Disney World Tips and Tricks
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Guide2WDW reader Karen H shares how spending $2 at a dollar store brightened up Fantasmic for herself and others: "Last year, my adult daughter bought a couple of packages of the neon necklaces and bracelets at a local dollar store before going to Disney World. We were at Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, where Disney sells neon necklaces for a large amount of money. (Much more than the dollar store). With a lot children around us looking disappointed because their parents thought the neon necklaces and bracelets were far too expensive, my daughter got hers out and handed them out around us. You should have seen the look in the children's eyes when she gave them out! They were thrilled to be a part of the neon light show after they turned out the lights at Fantasmic. She'll be doing it again when we go in October. It was worth the $2 she spent." Thanks to Karen H for this tip!
Save money at Disney World counter service restaurants throughout the parks by requesting the entree without the sides. By ordering a sandwich without the fries, you can often save over $2!
We just came back from a six day trip to WDW and saved over $900 on food. We had a party of six adults and one child and we went on the Disney Dining Plan which I think is part of the Magic Your Way program. For $30 per person per day, we ate like kings. Each day we each got one counter service meal which could be used for lunch or breakfast, (we used them for lunch since it includes one drink, one entree, and one dessert), one snack (ice cream, popsicle, popcorn, soft drink or bottled water), and then one table service meal for dinner. There was a list of restaurants participating in this plan so you had to stick to these restaurants but we got to try so many of the restaurants that we wouldn't have gone to otherwise, including, Boma, the Rose and Crown and Cinderella's Royal Table. Thanks to Amy for this tip!
Save money for dining by requesting a fridge in your hotel room. Go to Downtown Disney or a local grocery store and buy a few snacks and sodas. Eat something before going to the parks, then eat lunch around 3:00 or 4:00. This cut down your meals in the park to one per day, and you'll have a late night snack available in your room. Thanks to Jennifer for this tip!
Save some money by requesting a fridge in your hotel room!
Beverages at the park can get quite pricey. It's definitely worth packing your own drinks (i.e. sodas or reusable water bottles) to save a few dollars that are better spent on other things. Thanks to Stan for this tip!
We were lucky enough to get the Disney Dining Plan included in our booking, this was a great bonus it saved us a fortune. If you can get the Disney Dining Plan during your trip to Disney World, I definitely would say get it! Thanks to Steve for this tip!
In Epcot center, there is a nice spot called Club Cool (formerly known as Ice Station Cool). In addition to being a freezing cold building (for those extra-hot Florida days), there are soda fountains inside with Coke products from around the world. The best part? They don't charge to use the soda fountains! Grab a bottle from a gift shop (or from Wal-Mart) your first day in the park and head to Club Cool. Taste the different Coke varieties until you find one you like. My favorites are the apple from Israel and watermelon from China… and I would recommend to AVOID ITALY’S!. Fill up your bottle with soda from there (as many times as you like) and you won’t have to pay for any your entire time at Epcot. One downside is that you won’t have any ice, but in Florida the ice melts quickly anyway, so you can probably go up to any of the counter service restaurants and ask them for a cup of ice if you so desire. Thanks to Heather for this tip!
We like to only eat in the Epcot country restaurants, but after our first trip to Disney World we discovered how expensive it was to have dinner there. Now, instead of having dinner, we have a late lunch. We try and book the last lunch seating, which works out great! You get a large portion of food at about half the price, Then in the evening we just grab a snack or eat after we leave the park. It has saved us a lot of money on our Disney World trips. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
The Fish and Chips at Yorkshire County Fish Shop can't be beat!
An excellent option for lunch is the Fish and Chips in the United Kingdom at Epcot -- but don't go in the Rose and Crown Pub. Try Yorkshire County Fish Shop, the food stand located right next to it (towards France). It's a cheaper and faster option, which leaves you more time to experience Epcot!
To save time in the morning...I brought my own cereal, bowls and spoons. While I was showering, my husband went to the food court to buy milk (for the kids breakfast) and coffee's for us. By the time he was back, I was out of the shower, and one or both kids were out also. While he showered, we would eat and get dressed. This took us about one hour each morning. It sure beats sitting at a table waiting to place orders and get fed. The kids (10 and 7) thought it was fun too. We also brought along snacks (zip-lock baggies with trail mix) so that during the day we weren't spending a lot of money on junk food. We usually skipped a sit down lunch and opted only for a sit down dinner. It worked great! Thanks to Mike and Gina for this tip!
