The Great 'Disney Cost Cutting' Hunt

Disneyworld's a popular destination for Brits, but by the time you've bought tickets for the main parks, it's a significant extra cost on top of your hols.

So, this week I want to tap MoneySavers' collective ideas for cheap ways to get into Disneyworld, and other sights and attractions in Orlando. Did you buy a cheap ticket before you went? Did you find on offer for free tickets or money off? Did you wait until you got there to find the best bargains? Please reply and let us know.

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • Kez100
    Kez100 Posts: 2,236 Forumite
    I scoured websites for offers before we went and we bought from, a USA website to make the most of the dollar rate, a Fun in the Sun pass - three weeks of all park Disney entry and a free character meal. The pass was basically for Europeans not us but we could source them from the USA direct. This pass has now gone I believe (we went three years ago) . However, you need to suss things out at the time and bear in mind exchange rates as they all make a big difference to actual cost. We also got a free day at seaworld with purchase of a one day ticket. Again the deals depend on what is available at the time.

    For Universal people used to book into one of the onsite hotels to get front of line passes and if it was a Lowes (sp?) hotel also join their members scheme and get a few freebies in the room too.

    For shopping scour the company/shopping precinct websites before you go and print off discount vouchers.

    For hotel try and pick one with fridge, free coffee, free breakfast,perhaps small kitchen area. These things really add up for a family and a hotel with the facilities enable afamily to eat (or prepare lunches) so that the only paid service meal out needs to be the evening meal.

    All you can eat is a misnomer because I never ever left a USA restaurant hungry and I rarely have three courses. So, I consider all restaurants all you can eat!

    I don't know about airlines etc as we flew a package with Virgin with Virgin holidays but they do often have extra discount deals on bank holidays - like christmas day, so look out for those if you are intending to use them. I know most people like villas and we would if only we could afford to go again!

    Join the online disney discussion websites - they know absolutely everything! Forget waiting until you are there.You need to spend every minute of your holiday having fun, not scouring deals . It's one of those holidays that you will get more out of if you plan before you go with relative precision - so, join the discussion forums and get planning.

    Some of the above is a bit outdated as we went last in 2004 but some principles still apply.
  • spaceman5
    spaceman5 Posts: 2,716 Forumite
    i think sammcg(who has a post in the orlando sticky thread) could answer all our cost cutting questions, they seem to have booked a holiday for 5 people for two weeks in florida for the huge sum of £3:eek:
    Take every day as it comes!!
  • Edinburghlass_2
    Edinburghlass_2 Posts: 32,692
    First Post Combo Breaker
    As with any money saving you need to do your research regarding tickets for WDW and the other attractions.

    If you want to spend most days at the Disney parks then the tickets aimed at UK visitors are the best value be they 7/14 or 21 day tickets as you can park hop meaning you can visit all 4 parks in the one day if you wish whereas the US tickets mean you have to pay for the add on to park hop. This also means that when the heat gets too much and believe me it can, or indeed the afternoon rain arrives you can go back to your hotel/resort for a rest/swim and go back for the evening when its slightly cooler or just go back in the evening for the fireworks. You can buy the UK market tickets via a US website but then have to pick your tickets up or have them delivered to your hotel at a price and the price difference even with the good exchange rate really isn't a lot and you cannot buy the UK tickets on arrival in the US, they have to be ordered beforehand.

    Once you have decided which tickets you want then you need to do your research with all the UK websites selling tickets and find out which is cheapest, has no cc charges, free delivery, free meal voucher etc. and compare prices.

    If you are also looking for tickets for the likes of Universal then check the same websites for their prices and see which websites will price match other website prices and you might be able to buy all your tickets via the one website.

    Generally Seaworld/Busch Gardens/Aquatica/Discovery Cove is always cheaper to buy direct from them and look for a code to reduce the price, they are about :) A Seaworld one day ticket will give you a free return day and if you buy tickets for Discovery Cove then you can add on the others for 7 or 14 days and now a parking ticket for all their parks.

