Who doesn’t Love Disney??? Stupid question huh… Well get ready for a fun filled day of rides, Disney characters and 42 ways to save you $$$$
1. Kids under 3 don’t need a ticket.
They also don’t need a FastPass to skip the lines
2. Buy Disney gift cards at Target, and use your REDcard to save 5% instantly.
Use these gift cards in the parks to buy food , souvenirs, or whatever else you’d like to purchase.
Plus, save 5% on all the things you need before your trip at Target when you have a REDcard credit or debit card.
3. Shop Costco for discounted tickets and travel packages
In the past, Costco has sold discounted Disney tickets and annual passes in-store, so keep your eyes peeled!
Costco also has a travel section online with specials and all-inclusive Disney Resort vacations. They have a variety of deals and specials for Disneyland and Disney World including up to 25% off Disney Resort Hotels, $150 Disney bonus gift cards, and special perks like memory photo packages included for free when you purchase an all-inclusive vacation.
4. Go in January or September.
Crowds and hotel prices are highest when kids are out of school and during the holidays. January and September are ideal months to visit — not just because the crowds are few, but also because of the mild weather in California and Florida.
5. Get a free button if you’re celebrating a birthday, first Disney visit, or other special occasion.
Staying at a Disney Resort hotel? You’ll get a phone call from a character wishing you Happy Birthday.
Also, you’re likely to get special perks just for wearing your button. For instance, on my son’s birthday, he received a free cupcake when a cast member noticed his birthday badge.
6. Eat a sit-down meal at lunch instead of dinner.
Lunch menus are generally 15-20% cheaper for basically the same items that are served
7. Planning a character meal? Do it at breakfast and save 35%.
The breakfast buffets are awesome, and if you fill up at breakfast, you’ll save money by only needing a light lunch.
8. Split one meal between multiple people.
Some Disney plate sizes are huge. Tell your server and they’ll bring an extra plate or even split the meal for you before bringing it out. And no, there’s no extra charge for that.
9. Bring in your own drinks, refillable water bottles, and snacks.
Just make sure you don’t bring in straws from juice boxes as they’re unsafe for animals. Oh, and keep your drinks and food in a bag or cooler that’s no bigger than 24x15x18.
10. Don’t buy bottled water.
Get free water at any counter-service restaurant within the park.
11. Save on stroller rentals by purchasing your rental online.
There’s a discount for prepaid multi-day stroller rentals. Stroller rentals at Disney parks are $15 per day for single, or $31 for double. By purchasing online, your price drops to $13 per day single or $27 per day double.
13. Attach an over-the-door organizer to a stroller to hold drinks.
14. Avoid standing in line a second time with Disney’s free Rider Switch service.
Have an infant or child in your party who can’t ride an attraction? Ask the cast member supervising the ride if Rider Switch is available.
While one parent watches the baby, another adult and any older kids can ride the attraction. Once they’re finished riding, the waiting adult can ride and can even bring a second person along (even if that person just rode) with them!
15. Set your alarm for 7 AM exactly 30 days before your trip for the best FastPass+ reservations at Disney World.
FastPass+ is your golden ticket to skipping those loooonng lines at Disney World. The best part is, it’s free with your ticket purchase. You get access to 3 passes per day, and because everyone gets them, you do not want to wait until you get to the park to choose which rides to use them on.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can actually start reserving 60 days before your trip date. For all other ticket holders, the earliest you can book is 30 days ahead.
At exactly 7 AM EST, 30-60 days before your vacation, go to the Disney World FastPass+ site and make your 3 ride selections — do this for each ticket holder in your group.
16. Use your FastPass+ to skip lines around 12 PM.
The shortest line times are in the morning, when the park is less crowded. So don’t waste your line skips then; use them between 11 AM and 2 PM when it’s the hottest time of day and when the park is most crowded.
17. Done with your 3 FastPass+ line skips? Reserve more in the park or via the app.
Once you’ve used up your initial 3 FastPass+ skips, head to a kiosk in the park and reserve more for that same day. You can only reserve one more at a time and only for rides in the park the kiosk is located in. If you need to modify your reservation, you can do so right in the free My Disney Experience app.
18. Set your lock screen to your FastPass+ schedule to save battery.
Download the free My Disney Experience app on your smartphone, and once you select your FastPass+ skips at Disney World, take a screenshot of your schedule and set the image as your lock screen. This way, you won’t have to open the app every time you want to check your reservations.
The app is also useful for checking line times, dining reservations, and more.
