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6 ways to save without looking like a cheapskate – PREP005

6 ways to save without looking like a cheapskate – PREP005

(Article last updated: August 4, 2014)

6 ways to save without looking like a cheapskate

I like to save money but not to the point of looking like a cheapskate.

Today, I have 6 tips for you on saving money on your Disney World trip that will still allow you to get the full experience.

I also have a quick tip on what I think is the very best time to visit Disney World and pay the least while being able to do the most.


6 ways to save

The main expense categories for Disney World trips are airfare/gas to get there, park tickets, hotel and food.

Here are some ways to save on all of those categories:

  1. Book your trip during a less expensive season. Here are the seasons defined by Disney World, in order from least expensive to most expensive (season dates can vary by resort):
    • Value Season – most of January (except New Year’s Day, Marathon Weekend and MLK Weekend), the first 2 weeks of February, August and the first 2 weeks of September
    • Fall Season – the last 2 weeks of September, most of October (except Columbus Day weekend), the first 3 weeks of November, the first 2 weeks of December
    • Marathon Weekend and MLK Weekend – these 2 seasons are about the same price. Marathon Weekend is often the 2nd weekend in January
    • Regular Season – last week of February, first week of March, all of April (except Easter week) and all of May
    • Summer Season – all of June and July
    • Columbus Day Weekend – this is just the 3 days of that weekend that have slightly higher rates
    • Peak Season – Valentine’s Day, the week following President’s Day weekend, the last 3 weeks of March and the third week of December
    • Thanksgiving – the whole week of Thanksgiving
    • Presidents Weekend – the 3 days for this holiday weekend have higher rates
    • New Year – applies to New Year’s Day
    • Easter – the week before and after Easter weekend
    • Holiday Season – the weekend before Christmas through December 31
  2. Start your trip on a Tuesday or Wednesday since those days tend to have less expensive airfare. You can check (update: is a better option now) for the best time to buy your airfare.
  3. Purchase your park tickets using the private link in the newsletter which is sent on the 15th of every month.
  4. Visit during a Free Dining period.
  5. Rent Disney Vacation Club points (I recommend doing it through Details on how this process works can be found at
  6. Stay at the Swan or Dolphin which have of the same benefits of on-site resorts but not all. Prices are similar to Disney Moderate Resorts. Guests can use Extra Magic Hours and on-site Disney transportation but can’t use Magical Express or charge things on a room key. You can also use Starwood points to pay for stay at the Swan or Dolphin.

Quick tip

My quick tip: I think the way to get the best experience for the least amount of money is to stay at a Moderate Resort during Free Dining in September or October. That allows you to pay the least expensive nightly rates, get free food (including the Basic Dining Plan which is better than what’s offered at Value Resorts) and visit during a less busy time.

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Shannon Albert


Sunday 2nd of April 2017

Hi Shannon we booked our vacation via a travel agency i New Zealand and are wondering if we will qualify for the summer promotion of up to 20 percent . We are staying at All Star Ports during July 2017. We have also booked our accommodation via them on 12 February and have read about the quick service promotion that was on if purchased by 12 February 2017. Can you perhaps shed some of your opinions here please? Thanks


Sunday 2nd of April 2017

Sorry Shannon the message may not have been clear, we'd like to know if we'd qualify for the promotions. Thanks

Shannon Albert

Sunday 2nd of April 2017

Hi, Feroza - I don't know how that will work for you, but I assume your agency will have info for you on that.


Friday 30th of May 2014

You talk about using the DVC points to stay at nicer places on-site. However my family usually relies on going during off-season to get the free dining plan. If you stay at a DVC resort/room during the time when they are offering free dining, can you still get free dining, since you are staying onsite? or no?

Jennifer Carr

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

No, you cannot get free dining when using DVC points. At least, that is what I have always been told!


Thursday 2nd of January 2014

We had a great time in Dec 2010 visiting for the free Dining Plan. We stayed at Port Orleans and got a ton of free food. (That's when the DP had appetizers included). There was no one there and we got to experience all the Christmas stuff for cheap.


Sunday 24th of November 2013

Oh, also: If you get your discount via "room only" sales, you can add on only as many days of park tickets as you will actually use. And this can reduce your expense, too. So you can plan a hotel day or a day off-site, and you're not wasting the cost of a park-ticket (which would have come with "free dining" or play/stay/dine packages). So we have five nights at the Polynesian, with three days of park tickets and the Disney Dining plan for the four of us, for $2700.


Sunday 24th of November 2013

We are going in late January, and found that it was much cheaper to book the "winter room only discount" at the resort (35 percent off the rack rate!) and then add on our park tickets and Disney Dining Plan --- much cheaper than the "stay, play, dine" package discount OR the "free dining" offer. The room-only discount can be found at the bottom left hand side of the My Disney Experience or regular Disney website: Click "specials offers," and then on the next page scroll down to the winter room-only thing.