Woman with long brown hair tied back with a minney mouse bow, taking picture of Disney castle

How to Do Walt Disney World on a Budget

By Alecia D. Blair, Military Saves Communications Strategist & Outreach Manager, AFC® Candidate, FINRA Foundation Fellow

Think that a Walt Disney World Resort vacation is not in the budget for you and your family? Think again!  

“A Walt Disney World Resort vacation can be tailored to fit many different budgets,” says Happy Garner, a military spouse and concierge vacation planner with Ears of Experience, LLC. “The key is to plan ahead, start saving early and utilize military discounts when applicable.” 

Here are five ways, according to Happy, to save big when planning your magical getaway and do Disney on your terms. These military discounts are good through Dec. 19, 2017. 

  1. Save on tickets: Thanks to Walt Disney World Resort’s four or five-day Military Promotional Tickets, military families can save about 50% percent on the cost of tickets to Walt Disney World’s four theme parks—Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. 
    While these discounts are not guaranteed, Walt Disney World has been offering them for years. Eligible service members may purchase their tickets at participating U.S. military sales outlets. Use this list to help you track down your installation’s Morale Recreation & Welfare/Leisure & Travel Office. 
  2. Save on hotel: With Disney’s military discount promotions on hotel rooms, you can save up 40 percent off of room rates and stay right at the resort—just a free monorail, boat or bus ride away from the theme parks. 
    Shades of Green, an Armed Forces Recreation Center, is located right on the Walt Disney World Resort grounds. Offering year-around specials and discounts to eligible members of the U.S. Armed Forces, this Department of Defense resort is another great option when considering accommodations. 
    If you’re looking to save even more money, shop around for a hotel room just outside the resort in Orlando and use a ride-booking service or rent a car to and from the parks each day. You’ll need to pay for parking with the latter. Always ask whether the hotel offers a military discount. Always. 
  3. Save on food: It’s no secret. Eating at Walt Disney World is expensive, and the cost of eating while on your Disney trip can skyrocket if you don’t have a plan. 
    For maximum savings, brown bagging your meals is a great option, and Disney allows this. If you need to supplement your sandwich, search for a less expensive park snack, such as a lemonade slushy or Mickey Mouse shaped-pretzel. 
    The Disney Dining Plan can save you money on food if you plan your meals out and maximize it. And children under 3 eat free when dining at a buffet-style meal.  Be on the lookout for off-season fall promotions that offer the Disney Dining Plan for free. However, you cannot bundle military discounts with free dining. 
  4. Save on entertainment: When staying at your hotel or resort, be sure to take advantage of all the free activities offered, such as free shows or movies. Check out Disney Springs for military discounts on dining, shopping and entertainment, plus free performances! 
  5. Save on photography: Disney photographers are at all of the parks, ready to capture your magical moments. Thanks to a huge military discount on Memory Maker, recording your Disney fun is easy and much less expensive. Memory Maker gets you unlimited downloads of photos and videos and everyone gets to be in the picture. Usually $169 for an advanced purchased, military members receive the same service for half the price—$84! 

If a Walt Disney World Resort vacation is on your family’s wish list, don’t go into debt to make the dream a reality. Take the Military Saves Pledge and set your goal to save money each month towards your vacation. Then use these tips to make the trip more affordable and go enjoy the magic! 


“Like” Happy on Facebook to learn more about future military discounts at Walt Disney World.

Learn how to make your family’s dreams come true with a budget-friendly trip to Disney! #militarysaves >> http://bit.ly/2v0Og8b

Tweet this now

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | May 12, 2014

    When opening an account with a bank or credit union ask about overdraft, ATM & other fees that may be in fine print. http://bit.ly/2IoelBh

Saver Stories View all »

A Plan for Success

Written by Super User | April 26, 2012

I’m Staff Sergeant Robert Zuniga and I have been an active duty Air Force medic for eight years. I plan on staying in long enough so that I can retire at 20 years. I have always been interested in personal finance and would like to share how it IS possible for me and my stay-at-home wife and two kids to not only save and invest a ton of money but also have a lot of responsible fun as well on 'low' enlisted pay. You CAN do it too!

First off, we write down our goals and separate wants from needs.


Savers Pledge Leads to Savings Success

Written by Super User | October 13, 2011

My name is Rob and I am a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve. My financial success is a huge result of the Military Saves Campaign.

My journey began five years ago after marrying my wife, Lisa. We entered our marriage with no savings plan in sight, carrying debt and living in a tiny apartment. After seeing an advertisement for Military Saves, we decided to grab the reigns of our finances and implement a positive financial plan.


Airman Succeeds Through Dedication to Building Wealth Not Debt

Written by Super User | October 13, 2011

I came into the Air Force at 23 years old in 1993 with about 12 outstanding bills (hospital bills, car loan, car insurance, school loans, credit cards, etc.). You name it, I had the bill. Thanks to the Family Support Center, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, and many other sources, I now have no outstanding bills.