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Go during off-peak times
Certain times of the year make for cheaper Disney vacations, not just because of cheaper airfares and hotels, but also for Disney-specific reasons, the experts say.
There aren’t any publicly available discounts on Disney World park tickets, Kerr says, but there are still options when it comes to savings.
Anna Skamarakas, panelist at planDisney, a Disney-sanctioned resource group, notes that Disney World has date-based prices for park tickets, with cheaper prices available on days when there is less demand.
“Maybe it’s a bit cheaper if you go at the end of August instead of July, for example,” says Skamarakas. “You could save $10 or $15 on a one-day ticket per person.”
Traveling outside of peak hours also helps you avoid crowds, and that could save you from having to pay for Disney Genie+, Kerr says. Last year, Disney scrapped its free FastPass+. To skip long stand-by lines for certain attractions, park-goers now have to pay $15 per person per day for Genie+, while there’s an additional fee to purchase a la carte Lightning Lane access to popular rides such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. All of this can result in a family of four paying an additional $60 a day or more.
To plan your off-peak trip, Kerr recommends using the Touring Plans website. “It will tell you the best parks to visit on your travel dates,” says Kerr. “These guys are great data scientists and saved me hours of waiting in line.”
Use credit card points and cashback
Most people are familiar with its use Rewards points for travel elements like flights and hotels, but there are a few things Kerr suggests when it comes to Disney travel.
First, you might be able to use credit card points to buy 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 Disney ticket purchases aren’t coded as trips, so you have to buy on the Undercover Tourist supply page,” he says. Tickets are also available through some online travel agencies such as Expedia. “Then you can use points that are typical [worth] a cent each to cover the cost of a Disney ticket.”
Cards that allow you to redeem in this manner and effectively “erase” your recent ticket purchases include the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Just be aware that these third-party websites sometimes charge slightly higher prices than if you buy tickets directly from Disney. For example, there is a 5% processing fee when purchasing tickets through Expedia.
Meanwhile, those with Citi cards, such as For example, Citi Premier redeem their points for Disney tickets by calling Citi’s third party travel agent, Connexions Travel.
Kerr also suggests using Marriott Bonvoy points to book rooms at the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve, which qualify as deluxe resorts on Disney properties and get early access to Lightning Lanes, extended park hours, and free transportation to and from from the hotel offer parks and to Disney Springs so you may not need to rent a car for additional savings.
“It’s the best place to be on property, get early access, and pay points for your hotel instead of crazy cash prices,” says Kerr.
Kerr’s tip for maximizing Marriott points: open a credit card with a welcome bonus. “There are several different Marriott cards, so my wife gets a card with a very large sign-up bonus and I get another card with a sign-up bonus. Then, with Marriott, you can combine up to 55,000 points per year between spouses.”
Here is a brief summary of the current Marriott credit card welcome offers:
Make wise budget decisions
“We’ve never seen this summer before,” Kerr says of airfares. He advises booking with a low-cost airline that serves Orlando extensively, like Spirit Airlines or Frontier Airlines. Not only can it be cheaper, but these airlines have fewer problems with overscheduling and understaffing than many of the legacy airlines, Kerr says.
As for the resorts, if you want to be at Disney World on property, consider staying at the budget resorts such as Disney World All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, Pop Century and the Art of Animation. There are special offers on the Disney website, says Skamarakas.
“In many situations, you’re paying the same amount for a budget room as you would for a budget resort,” she says. Perks include early access to Lightning Lanes, free transportation, and 30-minute early access to the parks.
Theme park journalist Megan duBois recommends the hotels in the Disney Springs area — about a 10-minute drive from EPCOT — which often have deals for teachers, military personnel, medical personnel, and government employees. Her favorites include the DoubleTree Suites, bookable with Hilton Honors points, and the B Resort & Spa. Just note that “at Disney Springs, hotel parking fees can be outrageous,” says duBois.
Off-property, duBois is a fan of the hotels in the Vineland area, about a five-minute drive from Disney Springs. “There’s a Marriott Village with Springhill Suites and other brands that are usually very budget-friendly,” she says.
Dining is a big part of the Disney World experience — experts agree the biggest money-saving tip is to skip sit-down restaurants and go to quick-serve counters instead.
Skamarakas recommends the Japan Pavilion in EPCOT, while duBois recommends that in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Satu’li Canteen — “They have a bao fun burger that kids just go crazy for” — and Flame Tree Barbecue, where entrees range from $11 to $16.
You can also order cheaper adult-only kids’ meals at any Disney fast food restaurant, duBois says, which are kid-sized but suitable for an adult who isn’t too hungry. They cost around $6-$7 including an appetizer, a side, and a drink. “I’ve never had one [Disney worker] say, ‘Where’s the kid?’” she says.
Note that restaurants in the parks are also coded as restaurants. So make sure you use a credit card that rewards you and allows you to earn points for these types of expenses.
Another trick? Use pre-purchased Disney gift cards to pay for groceries and more – retailers like Target and BJs are selling them at 5% off.
For even bigger discounts on gift cards, Kerr recommends keeping an eye on Facebook groups like Disney Hacks, Disney Park Magic, and Ways to Save for Disney, which often have other invaluable tips to help you save money on your next Disney World trip .
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Information about the Capital One cards was collected independently by Select and was not verified or provided by the card issuer prior to publication.
Editorial note: Any opinion, analysis, review, or recommendation expressed in this article is solely that of Select’s editors and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.