How to Save for Disney World: 7 Tips to Save for a Disney Vacation

by | Nov 30, 2022 | WDW Blog, WDW News

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Wondering how to save for Disney World? We’ve put together a list of seven ways that make it easier to save for a Disney vacation.

Inflation continues to make the cost of everything more expensive, from meat and dairy at the grocery store to fuel at the gas station to the cost of a Disney World vacation. Even without adjusting for inflation, Disney World ticket prices have been soaring in recent years, which makes it more difficult for the average family to save for a Disney World vacation.

While there are ways to do Disney World on a budget—hello, Value Resorts and prepacked PB&Js—you’ll still need to save a lot of money to fund your trip to Disney World.

How Much Does Disney World Cost?

Wondering how much to save for Disney World? The price of a Disney vacation varies depending on:

  • How long you stay
  • How many members are in your party
  • How much you spend on accommodations, dining, souvenirs, and experiences

The average family of four can expect to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000 for a week at Disney World, though budget-savvy travelers who are OK with camping at Fort Wilderness and eating Quick-Service all week may spend less while families who opt for a Deluxe Resort, sit-down dining, and special tours and Individual Lightning Lanes may spend even more.

Pro Tip: Wondering how to save on Disney tickets? Use a certified Disney Travel Agent (it’s free!) and look for special discounts, like for military, Disney+ subscribers, and Annual Passholders.

7 Ways to Save for a Disney World Vacation

Regardless of how much your Disney World vacation will cost, you’ll probably need to employ a few tactics to save up enough money to fund your trip. Whether you’re traveling solo for a day or with your family for a week, here’s how to save for Disney World:

1. Open a High-Yield Savings Account

Having a separate savings account for your vacation fund—whether it’s for a trip to Disney, Europe, or a national park—is a great way to set aside money and not be tempted to touch it until it’s time for your adventure. Look for an online bank offering a competitive annual percentage yield (APY).

While traditional banks like Chase and Wells Fargo offer only 0.01% APY (a fancy way of talking about the interest rate), many online banks and financial technology (fintech) companies are offering upwards of 3.00% APY on savings. That’s 300% more in interest than you’ll get at Bank of America.

While you won’t get rich off a high-interest savings account, it’s an easy way to earn some extra cash every month on money you’ve already set aside for your Disney vacation. Plus, high-yield savings accounts are FDIC-insured, and many of them can be linked to a checking account with the same bank. Look for an account that offers automatic savings features like round ups, which round up the cost of debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and deposit the extra change into your savings account.

Did You Know? Having a “Disney jar” on the dining room table where family members can dump extra cash and change each  day is magical. Who doesn’t love watching the cash pile up? But you’re leaving money on the table by leaving money on the table. If you instead pick a bank account with easy ATM access, deposit the cash in your savings account to take advantage of the high interest rate.

2. Think About a Rewards Credit Card

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Disney has its own rewards Visa credit card, but savvy credit card users can likely find better credit card offers. Photo by Trisha Daab

A cash back credit card is an easy way to earn money on everyday purchases. Just use the credit card on purchases you’d already be making and pay off the card in full each month to avoid high interest and potential damage to your credit score. If you don’t think you can handle the pressures of responsible credit card management, look for a checking account that offers a cash back debit card instead.

Disney offers special Disney Visa Credit Cards through Chase, and these can be great for regular Disney vacationers. You can earn sizable sign-up bonuses by meeting specific spend criteria, and you can even earn high cash back rewards for using the card on Disney-owned streaming services like Disney+ and Hulu.

Cardmembers also have access to special vacation financing options with the card, but in general, you should not finance a vacation, as it’s a slippery slope to high-interest credit card debt. Instead, only book a vacation on a credit card if you’re able to pay it off during the 0% APR period.

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Disney Visa cardmembers get access to special photo spots, like this one at EPCOT. Photo courtesy of Trisha Daab

Disney Visas do unlock special experiences and savings at Disney World, like special cardmember photo ops and discounts on merch. However, there are far better cash back rewards cards available that will ultimately save you more money—and make it easier to save for your Disney World vacation. Instead of a Disney Visa, consider the Capital One Quicksilver, American Express Blue Cash Preferred, Citi Double Cash, or Discover it Cash Back.

3. Use Disney Gift Cards

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Buy Disney gift cards online, in stores, or in the parks. Photo by Laurie Sapp

You can buy Disney gift cards ahead of your trip to manage souvenir and food purchases on the fly. By purchasing them in advance, you’ll have less money you’ll need to access while you’re at Walt Disney World. This also makes it easier for kids to manage their impulse buys on balloons and Mickey Bars.

