Disney World Hacks: Cheap Budgets & Backpackers

Budgeting, Disney Gear, Food, the app, oh my! Here is  everything that you need to know for budgeting your trip to Disney!

Do you want to go to Disney World but think that it’s too expensive or you won’t have enough vacation time?
If you’re dreaming of planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you’ve come to the right place!

I’ll teach you

The packing list links found in this article are “affiliate links” meaning if you were to purchase items through the links, I would earn a small commission. Purchasing through the link is at no extra cost to you & helps support me in my entrepreneurial endeavors.


Driving into Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom.

People are always questioning how Brock and I travel as often as we do. And the trick is that we hack our trips in every single way possible. We are always finding the best deals & only spending money our on things that are of value. Our frugal decisions while abroad allow us to spend more time doing what we love- travel.

A huge shout out to my future-mother-in-law for helping us hack Disney. She has spent a great deal of her time researching all things Disney and hacked over 5 trips in the last few years! She is certainly a Disney Genius!

Disney World Hacks: Cheap Budgets & Backpackers: Budgeting Your Magical Vacation

Best (& Worst) Time of Year to Visit
Prices of tourist destinations are always changing depending on it’s demand. Holidays, summertime, & special events result in ticket prices dramatically rising.
Visit this website to see a list of the best dates & the worst dates to plan your trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) Parks.

Cheap (er) Disney Florida Trip Tickets

  • Undercover Tourist
  • Click here for a detailed list of specific niche companies offering Disney deals!
    A word of warning, only buy discount tickets from an authorized dealer. Do your research before handing over your credit card.

Getting There


The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom is intricate & beautiful!

Disney Gear
People at the Disney resorts and themeparks are obsessed with their Disney merchandise! If you want to buy shirts, mouse ears, or any other Disney style items, I urge you to buy them ahead of time. For a fraction of the price, purchase your Disney gear from Amazon, EbayKohls, Etsy, & Torrid.

There are many options for food while at Disney for all budgets.
Side note: Disney World is very helpful at accommodating for food allergies. They will send their manager or cook out to talk to you about your allergy before you order your meal!

  • You never have to pay for water since you can get free filtered water from any Disney counter-service.
  •  Utilize Disney World’s fast, counter-service options for inexpensive meals.
    • The meals usually cost around $10-12, however, I did see as high as $20.
    • Bonus: these meals tend to be a large size. My future Mother-in-law and I  would order together & split a meal between the two of us.
    • Here is a list of the Disney Counter Service Options.
  • Order off of the children’s menu
    • The meals cost around $6 or so!
    • The meals are still pretty large. You get the main item, fruit &/or fries, & a drink.
      I was starving after a long day of Disney & I was stuffed after eating mine!
  • You can also bring your own food into Disney!
    • Pack hard-boiled eggs, sandwiches, fruit, salads, & other foods that don’t require a microwave.

EPCOT was my favorite park of the 4. I absolutely loved the travel theem & high-tech rides.

Disney World Hacks: Cheap Budgets & Backpackers: Hacking your WDW Trip

Download the My Disney Experience App on your Phone.
The My Disney Experience App will be immensely helpful while at the parks. You can view a map of Walt Disney World and it’s theme parks and resorts. The app describes the wait times for attractions. It gives you the easy ability to reserve and view FastPass+. You can view and download your photos from the PhotoPass among many other helpful uses! The app certainly helped us make the most of our experience. Side note: your use of My Disney Experience App will drain your phone’s battery. Scroll down to see my portable charger recommendation.

Enjoy the Rides Before Everyone Else
If you were unable to get a Fast Pass for a coveted ride, it’s time to create a strategy. There are a few ways to enter the park before everyone else.

  • Rope Drop:  This is the budget friendly option. What does Rope Drop mean? It’s when you get into the park before it opens ensuring that you’re at the front of the line to get into the park. You’re one of the first people in & you dash for the ride guaranteeing that you only wait for a short period of time.
  • If you don’t want to deal with the stress of rope dropping, make a Breakfast Reservation. An early breakfast reservation grants you access into the the theme park before it opens. This hack grants you the flexibility to enjoy the rides, as long as they are open, before or after you’ve eaten your breakfast.
  • Extra Magic Hours: If you stay at the Resorts, keep an eye out for Extra Magic Hours. On certain days, specific resorts are allowed into the theme parks earlier, as well as allowed to stay later.

During our trip, this ride at Hollywood Studios had a THREE HOUR wait!

Take a Break
Disney World is exhausting. It’s a lot of waiting in lines, being in a sea of people, and lots of time spent on your feet. Half-way through the day, find a nice place to sit down & relax or even head back to your hotel room. Down-time will help you decompress & prepare for a night of fireworks & light shows.

Magic Kingdom Hacks:

  • Double check that you’re on the right monorail. When you’re in a rush, the monorails are not well marked. Unfortunately, we rode the wrong monorail, resulting in us being severely late for our breakfast reservation.
  • Ride the popular rides during the light shows or fireworks. The lines will be substantially shorter!
  • At the beginning of the day or end of the night, walk through the shops on the Main Street to avoid the huge crowd of people. The shops are all connected, allowing you to rush past the crowd.
  • At the end of the night, don’t take the express monorail to the parking lot. Instead, take the resorts loop monorail to return to the parking lot… This hack is not well known, resulting in you getting to your car more effciently.

Holiday weekend=uncomfortably busy at the Disney Theme Parks.

Packing List so that you don’t have to buy things from Disney:

Extra Hacks

  • Their are Disney Photographers standing at the most beautiful themepark spots. Instead of using their service, ask the photographer to snap a photo of you and your group, on your camera.
  • Don’t bring your selfie-stick, it will be confiscated during the security check.

Photo from where the Disney Photographer was standing.

Well friends, there’s my tips & tricks to hacking your cheap (er) magical vacation to Disney World. I hope that you have a blast at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios! A long weekend at Walt Disney is full of pixie dust, ooh’s & ahh’s, & a ton of fun!

Disney World Hacks: Cheap Budgets & Backpackers: Now start planning your Walt Disney World vacation (today!)

Your first actionable step is to figure out your finances. Decide your current savings & then how much can you realistically put away each month. Next determine your budget for transportation, accommodation, and themeparks. Lastly, pick the best dates & start planning your trip based on your finances!

Want more travel hacks & inspiration, sign up for my newsletter here!

For more hacks visit:
“Travel More For Less Money, 17 Tips on How to Spread Your Budget While Traveling.”

The packing list links found in this article are “affiliate links” meaning if you were to purchase items through the links, I would earn a small commission. Purchasing through the link is at no extra cost to you & helps support me in my entrepreneurial endeavors.