Money Saving Tips for Disney from a Cast Member

For 2 years I worked at the most magical place on earth. Yes it was exhausting and it was a job. But to say I’ve seen the Wishes Fireworks more than 500 times and got to walk under Cinderella’s Castle everyday is pretty special. Going to Disney is a once in a lifetime experience for many families. Many people save for years in order to take their loved ones to the happiest place on earth. It’s estimated that a family spends nearly $10,000 for a week long vacation here. So here’s a few of my tips I learned after working for the mouse to help you save on your dream vacation!

Money Saving Tips for Disney World

Water is FREE

Do not pay for bottled water. I repeat, DO NOT pay for bottled water. If you are one of those people that has to drink bottled water than fair enough. But at $4.00 a bottle with a family of 7, that’s a lot of money per day just on water. Any Quick Service Restaurant or Food Stall with a Coca-Cola fountain will give you as many free waters as you can gulp down. This is the same water that’s running through the machines for our soft drinks and it’s what we drink as well when working so it’s perfectly safe. So save your dollars for the fun stuff and ask for free cups of water!

Buy Souvenirs for Kids Beforehand

This was an awesome idea my Grandma actually used for my little cousins first time to Disney. Of course your little princess is going to want every single crown and dress she walks by. So why not come already prepared? There’s most likely a store near you at home that sells Disney merchandise. Pick up something to give to your kids everyday of vacation so it helps satisfy their want of every item in the parks and doesn’t break the bank! Keep this in mind for parades at night too. Kids are going to want light up toys so buy loads of glow bracelets from your local Dollar Store beforehand so they can still be a part of the fun!

Check out Target for some good souvenir ideas!

My little cousin, Hailey, during her first visit to Disney!

Stay on Property to Save on Parking

Standard parking at Disney is $20 a day and that is going to eat up a lot of money. Your best bet would be to stay on Disney property and use their free transportation! If you are staying at a Disney Hotel then you can ride the busses to anywhere else on property. This includes theme parks, other hotels as well as the Disney Springs area. Another perk is that the busses drop you off right at the entrance. So no trekking through the parking lots that are a mile away from your destination.

Buy Groceries off of Disney Property

When I worked at Disney I lived about 20 miles away. Mind you that 20 miles could take anywhere from a half hour to 2 hours to drive to and from. At the end of a 12 hour shift I would be starving. But I always insisted on not stopping in for food at any super markets in the Disney area. The prices were ridiculous compared to my local grocery store. So if you have a vehicle, take a little drive. Go find a Publix or a Walmart that’s not in the theme park area and save a few bucks on food!

Bring Snacks to the Parks

I will always be the first person to throw my money at a giant turkey leg orย  cream cheese filled pretzel. But the idea of having to buy all this for a whole family makes my wallet hurt. I would get so many families groaning at the price of an item. But they didn’t have too and could have brought their own!ย ย So pack your own snacks for the day and save on the cost of having to buy overpriced options in the park!

Disney Donuts

Disney donuts are to die for!

Try to Snag a Free Dining Plan

During the slow season, Disney tends to offer perks like cheaper tickets and free dining plans when you book. I’ve always found though that the dining options end up being too much food for families! A quick service meal would include a main, a drink and a side and sometimes this was enough for 2-3 people. So keep this in mind when purchasing your family dining plan. I spent the week with my friend Emily’s family once and we struggled to eat all the meals and snacks that they had already prepaid for. In the end, we ended up just buying loads of sweets and cakes to get rid of the 17 snacks they still had to use by the end of their final day! So try to get your dining plan free during the off-peak seasons!

Do All the Free Stuff at Disney

I’m a Disney fanatic so I could probably go here for a week and go to no parks and still have an ace time. Disney Springs is the outdoor shopping mecca of Disney World and feels like a destination in itself. It’s been recently remodelled over the last few years (Most of you probably know it as Downtown Disney) and feels more so like you’re in a shopping centre in the Hollywood Hills now. But you still have all your classic shops like Candy Cauldron and World of Disney and it’s all free to walk around! Also, if you’re staying at a Disney Hotel, you can go visit any other Disney Hotels too. Go take a stroll through the lobby at the Polynesian or go watch a movie on the beach at the Grand Floridian, both two of my favourites!

Come Back to your Hotel in the Heat of the Afternoon

There is nothing worse than trying to push through 15 hours at Disney during the heat of the summer months. You’ll end up spending more money this way by probably having 3 meals at the park which really isn’t necessary. Start your day with a filing meal at your hotel to save on breakfast. Head to the park early and then return to your hotel by 1pm or so. Then relax by the pool for a few hours! Make some sandwiches for lunch and even have a nap. Then head back to the parks after 4pm or even later once the sun goes down. You’ll be refreshed then and ready to enjoy the nighttime spectaculars!

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World

The Magic Kingdom at 7am prior to park opening!

Extra Tips!

  • There is NO alcohol in the Magic Kingdom. So for you moms that need a drink or 2 to get through the 88th sing-a-long to Frozen, this isn’t the park for you.
  • The 3 o’clock parade is at 3 o’clock…you wouldn’t believe how many times a day I was asked this.
  • The mug you buy to use at your hotel Coca Cola fountains is not usable in the parks so don’t bring them.
  • Book your Fast Passes in advance! I can not stress this enough especially if there is a certain ride you really must do or a character your kids have to meet.
  • Stay hydrated!

Disney World will always hold a special place in my heart. I am truly a big kid! I’m glad I had the opportunity while growing up to keep that spirit alive and experience the magic of Disney multiple times with my family. It was an honour to work here for a few years and get to make magical memories for families everyday. It truly is the happiest place on earth, especially if you can save some pennies while you’re there!

-Katherine

Start planning your trip to visit Mickey Mouse today!

If you have more questions, feel free to contact me here!

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Remember that this whole thing started with a dream andย  a mouse.”

-Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse and me at Disney



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