    If you want to just spend one or two days at Disney then wait until you get there and do a breakfast time share presentation and you should get a two day basic ticket and a free breakfast :D

    Beware of travel agents now offering a package to do all of the Orlando attractions as there is no such thing and they are just putting together the parks tickets and charging a lot more than buying your own separately. Thats not to say that all travel agents are dearer as Mercury Travel are pretty competitive for separate tickets. Also buying direct from Disney is dearer than using other websites.

    Some people like to have a ticket in there hands but I have used a company that issues Disney e-tickets which meant the money was in my account until only a couple of weeks before I left rather than weeks/months beforehand and they were the cheapest at the time. You get them changed for a "proper" ticket at the entrance to your first park or at DownTown Disney. You will find lots of places offering tickets when you get there and I've no doubt there are bargains to be had at the desks/kiosks but a lot do involve time share presentations.

    No money saving is easy, so research, research and research.

    As above do check out the Disney Boards, my favourite one of choice is where you'll find a very helpful UK board.
  • funkmaster_2
    funkmaster_2 Posts: 139
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    The key to a good Orlando holiday is to plan ahead.

    It's all about maximising your time - no point in spending £1000 and getting £500 worth of value out of your tickets. Better to squeeze every ounce of value out of your spend.

    A spreadsheet with what you're doing each day is the key - make Advance Dining Reservations, decide which park you'll be visiting, and buy the tickets that are right for you. Don't forget to plan in rest/shopping/swimming days.

    We worked out that we didn't want to go to the water parks, didn't want to park hop and didn't want to go to Disney Quest again so we bought a 10 day pass from the excellent Undercover Tourist ( which worked out at £300 rather than the £500 we had earmarked for our Disney tickets.

    The 14/21 day tickets are designed for flexibility and convenience, but those things cost!

    Oh, and make sure you take a photocopy of your tickets before you go because if you lose them (which happens!) you can go to Guest Relations and get replacements. Otherwise you're paying again!
  • shandypants5
    shandypants5 Posts: 2,124
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    funkmaster wrote: »

    Oh, and make sure you take a photocopy of your tickets before you go because if you lose them (which happens!) you can go to Guest Relations and get replacements. Otherwise you're paying again!

    Brilliant idea....

    I will be doing this..thanks
    “Careful. We don't want to learn from this.”
    GIRLPOWER_2 Posts: 1,382 Forumite
    funkmaster wrote: »
    We worked out that we didn't want to go to the water parks, didn't want to park hop and didn't want to go to Disney Quest again so we bought a 10 day pass from the excellent Undercover Tourist ( which worked out at £300 rather than the £500 we had earmarked for our Disney tickets.


    If purchasing from udercovertourist (we did last year) sign up for the news letter when it arrives it will give you a link to get further discout from them.


  • We are off back to Florida later this year and are doing Universal rather than Disney. Booked a 2-park 7 day ticket through Viator which costs £40 each. Massive saving on 1 day rate and gives flexibility to go whenever we want over a 7 day period - also covers access to Universal CityWalk.

    Key to a good holiday in Orlando is definitley planning! Use online forums from sites such as to get great tips and advice from real people.

    Last year we got Disney Magic Your Way tickets through Undercover Tourist. Got a 6 day ticket for the price of 3 days, much cheaper than 7 or 14 day UK tickets. OK, no park hopping or water parks included but I only wanted to pay for what I was going to use.
  • deana1000
    deana1000 Posts: 21 Forumite
    I agree with funkmaster plan ahead and spend some time deciding what you are going to do when you are there. We (6 of us with 2 kids but only 1 classed as child on the ticket front) are off to Orlando in September for 2 weeks. We are there for dd's 21st birthday and on her special day she wanted to swim with the dolphins in Discovery cove. My first thoughts were well that is gonna cost nearly £1000 more for all of us to go on top of the Disney passes and we were originally gonna get the Orlando flex plus tickets too! But after some research and ticket juggling we decided to go for the ultimate Discovery cove pass which includes unlimited access to Seaworld, Busch Gardens and the new Aquatica park. Along with an unlimited Universal/I.O.A 7 day pass thus eliminating the flex plus ticket and saving over £410 if we had bought both lots of tickets! Do buy as many tickets as you can before you go as when we went the first time we bought all from Virgin rep at welcome meeting and spent a packet on tickets!
  • I have been visiting Florida for 21 years, with our first trip in 1987.

