If you’re hoping to do a Disney vacation on a budget, you’re probably looking for cheap Disney World tickets — or thinking about how much Disneyland tickets are at Costco. You’re on the right track!
These Disney tips will not only help you spend less money at the House of Mouse but also help you avoid some lines while you’re at it.
So get ready to say goodbye to “Most Expensive Day Ever” and hello to a truly magical (and on budget) Disney vacation!
Check out all our travel freebies for more info on how to stay on budget when traveling.
Here’s how you can save on Disney tickets:
1. Buy Disney park tickets from an authorized third-party seller, but only if they’re cheaper.
There’s a lot here, but hang in there — this is really important. Disney allows certain companies to sell tickets at a discount, and if you’re looking at three or more days at the park, third-party sellers are the way to go.
But although it looks like you’ll be saving more money the longer you stay, that’s not always true. For example, we found that while a 5-day Park Hopper pass gets you the biggest discount with an authorized seller (9%), the 6-day base ticket has the lowest discount among single-park tickets (5.9%).
In fact, if you’re looking to visit only one park at Walt Disney World, a 3-day base ticket gets you the best discount at 6.4%. Here’s what we found:
Walt Disney World
Biggest Walt Disney World Ticket Discounts (3+ days)
- 3-day base ticket: $318.00 (Disney) vs. $292.45 (Orlando Fun Tickets) — 6.4% savings
- 5-day Park Hopper ticket: $536.00 vs. $487.51 (Orlando Fun Tickets — 9% savings
Smallest Walt Disney World Ticket Savings (3+ days)
- 4-day base ticket: $420.00 (Disney) vs. $399.72 (Orlando Fun Tickets) —4.8% savings
- 7-day Park Hopper ticket: $560.00 (Disney) vs. $534.75 (Orlando Fun Tickets) —4.5% savings
Disneyland tickets don’t have the variation in pricing that Walt Disney World sees, with maximum discounts hovering between 3% and 6.4%. Here are the highest and lowest savings comparisons for base tickets and Park Hopper tickets between Disneyland and the cheapest third-party seller (aRes Travel):
Biggest Disneyland Ticket Savings (3+ days)
- 4-day base ticket: $360.00 (Disney) vs. $337.00 (aRes Travel) — 6.4% savings
- 3-day Park Hopper ticket: $390.00 (Disney) vs. $365.00 (aRes Travel) — 6.4% savings
Smallest Disneyland Ticket Savings (3+ days)
- 3-day base ticket: $330.00 (Disney) vs. $309.00 (aRes Travel) — 6.3% savings
- 5-day Park Hopper ticket: $440.00 (Disney) vs. $413.00 (aRes Travel) — 6.1% savings
Also, no matter where you get your tickets, you’ll need to reserve a Disney Park Pass through your park’s website. Because the parks are limited by capacity, you’ll need to check availability for the date you want to travel — BEFORE purchasing your tickets. If things look good, then you’ll connect your newly purchased tickets to a Park Pass using your My Disney Experience account.
Here’s a list of some Disney ticket sellers — keep in mind that some sites may actually be MORE expensive than Disney! (Make sure to check as many sites as possible since prices fluctuate based on the season.)
- Orlando Fun Tickets (Disney World only)
- aRes Travel (Disneyland only)
- Undercover Tourist
- Get Away Today
- SoCal CityPASS (Disneyland only)
- The Official Ticket Center (Disney World only)
- Orlando CityPASS (Disney World only)
Never buy tickets on Craigslist or eBay. They can’t be verified for their authenticity, and you do not want to travel all the way to a Disney park only to find out your tickets aren’t legit.
2. If you’re only planning a 1-day trip, buy your tickets direct from Disney.
Rest assured that when you’re buying a 1-day ticket direct from Disney, you’re getting the best price. The best prices we’ve found from third-party sellers match Disney’s direct price, and in a few cases, these tickets are MORE expensive through the third-party sellers.
Also, you can’t even get a single-day ticket for Disneyland through third-party sellers. They don’t exist, but even if they did, they wouldn’t be cheaper than Disney’s base price.
In general, you should get your tickets mid-week to save $50. Regular 1-Day ticket prices for Disneyland (not including California Adventure) start at $154 if you go on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. So, go on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to get the Value Ticket price, which starts at just $104.
Value Tickets aren’t available in the peak season, though. So plan ahead and go when they’re available.