If you are planning to go to WDW at the end of August, be prepared for evening showers. It's a good idea to take your own poncho if you find one under $5 dollars. Of course when it rains all the stores take out all the ponchos so you can buy it there, and if you don't really care, buy the ones that have no Mickey drawing on it (that way you will save you almost 2 dollars) Thanks to Miros for this tip!
We had four children going with us to WDW so we purchased disposable cameras - one per day per child. There are some great deals on the internet to buy these cameras in bulk (we found some for $2.50 a piece). The kids took some of the best pictures of the trip. The adults in our party had adult cameras, but we didn't have to worry about the kids bugging us to take pictures. They had a blast! Thanks to WDW Visitor for this tip!
We also tell our boys we only buy souvenirs on the last day of our visit. They can look the whole time we are there but by the time it's OK to buy they know what they really want, and it prevents the gimmies during the trip. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
If you're thinking about buying a timeshare at one of the Disney resorts, look into purchasing on the resale market. Becoming a Disney Vacation Club member can save you a lot in the long-haul, but when you purchase directly from the resort the upfront expense is quite costly. A Disney timeshare resale can cost 65 percent less, which translates to thousands of dollars in savings.
Buy a timeshare from the resale market!
Not everything at Disney has to cost you lots of money. If you would like a good time filler that is inexpensive, try Resort hopping. If you stay on the grounds then you have unlimited access to all the Disney resorts and Downtown Disney. Take the time to Resort hop and scope where your next stay might be. Thanks to Sarah K for this tip!
Even if you do buy your own cheaper and smaller pins at home before taking a trip to Walt Disney World, the pins you get from Cast Members at the parks don't even buy their pins. They are provided to you from management, and those pins are free anyhow. I have personally seen the stacks of pins in the back offices of most parks and Cast Members just pick out of a big box. Thanks to Mike for this tip!
The Entertainment Card hotel rate for the Swan and Dolphin is a good deal at 50% off rack rates. These Hotels are in a great location, near boat transportation to Epcot and MGM-Disney. Also nearby is the Boardwalk with a bakery, shops and restaurants. One problem with the Swan was that I was told at check-in that a $5.00/day "resort fee" would be added above the room price that I had been quoted when the reservation was made. Later when I complained to Management I was told that this is an "optional" charge for some misc. services, and it was removed from the bill. The fee was not represented as being optional when I checked in. So the tip to travelers is...object to this add-on. The tip to the Hotel is to either quote $5.00/day more when the reservation is made, or drop the whole attempt to layer it on later. It seemed unethical to me to the point where I didn't want to eat at Swan restaurants (concern of getting a "plate fee" added on) or shop on site...("bag fee"?). I do not know if other WDW resorts try to add fees also. Thanks to Dave for this tip!
Whenever I have visited Walt Disney World (always in July/August) it has been extremely hot. To save money on drinks...ask for ice!! The ice is free and cools you down!! Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Buy your sourvenirs at the Disney Store!
Merchandise sold at Disney Stores outside of the resort is just as nice and a lot less expensive than what is sold in the resort. Thanks to Andrea for this tip!
Disney & Universal aren't checking about food anymore. So purchase your pop and sandwiches outside and come prepared to snack your way through the day. Saves $$$ Thanks to Sue for this tip!
For rooms, try out skyauction.com. The Westgate Villas near Sea World almost always have several rooms/condos up for auction and I've seen a 2bdrm condo for a week go for less than $400. Thanks to Michelle for this tip!
Buy your children their "souvenirs" at Toys R Us or EToys and bring them with you. Satisfy their need to buy something by giving them your discounted toys.
Our family just returned from our first trip to WDW. We stayed at the All Star Movies resort. The resort was nice and very kid friendly but there were no "perks" that you might expect to get by staying at a Disney resort. We had our own car so we were able to drive around for the cheaper food (don't plan on saving on food at any crossroads area. They don't offer the specials such as $0.99 hamburgers, etc.) Don't bother with super markets, they are high. We went to the local Super Wal-Mart for food and Disney T-shirts. We kept an ice chest in our room for soda and sandwich meat. This is the way to go. Thanks to Carr Family for this tip!
Purchase an annual pass (you will be surprised at the cost - it is not much more than a 5 day pass and if you visit more than once each year then the value is tremendous). With this pass you can "do" Disney at your leisure. It is not advertised and you will have to ask for details at the ticket office. Because you do not have to worry about using up a day of your pass, you can choose to go to Disney for a few hours a day - perhaps late afternoon / early evening when people are leaving exhausted from their days exertions. I can't remember the last time I had to spend a full 12 hours in Disney in one session. Believe me it's a very relaxing way to see Disney. Try it next time you're there. Thanks to Terry for this tip!
