How I Did Disney in $70 a Day

**UPDATE, August 2: Thank you to everyone who commented with your awesome ideas on how to save money at Disney World. The giveaway is now closed and I chose 2 winners at random…. congratulations to Aubrey and Ashley J — check your e-mail for a confirmation from me so I can get those gift cards to you! I can’t thank everyone enough for all the great tips. New readers: if my tips don’t apply to you, check out all the advice in the comment section…something for everyone over there!

**UPDATE, July 24: With the overwhelming response to this post, I am hosting a giveaway of TWO $25 DISNEY GIFT CARDS that can be used online, in stores, or at the parks. To enter, leave a comment telling me what YOU do to save money on Orlando theme parks, or, if you’ve never been, HELPFUL feedback on this post. On August 1st, I will pick two lucky winners! If you have previously commented you can drop me an e-mail and I’ll add you to the list!**

Since this is a food blog, I obviously don’t normally post about travel but, like food, it is another of my many passions! One of my favorite pastimes is finding ways to make travel as cheap as possible, and over the years I have picked up some great hints and tips! This past winter, my best friend and I went to Orlando to visit many of the area parks down there. We planned our trip very last minute, but we worked hard and put in a lot of research. The results were pretty awesome; we managed to each have a perfect vacation in Orlando for under $100 a day. Previously I would have thought this impossible, but when great information falls into your lap, you should always use it and, more importantly, share it. So for all of you upcoming mouseketeers out there, consider this when planning your next Orlando vacation:

Disney (and Orlando in general) is one of those places where visitors throw away thousands of dollars in potential savings for the convenience of getting one, simple, all-inclusive Disney sanctioned package. The theme parks do a pretty good job of making the prospect of not picking out an “authorized” vacation package scary and daunting. Even though Disney is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth, the amount of information about traveling “under the radar” is limited. It can leave even the most seasoned traveler asking questions like:

“If I don’t stay at a hotel on site, how will I get around? If I don’t buy my tickets directly from Disney, will I still be able to get in? Where will I eat in the area, should I just get a dining plan? Any “deal” when it comes to Disney World must be a hoax, no one does Disney for cheap, right? I can trust Disney, right?”

Well, let me break the news to you… you can’t. You can’t trust Disney. You wouldn’t walk into a casino and say that the house is on your side, would you? Like a casino, theme parks are trying see how much you’re willing to shell out for the thrills. There is no way to “win” against them, they will always be getting some of your money, but you can certainly lessen the blow by putting in just a little bit more effort. Here’s how: 

When my best friend and I decided to trek down to Orlando for a much needed vacation, we committed to only letting the theme parks take our money for park admission and possibly parking. We weren’t going to sleep on site, eat on site, rent lockers, buy souvenirs (we failed on this last part), or any of the Disney jazz they try to sign you up for. Even though I spent the better part of 6 months traversing around Europe, planning an unsanctioned trip to Disney was one of the hardest trips I’ve ever had to plan. There’s just not a wealth of information out there geared toward people like us who don’t have families, are first timers, and probably won’t be returning year after year. A lot of the stuff we ended up doing to save money made me feel like we were “fighting dirty” against the theme parks, so I exercise you to use caution if you use any of my methods. They worked out perfectly for us, but results can vary. The following should be considered just a collection of “ideas” to consider when traveling down to Orlando, use your own discretion in following them.

1. Travel in the off-season.
If you don’t have kids, there’s pretty much no reason you should be visiting Disney during the peak season in the summer. I can’t see anything redeeming about it — everything is infinitely more expensive, lines are hours in length, and it’s sweltering hot. You really get a lot more value from your vacation by choosing to travel in November, December, or January (but not during the week between Christmas and New Years). Research your dates thoroughly and don’t assume that just because costs are inexpensive, you’re getting a good deal — as one commenter pointed out, prices for hotels in September might be cheap, but it’s also hurricane season and rain is abundant. Long weekends are also prone to big crowds, but in general it’s a pretty safe bet that attendance will be lowest in the “winter.”

December in Orlando: tank tops and water rides… life is rough.

We chose the second week in December and waited on very few lines, got premium parking spots, and really great deals on hotels and flights. Choosing when to go is probably the biggest factor in cheapening your vacation.

Taking it a step further, avoid the most popular parks on the busiest days, even in the off season. You can buy all sorts of guides and subscribe to numerous sites that have “insider information” about this, but it’s pretty basic logic…

  • Crowds are usually lowest during the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and highest on the weekends.
  • The parks that immediately pop into your head when you think of Orlando are the most popular: Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Epcot (to some extent)
  • The parks that are the least popular are the ones your probably forgot existed: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Busch Gardens
  • Universal, Sea World, Disney Hollywood are somewhere in the middle.
  • Pair the least popular days of your vacation to the most popular parks to avoid the crowds.

This gets a little tougher when you consider that tickets are cheaper if you buy a block of days to Disney or Universal (3-day tickets to Disney are cheaper than individual day tickets), so just do the best you can. If you can avoid Magic Kingdom on a Saturday, you’ve already done yourself a great service in enhancing the value of your vacation by avoiding crowds and packing more into your day.

Once you’re inside the park you can download an app to your smartphone (for free) that will tell you the wait times for rides. This information is also posted throughout the park, but it sure is handy to have it in your pocket. Look for lulls in the lines for big rides around noon when everyone is settling in for a break. If you’re an adult child like me and insist on riding The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh before you leave the park, rides geared toward younger children seem to catch a break in the evening when families have taken their tuckered out kids home for the day.

2. Don’t stay on-site at a theme park hotel.
Use Priceline’s Price Negotiater to find a hotel and spend the time to bid slowly! There’s a lot of great information out there about how to effectively bid for travel. Peruse the web boards at and see what other people are paying for area hotels. My requirement was essentially a bed, a bathroom, and no bugs. I looked at hostels, too ( but I wasn’t ready to settle on a face-value price just yet. I started my bid at something ridiculous like $15 a night at the one star level in any areas near Disney or Universal. I increased my bid, dollar by dollar, until finally something caught at $22 a night. I didn’t have high hopes for the quality of the hotel, but it turned out to be pretty awesome.

We booked a one-star national hotel chain in Kissimmee. No frills, no bugs, two beds, a TV… comfortable enough, and had a heated pool, a free shuttle to Disney, and was within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. It even came with a free breakfast, which was really just oatmeal packets and juice, but hey, free is free, and it meant one less meal we had to shell out our own money for.

[What We Paid: At $22 a night for 4 nights (plus tax) we paid a total of $107.52 for our lodging (split between the two of us) came to $53.76 a person … about $13.50 a day per person.]

3. Rent a car, but rent it with discounts.
We came to the conclusion pretty early on that even with the free shuttle to Disney, we were going to need to rent a car if we wanted to visit all the parks. Orlando has unreliable public transportation and the theme parks are spread out over many miles. We knew this part was going to be a challenge because we’re both under 25 and most rental companies have steep daily fees for young drivers. I did A LOT of research to help us find the cheapest possible rate. Fortunately, there are many great internet forums that post corporate account codes (read: these are actual company accounts, not simply coupon codes) that you can enter online when reserving a car to get discounts and waive fees (particularly young driver fees). I picked one I knew we would be able to get away with, the University of California’s alumni discount code for Enterprise car rental.

Not the car we rented.

You can find such codes at, and there’s a pretty good list of corporate accounts and the perks of using each one. When we first picked up our compact car, they had not waived the young driver fee, but when I showed them our receipt and said the fee was supposed to be waived, they didn’t ask questions and just took off the extra expense.

[What We Paid: 5 day car rentel from Enterprise with discounts = $105.39 TOTAL or about $21 a day (split between 2 people = $10.50 per person per day)]

As for gas, we really didn’t use that much. I’d say it came out to about:

[What We Paid: $20 worth of gas and tolls, between two of us over 5 days was about $2 per day per person]

3. If you can avoid parking at Disney, do it.
Unfortunately, throughout the 5 days we were there, we paid for parking almost every day. This was one area where I didn’t do a ton of research before we went (and I regret that), but there are actually a lot of easy options for avoiding paying the steep parking fees at theme parks. As I mentioned, our hotel did have a daily shuttle to the main gate of the Disney World parks where you can get on the monorail; we only used it one day, but it saved us $15 in parking. As far as I could tell, anyone can hop on one of these shuttles and you don’t need to show proof of a reservation. If you’re staying at a hotel that does NOT offer a shuttle to the park you want to visit, look around and see if the nearby hotels do — you can probably just hop on their bus.

Another option is to park at Downtown Disney, which is free, and catch a Disney bus to and from the resorts.  We kind of missed out on that opportunity, but it is possible to completely avoid paying for parking during the course of your stay.

I couldn’t find much information about avoiding parking at the International Drive theme parks (Universal, Sea World, etc.,) other than staying at a nearby hotel, but if you happen to know someone who lives in the area, drop off is free at Universal (you have to pay for Disney).

$15 gets you premium parking…only about 3 miles from the actual park.

[What We Paid: Since we didn’t do our research on this one, we paid $15 a day over 4 days = $60, split between the two of us over the course of our trip amounted to about $6 per person a day]

4. Bring your own food and water to the parks.
All of the area theme parks allow you to bring in your own food and beverages. The first thing we did when we got to Orlando was hit up the grocery store and load up on groceries. For 5 days we bought:

  • 1 double loaf of bread = $4
  • 1 gallon carton of goldfish = $8
  • 1 palate of bottled water = $6
  • 1 jar goober grape = $5
  • 1 crate of clementines = $10
  • 1 giant bag of carrots = $4
  • 1 bag of Sunchips = $5

We took plastic knives from the deli section for spreading our sandwiches and my friend was smart and brought an entire box of ziplock bags for us to pack our lunches and dinners in. As I also mentioned, breakfast was free at our hotel, and we sometimes stocked up on extra muffins and oatmeal packets for use later that day. 

If all else fails, steal snacks from strollers.

We weren’t perfect. We bought coffee some days and ate dinner out one night. Sometimes we splurged on park snacks like butterbeer at Harry Potter World in Universal. But in theory, it was do-able to eat all your own meals for around $10 a day per person. When we did eat at Universal, we used coupons from a packet you can pick up once you’re through the gates at one of the gift shoppes. It actually had really great deals for City Walk and helped bring “park prices” down to normal.

[What We Paid: our total grocery bill was about $42, split between the two of us over 5 days amounted to about $8.40 per person per day]

5. Don’t be fooled into buying your park tickets ahead of time.
Park tickets are probably the toughest area to save money on. No matter what you do, you’re going to end up paying for them, and the system is not setup to benefit those who are visiting the park for only a few days. At Disney, Universal, and other area theme parks, the more days you commit to spending in the park, the cheaper your cost per a day becomes. The price per a day for a one day ticket to Disney is nearly 4 times that of a weekly ticket. It just ‘aint fair.

