I think it’s vitally important to be aware of all of the Magic Kingdom tips available at your disposal that can help you save money in a pinch. Why? Because once you start planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you will quickly notice how costs start adding up!
Admittedly, there’s no really a way to visit Disney World on the cheap, but there are ways to save money and still experience the Disney magic. So without further ado, here are all of the tips and tricks you should remember if you plan to visit the Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom Tips: Money Saving Ideas
Let’s begin with one of the most obvious, but still very important tips: visit during off peak (less crowded) times of the year.
1) Visit during less crowded times
It’s hard to say if there is really a “slow” time to visit Walt Disney World. This is especially true for the Magic Kingdom, which is the most popular of all the Disney theme parks. However, certain times of the year are less expensive than others.
Typically, January and February have slightly less attendance, and the price of park tickets and hotel rooms will be a little cheaper. August and September are also a bit less expensive and less crowded, as families with children are usually getting ready to begin the new school year during these months.
2) Stay during the week
If your schedule allows it, try to avoid Magic Kingdom on weekends. The hotel prices as well as the park tickets cost more on weekends, and the crowds will be heavier. Usually, it’s cheaper to get park tickets on Sundays through Thursdays. The price difference may not seem significant at first glance, but for a family with children, it can mean noticeable savings.
3) Watch for Resort Discounts
Occasionally, Disney offers resort rooms at special rates. These deals are usually for times when the parks are less busy. Check the Walt Disney World website periodically to see if any discounts are available. If you’re flexible on when you can visit, taking advantage of these deals is worth your while!
If you’ve already made your vacation reservations and the special offers show up for the time you’ll be visiting, call Disney’s guest relations. They should be able to give you the special offer rate if your current reservations are eligible.
4) Military Discounts
Disney offers specially priced park tickets for active and retired members of all branches of the U.S. military. These tickets need to be purchased at participating US military sales outlets, with a valid military I.D. Additionally, active and retired military members can stay at Shades of Green, a resort on the Disney property specifically for military families. Although Shades of Green is not owned by Disney, it offers amenities like swimming pools, a spa, a fitness center, and transportation to and from the Disney theme parks.
Each day at Magic Kingdom, Disney pays tribute to U.S. Veterans during the Flag Retreat ceremony. This moving ceremony features the Pledge of Allegiance, the playing of the Armed Forces Anthems, and our National Anthem as the flag is lowered for the day.
5) Don’t Buy The Memory Maker Photo Package
The Disney Photopass photographers are stationed at various places around Magic Kingdom. They do a great job of capturing photo memories of your Disney vacation.
Using the Photopass photographers is absolutely free, and within minutes you can view your photos online and purchase digital copies of them. In addition to Photopass, Disney offers a service called “Memory Maker”, where you can prepay for all the Photopass photos taken during your trip, or for all the Photopass photos taken on a particular day.
This might sound like a good deal at first, but the price for one day of photos is $69, and prepaying for downloads of all your Photopass photos is a whopping $169. This is the price you prepay without seeing any of the photos, so you might be purchasing some that you wouldn’t necessarily want.
Instead of paying for Memory Maker, go ahead and have the Disney photographers take your photos at your favorite spot, or with your favorite character. Pick up a map once you enter Magic Kingdom to find locations for all the Photopass photographers and character meeting spots. Be aware that the popular photo spot in front of Cinderella’s castle can sometimes have a long line!
All Photopass photos you have taken will be linked to your Disney account by scanning your MagicBand. You can view your photos (with watermarks), then choose to pay for downloads of only the ones that you like. Another money-saving tip: ask the Photopass photographers to take a picture with your phone. That way, you’ll have a photo at no cost to yourself.
6) Enjoy A Fun “Non-Park” Day
If your Disney vacation lasts for five or more days, it’s a nice idea to schedule a “non-park” day. It will give you a chance to rest, and it’s one day less that you will need to pay for park admission. A “non-park” day can be spent relaxing at the pool or a water park, playing miniature golf, exploring activities at your resort, or taking a trip to Disney Springs for lunch and shopping. There are plenty of inexpensive or free activities you can enjoy during a slower-paced day “off” from the theme parks.
