I am going to Disney greater than 20 instances a 12 months, listed below are my high 19 suggestions to economize and have enjoyable

Whenever you go to Walt Disney World as typically as I do — each for work as a theme park reporter and with my household for enjoyable — you find yourself with fairly a number of tips up your sleeve to make the journey as magical and inexpensive as potential.

From snagging hard-to-get eating reservations and discovering secret eats to studying which rides to skip at rope drop (aka park opening) and the place and when to do your character eating, these tried-and-true insider suggestions will prevent money and time, and assist you might have the very best Walt Disney World trip.

Save on snacks with $2.25 popcorn refills

Similar to in all places else on the planet, Walt Disney World has seen costs go up on the whole lot from park tickets to meals and drinks. A method we hold our snack spend down is by shopping for popcorn in a memento bucket as our first snack of the journey.

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A memento bucket crammed with popcorn begins at $13 (extra for the additional elaborate buckets), however then you possibly can have it refilled for $2.25 a refill for the size of your keep. We feature our bucket with us all day, on daily basis, and hold it crammed to stave off main snack assaults. Then once we do splurge on goodies like churros and Mickey pretzels with cheese, we purchase much less and share as a result of we aren’t tremendous hungry after the inexpensive popcorn refills.

There are even two varieties of specialty popcorn which are eligible for the discounted refills. You may get maple popcorn from the popcorn stand outdoors the Canada pavilion at Epcot and Buttered Blue Grains (tastes like common popcorn however with a inexperienced/blue hue) from Kat Saka’s Kettle within the Market at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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Use secret menus


This is a secret that first-time or occasional guests to Disney could not know: there are off-menu “secret menu gadgets.”

Whereas some spots, like Dealer Sam’s Grog Grotto, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, Jungle Navigation Co., and Ltd. Skipper Canteen are higher identified for often providing “secret” menu gadgets, many eating places round Walt Disney World have extra off-menu gadgets obtainable when you simply ask.

Generally secret menus may even prevent some huge bucks. A sneaky strategy to dig into certainly one of Disney World’s most craveable carbs, ‘Ohana noodles, with out paying the hefty prix fixe worth of an ‘Ohana dinner, is to order a bowl from Tambu Lounge subsequent door. They’re not on the menu — however you simply need to ask!

Certainly one of my favourite spots to attempt rotating off-menu gadgets is Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the place you’ll typically discover a number of choices not listed on Nomad’s on-line menu.

Some, like The Land salad made with produce from Epcot’s Residing with the Land attraction, come from Tiffins, the table-service restaurant subsequent door.

Generally off-menu gadgets can be found to accommodate particular dietary restrictions. Geyser Level Bar & Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is well-known for its Bison Cheeseburger, however it additionally gives an off-menu vegetarian burger made with a plant-based patty.


Eat at lounges, not full-service eating places

The key to a pleasing Disney World journey is putting a steadiness between going exhausting and maximizing your park time and taking sufficient breaks to recollect you’re truly on a trip. My favourite strategy to decelerate is with a leisurely meal, however conventional table-service eating places on Disney property could be very dear.

As an alternative, most of my go-to spots for a relaxed lunch or dinner are Disney World’s many atmospheric lounges, the place you’ll be seated (typically in air-conditioning) and have a server, however can order from a menu of smaller plates, lighter bites and inventive cocktails with out feeling the stress to order an costly, multicourse meal.

For instance, at House 220 in Epcot, the set lunch menu prices $55 for adults and $29 for kids. That is a hefty worth if what you actually need is a spot to take a seat and an opportunity to see the home windows out into area. Nevertheless, within the lounge you possibly can nonetheless see the home windows, and heavy appetizers can be found for $12 to $18.


A few of my favourite lounges at Disney World are:

  • Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • Geyser Level Bar & Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
  • Dahlia Lounge in Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
  • Bar Riva at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
  • Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
  • Steakhouse 71 Lounge at Disney’s Modern Resort.
  • House 220 Lounge at Epcot.
  • Sanaa Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village.
  • Dealer Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs.

Purchase Gasoline Rods on Amazon, however swap them within the parks

A Walt Disney World trip has turn out to be synonymous with being glued to your telephone. You’ll want it to entry My Disney Expertise to handle eating, Genie+ and Particular person Lightning reservations, the Play Disney Parks Cellular App and, properly, all the opposite stuff you want your telephone for.

Whereas my first line of protection towards a useless battery is a robust transportable charger like this one from Anker, I additionally advocate at all times having a Gasoline Rod readily available as a backup in case you drain your first charging financial institution.