I’ve highly edited this section of my post because (as you may see from the comments), it has received a lot of feedback and I don’t want anyone to be misled. Before I launch into how we got our tickets, here are some easy ways to find discounts (many courtesy of those who have left comments):

  • If you are a AAA member or know someone who is, discounted tickets are available for almost all of Orlando’s parks. These tickets are usually for multiple day passes and you must purchase them through your local AAA office.
  • Buy an Orlando Entertainment book, which can offer about $20 off tickets.
  • Discounts are available for U.S. military personnel and their families. Many large employers also have discounts available, but chances are if you work for them, you already know about it. Still, it never hurts to ask your HR rep. if they have any connections!
  • If you’re staying off site, ask at your hotel! Talking to the locals is a great way to find out if anyone has connections, knows reputable places to get discounts, or has a trusted source. I firmly believe many people miss out on potentially great resources right in front of them because they never take the time to stop and ask.
  • If you’re visiting Sea World and purchase tickets through their website, your ticket should be valid for TWO days. Here’s the trick: at the end of your first visit you need to go to guest services and ask for a return voucher. This is a very good option if you have an awkward half day with nothing to do before your flights and don’t want to pay for a full day’s admission somewhere else.

But there are other options. Throughout Orlando you will find numerous booths and signs that offer discounts — they’re in hotels, airports, restaurants, even our bus driver had a similar sign. More often than not, these are third-party brokers who resell tickets much like scalpers do for sporting events, at a very discounted cost. These ticket resellers buy 10 day passes to Disney (where the price per a day is about $25) and rent them to individuals on a day-to-day basis for a steeply discounted price, plus a small mark-up fee for their services.

This was our experience, and it worked perfectly for us, but it might not be for everyone. Others have had very different experiences, and the majority of information out there tells you to avoid using third party brokers, probably for good reason. I’m putting it out there just to stand up and say that it worked for me and many comments on this post suggest that it has also worked for others and can work for you too. On the flip-side, many readers have expressed upset that I would validate third-party brokers, and an entire moral debate has been struck up in the comments section. After much consideration, I have decided to keep this part of my post because it has otherwise become a taboo topic in the “Disney World” and very little information exists online about it. Whether I post about it or not, people are going to use brokered tickets, and I think I can offer some advice on how to protect yourself if you choose to, too.

Now please, be careful with this one; it worked out perfectly for us, but there are no guarantees. Do your research first! Our hotel has a kiosk right in the lobby offering these discounted tickets, with the same guy who manned the booth every day. He offered us two days worth of Disney tickets at $30 a day, compared to the $85 we were going to pay by buying a one-day ticket online. After talking to other hotel patrons who had purchased tickets from this guy and had success, we decided to give it a shot.

He was upfront about the risks. While it is not illegal to purchase these tickets, it is against Disney’s policy to share park passes. He made it known to us that there were no guarantees, and that it was entirely possible they would be confiscated and we would have to pay full price. He also let us know that it was not in his interest to deceive us, since a confiscation of the pass meant a severe loss for him. Weighing the options, we agreed that the potential pay-off was worth the possible risk and settled on paying him $20 cash upfront the rest only if the tickets worked out.

A little scary, but since his kiosk was based out of our hotel, I knew I’d be able to track him down the next day if we suddenly got denied from Disney. I also felt protected by the fact that he operated out of my hotel, a national chain. If we got “scammed,” I figured I had numerous options to recoup my losses, and if I couldn’t, well, live and let learn.

When we got to the ticket gates, I had brief reservations. You must go through fingerprint scanners to get into the park and I knew mine would not match those who had previously used the ticket. When I pressed my finger up to the scanner, the computer did indeed confirm I was not a match, but the turnstile opened anyway and there wasn’t even a question from the gate attendant. Other than a little heart racing, we experienced no problems both days we used the tickets; a big risk, but an even bigger reward: we saved about $60 per ticket per day!

We made it in!

If you choose to use this information, please be aware of the risks. The possibility for savings is huge, but it could also end up costing you money too. Park security won’t care to hear your sob story if your ticket doesn’t work out, but If you do choose to go this route, here’s some advice to consider:

  1. Buy from a reseller that you know you’ll see again. In our case, this was the guy who ran the booth in our hotel. Maybe you know someone who has a friend who sells tickets, either way, protect yourself by making sure you can find them again. In most cases, they’ll be wanting to track you down too, to make sure they get their pass back!
  2. Typically they’ll try to sell you the passes that have the fewest days left on them. Ask for newer passes if they have them, which will decrease the risk associated with the ticket.
  3. Get as much information as you can about the ticket, where and when it was purchased, how many people have used it before, and what parks they visited on what days. All this information is stored on the card, so if Disney knows it, you should too.
  4. Feel free to haggle. You can ask not to pay all the money upfront, you can ask for a ticket that hasn’t yet been used.
  5. Always remember you can walk away if you don’t feel comfortable. Until money changes hands, you’re under no obligation to accept a price or a ticket.

[What We Paid: $30 Per Person Per Day]

So there you have it. Adding up our lodging, car rental, gas, food, park tickets, and parking, our grand total comes to: $70.10 per day. With a little research and a bit of bravery, an affordable Disney vacation really is possible!

162 thoughts on “How I Did Disney in $70 a Day

    • I didn’t read all your replies but being a constant Orlando park goer I highly recommend not purchasing your tickets in advance if you have to still redeem them at a ticket window. You will a large amount of wasted time to actual get tickets. If you do have to go to ticket window to redeem your passes plan your trip so you can get them later in the afternoon the day before you go. There is free drop off at Disney but you really need to read directions and follow the signs. Also, they do have valet parking as well which you can also use as a drop off area. There are some rides that require you to get a locker before you get on certain rides so if you so plan on bringing in your own food you may want to get an all day locker and not carry anything around with you. Please be careful in choosing your hotel wisely….I booked one at a cheaper rate and when I got there around 10pm it had cop cars all around it (yes did give me a refund). But the parks are fun, entertaining and worthwild so take a chance but not in the summer time!

  1. If you don’t believe in living by the “golden rule” or are not worried about Karma- this would be an option. However, when we choose to cheat business and lie to get what you want- there is a trickle down effect where more people are hired to monitor the “cheaters”, more technology is needed and is bought, people are hired to over see the added security and then prices , of course, go up. So – thank you, you are the reason our prices continue to inflate.

    • Thank you for your feedback — you raise some interesting points, and you’re right; it’s easy to overlook what kind of effects some of these methods can have in the long-term. We could launch into all sorts of debates over the “true” cost of a ticket, what constitutes stealing, and where the line is between saving money and taking advantage at others’ expense. For now I’ll just say that, while some of my advice may be controversial, most of it is straight-forward and beneficial to everyone — my overall message is that with some time, research, and creativity, you can find big savings no matter where you go, (Disney or otherwise) and that sometimes it pays not to accept everything at face value. But as always, I appreciate all feedback I get, good and bad, so thank you for raising your concerns, they were certainly thought-provoking.

      • Doing “homework” is essintial for any trip. You made some very good points. Most I have done. I want to address the issue with discounted tickets. At Dineyland hear in California, I bought mine from Craigslist. I was shocked to see hundreds of sites advertising discounted tickets to many theme parks. I too question the validity of them. I dont feel like it was cheating but I will admit, my stoamch was a little woosy. If anything, the” ticket” made money twice! First the whole amount WAS paid to Disney when the “broker” bought the pass. The “broker” made money when I “rented” the pass. If anything I should be mad at the broker because they are making money off of me. Yes I realize what I just said but with a family of five, paying $600.00 just to walk through the gate (a 2-day pass) is ludicrous! And yes we pack meals, stay off site and anything else to save. Disney has to know that this goes on. They could stop this if they wanted to but I think there ok with it because they know it brings people in and hopefully you will spend once inside.

      • Hopefully you had success with the discounted tickets? No regrets here! Very true that Disney still makes money off of “discounted” tickets — it’s my belief that buying on the “black market” is just maximizing the benefits of Disney’s own tiered pricing system.

    • I disagree with just about everything stated in this comment. The ‘golden rule’ does not factor into this matter, and to think that Disney or any other corporation is playing by the ‘golden rule’ or considering Karma at all is incredibly naive.

      Park passes are not being stolen from Disney, from paying customers, or anyone else. A park pass is bought and paid in full by a broker whether or not anybody even uses the pass so just by it being purchased the park is making money. The stipulation that you aren’t supposed to share a ticket is merely one that the park uses to try and get more money from their patrons, not a moral law or holy ethical code of some sort. The cost of running an amusement park is likely, very standardized regardless of the number of people in the park on a given day, but in fact, the more people there are in the park the more money the park will reap from the sales of food and merchandise. It is in the park’s interest for there to be as many people present as they can squeeze in. If there are people who would otherwise not be able to afford admission to the park then they will simply not go and the park will lose their patronage. Instead of losing patronage altogether, a shared pass from a broker will bring people into the park and still make money for the park. It is exactly like price line or any of those sites where you can get a cheaper room/flight because making some money is better than making no money and having empty rooms or seats. It is plain logic. Some money… is better for a company than no money.

      As for the trickle down security spiel. People using these legitimate brokered tickets are not the threat you seem to think they are. While I don’t know firsthand from the head of security at Disney, I can imagine that they are more concerned with actual illegitimate, counterfeit tickets that they do not make a penny off of. And I stress, wholeheartedly, that counterfeiting is wrong and it is something I would have no part in, but that is not remotely close to what is happening in the case of the brokered pass.

      • I so agree with this comment. We used a broker, saved a ton of money, wouldn’t have been able to go without the discount. Disney makes plenty of money don’t worry!!! I will always use a broker and feel just fine about it.

    • Disney is in it for the money and they are making lots of it, I have read disney blogs that say the same things this article does. We went to Disney in the “OFF SEASON” , there were so many people we could not even watch the fireworks. Security was pushing people along. I personaly think Disey is over rated and all about the money. everything is over priced, if you want a relaxing vacation, stay away from Disney.

    • Disney allows vendors and stores to sell tickets to there park, and those vendors and stores sell at there own discounted price. Disney allows you to bring in your own food and drink, so why not spend less money and pack a lunch ahead of time, plus you save time by not having to wait on your food at a restaurant in the park. Hotels are purposely built around the parks to give people a better discount and stay with them instead of on the park. Rental cars are meant to be rented to people who are driving long distances or short, when they need it. So with that being said, what was done that was “cheating”, or even going against the “golden rule”. Im not sure you read her post correctly, so you don’t sound very smart with your response. I beleive your the fool that these parks haave tricked into spending all your money to have a good time! Good Luck in life, i hope you don’t coupon, because then your just stealing money from companies too!

      • Just to clarify, the fingerprint system at the gate is to prevent people from using a stolen ticket (not from brokers, but if they found it on the ground or what not).