Rather than presents at Christmas and on birthdays, ask family members and friends to give your children these gift cards. You can also pay your kids for chores in Disney gift cards instead of allowances.

Did You Know? You can buy Disney gift cards with your Target Red Card and save 5%. That means for every $100 in Disney gift cards you buy, you’ll only spend $95.

4. Skip Meals Out

One big part of saving for Disney World—or any major expense—is understanding where you can cut some of your monthly expenses. Take a look at your budget and see how much you’re spending on dining out each month.

For example, if you’re currently spending $200 a month on takeout, delivery services, and/or dining in restaurants, see if you can cut it back by $100 and have more cheap meals at home.

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Skip the meals out and use the extra cash for dining at Disney World restaurants, like Ohana. Photo by Brett Svenson

Do this for a year, and you’ll save $1,200. That’s $1,200 that you can now use to explore the culinary delights of Walt Disney World, guilt-free. After all, Walt Disney World restaurants offer some of the best dining in the world.

Pro Tip: Still thinking about a rewards credit card for your Disney trip? If you dine out regularly—at Disney or elsewhere—consider the Capital One SavorOne card, which offers 3% cash back on dining at no annual fee.

5. Cut Other Expenses

Discretionary expenses like dining out or a gym membership you don’t use are easy to cut out, but you may be able to reduce some of your necessary monthly expenses as well. Here are some ways to save on everyday spending:

  • Shop smarter: Reduce your meat consumption and opt for more budget-friendly vegan meals. You can also save at the grocery store by purchasing frozen or canned produce (longer shelf life), using coupons, and buying pantry staples that allow you to whip up affordable meals at home.
  • Reduce utility spending: Gas, electric, and water bills are difficult to predict because they vary each month. You can cut down on utility spending, however, with small life changes like keeping the heat lower in the winter and opening the windows during the summer. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, invest in LED bulbs throughout your home, and run appliances like the dishwasher at night.
  • Look for lower prices: Shopping around for car insurance is never fun, but chances are, there’s a better deal out there. See if you can find cheaper insurance—and while you’re at it, shop around for cheaper phone and internet services too. And if you have a streaming service you barely use, it may be time to get rid of it.

Pro Tip: If you cut out a monthly expense or suddenly pay off a loan that you’re used to paying each month, continue making the payment—to yourself. Put that money in your high-yield savings account each month, and you’ll reach your Disney World savings goal even faster.

6. Get a Side Gig

Cutting expenses is one way to save for a Disney vacation, but if you want to reach your goal faster, try adding more monthly income into your budget. It never hurts to ask for a raise, but with mass layoffs dominating the news, it’s not likely you’ll get an out-of-cycle raise at most companies.

What you can do is pick up an extra side hustle, even if it’s temporary. Of course, it’s important to have balance and not overwork yourself, but if you have time to spare—and want to reach your Disney savings goal faster—consider a side hustle like driving for Uber Eats, flipping furniture for a profit, or picking groceries for curbside orders.

7. Use Extra Money for Disney

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Extra money is Disney money! Photo by Cliff Wang

While it’s important to pay down debts, build an emergency fund, and save for retirement, it’s also wise to enjoy the here and now—because tomorrow is never promised. If your retirement account is adequately funded, consider using additional money for your upcoming Disney vacation: holiday bonuses, mail-in rebates, even that fiver you found on the side of the road.

Pro Tip: Looking to save money on your Disney trip? Here are all the free things you can do at Disney World.

How to Save Money for Disney World

There’s no single right answer for saving up for a Disney vacation. Regardless of when and how you’re traveling, however, a few simple rules can help you get to your savings goal faster:

  • Set aside money in a separate savings account
  • Take advantage of cash back rewards
  • Cut expenses where you can
  • Take on a side gig to fund your trip

Happy saving!

Written by Timothy Moore

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Boom baby! Timothy Moore is excited to serve as a WDW Magazine contributor and resident Disney Renaissance expert. When he's not drinking around the world at EPCOT or gobbling down Mickey Waffles for breakfast, he can usually be found with his partner hiking and kayaking the great outdoors, putting off writing his novel by playing Nintendo Switch, or telling his dogs Goomba and Blooper that they're the best boys in the world ad nauseam (because they are).
Timothy Moore

Written by Timothy Moore

Boom baby! Timothy Moore is excited to serve as a WDW Magazine contributor and resident Disney Renaissance expert. When he's not drinking around the world at EPCOT or gobbling down Mickey Waffles for breakfast, he can usually be found with his partner hiking and kayaking the great outdoors, putting off writing his novel by playing Nintendo Switch, or telling his dogs Goomba and Blooper that they're the best boys in the world ad nauseam (because they are).