19. Send only one person to get Disneyland FastPasses for your entire group.
Disneyland FastPass is different from Disney World’s FastPass+. They also come free with your ticket, but you can’t reserve them in advance; you can only get one FastPass per person at a time, and there are only a set number available for each hour of a ride’s operation. FastPass kiosks are located near the entrance of only some rides, and you’ll need to insert your park ticket in order to get one.
Instead of dragging your whole group to the front to get passes, save time (and stress) by taking all your group’s park tickets and inserting them one by one for passes. While you get passes, your group can see and ride other attractions…and you’ll be the line hero.
20. Get Disneyland FastPasses for Indiana Jones and Space Mountain early in the morning.
Even when the early-morning crowds are few and the lines short, grab FastPasses for Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. They’re the most popular rides at Disneyland, and if you don’t get the passes early, they’ll likely run out until very late in the evening.
Get them as soon as you enter the park, and come back an hour or so later to ride. While you wait for your reservation window, take advantage of the short morning lines at the other rides nearby.
For California Adventure, get FastPasses early for these rides:
Radiator Springs Racers
Soarin’ Over California
Tower of Terror
Frozen! Live at the Hyperion
21. Hold multiple FastPasses when you reserve for “disconnected” attractions.
Some Disneyland FastPass machines operate on a disconnected system, which means the normal one-FastPass-at-a-time rule doesn’t apply. You can get a FastPass for a “disconnected” ride or show and hold another valid FastPass a minute later.
Currently, the “disconnected” attractions at Disneyland include:
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
“Disconnected” attractions at California Adventure:
Frozen! Live at the Hyperion
World of Color
22. Park hopping between California Adventure and Disneyland? Hold 2 FastPasses at the same time.
Generally, you can only hold one FastPass at a time and can’t get another pass until your current FastPass time window begins. But Disneyland and California Adventure run off different FastPass systems, and it’s super easy to hop between the two parks as long as you have a park hopper ticket.
Grab a FastPass for one of Disneyland’s popular rides, then head to California Adventure and do the same right after.
23. Save 29% off main entrance prices with a Southern California CityPASS.
A SoCal CityPass includes one 3-Day Disneyland/California Adventure park hopper ticket with one Magic Morning Pass, a ticket to LEGOLAND California Resort, and a ticket to SeaWorld Adventure Park — all for $346 ($314 for kids under 9).
A regular 3-Day park hopper ticket is $295 at Disneyland, $73 at SeaWorld, and $84 at LEGOLAND.
24. Live in Florida? Get a 3-Day Disney World pass for less than $50 a day.
Until June 9, 2017, Florida residents can score a 3-day Discover Disney pass for only $139 plus tax. That’s less than $50 a day! A normal 3-day pass for non-residents costs $290.
You must show proof of Florida residency upon entering the park.
25. Never buy tickets from Craigslist or eBay.
They can’t be verified for their authenticity and you do not want to travel all the way to a Disney park only to find out your tickets aren’t legit. #nightmare.
26. Let an authorized Disney vacation planner do all the deal hunting for you — for free.
Another way to score discounted Disney tickets is through a travel agency using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. There are tons of travel agents out there. Google search “[your town] and Disney vacation planner” and a bunch will pop up.
They’ll do all the deal searching for you, saving you time and money. Plus, it’s free — Disney pays these agents a commission directly.
27. Book your Disney vacation through an airline.
Earn frequent flier points and get discounted Disney vacation deals by booking through an airline. Some of the deals we’ve seen recently include:
Southwest Airlines – Save up to $200 on flight, hotel, and 4-Day Magic Your Way tickets for Disney World. For Disneyland: when you book flight and hotel through Southwest, you can save anywhere from 10-25% on select Disney resort stays.
JetBlue – Jetblue is offering 25% off hotel stays at Disney World when you book through 2/28/17. They also have flight and hotel packages for multiple Disney resorts often so it’s always worth checking their site!
American Airlines – Save up to 25% on a five-night stay, tickets, and dining plan for a family of four at Walt Disney World resort hotels. Book your flight and hotel together to save.
28. Use a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass to get free flights for your family.
This is one hack you’ve gotta take advantage of! You need to earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a year to get a Companion Pass, which will allow one designated person of your choosing to fly for free for at least a year!
Those 110,000 points can be earned easily by applying for the Southwest Plus and Premier credit cards (you don’t have to apply for both at once) — each will give you 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Charge everything from bills to groceries on those babies (making sure to pay each off every month with the cash you’re saving by using your credit card). Then, refer a couple of friends to open a card too and soon you’ll be at 110,000 points!