        Also, the brokers on the side of the road or within hotels are NOT partnered with Disney in any way. Most of those brokers get their tickets from buying them from Cast Members, either their comp passes or from that Cast Member purchasing them at a discount in the Company store, and then selling them at that price to the broker. The security for these tickets is to prevent Cast Members from selling their tickets to these brokers. Trust me, Disney is not a company that wants to punish a guest from trying to make the most of their vacation. Disney wants guests to experience as many attractions as they can in a day, so that they continue to get the great feedback that they do.

        Those Cast Members that sell their tickets in any way are immediately terminated. It’s a HUGE violation of company policy and it is the reason why it is a big deal to promote the business for these brokers. Disney doesn’t get the full amount from these tickets because they are bought at a discount initially. THAT’S where the “immoral” part comes in.

        The only reason that it works, even though your fingerprint doesn’t match, is because a lot of guests don’t place their finger the exact same way every time, so this error pops up most of the time at the gate. Also, just because it may have worked for you and they still let you in, does NOT mean that it isn’t a tracked ticket. Like I said before, they won’t punish the guest for someone else’s mistake….normally. I have seen where the guest is directed to Guest Relations for the problem and they make them pay for the tickets there.

      • Oh, one more thing. AVOID FREE DINING IN SEPTEMBER!!! TRUST me. The way they do this is by upcharging your hotel to compensate for the free dining. It isn’t a deal. The best times to go are:

        1st and 2nd week of november (right after food and wine and right before thansgiving. The christmas decorations aren’t quite up yet and the fall breaks are over with.)

        1st and 2nd week of february (everyone just started back up with school and no one wants to go on vacation right after spending a fortune on christmas)

  2. If you have an entertainment book you can save big on theme park tickets. Buy them online before the first day, print out the receipt and exchange it for tickets. You do it on their website. It is worth it to buy an entertainment book simply for this. The savings is usually between $30-$50 per ticket.
    Also, many large employers (like HP) have a “passport” or “tickets at work” program that offers the same discount.
    I am a west coaster, and have yet to travel to Disney World, so this is great info. I have been Disney on a Dime for years.

    • Thanks for the great advice! I know AAA has discounts as well, but nothing that nets that much in savings! Enjoy Disney World if you go — it certainly is a whole ‘nother world.

  3. This blog has the most negative undertone to it it made me sick. There are plenty of great blogs I have read about saving money at Disney but none have ever made it seem like Disney is scamming you out of your money and this is a way to get back at them which is exactly how you come off. You can’t truly enjoy all that Disney has to offer if you are going there with that type of attitude.

    • On the contrary, I think I enjoyed Disney more because I was certain I was paying the lowest prices I possibly could. I happen to think that it’s harder to enjoy all that Disney has to offer if you are constantly feeling like you are being nickled and dimed for every expense. Nothing takes the magic out of the Magic Kingdom like starring into an empty wallet, and by saving money on accommodations, food, etc., I didn’t feel bad about splurging for the things I really wanted at the park. Since I saved on park admission, I also didn’t feel anxious about waiting on lines when I had to. If I was paying full price for my day at Magic Kingdom, I know I would have skipped a lot of the things that I stuck around for, including an hour-long wait to get a photo with Mickey Mouse. To each his own, my friend, and I apologize if the post put you off. I’m not pretending to be an expert on Disney — this is merely *my* experience and what worked for me. I enjoyed every second of my trip to Orlando and I believe that an equally satisfying vacation is in reach for those who think they might not be able to afford the cover price.

  4. This is the most riduculous article ever. It has nothing to do with following the “golden rule”. I’d like to see how this article would have gone if you were caught at the gate using the black market tickets. Disney stamps them void, your family is embarrassed. Then you get questioned on where and how you got the tickets for about an hour ruining your day and wasting your money. I don’t care how important it is to save money, if you can’t afford to buy the tickets legit, then don’t go on vacation.

    • I don’t really think “the golden rule” (treat others as you’d like to be treated) really applies here, but to each his own. I’ve made it very clear that this is what worked for me, and that using brokered tickets comes with risks that you can choose to accept or not, just like using Priceline comes with the risk that you may end up in a hotel that didn’t seem worth the savings. I will reiterate that while buying tickets from brokers may violate Disney’s policies regarding sharing tickets, it is NOT illegal, nor is it stealing. As others have pointed out, it may actually be to Disney’s benefit. For example, on our last day in Orlando we had about a half a day to spend before we had to catch our flights. Originally we planned to spend this half day at Sea World, where our previously purchased tickets came with a free, second admission (these tickets were purchased at full price, by the way). We would not have paid $89 to spend half a day at one of the Disney parks. But when we got brokered tickets for a price of $30 a day, the expense seemed more justifiable, so Disney got $60 of our money (plus $15 for parking) that we wouldn’t have otherwise paid that day.

    • “I don’t care how important it is to save money, if you can’t afford to buy the tickets legit, then don’t go on vacation.”
      It must be nice to have all the money you need to spend on Disney (whose single day park tickets are up to $81 kids and $87 adults). Are you saying people who don’t have that kind of money, even when they budget and save, don’t deserve anything fun? Are only wealthy people allowed to go on vacation?

      • Well said, I have a family of 6 and as much as I would love to take my kids to DW it will probably never be in our budget. Nothing ruins a vacation like constantly telling your kids they can’t have souvenirs and snacks because the tickets are so pricey. They could make it much more affordable for people but they would rather make money.

  5. Where this post fails-

    Off season when it pertains to crowds and Disney owned lodging is decreasing due to incentives such as “free dining”. Beware, when traveling in Nov. of “Jersey week”, Thanksgiving break, and Veteran’s Day. December be aware of Pop Warner events, the Candlelight Processional, and Christmas break vacationers. In January there’s the Disney World Marathon, New Year’s crowds, and MLK weekend.

    The used ticket option is sketchy. The “resellers” are constantly getting in trouble as they scam people into believing that the tickets have days on them but do not. And since you’re not the original purchaser you are out of luck. A suggestion, buy tickets for the full length of your stay in advance through the WDW website and it will be cheaper than buying them through Disney once you arrive or as part of a package deal. The suggestion to buy used tickets is sketchy and generally should be avoided!

    Where it gives good avice is to have breakfast in your room and to bring snacks to the park. We do this regularly since we have kids. In park counter service meals are often shared too to save on food costs. The Disboards offer tons of great advice on saving money at WDW. For those who stay on-site you can use Disney’s Magical Expres which will take you from MCO to your Disney owned hotel for free. No rental car needed. This is great for larger families.

    • Good, constructive advice. Thank you for filling in some of the gaps. I fully agree that some of my suggestions don’t work for everyone — as I am a young adult without a family, most of my advice is for others like me who have the flexibility to take risks and who may not need the conveniences that staying on site affords. My first trip to Disney World was with my family when I was very young and we stayed on site at the Port Orleans Hotel. I got to enjoy the themed pools, character breakfasts, and easy transportation to and from the parks. Now that I’m in my 20s traveling alone, those things are not necessary or important to me, but I can certainly see where they are worth the expense in convenience for families, particularly those with young children.

      • I’m sorry corinna but I don’t see any negative tones on here. People were just adding their two-cents. As two veggies says, she has no family yet but still her advice was just that-advice. We can take it or leave it. Disney is a business first. They are in business to make money and that comes from you and I. I don’t buy anything or anywhere without looking for a coupon or discount so to save $340 walking thru the gate, I will take my chances. That way we can splurge a little on the $20 dollar (x5) mouse ears!

  6. I don’t know if this applies to Disneyworld, but if you buy your Disneyland tickets through AAA it’s the same cost but offers free parking. I don’t even have a AAA account, I used someone elses and they don’t check at all. We’ve done the super cheap Disney vacations and the go all out kind, both are worth it! The cheaper route is a lot more work but can be very rewarding

  7. Cool tips!

    Funny side note about stealing from strollers-

    A few months ago, we were at Disneyland and a lady was bending down tending to her own stroller in a cluster of strollers. A pregnant lady at the front of the line in Peter Pan saw her and thought she was stealing stuff from her bag on her stroller (I guess that’s the way it looked with the strollers being so squished together and from her angle), and jumped out of the line screaming, “STOP HER! HEY YOU!!! STOP STEALING FROM MY STROLLER!! HELP!!!” Only the lady wasn’t stealing from her stroller. The accused was so offended, yelling at the accuser and even though the accuser was wrong she didn’t back down.

    True story, kinda sad!

    • Wow! The seas of strollers at Disney were quite a sight to behold. I can’t imagine what that lady thought the other was stealing… diapers? juice boxes? Gotta watch those moms… crafty thieves 😉

  8. Pretty much everything you said I can agree with. The only exception being the “If all else fails steal snacks from a stroller.” As a mother of three children (who I actually took to Disney World 2 weeks ago-we live in the area) this would really NOT be appreciated. 1. I make/plan snacks to take ahead of time for my kids so that I DON’T have to shell out extra money and can let my kids get a souvenir. 2. Things are only left on a stroller because there are SO MANY places you cannot take them into (plus it’s hard enough to wrangle the kids WITHOUT the stroller along with my bag of must haves). I only leave on the stroller what I could live with NOT having should someone take off with it BUT that does not mean its fair game to young adults who don’t want to spend 5.00 to get a snack. I don’t think stealing (especially in this case) should EVER be an option. With the ticket-if it fails you are only hurting yourself-that’s your risk to take-but taking a snack from a 2 year old (and another 5.00 to get a replacement) is not very adult and also not a legit way to save money.

    • The “stealing snacks from strollers” comment was nothing more than a joke, much like the other captions were. Sorry if it wasn’t clear, I would never even think of taking snacks from strollers, and I really don’t know who would. I just happened to have a funny picture I thought would fit well with the food section, and I thought it was pretty clear by the nature of the photo and the numerous facetious captions throughout the article that I really would never consider stealing from strollers, much like I don’t actually think life is rough when you’re wearing tank tops and going on water rides in December’s 80 degree weather. None of my advice condones stealing and stealing from STROLLERS would be the lowest of the low, not to mention extremely shady and highly bizarre.

      • LOL! It was very clear that was a joke. No worries there. Funny. You have to have a lot of patience when you have a blog people can leave their 2 cents on. You do good work.

      • Yes, I have no idea where Becka got the impression you were serious about stealing from strollers. The “nonchalant” look on your face in that picture spells out pretty clearly that it was a joke.

      • Wow, I just have to compliment you on how gracefully you respond to some of these comments. The more I read, the more I realize a lot of people aren’t playing with a full deck. I’m not sure I’d have the patience to respond to the ignorance so kindly. And it was very clear you weren’t serious about stealing anything.

  9. if you are looking for free parking then you could park at the polynesian hotel – the monorail runs out of it and i began parking there because it was easier to get on the monorail with a stroller than to get on a bus or tram. we go two to three times a year and love parking there and it is free!
    if you are leary of buying shared tickets through a broker then you could team up with some friends and buy tickets. we have done this several times. we will go one week and use the tickets and then they go the next week and use the tickets. i have never heard of the renting tickets thing, i will have to look at that next time i am there. also, a great money saver on tickets is to get a group together and buy the yes program tickets. they are incredibly cheap and you get two free tickets with every order and you only need ten people to make a group. you usually have around a three week window to use them.
    You have some great suggestions and i just wanted to elaborate on a few money savers from my experiences!

