26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget
Raechel Conover contributed to this story.
Tickets are among the most expensive parts of any Disney visit, hovering around $100 a day at each park, depending on age and date. But there are several ways to save on admission. AAA sometimes offers member discounts, and Costco is known for extending occasional deals on Disney tickets. Large companies, government organizations, and big groups such as unions also have occasional access to cut-rate admission. Disney offers specially priced tickets to active or retired members of the military and accompanying family and friends. It may take a little bit of shopping around to find the cheapest price, but it's worth the effort.
One of many costly mistakes you don't want to make at Disney, this bit of advice doesn't always go over well with clients, says Greg Antonelle, managing director of Mickey Travels, an authorized Disney vacation planner. But declining to buy a Park Hopper pass, which allows visits to more than one park in a day, is an easy way to save money. "It's an expense a lot of my clients don't need," Antonelle says. "If you end your day at a park early, then go enjoy your resort, check out the fireworks from the beach, catch an outdoor movie, or browse Disney Springs. All of these options are free and more relaxing than running to a second park."
Staying at Disney hotels certainly costs a bit more money. The flip side is that visitors who choose accommodations on Disney World property receive free transportation to and from the Orlando airport, which is no small savings, according to authorized Disney vacation planners Joanna Bistline and Lauren Lieberman. "We think this is a better value," Bistline says. "You don't have to rent a car and you get added perks, such as getting the Magic Bands (a bracelet device that enables access to parks, reserved activities, and Disney hotel rooms) which typically cost around $15, for free."
Flexibility around dates should be a no-brainer for seasoned travelers, but Disney experts still find themselves repeating this advice often: Staying at a Disney hotel during the week (Monday through Thursday) typically is far cheaper than staying over the weekend. For those who have the vacation time, shifting a planned visit a few days can have a big impact on the budget.