Highlights Along the Way
Family Travel, Treats, Tips, & Traditions

Saving Money on a trip to Walt Disney World

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Hi everyone, it’s Lexi from Get Away Today, here to talk to you about planning your Walt Disney World vacation. If you’ve never visited the Walt Disney World Resort before – you’re in for a treat. With four different theme parks, two thrilling water parks and an incredible downtown area, you can experience more magic than ever before. I’m here to make your vacation to Walt Disney World the best one yet by giving you the best money saving tips for “The Most Magical Place on Earth. Information on the 2019 FREE DINING PLAN at Walt Disney World below! Follow these other tips for saving money in several easy ways, make sure to use the code HIGHLIGHTS on GETAWAYTODAY for a bonus discount, but make sure to book during free dining dates!

Walt Disney World


1. Stay on Property

While staying on property at the Disneyland Resort is usually on the higher-end on of everyone’s budget, Walt Disney World has a variety of options ranging from value to deluxe. This makes staying on property at Walt Disney World affordable for every type of family and budget. Properties like Disney’s All-Star Resorts and Disney’s Pop Century Resort can start as low as $110.00 per night, which makes staying on property a steal. Plus, staying at a hotel at Walt Disney World has so many added benefits, that it’s a no brainer to stay at one of the resorts.

The first major amenity that’s offered by Walt Disney World hotels is Disney’s Magical Express. Disney’s Magical Express is an airport transportation service that will pick you up to and from the Orlando International Airport. The best part? This service is FREE and included in every Walt Disney World hotel stay.  An UBER or taxi to the Orlando International Airport starts at about $30 each way, so you’re already saving $60 by just staying at the resort. Not only is the airport transportation free, but you’ll also be able to use the free shuttle services to and from each theme-park, water park and downtown area. If you’re staying off property with a rental car, you’ll have to pay $20 per day for parking at the resort. However if you did bring a car with you on your vacation, you’ll be able to park for FREE at the hotel and parks as a guest at one of the Walt Disney World hotels.

animal kingdom lodge

(Read our Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Review)

If this isn’t enough, you’ll also be able to reserve your dining and Fastpass+ reservations in advance. This means that you’ll be able to reserve a special dinner at the Be Our Guest Restaurant or Cinderella’s Royal Table in Fantasyland without having to worry about it selling out. Plus, Fastpass+ selections can be reserved up to 60 days in advance. This means that you’ll be the first to get Fastpass+ selections for attractions like Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey and all of the new attractions coming to Toy Story Land in the summer of 2018. Plus with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge just around the corner, staying on property will be more beneficial than ever before.

2. Free Dining

Every year, Walt Disney World releases a Free Dining promotion during select dates that guests can take advantage of by staying on property. Depending on what hotel you book, you’ll receive either a Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan or a Disney Dining Plan. While each dining plan varies, both include at least two entrees, two beverages and two snacks. Keep a look out for this promotion, because you’ll be able to eat a majority of your meals at the park for FREE. However if you aren’t traveling during the Free Dining promotion, you can still get free cups of water at any counter service restaurant and even get small samples of ice cream, cookies and cotton candy at the Main Street Confectionery in Magic Kingdom. Now you can enjoy all of your favorite treats without the guilt of spending money!

BREAKING NEWS (on January 2nd 2019) – FREE DINING HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED for 2019!

In anticipation of Galaxy’s Edge opening in 2019, Walt Disney World has announced that FREE DINING dates will run from July 5th – Septempber 30th 2019! MUST book by February 10th! Rooms do fill up quickly!

If you have already booked your trip for these dates you  can be applied to previously booked trips, but you have to call or go online and have the offer applied IF they still have availability for the offer for your resort and dates. They do run out of rooms that qualify for promotions.

Some of the fine print:
Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels
Valid for arrivals most nights July 5 through September 30, 2019

FREE Disney Dining Plan

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Select Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels
Valid for arrivals most nights July 5 through September 30, 2019

FREE Disney Dining Plan

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disneys Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Select Disney Moderate Resort Hotels
Valid for arrivals most nights July 5 through September 30, 2019

FREE Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Select Disney Value Resort Hotels
Valid for arrivals most nights July 5 through September 30, 2019

FREE Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only
Disney’s Pop Century Resort

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on length of stay and ticket.

Offer Details

Book Through
February 10, 2019

Valid for Arrivals Most Nights

July 5 through September 30, 2019
Package Includes:

Theme park ticket(s) with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus Option
Dining Plan (Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan with Value and Moderate Resort hotel packages; Disney Dining Plan with Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resort hotel packages)

Important Details

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
Advance reservation required.
Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on length of stay and ticket. Visit GETAWAYTODAY for more details or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak to a travel expert directly (Make sure to mention HIGHLIGHTS to enjoy a bonus discount just for our readers!)
Some table-service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.
Children ages 3 to 9 must choose from the children’s menu, if available.
Gratuities are not included.
Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.
Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.


3. Skip Park Hopper Tickets

Unlike Disneyland, Walt Disney World is spaced out over 40 square miles of land, which means that each park is spaced out. While you can take advantage of the free transportation to and from each of the parks by staying on property, it still takes time to get to your desired location. This is why I’d suggest saving money and get a Base ticket instead. Since each park has so much to offer, you’ll need at least one full day to spend in each.  By choosing to do a Base ticket instead of a Park Hopper, you can save up to $70 per ticket. This is an especially great option for families with young children who aren’t able to move as fast through the parks.