    • Awesome! Great advice — finding a way to avoid the parking fees can save over $100 alone on a one week trip with very little extra effort or risk, so parking at the Polynesian is an awesome tip. And yes, if you can pool together with your friends, sharing tickets that way is much less of a risk than buying third-party. The real risk with using brokered tickets isn’t really Disney “catching” you, but rather potentially being treated unfairly by a broker, much like the risks associated with buying scalped tickets to sporting events.

      • As an extremely seasoned Disney goer, it really angers me to see people tell their money saving Disney secrets like parking at the Polynesian online for the public to see as it could very well lead to higher security at these resorts resulting in the elemination of nonguests entering the property. Out of all of the tips I have ever read online or in books (such as discounted tickets or bringing in snacks), this one is the only one I feel should never leave your family. I mean Dawn Danne, you do realize that all it takes is for a security guard to see you park, go straight to the monorail, and then go straight back to you car at the end of the day (and now that you have shared this little tip everyone else who sees this will do it too) and immediately security is increased? All the tips I have ever read give tips that do not have extreme consequences or that can be easily stopped (you cannot easily stop the selling of discounted tickets) but Disney resorts can very easily stop the entering of nonguests into resort areas. So please, keep comments like this to yourself.

        P.S: To the writer of this article, you dont have to carry your own water into the Disney parks, any counter service restaurant has ice water for free!!

  10. You may have gotten to see Disney on a shoe string however you DID NOT buy butterbeer @ Harry Potter there! Wrong parks! Universal has Harry Potter not Disney!

    • Yep, I know. For simplicity’s sake the title of the post is “How I Did Disney in $70 a Day,” but my trip was to Universal, Sea World, AND Disney, and my advice applies to all the parks.

    • wow are people really upset…..everyone should see Disney at least once, rich, poor and in between. This article is letting people know that it can be done on a budjet….some people need to relax

  11. Um, interesting that you spend the whole article referencing Disney parking, Disney tickets, Disney food, Disney price-gouging in general — but almost every image is from Universal. Ripsaw Falls, Barney Theater, and even the Universal parking garage — I understand that you did both parks, but you posted the parking garage image under a rant about the cost of Disney parking and captioned it to imply that it was a Disney lot.

    Also, anyone can stay in a one-star motel or eat PBJ every day, but I prefer not to starve on my vacations. You could have easily split a pretty big counter-service meal for $5 each and not had to eat the same food four days in a row. And if you want to get technical, “sharing” multi-day passes is a scam. Sorry, but I’m not teaching my kids that it\’s okay to buy illegal tickets to save $40. Oh, and maybe don’t touch other people’s strollers? Even if you were only pretending to steal snacks, it\’s not nice to touch other people’s things.

    • As this post has gained popularity, I have approved all comments I have received, good AND bad, because I welcome the opportunity to clarify, hear suggestions, hear feedback, see where my gaps are, and fill in those gaps. I have responded to every comment as diplomatically as possible and a common refrain I have echoed is “to each his own.” I have never once claimed to be an expert on Disney, Universal, Orlando, mouse ears, turkey legs, strollers, snacks, etc. etc. etc. As I have stated many times, this was MY experience, and I think others can benefit from it — if you don’t see any value in it, that’s perfectly OK with me. I welcome any suggestions on how you save money at Disney (or ORLANDO for that matter), and if you choose to do things differently, that’s fine too. I can only assume that since your comment essentially does nothing but bash me, that you must think I *am* passing judgement on you and that this buys you the right to pass judgement on me and scold me like a child. That said, I will address all of your comments.

      The use of the word “Disney” over “Orlando” or over “Disney/Universal/Sea World” or “Orlando’s theme parks” was one I used for simplicity, not out of deception. Perhaps I failed on clarifying this, but I have no vendetta on Disney or a preference of Universal to Disney. It was word selection I consciously made to avoid overloading information that generally applies to all the theme parks. Furthermore, it is not something specific to me. I have heard countless people who are going to the general Orlando area say that they are going to Disney on vacation, when in fact they mean they are visiting the area’s many attractions. Perhaps I am naive in assuming that this is how most people visit Orlando, but none of the information presented here was meant to deceive. I chose the pictures based on what I thought best represented my points and none of them were meant to imply I was at Disney World when I was not.

      Your remark about the food confuses me because as far as I can tell, you are merely criticizing my personal choice in what I ate. I laid out my grocery list solely to relay the point that you can bring your own food to the park. No one ever said that had to be peanut butter and jelly. You, and everyone else, are free to eat whatever you like.

      The ticket issue has been highly contested and otherwise addressed by me and numerous other people in the comments section. The general sentiment here is that there are two very different points of view and we can all agree to disagree. You can read and address those comments if you’d like to talk about the specifics. I also realize that section of this post may have come off differently than I intended it to, and I hope to revise it soon based on some of the helpful feedback I have received in comments. What I will remind you is that brokered tickets are NOT illegal to purchase and while you may disagree, I don’t think people who choose to use them are bad or immoral.

      Your final remark about the stroller was just plain rude. I’m sorry I didn’t post the specifics of why my friend was touching the stroller, but it happened to have started rolling away as we were walking by and my friend replaced it while I snapped a picture. It may not be very nice to touch other people’s things, but I do think it’s nice to help out when someone’s things are blowing away. It’s also not very nice to use the curtain of anonymity to scold strangers like they’re your children, for the record.

      • If your friend was moving the stroller, great — realize that I have no information beyond what you gave, and you posted a picture of your friend holding someone else’s stroller with a caption about stealing food. My remark was rude because I was responding to what you implied was happening. I have no way, as a reader, to guess what’s really happening.

        “What I will remind you is that brokered tickets are NOT illegal to purchase” — Legitimate ticket brokers sell NEW, UNUSED multi-day passes. “Renting” a portion of a multi-day pass is a sign of a scam — a scalper, not a broker. And regardless of moral debates, you’ll get kicked out at the gate if Disney realizes it. I know it’s beyond your control, but people are pinning this to Pinterest, and I’d hate to see a family of four spend $160 on these “discount” tickets and then get stopped at the gate.

        You asked for my tips — I fully agree with your advice to go off-season, and an easy way to save money is to book a value room during a period where they’re running a free dining promo (which they do during each “slow” season). We just booked seven days, with tickets included, two free meals each day, and one snack each day. For our family of four, it averaged out to just over $60 per person per day, which includes all of our on-site transportation. Of course, this is most beneficial when you’re doing Disney and not all of Orlando — which is one reason it’s a bit confusing to use “Disney” and “Orlando” interchangeably.

        Sorry if you felt I was “bashing” or “scolding.” I do strongly disagree with your recommendation to purchase brokered tickets. I was too snarky in my reply about the one-star motel because I was already bugged by the recommendations about stolen tickets and the jokes about stealing food. I have no problem with one-star motels or peanut butter, although Disney (for all its price-gouging reputation) does offer deals frequently that make it easy to stay on-site and eat for free for less than you’d spend off-site eating BYO meals.

      • @dangeranddash: I found the remarks about you teaching your children the legality of borrowing tickets a little hypocritical because in your comments you referenced Pintrest, for which I’m guessing you are a member. There is a very large debate as to the “legality” of Pintrest. People pin images and links that have been copywritten and protected everyday. The original owner is not getting fair compensation. You may even have some of these images “pinned” to your boards as we speak. You may want to fully investigate your own activites before judging someone eles! @twoveggies: You may help yourself to any of the snacks in my stroller, if you save it from rolling away! Nothing will ruin a vacation faster than a missing stroller!

  12. To the best of my understanding, in order to park for free at an on-property resort, you must show proof of being a guest of said resort (copy of reservation is usually what you must show when arriving, then they give you a resort id of some sort) Because of people trying to find more economical ways of parking on property, they have been cracking down on this more and more. Whereas the security gates entering the parking lot used to be empty guard shacks, they now house security guards who constantly check id upon arrival.

    Also, the parking at Downtown Disney used to be a good suggestion. Now, I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you plan to spend an hour and a half (one way) just getting to a park. The busses running from Downtown Disney, now, only go to the resorts. I don’t think they even stop at Ticket and Transportation. Once you reach a resort, then you can get on a park specific bus. Several years ago, this was a viable parking option… but unless you want to spend roughly 3 hours on property, but not in a park, I don’t think it would be your best bet!

    Be careful of using days off borrowed tickets. Had a friend get burned (along with her family) doing this same thing. Glad it worked for you! Just because a broker says there are days left, there may not be days left… and then you get to pay double (well, almost double) when you figure in the broker’s fee and the new ticket you had to purchase.

    • Thanks for the tips. I really wish I knew firsthand about the parking, but it’s always a good idea to check and see if your hotel or a nearby one offers a free shuttle to Disney. I think there certainly are enough options out there for people staying off site to get to Disney without parking, whether it be Downtown Disney, a hotel shuttle, public transportation (which it appeared went to Ticket and Transportation), or otherwise. Getting to Universal and the parks on International Drive is tougher, unless you’re staying in that area. It seems like you have to really pick “one or the other” in terms of freebies and parking. In the end we chose to stay closer to Disney because of the free shuttles; not many of the hotels on International Drive offered any sort of transport to any of the parks.

      And thanks for the heads up about the tickets. I am hoping to revise the post a little with regard to all the comments. It worked for me, but I recognize there are lots of risks.

  13. The only thing I have to warn you about with this post is the ticket brokers. It’s actually an illegal operation no matter how you slice it and many people end up getting ripped off in the long run. If someone buys a ticket from any of these “brokers” and it comes up invalid (which they normally do) you are out that money and then have to pay full price anyway for a ticket from Disney. The tickets you buy are tickets that have already been used and either upgraded or never checked. During the busy seasons as many as 5-10 people will get in on the same exact ticket. It’s such a scam and while local law enforcement is trying to crack down on it, it is really hard to stay on top of.

  14. Our family went to Disneyworld and Universal last year. I too am a dedicated “planner”. I thought I would add another cost saving tip to your list. If you, or a member of your party are a military member or employed by the Department of Defense you can purchase your tickets at a discount. They have a ticket office located in the Shades of Green resort located in the park. The Shades of Green resort is a disney hotel that provides discounted rooms to military members. You can find the Shades of Green information on Disneyworlds website. I honestly can’t remember how large the discount was but it was well worth the effort of going to the resort. Make sure that you bring a copy of your military ID with you. I believe the discounts are even available to veterans. You may want to check on this point though. These discounted tickets are also available at the Tickets and Tourism office located on most military bases. The Tickets and Tourism offices usually have a wide variety of tickets to different theme parks and attractions including Disney and Universal. Hope this helps others save a little money. And as an added thought, I got the humor of your post. Not everyone has a good sense of humor so just ignore the “others”. =)

    • Thanks for the tips and the support. As I mentioned in some above comments, I am going to revise the ticket portion and it certainly helps to hear some “legit” ways of getting ticket discounts. I will definitely add it to the list!

