TMSM Explains: Free Things to Do and Money Saving Ideas For Walt Disney World Part 1

$$$$$Whenever people ask about how to “Save Money At Disney” in the Nation we see the same answers pop up a lot. Answers like  “Ask for a free cup of ice water instead of buying bottled water.” “Ask PhotoPass Photographers to take a picture with your camera.” and “Check out Kidcots, the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, and Wilderness Explorers because they are free with your admission.” On this week’s TMSM Explains we want to share the first part of a three part series that will share unique free or money saving ideas, next week we will explore even more options!

  • Never SPEND money to get tips on how to SAVE money. There are tons of free money saving ideas that pop up on Google, Pinterest, even Instagram. Paying others to tell you how to save money is counter productive.
  • Use a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney Destinations. A GOOD agent like our sponsor Dreams By Design Travel will be as hands on or off as you want them to be, but they will also monitor sales and ensure you are getting the best possible applicable deal. Just remember when pricing out a trip, TAs work hard to price out trips for you, so please don’t just use them to do your legwork. It costs you the same to use a TA or book directly through Disney Travel, but a TA only gets paid for their time and services if you book through them. Also don’t forget, if you book your trip directly through Disney you have 30 days to transfer your reservation to a Travel Agency like Dreams By Design if you want their help. This includes Bounce Back Offers at Walt Disney World and hold deposits made onboard Disney Cruise Lines. TMSM’s Sponsor Dreams By Design is a wonderful, ethical and honest group of Agents that would love to help you book and plan your Disney Destination Vacation as well as help you save money!!
  • If you booked a Magic Your Way package get familiar with the discounts and freebies that come with it! That little card in the back of your “Incredibles” themed booklet can get you discounts on select merchandise and food at Disney Springs, free miniature golf and more!
  • DO THE MATH!! Believe it or not, Free Dining is NOT always the best deal. Price out a sale package and then compare it to the room only special with the tickets and dining plan you intend to book and compare those prices.
  • Open a “Vacation Savings Account.” Yes, Disney has it’s own savings program, but look into a Capitol One online saving account, or one that is similar to it as the interest you earn on that account very well may be better that the $20 you earn on your $1000 in a Disney Savings Account.
  • Are those gift cards you are stockpiling to get $5 or 5% off really saving you money? Unless you are buying gift cards directly from money in your bank account, they may be COSTING you money. Don’t forget to take into account interest charges that credit cards will charge you.
  • Many Disney fans are Annual Passholders, Disney Chase Visa Card holders, Disney Vacation Club Members or D23 Members. If you are one, remember to take the ID card associated with your membership, and print off a copy of your membership in park discount perks before you leave home. Also, always ask at the register if they offer discounts for any of these programs and which discount is better.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you in the parks. Yes, you can ask for free water at select locations, but sometimes when the heat hits you, you may not be near one of those locations. Carrying a refillable bottle full of cold water or even a Camelbak will help with those “Oh my I need water NOW” moments. If you take a hydration backpack, make sure you put your bag’s bladder in a gallon Ziploc in the case of a rare tear. Also pick a pack that has pockets so it can double as your gear bag.
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  • If you are a Florida Resident or DVC member, look into Disney’s Tables in Wonderland program. This dining discount club lets members save 20% off food and alcohol at over 100 locations at the Walt Disney World resort. It also gives members complimentary Resort Valet for dining purposes. It is $175 for Florida Residents and  $150 for Walt Disney World Resort Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. The trick to TIW though is making sure you will SAVE more than $150-$175 before you purchase it, meaning if you won’t buy more than $700 in food and alcohol in a year, TIW isn’t for you.
  • Pay attention to your dining receipts. On occasion some counter locations print merchandise discount coupons on their receipts.
  • Look into splitting things. If there are two or more members in your party and you both want ice cream, do the math. A shareable sundae or drink may actually cost less than two individual scoops of ice cream or sodas.
  • Take medication with you. No one wants to get sick on vacation, but headaches, heartburn, etc. happen. Carry travel packets of Aspirin, Allergy meds etc. with you to the parks. Recently we have discovered the First Voice Relief to Go line of medication. These fast acting waterless packets come 10 to a box for about $7 on Amazon, making them at least half the price of the park’s $3-$4 single pack medications. Also, by carrying a few “to go” packets in a Ziploc in your bag, you have them the minute you need them.
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  • Take extra sunscreen and pack after sun care products. Holy rusted metal Batman! Have you ever bought aloe at Walt Disney World or on a Disney Cruise ship? You can buy two or three of the same item at home for the same price!
  • Pay attention to your airfare prices even after you have booked. The majority of airlines will price match a special if a sale drops after you have bought your tickets. While most of these airlines will only issue you credit in the amount of price difference, but this will still help you save on your next flight.
  • While this is one that everyone mentions, I honestly feel it is a big must remember. Pack snacks! Disney lets you take food into the park with you, so why not save a little money and have snacks on hand when the munchies hit? This also applies for breakfast. All the resorts quick service locations sell larger size milk, so why not pack instant oatmeal or single serve cereal packets with you and not only save money on breakfast, but also time in the morning? Instead of standing in line in the counter service location you can eat cereal in your room while your family is getting ready in the morning. Also carrying snacks to the park may help you avoid those hangry impulse overly expensive binge snacking moments.
  • If you aren’t on Disney Dining Plan look at how you are buying your counter meals. If you are hungry, but really don’t want those fries, skip the meal and just get the sandwich. Personally, and I am sure this may surprise many, I don’t eat much in the day, I am a dinner eater, meaning I rarely eat breakfast and I tend to eat a small lunch. At the 2015 TMSM big meet-up I realized kid’s counter meals worked best for me. Chicken nuggets and grape or carrots work perfectly for my eating habits and cost half the price of the adult meal I rarely finish.
  • Look into how you really plan on spending your days. If you think you MIGHT park hop, ask yourself is the price of Park Hopper REALLY worth it for me? At $55 or more per person the cost of hopper really adds up. And if you only plan on using it for say 1 day, the cost may not be worth it.

If you loved these free, helpful money saving ideas keep an eye out for “Free Things to Do and Money Saving Ideas For Walt Disney World Part 2” next Sunday!!

Michele
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Michele

Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the books “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” “How Many Sleeps Till Disney?” and “How Many Sleeps Till Disneyland?” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 107.3 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. ~ I enjoy writing personal perspective blogs, doing TMSM Meet Ups for our readers, and keeping the constant interaction going with others, sharing the Disney Magic to people when they can’t be at their Happy Place.

Michele has 6367 posts and counting. See all posts by Michele

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