Annual passes can save you money, and a lot of stress!
Food at the parks can be expensive, but there is a solution. Check out Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista (just across I-4 at Disney Downtown.) There's several options including a Taco Bell that won't tax your wallet. Thanks to Sue for this tip!
We found a way to save by purchasing airfare, hotel and park tickets separately. If you have an Entertainment coupon book, the Disney Swan and Dolphin hotels in the park offer a 50% savings. We also bought our park tickets with a AAA discount. Thanks to Sue for this tip!
Keep checking the Internet for rooms a couple of weeks before your trip. I've tried it earlier than a couple of weeks, but it doesn't do as well. I was able to stay in a nice Travelodge Suite during the height of Spring Break 1999 for $59.00 a night. I am making a Disney Pilgrimmage in October and I found a room at Days Inn for $29.00 a night. Peak Time Tip: During the time before Spring Break, I would make a reservation everytime I found a cheap room. Then when I found a cheaper one, I would cancel the previous reservation. If you don't keep booking rooms, you may double back and find out the room isn't available or isn't available for the low price that you remember. It is time consuming, BUT IT IS WELL WORTH IT. Thanks to Terry for this tip!
Just recently I booked a 10 day trip to WDW for our July visit. I made reservations at the Caribbean Beach through WDW directly. With a little prodding I was upgraded to the Polynesian for almost the same price as the Caribbean Beach (I'm paying about $25.00 more per night) . The nice lady said that you have to ask if invitational upgrades are available, they won't offer it to you unless asked. These "invitations" are only sometimes available and will bump you up one class (value to moderate or moderate to deluxe). It never hurts to ask!
A backpack is a great way to save on snacks and drinks!
Input Tip HereI brought a backpack to the theme parks to carry extra water bottles and snacks. This way we could avoid some of the high prices for these items. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Pack a small cooler - they didn't say a word to us for carrying ours in we took them into Universal as well. Go to Walmart and buy a case of water and freeze the bottles the night before and pack em in your cooler. I also packed some chex mix, fruit snacks ,and peanut butter sandwiches. This really cut down on the cost of food. Thanks to Mary for this tip!
Don't be afraid to ASK for something. We recently stayed three nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge but had booked a room overlooking the pool (about $70/night less than a Savannah room, overlooking the animals). When we arrived we asked the very polite person behind the counter if we could get an upgrade to a Savannah room. She looked into and said yes. We saved $200 by asking that question AND had a much better room for three nights! Thanks to Jerry for this tip!
We got a one week's reservation at the Westgate Villas for $249 for the week in a condo that sleeps ten! This is available to military personnel and contractors who work at a military installation. Some other related personnel can use it, too (my husband is a non-military gov't employee whose agency is located on an Army base), so check if you think there's a chance you may be eligible. The website you go through is www.afvclub.com. You will have to show your proper (military or job) ID to check in. They have great lodging all over the country, all for $249 per week! Thanks to Margie for this tip!
The best grocery store to shop at is PUBLIX's -- much better prices than Gooding's. Take a right out of the main gate and go about two miles and look for the green PUBLIX sign. I talked to the locals and that is where they go. They call Gooding's the tourist's grocery store. Thanks to Roger and Denise for this tip!
If people have time to do a 1/2 hour time share promotion, on Route 192West, which is no more than 3 miles from all Disney parks, I would suggest doing them. They are over 20 different places to choose from and they sell Disney park passes for as little as $15.00. If we did a time share promo, we could have gotten a 4 day Park Hopper Disney park pass for $80.00. They are all over-watch for the signs. Thanks to Tere for this tip!
Trade your time for discounted tickets!
We bought a 4 day park hopper pass for $200.00 at out hotel which we thought was cheap, but when we got to Disney's front gate-they sell the same Park Hopper for $199.00. Suggest to your readers not to get them from hotels or at the Welcome centers which were a lot more money. Thanks to Tere for this tip!
Don't be a sucker buying souvenirs in the parks. Disney sends all their off-season merchandise to several stores in the area, among them "Character Warehouse" located in Mall 2 of the Belz Factory Outlets at the end of International Drive in Orlando (the opposite end of I-Drive from where the Convention Center is). Another one is "Character Premier" in the Premium Outlets in Orlando. Both of these stores sell ONLY official Disney merchandise. You can get t-shirts for $l-l0.00, postcards (.10), sweatshirts ($l0.00), mickey ears, infant clothing, jewelry, toys, trading pins (!!!!), autograph books the list is endless. As an example, my daughter got a set of 2 l00% cotton Tinkerbell pillowcases for $4.99, Mickey icon ponytail holders for 35 cents and Disney 25th anniversary trading pins for l.00. A good time to go is right when you get to Orlando, when you are hanging around waiting for the time for your hotel reservation to open up. Our family goes there first thing every trip, where we pick up our new Disney clothing so when we arrive at the gates the next day we are suitably attired! Thanks to DisneyKids Mom for this tip!