7) Start a “Disney Savings Fund”
A Disney vacation takes a lot of planning. Many people start making their plans as far ahead as a year or more. During this planning time, you can start putting small amounts of money aside to spend on your vacation. Your “Disney Savings Fund” can be a separate savings account at your bank, or as simple as stashing money in a piggy bank at home. If you put aside even small amounts whenever you can, it can add up to enough to pay for possibly a nice table service dinner, or some special souvenirs.
8) Work With an Authorized Disney Travel Agent
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t enjoy all the preliminary vacation planning, or you feel overwhelmed by all the decisions, consulting a one of the best Disney travel agents available (specifically an authorized one) is a really good idea. A travel agent saves you time and will know when Disney offers any special rates on hotels or tickets. Travel agents don’t have access to discounts that anyone else can’t get, but they will know as soon as they become available. You might miss out on a special offer, but a travel agent will make sure you’re taking advantage of the best deals possible.
Money-Saving Travel Tips
9) Driving vs. Flying
Other than accommodations, the decision on whether to drive or fly to Orlando is probably one of the biggest travel expenses involved in planning your vacation.
If you live close enough that you can drive from your home to Walt Disney World in just one or two days, it might be more affordable for you to drive. The price of air travel has steadily increased over the past couple of years, and even though gas prices have also risen it still would probably cost less than flying.
If you choose to drive, you’ll have to consider the price of gas, parking at your hotel and/or the Magic Kingdom during your stay (these are the kind of parking at Magic Kingdom tips most don’t consider), and possibly the cost of an overnight hotel stay and food during the drive. Depending on how many people you’re traveling with, and how far away you live, driving can still be the more affordable option.
10) Stay at a Disney Value Resort
Other than the campsites, the most affordable Disney Resort hotels are the “Value Resorts”. It might be tempting to want to stay at one of the more luxurious resort hotels, but if you’re only going to be at your hotel for sleeping and maybe an occasional meal, you can save considerable money by reserving a room at a Value Resort instead.
The Value Resorts are all located in the same area; approximately 7 miles south of Magic Kingdom. It’s an easy, straightforward drive if you don’t want to take advantage of Disney’s free bus service.
These hotels feature comfortable (although not terribly fancy) rooms, fun Disney decor, and nice swimming pools. While they don’t have table service restaurants, the quick service food courts have a varied menu with choices that even the pickiest eaters can enjoy. They also have fun activities like poolside movie nights and games. Most importantly, complimentary bus service to all the Disney Parks and Disney Springs is available to guests!
If you don’t plan on spending a lot of time at your hotel, Value Resorts might be a great option for your family to enjoy the perks of staying on the Disney property while staying within a budget.
11) Camping at Walt Disney World
If you and your family enjoy being outdoors, the campsites at Walt Disney World are a fun and affordable vacation option! Camping at Fort Wilderness is less expensive than any of the Disney hotel rooms. The campsites at Fort Wilderness, located near the Fort Wilderness Lodge resort, are only two miles away from Magic Kingdom. If you choose the drive to Magic Kingdom yourself instead of taking the Disney bus service, the drive should only take you 15-20 minutes (depending on traffic).
The campsites are suitable for RVs, trailers, and tent campers. There are fun activities within the campgrounds such as archery, fishing, pony rides, and a campfire sing-a-long with Chip and Dale. There is even a swimming pool on the grounds. Golf carts are available to rent for an easy way to explore the area, and just like at any of the Disney resorts, there is complimentary transportation to all the Disney Parks.
If you choose to camp, you should pay attention to weather trends and forecasts in the Orlando area. Summertime can be very hot and humid, which isn’t always comfortable camping weather!
12) Stay at a non-Disney Hotel
There are a lot of benefits to staying at one of the Disney World resorts. But if you’re on a strict budget, accommodations are going to be one of your biggest expenses. You can save considerable money by staying at a non-Disney hotel. For large families, it can be much cheaper to find a suite at an off-site hotel than at one of the Disney resorts. There are many nice hotels located near the Walt Disney World property and even a few non-Disney hotels that are located on the property.
Of course, if you opt to stay at a non-Disney hotel, you have to consider that you might have to drive yourself to the parks, and you’ll have to pay the parking fees. It’s worth the time to do a little research though; some nearby hotels do offer shuttles to and from the parks, and even a free breakfast.
