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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

7 Ways to Save Money At Disney Parks

It's official, Disney has priced a lot of people out. It's definitely not a budget-friendly trip, but I know many of you are still looking forward to going sometime in the future. The last time I visited Disneyland was in 2018 and the same tickets I bought then are a full $100 more now. Unless you're visiting for 5 days, there's not really a decent savings on admission, so let's talk about other ways you can save, so you can, you know, eat food...or pay for Genie+ (the new system that has replaced Fastpass).

Let's talk about other ways you can save at Disney parks, so you can, you know, eat food...or pay for Genie+.

I know we just went to Disneyland Paris, and the entire 3-day package deal I bought with accommodation at a Disney hotel was almost cheaper than what it will cost us for two days in the California parks. Crazy. 

Bring a reusable water bottle

We drink a lot when we're out doing things and even bottled water can add up quickly. I fill my water bottle with ice and water before I leave for the day, and the ice stays for much of the day, keeping my water cold each time I fill up. You can fill up throughout the day at water fountains, but most food establishments are happy to fill up your bottle for free (some will only give you a cup of ice water). That way you save money and stay hydrated.

Pack snacks in your day bag

Food and snacks in the parks can be outrageous. I love a good churro, but I try to limit myself to a snack a day. I also can get pretty hangry, so I make sure I always have things to eat in my bag. It's nice to have granola bars or carrots or jerky when you get a little hungry before it's time for your dining reservation. You can also skip breakfast this way and do an early lunch (easier to get in when the restaurants aren't busy). 

Visit during off-peak times

Is there anything worse than standing in endless lines? I mean, you're going to do that anyway, but hopefully they'll be shorter when you go when kids are still in school (if you can), on weekdays, and not not NOT during the summer. You can check crowd calendars to see when it's forecasted to have lower crowds if you aren't sure when a good time to visit is. Generally, mid-January to mid-February, early March before Spring Break, mid-late April after Spring Break, the first 3 weeks of September, and the first week of November are good times to visit the parks.

Stay in surrounding hotels/vacation rentals

I'll be honest, I will probably never be able to stay in a U.S. Disney hotel. Even the "budget" ones are way out of my price range. Truthfully, you aren't in your room enough to enjoy it much, so spending $250+ per night seems like a waste. There are plenty of hotels even within walking distance to the parks that are budget-friendly and have shuttles to the front gate. If you're traveling with a group, renting a car (r driving your own car) and staying in a vacation rental, like Airbnb, can be a great option, because you can make your own meals there and accommodate more people.

If there are only a few of you and you stay in a place that doesn't have shuttle service or isn't close enough to walk, consider using a ride-share like Uber, because it can end up being cheaper than parking. 

Buy souvenirs outside of the park

We all want stuff. The parks are full of awesome things at endless shops, but there are many similar things at stores that aren't inside Disney. In fact, you can get cheaper branded merch when it goes on sale on Disney.com. Search ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, and Etsy for cool merch, so you don't have to buy them on your trip.

Be there before the park opens

Get to the parks early, so you can get in as soon as the park opens and you can get in several rides before the crowds really amp up. This helps you make the most of your dollars and you can skip Genie+ if that's too much of a strain on your budget. I get it. Make a game plan for when you get into the park and head straight to the must-ride attractions first.

Use your memberships

If you have a AAA or Costco membership or belong to a credit union, check out their deals for packages or tickets. This usually is only available for those going multiple days (3+). You may not save a ton, but every little bit counts. 

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