When planning your family vacation to Disney, budget is always at the forefront of your mind. Disney is expensive, there is no way around it. BUT there are many things you can do to be mindful of the cost.

How to do Disney on a Budget

two feet and two patterned bags

Experience Gifts > Toys

We love to receive experience gifts over toys! Our family will send us gift cards to Disney that we spend on food or treat in the parks. We also take advantage of credit card rewards by buying Disney gift cards  at places that give us extra rewards points.

Disney Discounts for the Win

Planning your trip for ‘slow season’ and weekdays instead of weekends can help keep costs down. Disney ticket prices vary by day so saving $10-$15 per person per day can really add up over the course of your trip. You can also spend the money for Genie+ so that you can wait in shorter lines. I realize I just followed a tip for saving money with a suggestion to spend more.. but hear me out. With Genie+ you can experience so much more in your day by spending less time in lines. And won’t necessarily feel like you need to come back to that park for a second day when you can do all of the things in one! Adding the park hopper option will also cost you more money per day, so I would stick to one day park tickets with the Genie+ option so you can get the most out of your day.

Disney offers other discounts for military members, Florida residents, Disney+ subscribers and so many more! Check the website to see if you or one of your party members qualifies for a current offer.

Once you have paid for your park ticket(s) for your trip, there is a lot you can do for no additional cost inside of the parks! You also can get some of that Disney magic at Disney Springs without spending money!

Disney Vacation Club

Hear me out on this one: Disney Vacation Club can help control the costs of your trips. Buying in is expensive, but it gets you a stay at a deluxe resort and those premium amenities for YEARS to come. If you plan on coming to Disney once a year or every other year, this is an option that I encourage you to look into. DVC members get discounts on food and merchandise as well.

Staying at a Value Resort

kid sitting on the ground playing a bingo game and entrance to space mountain

Not interested in becoming a DVC member but still want to save money? Reserving a room at a Value Resort can help you stay on budget. Disney Value Resorts are designed with families in mind. Each resort has amazing pools to play in and they all offer a wide variety of resort sponsored activities (most of the time these events are totally free to you too). Take note of the activities your children will enjoy, and write them down! After a full day of riding rides and walking all the parks, imagine the pure joy your family will feel relaxing poolside, playing games, and taking in all the resort has to offer.


While traveling to Walt Disney World is magical, the cost of that magic can add up quickly. Food is a HUGE cost when you come to Disney on vacation. I would recommend planning on a grocery run or delivery so you can bring food into the parks with you and reduce cost. You do need to be mindful of the fridge space your room has to offer when ordering food – many value resorts only have a mini fridge, so stick to non-perishable foods for the parks like PB&J, chips, pretzels, bars and apples.

If you are coming for a festival at EPCOT and want to experience the food, review the menu ahead of time to plan for the items you must have so you have a budget in mind when you arrive. There are plenty of accounts online that review festival food, so check those out too when you are planning the foods you want to try.

The following tips are also helpful to keep in mind to help save you money on food:

  • Order from the Children’s Menu or Share a Meal– Most adult meals ordered at Walt Disney World and their resorts are portioned to feed more than one person. I promise you! They’re HUGE. After ordering from the Children’s Menu from most of the restaurants, I found I was full and spending half the cost! If there is a adult menu item you’d really like to try, share a meal with someone from your family.
  • Pack Lunch & Freeze Water Bottles- We always eat a packed lunch at the theme parks. A few of our favorite things to pack are Uncrustables (thawed by lunch time), raw vegetables and ranch, crackers and peanut butter, protein bars, apples, fruit snacks, and frozen water bottles. You can find water fountains to easily refill your bottles located at the first aid stations and near restrooms, saving you at least $3 a bottle.
  • Drink WATER vs. Soda- Hear me out. There’s nothing better than an ice cold Sprite to “quench” your thirst, but truth be told, water is exactly what your body needs while visiting Disney. The resorts have plastic reusable cups for purchase (at a cost per day) to use their soda machines. If you pack a water bottle, you’re able to fill your water bottle up for FREE AND use it at the parks! Their reusable cups are not allowed to be used at the theme parks. Save money while fueling your body for more fun! Quick service restaurants and snack stands will have cups of water for your family for free too.
  • Order a WHOLE Pizza- One of our best kept secrets in doing Disney on budget is to order a whole pizza from the menu vs. individual meals. A whole pizza is less than $20 and feeds the whole family. We like to order ours early and schedule a pick up. Then, we enjoy hot fresh pizza poolside while watching the kids swim and watch the resort’s outdoor movie.

Find the Magic in the Special Moments

family of four in front of the main gates with pumpkins and second picture of a girl on dad's shoulders with cinderella castle behind them

All in all, the best way to do Disney on a budget is to find the magic in the special moments. Maybe your budget doesn’t allow for Character Dining but you’ll always remember the look on their faces when they meet their favorite character at the park. Magic can be found in a homemade picnic near Cinderella’s Castle, in your child’s eyes as they ride Space Mountain for the first time, or their smile as a princess waves in their direction. Magic isn’t found in all the lavish souvenirs, it’s found the special little moments with your loved ones by your side.

Originally published 1/20/2020, Updated 9/5/2023


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