13) Rent an Air B&B or VRBO Home
Another great money-saving option for families is to rent a home through Air B&B or Vacation Rentals By Owner. There are plenty of great options near Magic Kingdom that can accommodate a large group for a fraction of hotel prices. For the closest location and easiest drive, look for a place in nearby Kissimmee, Florida.
Many of these vacation rental homes/condos feature access to a swimming pool, too. Renting an Air B&B home can save you money by having a kitchen to prepare meals and access to laundry facilities in the home.
Of course, you’ll have to consider that added expense of needing a vehicle to drive back and forth to Walt Disney World, and you’ll have to pay for parking at the Disney Parks. Even with factoring that into your budget, this might be an attractive option, especially for big families.
Tips to Enjoy Magic Kingdom On a Budget
14) Set a Daily Disney Budget
Yes, I used the words “Disney” and “budget” together; I can hear some of you laughing as you read that! Figure out a reasonable amount of money you want to spend each day, and try not to exceed that amount. Keeping a daily spending budget is a great way to prevent unknowingly overspending.
You can plan a daily amount to spend on food, souvenirs, or both. Even if you go over your budget by a little bit, being mindful of it will help to prevent a surprisingly large credit card bill at the end of your vacation.
15) Don’t Buy A Park Hopper Pass
Park hopping is fun, but do you really need to visit more than one park each day? Buying a park hopper pass enables you to visit a second Disney park (after 2:00 PM) on the same day of your Walt Disney World visit. Purchasing the park hopper adds an additional cost to your ticket, for each day of your visit. Unfortunately, you have to purchase the park hopper add-on for every day of your visit.
While park hopping is fun, it can add a considerable amount of money to your vacation budget. Unless you only have a couple of days for your Disney World vacation, you can experience the fun of all the Disney Parks without paying extra for the park hopper.
16) Skip After-Hours Ticketed Parties
Walt Disney World has two large after-hours holiday parties: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Both of these parties happen in the Magic Kingdom. These events feature special holiday merchandise, party-exclusive parades and events, and special character photo opportunities that you can’t find during regular park hours.
However, these parties don’t come cheap. Tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2022 range from $149 to $199! This is considerably more than the price of a regular one-day ticket to visit Magic Kingdom. These events are usually from 7 PM until midnight, with party guests being allowed into Magic Kingdom as early as 4 PM. That’s a large amount of extra money, especially for a family with children.
You can still enjoy the holiday decorations and all rides and attractions in the Magic Kingdom during the day until 6:00 PM on party days, even if you don’t have party tickets. If you arrive at the park in time for “rope-drop”, that’s still a full day of Disney magic!
Personally, I think the Very Merry Christmas Party is all kinds of awesome, and I’d argue that it’s one of the bigger Magic Kingdom secrets that the average Disney World fan is oblivious to (perhaps because they’ve never been to the Disney World in December).
17) Bring Your Own Stroller
If you have a small child at Disney World, a stroller is an absolute must-have item. Not only will it help tired little ones, but a stroller can be handy to help carry stuff for the grownups. If you are able to, bringing your own stroller on your vacation can save you money. Walt Disney World rents a single stroller at a price of $13-$15 per day, and double strollers for $27-$31 per day.
Renting a stroller (single stroller) for the duration of a five-day trip will cost $65, with a $100 deposit held on a credit card. During the peak season, Magic Kingdom may run out of rental strollers on busy days, so that’s another good reason for bringing your own. Even if you fly to Orlando, you can bring a stroller on your flight and save yourself the rental expense.
18) Save Money on Souvenirs
No matter how carefully you try to stick to a vacation budget, Disney souvenirs are oh-so-tempting! Any Disney Vacation just doesn’t seem complete without spending time browsing through The Emporium on Main Street. There is so much wonderful merchandise, it’s easy to go a little overboard with souvenir shopping.
Tips for saving money on souvenirs are simple:
First, set a budget and try to stick to it. If you tell yourself you can only spend a certain amount of money on souvenirs, you’ll find yourself giving more careful consideration to your purchases instead of falling into the trap of impulse buying.
