15 ways the middle class can afford a trip to Disney World

The family trip to Disney World is a rite of passage for many American children, especially those in the middle class. That said, the pilgrimage to the happiest place on earth doesn’t come cheap. There are plane tickets, park passes, hotel rooms and more.

If you’re headed to Disney World, here are some ways to save money without missing out on any of the fun.

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1. Save for your trip

It might seem rather obvious, but saving money over a few years for your trip to Disney is a very smart way to prepare for expenses. You can do this with a savings account, although you may get a better return on investment by working with a financial advisor.

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2. Use a credit card

You can fund your Disney trip with a travel credit card, ideally one without a high APR or annual fee. Maximize this tactic by using an option that offers travel rewards, such as discounted hotel rooms and deals on rental cars.

Earn rewards and travel more while spending less with these best travel credit cards.

3. Plan your visit in advance

If you’re going to be at Disney World for three days or more, you’ll save on park passes by purchasing them in advance. The price drops even further once you hit five or more days.

Another reason not to wait until the last minute is that you never know when Disney will raise the price of admission. Again.

4. Avoid add-ons

You might be tempted to accept the bells and whistles that may be added to your park passes, but don’t. For example, why buy a photo plan when you have a smartphone that takes amazing photos?

And while it might seem wrong to skip the water parks, that’s what your hotel pool is for. You had the idea.

5. Look for discounts

It’s worth spending time online looking for discount Disney World vacation packages. For one, the park itself often runs promotions, as do a variety of travel agents.

Just be savvy and make sure your supplier isn’t scamming you. A discounted credit card or gift card can also help offset the costs of your trip.

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6. Off-season visit

Most families visit Disney World when their children are not in school. However, it’s usually during the summer when the weather in Orlando is sweltering.

A better option is to visit at another time of year when the weather is better. Hotels tend to be cheaper off season, making it worth taking the kids out of school for a few days.

7. Predict the weather

It’s HOT in Florida. OK, you probably knew this, but Disney is super hot and humid from June to October or so. Even when dangerous storms don’t hit Florida, it can rain in short bursts every day in the summer. So bring your own rain gear and sunscreen so you don’t have to buy them at the park’s premium prices.

8. Stay at a cheaper hotel

While staying put at Disney World is fun, you can save a lot of money by making an offsite hotel your home base during your trip instead.

You might as well look for an option on Airbnb or Vrbo. These places often have kitchens so you can cook meals instead of eating out.

Pro tip: You can also accumulate bonuses and rewards by booking your trip with one of the best hotel credit cards.

9. Stay on the property

Not to contradict each other, but there are instances where staying put at Disney could save you some money. You will have access to the free shuttle, for one person, which means no car rental or Uber fees.

It is also cheaper to visit the park during magic park hours. Just be sure to choose budget accommodation.

10. Stay short

While park passes get cheaper the longer you stay, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a full week or more at Disney World.

Booking just four or five nights could save you hundreds of dollars on hotel and food costs while still allowing you to enjoy all the rides and attractions you want. You might also enjoy your trip more.

11. Focus on one or two parks

If you’ve never been to Disney World, you might not realize how big it is, with plenty of places to spend big bucks. To that end, if you only focus on two parks – like Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, for example – you’ll have fewer temptations to spend money.

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12. Don’t Forget the Free Stuff

Of course, the main reason people go to Disney World is for all the cool rides and attractions, as well as the food. But don’t sleep on the free options, like window shopping at Disney Springs, a stop at the Lego Store, and a walk through the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

13. Dine smart

Speaking of the food at Disney World — which is plentiful and drool-worthy — you can save big by eating smart. Disney even lets you bring food into the parks, so plan a picnic here and there.

The parks also offer lockers so you don’t have to lug your food around all day.

Pro tip: When you eat out, pay for your meal using a meal rewards credit card and enjoy your rewards when you return home.

14. Be smart with memories

If you buy all the Disney World memorabilia, you’ll go bankrupt within hours. Do yourself a favor and pre-purchase Mickey Mouse ears and other memorabilia online.

Not only will they be cheaper than inside the parks, but you can also have fun leaving them for your kids during your trip.

15. Bring a bottle of water

Disney World lets you bring reusable water bottles to its parks and refill them at the many water stations you’ll find.

Not only will you save a dollar here and a dollar there – which can add up quickly – but you’ll also stay hydrated in the hot Florida sun.

At the end of the line

Going to Disney World is a dream come true for kids and adults alike, though it can be a hefty expense. That’s why it’s a good idea to do your research on cost-cutting measures in advance and avoid spending a lot.

You can also enjoy the experience more and reduce your spending stress while on vacation. Instead, you can just relax and enjoy the magic.

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