The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Disney World on a Budget

Jennifer MeyerFloridaLeave a Comment

Disney World is a dream vacation destination for many couples and families.

However, the price tag often scares many away.

Today, I'm going to give you the best Disney World budget tips.

These tips will help you save money and get the most out of the money that you do spend.

Let's get started!

GOAL:

At the end of this post, you will know some of the best tips for saving money on your Disney World vacation.

You will also know how to get the most for the money that you do spend.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Disney World Tickets

Disney World tickets are expensive. There's really no way around it.

However, certain times of the year are better to visit the parks.

If you go during a less busy time of year, you will have the opportunity to ride more rides because wait times are lower.

So, while you may not be able to save a ton of money on the price of tickets, you can definitely get more bang for your buck if you know the best times to visit!

When to Visit to Avoid Crowds

Statue of Walt Disney and Mickey in front of Cinderella's castle at night. (Disney World Budget Tips)

It used to be easy to avoid massive crowds at Disney, well, sort of. Disney has always been popular. However, it used to be most popular during the summer, around Christmas and the New Year, and over other holiday weekends.

While this is still true to an extent, it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you visit the parks in the middle of the week in early February.

Still, as a general rule, you will want to avoid times of year when everyone gets time off. Also, if possible, you should avoid going on the weekends.

You’ll want to take off from work for a few days and pull your kids out of school in the middle of the week.

If you’re looking to take an entire week vacation to visit Disney, you will have a lot of flexibility in which days you choose to visit the parks.

However, if you’re only interested in visiting for a few days, you will have to go ahead and decide which days you’ll visit the parks now.

When to Visit to Avoid the Heat

Illustration of smiling sun wearing sunglasses.

If you don’t live in a hot and humid climate, you will likely be surprised at how uncomfortable Florida can be.

Yes, it’s why us Floridians are always by the pool, at the beach, or in the air conditioning!

When you plan to avoid the heat, you’ll often find that you avoid the crowds, which sounds silly. You’d think that more people would like to avoid the heat, right?!

Summer vacation is a hugely popular time for families to visit Disney, which also happens to be the hottest time of year.

In order to avoid the heat and crowds, I would definitely recommend that you visit Disney in the winter. Still, in order to also avoid the crowds, do not visit over Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year.

Instead, making the trip in mid to late January and early February can be a great time!

Typically, there are less people, and the temperature is often in the 60s-70s (Fahrenheit), although sometimes it manages to creep into the 80s, and you don’t usually need to worry about afternoon showers like you do in the Summer!

If you're planning on visiting in January and February, make sure you check the weather regularly leading up to your vacation.

This way you know whether you need to pack shorts or light, long pants.

How to Choose a Budget-Friendly Hotel

Before you can choose a hotel, you need to decide if you want to stay on or off Disney property.

This can be a difficult decision because both options have different pros and cons.

You just need to make the choice that is the best for you.

Let's go over the benefits of both.

Pros and Cons of Staying on Disney Property

There are plenty of reasons why staying on Disney property can make your Disney World vacation even more magical. Here's a few:

  • Bus rides to and from the parks, Disney Spring, and Disney’s waterparks.
  • Access to Extra Magic Hours (either an hour earlier or later than the parks are normally open)
  • Character breakfasts (offered at some hotels)
  • Excellent guest services
  • Fantastic facilities (pools, etc.)
  • Childcare services (which we’ll discuss more in section 4)
  • On-site restaurants
  • MagicBands included
  • Priority Fastpass selection
  • Souvenirs sent back to your room

There aren’t a lot of downsides to staying on Disney property, except for the obvious one: price.

However, Disney does have some hotels that are more affordable. Granted, they are a bit older and aren’t as nice as other hotel options Disney offers.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at general nightly cost for Disney World Resort Hotels. We’ll also take a look at what each resort has to offer.

Budget-Friendly Disney Resorts

Disney offers multiple resorts that have much more affordable prices.

Of course, they're not as nice at the high-end resorts, but you still get all of the benefits of staying on Disney property, which is a huge plus.

Here is a list of Disney's budget-friendly resorts:

  • All-Star Music Resort - Starts at $107 per night
  • All-Star Movie Resort - Starts at $107 per night
  • All-Star Sports Resort - Starts at $107 per night
  • POP Century Resort - Starts at $124 per night
  • Art of Animation - Starts at $151 per night

These resorts offer plenty of amenities.

Although, it's easy to say that you could certainly find another hotel room (off Disney property) for cheaper. However, when you stay on Disney property you save $20 per day you visit the parks because you don't have to pay for parking if you take the shuttle instead.