Another tip is to stick to smaller souvenirs. Disney pins, keychains, and pressed pennies are small and inexpensive items that are fun to collect. They’ll still remind you of your Disney vacation without breaking your bank account. Get items with the current year on them to commemorate the trip, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Lastly, if you have small children it can be hard to say no to every single thing they want to buy. Look for Disney items to buy before your trip at discount stores or Disney Outlet stores. You can find small items like socks, autograph books, t-shirts, and small toys for much cheaper prices than what you’ll pay in the theme parks. Then you can surprise your children each day of your trip with a little souvenir you’ve already bought for them.
19) Skip the Disney water parks and enjoy the hotel pool
Walt Disney World has two fantastic water parks on its property. They are a popular destination during the hot Florida Summers. However, the admission price for either park is over $60 for one day! They’re great parks, but if you are just interested in relaxing in a pool during a quiet “non park” day you can have a great time in your resort pool at no extra cost.
Every Disney Resort hotel has one or two pools. Some feature slides and separate splash pads for little kids. The pool areas usually have a bar and a snack stand nearby, and cast members are on hand to occasionally lead guests in poolside games and activities. Honestly, the hotel pools are a terrific way to enjoy the day without paying yet another park admission
Tips To Save Money On Food And Drinks
I’d recommend you bring snacks and a water bottle to the Magic Kingdom. Let’s talk about why.
20) Bring Your Own Snacks and Water
Guests are permitted to bring snacks and nonalcoholic drinks into the Disney theme parks. Mickey ice cream bars, Dole Whips, and corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner are delicious, but you can save money by having quick snacks on hand when you’re feeling like you need just a little energy boost. Trail mix, crackers, fruit, and granola bars are all good choices.
Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it at any of the drinking fountains, or ask for complimentary water at any quick service food cart or restaurant. If you don’t like the taste of the water in central Florida, bring along individual powdered drink mix packets to add a little flavor. Hydration is important all year long in Florida, and paying $4 apiece for bottles of water all day can really add up.
21) Skip Character Meals
Character dining can be a truly memorable experience. You get a nice sit-down meal, and cheerful Disney characters greet you at your table. You get good food and friendly entertainment!
However, unless you’re celebrating a special occasion, you can save money by skipping the character meal experience. Usually, reservations for this experience are more expensive than most table service restaurants. You’re paying not just for your meal, but for the overall interactive experience.
For example, the lunch or dinner at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom is a buffet meal with visits by Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet. This very popular experience costs $59 for adults and $38 for children. For a family of four, that’s a pretty expensive meal!
You can save money by eating at another restaurant and then using the Genie+ app on your phone to check when character photo opportunities around the Magic Kingdom are available.
22) Limit Eating At Table Service Restaurants
Disney has some great table service restaurants with delicious food and a fun ambiance. However, table service meals are some of the most expensive dining options. Much like character meals, you’re paying for the experience as much as you’re paying for food.
One of the most popular table service restaurants in Magic Kingdom is Be Our Guest. This Beauty and The Beast-themed restaurant is absolutely gorgeous inside, and the food is delicious.
Dinner at Be Our Guest is a pre-fixe menu, with a price of $67 for adults, and $39 for children. For a family of four, that’s probably close to what you’re paying for a night at one of the Disney resorts.
Go ahead and splurge on a table service meal once or twice during your stay as a special treat, but you can spend a lot less money by enjoying many of the delicious quick-service food options.
23) Enjoy quick-service meals
There are plenty of delicious food choices available at quick-service restaurants throughout Magic Kingdom. Most entrees at quick-service restaurants are priced at $16 and under, making them an affordable option. The portions are quite generous, and there’s a good variety of food available. In addition to the “usual” hot dogs and hamburgers you can find at most places, you can have pizza and salads at Pinocchio Village Haus, southwest favorites at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe, and New England-inspired seafood dishes at Columbia Harbour House.
Use mobile food ordering through the My Disney Experience app on your phone to save time waiting in line for your food.
Small Money-Saving Tips Add Up
We hope these Magic Kingdom tips and tricks will help you plan a magical Disney vacation that won’t break your bank account. Some of these ideas seem simple and small, but they can add up to significant savings overall. While no one can truly say there is a “cheap” way to visit Walt Disney World, paying attention to every expense can help to make your trip more affordable.
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