14 Ways to Save Money For Your Next Disney or Universal Vacation


Well it’s a new year and let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time until Disney raises the prices on something else. Don’t fret, here are 14 ideas to help put money back to cover your family’s vacation, or anything else you would like to save for. These ideas work for whatever your dream purchase might be.

This is an article I have done previously so I’m posted ideas from HERE and adding some more.

  1. Always check for Disney and Universal deals!

Disney offers deals throughout the year, especially during times when they might have lower attendance, so if you watch you can save on rooms, get free dining, and even score gift cards.

As of the time this article was posted there is a free dining offer and room discount offer.

Universal does the same. Right now they have buy days get days for park tickets and their new value resorts will be opening soon!

Deals are always out there just keep your eyes open!  Or contact a travel agent. They do not charge for their services and can often find you amazing deals that you might not have known about.

2. Consider Staying Off-Property

Personally, we prefer to stay on-property, but it is often more costly.

Compare prices for “Good Neighbor” hotels in Orlando. Or consider AirBnB as a possible alternative.

Factor in all the prices like if you have to rent a car or use a ride share to get around. Maybe the Disney package deal is better and maybe it isn’t. Just check around and see. Travel agents can often help you here as well.

3.  Rewards Credit Cards

Another good way to save money is by using credit cards with rewards attached to them. You can often earn free flights or cash back and then put the money you save back into your trip savings.

The Disney Visa card from Chase is another great option! When you pay your bill you a percentage of money back. Then you can use it for tickets, booking your trip, buying merchandise and more.

If you use this type of card to pay all your monthly bills, and then pay it off, the reward money adds up quickly (Make sure to pay off these cards monthly or the interest will eat up any reward.)

Or book a Disney trip on your Disney Visa card. Sometime they have reward card specials going on. Then pay it off and use the reward money towards souvenirs, special event tickets or more.

The Disney Visa also gives you special access to exclusive photo ops, early tickets, 10% off over $50 at Disney stores and ShopDisney.com and more!  I highly recommend it. You can apply for a card and learn more about perks HERE.

4. Use Discounted Ticket Sites

This one is tricky. There are some reputable sites out there like Undercover Tourist that offer discounted tickets. You can save a bit of money if you aren’t using a Disney package deal. (Again figure out the costs both ways and compare.) Make sure you use REPUTABLE locations!

5. Use Coupons and Reward Apps

Couponing can save you a lot of money. I’m not talking about going the extreme couponer route, but sometimes you should look for coupons on products you use. If you are buying items you aren’t going to use simply to “save money” you aren’t saving money. So only do this if you have a deal on something you use.

Then take the money you save and put it into your vacation savings!

There are also many apps out there that can help you save. Ibotta is a great one to use at stores you use every day. Just check the app, see what’s available, buy what you use, scan in your receipt and they put the savings into an account. When you’re ready to use it just send it to Paypal or convert it into a gift card! I use it all the time and I’ve saved hundreds of dollars! Just download the app (It’s Free) and go.

Fetch is another popular receipt app that let’s you scan your receipt and it automatically finds you deals. It give you points on items that you can redeem for gift cards. You don’t have to do anything differently that you usually do. Just scan your receipt.

Plus, a lot of restaurants offer free apps with rewards and freebies if you look! Always check for deals first! Then put the saved money into your vacation savings!

6. Buy Souvenirs Outside the Parks

Before you go on your trip get shirts or toys from places like Target or Walmart. They are often much cheapter.

You can also stop at stores outside of the parks or even the Disney Outlet stores (there are 2 in Orlando too) to get yourself a deal on merchandise.

Check online. Often times items like pins, shirts, Alex and Ani braclets, bags and more are cheaper if you buy from places like eBay or Mercari.

Keep in mind you must check seller’s feedback and you do run the risk of scams.
This all ties into my next suggestion.

7. Buy Used


Thrift stores, Ebay, Mercari, trusted social media groups and yard/garage sales are a great way to save money!  I personally do this all the time! Why pay full price?