4. Sit Back & Relax

Since Walt Disney World does have so much to offer, make sure you take some time to relax. You can easily take a day to lounge by the pool or visit Disney Springs, Walt Disney Worlds Downtown district. Visiting Disney Springs is free and has a variety of shops and restaurants for you to explore. At the Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop in Disney Springs, you can actually get a free chocolate sample! Plus, they have a 3,000 sq ft LEGO play area at The LEGO Store in Disney Springs. However if you don’t want to be tempted to spend your money, you can just spend a day relaxing by the pool or go Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort for a free Disney movie and campfire nightly. There is so much you can do that allows you to still enjoy all the magic of Walt Disney World, while taking a well-deserved break from the parks.

5. Take the Little Ones

Many families ask, “My toddler won’t remember Walt Disney World, so why should I take them when they’re so young?” Although they might not remember every detail, you certainly will! Creating memories with your little ones is so important, especially since they grow up so fast. Because of this, I would suggest taking your children who are under three to Walt Disney World. If you weren’t aware, children who are under three get into Walt Disney World for FREE. Plus, kids under the age of three eat free at select Walt Disney World buffet or family-style restaurants. This is such an easy way to save hundreds of dollars on your Walt Disney World vacation, while still being able to experience all of the magic that is has to offer with your entire family.

6. Take a Refillable Water Bottle

We rarely drink soda. Soda is dehydrating and so expensive.  Guests can always ask for free ice water at any restaurant. We take it the extra mile and bring our own reusable water bottles.

Disney Wasted

7. Bring Your Own Stroller / Order one online and have it shipped to your hotel

Even if your little one is outgrowing a stroller, you are likely going to want one on a Walt Disney World Vacation. Remember you can bring your own stroller to Disney and save on the rental fee.  You can also purchase a simple umbrella stroller on Amazon and have it delivered to your hotel! Give it away on your last day and it will still be cheaper than renting a stroller each day.

8. Buy your Souvenirs beforehand

Glow necklaces, bubble blowers, Spray Fans, Autograph books, and pens – these are all things that many families buy while in the park.  You can often find these items much more inexpensively outside the park.  There are many sites with instructions on how to make a very cute DIY Autograph books.

9. Buy your Disney shirts / costumes beforehand

Character clothing and costumes in the park are about the priciest you are going to find. Most people plan a Disney trip months if not years in advance. Keep your eyes open during stores at inexpensive stores that sell character clothing.  After Halloween sales and even thrift stores have provided us with most of our kid’s dress up!

10. Free Souvenirs

Souvenirs do not need to be a given.  Many people save on a budget by simply avoiding the souvenir shops entirely. Park Buttons, Maps, Mickey Mouse Stickers, and more are available to take home!  Even tickets are collectible and cute when framed up. The BEST souvenir (in our opinion) is one we happened upon by chance and just good timing.  LEGO stores offer a FREE LEGO Build where you get to take home a small LEGO set!  These are limited editions and limited quantities and they are really cute!  Once per month (typically during the first week of the month) you can enjoy this activity at no cost.  Check with the link provided to see if the free LEGO build activity falls during your stay!

11. Pass on the photo pass

Wait? What? But they are so cute!  Disney Photographers are happy to take a photo even with your camera or phone.

12.  Free Balloons! 

Balloons in the park are magical, but also pricey.  If you are staying at a resort property, you can still get your kiddo a fun balloon and it is included. Most (if not all) Disney Resort Properties will give a guest staying at the hotel a balloon.

13. FREE Coffee or Tea in your room!

So many people want to grab a cup of coffee to go, but there is almost always free coffee in hotel rooms or lobbies.  Speaking of free coffee, also keep your eyes open for free treats at the hotel.  Hotels often have complimentary cookies in the evenings or complimentary fruit bowls.

14. Refillable Soda and Popcorn buckets for long trips

Our family generally doesn’t drink soda, but we can eat our weight in popcorn. Refillable drink cups are just under $20 (at the time of this post) and include FREE refills! If you do drink soda a couple times a day on a week long trip, this is a no brainer!  Refillable popcorn buckets cost only $1.50 (at the time of this post) to refill.  If your party can agree that popcorn is a fun daily treat it is the perfect way to stretch a budget.

15.  Plan well.

Saving time is a great way to save money.  Make sure to buy your tickets beforehand so you do not waste time at the ticket window.  Make sure to fill up your magic band before you leave. Get to the gate early so you can beat crowds. You can generally ride several rides with very little wait within the first two hours. You don’t want to over-plan but some planning ahead will save you time.

16. Travel during the Off Season

Traveling during peak season is going to cost you more.  Ticket prices are higher, hotel rates are higher, and crowds make it challenging to enjoy all the parks have to offer.  Check out a crowd predictor and plan a trip for when the crowds are lighter. Timing can save you hundreds or more on a family vacation.

17. Book with Get Away Today

If you’re looking to save the most on your Walt Disney World vacation, make sure you book with Get Away Today. Not only will you receive the best service, but you’ll also get the best deal guaranteed. Get Away Today offers discounted Walt Disney World tickets and hotel stays, so you only have to worry about having fun and not worry about your budget. To book your Walt Disney World Resort vacation, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak to a travel expert directly. Make sure to mention that Highlights Along the Way sent you!  If you use the code HIGHLIGHTS you will get an additional $10 off your package!


Until Next Time ~ Kate
  1. Terry says:

    These are some really great tips that I have pinned for later. I would love to take my granddaughter to Walt Disney World next year as she is almost 13 years old, never been on a vacation nor has she ever flown in plane. She would love Disney World. I haven’t been there since 1994.

  2. Desiree says:

    I have never been to Disneyworld but it seems like it has a lot of amenities for its guests. Look forward to having a vacation there in the future!

  3. AJ says:

    There is a fee to park at the Disney Resorts now, starting at $13 a night for the Value resorts. I think you mentioned above that it’s free to park at the hotel.

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