Gasoline Rods are swappable at stations throughout Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts. You should purchase them within the parks for $30 every however you possibly can probably save a number of {dollars} by ordering on Amazon earlier than your journey.


Know the ‘different’ spot to get widespread treats

Proper alongside Disney World “must-rides” are “must-eats,” and Disney World execs know that the preferred spot isn’t at all times the one place to get a few of Disney World’s finest meals.

For Dole Whip, Disney World’s iconic frozen deal with, ditch the Magic Kingdom crowds and escape to Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Swirls on the Water at Disney Springs additionally serves rotating flights, typically with flavors you received’t discover elsewhere. And since this Dole Whip is not within the park, you possibly can take pleasure in it on a day you are not utilizing a ticket, when you’re planning a “down day” in your agenda.

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It’s exhausting to overlook the odor — or the queue out the door — for cult-favorite Werther’s Authentic Caramel Popcorn from Karamell Küche within the Germany pavilion at Epcot.

However do you know similar caramel popcorn can be made contemporary at Magic Kingdom? You possibly can snag a bag at Massive Prime Souvenirs within the Storybook Circus space of Fantasyland.


Do dinner and a film with desk service to-go

When you possibly can’t get a reservation, or simply don’t really feel like sitting down in a restaurant after a protracted day on the park, an incredible various dinner possibility is to order meals to go from a few of Disney World’s hottest resort table-service eating places. Simply kind “to go” into the search bar in My Disney Expertise and also you’ll see a listing of eating places the place you possibly can mobile-order a full meal.

A few of our favorites embody Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk, Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Previous Key West Resort, and Ale & Compass at Disney’s Yacht Membership Resort.


You possibly can deliver dinner again to your room or eat it at an outside desk on the resort, however our go-to transfer is dinner and a film.

Disney resorts present films on large out of doors screens most evenings (simply test the schedule posted at every resort), and we deliver a picnic blanket, and decide up dinner to go and watch whereas we eat.

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Create your individual DIY souvenirs


Recreation Forged Members at Disney World resorts run every day actions, from poolside trivia to night s’mores across the campfire and flicks below the celebs. Additionally they supply paid actions that make enjoyable DIY souvenirs, like tie-dyed Mickey T-shirts.

Certainly one of our favourite DIY actions — an ideal break on a wet afternoon — is making our personal kukui nut leis at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. For $15 for teenagers and $20 for adults, you possibly can select your individual coloured nuts and string and discover ways to make your individual necklace.

A number of Disney World resorts even have Neighborhood Halls the place company can watch films, play video games and make crafts, each free and for a small charge. My youngsters like to cease in on a wet day and make solar catchers, mini canvas work, glazed ceramics and extra.

Snag hard-to-get eating reservations

Disney World eating reservations are formally open for reserving 60 days prematurely, however company staying on Disney World property with their keep linked in My Disney Expertise can ebook reservations for the size of their keep. In different phrases, for a five-day keep, these company can truly ebook some meals 65 days prematurely.

Because of this typically essentially the most fascinating reservations get scooped up greater than 60 days prematurely.


However don’t surrender when you didn’t get that coveted House 220, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, or Oga’s Cantina reservation. Disney World costs a cancellation charge for no-shows for reservations not canceled by 11:59 p.m. the evening earlier than, so when you test periodically the day earlier than you’re hoping to go, you simply may snag a desk at certainly one of Disney World’s hottest eating places.

You may as well use a instrument akin to Mouse Eating when you want slightly additional assist discovering that powerful availability.

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The right way to get free ice water

It’s by no means a foul thought to deliver a refillable water bottle with you to the parks, however when you do end up needing some water, you possibly can ask for a free cup of ice water at any quick-service location that serves fountain drinks. Usually, a Forged Member can be stationed on the door checking for Cellular Order return notifications, and you may simply allow them to know you’d like a cup of ice water and so they’ll direct you to a numbered pick-up counter.

Break up your keep into 2 accommodations

Nothing beats the comfort of staying on property, however all Walt Disney World resorts aren’t created equal in terms of worth or ease of entry to the magic. After all, the closest resorts to the theme parks are additionally the most costly, however since time is cash on a Walt Disney World trip, typically it pays to prioritize location. Nevertheless, different instances, it makes extra sense to stretch your funds. With a break up keep, you are able to do each.

Relying on which park you’re visiting, some deluxe resorts may have you thru the park gates sooner than out of your automobile or bus cease. For those who’re headed to Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Modern Resort and Bay Lake Tower are just some minutes away on foot and even have their very own safety checkpoint. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is equally handy — a simple 10-minute stroll alongside a phenomenal new walkway.

Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Yacht and Seaside Membership Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts are all walkable to Epcot’s Worldwide Gateway entrance and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Swan Reserve at Disney World. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Whereas I don’t advocate switching resorts each time you’re headed to a brand new park, splitting a keep between the monorail resorts and the Epcot resorts can hold you off the buses for many of your journey.

A break up keep can be a good way to expertise a pricier deluxe resort for a part of your journey whereas additionally protecting the general price down. Deluxe resorts are sometimes $500 to $700 per evening whereas extra inexpensive resorts could be within the $150 to $300-per-night vary.

At all times dreamed of waking as much as the animals roaming the savanna off your balcony at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge? Splurge on a number of nights there when you prioritize visiting Animal Kingdom and take a bus or Minnie Van to Magic Kingdom, then hop to the extra inexpensive value-tier Disney’s Pop Century Resort, which gives unbeatable Disney Skyliner entry to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Fearful in regards to the problem of transferring resorts? Sure, you’ll need to repack and also you most likely can be and not using a room from check-out time (normally about 11 a.m.) till check-in time (normally about 4 p.m.), however you possibly can depart your packed baggage with bell companies within the morning whenever you head to a park and so they’ll switch your baggage to your subsequent Disney resort when you’re out having enjoyable. Then on the finish of your day, head to your subsequent resort and your baggage must be there ready for you.

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Save in your journey by paying with Disney Reward Playing cards


A straightforward strategy to shave anyplace from 3% to 10% off the price of your journey is to purchase discounted Disney present playing cards and use them to pay for the whole lot — your Disney lodge, park tickets, merchandise, and eating. We even use present playing cards to avoid wasting on our Disney Trip Membership dues.

You may get them from Goal (5% low cost with a Goal Purple Card) or from Sam’s Membership and BJ’s (3%–4% low cost). Even when you aren’t getting a straight low cost, you possibly can probably earn bonus factors in your rewards bank card by shopping for Disney present playing cards strategically at grocery shops, workplace provide shops, and so on.

Some cash-back bank cards additionally supply wholesale warehouses of their quarterly cash-back classes, boosting your total financial savings. Chain retailers like Meijer, Kroger and Lowe’s additionally sometimes run promos that may nab you much more financial savings on present playing cards, normally as much as about 10% off.

Assume it is going to rain — and plan accordingly

That is Central Florida, so count on it to rain. Being prepared for rain is a secret weapon of Disney World execs. The correct preparation can imply letting slightly rain roll off your (lined) again as a substitute of drenching your parade. My tried-and-true rain-ready park suggestions are:

  • Put on waterproof sneakers (learn: no sneakers and socks to get soaked).
  • Convey a journey umbrella and a poncho or rain jacket.
  • Cowl your stroller with a water-proof cowl each time you park it and there’s even the slightest likelihood of a bathe.
  • Take into account the forecast whenever you select what to experience first (aka out of doors rides).

A lot of Walt Disney World’s out of doors points of interest shut briefly throughout rain and lightning, so in case you have your coronary heart set on a top-tier experience like Slinky Canine Sprint, Take a look at Monitor, Expedition Everest or Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice, don’t wait till the tip of the day to attempt to experience — you possibly can be out of luck.


Prioritize widespread out of doors rides through the first half of the day, significantly in the summertime when afternoon showers are nearly assured.

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Plan a resort day — or 2!

There’s a lot to do round Walt Disney World outdoors the theme parks that you possibly can simply fill a number of days with actions with out ever shopping for a park ticket. For those who’re visiting on a multiday park ticket moderately than an annual move, take into account loading the majority of your non-park actions right into a day (or days) whenever you skip the parks solely — together with your arrival and departure days.

Strive a spherical of mini golf — or 18 holes of the actual factor — within the morning, some pool time within the afternoon and a go to to Disney Springs for dinner, procuring and a few Gideon’s cookies for dessert.

One other good time to plan a resort day is earlier than a celebration like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Social gathering, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Social gathering or Disney After Hours, lately introduced to be returning in January. These go properly into the evening, so you may want to avoid wasting up some vitality!

Save character eating for non-park days

Character meals are usually a visit spotlight, however too typically company make the error of attempting to cram a morning character breakfast into an already full park day.

As an alternative, spend these worthwhile morning park hours crushing rides and save these character meals for a resort day, as a particular dinner in your arrival evening, or a farewell breakfast in your departure morning (certainly one of our favourite, bittersweet traditions).