  15. Just as an FYI to anyone reading this, it actually IS illegal to buy those “brokered” tickets. As in, straight up, against the law, illegal. While you do have some good points, I agree with the person who said if you can’t afford it legally, don’t go. I’m a 31 year old, single Mom. I would LOVE to take my nine year old, and am working hard to save up money for it. Do that. Save the money, and go. Don’t buy illegal tickets. I do appreciate this article, but in all your research you should have looked up whether what you are doing is legal or not. I did about two minutes of internet research and found in multiple spots that this is illegal. Like I said, in general I appreciate this article, I didn’t know you could carry food in. That’s really helpful. Thanks for the article, I’ll just choose to only do the legal parts when I go:)

    • Thanks for the heads up. Like buying scalped tickets for sporting events, it’s not illegal to BUY the tickets, it’s only illegal to sell. Whether or not buying is aiding in the illegality is certainly worthy of debate, but while there may be numerous unwelcome consequences and risks with using brokered tickets, you won’t have to deal with any law enforcement if you’re caught buying them — just some dirty looks from Disney. Thanks for the feedback though, and I’m trying to work on an update to the ticket section with cheap “legit” ways to buy tickets and advice to consider if you are thinking about third-party tickets.

  16. Being from Cali, Ive always bought my pass and deffinately got my money’s worth…however I recently moved out of state. So my trips back home I NEEEED to go back to Disneyland…we always go through craigslist! Kind of shady, but who cares! Works fine…as far as saving money with the park food…im pretty terrible at it because I love Dland time you go though, find the Cream Cheese filled pretzles! so worth the 4$

  17. This is absolutely wonderful advice. My boyfriend and I are both in our 20s and are planning our first “big” vacation together and will definitely make use of your experiences. I was curious if you’ve stumbled across any disney (or vacation) related message forums in general that could serve useful in planning?

    On a more personal note, I thought the tone of your blog was witty and clearly not 100% serious 100% of the time. Some people these days. Yeesh.

    • Thank you SO much! Actually, the reason I wrote the post was because I found that most of the message boards and blogs out there didn’t really apply to people like me — people who were young, without families, who had never been to Disney, who had a limited amount of time to spend at the parks, no car or timeshare, and who wanted to hit all the Orlando parks in a few short days. A lot of people reference and, but I do think those sites caters to families that go every year. In general, for all cheap travel I like to peruse the boards on and, and FlyerTalk has a section dedicated to Disney I often find the site confusing to navigate, but you can find some great information there regarding cheap flights and hotel deals. Trip Advisor is also helpful:

      It can be overwhelmingly frustrating to piece together all this information, and there’s not a ton of overlap in advice (i.e., what works for Disney doesn’t necessarily work for Universal, etc.). My advice is to choose what parks you want to go to and then work backwards from there. There are a ton of sites you can pay to subscribe to that will tell you the best days for the best parks, but most of it is just common sense. The least busy days are in the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and the busiest are on the weekends (especially long weekends). The busiest Orlando parks at any given time are the Islands of Adventure and Magic Kingdom. Avoid the most popular parks on the busiest days and the rest of your schedule will just fall into place.

    • One other thought helpful for planning once you’re in the parks… if you have a smartphone, you can download apps that tell you what the current wait times are for rides. Even though this information is posted throughout the park, it’s SUPER HELPFUL to have it on hand, that way you can just pop on over to a ride when the wait goes down.

  18. Just for the record it is entirely possible to have a Disney vacation for under $100.00 a day. (and “follow the rules”) My family will be taking a trip off season this fall. With a Disney package, staying on property, AND with a meal plan our total was $93.75 per day. As you mentioned it’s all about time of year, research, and PLANNING…lots and lots of planning!!
    Another quick word of advice regarding AAA. I previously booked through them for a different Disney trip for a “discounted rate”. Only to later find out that it was CHEAPER to book directly wis Disney. I was shocked! Buyer beware!!

    • I’m glad to hear you found a great deal through Disney — they certainly do offer some great deals throughout the year that wise families can look out for. Maybe the title of my post is misleading (you wouldn’t be the first to point that out), but while I do say “Disney,” what I really mean is an “Orlando vacation” that encompasses many theme parks. We learned pretty quickly when we were planning that we wouldn’t be able to benefit from the conveniences and deals for staying on site at Disney if we also wanted to visit Universal too. It kind of seems to be a “one or the other” option, and the cost per a day is a lot higher when you only have 4 or 5 days to spend versus a week or two weeks. But many readers, like you, have found good deals at the parks — the frustrating part is just linking them all together.

      And thanks for the heads up about AAA. We looked into tickets from them, but it appeared there was no discount on single day passes 😦

    • We too are visiting Disney staying at one of the middle grade hotels with the middle grade meal plan (1 sit down and 1 fast service meal per day) for a little under $100/person/day. We did everything through Disney’s website and took advantage of deals. My parents are going as well and were able to take advantage of a different deal (cheaper resort and smaller meal plan) for $80/day. I am a firm believer that if you can’t do something legally then you shouldn’t do it.

  19. Important point: Going cheap saves money, but there is a cost to ‘cheap.’
    -You can stay at a non-Disney property, but it costs time and parking. You can be creative in your parking solutions, but transit time costs.
    -You can picnic as much as possible, but exiting to eat and quality costs; There’s also something to be said of the fun and quality of Disney dining; Better to share portions than choke-down a crushed and hot sandwich.
    -Ticket-gamesmanship might work, but it might not. The hassle cost and potential for disappointing little ones must not be underestimated.
    -Magic. Disney is not merely a theme park, where rides are the only attraction. Avoid detracting from the atmosphere and quality as much as feasible.
    It is easy to focus on saving money, but don’t penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    • That’s an excellent point, and true with any budget travel — what is cheap might not necessarily be worth the opportunity cost in time, convenience, fun, etc. I recognize that this is especially true for many families visiting Disney World with children — if I had kids, I don’t think I’d want to go through the hassle of waiting in a Disney parking lot hoping that my once-a-day hotel shuttle shows up and that I’ll be able to identify it. I don’t think I’d want to shlep around a whole family’s worth of food, drinks, and snacks for the day. I don’t think I’d want to take a risk that my tickets might not work out. It really all depends on what your priorities are. For me, that was cost savings and fitting in as many of Orlando’s parks as possible in 5 days. A lot of people would find that EXHAUSTING (and to an extent, it was! we could barely stand by the end of most days) but it was important to us to pack as much in as possible — no wasted hours by the pool, no long table service meals at the parks. So in short, I agree — frugal only works if it is your priority and you are willing to make the trade-offs. In one way or another, everything does come with a “price.”

  20. I do hope you were kidding about stealing snacks out of people’s strollers. The rest of the info is awesome, but as a parent that will leave a stroller to see shows and whatnot that would really upset me to see if snacks are gone. I always bring everything of value but would think nobody would care to touch food.

    • Yep, was definitely kidding! I can think of few things shadier than stealing food from children’s strollers… I would never do that, and I surely hope no sane person ever would.

  21. Thanks for all the advice. I can’t believe all the negative, ridiculous comments that people have made. I’m laughing they’re so outrageous. And you handle them like a champ.

      • Hope the Lobster car rental worked out too!!!(LOL) For crying out loud, any one with common sense can look at the captions and read the article to realize that some of it is tongue-in-cheek and all of it is offered as advice/hints/tips! I never felt for a moment I was being duped, or preached to or that you were condoning taking food from stollers!
        The only reason my family ever went to Disney (and yes, I’m using that one word to mean several sites/theme parks in Orlando) is by the generosity of my in-laws that bought the kids park passes for Christmas and rented a big house for all of us to stay at during the week. We still blew a wad of cash that week and I only regret that I did not do my research and I did not read blogs such as this!

  22. I think these people are kind of silly coming to a blog about savings then bashing how you chose to do it. Everyone gets to make decisions on their own. If you don’t want to use the brokered tickets, get over it and DON’T! You clearly have a disclaimer, so I don’t really understand why everyone is getting their panties in a bunch. It’s a suggestion that worked for one person, not a demand that the reader use this method and this method alone. Just like everything else you read on the internet, take the information with a grain of salt, and use it if it applies to you.

    As a 30 year old that is just now approaching parenthood, I would have eagerly followed this advice. Now I’m gonna be a mom, and would probably need a little more comfort and ease on my vacation.

    Also, I thought your stroller joke was hilarious — some of those kids get awesome treats, so I wouldn’t blame you for being tempted lol.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! You summarized it perfectly — my advice is only advice, nothing more; everyone is free to do what works for them. Thanks for your support and congrats, soon-to-be mom!

  23. My boyfriend works in the Disney corporate offices and he has told me many times about the 3rd party ticket resellers. In fact, his old boss was part of the department that works to shut these places down, and yes, they do have a whole department dedicated to arresting the people who operate these places. While I do think it’s a good idea to bring a snack (I love to carry muffins for a quick sugar burst around 3pm) or a water bottle you can refill at the purified water fountains into the park, there are better ways to do “Disney on a dime” than to buy illegal tickets or bring sandwiches into the park. I’m echoing the statements of others but in all reality, a value room with free dine and your park tickets is just as affordable. Plus, you get to stay on property which cuts down on your traveling… No rental car needed and no parking fees. You also get to enjoy the Disney themed resorts and if you have free dine, enjoy the award winning restaurants they have on property! Disney is an experience and this is of course my personal opinion, but if your not going to truly enjoy the “whole experience” why go? You wouldn’t go one cruise and not get off the boat in port, so why cut back on doing some of the things Disney created for guests to have a truly immersive vacation? I’m a recent college grad and have lived on a budget for years, but I also found ways before my boyfriend worked for Disney for us to have a 3 night/4 day vacay there that fit our budget… And we didn’t eat peanut butter and jelly. Be smart about your spending, that’s the best advice I can give!

  24. There are so many great tips here! I highly recommend the DIS boards. All of us who post there go regularly and you wouldn’t believe the tips and tricks posted. I also recommend Tour Guide Mike. It costs, but by using that, we never waited more than 10 minutes for rides. We try and go when it’s cooler and off-season, but even then, it can get crowded! Thanks for the great article! We’re planning a Spring trip, so I am printing out your ideas!

  25. By violating the policy, you are doing that-violating policies. It is stealing just as much as someone goung into my Dad’s store and taking something. It is sad that Disney has to “inforce”the rule for it to be valued. They have a service, you want it. Play by the rules. It is not your ‘right’ to disney or anything like it. It is sad to see so many people that lack integrity in their purchases. What you did was break the rules, whether you had negative consequences or not. You stole the cost of a Disney ticket by violating the policy. Disney earned that mobey by providing a service- a good one, one that most people desire. That company, and the thousands that work thete, have earned that money with hard work.

