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In the face of rising Disney ticket prices (yep, they’re going up too), most fans find doing a Disney vacation on a budget is nothing but a dream. Fantasy aside, you’re probably scouring the internet for cheap Disney World tickets, or you’re thinking about how to save on Disney tickets using some KCL Disney hacks and tips. Good news, you’re on the right track!
Here’s the scoop; I’ve made my way to the House of Mouse enough times that I’ve picked up some pretty great strategies to save time, money, and brain cells. The 18 Disney hacks and tips that follow are a bit of an overview; if you want to learn more, you’re gonna want to do some more reading.
The Krazy Coupon Lady has a LOT to say about saving at Disney, with articles about how to save on dining, how to avoid crowds, and specific tips for Disneyland, Disney World, and Disney Cruises. We also have a dedicated page on our favorite Disney deals on clothing, toys, costumes, and more.
So slow your moaning about it being the “Most Expensive Day Ever,” and get ready to actually enjoy yourself on your magical Disney vacation.
Disney Park Reservation Requirements
Before we get to the fun part, a note about park reservation requirements. Disney recently announced that starting January 9, 2024 guests will no longer need a park reservation for any date-based ticket (1-day or multi-day ticket, even a vacation package with date-based ticket). A park reservation will still be required for the following:
- Student group tickets
- Sport and Convention ticket
- Annual Pass
- All other ticket types not mentioned above
Before buying your tickets check reservation availability for up-to-date theme park reservation requirements.
Until January 8, 2024, guests ages 3 and up will need a park reservation for all ticket types.
Annual Passholders can visit the theme parks without a park reservation after 2:00 p.m., except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom.
Disney also announced that dining plans will be back as an option for guests staying at Disney Resort hotels who have a vacation package with stays on or after January 9, 2024. Bookings begin on May 31, 2023.
1. Buy Disney tickets from third-party sellers and save 2 – 9%.
First on your list of Disney hacks should be how to save money on your tickets. Sure, it seems easy to just jump on Disney.com and buy some Disney park or cruise tickets, but with the prices these days as high as $189 for Magic Kingdom, you can do better than that. Here’s how to save on Disney tickets through third-party sellers:
- Disney World: Visit Orlando Fun Tickets … you’ll save between 4.5% and 9% on multiday park tickets.
- Disneyland: Visit aRes Travel … you’ll save between 6.1% and 6.4% on multiday park tickets.
- Disney Cruises: Book through a travel agent to get discounts and onboard credit.
- For everything: Check out Costco Travel options if you’re a member; you could save 2 – 4 % and get some perks and freebies.
Take a look at the current ticket prices at Disney.com and a third-party seller site. Figures are for Disneyland 2-Day Park Hopper tickets with Disney Genie+ Service:
- Adult (ages 10+): $395
- Child (ages 3 – 9): $380
- Ticket Total: $775
- Adult (ages 10+): $383
- Child (ages 3 – 9): $368
- Ticket Total: $751
TIP: If you buy Disney park tickets directly from Disney, pay for them with Disney gift cards, which you can buy with Target RedCard for 5% off.
2. Save another 2 – 5% on Disney tickets with ID.me.
If you want to know how to save on Disney tickets, look no further than ID.me. If you’re a student, teacher, first responder, military, nurse, or government employee, you can save even more. The same two tickets from tip #1 cost $735 with ID.me verification.
3. Plan your Disney vacation during non-peak months to save almost 41% on ticket prices.
No matter what Disney vacation you’re going on, you’re not going to want to book your trip for Spring Break (April 19 – 26, 2023) or in the days surrounding Thanksgiving (Nov. 19 – 26) and Christmas (Dec. 24 – 31) when prices are higher. For example, an adult 1-Day, 1-Park ticket at Disneyworld will cost you $159 during those three weeks. Here’s where to aim instead:
The cheapest tickets in 2023 for DisneyWorld are $109 in August and September.