As an added bonus, the resorts are residence to lots of the finest character meals at Disney World.

A few of our favorites are Breakfast à la Artwork with Mickey & Mates at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Story E book Eating at Artist Level with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Finest Mates Breakfast that includes Lilo & Sew at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Modern Resort.

For those who do have your coronary heart set on a specific in-park character meal, like breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and Mates, which makes its long-awaited return to Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace Oct. 25, ebook breakfast as late as potential and make it a brunch, saving your early-morning hours for when there are shorter waits on rides.

Don’t ‘rope drop’ the preferred experience

The alternative of FastPass+ with Disney Genie+ and Particular person Lightning Lane in 2021 necessitated some critical park technique revisions to determine the best way to decrease time spent in standby queues, provided that the brand new system sometimes permits for fewer Lightning Lane reservations per day.

Among the finest methods to get a bounce begin on doing as many points of interest as potential in a day is to rope drop — this implies arriving on the park no less than half-hour forward of the official park opening (or the beginning of Early Theme Park Entry for Disney resort company) and heading straight to your first attraction the second the “rope drops” and also you’re capable of enter.


It could appear intuitive to beeline to the preferred experience on the park, which is often additionally the one that can price you essentially the most to skip the road by buying an Particular person Lightning Lane. However, this isn’t at all times the very best strategy.

Two of Disney World’s hottest rides, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Avatar Flight of Passage, are two of the priciest Particular person Lightning Lanes, however they’re additionally two of the longest queue, preshow and experience experiences. Because of this by the point you’ve exited both of those rides, your rope drop benefit is lengthy gone.

My most well-liked strategy is usually to buy an Particular person Lightning Lane for these rides after which rope drop barely much less widespread rides which are nonetheless in your must-do record. With that technique, it’s potential to get two to 3 different rides completed in the identical period of time earlier than the crowds begin to construct.

Mix this with Disney Genie+ and also you’ll simply knock out the whole lot you wish to in a day.

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Commerce fireworks and parades for shorter waits

If parades and nighttime spectaculars aren’t a must-see or you might have a number of days in the identical park, skip the present and hop in line for a preferred experience as a substitute and also you’re all however assured a shorter wait.


Control character meet-and-greet hours

Many character meet-and-greets begin later and finish sooner than park open and shut, so in case you have a must-meet character, make sure to test their instances in My Disney Expertise to keep away from the heartbreak of lacking out on a Winnie the Pooh hug or Wookiee fist bump from Chewbacca.

Order these fries prematurely

Cellular Order is extensively obtainable at Disney World quick-service eating places now (aka locations the place you are not waited on by a server), and it will possibly prevent a ton of time. However on busy days at widespread spots, like Woody’s Lunch Field at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Casey’s Nook at Magic Kingdom, the return instances can get backed up shortly. Wait till you’re ravenous to put your Cellular Order and you possibly can find yourself with a return time hours later and “hanger” to take care of within the interim.


As an alternative, keep away from that entire scenario by both inserting your order early within the day to your perfect return time, or no less than keeping track of return instances and ensuring you get your order positioned earlier than these lunchtime return home windows are lengthy gone.

Take into account Disney Trip Membership — or renting factors

I’m typically requested how our household affords to go to Walt Disney World — and keep in deluxe resorts — as typically as we do.

My high reply (aside from having annual passes)? Disney’s Trip Membership. That is Disney’s extra versatile tackle the standard timeshare and DVC can ship important financial savings over the lifetime of a membership for company who often keep at Disney’s deluxe tier of resorts.

Being a Disney Trip Membership member additionally will get you reductions on the whole lot from merchandise to after-hours occasions and entry to unique areas only for members like Prime of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower and a Disney Trip Membership Member Lounge at Epcot.

However even when shopping for an entire membership is not best for you, take into account whether or not it can save you some cash in your subsequent journey simply by renting DVC factors. For those who occur to know somebody who has DVC factors they don’t seem to be going to make use of that they might hire to you, that is one possibility, however it’s also possible to flip to a bigger service, akin to David’s Trip Membership, that may deal with the logistics for you, too.

Associated: You possibly can hire DVC factors by way of TPG’s accomplice, David’s Trip Membership

Backside line

Between having the proper gear in your theme park bag, realizing in regards to the hidden layers of magic constructed into Disney that may make your journey really feel extra magical and these sensible suggestions that can prevent money and time, you are properly in your strategy to being a Disney World professional.

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