  26. We are going on our Disney vacation in 2 weeks. I have been hunting tirelessly for good deals! A few things I have come across: has the best ticket packages I have come across, and they are authorized to sell the packets by Disney from what I can tell. Also, is a program the company I work for is registered with, and they have tickets to all kinds of theme parks and events nationwide. The best deal I’ve scored so far were Legoland Florida tickets. I “liked” their Facebook page, and yesterday I got tickets for 50% off! ( Only $45 a person for the combo tickets.) That’s a better deal than the Pepsi can. I also bought our kids souvenirs already from different websites, including clearance items at the Disney store. We are going to wrap them up and give them a surprise each day. I saved a TON of money doing it that way (Disney Mickey tshirts for $3!). As for lodging, we asked around and found someone that couldn’t use their timeshare and were willing to give it to us for the week. We ended up paying only $100 for the week with a 1bedroom condo :). Hope these ideas help a few! Have fun!

    • Omg people, leave her alone! She’s just trying to give some advice on saving cash at Disney. If you don’t like it, dont take the damn advice. Live and let live for cryin out. Because there’s NOTHING more horrible going in to complain about than a thrifty Disney blog?? Geez oh pete.

  27. I weht to Disney in 09 with my school… just remembering the little things like bringing my own bottle of water, bringing a pair of comfortable shoes and comfy backpack, and a umbrella and made sure to bring my camera saved me money… always plan ahead so you dont have to buy over priced items that you wouldn’t need other wise 🙂 -Mariah

  28. We don’t do Disney, but we generally travel to the other theme parks (Busch Gardens, Sea World, Aquatica & Adventure Island) as season passholders. So I can’t give any suggestions regarding ticket discounts. But I would encourage visitors to check out the other parks in the area. Sea World and Busch Gardens (in Tampa) have Sesame Street characters which are a hit for some of the younger kids. For those with older kids, Busch Gardens is the way to go. Some of the best roller coaster rides in the state of Florida.

    However, I love Priceline and only use their site for booking hotel stays. We have saved quite a bit on really nice 3.5 & 4 star hotels. (We recently paid $45 a night for the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando)

    For the most part, we try to find hotel accomodations/suites with a small kitchenette; or free breakfast. Having a 14, 12 & 2 year old can make it expensive on our family of five to eat out 3 times a day. So we buy groceries eat breakfast and dinner in our rooms. We do allow ourselves to eat at the park during the day, but always bring snacks along with us.

    (And I completely took the stroller comment as a joke!)

  29. We also only travel when it’s low season. We even take the kids out of school to do it (GASP!!) Teachers are happy to give them assignments to do on the way down and back. We also drive, still find that cheaper than flying. Definitely bring your own bottle of water in. We stay either where breakfast is included at the hotel, or where we can at least have a little fridge and cereal. Lunch at the park and dinner only if we stay late at the park. Otherwise we eat outside near our hotel. Plus always go to Busch gardens and take advantage of the pay for 1 and go for 2 days 🙂 Air miles in Canada gets you free tickets as well to busch gardens and disney if you have a ton of miles to spare.

  30. All of the ideas that you have provided will be greatly appreciated by he many that benefit from your wisdom and experience. Thank you for sharing your strategies with us! My vacation planning has begun…

  31. I think you and I need to go to Disney together! Your ideas are clever and as a barganista I love the new tips I read! My daughter is grown, but I love love love going to Disneyland in CA every couple of years, and now I have some great ways to save. PS: the stroller comments are priceless!! How could anyone think you were serious about stealing snack? Oy.

  32. Another great way to save money is to splurge on one dinner for two. The portions are more than big enough and if you buy at specific resturaunts that are far more casual and about half the price per person still very delicious and filling. Also, bring your own water bottle or spend the money on one refillable drink if you are going to spend several days. Will save you loads of money.

  33. Essential to planning a trip to Disney, is planning. I look into every option, every detail–including costs of meals. Drinks will really get you–better to refill a water bottle. Look for specials from Disney–we did a family vacation where we stayed on-site and had 2 meals/day–I’m talking drinks, appetizer or salad, entree, and dessert–and everybody received a souvenir/day–i.e. embroidered polo shirts–and it came to less than $100/day/person. We didn’t have to budget for our food and had a great time–best vacation yet!

  34. We’re on our way for the first trip with kids later this year. Here’s an idea we found out about too late: free NASA tickets through your Congressman. Not Orlando proper, but a popular “off-day” trip… where tickets cost $50 a person! But a limited # are available through your Congressman’s office, starting 6 months ahead of your planned travel date! Email the same person you would to ask about tickets to the White House.

  35. My sister and I are planning on a short trip in November to Disney World, and are doing tons of research to keep it cheap, just like you did. We’ve found a groupon for an off-site hotel for VERY VERY cheap, and are still researching inexpensive flight options. Our biggest struggle is obviously the park tickets, although my AAA membership is a good last resort for discounted tickets.

    our favorite trick for saving money is for water. Bottled water in the parks is almost $5.00 per bottle. We bring our own reusable water and fill it with tap water at the hotel. Since the taste is a little weird, we add crystal light packets. We re-fill throughout the day with disney’s water fountains and bring along the mini crystal light powder packets. It saves a TON of money, and we still stay hydrated in the florida heat/humidity.

  36. I brought my own dollar store glow lights/necklaces. When the sun went down, the kids were so excited to be watching the parade and be at disney and have glow sticks and necklaces, the $20.00 spinning lightstick s they sell didn’t even faze them!

  37. The gift shops always get our little ones so.. We try to avoid them and go on the last day and set a dollar amount if not we would spend tons in the gift shops…

    • When we were there, we found a little gift shop inside Disney World that was similar to a Dollar Store–everything was a $1 or 10 for $10 or something similar. I can’t remember which park it was in but my daughter and my nephew loved it! They were able to get several Disney items and we didn’t break the bank!

  38. Great post…awesome tips! We went last October and were very lucky to have a wonderful trip funded by my in-laws..2 things that did help was the free dining plan and bringing small toys from home for our little one. Tink left surprises in the room for her so we didn’t have to buy as much at the parks! We are DREAMING of going back this December (early dec to save $ and sanity) but will be paying for it on our own and are extremely limited on funds. We plan to camp..and hope to make as many meals as possible at the site. We plan to take in coolers each day with snacks, drinks, and at least one meal. We want to budget for a few park snacks…dole whip for sure..and maybe 1 or 2 disney meals…just a break for mom and a treat for us all! My little one will get a giftcard to help limit her spending. We have also been stocking up with Disney giftcards..we have been lucky with finding some on eBay at a discounted price ( just be careful) and we found that we can buy Disney giftcards from Target using our target redcard debit card (comes right from my bank account with no fees or interest) at a 5% $100 worth of Disney $ for only $95 ….every little bit helps! You can even use these to pay for your room at Disney so if you got $2000 worth of giftcards, you could save $100
    Thanks again for the info…we would LOVE to win the giftcard to help our Christmas Disney dream come true!

  39. it is like renting a ticket, disney lets people rent Vacation Club points from DVC owners, really is there a difference? they are getting the money one way or another

  40. I just planned my first trip for our 3 daughters 7,6, & 4! We’ve never been & this helps so much! Thank you for all your help & insight!!! Would love to win also :))

  41. Very helpful information! Will definitely use this when planning my fall break trip to Disney. Any money saving tips will
    Help a college student, and so would a Disney gift card 🙂

  42. I have shied away from going to Disney for years now because the costs are so high, so your tips are very appreciated! I think my anxiety about the brokered pass would be too high to actually risk it. . . I will take it into consideration, though. Your article gives me hope! 🙂 When my family went to Disneyland when I was growing up, we always brought our own food and had California family attend with us and buy the resident passes. That’s about all the info I can offer. Not helpful, I know.

  43. It is interesting that parking at Downtown Disney in Florida is free. In Cali., it is free for only 3 hours, or five hours if you get your parking validated at a restaurant.

  44. I would love to win a gift card…I haven’t been to Disney since high school and would love to take a family trip! I found the parking information to be the most helpful. And a reminder that it is ok to bring your own food and water in! Thanks 🙂

  45. Planning a trip to Disney on a budget for next year. I will definitely try some of your tips, especially for car rentals. I’m too chicken to take a chance on the ticket brokers though! Lol! Thanks!

  46. I would also like to add that I’ve done Disney as a teen w/ friend on a Senior trip, as an adult in my early 20s with now hubby’s family (all adults – mainly my age) and now in my let’s-say “mid 20s” for my sake with hubby’s family (we all have kids now) & I get there is a big difference in these trip in terms of priorities & traveling accommodations/planning . As a teen I was on a strict budget. As a young adult I was focused on drinking & looking cute. So that’s where the money went.yes, I know now not the best thing to make #1 priority but young & stupid, right?! Now with kids it’s all about them & making memories. & even though we are making memories it doesn’t mean going broke. We stay off site, all 15-20 of us in a 6-7 room condo with its own pool & hot tub. When split between all families comes out REALLY cheap. House has full kitchen which means nice breakfast before the parks & dinner afterwards. One or two Disney meals don’t kill our budget. We get souvenirs at the outlets but while @ Disney we want resist & fall into temptation. We do bring snacks in to tie us over to the next meal to keep kids happy. Their ages will range from 13 yrs old to 15 months when we go next year & there will be 8 kids total oh and 91 year old grandma & yes we know we are crazy taking that many kids but it works for us! We drive from TX, again yes we know we are crazy, so we have a few cars to get us around. loved the comments on saving on parking. We will use those for sure! We are not crazy about the rented tickets since we have kids go we go to The Mouse for that, but like you said “to each it’s own”. Easy beats cheap on this one for us. We all bring our water bottles & refill as we need & add flavor to them with kool-aid/cristal light. Better for you than soda & cheaper. We do try to go in the off season and do our best to go during the week. Some sites have charts for best dates to go & have always helped us with crowds. Main site we use for this is
    We save where we can depending on where in our lives we are at the time of travel. Only thing that matters is that you have fun & make it memorable.

  47. My family and I just came back from a Disney world vacation. We saw the signs for discounted tickets everywhere and I wondered how it worked. I knew it couldn’t be illegal since those booths were in every store i even saw one in Walmart, they would probably still make me a nervous wreck until I got in the park. We purchased our tickets at our resort through a time share presentation. We got awesome deals (about $48 per tickets for 3 parks!) but the down side was we wasted half a day on a very pushy time share breakfast that we had no interest in. We did bring all our own food and water in which saved tons. We stopped at subway and purchased foot long subs and split them between us. We also didn’t purchase any suveniors in the park. We got them all at target and Walmart. I saw a lot of the same stuff that was in the parks. It was a good vacation overall and a learning experience if we ever go back.

