12 Disney Tips: How to Figure It Out: Without Breaking the Bank

Disney is a well-oiled machine and Disney is a wonderful place to visit, but knowing what your cost is or will be helps decide what you want to do. Disney is a quality experience and you will pay for it, but it is well worth it.


-is this your first Disney trip?

-Adults only?

-Trip with kids?

-Age of kids?


-If this is a first time experience for any adults in the group and it is an adult only Disney trip; I would go 3 days to the park but not beyond that.

-If it were a first time visit with little kids, I would do two days at the parks if they are young children.

1. Things You Should Know As You Make Decisions

Price per Night at Disney Hotels

-Disney Campground: $55.00 USD per Night and up

-Disney Value Resorts: $110 USD per Night and up

-Disney Moderate Resorts: $204 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Resorts: $345 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Villas: $385 USD per Night and up

*Disney Dolphin and Swan: $219 USD per Night and up

Price One Day at One Park

– Magic Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $129 USD

-Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $122 USD

Price Two Days (one park per day)

$104 USD per day per person

Price Three Days (one park per day)

$101.67 USD per day per person

Price Four Days (one park per day)

$95 USD per day per person

2. Should you Fly or Drive?

It really depends on where you live and your financial situation. I would recommend pricing your trip at $.55 / mile and thinking about the cost of hotels on the drive down to Disney and returning and your cost to driving with stress.

Coming from Ohio, I recommend flying; in 2 hours; you can be in sunny Florida.

Southwest Airlines Card starting at $35.00 USD each way. This link is a referral for the Southwest Credit Card and if you sign up; you will receive 40,000 miles which is enough for 2 roundtrip tickets to Florida if you spend $1000 USD on the credit card in 3 months. Then you will just use the points to travel. Please keep in mind that the tickets do have a $7.50 USD tax each way.

Frontier Airlines for $39.00 each way  (prices start here and go up)

Allegiant Air for $35.00 each way (prices start here and go up)


3. Should You Stay On Disney Property?

Price per Night at Disney Hotels

-Disney Campground: $55.00 USD per Night and up

-Disney Value Resorts: $110 USD per Night and up

-Disney Moderate Resorts: $204 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Resorts: $345 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Villas: $385 USD per Night and up

*Disney Dolphin and Swan: $219 USD per Night and up

Depending on your price range, staying on property makes the Disney experience much better.

What Does It Include:

  • Disney’s Magical Express (free transportation from the airport to the hotel -roundtrip)
  • Eligibility to purchase the Meal Plan
  • Luggage Tags (free Mickey Mouse Tags)
  • Coupons for Disney Springs and Arcade
  • Disney Luggage Tag (yellow) that allows you drop your bags at the airport and Disney will pull the luggage off the carousel and drop in your Disney resort (it will take 3-4 hours after you arrive for the luggage to make it to your room so pack a set of clothes if you are traveling at night)
  • Buses to each park every 15 minutes (sometimes less) and bus to Disney Springs every 20 minutes
  • Magic Bands (room key, wallet, meal plans, fast pass- all on the wrist)

4. Should You Get a Meal Plan?

This is really a personal preference and it depends on how much food you will eat. There are different meal plans, but if you plan ahead and book reservations for food in advance you will be able to maximize your experience. Let me explain.

The Disney Dining Plan for a 3 night stay in the Value Resorts cost $452.94 for two adults (no kids). The Disney Dining Plans you receive based on the number of nights you stay. I stayed Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and checked out on Monday. This means I have 3 days of the meal plan.

The Disney Dining Plan includes 1 table service, 1 quick Service, and 2 Snacks. I think this is the best one and have gotten it for years and years. Since we stayed 3 nights for 2 people: 6 table service, 6 quick service, and 12 snacks total or 3 table service for me, 3 quick service for me, and 6 snacks for me.

More Information on the Dining Plans

A table service is an entree, dessert, and drink

A quick service is an entree and drink

A snack can be a drink, cookie, chips, ice cream, pretzel, etc.

Disney Dining Plan Breakdown (all USD)

Table Service: Chef Mickey’s: 107.00 (character meal)

Table Service: Coral Reef Restaurant: 107.00

Table Service: Crystal Palace: 107.00 (character meal)

Quick Service: Be Our Guest: 60.00

Quick Service: Pop Music Dinner: 45.00

Quick Service: Casey’s Corner: 45.00

Snack: Water: 3.00

Snack: Water: 3:00

Snack: Churro: 4.25

Snack: Churro: 4.25

Snack: Pretzel and Cheese: 5.75

Snack: Coke: 3.25

Snack: Coke: 3.25

Snack: Croissant: 4.25

Snack: Croissant: 4.25

Snack: Nilla Wafers: 3.99

Snack: Bagel: 3.99

Snack: Water: 3.00

Total: $517.23 was the cost. In this case, I only paid $452.92. – Definitely worth it.

Again, you really need to know what you will do to decide if it is worth it.

5. Should I book my meals and experiences before I go?

This depends on if you want to have sit down meals and character experiences or if you would like to grab hot dogs on the go!

If you are looking at doing a character experience, you should definitely book before going! As soon as you decide that you are going to Disney and the dates are confirmed; call and make the reservation. Typically meals and experiences disappear as you get closer to the day you are leaving. You will give a credit card number to reserve and as long as you cancel 24 hours before; you are not charged.

6. What Do I Do if My Character Experiences, My Restaurant Choice, and the Castle are not Available?

There are three ways to deal with this….. 1. choose different days at different parks to see if that makes a difference. 2. Call in early in the morning and late in the evening to see if something has opened. 3. Use the MyDisney App and check Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner times on the app and Book if it opens.

