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3 Key Tips for Going to Disney World on a Budget

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We just returned from our family's first Disney World vacation. It was magical, exhausting, expensive, and the kids are already clamoring for when we are going again. We had been looking at it for years... but every time I would start, I would become totally overwhelmed by the cost, all the choices, and lost on even where to begin. Then, my son made a friend at preschool, whose mom, Sarah, just happens to be a Disney Vacation Planner. She not only helped us plan our trip, she showed me that going to Disney World on a budget is totally doable. She helped us get the most out of our budget while balancing our family's interests and vacation preferences.

Three kids in front of Cinderella's castle at Disney World

Because I found Sarah so helpful in planning our trip to Disney World on our family's budget, I asked her to share some of her best tips for going to Disney World on a budget with all of you.  Please note: this is not a sponsored post. I do not earn discounts on future vacations, or make any money if you choose to work with Sarah. We are real-life friends, our boys are best buddies, and I truly found her guidance invaluable in planning a once in a lifetime trip to somewhere I had never been (and somewhere she goes multiple times a year). And just so you know how it works: she gets paid by Disney to help make your Disney dreams come true if you choose to work with her, at no additional cost to you.


3 Key Tips for Going to Disney World on a Budget

Let’s face it, Walt Disney World vacations are expensive. There are numerous things to consider when you start thinking about booking your vacation. How long to go, when to go, where to stay, what parks to visit, where to eat…the list goes on and on. It can be super overwhelming to narrow down how to get the most out of your money for your vacation.

Here are a few basic things I encourage families to consider when going to Disney World on a budget, to help you get the most out of your money and have the best vacation ever!

Three kids at Disney World resort in Mickey and Minnie pajamas

Be Flexible on Travel Dates

When you have a family, travel times are often limited to when the kids are out of school. Unfortunately, this makes those times of year busy and more expensive to travel. You’ll always find better rates and lower crowds after major holidays and when school is typically in session.

If taking a week off in January or September is out of the question, consider extending your vacation during a busier time. Instead of traveling Sunday – Friday over Spring Break, look at Thursday – Tuesday at the end of the Spring Break week. The kids will only miss a few days of school, and this can save you money on your vacation package. Plus, the crowds will be much lighter for the last few days of your vacation.

We visited in mid-October, and walked right in to see Mickey with NO wait!

Determine Your Resort Preferences

When going to Disney World on a budget, you need to understand the resort categories and amenities associated with each. Walt Disney World has 4 different resort categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. Each category has different amenities available, and this can often vary between resorts within that category. With over 25 resort hotels, that’s a lot of information to digest!

Savannah View from my family's room at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House

Being clear with your expectations for your resort will help you get the most out of your vacation. If you love to spend time by the pool and your kids are looking forward to going down the slide a million times, a Value resort might not be for you. While it will save you money, your experience will be disappointing.  There are always ways to save some money in other areas to get you what you want from your hotel. Alternatively, if you plan to be at the parks from open to close every day and do nothing more than sleep in your room, save by staying at a Value resort.

We took a day of rest at the resort - and he went down the pool slide about 100 times!

Review Your Dining Options

A big decision when going to Disney World on a budget is whether or not to use a meal plan, and which meal plan to choose for your family. Disney offers a variety of meal plan options that not only can save you money, but allow you to better budget for your vacation.

Dining plans come with snack credits - and covered our daily afternoon ice cream break!

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you want to maximize your park time and have your meals on the go?
  • Or are you foodies who enjoy fine dining?
  • Do you prefer buffets over table service meals?
  • Do you want a mix of dining options every day?
  • Are you looking for quiet meals out of the parks?
  • Does your family need to have a big breakfast or is a snack sufficient?

Kids' favorite dessert? The African Shield at Saana and Jiko, table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Review these questions and the dining plan options with your Travel Planner, and they will help you determine the option that best suits your family and that will save you money on your vacation. It’s not always what you think…


Working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is the easiest way to get the best deal on your Walt Disney World vacation while also taking all of the hassle and confusion out of your planning. We also keep an eye on Disney discounts when they are released and will automatically apply them to your vacation!

Have specific questions about booking a Walt Disney World vacation? We’re here to help, no matter your budget. Contact Sarah at Must Love Travel to help you get started, and get that Disney Vacation sinking fund started! 

Check out her second guest post in this travel series - where she'll show you exactly how to play with these 3 variables and what you can get at different price points, so you can start budgeting for Disney World!

About Sarah

Sarah McGovern is a Personal Travel Planner with the Must Love Travel Group. Her passion is to bring joy to people through travel. She specializes in working with families of all ages and sizes. She loves to share her experiences with you to help you have an experience you’ll never forget.

Sarah is an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge, a Certified Universal Vacation Planner and an Atlantis Ambassador. She also specializes in cruising and all-inclusive vacations.

Follow Sarah on Instagram and Facebook to learn about travel deals and see her travel adventures at Disney World and beyond.

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About Meghan

Meghan spent nearly a decade as a Financial Analyst, before spending the last 7+ as a SAHM to three little ones. She shares simple money tips for moms to help your family reach your financial goals by building a financial plan you can LIVE with! You can learn more about her background in finance, catch her daily on Instagram and Facebook, and her weekly live discussions in her community for Family Finance Moms.

1 Comment

  1. Budgeting for Disney World: 4 Sample Packages on December 11, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    […] Sarah shared her 3 best tips for going to Disney World on a budget, I asked her if she could put together what a Disney trip looks like on different budgets because I […]

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