How I do Walt Disney World and Universal on a Budget

Want to know how I do WDW on a budget? Look no more..

Want to know our tips and tricks to budgeting at Walt Disney World? Well, let’s get stuck in..

People tend to ask me how do I go to Walt Disney World twice a year, and I am forever explaining mine and my families methods so I thought I would share some of our tips to you lot!
We are huge Disney fans and we have such a huge passion for the Disney Parks, especially Walt Disney World. When we visit the parks, we always find more hidden facts about the park, we like to hunt down Hidden Mickeys (I’ll leave a link to explain these here) and get up to date on the latest construction of lands and rides within the parks!

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Annual Passes

That’s right, Walt Disney World have an annual pass option when it comes to tickets which works out as very beneficial to US residents and especially Orlando visitors. It is such great value and you definitely can get your money’s worth out of this ticket. Here is a link to all the information on Annual Passes.

The tickets are $829 this year, I believe and in the past years this has definitely been beneficial for us with the exchange rate of GBP and USD.
When you usually go to Walt Disney World, you will pay at least £299 minimum for a 14 day ticket (and more, if it includes the Water Parks).

As we go at least twice a year, it use to work out as you either break even, save slightly or have saved quite a bit of money from having the Annual Pass.
If you already have a 14 day ticket, you can always upgrade your passes at the parks to an Annual Pass.

If you aren’t looking for Annual Passes, then I would say to always check sites like AttractionTix for the latest deals and bundles. You cannot buy a 14 day pass at the parks.


Cheap Flights and Accommodation

We tend to go through a travel agent in the past on or the occasional Virgin Atlantic as they have been throwing out some great deals recently. These fly with Virgin and Thomson I believe and they have some incredible packages! So definitely give them a browse on ice and purple travel through ice lolly. We tend to get flights and accommodation for £500-600pp for two weeks with luggage included and then we rent a car on top of that which is must easier for us.

Non-Disney Accommodation

We think of it as ‘we get up super early in the mornings and don’t come back until midnight each night whilst at Walt Disney World. So does it really matter what hotel you have? As long as it is decent, clean, has the necessities that you need and isn’t too far from the parks then it’s great!
The Disney hotels are really great and are so lovely to go to. We stayed at the All Stars Movie Resort when I was 7 years old, but it does really bump up your holiday price unless you can find an amazing deal! I would recommend heading over to Top Villas for a browse too, as they have some gorgeous villas in Orlando!

We tend to stick with one of our favourites now which is the Red Lion, Kissimee. It is a 5 minute drive to Walt Disney World or maybe even less! You drive straight out of the hotel, down the road for 60 seconds and you’re straight onto the right entrance for Walt Disney World!

At the Red Lion in Kissimmee, depending on how many of us are going we usually get one bedroom which will come with the two double beds, a fridge and a bath with shower overhead. They have a great swimming pool and a recent addition of a sports bar and somewhere that you can get some tasty pancakes for breakfast!
It is so affordable here and we are always going back, unless we feel like going somewhere different and have found an amazing deal with the Radisson Blu Celebration which is also such an incredible hotel but a bit more pricey again!

Food, food, food

We don’t go crazy on food at the parks as we know that they can be very expensive, so we usually eat a huge breakfast at iHop or Golden Coral before we head to the parks. We are so full from having a huge buffet breakfast, that we don’t want to eat again until the evening! Some nights, we might still not feel like a huge meal so we will get something small to eat in the parks or a snack. I also completely adore Taco Bell, it is suppose to be Mexican food although Americans tend to say it’s the ‘McDonalds of Mexican’ food but I love it and it’s super cheap and affordable when you order a snack box!
Other days, we will then decide to have food at the parks and keep it as if it’s a special occasion for the bigger restaurants or dessert parties. (Check out my post on the Wishes Dessert Party!)

Every now and then, we really enjoy visiting Tony’s at the Magic Kingdom especially as we usually go to WDW when it’s Father’s Day or somebody birthday!


Souvenir Cups

Take advantage of some of the souvenir cups that WDW and Universal sell. In the past, Universal use to sell a red tall cup that was $10 and you could get unlimited refills for just $0.99 each time! But, there was never anything saying that you couldn’t reuse the cup so people would always take them back each day and it was ALWAYS a huge must for us to remember our cup each year to go into the suitcase!
Usually Orlando Informer‘s website always has the ins and outs of everything and provide so many amazing tips and I would recommend going over to TheTimTracker’s YouTube for more tips and videos on updates at the parks!

UPDATE: I believe that there is only now the Resort refillable cup for guests staying at a Disney Resort. You can only fill this up at the resort, but there are refillable popcorn buckets around $10 which you can keep refilling for $1-2 at a time for the duration of your stay!
Universal Studios I believe has a Coca Cola Freestyle refillable cup, at the moment. You need to purchase a Freestyle cup first, and then any extra additional days that you would like to use it for will cost you $8.99 plus tax.