3. Book a Costco Disney vacation package to save up to 25%.
Costco Travel offers specials and all-inclusive Disney Resort and cruise vacations that you can book online.
Costco deals for Disney World include up to 25% off Disney Resort Hotels, up to a $150 Disney gift card, and special perks like memory photo packages included for free when you purchase an all-inclusive vacation.
Costco deals for Disneyland include a variety of discounted multi-day vacation packages. You’ll receive up to a $245 Disney gift card, Magical Extras savings at Downtown Disney District, and a collectible Disney pin and lanyard with purchase.
Plus, Costco Executive members get 2% back on all travel purchases up to $1,000.
4. Use airline miles to book your Disney vacation.
Although airlines offer their own vacation packages, they do something Costco doesn’t — they accept airline miles as payment.
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.
Note: Park admission can’t be bought with miles.
We even found a way to fly your entire family to Disney for free using your miles.
5. Get up to 42% off park tickets with a military, teacher, or student discount.
Disney World’s military discount offers 4-Day Park Hopper passes for $296 (savings of $124) and 5-Day Park Hopper passes for $315 (savings of $135). There are also 3-Day Park Hopper passes for $225 (savings of $165) and 4-Day Park Hopper passes for $260 (savings of $160). You need to purchase tickets on Base or at participating military sales outlets.
There are discounts for teachers and students at Disney parks, but it depends on what union you’re associated with if you’re a teacher or what university you go to if you’re a student.
If you’re a teacher, you’ll need to call your teachers union to see if they offer any discounts for Disney park tickets.
Only universities near the Disney parks will give students a discount. For example, if you go to UCLA, you’ll get $1 off your 1-Day ticket to Disneyland or $6 off your 2-Day ticket to Disneyland.
Here are some items you’ll need while at the Disney parks:
6. Get a few Disney pins online to do the Disney pin trading at the parks.
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!
7. Pick up a free button if you’re celebrating a birthday, first Disney visit, or another special occasion.
You can get a button for your first visit, birthday, anniversary, or really anything else special, and Cast Members will acknowledge your celebration. They also offer blank buttons that say “I’m Celebrating ____” and you can fill in your own reason.
Most of the merchandise shops have these at the counter, so just ask! Also, you might get special perks just for wearing your button.
Staying at a Disney Resort hotel? You’ll get a phone call from a character wishing you Happy Birthday.
8. Don’t rent a stroller! Bring your own cheap stroller even if you have to ship it to your hotel.
Stroller rentals inside Disney parks 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.
If you don’t want to pack it on a flight, look into shipping it to your hotel. Most hotels will hold on to packages if you mail it to yourself; you can pick it up when you check in.
Note: Disney parks have a limit on the size of your stroller, so make sure it’s no bigger than 31×52. Wagons are not allowed at the park.
9. Buy ponchos before you get into the park.
When it rains in Disney parks, the lines tend to be shorter, so instead of going home, you should take advantage of the shorter wait lines. But no one wants to be wet, so instead, you should bring a poncho to the park.
Ponchos sold in the park start at about $15. Plan ahead and get a bunch of Amazon ponchos for about $0.75 each. That saves you $14.24 per poncho!
Ponchos are necessary if you’re going to Disney World in the summer, as you’ll get hit with at least one quick downpour per day. Also helpful if you don’t want to get at all wet on Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run.
Here are a few more things you should pack when you go to Disney.
Here’s how to beat the crowds at Disney parks:
10. Check the Disney crowd calendars before you buy your tickets.
The best way to know when the least amount of people is in the park is through crowd calendars. There are several online, but here are a few of our favorites:
- WDW Prep School: Provides an explanation for each season and why certain dates are optimal for your Walt Disney World vacation.
- Is It Packed: Let’s you know the day-by-day estimate of the number of people in the park. It also gives you recommendations for the best times to go into the park.
- Undercover Tourist: Not only gives you the best days to go into the park, but it also lets you know the events that are going on in each park.
Note: Generally speaking, January and September have the best prices and lightest crowds.
11. Skip the food lines; order ahead using the parks’ apps.
You can order all your food ahead of time (and pay!) via the app. This way, you can skip long lines for your turkey legs and Dole Whip. All you have to do is order the food, check in when you’ve arrived during your dining window, and pick it up from the counter.
12. The free FastPass is gone; budget $20 per person per day for the new Lightning Lane.
Free FastPasses at Disney Parks have been replaced by Lightning Lanes which will cost $7 – $20 per ride, or you can purchase Disney Genie+ which can get you unlimited Lightning Lanes for the day. It will cost you $20 per person per day.
