Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


How I Save Money On Every Disney Vacation

Let’s just face it–a trip to Walt Disney World can be crazy expensive.  Most families save and save and save to make a Disney vacation possible.


Is it worth it?


Is it expensive?

It can be.

But, don’t fret–I am here to help!

There are a few ways to save a little here and there…and every little bit helps, right?

Ask yourself these questions before you start planning–click here.

To learn how to plan a Disney vacation like a pro, click here.

Confused by the 2018 Disney dining plan?  No worries.  Click here.

Get out your spiral notebook and take notes, my friends.

These are all great ways to save some $$ on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

  • Be flexible with travel dates.  The greatest savings on a vacation to Walt Disney World can be found in the travel dates.  Peak travel times (like Christmas, other holidays and summer) will produce the highest prices for Disney resorts, dining and plane tickets.  Plus, crowd levels can get out of control.  Consider booking during slower weeks, when on-property resort prices can drop by 35%-40%.


  • The magic of a Disney pin code.  With no rhyme or reason, a pin code (think promo code) can magically show up via email or snail mail.  Pin codes are exclusively linked to your name–you can not pass it along to your Aunt Sally or best friend Jen.  And, no one is quite sure how to get one sent…but, I do have suggestions.  My pin codes appear after I excessively snoop around the Disney website.  (That’s like every day!  HA!)  But, seriously…I suggest you create a free My Disney Experience account on the Disney website (There is an app, too!) and then log in every time you visit the website, even if you are just playing around.  Visit regularly.  Visit often.  You can also request to have a free planning DVD sent to your home address.  If Disney knows you are interested and thinking of a WDW vacation, a pin code just might be the incentive you need to book a trip.  ***Make sure your email address and mailing address are correct.



  • Disney Credit Cards.  Chase offers 2 kinds of Disney credit cards and the offers attached to those cards change regularly, so check it out for yourself and see what is current.  Traditionally, this is what I have come across:  Card #1 has no annual fee, $50 statement credit after the first purchase and 1% back in Disney reward dollars.  Card #2 has a $49 annual fee, $200 statement credit if $500 is spent in the first 3 months and 2% back in Disney reward dollars for gas, grocery, restaurants, most Disney locations and 1% back in Disney reward dollars on all other purchases.  The Disney reward dollars are transferred to a Disney gift card (transfer online once you have at least $10 in rewards).  The Disney gift cards can then be used to pay for all things Disney–resort, tickets, dining or souvenirs!  ***I do not love credit cards, BUT…if you promise to pay it off each month, I think this is a great way to save a little towards a Disney vacation.  I put all of our reoccurring monthly charges (that were originally coming from our bank account) on the Disney credit card–i.e. orthodontist, electricity, Taekwondo–and we don’t use the credit card for anything else.




  •  Discount Warehouse Shopping.  Sam’s Warehouse and Costco occasionally offer Disney gift cards at a discount.  Last Christmas, I was able to purchase $500 Disney gift cards for $476.  Check often and check online.





  • My Savings Plan.  ***This is how I use the above suggestions.  Stick with me…it is slightly confusing, but I will do my best to accurately describe my plan.  I use my Disney credit card (the one that gets 2% back on groceries) to purchase the discounted Disney gift cards from Sam’s Warehouse.  Then, I enter the gift card numbers into the Disney website when it comes time to pay for my vacation.  These gift cards can also be used for dining, souvenirs, resorts and tickets at Walt Disney World!




Other Ways to Save $$$:

  • Target Red Card.  I read a lot of talk online about the Target Red Card and Disney gift cards.  Honestly, I do not have a Target Red Card.  But, I do know Disney lovers use the Target Red Card to purchase Disney gift cards and get 5% off.  Suggestion:  Try to purchase the gift cards with some other items–I have read it doesn’t always work if you purchase the cards alone.  Let me know about your experience!


  • Presents and Gifts.  Ask for Disney gift cards for your next birthday/anniversary/holiday.  Put Disney gift cards in Christmas stockings or Easter baskets to be used during an upcoming vacation.  I write my children’s names on the back of the cards with a Sharpie marker and put all of them in a baggie during the year…and when our vacation finally arrives, we total the amounts and each child knows how much they have to spend on souvenirs–before we even leave!


  • An Extra $25.  Pick up a $25 Disney gift card each time you go grocery shopping and just throw all of them in a baggie (to pay for meals or souvenirs) or use the cards to make deposits into your new Disney savings account.


  • Stop Eating Out.  Ok.  Ok.  Yes, we eat out too much!  I do a great job of cooking at home for awhile, but then…well…life…  So, we try to only eat at home for the months or weeks leading up to our Disney vacation.  It really does make a difference!


  • Garage Sale.  Seriously.  Go through your junk and host a garage sale.  Use the proceeds to make a deposit into the Disney savings account or buy Disney gift cards with your loot!


  • Money Jar.  Start a collection jar for loose change and coins.  Collect coins from every empty purse, car console, couch, junk drawer and school backpack!  Get everyone involved and watch those coins stack up!  When the jar is full, have the kids count it all out or use one of those change counting machines.  Turn the money into a Disney gift card for souvenirs!


  • Water and Snacks.  Take bottled water and snacks into the Disney theme parks.  Empty water bottles can be filled at water fountains and cups of ice water are free at every quick service restaurant.  Save $$ by carrying a backpack with snacks and meals for your family.  Lockers are also available for storing a soft cooler or bag.  If you drive your own vehicle, leave a large cooler in the car and go to the parking lot for a mid-day picnic!


  • Buy Souvenirs at Home.  Disney themed everything can be found everywhere!  Save some serious $$ by purchasing Disney items BEFORE you enter the parks!  Stash the goodies and surprise the kids with “souvenirs” each day.  I call it ‘The Disney Fairy”.  Once you are in Orlando, the Walmart Supercenter and the Disney Warehouse outlet store are also fabulous places to visit for discounted souvenirs!



Everyone likes to save $$$.  And we all love Disney!  So, saving $$ on a Disney vacation is a win-win situation!

I hope you guys can use some of these money $$ saving ideas–Share your own Disney saving ideas below!

Best places to purchase cool Disney shirts?  Click here!

For a list of every character meal at Disney, click here!