Disney's Campsites

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Starts at $53 per night

If you love the outdoors or have a camper/RV, this might be perfect for you!

Fair warning, I do not recommend camping in Florida in the summer time unless you have an RV or camper that you will be sleeping in! Seriously, the bugs are so bad!

Available Campsites:

  • Tent or Pop-up Campsite – Starting at $53 per night
    • Has enough space for up to two tents and a pop-up camper.
  • Full Hook-up Campsite – Starting at $80 per night
    • This is for RVs that need to connect to water and electricity.
    • There is also space for a tent.
  • Preferred Campsite – Starting at $91 per night
    • This is essentially the same at the Full Hook-up site, except you also get access to a sewage hook-up.
  • Premium Campsite – Starting at $97 per night
    • This comes with all the features of the other campsites, but has enough room for a larger RV.

If you would like to view campsite photos, you can see them here!

Normally, there are buses that run from Disney’s hotels to their parks, but I don’t think that the campsite comes with this feature.

However, WiFi is included!

All campsites also have access to grills and picnic tables.

Pros and Cons of Staying Off Disney Property

White sheets and grey striped pillows on a hotel bed.

Even though there seems to be a great deal of benefits to staying on Disney Property during your vacation, there are also a few benefits to staying off property:

  • Cheaper accommodations can be found
  • You can often get more for your money
  • Might be more inclined to explore other parts of Orlando and try new restaurants

While the it's obvious that there are more pros to staying on Disney property, the best choice for your will greatly depend on how much price is a factor.

You can definitely get more for your money at budget hotel in Orlando vs. a budget Disney resort.

Still, the budget Disney resort is going to be quite convenient.

Like I said, it all comes down to your priorities.

Best Ways to Save Money on a Hotel in Orlando

(Please note that there are affiliate links on this page, and if you make a purchase through the link, I will be compensated. Please also understand that I only recommend products and services that I love and trust!)

If you don't think that the benefits of staying on Disney Property outweigh the costs, don't worry!

There are plenty of nice, budget-friendly hotels located in Orlando, FL!

Some of the most budget-friendly hotels don't have great reviews. So, make sure you don't just book the cheapest one!

Booking.com is perfect for searching for a hotel!

You can organize them from low to high price. Plus, there are reviews and ratings located on the same page!

Make sure that when you're booking a hotel you pay attention to how far away it is from Disney World.

Orlando is a large city, and not all hotels are conveniently located close to Disney.

The hotels located on International DriveHotel Plaza Blvd, or around Lake Buena Vista are close to Disney.

However, each hotel will tell you exactly how far away it is from Disney; you just need to scroll down the page to find it.

You can take advantage of the great deals on Booking.com right here!

On Booking.com's website, you can easily view the hotel location on a map.

That way you can make sure your hotel is in the perfect location!

Hotel Chains

If your two main requirements are cleanliness and cheap prices, I would recommend looking into some of the hotel chains (i.e. Courtyard by Marriott).

These hotels are typically clean and affordable.

They don't have a lot of great amenities; however, some of them do come with free breakfast, which is always nice.

This Courtyard Hotel located at Lake Buena Vista is close to Disney World, has a pool, free WiFi, and breakfast is available (for an additional fee).

If you're really trying to stick to a tight budget, I would recommend checking out Days Inn on International Drive.

This hotel is farther away from Disney World than any other hotel I link to; however, it's still a manageable drive.

Also, this hotel has the worst rating out of the hotels that I link to...

I don't think that Days Inn are typically great hotels. They are just alright.

The price is truly great, though. It is a lot cheaper than any other hotels I have looked at for the same dates.

(Like with any hotel, the price will change based on the popularity of the dates.)

Get a Bigger Room and a Kitchen/Kitchenette

If you have a family and are willing to spend a little more money on the hotel room so that you can save money on eating out, Wyndham properties often have clean rooms with kitchens/kitchenettes.

Of course, not all Wyndham rooms have kitchens/kitchenettes, so make sure you check before you book it!

When I was a kid, my parents did this all the time.

We booked condo type rooms and used the kitchen/kitchenette to make breakfast and often dinner, so that we could save some money on food.

We would typically have cereal for breakfast and some sort of frozen meal for dinner, just to keep things simple. You could take the time to actually cook something, but who wants to do that on vacation?!

If this sounds interesting, you should check out Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham at Lake Buena Vista because it offers affordable rooms with a kitchen/kitchenette, free WiFi, a pool, free breakfast, and it's close to Disney World!

There are other great Wyndham resorts located throughout Orlando. There are even others close to Disney!