(Tampa Thrift Store-Facebook)

Sometimes you have to buy items new (like underwear), but try to shop when there are sales on those items.

When it comes to everything else consider buying used! I always find amazing things at yard sales and thrift stores. Our one chain here does a clearance sale on Sundays and Mondays where you can get items for .80. I’ve gotten new condition (sometimes new with tags) brand name clothes for .80 each!

Trusted Social Media groups and local Facebook groups are great for buying as well! You can get great deals on Disney purses, bracelets and more on Mercari and Disney Purse groups on Facebook! Take the money you save and put it into your Disney/Universal vacation fund!

8. Sell Unwanted Items

In line with number 7 on the list, sell your unwanted items.

You can sell online at secure places like eBay, Mercari, trusted social media boards or even have your own yard sale! Take all the money you make and put it towards your vacation fund! When I was a kid my parents funded a lot of our trips to Walt Disney World this way.

9. Try to Cut Down on Your Bills

Take a look at your monthly bills and see if there is anything you can cut down on.

Could you use a smaller television plan or switch to one of the steaming services?

How about your cellular phone? Could you cut extras and lower your monthly payments a bit? Or use less utilities by turning off electronics or lights you aren’t using all the time, replacing bulbs with LED ones. You could also turn down your heat a couple of degrees or turn your air conditioning up a couple of degrees.

Maybe pack your lunch for work a couple days of the week or switch to a cheaper coffee or bring your own from home.

These little swaps can add up to a lot of money and won’t make much of a difference to your lifestyle. Then take the extra money and put it away for your vacation!

10. Change or Cash Jar

This is probably a bit harder now than it used to be as most people use their cards for most everything, but if you use cash save your change!

Put all your change in a change jar or pick a specific cash denomination like $1, $5, or $10 and whenever you get that bill back as change you put it back and save it. I’ve seen people use this technique successfully.  Say you save all your five dollar bills, it adds up quickly!

11. Gift Cards

Another great way people are saving money on vacations is by buying gift cards at places like Sams Club or Costco. These stores will often have packs of gift cards at a small discount, but if you buy multiple gift cards to pay for your trip you could save a lot of money.

For example say you saved $4 per $100. You need $4,000 for your trip. Buy 40 cards (sometimes they have larger packs) 40 X $96 = $3,840 and you saved $160! Then pay for your trip with the gift cards. Or use a rewards card to buy the gift cards, then save on the cards and pay off your rewards card to get the rewards. You saved twice!

Or buy gift cards for restaurants, online services, etc. that you use often and then put the money you saved back into your vacation fund.

12. Side Jobs

If you want to make some extra money why not consider some side jobs? You can add a part-time job if you would like, or you can do some smaller projects like babysitting, mowing lawns, craft shows (If you have a special skill,) tutoring, consulting, etc.

A lot of these allow you to pick and choose what you want to do and how much time you want to spend on them. You can make some good money doing these on the side! Then pocket it all and take your vacation!

Do you have any great tips you want to share? Comment and let us know! I would love to hear them!

13. Direct Deposit or Vacation Clubs

In the past people used things like Vacation Clubs to save money for their trips. Some banks still offer this option.

How it works – You set an amount and the bank automatically takes it out weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Since it happens at set intervals you don’t miss the money and it adds up.

You can also work with your bank to arrange a set amount of money each month to go directly into a savings account. It would work like a Vacation Club.

There are also Apps and online programs that will take money out of your account at set intervals, and put it into an online savings account.

We actually use this something like this for stocks and retirement accounts. The same principle can be applied to vacations!

14. Bring Your Own Food

Disney does allow you to bring your own food into the park. A lot of people will take snacks and drinks with them to save money.

Just follow the guidelines HERE.

There are 14 ways you can save money to help offset the costs of your next Disney / Universal vacation or use these methods to save for a big purchase you want to make.

What do you think? Have any savings suggestions of your own?

Comment and let us know!

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.