Everyone knows that Disney costs a lot of money. Part of the Disney magic is that your wallet gets magically lighter by the end of a trip! Still, there are ways to save money if you are willing to do some legwork.
One of the toughest things to save money on are Disney park tickets. Unless you’re planning on actively avoiding the parks, you are going to be out a couple hundred of dollars.
Here are some of the ways you can save money on park tickets – and some ways you can stretch your Disney park tickets further!
Open a Disney Vacation Account
The first thing I’d suggest doing is opening a Disney Vacation Account. However, unless you need to for budgeting reasons, I wouldn’t recommend using these the way they are intended. Disney wants you to put money regularly into your Disney Vacation Account. You can then “cash that out” to pay for your Disney vacation. Every $1000 you cash out gives you a $20 Disney gift card, so 2% back.
To get this $20 gift card, your account needs to be open for 120 days, which is why I recommend opening the Disney Vacation Account now, which will require $10. Don’t give Disney any more of your money than that right now if you can help it; don’t let them earn the interest!
Buy discounted Disney gift cards
So if you’re not using the vacation account as intended, how will it help you save money on Disney park tickets? Well the key is purchasing discounted Disney gift cards. Usually you can find a discount of 5%, which adds up. Here are some ways to get discounted Disney gift cards:
- Buy gift cards at Target with a Target Redcard (5% off)
- Purchase gift cards at an office supply store using a card like the Chase Ink Plus that offers 5X points at supply stores (5% back)
- Buy gift cards at wholesale stores like Costco or Sam’s Club (4-6% off)
- Purchase gift cards when there are fuel point bonuses at grocery stores like Stop and Shop or Kroger (up to 5% back)
If you are resourceful, you can find ways to save money on the gift cards and every little bit adds up. There are more involved methods, but I’ve shared some of the easiest ways to save money on gift cards here.
Add all your gift cards to your Disney Savings Account
What I like to do after I’ve bought all the gift cards is load them into my Disney Savings Account. So instead of having twenty $50 gift cards I just have $1000 loaded in my Disney Savings Account that I can use to pay for Disney park tickets. (Alternatively, you can combine all your gift cards into one card with a maximum value of $1000.)
This adds up. Let’s say I saved 5% on buying the Disney gift cards and then loaded them to the Disney Savings Account. When I go to buy my tickets on Disney’s website, I can use that $1000 from my twenty $50 gift cards to pay for them.
How much have I saved? The 5% discount means I paid $950 for the gift cards, plus I receive a $20 gift card for using $1000 from my Disney Savings Account. Overall I’ve saved $70 – which doesn’t sound like a lot but at Disney every dollar counts!
Remember incremental costs for Disney park tickets are low
Let’s look at another important thing to remember when you’re buying Disney park tickets – the incremental costs go way down when you add more and more days to your ticket. A four day non park hopper ticket costs $325, a five day non park hopper costs $340. As you add days from there until day seven it costs $15 per day, from day 7-10 it only costs $10.
So if your family can spend more time down in Florida, I’d highly recommend it. For a family of four the difference between four and five day tickets is $60 – less than the $70 you saved using the Disney Vacation account!
Obviously Disney makes this cheaper because they want you to stay on property longer in their hotels. But if you are willing to stay off site you can save literally thousands of dollars on a week long trip – so you can really use this to your advantage. (Last year my family decided to forego spending $2400 at a moderate resort for two rooms and instead rented a four bedroom house for a week for $900.)
Stretch out your time by adding the waterparks option
You can add four days of waterparks for $64 per ticket. So if you don’t want to add extra park days, you can do this to extend your vacation by four days. I’m not going to go too in depth hear but check out Traveling Mom The Deal Mommy’s post!
Consider an annual pass
Finally, if you are the type of family that must visit Disney every year, consider an annual pass. You will get all sorts of discounts – free parking, Memory maker, discounted hotels – but most importantly you will likely save on the cost of buying two sets of tickets. All you need to do is stagger your trips so that you return less than 12 months before your first day in the parks, which more or less works out to a year! For more on the math behind this idea, check out this old post.
Disney park tickets are expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to give Disney all of your money. With some elbow grease it’s possible to save money on your tickets. It’s also important to learn how to glean the maximum value from your tickets. These are just the techniques I use, how do you all save on your Disney park tickets?