    Disney has clamped down a lot over the years with various things like photo passes and finger printing etc.

    It is quite hard today to find genuine discounted tickets in all honesty.

    Remember Disney is the only company selling genuine tickets from new and they don't sell in bulk to anyone else to vend tickets on their behalf to the best of my knowledge!

    Back in the late 80's / early 90's, we used to buy all our tickets from the booth's on I-Drive. No ticket security existed back then and your savings were literally the difference between what the booth had purchased un-used days for from holiday makers going home plus their profit margin.

    Every now and then you would see a booth taped up after it was closed down by Disney & the police, but it would usually re-open a few days later :-)

    Sites like MSE are great but one thing I have come to realise is when it comes to trying to save money on a particular item, is if you have spent quite a while searching and found very little evidence of any significant discounts, its probably a very well controlled pricing structure and if your someone that costs their time as a factor too when trying to save (which I think everyone should, but few do) then your probably wasting your time!

    The only genuine cheap Disney Tickets that exist today as far as I am concerned are "Loss Leader" type tickets like Time Share deals for example. They do work if your prepared to give up a day of your holiday. A typical scenario is the time share company will sell you a single day ticket for $20 in exchange for you attending their seminar which is a genuine saving if you don't end up leaving having committed to spending thousands of dollars on a time share :-)

    The link below shows the gate price of tickets (remember the prices exclude tax), you can see that the daily rate is significantly reduced by Disney themselves if you commit to 10 days. If you are a frequent visitor, you could add the no expiration option and just use them over time but if you really want to get anal about saving, you would have to consider the loss of interest paying up front but thats a bit over the top in my opinion.

    eBay often tells you a lot about a product and its value, I often see tickets selling on eBay for virtually the gate price anyway (by the time you do the math on the currency) and your taking a risk that the days on the ticket are really there from the seller!
    e.g. if you buy a 5 day ticket with 1 or 2 days remaining, you only have the sellers word and won't find out until you get to the gate!

    Watch out for the optional extra's too. Disney might be expert at portraying the wholesome family values and a trustworthy company and on the whole they are but clever marketing exists everywhere in this day and age. The Park Hopper option in my opinion is a complete waste of money.

    The only time you might consider hopping from park to park would be if you have done all the parks in their entirety and probable that you would only do this on one day, so why pay to add this option to all your days. The amount of time it takes to get from park to park as well in reality its just not worth it, clever marketing that at first glance seems really useful but in reality just isn't.

    We used to own a villa for several years and one way we saved on tickets was using the resident annual passes, again they clamped down on this requiring more hardened documentation like a Florida drivers license instead of just utility bills :-(

  • Jeanmd128
    Jeanmd128 Posts: 7
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    We own a villa near Disney World and the best investment we ever made was to buy a non-expiring option on our Disney World tickets - ask as they do not often offer it. Now we just ask for a few extra days to be added each time we go so we never let the ticket run out of days.(This is done at the entrance to the parks) As with all these tickets it is the first 3 days that are the most expensive after that it is really cheap to extend.
    As a villa owner I see lots of people who have booked packages with the travel companies and they are paying over the odds. If you book direct with the villa owner and arrange your own flights and car hire - you will save money. Many travel companies offer FREE car hire but you have to pay the insurance. As a frequent visitor to Florida I can assure you that the cost of the insurance would more than cover the hire of the car, plus extra drivers, full insurance and a tank of fuel. Check out the websites to see. My latest guest to book with me was also told that if he booked with a particular travel company he had to have £10m public liability - the annual insurance he has with his bank has £5m so he would have to have their travel insurance - another extra expense. The travel companies also charge for under occupancy so if you have children that need separate rooms - they will charge you. If you book direct with the villa owner you decide how much room you want - or how little - we are licenced for 10 but that includes 2 on a sleeper sofa in the lounge - but we have had just couples. On a sour grapes note I would add that the villa owner who has travel company guests gets rubbish rates and does not get the under occupancy fee. Most owners have a vast knowledge of all things Orlando and Disney and offer a very personal service - try them and see what a diffference it makes to your holiday both in your pocket and your satisfaction with the whole experience. That's why we get lots of repeat bookers and great reviews.
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