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How to Save Money on Your Next Disney Trip

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Walt Disney Day is Dec. 5. For some, that could mean busting out the Disney ears, spending a few days exploring one (or more) of the parks and helping their kid meet their favorite princess.

But a hefty bill can come alongside the joy of being transported to the “Most Magical Place on Earth” or another Disney park. In fact, according to a new survey from LendingTree, 18% of Disney goers have racked up debt from a trip. And it’s no wonder: A one-day, one-park ticket for Disney World in Florida costs $141.74 on average — which doesn’t account for upcoming price increases (effective Dec. 8) or include things like Park Hopper passes, food and drink and souvenirs.

Still, there are ways to save money without compromising too much on the experience. If you’re planning to celebrate Walt Disney Day or set a trip around the holidays, here are four ways you can save.

4 ways to save money on your next Disney trip

No. 1: Pick your upgrades carefully

“Some upgrades can be great and make a real difference in your trip, but not all will,” says Matt Schulz, LendingTree chief credit analyst. “Your best move is to do your homework. Read reviews and articles about the upgrades to see what people think of them and their value, and decide from there.”

Going to a Disney park is about having fun. So if a Lightning Lane pass for your favorite ride will enhance the experience, go for it. But make sure to create a budget for those upgrades, and keep tabs on that spending so you don’t overdo it.

No. 2: Bring your own food and drinks

Theme parks are notorious for inflated food and drink costs, and Disney parks and resorts are no exception. In fact, dinner at California Grill (at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in Florida) costs $89 per adult and $39 per child. That’s $256 for a family of four with two adults and two kids —not including tip or tax. The LendingTree survey found that 56% of Disney goers who racked up debt found that in-park food and beverages were more expensive than expected or budgeted for.

“The good news, however, is that you can make those high prices a moot point by bringing your own food and drinks along with you,” Schulz says. “It may add a little bit of extra work to your vacation, but the amount of money you can save makes this absolutely worth the effort.”

If nothing else, try bringing easily portable items, like water bottles and snacks, to save your dollars for the experience of having a good meal in a restaurant.

No. 3: Use the right credit card

Rewards credit cards can go a long way in helping you save money. And to save money on a Disney trip in particular, Schulz says you may want to consider the Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card.

With this card, you can earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, you can also get extra discounts and rewards on select purchases at Disney locations and a special intro APR of 0% for the first six months on select Disney vacation packages or purchase of a real estate interest, followed by a 16.99% to 25.99% variable APR. The card does come with a $49 annual fee, but Schulz says it’s worth considering.

As an alternative, he recommends 2% cash back cards, like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (both of which charge no annual fee).

“Also, if you’re taking a road trip to get to the parks, consider a gas credit card that could give you discounts when you fill up,” he says. “Be wary of the interest rates on gas station chain credit cards, though. Those can reach 30% or higher.”

No. 4: Hunt for discounts

Going to any theme park is going to mean your wallet is going to take a hit. But that doesn’t mean you have to (or should) pay full price for everything. For those willing to do a bit of digging, there can be significant savings for Disney trips.

For example, there are options for:

  • Current or former military service members
  • Florida residents
  • Disney credit cardholders
  • Annual passholders
  • Disney+ subscribers

The key, says Schulz, is to find the discounts you qualify for and make sure you aren’t leaving those savings on the table.

 

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