CommentaryFTC Record

How to Visit the Happiest Place on Earth on a Friendly Budget


Cinderella’s Castle on Main Street U.S.A at the Magic Kingdom (Photo: C. Pastrana)


By Chrissie Pastrana

Walt Disney World is known as the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” but many people feel like they need pixie dust to afford to go. Using these essential travel trips, you will be able to head to the most magical place on earth without having to spend your life savings and be able to add to your Mickey and Minnie Ears collection. In 2023, the average price for a family of four to go to Walt Disney World, excluding discounts, promotions, and airfare, was between $4,600-$6,300. Including airfare can add an additional $1,000 to your vacation.

Tip #1: Visit the parks during non-peak times.

The non-peak times are the best time to go to Disney World because the prices for resorts and the ticket prices are cheaper. Genie+, the FastPass service, is also more affordable during non-peak times. The best times to go to Disney are as follows: January 18 – February 15, March 1-10, April 17-30, weekdays in the first half of May, the second half of August, most days in September, most weekdays in October, and weekdays in November and December.  

There are various reasons the prices are in this wide range and a matter of traveling during the peak vs. non-peak times. Price increases typically occur during the peak holiday season, school breaks, and summertime. The peak travel times also mean longer wait times for rides in the parks and “resorts on property” selling out. According to Undercover Tourist, the busiest time to go to Disney World is Jan. 1-8, Jan. 13-17, Feb. 16-27, March 11- April 16, Weekends in May, Nov. 2-6 (for runDisney’s Wine and Dine event), the week of Thanksgiving, and the week of Christmas through New Year’s. Additionally, the months of May to Labor Day are also peak times to go to Disney World because of the Epcot Flower and Garden and Food and Wine Festivals. Additionally, starting in August, the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party makes its debut in the Magic Kingdom.  


Tip #2: Utilize the Disney World website.

This is important for people to look at because there is a tab for special offers that can help you save money on resort hotel rooms and tickets. Please note that there are additional offers for people who are Disney+ subscribers, Disney Annual Pass Holders, Disney Vacation Club, and Florida Residents. However, anyone can utilize the offers if they apply to the time you plan on traveling to the parks. To find the special offers for the next couple of months, head to to see all the current offers. 

CLICK for Disney Special Offers, Deals & Discounts

Tip 3: Avoid buying ticket add-ons.

When buying park tickets, there are additional add-ons that you can purchase to enhance your vacation that can raise the price. According to, “One of the biggest reasons why people might want to skip the park hopper option is the cost. The park hopper option is an additional cost on top of what you pay for the base park ticket. If you’re trying to do Disney World on a budget, choosing the park hopper option can be a pretty significant cost.” The ticket enhancements are optional because the price can increase by hundreds of dollars. According to, the starting price for a base ticket, one park per day, is $109.00 before taxes and fees for anyone ages ten and over. The hidden secret to scoring those magical ticket deals is to purchase more than one park ticket, and the website also states, “Save $20 per ticket when you purchase 3-day or longer tickets online as compared to the price at the ticket window!” Also, the other hidden secret is to check the date you are going because ticket prices vary depending on the day. It is important to consider that because it can save you and your family money in the long run.  

Epcot entrance (Photo: C. Pastrana)

Tip #4: Buy Disney Gift Cards before your trip.

Still trying to figure out what to get your Disney fanatic for their birthday or holiday? Disney gift cards can help you save money on merchandise, snacks, and meals and be used toward your hotel and park tickets! Also, if you have a Target Redcard, you can get 5% back on your Disney gift card purchases. Who doesn’t love even more savings (or Target)? To save even more money on your vacation, buying gift cards leading up to your trip can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It also helps when you have kids, and they can buy all the Disney merch without you having to dig into your pockets. So now, you can buy those Disney shirts and snacks worth melting for.   

Tip #5: Bring food and drinks to the parks and buy merchandise outside of Disney.

Let’s be real: the prices for food and drinks in the parks are overpriced and can get expensive, especially when buying water for a family or traveling in the summer when it’s over 100 degrees in the parks. The average price for a bottle of water in the parks is $3.75; for a family of 4, that’s a whopping $15 for just water. When I go to Disney, I always utilize Instacart, Amazon Fresh, or Walmart Plus to order cases of water and snacks and have them delivered right to my resort hotel. I also schedule my grocery order the day before I arrive in case of substitutions that need to be made. You save so much money doing it this way and have the flexibility of bringing your own food and drinks into the parks.

Megan Moves, on YouTube, also shares her tips on saving money on food and drinks in the parks. Also, bringing a cooler can alleviate any stress if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Mady Kravitz, who goes to Disney regularly and has dietary restrictions, always brings food to the parks. “As someone who has multiple food allergies, I like to bring in my own snacks and drinks to save money and be able to enjoy going to the parks on a budget.” When it comes to buying merchandise, it can become pricy. Instead of paying $40 for a t-shirt at the World of Disney store in Disney Springs, check out the Disney Character Outlet outside of Disney World to find discounted items from the parks for less. People can discover affordable Disney merchandise at the gift shops on International Drive and the surrounding Target and Walmart near the parks.  

While the magic of Walt Disney World may seem out of many people’s budgets, many strategies exist to make your dream vacation a reality without breaking the bank. By following these essential travel tips, you and your family can transform your Disney dream into a budget-friendly adventure.  


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