    • The $5 footlong idea is great! I hadn’t thought of that! It’s probably cheaper than buying the ingredients seperately and as long as you had mustard and mayo on the side, they should last til afternoon!

  48. It’s quite simple, if you do not care for her tips or jokes you always have the option of leaving this page. I have done Disney both ways and I like her love to save money when I can. Yes, I will skimp on food, parking, tickets etc just to save a dime so I can have more money to spend on items to add to my overgrowing Disney collection. And even adding to my collection I can find great prices outside of Disneyland and still save more money. =)

  49. I also bring my own water bottles. Freeze them so they stay cold for longer or get the thermos kind. If you go in the hot seasons then bring your own battery powered fan! I got little keychain size mister fans with foam blades on eBay for cheap cheap! They don’t take up a lot of room to pack, safe for the kids, and you don’t have to roast as much or buy the ridiculously overpriced bulky mist fans at the parks. Also if you are like the pins to trade you can buy a lot of used ones on eBay for $0.75 each and then trade for good ones at the parks!

  50. I will say we spent full price for most things and stayed with the in laws in Daytona and made the drive to save money. One of the things we did that i am most proud of is buying Disney merchandise at Walmart the night before our trip over. All cities around Orlando sell a plethora of Disney toys, clothing, etc for at least 1/3 of the price. We had these things hid in the back of the car and we told the kids we had surprises for them when we got back to the car. The key was avoiding the gift shops all day and by the time we were leaving around midnight the kids were barely awake anyways.

  51. Thank goodness I found this on Pinterest! Buying food and making snacks or lunches is a great idea. I remember as a child eating the ginormous turkey leg – but man…can’t do that with a large crowd! Mailing businesses or companies direct has also been great. We’re reaching out to anyone and everyone and asking for help to create our dream vacation in the Magic Kingdom. Can’t hurt to ask, right?

  52. In a couple of weeks I am taking my family on our first Disneyland vacation. I think I am more excited than my kids are! 🙂 One tip I plan to follow is to buy or make your own autograph book (for my daughter to get autographs from all of the characters.) Apparently, these little books cost a ton inside the park. I would love to win the gift card to help with this trip! Thanks for all of the tips!

  53. My fiance and me are planning a trip in the first quarter of next year. We are on full on wedding saving mode, but really wanted to do disney once more before the wedding since we opted to do a more kid free honeymoon. We are going to try to go for as cheap as possible during the value season. My only exemption is that I need to stay in a disney resort. I have been many times before, and feel strongly that the resorts are worth the extra.

  54. Personally I have never been to DisneyWorld Orlando. 😦 Only Disneyland. What we do to save money is: buy our tickets thru the military(husband is active duty). Cheaper park hoppers! Then thankfully his cousin works for Marriott, So we get the discounted rate at the hotel. Which helps save alot of money. When/if we buy food in the park we share a meal. Cuts down the cost a lot! Another thing we do is bring snacks/sandwiches to eat while walking around. That way we still get to enjoy Disneyland and all its glory! 🙂 Megan

  55. We are leaving for Disney World in September. We are planning to stay on property and take advantage of Free Dining. We have 2 children, one that will be under 3 so she is free. Her meals will also be free if she shares or we eat at a buffet. Also with going during Free Dining, where we might not spend the extra money for character meals, we are doing 3 when we go this year. There is still plenty that she can do and enjoy. My older child was 2 for his first visit and he still remembers quite a bit. I have purchased several items from both the Disney Store and other chain stores that carry Disney items to leave as gifts in the rooms for both children. I am making 2 autograph books for my children instead of buying them and we have been saving pennies & quarters so that they can do pressed pennies as souvenirs to bring back to cousins and friends.

    • Thanks so much for your awesome post!!! I have two boys who are begging to go to Disney and your advise will help get them there! My husband is in seminary, we have promised them that when Daddy graduates, we’re taking them to see Mickey! Thanks so much for sharing!

  56. We are going to Disneyland in December for the 1st time with the kidlets! I can’t wait, and to save money, we will be eating free continental breakfasts, packing in lunches, bringing souvenirs from home, (I will buy souvenirs/toys here at home at cheaper prices and bring them along for the kids), and couponing wherever possible! Hope I win the $25 gift card, that’d help with the souvenir part! 🙂

  57. I am planning a trip to Disneyland in Sept for the first time. Thanks for the real life tips. I read about discount passes but it seemed sketchy. I never thought about sandwiches…good idea! We were going to buy snacks and drinks for the drive down and bring water everyday. Thanks for the hints!

  58. I had a whole comment all typed and I dont know where it went. We are going to Disneyland for the first time in Sept. Your tips about making sandwiches is genius. I was going to buy a case of water and snacks for the trip but I will pack snacks for inside the park also. Thanks for the tips!

  59. We save by taking in our own food and splurging on the Disney Diet (ice cream from the stands). One option when staying off site is to use the city bus. We’ve done this in numerous cities and it has never failed to be “on time”! Looking forward to our next Disney trip!

  60. Heading to Orlando this weekend. Found some helpful tips here such as parking at downtown Disney for free and catching the Disney bus. Also didn’t realize you can bring in your own food to the parks. I’ll be using these tips. Also if you are a military family you can get free tickets to sea world on the seaworld website and a 4 day Disney park hopper for only $138 per person from any military travel office. That’s about a 56% discount.

  61. Some great info here. One thing I do to save at Disney is to sign up for one of those timeshare presentation offers. I get to stay in a hotel for my entire trip for free in most cases or for a nominal fee in others, that may also include meal vouchers and park passes, just for my time for about 90 minutes. If you consider 90 minutes is a small price to pay to stay at a resort for free or next to nothing with loads of perks! Just decide and be firm if you are interested or not in a time share and don’t get caught up in it!

  62. Thanks for this post. I read through a lot of the other comments and I am sorry that you are getting so many negative comments just for posting YOUR experience on YOUR blog. My best friend and I went to FL on Spring Break our freshman year of college. We only had 1 day for DW. Through some creative searching we found free 1 day passes and two night stays in a mid level off-site hotel via a timeshare company. We had to sit through a presentation, but it was worth for us.

    My Fiance and I plan on tackling Disneyland on a Dime for our Honeymoon in November. This post really helped me restructure our plans to include these money saving tips!

  63. We just went a few weeks ago (my 3yr olds first time) we tried to save money the most we possible could.. We packed lunches, and drinks.. My mom even went as far as buying those light up toys for the fireworks months ahead at garage sales and goodwills. We will be planning a trip next year and your post is a life saver thank you thank you!!! We’re always looking to get the most out of our money and just enjoy life!! Many thanks ❤

  64. I enjoyed reading your blog and will use your tips when planning my trip. As kids visiting Disney with our parents, I know my parents didn’t have good resources and had to pay lots of money. So I apreciate your blog and hope it works for us too

  65. Headed to Disney in October! These are great tips to consider! I will be packing snacks and lunches to save money!

  66. we will be going there in October. One way we save money is we invite our family there too and have that be our family reunion. Instead of a separate trip, also that we can carpool and are able to have more eyes on the children too.

  67. I grew up in so. Cal so I have been to Disneyland many times. Remember to take advantage of the Fast Pass system … I had friends who went and never used them because they thought it cost money!

  68. I like to bring souvenirs from home instead of buying a ton there. We give the kids gift cards for things like Easter or Christmas that they can use there. We do two real meals and then a snack so we are not having to have three expensive meals. I plan and research a ton to save as much as possible. There are deals to be had and I find them whenever I can.

  69. There are “Disney Outlet Stores” all over orlando! A lot of them have “Park Authentic” merchandise! Don’t buy all of your souvenirs at the park, wait and buy them at the outlet! Friends and family will never know the difference!

  70. If you live in southern California and buy your tickets from the Disney store in the mall, they still have the southern California deal where your pay for 1 day at 1 park( Disneyland) and can go to the other park(California Adventure) free. You just cant go to both parks on the same day. Also people will buy annual passes (depending on the level) they will get free tickets and sell the them in front of the park( at discounted rates). One last way to get discounted tickets is to find an employee of ANY of the southern California amusement parks. My first job was at a San Deigo park, and we would get free or discounted tickets to ALL parks, but because I worked at a park I never really wanted to visit them on my time off, so I would sell the tickets SUPER cheap!

  71. Regarding purchasing tickets from a third party person that “rents” them out, I would HIGHLY suggest to not do it. I live in Orlando and know for a fact that Disney is getting more and more strict with the tickets and they will not hesitate to take those tickets from you. If you do chose to go that route, BE CAREFUL!!!!


  72. Two years ago I bought discounted tickets from a ticket broker office (found on ebay) near CA disneyland. They worked fine, and my family and I were able to park hop for less than the cost of a one day ticket.

    This year I again purchased off ebay, this time they sent e-tickets to print and bring. Those didn’t work. Yes, it was embarrassing to be denied at the gate, but we just played dumb and said we got them from a friend of a friend. The ebayer refunded the money right away to paypal (which then went directly on the credit card used), and we bought tickets at the gate. It was embarrassing for the 2 minutes that it took, but it’s not like we were shamed and painted with a scarlet letter or anything. We still enjoyed our trip even though we ended up paying full price.

  73. We just got back from spending 6 days at Disney. We stayed off campus at the Blue Tree Resort, where we had a 2 bedroom nice apartment rental. One thing we did was buy a bunch of stuff from the dollar store prior to going, stuff like glow necklaces, bracelets, wands, swords, small disney toys and trinkets, and snacks. We brought our nalgene refillable water bottles. We would fill them up from water fountains, and the water tasted fine, or asked for a large glass of ice water from a concession stand, which they will give you for free. We brought small individual packs of lemonade, crystal light, and ice tea to mix in our water when our kids got sick of drinking water. That helped a lot!

  74. Great post and tips for singles. I’ve been to Disney (Orlando) many times and have found a few way to save money. We always save and buy multi-day NON expiring tickets. We use what we want and the next time we go, we have days left. Last time we bought them from a legit broker and got 10 days ones, we used 4 days so have 6 left for the next time. The time before we had 4 tickets from 2000 with a day left on each, my daughter and I used them in 2010. My husband and I went in March, I was able to combine with some training for work so they paid my air and most of the hotel and some meals and part of car. We stayed at a Hotel by the Disney village and they had free parking and free shuttle to the parks every 1/2 hour. That was nice. The best part was we had a balcony we could see the Epcot fireworks everynight. It wasn’t a bargain trip but fun. You hit most of what we did to save money, off season, bring water, share meals. You did it right about the days to visit parks but missed saying GO LEFT and not right. Our day at Magic Kingdom we got there when they opened and went left, we had Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Splash Mountain and 3 others done in 2 hours walking right on them all. Don’t forget to take advantage of Fast Passes. I agree that parking at the Village isn’t going to work anymore, they are so crowded now it was hard to even find a place to park at any time. Enjoy your travels…Want to meet my son? LOL

  75. I’ve been traveling to Disneyland every year since my oldest son turned 5 in 2008! The first year I didn’t know any better and booked through Disney’s Travel Company. I’m still glad I did, but I’ve learned how to save 100’s of dollars and that’s important to a family on a single fixed income. Many which have included purchasing brokered tickets and packing breakfasts and snacks to eat in the park, and staying off property. Disneyland is a much smaller resort, so staying off property offers no distance in travel. We literally walk across the street to the entrance and only pay the daily parking fee (approx. $4) included in our hotel fee. 🙂 I loved your blog and your positive attitude is so uplifting! I really hope those who are on fixed incomes can afford to enjoy the magic that is Disney, and hopefully so by reading your blog. 🙂 Cheers!


