This week we talked about saving money when visiting Orlando theme parks on the Orlando Theme Parks and Attractions live show on Facebook. I wanted to take some time on the blog and add some more information in case you wanted a quick reference post to bookmark or pin for your next Orlando theme park trip. Our family has always tried to save money where we can on theme park visits. I hope some of our tips for saving money on Orlando theme parks will help you to make the most of your Orlando vacation.
Saving Money on Orlando Theme Parks
These are tips from our experiences. If you think something should be added, please let me know.
Saving money on souvenirs
Souvenirs can be an expensive part of any theme park visit. While you love the visit, you can easily end up going over budget buying special items to remember your trip. Let me share a few tips to make the most of your souvenir shipping.
Take advantage of the Disney Outlets
Orlando has two Disney outlets where you can buy official Disney merchandise at a fraction of park prices. These are a great place to pick up shirts, costumes, pins, ponchos, and autograph books.
See some of what you can find from the outlets here:
Take advantage of eBay
eBay can be a great place to find deals on souvenirs your children will enjoy for a great deal less. I like to head to eBay for things that fit with a Disney bound costume or help to make the experience more fun for kids.
Don’t be afraid to say no
You can give your children an amazing adventure without buying all the things. Say no if you need to in order to stick to your budget. Many parents head on vacations to give their kids the world. It can be very difficult to say no when you are on vacation but there are ways to have the magic of vacation without spending money. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that aren’t in the budget so you can splurge on the things that are.
Put your budget for the day on a gift card
If you know you will only spend a certain amount, put that on a gift card. When the gift card is empty, you are done spending. Gift cards are a great way to manage your spending. It also helps that you can get discounts on some gifts cards through Sam’s Club and Costco. Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Target have ways you can get discounted Disney gift cards. By buying these gift cards you can stay on budget and save money.
Saving money on food
One of the quickest ways to kill your theme park budget is on food. I have some tips to help you save on food so you can enjoy your vacation.
Some of the theme park restaurants have larger portions. Choosing a location with larger portions can give you the ability to share a plate with a child or another member of your party. A few locations to keep in mind are KC’s Hot Dogs in Magic Kingdom, Pecos Bill in Magic Kingdom, Backlot Express in Hollywood Studios, and Leaky Cauldron in Universal Studios. When the kids were smaller we would get them an adult portion to split.
Save gift cards throughout the year
Another way to save on food is to purchase gift cards throughout the year. Places like Sam’s club have an option where you can buy $50 gift card at a discounted rate. Put these away through the year to save for the trip. It won’t be a huge savings but it will take some of the money you spend to a lower amount.
Bring snacks with you
Another way to save in the theme parks is to bring snacks with you in your park bag. Make sure to check with the park you are visiting. Each one will have a different policy on what is and is not allowed to come in. Packing snacks can help you to avoid spending money on expensive in park snacks and let you invest your money on food you know you want.
Bring food with you
Depending on the park, you can bring food with you. We’ve been known to bring an insulated lunchbox with ice packs into the park in order to bring in lunches. We have also been known to bring fresh fruit in a lunch box. Produce can be a welcome option in the middle of a hot day in the theme parks.
If you have food allergies the food rules might be adjusted for you to accommodate your special needs. Reach out to the location before going to find out what special rules they make to help you enjoy the parks without worrying about cross-contamination.
Pick one special treat for the trip
Want to leave without missing out on certain treats? Do you ever feel like it’s not Disney if you don’t have a Dole Whip? It’s not Universal without a butterbeer. Plan for those items. It’s ok to fit splurges into your budget so that you don’t leave disappointed. I know that for us a Dole Whip is a must as are the gluten free chicken nuggets at Pinnochio Haus.
Save on Orlando area hotels
Hotel expenses can add up when you are planning a vacation. However, there are a few ways to save some money if you are deliberate about it.
Book during an offseason
Prices are going to be higher when you book during the busier seasons. Adjusting your trip to one of these off-seasons will give you the advantage of a less pricey room or a potential upgrade. During busier seasons the prices go up and the options for upgrades are much fewer.
Go with a value or off property hotel
This will be a great way to save money. However, you will want to make sure the property you book has frequent shuttles so that you can avoid spending more on rental cars and parking fees. With parking at most attractions climbing over $20 easily, that rate can add up quickly. The other thing you will want to ask about are resort fees. Many Orlando resorts have an additional fee depending on what property they are on.
Rent a rental home
If you are traveling with a large group it can save you money to book a rental home for the time you are visiting instead of booking multiple rooms in a hotel. You will be able to get plenty of space and pay less for the experience. Budget for parking fees though. With these, your parking will not be included.
Look into bundle deals
Some of the parks you visit will have special pricing if you book your park tickets and hotel together. I know that Universal Studios is incredible at that. You will often be able to get a high quality hotel at a fraction of the price when you bundle your stay with the park tickets.
Saving on Orlando Theme Park Tickets
Theme park tickets are going up in price each year. Planning or a theme park trip can be stressul but I have a few tips or saving on theme parks.
Watch their social media and website or sales
Many of the theme parks will run seasonal promotions that you can take advantage of. By following their social media or spending some time on their websites you can be the first to know about any special promotions they are running.
Sign up for the Florida Newsletter
I run a weekly newsletter featuring news from a variety of attractions as well promotions they run for tickets. By signing up or the newsletter you are able to see announcements without having to hunt them down.
Plan for Black Friday shopping
During Black Friday many of your favorite attractions will offer Black Friday promotions. Make sure to keep an eye on my newsletter or on their social media for updates. You can score some really awesome deals if you are able to save up and buy at this point.
What is your favorite way to save money on Orlando theme parks? Let me know. Let’s have a conversation about it.
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