However, out of the other Wyndham properties I looked at, Hawthorn Suites was the only one that definitely had kitchens/kitchenettes. It doesn't mean they don't exist, but they may be a little farther away from Disney.

If you're looking for another hotel with a kitchen/kitchenette, you should look into Extended Stay America at Lake Buena Vista.

This hotel doesn't look quite as nice and it's not rated as highly as the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. However, it is a little bit cheaper.

9 Amazing Tips That Will Save You a Ton of Money at Disney World

1. Drink FREE Water

I know, you've likely been convinced that free water doesn't exist in theme parks. You feel like you must pay $4 (or so) for a bottle of water every time you're thirsty.

Well, what if I told you that you don't have to?

You can actually get FREE water while in Disney World.

Best part?

You don't have to bring it with you and carry it around.

Whenever you want some water, stop by a quick-service restaurant or a snack stand (with a soda fountain) and ask for as many cups of water as you'd like.

They will fill up small cups with water and give them to you. You literally don't need to purchase anything.

They're pretty small, so make sure you're drinking plenty of them. You don't want to get dehydrated!

2. Cook Your Own Meals

Ingredients on a cutting board.

If you have a kitchen or kitchenette in your hotel, you'll want to take advantage of it!

You can even pack lunches to take with you into the park.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make, pack, and carry!

Then, when you get back to your hotel room that night, you can pop a frozen Stouffers meal in the oven or microwave.

It's super easy and a lot cheaper than eating at the parks.

However, Disney does have some great restaurants. So, if you can swing it, pick a couple you'd like to splurge on.

After all, it is your vacation!

3. Pack Snacks

While this is similar to the last tip, it's still important!

You can easily spend a crazy amount of money on snacks in Disney World, and while the snacks are super cute, it's not exactly practical to purchase snacks every time someone is hungry.

If you pack some delicious snacks that won't melt, you'll be able to save yourself some money.

Try packing a trail mix that includes dried fruits instead of chocolate chips to avoid a sticky situation.

4. Bring Your Own Rain Poncho

You can actually purchase these outside of theme parks. And, guess what?

They're soooo much cheaper!

If the forecast is calling for rain while you're supposed to be in the park, purchase ponchos at Walgreens, CVS, or another drug store.

The best part about rain ponchos is that they're light and compact. They will take up almost no room in your bag, which makes them perfect.

5. Pack for the Expected...And Unexpected

Packing a suitcase.

Florida is a weird place.

The weather is always temperamental, meaning it's subject to change at a moments notice.

If you're visiting in the spring or fall, make sure you pack a light jacket and a pair of leggings (for you women) or pants even if it says it'll be hot!

I have visited Disney World on multiple occasions and almost had to spend $50 on a jacket because I was so cold. (You'd think I'd learn!)

In the spring and fall, it can be hot during the day and cool at night, so make sure you're checking the highs and lows for the week you're visiting!

However, this doesn't mean that you need to pack a ridiculous amount of clothes. I definitely don't recommend over-packing.

Besides, a light jacket never hurt anyone...

Related: You can read my complete Disney World packing list here!

6. Don't Run from the Rain

It's Florida, and in Florida, it rains. Often.

Don't cut your Disney day short just because of a little rain. You paid a lot for that ticket. So, just grab your rain poncho and enjoy yourself!

Duck into a store or get in a line for a ride.

More often than not, the rain is gone in about 30 minutes.

Plus, when it rains, a lot of people leave the park, which means shorter wait times!

7. Take Advantage of Your Resources

If you're staying in a Disney World Resort, take advantage of the FREE things that come with it.

For example, if you have access to a shuttle, take it instead of driving!

Even if you're not staying on Disney property, you might have access to a shuttle. Just make sure you know when it runs because it likely isn't as frequently as Disney shuttles.

8. Follow Disney Springs on Instagram

If you'll be stopping by Disney Spring during your Disney vacation, you'll want to follow Disney Springs on Instagram.

One thing you'll probably notice about Disney is that they don't have a lot of sales or discounts.

However, there are some other awesome shops and restaurants in Disney Springs that will offer discounts from time to time.

In order to stay up to date on sales and discounts, you need to follow Disney Springs on Instagram!

9. Be Strategic

There is a lot to see at Disney World. So, in order to get the most out of your time (and money), you'll need to be strategic.

You should make a list of things that you absolutely can't miss. This will help you plan your day.

Don't be too rigid, though!

There's a lot of great stuff to see, and a lot of the magic is in the little things! So, make sure you're paying attention to your surroundings.


It's definitely difficult to save money at Disney World, but it's not impossible!

All of the little things will add up, helping to make your vacation much more affordable!

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Talk soon!

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