DDP is that it allows you to prepay for food so you don’t have to worry about it during your vacation. However, with the ability to charge to your MagicBand and the likelihood that the DDP won’t cover everything you want to eat, it’s not usually a good value.

Paying out of pocket for dining means you only pay for what you actually eat – meaning you have more control over where your funds go. You can also share meals, which will save you money too. If you purchase the DDP, you purchase it for everyone in your party over the age of three, which means your little one gets as much food as the adults.

5. Ride the Magical Express

You can save a lot of money by using Disney's Magical Express and Disney Transportation instead of renting a car.
You can save a lot of money by using Disney’s Magical Express and Disney Transportation instead of renting a car.

If you plan to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO), go straight to Disney World, and spend all of your time on property (except maybe going to a nearby grocery store), take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express.

This free bus service will pick you up at the airport and drop you off at the doorstep of your Disney Resort Hotel then pick you up in the same place and return you to the airport. That alone, and eliminating the need for a rental car and paying for parking, makes staying on property worth the added cost.

Your best tip for making Disney World (more) affordable?