6 Tips On How We Save Money for Walt Disney World Trips

Disney World trips are expensive! They can be cheaper than other vacations, as we discussed before. But they are expensive! Over the years we have come up with a combination of ways to help us save money for our Walt Disney World trips. By themselves, each of them are small and may not cover all your expenses. BUT use them in combination and you will be surprised at how fast you can save.

Automatic Bank Drafts

On the first and the fifteenth of the month, we have our bank set to deduct a certain amount of money from our main checking account. This money is moved into a special account we have just for family vacations. When we don’t have a trip planned, we have the deduction set to $25-50. When we have a major trip planned like a cruise or long stay at Walt Disney World, we deduct more. For each of our cruises, we planned it far enough in advanced so that we could divide the total amount needed into small deductions. Using this method we were able to have enough money for each cruise without using the other methods, pulling from others savings or charging the money. We even used this method to give another family a trip to WDW – but that’s a blog post in itself!

For example, our first cruise we booked it about 20 months before the trip.  The total cost was $3,000.  So we divided that by 40 times (twice a month) and set the bank draft for that amount.

$3,000 / 40 = $75

We have also done a similar plan but started smaller and ramped up the amount as we got closer to the trip.

Buy Disney Gift Cards

Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and more stores now stock Disney gift cards. When we run into one of these stores for a few items, we’ll grab a $25 or $50 gift card. Not on every trip, but once a month or so. By the time a trip comes we usually have several hundred dollars’ worth of gift cards. We usually use these gift cards for our souvenirs and meals.

Shopping At Target With Red Card

Do you have a Target Red Card? If not go get one now! It’s not a credit card. It’s a debit card. Target uses your routing number to deduct your shopping charges through an ACH transaction instead of going through Visa or Mastercard. This saves Target millions in transaction fees. Target passes this savings to its customers by giving you 5% everything you buy with the Red Card.

See where I’m going?

Buy your Disney Gift Cards with the Target Red Card! Yes 5% isn’t much, but it can add up. For our first cruise we calculated we would need about $800 for tips and excursions. That was our on board total before we even set foot on the ship. Since we had saved that money using the bank draft tip, we took $800 of that money and bought gift cards at Target. That saved us $40! Of course we took that $40 and bought another gift card!

Disney Visa Card

Years ago we got a Disney Visa card from Chase. The card works like most reward credit cards. The more you spend, the more points you accumulate. We try to purchase things like groceries with the card and then pay off the balance immediately. This can add up to several hundred dollars of spending per month. We will then cash in the points every couple of years. Chase sends you a gift card with the money on the card. You can use that card like a credit card.


For birthdays, Kelli and I have reduced the number of presents we buy each other over the years (18 years this past weekend). We often now exchange Disney gift cards instead of presents! Then on our next trip we each have money set aside for our shopping.

Odd Change

How often do you come home from lunch or errands with some odd change in your pocket? Or did someone pay you back money they owed you in cash?

Take all the money and put it in a “kitty”! My dad taught me at young age to save your money this way. He had several of these stashes around the house.

Bonus Tip – 52 Money Week Challenge

I completely forgot about this when I wrote this post yesterday!  So you get a bonus #7!

We started doing the 52 week money challenge two years ago.  This is a great, easy way to save money for your WDW Trip!  You start by saving $1.  By the end of the year you’ll have $1,378 in your account!  You can do this with a piggy bank or at your real bank.

We move the money each Friday.  I have a recurring reminder set in my task list for this.

The first week you move $1 into savings, the second week $2, 3rd $3, and so on.  In no time you’ve save up serious money!

We decided to do this as if each of us were saving $1, so we are doubling the amount each week!

Here’s a chart to make it easier, and see how fast your savings will grow!

52 Week Money Challenge Chart

Let us know if you try any of these tips!

Hope this helps you save up for your next Walt Disney World trip quicker!

Piggy bank image provided by:


2 thoughts on “6 Tips On How We Save Money for Walt Disney World Trips

  1. BJs Wholesale Club sells a $100 gift card for $96. I bought 3 cards, paid $288, charged on my Discover card, then cashed in Discover $$$s to pay the bill, so basically got the cards for free. I do also use the Disney Visa too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.