Doing Disney World during the holidays? Here are 10 ways to save money

(Carmen Carroquino)

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park bills itself as "The Most Magical Place On Earth" and the holiday season is commonly known as "the most wonderful time of the year," so it's only natural for people to want to combine the two.

Although it may be fun to get the best of both worlds, planning a Disney vacation during the holidays can come with a hefty price tag if you're not careful. Here are 10 ways you can save money if you're on a budget without having to sacrifice on those very Disney festivities.


10. Book early

This tip is just plain old vacation planning 101, but it's still worth noting that the sooner you book your Disney vacation, the more likely you'll be able to save money. Rooms at the Disney resort tend to fill up fast, and the holidays are a high season that is sure to drive up prices.

The moment you decide you want to visit Disney World, you should book your tickets, transportation and accommodation.

9. Go to a value resort

If you have a strict budget you want to adhere to, Disney has some value resorts that won't break the bank. There is more of a selection at Walt Disney World than at Disneyland, but it all depends on your preference.

Staying on the property provides guests access to complimentary transportation, whether it be from the airport or hopping between resorts and theme parks.

Extra Magic Hours, which allow guests to spend time in the theme parks before the park opens or after it closes, are also granted if you stay at one of Disney's resorts if you're looking to get the maximum amount of time at theme parks for your money.

8. Buy Disney Gift Cards at a discount

You can put your shopping memberships to use at participating retailers like Target, Costco or Sam's Club by getting an automatic 5 percent off when you purchase a Disney Gift Card. That means you get to save $5 on every $100 spent during your Disney vacation so long as you have your gift cards ready.

7. Collect free souvenirs

Disney World has no shortage of gift shops, but if you're trying to save money, you might like some of the free souvenirs you can get at the park. Character autographs are a popular go-to, however, you can get your hands on an assortment of small freebies like celebratory buttons, stickers, bookmarks and collector cards.

Star Wars fans can get a Jedi diploma certificate when they stop by Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

6. Skip Disney PhotoPass

Unless you absolutely need to have a memento of Santa Mickey Mouse on your wall, you can probably skip Disney PhotoPass during the holidays.

Alternatively, you can take your own photos sans selfie stick or ask a Disney PhotoPass photographer to snap a quick picture with your camera instead.

5. Mid-Day Magic tickets

In August, Disney World introduced a Mid-Day Magic ticket that allows entry after 12 p.m. for a reduced price.

The offer is valid at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom so long as you only visit one park per day. However, the promotion will only be good until Dec. 15.

4. Picnic at the park

A Disney Dining Plan can be convenient, but it can get pricey quick depending on your family size. Disney theme parks allow outside food and non-alcoholic beverages, so visitors can enjoy a picnic without having to leave the premises.

Guests should be mindful that when they pack their meal-to-go include no glass containers or food that requires heating, processing or refrigeration. Disney World guidelines also ask that food with pungent odors not be brought in.

3. Ditch snacking for a Disney Fireworks Dessert Party

With the money you save from bringing your own food, it might be tempting to splurge on Disney-branded snacks such as Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches or Mickey Rice Krispie Treats. However, it may be more economical to let your sweet tooth run wild at a Disney Fireworks Dessert Party.

These parties are endless buffets of exclusive Disney desserts, so it might very well save you money if you can forgo buying anything sugary for the rest of your vacation. A prime view of the fireworks show is provided as a bonus.

For this year's holiday season, guests can choose from a Minnie's Wonderful Chrismastime Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace or Plaza Garden, which costs $84 per adult and $50 per child or $69 for adults and $41 per child, respectively.

The Fireworks Dessert Party is not an inexpensive experience, but it is the cheaper and sweeter option when compared to the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which has a starting price of $109 per adult and $104 per child.

2. Take advantage of free activities

When you’re doing Disney World on a budget during the holidays, you can get creative with your entertainment methods. It's not uncommon for visitors to resort hop to see how all the different Disney properties are decorated for Christmas.

Deluxe resorts such as Disney's Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club are outfitted with elaborate gingerbread houses, Christmas trees and more.

Outside the resorts and theme parks, visitors can save money catching Disney’s free Electrical Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon.

1. Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

Disney Springs, the outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, transforms during the holidays with a Christmas Tree Trail. Every year, there are more than a dozen Christmas trees decorated with Disney themes.

If you’re visiting in 2019, you’ll get to see 22 Disney-themed trees.

At the end of the trail, visitors can meet Santa or enjoy live musical performances free of charge among other activities.