- Best August dates: 22 – 25 and 29 – 31, 2023
- Best September dates: 12 – 14, 18 – 21, and 26 – 28, 2023
The cheapest price for Disneyland tickets through March 2023 (the last month available) is $104. That’s almost 41% off the highest price of $179 during that same period:
- Best January dates: 9 – 12, 17 – 19, 23 – 26, and 31, 2023
- Best February dates: 1, 7, 8, 2023
For Disney Cruises, expect savings mid-September, before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, and early December.
4. If you’re a local, Disney wants to give you 25% – 40% off tickets.
If you’re a Disney local, Mickey rolls out the red carpet for you with discounts on park tickets and cruises — with verification of residency, of course.
- Walt Disney World: You can get a 3-Day, 1 Park Per Day Ticket for 30% off and a 4-Day, 1 Park Per Day Ticket for 40% off.
- Disney Cruises: If at least one adult in your stateroom is a Florida resident, you can get up to 35% off a cruise to the Bahamas.
- Disneyland: California residents with zip codes between 90000 – 93599 and 21000 – 22999 get discounts from time to time. Right now, California residents who live in the above zip codes can buy a 3-Day, 1 Park Per Day Ticket for $73, a savings of $29 on the standard $104. Ticket is valid on weekdays from Jan. 9 through May 25, 2023.
5. Florida residents can save thousands of dollars with the Disney Pixie Dust Pass.
Yes, Floridians can save up to 40% on Disney World tickets, but one of the best Disney hacks that can save you thousands of dollars on Disney tickets is the annual Disney Pixie Dust Pass for $399.
Let’s see how to save on Disney tickets with the Pixie Dust Pass compared to the standard 1-day Disney World ticket if you were to visit the park one weekday every month.
- 1-Day Ticket: $1,309, or $109 a day
- Pixie Dust Pass: $399, or $33.25 a day
- Savings: $909
What about the multiday discount for Florida residents? We compared the Disney World 3-day ticket deal and the Pixie Dust Pass for the week of Feb. 13, 2023:
- Standard 3-Day Disney World Pass: $435.37, or $145.12 a day
- Pixie Dust Pass for three days: $399, or $133 a day
- Saving: $36.37
The Pixie Dust Pass pays for itself in three visits — mic drop!
Of course, the more you visit Disney World using the Pixie Dust Pass, the cheaper it’ll be per day. Plus, you get perks like discounts on food and merchandise as an annual passholder.
What’s the catch? The Pixie Dust Pass is only good on select weekdays, meaning no weekends, and there are blockout dates. But we say, if you live nearby and can visit the park at least three times a year, you should take advantage of this pass because it’s the best deal!
About those blockout dates, we found 40 of them for 2023, with June and August having none, and February, May, September, and October only having one. Be sure to check next year’s blockout calendar before planning your trip.
6. Always check crowd calendars and Park Pass availability — BEFORE you buy tickets.
This tip applies to just the Disney parks. Even if you’ve picked a non-peak week to go to Disney, you want to look at crowd calendars to figure out which parks will be the least crowded during your dates.
Also (and more importantly) Disney parks continue to have limited capacity, so in addition to buying your park ticket, you have to connect it to a reservation for a specific day — a Park Pass. Availability for Park Passes is limited, so you’ll want to make your reservation as quickly as you can. You should definitely check the Park Pass calendar (Disney World / Disneyland) before you buy to make sure your dates are available.
Related: Need more Disney hacks? Check out how you can avoid Disney crowds.
7. Use airline miles to book free plane tickets.
How to save on Disney tickets? Start with your trip to the park. Airlines offer Disney vacation packages that come with a hefty money-saving benefit — they accept airline miles as payment. Totally a Disney hacks win!
These airlines allow you to book a portion or all of your vacation package with miles:
- American Airlines: Cover the cost of your flight to Florida or California with AAdvantage Miles, plus you can put as few as 1,000 points toward the non-flight portion of your vacation, which you can redeem for gift cards, car rentals, and even hotel stays.