I was able to purchase a 2 bedroom villa at Old Key West for $1450 off of EBAY. It is for Sunday-Thursday travel (5 nights). The same villa goes for over $2600 if you book the reservation directly. People who are part of the DVC sell their "points" and make the reservation directly for you. The best part about this is that you don't have to pay the 11.5 percent sales tax. Studios go for around $800 and 1 bedrooms for $1100. Prices are slightly higher for the Boardwalk villas. So for those with large families, this could be the way to go Thanks to John for this tip!
We got a good deal on the hotel room by using the entertainment book discount. (50% off room rate) I found that you get the best deal by calling the hotel directly and identifying yourself as an entertainment member, rather than calling the reservation # listed in the entertainment book. The difference in pricing was huge! Thanks to Kathy for this tip!
AAA discounts can save you $$$!
We found that the package deals were more expensive than buying airfare, hotel, tickets separately. We purchased our Disney tickets with our AAA discount at the AAA office, prior to the trip. Thanks to Kathy for this tip!
We decided to rent a van during our trip. We didn't need it to get to the Disney parks, but thought it was an economical way to get back and forth to the airport, and we drove to the beach and a few other places also. You can find some good car rental deals on the internet, but snatch them up fast if you see them, because they are usually limited quantities or times. Thanks to Kathy for this tip!
We were not however going to be staying at a Disney Resort so we wouldn't have been eligible to purchase the E-Ride Night tickets or be eligible for Extra Magic Hour in the morning. I found an economical solution to our problem!!! I made reservations for a campsite at Fort Wilderness Campground for 1 night at a cost of $ 58.00+tax for all 5 of us (price varies according to season). We were able to check in at 7:30am, pick up our Resort ID's for each person, our parking pass good for 2 days, and purchase our E-Ride night tickets for that night, keeping in mind that we would also have early admission the next morning to MGM! We ended up not even staying at the campsite, but back at our hotel. Total Campsite cost: $64.67 Resort Parking (savings) $16.00 Actual Total $ 48.67 E-Ride Night Tickets $ 60.00 $108.67 Divided amongst 5 people = $ 21.73 Less than $22.00 each to enjoy both E-Ride Night (which was FABULOUS!!!) as well as Extra Magic Hour! We basically had the Parks to ourselves on two different occasions for an additional $22.00!!! We also had full resort guest privileges which enabled us to take a mid-day swim in the 2 Resort pools, or if we had chosen, bike or horseback riding, play tennis, basketball, volleyball or go for a hike. Fort Wilderness also has a beautiful beach to stroll along or go for a swim. The Electrical Water Pageant can be seen from the beach nightly ! There is also a really cool Campfire Program that Chip and Dale often Thanks to Stacy for this tip!
We just got back from a trip to WDW. We had packed a small cooler in the car for the drive down. (We drove from NC to WDW). We took sodas, bottled water and some snacks. I had heard about people renting refrigerators for their room, but there is an ice vending machine on each floor. We just kept changing out the ice each morning or evening when it had melted and kept things cold. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, so we went to the Mercantile and bought pints of milk every other day or so, some small boxes of cereal and some other "breakfast" foods and just kept ice in the cooler. We kept the milk cold and didn't have to buy breakfast everyday. We also had cold water and sodas for whenever. So, I would recommend packing a small cooler and just keeping ice in it. Save your money on a frig for souvenirs! Thanks to Karen for this tip!
We stayed on-site so we did not need a car. We did book Murray Hill's Transportation Company to pick us up from the airport. It was wonderful. Our driver was there when we got off the plane waiting for us. He helped us with our bags. For the cost of $50 you get a grocery stop at Publix which is the grocery store the locals use (far less expensive that some of the more touristy stores). We picked up bottled water and munchies as well as Styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons, milk and cereal. We brought along a collapsible cooler to keep the milk and water in and then just kept filling up the cooler with ice from the hotel. Having cereal in the morning was quick and easy and a real money saver! Breakfast at the food court will run you about $30.00 for a family of four. Thanks to Jennifer for this tip!
