We all know that Walt Disney World vacations can be expensive. We also know that a vacation to Disney can be totally worth it but there are a few money saving tips and tricks to help keep that cost down so your wallet is not completely empty when you get home.
When I went to Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago for our annual Disney Nerds Meet Up, I decided that I needed to be a little more cost effective with this trip so I thought I would share a few of my tips with you.
First thing I did was book a hotel off property. I know this is taboo, how dare I not stay on Disney property!
I’ll admit, I love staying on property but sometimes it is cheaper to stay off property. But before you rush and book a hotel room off property there are some things to keep in mind. If you are flying into Orlando think about your transportation options (Do I need to rent a car? Does the hotel have shuttle service? What’s the cost to park at the Disney if I have a car? Etc.) Weigh all your options because there might be some cases where it’s better for you to stay on property. For me, for this trip, I drove to Orlando so I didn’t have any extra charge to rent a car and I’m an annual pass holder which includes free parking when I go to the parks. So it made sense for me to book a hotel off property.
When making the choice of what hotel, I also chose a hotel that included free breakfast. The hotel that I chose had a free hot breakfast which means it was more than just your basic cold cereal and a muffin. I had the option of eggs, potatoes, bacon or sausage, oatmeal, and there was even a waffle maker (and yes it was Mickey shaped!). By selecting a hotel that includes breakfast, I saved the cost of a meal! It also saved a little bit of time for me, I just had to walk downstairs and grab some breakfast and then head out to the parks if I was ready or go back to my room and finish getting ready for the day (you can also make a plate and take it back to your room). Personally, when I’m booking a hotel off Disney property (or when I travel other places) I always make sure that breakfast is included to save the cost of that meal.
Once you’ve figured out where you’ll be staying during your vacation you have to next plan for your day in the parks. One thing I always do while visiting Walt Disney World is bring a refillable water bottle with me to the parks. There are water fountains in the parks and you can go to any quick service and some food kiosks (not the carts) and get a cup of water which is free. Usually what I do is when I get a meal I always ask for a cup of water and fill up my bottle. I prefer water bottles that have some kind of insulation or double walled to keep the water cooler longer. This is the one key item I always bring into the parks besides my Magic Band and wallet.
Now that I’m in the parks I have to figure out how to save money on dining. I could’ve brought in my own food but I didn’t feel like carrying around a bunch of food all day (except for a small snack like almonds or a protein bar). I knew that I needed to figure out a way to get the most out of my money and also have enough food to be satisfied. Luckily, I figured it out with two words: Kids’ Menu! That’s right, I made my meal choices off of the kids’ menu and I was pleasantly surprised by what I got. The first place I tried was at Epcot, I went to Sunshine Seasons in The Land for lunch and checked out my options for the kids’ menu. I selected Mongolian Beef and also had the option of a kids’ side and drink (I selected apple slices and apple juice). The Mongolian Beef was a smaller portion than the adult size but also came with fried rice like the adult version. The adult’s Mongolian Beef is currently priced at around $13 and the kids’ version I had was around $7 and came with an extra side and drink. I was satisfied with the kids’ portion of food and actually saved my side of apple slices for later.
My next kids’ menu selection was at Peco’s Bill at Magic Kingdom. With the toppings bar, this is a perfect location to get the most out of your money. I got the kids’ beef nachos which come topped with seasoned ground beef, queso, lettuce, and tomatoes but I topped it with more at the toppings bar.
At Peco’s Bill, I got apple juice again as my drink and I was given two sides which was a pack of carrots and a GoGo Squeeze Apple Sauce (I keep those stocked in my fridge at home!). This was another smaller version of an adult portion. The adult beef nachos are currently priced around $12 and the kids’ version is almost $7. Another great deal considering the toppings bar and of course the sides and drink. Finally, I decided to try another kids’ meal while at Hollywood Studios. I decided to try mobile ordering at ABC Commissary. I ordered the kids’ chicken strips meal which came with 2 chicken strips, French fries, and green beans with my choice of kids’ drink (again I chose apple juice). It was quick and easy to place my order with the mobile ordering and my food was ready right when I walked in. My meal was enough to fill me up but was the smallest amount of food from the three kids’ meals I tried. So I’m happy to say that getting the kids’ meal as my dining option was a great way to save money and I’ll be checking out the kids’ menu options on all my trips.
There are a lot of tips to help you save money while on vacation at Walt Disney World and these are just three of my tips. I hope you find them helpful and be sure to let us know what your favorite tips are!
Also, don’t forget if you’d like to plan a trip, be sure to contact the official travel agent of The Disney Nerds Podcast, Once Upon a Time Travel.