- Delta Airlines: Use your SkyMiles to cover the cost of flight and hotel, plus you’ll get $350 off your booking if you’re a SkyMiles Member.
- JetBlue: Use TrueBlue points to book the airline portion of your Disney vacation through JetBlue. You’ll see prices like 12,800 points + $473. The points will cover fights and tickets to the parks, and the dollar amount covers per night at the hotel.
- Southwest Airlines: Become a Rapid Rewards member and you can save up to 25% on your flight and stay at a Disney resort when you book with Southwest Airlines Vacations. You can’t book with points, but Southwest has a Lowest Price Promise, which means if the same trip you’ve booked is now at a lower price on their website, you’ll get travel credit for the price difference, and you get to keep your points.
We even found a way to fly your entire family to Disney for free using your miles.
8. Ponchos and strollers should be at the top of your Disney packing list.
Listen, you can make your Disney vacation so much more enjoyable when you pack the right stuff. From snacks to space savers to cheap Disney goodies, you can hit the ground running if you’re prepared.
No matter what, though, make sure you don’t forget these two things: ponchos and a stroller.
Stroller rentals inside Disney World will run you about $15 per day, and considering you can buy a cheap umbrella stroller on Amazon and use it for the length of your trip, this seems like a no-brainer. You could even have it shipped to your hotel.
And instead of getting Amazon ponchos for less than $1 apiece or even for $0.99 at Walgreens in Orlando, I paid $42 for four ponchos in the park. Don’t be me.
9. Help yourself to freebies — like celebration buttons.
Disney hacks 101: freebies. We’ve got more to say about all the kinds of freebies you can get while you’re on your Disney Cruise, Disneyland vacation, or Walt Disney World visit, but no matter where you are, you can get a celebration button. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or warm weather, gift shops, front desks, and ticket counters will all hand you a free button. And as you go about your trip, Cast Members will comment on what you’re celebrating.
Other freebies include:
- Magic Kingdom: Try free soda from around the world at Club Cool in Walt Disney World’s Epcot, and get a free Monorail driver’s license (coming soon).
- Disneyland: Both Disneyland and California Adventure have ongoing drawing classes where you learn to draw a different Disney character. You get to keep your handiwork.
- Disney Cruises: Get a free T-shirt from the “Friendship Rocks” show on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder ships.
Want even more perks? We’ve got Disney World deals you need to know about.
10. Use Disney’s apps to simplify your vacation and reduce your waiting times.
Now that you know how to save on Disney tickets, let’s find out how the Disney smartphone apps for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruises make life much easier. The apps act as your entry ticket, your room key, your payment method, and your concierge, among other things.
For Disney parks, the apps will help you schedule Lightning Lane reservations and give you a schedule for the day based on your interests and wait times.
You can also make dining reservations ahead of time and even place pickup orders at quick-service restaurants.
For Disney Cruises, the app will speed up your check-in process, help you book experiences, opt for free room service (available via the Navigator app), and communicate with others on board.
Learn more about how to save time and money on your Disney Cruise with the Navigator app.
11. Need to save a place in line for your group? You can! IF you tell a Cast Member.
While we were riding Star Tours, a member of our group got in line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. When we met up, we sheepishly slid into line with the other member of our party.
A Cast Member promptly found us and said that our party could reunite in line, but in the future, we’d need to tell a Cast Member so we could be properly escorted to our spot. Quickly added that to our list of Disney hacks for the future.
It’s generally frowned upon to do this, so use it sparingly — but we were blown away that this was actually the policy!
12. Wherever you go, you can trade pins with Cast Members and other vacationers.
Did you know that you can trade pins with the Cast Members at Disney parks and on a Disney Cruise? There are a few rules to this memorable (and totally free) activity — like, it must be a Disney pin, and the pins must be in good condition. Cast Members don’t own their pins; they’re given to them specifically for trading with guests, so don’t be shy about asking!