I have read several tips about sending packages to your hotel with snacks & other treats in the package. This is very costly even in comparison to buying treats at Disney World. What I have done in the past is pack another suitcase filled with snacks, crackers, candy, cereal bars, or whatever my children like for that moment. This way I haven't spent any money sending a package to the resort AND I have an extra empty suitcase for all the trinkets that are purchased in Disney World. Thanks to Molly for this tip!
Bring your snacks with you to save money!
If you are in an area that Southwest services, get their Ding! service from their website and sign up for Rapid Rewards. Ding! is a free app for iPhone, Mac, and Windows PCs that gives you access to specials that they do not put on their website directly. I just purchased my flights for 4 people in late September/early October and saved over $100 off the lowest listed fares on the website. Thanks to Adolph for this tip!
Disney has a 15% discount on tours available for Annual Passholders, and it applies for the whole group. Gayle writes, "I recently booked a tour for a party of six at WDW. The reservation center gave me the 15% Annual Passholder discount on the entire party. That saved me $90.00!" Thanks to Gayle for this tip!
We booked a room at Wilderness Lodge for $197 per night with AAA discount. I then bought an Annual Pass (just one) and it knocked me down to $155 per night plus I was eligible for the DDE card. You don't need an Annual Pass for everyone in your party, you just need one to get the discount. Thanks to Frank for this tip!
Believe it or not, the Hess gas stations on Disney property have cheap gas prices. The Chervon Station on SR 535 was $0.30 a gallon more than the Hess station.
Buy the trinkets before you leave for vacation!
When it gets dark my kids always want the light/glow in the dark sticks, bracelets & necklaces. This can get very expensive with three kids. Before our vacation I pick these items up at Dollar Tree for $1.00 each & bring them with me instead of purchasing in the park. Thanks to Lisa for this tip!
Arlen shares a tip for saving some money while dining in the parks: "We pack our lunch in the morning and place it in collapsible cooler along with enough cold water bottles for our family. We then take the cooler with us to a WDW park and place it into a locker at the beginning of the day. We provide our own lunches to save money so we don't feel bad spending at dinner at a Disney restaurant later on." Thanks to Arlen for this tip!
Sometimes it really pays to call and be thorough about your vacation. Beth writes, "Since I am obsessive in nature, I have been calling the 407-WDW-MAGIC line every day the last four days since I made my WDW reservation. I get new information regarding my reservation every time I call, depending on who I talk to. First, I asked if I could apply my AAA discount and was told I couldn't since I have a package deal. Don't assume they are saving you money with package deal! I got a Magic Your Way package for four nights, and three base passes for the park. When I asked for the break down, the person said she didn't have one. I needed to just add it myself and figure it out. I was too trusting at the moment and didn't bother. I then did my homework and saw no savings! Even worse, I found the vacation insurance they include as part of the package costs over $100. I called the next day to take it off and the representative admitted that I wasn't saving anything with this package--it comes out the same (only when I asked her about it). I called again today, got someone else, and told her that I would like to purchase rooms and tickets separately so that I could apply my AAA discount. I saved $220 by changing this. In just two days, I have saved myself $320 dollars by just being a pest and calling them each day." Thanks to Beth for this tip!
Did you know you can make incremental payments for your WDW vacation? Kim writes, "This will be my family's 3rd year in a row to go to Disney World. What most people don't realize is that when you make a reservation, whether it is just for your room or a package, you can make payments at any time toward your reservation. Every time my husband and I get paid, we call and make a payment toward our Disney vacation. So when we get to Disney, our vacation is already paid for." Thanks to Kim for this tip!
The Disney Dining Plan can save you a lot of hassle and planning while you're at Disney World. Plus, if you get it as part of a Disney resort package, you can pay for it in increments before you arrive. Guide2WDW reader Kim writes, "Could my family eat a lot cheaper than what I pay for the Dining plan? Sure. But with the dining plan, we get more character breakfasts and more themed dining than what I would pay for when we got there. Not to mention, when I get there, my entire vacation is paid for and I didn't have to charge anything or worry about trying to save the money to pay for it when I arrive." Thanks to Kim for this tip!
Guide2WDW reader Blaine advises to always call before you book your trip: "I was just reading an article stating to book everything online... NO! STOP! DO NOT! Get the information and prices for your trip online, but call directly. They always have special codes that are not published to the general public and you have to ask for them, if you are staying on WDW property. I found out a month before the Magic Your Way Tickets were upgraded for free to include the park hopper and more just by asking. ALWAYS CALL, either Walt Disney World Travel or your travel agent." Thanks to Blaine for this tip!
Call for special codes to upgrade your tickets!
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