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens also have their own variety of refillable cups. What I love about these is that there are different price ranges and sizes which is great! The refills are 99 cents plus tax AND you can use your SeaWorld cup at Busch Gardens (and vice versa!).

Annual Passholder Discount

If you own an Annual Pass, do not forget about the discounts that you receive at the parks! We use to forget all of the time or just weren’t aware of them and now we’re getting on top of them more and more each year!
You can get discounts at Pandora, all of the merchandise stores, Starbucks, restaurants, at Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) and on hotels, I believe..
Here is a link to all of the Annual Passholder Discounts for you to browse at!

We didn’t know until Christmas time, that you can get discount on the bottles of Coca Cola that you purchase but only at merchandise stores, not from the little kiosks selling snacks and refreshments around the park! For example, the merchandise store near Splash Mountain carries this discount.

Disney Transportation and Parking

Take advantage of the free Disney Transportation System! If you are staying at a Disney Resort, then there are free buses to take you to the parks. There are also buses that run from Disney Springs to all of the hotels and the parks.. People have been known to park at Disney Springs and hop on a free bus to the parks. This is most probably highly frowned upon as it will take up the parking at Disney Springs (which is now improving), other people have had to pay to park at the transportation centre also, so use this at your own risk!

Also, again with your Annual Passes you will gain free parking into all of the theme parks if you show it at the main gate to the parking lot (this goes for Universal Studios, Sea World and Busch Gardens too!). Each year that I have visited Walt Disney World, we have seen the prices of parking shoot up! It use to be $12 when we visited around 2007/2008 and now it’s up to $20 per day for a standard size car. Anything larger is more expensive like a shuttle/limo/camper/trailer/RV..

Additional Discounts outside the Parks

Don’t forget to look through the coupon booklets that you will see everywhere in Orlando. At restaurants they will have stands of them and also at Tourist Offices and Ticket Sellers. 99% of the time, you will find a coupon for the big named restaurants such as Ponderosa, Golden Coral, Red Lobster, Crab Shack, Chick-Fil-A.. Most of these coupons will be 5-10% off your bill or a ‘Kid eats free’ voucher.

I know it’s only small but if you add everything up from each day, you will see what a difference it makes! We like to write down how much we have spent each day and then we will use the extra money to splash out on gifts for ourselves or family and friends, any extra activities or restaurants we want to visit!

I tend to join up to certain restaurants mailing lists too, for example at iHop they give you a free stack of pancakes on your birthday and usually other large events throughout the year like Pancake Day!

Do you love shopping? Then I would HIGHLY recommend heading to the Orlando Premium Outlets. These are a holy grail in our family, we love to find a bargain especially when there is a Disney Outlet. That’s right, you read that correctly.. a Disney Outlet.
I would recommend getting there for the opening to get a car parking space as it’s pretty difficult sometimes! It can be hectic in the store, but it is completely worth it for the amazing finds! On my previous visit, I found a Spirit Jersey from $60 to $19.99! These items can still be seen at the stores in the parks, you can even find some special merchandise from International parks too at the outlet!

I just recently did a vlog whilst at the Disney Character Warehouse, so I’ll leave the link here!



I always highly recommend taking snacks with you wherever you go. As you will find out, the theme parks can be quite pricey for snacks although we do tend to purchase these as it’s easier than taking a bag. The snacks are really good at the parks and this is what we tend to spend on at the parks, but you can always bring your own in.
We really enjoy going to Walmart and purchasing a huge 1KG bag of mini size Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers and Sweetarts. We also purchase things like Capri Sun’s to have at the hotel (they get a bit too warm in the car), cereal (always Lucky Charms to get those sugar levels soaring through the roof!) and fruit to eat in the morning at the hotel, cereal bars to easily take with us wherever we go and always bags of Cheetos as they are my favourite and you never know when you need to munch in the car!
We basically just keep a carrier bag of snacks in the car, so we can eat them there or take them out somewhere with us.


And I feel like that is it for now until some more tips come to my mind! I might end up doing a Part Two to this post if I find enough additional tips for you but if you have any questions then feel free to comment down below and I’ll reply to them!

I really hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that it helped in some way for you all!

Have a magical day!

If you want to check out more Disney related posts:

Wishes Fireworks Spectacular Desert Party Review

Christmas at Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review

My Disney Jewellery Collection

Video: I Surprised My Mother at Disney!

Disney Theme Park Vlogs







  1. Some really great tips here will deffo be keeping them in mind, think I want to stay onsite for my first trip just to get the full experience but will deffo consider off site if I return!

    Hoodsie xx

  2. These are some really great tips… We’re staying in All Star Music when we go this autumn because we got a good deal with the free dining plan deal but when we’ve been before we’ve stayed in villas and it makes such a difference! The one my parents stayed in when they visited me on my CEP was literally 5 minutes away from Animal Kingdom so it was basically like being on property!

    Amy xx

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