Plus, if you’re on a Disney Cruise, check out your schedule in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to know when the pin-trading night will occur.
13. Get the refillable popcorn bucket — the best food deal at Disney Parks.
One of the best Disney hacks is finding small ways to save big money; like buying the refillable popcorn bucket. Not only will you get a cool souvenir for $10 – $12 that you can take home from the parks, but you’ll be able to refill the bucket for only $2.
Plus, you can bring that bucket the next time you go to the parks, and you’ll still get the $2 popcorn refill.
If you’re staying at a Disney hotel (sadly, not the Cruise or Disneyland Resort hotel), spring for the $19.99 reusable rapid-fill mug; if you’re planning to refill it at least five times, it’ll pay for itself.
14. Budget $20 per person per day for the Lightning Lane pass.
Look, we get it. You already spent a pretty penny just getting to Disney and into the park. Why spend more for Genie+ Lightning Lane access?
The photo above says it all; on the left is the crowded standby line for The Barnstormer. On the right is the empty Lightning Lane. You made it this far; what’s another $20 per person per day so you can avoid having to stand around in line for 100 minutes or more?
You can add Genie+ when you buy your tickets or once you arrive at the park. Then when parks open (or 7 a.m. if you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel), use the Disneyland or Disney World app to reserve your Lightning Lane time slot.
Some things to know:
- You can only book a Lightning Lane reservation once per ride, per day
- High-demand rides book up fastest; make your reservation as soon as possible for rides like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Not all rides offer Lightning Lane; the app will tell you which ones have it
- Some rides offer Individual Lightning Lane tickets, which cost $7 – $20 per person per ride, depending on the season. For example, the Webslingers Individual Lightning Lane costs an additional $7 per person on top of the Genie+ service.
15. You’ll pay too much if you add a Disney World visit to your Disney Cruise.
If you book a Disney Cruise through Disney, they’ll offer you an add-on to go to the theme parks on either side of your cruise.
While it’s convenient to have one deposit, one reservation, and one due date for the balance of your tickets, the add-on doesn’t give you the chance to find better deals on park tickets.
Instead, read up on our Walt Disney World savings tips and our Disneyland hacks, and if you’re set on going to the parks, approach it separately from your cruise.
16. Bring your own food into the parks — and never buy water.
Here’s one of the easiest Disney hacks that’ll help you save money on food at Disney parks; pack your own food.
You could find a grocery store in the Orlando-Kissimmee area, or you could just stay put at your hotel and get groceries delivered by Amazon Fresh (free delivery for orders over $35), Instacart ($3.99 delivery for orders of $35+), or Walmart Grocery Delivery ($9.95 delivery fee).
If you schedule your food delivery for 6 – 8 a.m., you’ll be able to get your food before you enter the park.
Also, don’t spend $4 – $6 on a bottle of water; you can get a free cup of water at any counter-service restaurant. Just ask! (Or in some cases, you’ll find a water station with complimentary cups.)
17. Make dining reservations as soon as you possibly can.
Disney has mega-popular specialty restaurants at their parks and on their cruises, and if you were thinking you’d make reservations the day you arrive, you’re going to be sadly disappointed.
If you’ve bought park tickets, Disneyland and Walt Disney World will let you make a reservation to restaurants like Be Our Guest and the Blue Bayou up to 60 days in advance.
On Disney Cruises, specialty restaurants like Rapunzel’s Royal Table and the adults-only Remy are hot spots. Disney lets guests book between 75 and 120 days prior to the sail date, depending on your Castaway Club member status.
18. Beware of Disney TikTok tips; you may end up losing your bags.
Piece of advice when you’re seeking Disney hacks: consider the source. There are a lot of people out there giving Disney vacation advice, but some of what they’re saying is inaccurate or just plain dumb.
For example, some people are trying to avoid using lockers at Disney parks and instead will turn their bags into Lost & Found, only to reclaim them later. There’s a BIG problem with that line of thinking — we explain the problem with this and a bunch of other Goofy Disney tips.