I’m a travel planner who’s been to Disney World 40 times – here’s 6 easy tips to save cash on your family trips

A MAGICAL Disney vacation creates fairytale memories for the whole family, but if you aren’t careful, you’ll bust your budget faster than you can say “bippity-boppity-boo.”

The good news is Disney park pros have plenty of ways of saving money on a vacation – in fact, there are lots of built-in money-savers that families don’t know about.

Disney park vacations are an investment, and well worth itCredit: Getty

There are plenty of ways to save money in and around Disney parks

There are plenty of ways to save money in and around Disney parksCredit: Getty

Speaking to Insider, travel planner Kari Becker shared her favorite tips for saving money without sacrificing the magic.

She’s been to Disney World over 40 times, and between that “field research” and her experiences at Marvelous Mouse Travels, Becker has plenty of knowledge to share.


“We typically have milk, yogurt, water bottles, cheese sticks, and soda,” Becker told the outlet.

“There are delivery services that bring groceries right to the bellhop stand at the resort,” she continued.

Though there’s a fee if you want the groceries to be delivered all the way to your room, if you head down to the lobby yourself, you don’t need to pay additional charges.

Becker said that her family orders breakfast items to eat in the room, “which saves us quite a bit of money and time.”

Those groceries can also make their way into the park as an additional money-saving measure, as long as they aren’t in glass containers – Disney World allows soft-sided coolers.

Becker said that she and her husband even used the alcohol delivery service Drizly to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings while avoiding steep resort prices.


When you sit down for a meal in a Disney park, you can often feed multiple people with one order thanks to generous portion sizes.

Along with splitting meals, Becker said her family members will choose a kid’s meal regardless of age to get the most bang for their buck.

“The kid’s portions are often not much smaller and come with additional snacks you can save and eat later,” Becker said.


When you stay at a Disney resort, you can pay a fee upfront to save on drinks in the long run.

“If you know you’re going to be drinking coffee or soda and munching on popcorn throughout your vacation, the refillable mugs and buckets are worth it,” Becker said.

Right now, the mugs cost $19.99, and while they can’t be used in the parks, you can refill them for free at the resorts while you stay there.

“Beverages at the resorts go for about $4 each, so if you have more than five drinks, you’ve made your money back,” Becker explained.

Inside the parks, Disney’s popcorn buckets operate on a similar principle.

The buckets, which have fun designs and double as a great souvenir, cost between $10 and $25 upfront.

“Once purchased, refills only cost $2 instead of $5,” Becker said.


As soon as your kids learn they’re going to Disney World, they’ll start dreaming of what souvenirs to bring home – and that’s when you need to have the budget talk.

“If your kids are like mine, they want everything they see,” Becker said.

Her solution is to set a strict souvenir allowance before vacation, for her kids and herself.

She loads the money onto Disney gift cards, and once the money on the cards runs out, the shopping spree is over.

“It makes you rethink some of your purchases, and my kids are more thoughtful about what they choose,” Becker said.


Souvenirs aren’t the only thing you can use Disney gift cards for.

Becker said you can use Disney gift cards to pay for “virtually everything” on your trip, from food and souvenirs to your resort booking and park tickets.

The trick is looking for sales, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, or shopping at stores that will give you a discount on bulk gift cards.

“On our last trip, we saved over $300 just by buying discounted Disney gift cards,” Becker said.


Though it might seem counterintuitive, on a Disney vacation, it makes sense to skip meals and fill up on snacks instead.

“Snacks can be quite filling and less expensive than a more formal meal,” Becker said.

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It also saves time, since you can eat on the go, and lets you try a variety of different dishes.

Becker’s favorites are “the cheeseburger egg rolls from the carts outside of Adventureland, massive cinnamon rolls from Gaston’s Tavern, and Walt’s chili-cheese fries from Casey’s Corner,” all of which are hearty enough to substitute a proper lunch.

Setting souvenir expectations ahead of time can help families save big

Setting souvenir expectations ahead of time can help families save bigCredit: Getty

Order groceries for delivery in your Disney resort room to save on food

Order groceries for delivery in your Disney resort room to save on foodCredit: Getty

You can save time and money by grabbing quick snacks instead of sit-down meals

You can save time and money by grabbing quick snacks instead of sit-down mealsCredit: Getty

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