Two things we love: having fun experiences with family & friends and saving time & money doing it. From a family of six who spent $80 a day with their RV at Fort Wilderness, to an extended family of 14 saving 63% and spending no more than 20 minutes in line for a single ride, these Disney fans have great tips to save both time and money for your next Disney trip.
“We only spent $20 for three days at Disney!”
Becca and Ben and their 4 young kids are “a new full time RV traveling family. We quit an amazing job and left our beautiful home, to travel.”
With their four children playing in the sand in front of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, they describe how they spent $19 for their three day Disney trip. While they didn’t go into the main theme parks this time, they still had a special time with their children living three days in the world of Disney.
They spent $75 a day to set up their RV at the Fort Wilderness campground. They bought a $10 meal, $9 worth of postcards and participated in a handful of free activities for a grand total of about $80 day for their family of 6.
They suggest RVers ask for an upgrade once you arrive to get closer and faster access to where you want to go. They used boat rides for travel between parks.
They suggest shopping smart before coming to Disney. And for their roster of free activities, check the activity calendar they give you at Camp Wilderness. Most activities are free.
“With little kids, this was honestly a ton of fun” says Ben. Becca agrees. “They loved it. They said ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea it was so magical.’ I think we succeeded.”
OK, so you want to actually go into the theme parks? Read on…
Saving 63% on Her Disney Trip
Jia saved 63% on her family’s Disney Trip. She dives into booking early, doing the research and booking off season. She’s also a big fan of purchasing hotel and tickets through Costco. She highlights the benefits of the Marriott operated Swan and Dolphin hotel on the Disney property. She warns about travel hacking with credit cards for most people.
Cheaper Alternatives & Saving Time
Kathryn of Do It on A Dine offers suggestions for alternatives to expensive Disney theme park items as well as tips for avoiding the crowds.
She offers creative ideas for giving the kids the Disney clothes, toys, spray water bottles, strollers, and Disney character fun without the theme park markup.
She recommends budgeting a destination experience restaurant like the Rainforest Cafe or a Character Breakfast to have your memorable meal. For all your other meals, however, bring your own lunch.
For beating the crowds and saving time, Kathryn recommends staying with Disney hotels for the Magic Hour perk. The Extra Magic Hour gives you access to the park an hour early before the rest of the crowds.
Plan the rides you want to do and ride the top ones early. An audience member of Kathryn’s suggests bypassing the crowds by going through the park counter-clockwise. Tuesday through Thursday is usually the least crowded times.
Saving Time in the Disney Parks
Another great Jia video dedicated specifically to maximizing your time at Disney theme parks. “Saving time is like saving money at Disney.” According to Jia, her last trip with 14 family members resulted in wait times no longer than fifteen or twenty minutes.
Jia recommends using a digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Wallet to get in and out of theme park stores and restaurants quickly. You can assign a credit card, debit card and even egift cards to your Apple or Google digital wallet for payment at Disney parks. Show your Apple Pay or Google Wallet app to the cashier and be on your way quickly.
Book Fast Passes early to get the Fast Passes for the most popular rides, possibly 60 days or more before your visit. Jia seconds Kathryn’s tip above about staying on Disney property to get access to the crowd-diverting Extra Magic Hour mentioned above. The proximity to the parks is, of course, the other time-saving benefit.
Jia recommends the Magic Band for moving through the entry lines and Fast Pass lines quickly. She also recommends saving shopping time by having your groceries delivered to your hotel.
The biggest time saver is the rope drop. Check her video at minute 11 for more info.
Add a “Cheap Day” To Your Disney Trip
Allie loves adding a “cheap day” in addition to the theme park days. Much like the free experiences Becca and Ben took advantage of with their family, Allie recommends visits to the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, Disney Springs.
“There are so many things to do on the Walt Disney World grounds that have nothing to do with stepping foot into a park” Allie explains. “You can just explore. One of my favorite things to do is to Hotel Hop.” Hop on the monorail, one of the buses (or one of the boats as Becca and Ben did) and go to the different hotels.
Avoid the peak seasons including the summer, December and New Years. And search out the Disney Deals promotional promotions. Weigh the pros, cons and costs of on-site versus offsite hotels. Don’t forget to factor additional costs like parking when considering distance to the park.
Allie falls in the “it works for me” camp of the Disney Dining Plan debate. She also recommends bringing meals into the park.
And if you have children and want keepsakes to remember the trip? Allie offers another vote for bringing souvenirs for the little ones as a big money saver.
Turn Spare Time into Free Disney eGift Cards
And we can’t resist adding our own (biased) tip. No, we’re not top YouTubers. (Maybe one day.) But we do think this is a great tip.
The tip is this. In your spare time, while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting to pick up the kids from school, waiting at gymnastics practice, or waiting in that Avatar Flight of Passage line you earn money that you can apply to Disney eGift cards.
No, it’s not a stale survey app that pays pennies. And no, it’s not a coupon app where you have to photograph receipts or only use earnings for specific products. It’s easier than all that.
It’s kind of like when Uber and Airbnb got rid of the old gatekeepers and changed the rules. But in this case, it’s changing the rules of advertising. Instead of brands paying big media companies to interrupt and annoy you with their ads, those brands skip all that and just pay to help you have experiences with your friends and family.
Brands help you have a bit of Disney fun with your family and friends. (Or help you have movie night, or outdoor adventures, or help with home improvement…)
Or maybe you use what you earn for keepsakes for your Disney adventures.
Have Tips for Saving Time & Money at Disney?
Photo note: the fantastic fireworks photo was taken by Chansereypich Seng.