Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles that we think our readers will find useful. We earn commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.
Subscribe to the Select newsletter!
Our top picks delivered to your inbox. Shopping recommendations that help you improve your life, delivered weekly. register here.
According to experts, certain times of the year lead to cheaper Disney vacations, not only because of cheaper airfares and hotels, but also for Disney-specific reasons.
There are no publicly available discounts on tickets to Disney World parks, Kerr says, but there are always options when it comes to savings.
Anna Skamarakas, panelist with mapDisneya Disney-sanctioned resource group, notes that Disney World has date-based pricing on park tickets, with cheaper prices available on days when demand is lower.
“It might be a bit more affordable if you go in late August instead of July, for example,” says Skamarakas. “You could save $10 or $15 on a day ticket per person.”
Going during off-peak hours can also help you avoid crowds, and it could save you from having to pay for Disney Genie+, says Kerr. Last year, Disney got rid of its free FastPass+ access, so now, in order to avoid long lines for certain attractions, park visitors must pay $15 per person per day for Genie+ , while there is an additional charge to purchase Lightning Lane Pass Access to popular rides such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. All of this can result in a family of four paying an extra $60 a day or more.
To plan your off-peak trip, Kerr recommends using the site, Tour plans. “It will tell you the best parks to go to on your travel dates,” says Kerr. “These guys are amazing data scientists and saved me hours of waiting.”
Use credit card points and cash back
First, you may be able to use credit card points to purchase park tickets, adding that you generally don’t want to buy them directly through Disney.
“Credit cards allow you to redeem points for a travel purchase. But ticket purchases from Disney aren’t coded as trips, so you have to buy from the deals site. Undercover Tourist,” he says. Tickets are also available from some online travel agencies such as Expedia. “Then you can use points, which are usually [worth] one cent apiece, to cover the cost of a Disney ticket.
Cards that allow you to redeem this way and effectively “wipe out” your recent ticket purchases include the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Just note that these third-party sites may sometimes charge slightly higher prices than when you buy tickets directly with Disney. For example, purchasing tickets through Expedia will incur a 5% convenience fee.
Meanwhile, those with Citi cards, like the Citi Premiercan redeem their points for Disney tickets by calling Citi’s third-party travel agency, Connexions Travel.
Kerr also suggests using Marriott Bonvoy points to book rooms at the swan, the dolphinor the swan reservewhich are considered luxury resorts on Disney property, offering early access to Lightning Lanes, extended park hours, and free transportation to and from the parks and to Disney Springs, so you can maybe avoid renting a car for extra savings.
“It’s the perfect place to be there, get early access, and pay in points instead of crazy exchange rates for your hotel,” Kerr says.
Kerr’s tip for maximizing Marriott points: open a credit card with a welcome bonus. “There are several different Marriott cards, so my wife will get one card, which comes with a really big sign-up bonus, and I’ll get another card that has a sign-up bonus. Then Marriott lets you stack up to 55,000 points per year between spouses.
Here is a brief summary of the current welcome offers for Marriott credit cards:
“This summer is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Kerr says of airfare. He advises booking with a low-cost carrier that largely serves Orlando, such as Spirit Airlines or Frontier Airlines. Not only can it be cheaper, but these airlines have fewer issues with overscheduling and understaffing than most legacy carriers, Kerr says.
As far as resorts go, if you want to be right there at Disney World, consider staying at its value resorts like All Star Movies, All Star Music, century of pop and the The art of animation. There are promotions on the Disney websiteSkamarakas said.
“In many situations, you’ll pay the same amount for a moderately priced room as you would pay for a premium resort,” she says. Perks include early access to Lightning Lanes, free transportation, and 30 minutes early access to the parks.
Theme park journalist Megane du Bois recommends hotels in the Disney Springs area — about a 10-minute drive from EPCOT — which often have deals for teachers, military, medical workers, and government employees. His choices include the DoubleTree Suiteswhich can be booked with Hilton Honors Points, and the B Resort & Spa. Just be aware that “at Disney Springs, hotel parking fees can be outrageous,” says duBois.
Off-property, duBois is a fan of hotels in the Vineland area, about a five-minute drive from Disney Springs. “There is a Marriott Village, which has a Spring Hill Suites and other brands that are usually very economical,” she says.
Food is a big part of the Disney World experience — experts agree the biggest money-saving tip is to avoid sit-down restaurants and head to quick-service counter outlets instead.
Skamarakas recommends the Japan pavilion at EPCOT, while in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, duBois recommends the Canteen Satu’li – “They have a fun burger bao that the kids are going wild for” – and Flame Tree Grillwhere entrees range from $11 to $16.
You can also order cheaper kids’ meals for adults at any Disney quick-service restaurant, duBois says, that are child-sized but fine for a not-too-hungry adult. They cost around $6-7, including an entrée, side dish, and drink. “I never had a [Disney worker] say, ‘Where’s the kid?’ “, she says.
Note that restaurants in the parks are also coded as restaurants, so be sure to use a credit card that rewards you and earns you points for these types of expenses.
Another tip? Use pre-purchased Disney Gift Cards to pay for food and more – retailers such as Target and BJs sell them at a 5% discount.
For even deeper discounts on gift cards, Kerr advises keeping an eye on Facebook groups such as Disney Tips, The Magic of the Disney Parks and Ways to save for Disneywhich often contain other valuable tips to help you save money on your next trip to Disney World.
Capital One card information was independently collected by Select and was not reviewed or provided by the card issuer prior to publication.
Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.