Plus, we have several other ways to beat crowds at Disney parks.
Here’s how to beat restaurant prices at Disney:
13. Bring your own food into the parks.
This is the biggest tip most people forget about. The best way to save money on food at Disney parks is to just pack your own food. You could shop at a nearby grocery store, but I love the option of getting groceries delivered to my room via Amazon Fresh (free delivery for orders over $35) or Walmart Grocery Delivery ($9.95 delivery fee).
Plus, there are several ways to save some serious cash with Amazon Grocery.
14. Never buy water on your Disney vacation because you can always get it for free.
Did you know that you can get a free cup of water at any counter-service restaurant? This way you can save $4 – $6 on a bottle of water.
All you have to do is ask for a cup of water, and the Cast Member will hand you a small cup of water. If you want a larger cup, just ask. Or bring an empty bottle into the park and refill at stations scattered around the park (typically in dining areas).
If you’re on a Disney Cruise, you can get water at any of the soda fountains for free, so be sure to bring a bottle.
15. Buy kids’ meals & popcorn buckets — they’re the best value.
A Disney parks kids’ meal comes with a main entree, side, and small drink for about $7 – $8, while an average adult meal at a Disney park costs $11 – $16 (or $2 or less when you order the item a la carte). Consider getting a kids’ meal to get the Disney restaurant experience without the price (and if you think you’ll still be hungry, bring snacks).
The Popcorn Bucket is a collectible plastic container that costs $10 – $12, but after that first purchase, you get popcorn refills for $2 throughout your time at the park — the cheapest snack available.
We’ve heard that if you bring your popcorn bucket on your next Disney vacation, Cast Members will still give you the $2 deal.
16. Make dining reservations as soon as you possibly can.
Eating at Disney’s fine dining restaurants is expensive, but if that’s on your list, know that you must book ASAP — especially for high-demand restaurants like Be Our Guest at Disney World.
You can make reservations up to 180 days before your trip to Disney World and 60 days in advance at Disneyland. Plan your meals ahead, see menu prices, and make reservations now at Disney World and Disneyland.
If you’re making reservations for a 7:20 a.m. breakfast, you might be able to get into the parks even earlier than the 8 a.m. opening. Just make sure that you’re doing it on a day that doesn’t have Extra Magic Hours.
Don’t try to walk into a restaurant that you know is booked and try to get a seat. It simply won’t happen.
17. Staying at a Disney Resort? Buy that refillable mug.
Disney’s Rapid Fill mugs are a blend of technology and convenience because they have an RFID chip in the bottom that connects to soda machines. You can refill the mug at any Disney World resort (not Disneyland resort hotels or any of the parks) with water, soda, coffee, or tea.
The mugs cost $19.99 — or they’re included with a Disney Dining Plan — and they’re active for seven days from purchase. Individual drinks start at $3.99, which means you’d have to refill your mug at least 5 times over the course of your stay to cover the $19.99 price.
Don’t bother trying to cut corners to buy one of these mugs on eBay — it won’t be useable.
Make sure you read up on all the ways you can save at Disney restaurants.
Here are some Disney Tiktok tips that will never work:
18. Beware Disney Tiktok tips; you may end up losing your bags.
Some Tiktokers urge folks to take their bags to security and claim it was left there and just pick it up later.
The problem with that is that the items will enter Disney’s Lost & Found system, which typically takes 24 hours to get into their system, and up to two weeks to return to the owner.
This feels like a really risky hack that could end up with you separated from your bags for a long time.
We also have a whole list of Goofy Disney Tiktok hacks that will never work at the parks.
Here are the best hacks you need for Disneyland:
19. There are a lot of freebies for you at Disneyland if you ask.
Everyone loves freebies, and we found a ton that you can get at Disneyland. If you find more on your trip, let us know so we can share the freebies around.
- Captaining the Mark Twain boat — generally, the captain of the Mark Twain boat will ask a family with a small child to help pilot the Mark Twain boat.
- Jungle Cruise Map — after you’re done riding the Jungle Cruise attraction, ask a Cast Member for a map, and they should give it to you for free (supplies limited).
- Free Disney Character drawing — when you head over to the Disneyland Animation Academy and participate in the art class, you can get the picture that the animator draws. This will depend on how willing the animator is to part ways with their drawing, though.
- Holiday Freebies — depending on when you go to Disney, Cast Members give away items related to the holiday (ex. During the Mardi Gras season, they give away beads).
