A Disney vacation is an investment and no matter what your budget, it is important to me that you get the BEST VALUE for your vacation dollars. Here are some of my favorite tips for saving money in the theme parks.
Bring Your Own Water Bottles!
It is so important to stay hydrated when visiting Walt Disney World. It is Florida, so the heat and humidity are extremely high, plus you are on the go and probably a little more active then in your daily life - we sometimes walk 13 miles in a day at Disney. If you are supposed to have 8 glasses of water a day on a normal day, then it’s not a stretch to say you would need 12-16 glasses of water on a Disney day.
But water at Disney is $4 a bottle!!
There are a few water filling stations scattered throughout the theme parks (sometimes you’ll even find them in the attraction queues) or you can get free cups of water at any counter service location (they are small so you will need several to fill a bottle). During the summer months, you may also find beverage dispensers of water sitting outside of the restaurants (which means you won’t need to stand in line).
Since the quality of the taste of Florida tap water varies, another alternative is to have a case of water delivered to your hotel. We typically fill our hotel fridge/freezer with bottles. We take one cold and one frozen per person which usually gets us to lunch.
We also like to get the Britta water bottles. No matter how bad the Florida water tastes, it makes even the tap water taste like bottled water. While it is a small investment, it lasts through multiple trips!
I typically get a free cup of water and use my drink to get a bottle of water which gets me until our mid-afternoon break when we go back to the hotel. We then do the same thing for our afternoon/evening in the parks, bringing with one cold and one frozen per person.
We are hydrated and saved at least $20 per person just by having a couple of cases of water delivered to our resort room.
Save on Snacks with Grocery Delivery
Having fun burns a lot of calories! To tide you and your family over between meals, there are a plethora of snack carts in the theme parks – offering everything from popcorn, pretzels, and pickles to fresh fruit and frozen drinks.
My family likes to be sure we can stave off any ‘hangry’ moods by having snacks on hand in our park bag too. Perfect for while you’re standing in line at an attraction, we have trail mix, jerky, goldfish, etc delivered with our water order from the grocery store.
If you plan on saving a little money by planning ahead pre-purchasing snacks, remember these park rules:
Some ways to lower the food cost or stretch your Disney Dining Dollars is to order 2 meals for 3 people, 3 meals for 4 people, etc., and supplement with snacks
Remember, you can always order more food if people are still hungry and the food is gone. It’s easy peasy to mobile order another entree if you need it!
Disney Counter Service meals are not skimpy meals! When my now grown kids were small, we would get two meals and the three of us would share. Sometimes , when each kid wanted something different, we would get two different meals and we all got some of each. We never went hungry at Disney!
Purchase Essentials Before You go!
It is Florida, chances are you are going to get stuck in a rainstorm at some point during your vacation.
Disney knows this and they know you have no other options so they are going to charge you $12 per poncho - well not you because you bought several disposable ponchos from the dollar store or amazon
You saved so much money, you use one as a blanket when sitting on the ground waiting for the parade or fireworks and one to protect yourself from the wet seat on Splash Mountain. #momwin
You are ok that it’s disposable because who wants to carry around a wet poncho anyway?
Other items you should purchase before you go: cell phone power bank, hand sanitizer, cheap sunglasses (that you don’t care if they get lost or broken), click sharpies, autograph book, and sunscreen.
Pack a Pharmacy
Someone is inevitably going to get sick or hurt. In my family, it is usually me.
After a few trips having to purchase Tylenol from the gift shop that cost more than my hotel room, I learned to pack my own.
Of course, you can’t predict what is going to happen so I now pack Immodium, Pepto, Tylenol, Benadryl, Nyquil/Dayquil, Bandaids, etc.
Bring Your Own Souvenirs
When you get to Walt Disney World your kids are going to want you to buy them everything they see. So to avoid meltdowns, without spending their college tuition, you just distract them!
They want a bubble wand, you have bubbles in your purse.
They want a glow sword, you have dozens of glow bracelets from the dollar store.
On one of our first trips to Disney we had a Disney outlet store close to my office. I would go every payday during lunch and buy a few things. They were the things I thought they would ask for on the trip. Each day I carried one of those gifts in the diaper bag. When they wanted something I would say we would get something after the next ride....and then once they got off the ride a new toy showed up! They thought it was magic!
A popular thing that some Pinterest moms thought up is for Tinker Bell to bring some “pixie dust” each night of your trip. The pixie dust is a little Disney-themed item you pick up at the dollar store or on sale at Target.
When your child really wants something you can usually avoid the tantrum by getting them to wait and see what Tinker Bell brings that night. You can then let them pick out the ONE thing they want to bring home towards the end of the trip.
If your kids are older, gifting some of those discounted Disney Gift Cards for their birthday or holiday occasions that happen before your trip is a smart way to give them control over their souvenir purchases.
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!