How can you afford Disney

It always amazes me that I get asked the question “How can you afford to go to Disney so often?”.  It’s an uncomfortable question because I never know how to answer it.  Are people expecting me to tell them how much money I earn?

I do have what I like to call an “unmagical job” in the corporate world that pays my bills, but it doesn’t afford a big disposable income.  I have to prioritize my next Disney trip over most other things in order to visit as often as I do.  While I still think it’s an awkward question – I’m going to answer it in hopes that you can learn some different ways to save to visit Walt Disney World Resort.

Here are 10 things I do to budget and afford my Disney vacations

1. I don’t buy expensive clothes, groceries or entertainment at home

Ask anyone I work with in my corporate job, I don’t have an extensive wardrobe.  I keep my work clothes until they don’t fit anymore or fall apart, whichever comes first.  When I hit the grocery stores I’m always looking for the best deals and I will buy no name paper towel, garbage and recycling bags.  I don’t really spend money on entertainment at home either because I’m too old to go clubbing anymore!  When I’m in Disney I will splurge on dinners out and entertainment, but at home it just isn’t something I spend my money on.

Recycle Bags

2.  I do my own repairs at home

It’s amazing the repairs you can do with a toolbox and YouTube video!  I have fixed many things around my house by myself (the toilet running, the shower leaking and resetting the pilot light on my water heater to name a few).  All of these have saved me a bunch of money on professional service calls.  When I can’t fix it myself, I weigh the price of the call out vs the inconvenience.  For example – when my washing machine was erroring out during the spin cycle I discovered I could bypass it by restarting the machine.  It was a royal pain, running up and down the stairs twice for every load of laundry – but the price of repair was the same as 4 nights at one of the value resorts.  I held on to that washing machine as long as I could!


I don’t look quite so glamorous when I’m doing my repairs!

3.  I measure all spending in relation to Disney vacations

Before I buy anything, I think about what I could do in Disney for the same money and then determine if it’s worth it.  For example, if I wanted to spend an evening out for a nice dinner and a concert, I could easily spend $150.  For that money I could pay for a Halloween or Christmas party ticket, or 2 really great table service meals, or a night at a Disney resort – I know what I would rather have!  On a smaller scale, 3 steeped teas at Tim Horton’s would be the same as a Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom.  When you put it in to those terms, it makes it much easier to save money!

Dole Whips

I’ll trade the lovely Tim Horton’s tea for these any day!

4.  Each pay has something for Disney

I have friends at work who say they ‘pay themselves’ on every pay day – they put X amount in a retirement plan or RRSP.  I do something similar, but it’s the Disney fund!  I have a separate savings account that automatically transfers money on pay day for vacations.  It’s a great way to put the money aside before I even think about it.  If I have some extra money that I haven’t ‘automatically’ moved to my Disney fun, I buy Disney gift cards to stack away for my trip.  I use them to pay for my park tickets, my Disney hotels or even just food and treats.  It’s the best way I know to have some extra money available.  I also have a ‘side gig‘ or 2 – basically other jobs that contribute to my vacation fund.  These other jobs are basically Disney money so that I’m not bought by such a tight budget when I travel.

5.  I use the tools that my bank offers me

I have a USD bank account where I deposit the money from point number 4 – that’s where I save.  I also have credit card rewards for flights, checked bags and other travel perks.  These help me get to the Orlando area usually at a discounted rate or reasonable prices.  Find out what options your credit cards offer you and if they don’t have travel perks, get a different one!

6.  I quit smoking

After 30 years I finally quit smoking!   What I spent on cigarettes was insane, but I never gave it a second thought because I NEEDED it.  Now I choose to use the cigarette money for my Walt Disney World Vacation!  While it has been years since I quit, I like to remind myself that for a very long time I would have literally set that money on fire.  It’s how I rationalize it – and it works for me!

7.  I use Google Flights

Gogle Flights helps me find the best priced flights and the day of the week with the cheapest option.  Sometimes the better option is to be on a 6am flight to save $200!  But you also must offset that with the resort costs as well.  Sometimes the cheapest way to fly down means extra cost on the other side for the hotel stay.   Figure out the right time of year that you want to visit and try to avoid peak times.  Then calculate the total cost before committing to anything.

8. I buy an annual pass

​With the calculation of the ticket prices for multiple trips, I know what the ‘break even’ point is for me and how many trips I need to take to make it worth it.  If you’re planning to visit once or twice per year, then an annual pass wouldn’t make sense.  You then need to figure out what Disney parks you’re going to visit and if you will get a park hopper ticket or not.  These are all important decisions for your vacation plans.

Passholder Entrance

I don’t know what I would do without my annual pass!

9. I stay onsite at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts

Having the transportation included while you’re on Disney property is just a convenience I’m not willing to give up.  I’ve saved and budgeted for the trip – I don’t want to waste hours every day going back and forth to some resort that’s 30 minutes away to save some money.  While it sounds like a great idea to save on the hotel cost, you spend it in your time.

I am a Disney Vacation Club member – but that doesn’t always cover my hotel room.  Availability is not the greatest because the best time to book is 11 months in advance (and I’m not planning that far ahead!).  Often times I am paying cash for my resort and it just depends on how much money I have tucked away.  Sometimes I’m staying in deluxe resorts, and sometimes it’s a value resort, it really just depends.

Now don’t get me wrong about my Disney Vacation Club, it was the right investment for me when I bought it.  I bought in before Bay Lake Tower opened because I didn’t have to finance it for long and the Canadian dollar was good at that time.  If you have to finance it and then add the maintenance fees – you won’t be ‘saving’ money for years.  To find out more about Disney Vacation Club – see my blog here.

I need to get back to Disney

It really is my happy place, so I make it a priority in my life.

10.  I use a travel agent

Full disclosure – I own a travel agency so I guess it’s me 🙂 but that doesn’t take away from the fact that using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations will save you money.  There are so many myths about using a Disney Travel Agent but they offer so much value!  They know all of the special offers and will monitor them should they change.  They can provide information for you on the theme parks, dining plans and they will find you the best VALUE for your dollar.  Just remember that the cheapest isn’t always the best value.

There you have it, my list of things that I do at home to make sure I have money for my Disney vacations!    It’s clear that I prioritize my Disney vacations, because they are important to me.  These trips are what make me happy – so how could I not make them a priority in my life?

Do you do any of these things?

How do YOU save for your Disney vacations?

How Do You Budget And Afford To Go To Disney So Often?
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