Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Tips For Saving Money At Disney World

We recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World Florida after years of planning and saving, and one thing
that is undeniably true is that Mickey Magic does not come cheap! Especially for guests travelling from the UK as we have the high cost of flights and the terrible exchange rate working against us right now.

But luckily there are a few ways to make your dollars stretch that little bit further while you're there, and I'm going to share my favourite Disney money saving tips with you today.

*Opt For Kids Meals

Dining is one of the biggest expenses of a trip to Disney World, but we found that the portion sizes in the US were often too large for us. If you're dining at a quick service restaurant, nobody cares whether you're ordering an adult or childrens meal - we often found that kids meals offered much better value for money as not only were they usually around $5 cheaper but they also usually included a drink and even sometimes a dessert too, which the adult meals did not.  Often the kids portion sizes were barely any smaller anyway!

*Be selective with dining choices

We had our hearts set on visiting all of the restaurants we had originally chosen before our 2020 trip was cancelled due to the pandemic - the problem was that our 2020 trip had included the Disney Dining Plan, whereas this was removed post-pandemic - meaning we had to pay for the restaurants out of pocket. We spent THOUSANDS of dollars visiting these restaurants and I have to say, few of them were actually worth the prices they charge. 

You do not have to dine on Disney property, you could easily save a lot of money - and usually find better food - by eating off-site in some of Orlando's many restaurants and fast food eateries. Other ways to save on dining are to choose quick service restaurants over table service as not only is the food cheaper, but you can split meals between kids (portion sizes are often way too big for one!) or choose kids meals for adults (see above). You will also save money on tipping, as this is not expected at a quick service venue but can set you back for 20% of your bill at table service venues.

*Open a Landrys card

If you're planning to dine at Yak & Yeti, TRex Cafe or Rainforest Cafe then it's worth opening a Landry's Select Club membership card as although this costs $25, you get the money back in credit to use as discount on your bill and presenting the card will enable you to get a table as a walk-up without reservations and can even help you to skip the line.

If you're planning on dining at more than one of those restaurants, you could also save some money as a Landry's Card entitles the user to $25 off their bill during their birthday month - if your birthday just happens to fall during your trip (hint: nobody checks what your birthday actually is when you sign up), then you can save some money! The card also gives you 10% discount on merchandise within the restaurants too.

*Organise A Grocery Delivery

You can have groceries delivered to your accommodation from a number of outlets, including Garden Grocer and Amazon. We personally organised a delivery from Walmart before we arrived, scheduled to be delivered on our first evening - it was so easy to do! We had breakfast items, snacks and drinks delivered for us to use in our room and take to the parks with us during the day, which saved us a small fortune on the prices we would have paid in the parks.

*Take water bottles with you to the parks

It's so important to stay hydrated in the Floridian heat, but you'll notice that the cost of bottled water and soda really adds up fast - especially if you have kids to pay for too! So you'll want to ensure that you bring water bottles with you from home. These can not only be filled up at the water fountains around the parks, but you can ask for free iced water from any location that serves fountain drinks too and use this to fill up your bottles. 
We made sure to take lots of little Robinsons Squashies cordial shots with us as my kids won't drink plain water - they were the best thing we took with us for sure! They take up no space at all in your luggage but they saved us such a lot of money on drinks!

*Refillable popcorn is your friend!

Popcorn buckets are sold around Disney World with the standard buckets priced around $15.99 and souvenir special edition ones anywhere up to $25 - all of them are refillable which means that for a small fee of less than $3 you can top them up as often as you like, making for a very handy snack option on a budget! Especially handy if you have hungry kids who always want to be snacking!

*Look For Good Value Souvenirs & Visit Outlets

The cost of souvenirs can soon add up, as the gift shops really are everywhere - including at the exit of pretty much every ride and even in the restaurants! But be sure to take a trip to one of the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet Stores before you make any purchases, as you can often items retailing for much less here than they are in the parks - I got myself a really cool Loungefly bag for under $30 instead of the usual $70+

The outlets are located in Vinelands Outlet and Orlando International Premium Outlets, both easily reachable by car or Uber.

If you're travelling with kids, I highly recommend encouraging them to collect Pressed Pennies as a souvenir - my eldest son loved looking out for the pressed penny machines everywhere and collecting as many as he could, and he loved that they were available in other Orlando theme parks as well as Disney. They cost just a dollar each, and you can buy a display wallet or frame for under $20 too. 

My best tip if you're travelling with kids is to give them a daily allowance for shopping, rather than giving them free reign in the stores or expecting them to manage their own budget - there is just so much on offer that it's overwhelming even for adults, so encouraging kids to pace their purchases with a daily allowance was really helpful for us - this way they could choose to buy a little something each day if they felt the need to, or they could choose to save up their daily allowance if they wanted to make a bigger purchase.

*Take Rain Ponchos & Fans With You

One of the most common ways to end up splurging at Disney by not coming prepared for the weather. Orlando weather is unpredictable, and if you get caught out  - you WILL end up shelling out for a rain poncho at $10 each or splurging $20 on over priced sun lotion. 

To avoid this, make sure to bring clothing that is suitable for layering so that you're covered for all weather eventualities and be sure to bring plenty of sun screen, handheld fans, hats and ponchos from home. We brought 2 multi packs of ponchos for £10 which lasted all 5 of us for 25 days, rather than spend the same price for one in the park!

*Make Use Of Freebies!

Although most things at Disney World will undoubtedly cost you an arm and a leg, there ARE a handful of freebies to be had - so be sure to make the most of them! Whether its scratching that itch for a soda with the free Coca Cola from around the world samples at Club Cool in Epcot, or sampling little delicacies from various stores in World Showcase such as free tea samples in the UK pavilion or free cologne samples in Italy - take them up on whatever they're offering!

There is also a free kids trail with postcards and fun stickers around World Showcase too, which is fun.

*Bibbidi Bobbidi For Less!

A visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a classic Disney World experience but one that can cost an awful lot of money! One way to enjoy the experience for less is to bring your own Princess outfit with you, and just pay for the makeover experience - this will cost you $80 instead of $200 so a decent saving. It's worth noting that the Knight Package here includes hair styling and glitter, a sword and a shield and is only $20!! My son loved it, it is well worth its price tag and our fairy godmother was great with him! It is aimed at boys, but I'm sure any Knight loving child would be welcome to experience it.

I hope these tips are helpful for your next visit to Disney World, and please feel free to leave your own tips in the comments below - I'd love to hear them!

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