- Free Chocolate — if you go to the Pacific Wharf and visit the Ghirardelli’s shop, you’ll get free chocolate.
- Free Sourdough Bread — across from the Ghirardelli’s, Boudin gives away sourdough slices. It’s suggested to combine both the bread and chocolate to make a chocolate sandwich.
- Free Stickers — Cast Members have a stock of free stickers that they give out to kids. If you ask them, they should be able to hand them out to you. Ask the Janitors (white outfit) since they have fewer interactions with the guests.
- Senior Wilderness Explorer Badge — if you complete the Senior Wilderness Explorer challenge at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, talk to a Cast Member, and they will hand out this special sticker.
- Free Disneyland coupons — restaurants will give out coupons to different souvenir shops. They are given a time limit, though (ex. Coupon expires 20 min after food purchase).
20. Make sure you know how to use boarding groups to ride Rise of the Resistance and WEB Slingers.
A boarding group is like a way to save your spot in line to ride certain attractions. If you don’t get a boarding group, you can’t ride that day.
Boarding groups are assigned every day at 7 a.m. and again at 12 noon. To get a boarding group, log in to your account on the Disneyland app and look for “Virtual Queue,” click on the “join boarding group” button, and pick the attraction you want.
When it’s your time to ride, you’ll get notified by the app with a 1-2 hour time frame to make your way to the attraction.
You can order Lightning Lanes for these rides, but they are separate purchases from Disney Genie+, so you’ll end up spending around $15 per person for these rides.
You can learn all the ways to stay in rides and out of lines at Disneyland.
Here are some of the best hacks you need for Disney World:
21. Join a 90-minute timeshare tour to pay for your Disney World tickets.
This isn’t for everybody, but if all the other ways to save on tickets turn out to be a bust, consider paying for a Disney ticket by listening to a sales pitch for a timeshare.
The Orlando Tourist Bureau offers a list of available timeshare presentations — check it out and see if you qualify (you have to be of a certain demographic and income level to qualify).
You’ll get free breakfast or lunch and you’ll need to stay for the entire 90-minute presentation, but at the end, you’ll get a free $100 Visa gift card to use toward your Disney tickets (or whatever else) — whether you sign up for a timeshare or not.
Note: Timeshare tours used to offer free Disney tickets, but due to Disney Parks’ limited capacity, you can only get tickets direct from Disney.
22. Don’t park hop until at least 3 p.m. to reduce wait times.
If you have a park hopper ticket, you’re able to switch parks as of 2 p.m. — but that’s when most people want to switch. At this time, you can expect the commutes between parks to take around an hour long.
If you go an hour later, you can reduce that wait time.
23. Get your Disney merch at the Disney Character Warehouses.
The absolute best place to get your Disney merch is the Disney Character Warehouses located at the Orlando International Premium Outlet and the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet.
Every item that isn’t sold in a Disney Store gets shipped to these warehouses, so all the merch is at a discounted price.
Our Walt Disney World hacks can help you save money every time you go to the parks.
Here are some of the best hacks you need for a Disney Cruise:
24. Save up to $650 when you go on a cruise mid-September, before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, or early December.
Basically, think of the time of year you wouldn’t choose to go because it’s inconvenient: that’s the best time to go.
Any time kids are out of school is a no-go if you want to save up to $650 on your overall trip. We’ve compiled a price comparison for trips in 2021:
- September (17-20): start at $2,418
- Labor Day week (10-13): start at $2,947, savings of $529
- October (22-25): start at $2,422
- Halloween week (Oct. 29-Nov. 1): start at $2,892, savings of $470
- November (12-15): start at $2,961
- Thanksgiving week (Nov. 26-29): start at $3,612, savings of $651
- December (10-13): start at $3,135
- Christmas (Dec. 17-20): start at $3,652, savings of $517
25. Book a year in advance or last minute for the best prices.
Disney releases cruise itineraries at least one year in advance — in May for the next year’s fall dates and in October for the next year’s spring dates. So in October, Spring 2023 cruise itineraries will be released.
Booking as soon as possible will give you better rates on cabins. As cruises begin to fill, Disney ups the price on rooms.
If you miss the early booking window and you’re flexible and OK with a little risk, aim to book a last-minute cruise (a month or less in advance). This is the second-best opportunity to save on the overall cost of the trip.
And this is just the start of all the Disney Cruise hacks that’ll save you big.