Use the points and the Companion Pass to purchase your Disney vacation tickets to California or Florida. That’s what I did. Here’s How I Flew My Whole Family to Disney for Fee (Twice!)
29. Stay at a Disney Resort hotel and get access to Magic Hours.
When you stay at a Disney Resort hotel at Disney World or Disneyland, you get access to up to four extra hours of park time.
At Disney World, the park is open an hour earlier and three hours later on select days for Disney Resort hotel guests. At Disneyland and California Adventure, Disney Resort guests can arrive an hour early on select days (aka Magic Mornings). Take advantage of these magic hours when the park is less crowded and the lines short!
NOTE: If you buy a SoCal CityPASS or a regular 3-Day park hopper ticket to Disneyland, you also get access to one Magic Morning pass.
30. Check if your hotel offers a shuttle service to the parks to avoid parking costs.
31. Eat breakfast in your hotel room.
This will save you a ton of money over the course of your stay. Head to the closest grocery store (Publix is only a 10-minute drive from Disney in Florida), and stock up on breakfast foods.
I spent $50 on breakfast foods for my family of four last time we went to Disney World, and we had breakfast for 5 days.
32. Make reservations at park restaurants to avoid long wait times.
You can make reservations up to 180 days prior to your trip. Plan your meals ahead, see menu prices, and make reservations now at Disney World and Disneyland.
33. Buy ponchos before you get into the park.
Ponchos sold in the park start at about $15. Plan ahead and get one at Walmart for $1.
34. Collect pressed pennies for cheap souvenirs.
Find these pressed penny machines throughout Disney parks and resorts. Each location has a different design, and it’ll only cost you $0.51.
35. Trade pins with any Disney cast member who’s wearing a lanyard.
There are a few rules to this memorable (and totally free) activity, like it must be a Disney pin, and pins must be in good condition.
36. Make your own autograph book.
Autograph books in the park run upwards of $20. Instead of buying them directly from Disney, make your own!
One easy idea: have characters sign decorative or plain notecards. When you get home, print photos of your kids standing next to their favorite characters, and display the autographed cards next to each image.
37. Disney Visa cardholders save 10% on select dining and merchandise in the park.
Disney Visa cardholders with Chase bank save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney parks, resorts, and stores. If you have a Disney Visa, you also get access to exclusive character experiences within the park, dining discounts, special vacation financing, and more.
There are two card options — one with and one without an annual fee; compare them both here.
38. Get a sweet discount for family and friends if you’re in the military.
Active or Retired Military personnel can score 3-, 4-, or 5-Day military promo tickets.
For Disney World, 4-Day passes are $209 and 5-Day passes are $224. For Disneyland, 3-Day passes are $156 and 4-Day passes $181. These prices are valid through mid-December 2017 and also come with bonus offers. Purchase tickets on Base and at participating military sales outlets.
39. Only have special event tickets? Arrive at 4 PM to get 3 extra hours of park time.
Most special events at Disney parks — like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — require separate park tickets and start at 7 PM.
Even though 7 PM is the start time, call ahead to see when you can actually enter the park. Most of the time, you’re allowed to enter early, giving you extra time to enjoy the park!
40. Attending a special event with multiple shows or parades? Always go to the second showing.
The first showing is always more crowded. This gives you a chance to check out some rides with less of a wait while everyone else is checking out the shows and parades.
41. Just going to Disneyland for one day? Go on a weekday and save about $10.
Regular 1-Day ticket prices for Disneyland (not including California Adventure) start at $105 if you go on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Go on a weekday and get the Value Ticket price, which starts at just $95.
Value Tickets aren’t available in the peak season, though. So plan ahead and go when they’re available. See availability dates here.
42. Save an average of $2-$10 per day when you buy from an authorized ticket broker.
Disney authorizes the purchase of tickets from a few different ticket brokers. And often, these tickets are cheaper than what you’d find on the actual Disney park website. But I can’t stress enough how important it is to check whether a source is truly an authorized ticket broker — unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there.
Trusted brokers for Disney World include:
Maple Leaf Tickets
The Official Ticket Center
Trusted brokers for Disneyland include:
Get Away Today
Prices fluctuate throughout the year, so check all your options and compare prices before solidifying a purchase. Florida and California taxes are usually included in 3rd party tickets, while prices on the actual Disney site are not. Factor that in when price comparing.