  76. Although I don’t believe it’s morally wrong to buy the tickets from a third party to save money, I feel that I should explain to anyone who might be reading this why this is a bad idea. Yeah, those tickets do work a lot of the time, and if they do, that’s great for you that you got such a deal. However, many times they do not work. If your ticket doesn’t work and you’re willing to just go back to the third party who sold it to you and demand your money back and have that be the end of it, that’s great. However, many guests, instead, go to the guest relations desk at Disney and demand their money back or demand a new ticket. This is when you start to become a burden to others. I am a former Walt Disney World cast member and I have many nightmare guest stories that start out just like this. If you want to risk your money by buying tickets from a third party, that’s your decision. However, Disney is not in any way obligated to refund your money or give you a new ticket if it doesn’t work. So, don’t cause a stink if and when that happens.

  77. Great article. Just a few comments. Going with what you said, make sure you do your RESEARCH!! Especially for the hotels and tickets. I live an hour away from Disney/Universal and have been there too many times to count. I know for a fact how deceiving those hotels can appear. The pictures may look nice, but it’s usually a 10 year old photo of a room that is now falling apart. Also the crime rate is ridiculous around there, so make sure you’re comfortable in the place you’re staying. I have only gone off site once, and it was awful. Stick with nation-wide chain hotels. It’s not a guarantee it’ll be nice, but your chances are better. As for the tickets, I’ve never tried it, but I’m glad you went through the details of the risks.

  78. Disney isn’t going to take a loss. So that $25 per day that the 10-day ticket affords you? That’s probably the cost+ a little profit cost for the actual use of said ticket. Seriously people, chill out. The reason the ticket prices keep going up? Because people are willing to pay it anyway.

  79. Cool post. When I went in 2006 I saved a boatload of money! I flew down from MD via Southwest-I think the tickets were somewhere around $200ish (not sure my grandma paid for them). I stayed with a friend-so no hotel costs and as many free meals as I wanted oh and not to mention she drove us around and she had an aunt who worked at the park and sold us her free Disney tickets for $20 a piece. We went to Universal studios my friend had a season pass and we got my ticket discounted through her university. Once we were in Universal Studios a friend gave us the fast passes to get through the lines and when his work shift was over he walked around with us and got us through the lines =) Awesome trip!

  80. You comment about stealing snacks from strollers, REALLY? ???? Taking food from children? You should be ashamed! Try taking food that I spent MONEY on from my stroller, I’d hav you on the ground within seconds. This whole post should be deleted, you obviously don’t care who you hurt or take money from. Some of your tips are fine, but some are really disturbing. I’m surprised this hasn’t been shut down yet. Shameful!

    • Obiviously you do not have a sense of humor or you have a very low comprehension level!! I personally never left snacks in my stroller but if I did and someone stole it then I would think they must be hungry and need it NOT that I need to throw them on the ground because then what are you teaching your child????

  81. you have some great advice on how to save at disney!

    However, as a former Disney Concierge, the ticket broker scheme IS against the rules/illegal or whatever. Lucky it worked for you, but i’ve dealt with families who bought from brokers and then had their 13 year old child have her tickets taken away from her, and then you have to re-purchase at full-price.

    Here would be my advice for tickets. First off, when you buy tickets, if you purchase a multi-day pass, you have 14 days to use it. This means, if you have a 3 day ticket, you have 14 days from the initial use to use the other 2 days. This is good for longer vacations where you want to split the days. Another option is buying a multi-day non-expiring ticket. if you plan to return to disney, you buy your ticket, add non-expiring, and you’re good to go for the length of days you purchase, regardless of how long you wait in between trips, it’s expensive for the initial investment, but if prevents you from buying say, a 5 day park hopper every other year. you buy a 10 day PH w/no expiration and you save at least $55 dollars on the park hopper. the last option if you ilke to go to disney multiple times in a year is just to invest in a annual pass. it pays for itself with just 2 week long vacations, and entities you to free parking.

    As for parking, there are ways to get around it. Not my place to share that secret on the world wide web, but i will say, if you opt to park @ downtown disney, you have to take a bus or boat to a resort, then another bus or boat to the park of your choosing. If you want to go this route, the easiest is taking the boat to Old Key West or Port Orleans because their boat launches are on one side of their front desk/concierge/restaurant building, and the buses are on the other side. . . and then you CAN take a bus from any Park to DTD.

  82. Great job on all your responses to the negative comments! I’m glad you were able to enjoy Disney, it is a place that I’m sure Walt himself would want everyone to experience! The stroller thing was funny and more funny that some thought u were really stealing from it! Lol!

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  84. Another way to save on Disney Tickets is to buy them off a College Program Intern. They get like three free park hopper tickets (6 times or so) for friends and family to use during their internship. A lot of them will sell their tickets if they are close to leaving and have not used them. The only tricky part is finding them.

  85. Interesting blog, I am fairly confused on how people take great offense… This was your blog, your opinion. You made clear jokes. If people do not like it then write your own blog. Gee wiz, I have never been to Disney but I have been to other theme parks and they get very expensive…the whole ticket thing is a risk but hey its up to the person. I understood your intentions as some did.

  86. WOW! Certainly a lot of opinions about YOUR opinion! And we all are entitled to them. I am a die-hard WDW planner-fan….the planning and the anticipation are a good part of the vacation. It extends the magic of my trip. But I am also 60 years old. I applaud your youth and the chances you take. Obviously, I and many others, don’t live in that world and wouldn’t be so daring. I am impressed that a 20-something would take a trip to Disney World. Thanks for vacationing in my favorite destination, on your terms.

  87. I too have “rented” Disney tix from a broker I found on Ebay, someone with 100% positive feedback on hundreds of transactions seems pretty reliable, and I’ve never had a problem, with Disney or with my conscience 🙂 My tip, like others, is bringing your own water bottle, I have a few of those Bobble bottles with built in filters, get free ice, fill from the tap and you’re good to go. As you say, it feels like Disneyland is trying to rip you off at every step so you need to save money when you can…

  88. Interesting points…..but I know that with careful planning w/lots of time in advance one CAN do WDW and stay on property/thru Disney Travel Co., use the free dining plan offers to the fullest, not have to rent a car, etc. for around $100 bucks a day/person.. I know b/c we just did it this past June 2012! To me it is worth the extra $30/day/person to get to stay on property, use all WDW transportation for free (no need for car rental/parking fees/gasoline, etc!), and eat at great WDW table service restaurants like Le Cellier and character meals at Chef Mickeys on the Disney Dining Plan. We didn’t need to bring in many snacks to the parks b/c our free dining plan accomodated for snacks and I just had groceries delivered to our room directly from Garden Grocer for any in-room snacks, breakfast foods, and a case of bottled waters (bottled water is $2.50 a bottle– not “$5/bottle” as someone had stated in a comment earlier–so bringing in our own is a savings). We had full 8 day Hopper passes, too, so park hopping was no problem. We stayed at a “value” WDW resort (Pop Century) that was nicer than most of the budget chain motels in the area and were treated by Disney w/the same high quality customer service as those staying at the luxury resorts. I think you have some very good budget saving ideas here, but just also want people to know that with careful research and planning they do not have to always stay off-property or avoid WDW restaurants for all picnic meals….it CAN be done on the cheap w/out losing the Disney magic that comes w/staying on-site, etc! Thanks.

  89. actually you dont want to park at downtown disney to catch a resort bus to the parks for free. if you do that, you may be screwed over in the long run. disney has caught guests doing this and is started to check for hotel cards prior to entering the bus. if you try to catch the resort bus back to downtown disney, they can deny you without your hotel card.

  90. I recently went to Disney with my Ain’t who is a long time pass holder. She let me in on a little secret which is particularly wonderful if you are going to be spending the day in magic kingdom. Go to disneys boardwalk resort and park there across the road there is free parking walk over to the resort and once you get on the boardwalk there is a direct entrance to magic kingdom over the bridge. This means no lines, free parking, and just a whole lot easier.

  91. My husband and I made a trip to DisneyLAND in Spring 2010 (for our 1 year anniversary). I knew we wanted to do a 3 day park-hopper pass. At the time Disney was making a deal with their tickets: the more days you bought the cheaper the daily rate was (I think the price for a 6 day pass was $200 ish). I posted an add on a local website ( similar to craigslist and stated I wanted to split the price of a 6 day park hopper pass, I listed the dates we would be going. Once a multiday pass is used you have 14 days to use up the pass. I found a local woman who’s kids High School Choir was going to Disneyland the week before us. She contacted me and we worked out a plan. She purchased the 6 day pass, used 3 days and then overnight mailed the tickets to my Aunt’s house in California (where we were staying) once we got the tickets we paid her the difference to her paypal account. We had NO PROBLEMS! I felt like it was fair and we weren’t cheating Disney or being dishonest. It was a risk and we did have to trust a total stranger (my husband was pretty nervous) BUT it totally paid off. We were able to do 3 days at Disneyland for $100/person (just over $30/day), if I remember right a 3 day park hopper was $175 ish so we ended up saving $150 between the 2 of us!

  92. I’m glad you had luck with the Disney tickets…unfortunately, I did not. My mother and I both have season passes for Disney. When my boyfriend came to visit me from Pennsylvania, we tried to use my mother’s season pass to get him in. They almost confiscated both my mother’s and my own season pass when the fingerprint scanner didn’t work, until I cried and said that I had “grabbed the wrong ticket” on the way out the door and that I’d be back with the right one in an hour or so. So…be forewarned that NOT everyone will be lucky with tickets purchased by other people/at other places…EVEN season passes!

  93. I did not read all of the comments, so I don’t know if I am repeating information, but here is how I avoid paying for parking. I go to the Disney Polynesian hotel and tell them I am just visiting. I park there for free and take the monorail to the park. 🙂

  94. There are hotel discounts on property for military as well but like many other people have said the best way to get good deals is do your research because we are going next summer for ten days with dining and will spend approx. $125 a day for 4 people. We will be driving the two days which saves us the cost of a flight.

  95. At Umiversal Studios (NOT Disney): For those folks who DO want to buy souvineirs and eat at the park, (for us a must at Harry Potter World!). you can get a 15% discount by showing a AAA card

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