7. Should I use the MyDisney App?

The MyDisney App is easy to download from iTunes or Google Play. The App provides you with park wait times by ride, allows you to book breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and allows you to select FastPass.

How to Use the MyDisney App


8. Should I do a park hopper with my ticket price?

What is a park hopper? It is an extra charge for you to be able to go to one or more parks in a day. Usually it is an addition $20 USD added to the price per day of a park.

If you are on a short trip, I would recommend staying with one park per day but if you have a lot of extra energy and are okay with the time moving to a different park; then by all means — go for it! In my teen years and twenties, I did the park hopper; now that I am in my 30s; I do not see the need for me to do that. Again, personal preference.

Price One Day at One Park

– Magic Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $129 USD

-Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $122 USD

Price Two Days (one park per day)

$104 USD per day per person

Price Three Days (one park per day)

$101.67 USD per day per person

Price Four Days (one park per day)

$95 USD per day per person


9. I can afford to stay at a Deluxe Resort, but am I over paying?

There are so many options and places to stay, but what are the most important options for you?

Do you want an experience where you ride a boat into Epcot or Hollywood Studios? or Would you prefer to take a Monorail into Epcot or the Magic Kingdom? Are you okay with taking a bus everywhere? Do you want a club level concierge or can you survive with a basic room? Is an overwater bungalow part of your necessary experience or a giraffe outside your window? Any and all of these experiences are available depending on where you stay.

I have stayed at all levels of Disney Hotels and have always had a pleasant experience. Just know that the more you pay; the more options available at your resort.

10. Someone in my party has food allergies; should we avoid the Disney Dining Plan?

I have several food allergies and I have found that Disney accommodates and does their best to provide a wonderful food experience regardless of the allergies. In fact, I vacation at Disney more often because of their carefulness and mindfulness with food.


11. I saw that you can save some money by not having your room cleaned each day; should I take advantage of the savings?

It is a personal preference, but if you need towels or extra soap; you can still call the front desk and they will bring your items to you. You will need to be in the room when you order additional items. For the 3 night stay, we received $20 USD in a gift card for not having our room cleaned daily.

12. This is our first visit to Disney, Do you have to see the Magic Kingdom?

The Magic Kingdom is a must!

The history of Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, and how things came to be are so interesting!

A few things that will provide perspective!

Walt Disney believed in 4 core concepts for Disney World:

  1. Safety

  2. Courtesy

  3. Show

  4. Efficiency

Walt had an immense sense of patriotism, seen by Hall of Presidents and the representation of American flags, but there is only one real flag and there is a ceremony in the morning and at 5:15 daily.

All American flags around the park have an additional stripe or star, so they are not “real” and do not have to be raised or lowered. The flags also serve as lightening rods as Orlando has a lot of lightening strikes.

The time period for Disney World is Victorian; you will notice outfits, cars, and fire trucks are from this period of time.

Think about Disney World as a movie set!

When you walk down Main Street; there is a park bench with Roy Disney and Mickey and there is one of Walt and Mickey closer to the castle. On the windows walking down Main Street; you will see names of people and companies. The names of people pay homage to those who contributed in design, architecture, or business transaction. These names and businesses are essentially the credits that would be in a movie.

Several companies were created in order to buy the land mass in Central Florida; if people knew Walt Disney was buying it the price would have gone up. Walt paid 180 USD per acre and later went for $80,000 USD per acre in the 1960s.

You will come to Central Avenue off Main Street; this is a decompression zone; quiet spot to chill to avoid the hustle and bustle of Disney. On this street, you will see 2nd story windows open and the sound of tap dancing; this keeps the story going. Only a few people will take the time to stroll down this street and only 1% will see the details.

Disney is about the 1%.

If you look at the Castle from when you first walk in, it appears that the castle is so far away. As you get closer, it becomes larger. There is a carousel right in front of the Castle and it is there to provide excitement and to draw people in.

You will notice the Magic Kingdom has several areas: Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

If you want to experience something pretty cool: November 1 in the Magic Kingdom is Halloween and November 2 is Christmas- overnight parades, lights, and decorations change in 12 hours.


As you leave Main Street and go to Adventureland; you will notice that you cross bridges (transitions) from Main Street to Adventureland and as you change locations; so does the sounds, music, and ground. You will notice the illusion of the ground looking like “off road”

There are over 600 horticulturists who take care of the plants and landscape.

The Jungle Cruise is a fun filled experience; lots of hidden messages and items.

The totem pole in the Jungle Cruise has several faces and one of those faces is also seen in the Haunted Mansion- check it out.

As you pass by the spear throwing natives on the Jungle Cruise; listen closely; the voice says “I love disco”

The Tiki Room had the first animatronic bird; the bird told a story. Above this Tiki Room, is the illusion of a thatch roof; which is really recycled aluminum.

The Worlds Fair is New York; Disney was to create 4 attractions: 1. It’s a Small World 2. Abraham Lincoln (who spoke and read the Gettysburg Address), 3. Carousel of Progress 4. Fords Magic Skyway- 1964 Mustang told the story through a radio in the car- became the people mover (Haunted Mansion and the People Mover)


Is under a large portion of the Magic Kingdom that allows cast members to travel without being seen.

The utilidoor has costumes, food, storage, pipes, etc. all under ground. This is the only park that has this; goes directly under Cinderella’s Castle, Down Main Street and into Fantasyland.

More posts about Disney will come!


Just Ask!


A travel, home, & lifestyle blog written by Heidi Stevenson. Follow along for affordable ways to travel, sophisticated and savvy style, expensive looks for less for the home, and everyday style



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  1. 5.23.18

    This is a fantastic post, and super helpful!! 🙂 Thanks!

    • 5.23.18
      trendywithapassport said:

      Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!