Disney on a Budget – Our Favorite Websites

The first time we went to Disney as a family back in 2009, the number of useful resources devoted to saving money at the happiest place on earth was somewhat limited.  There were a few websites, but only a handful were very extensive or regularly updated.  Several Disney planning books existed, but few lacked the scope of information we were looking for.

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Today, you can find answers to just about anything you want concerning Disney World on the web.  We have a few favorite sites, although a quick Google search will bring up countless blog posts devoted to niche concepts concerning travel to the theme park.  And while more and more reading materials are going digital, our family still has one favorite paper-bound book that we rely on prior to our trips to Florida.

Today we share a few of our best resources when planning a trip to Disney.

1. Disney World’s Website

While this might seem like a no-brainer and ridiculous to put on the list, I wanted to incorporate it for two budget-friendly reasons.  First, Disney’s resort prices, as listed on their website, are pretty much the same as if booking through a discount travel site like Hotels.com or Expedia.  If a family is planning to put together a package including tickets, food, and lodging, they might as well at least explore options directly on Disney’s site.

Another benefit to perusing the Disney website is access to menus at restaurants all through the resort.  As I stated in my blog post here on saving money on food at Disney, planning ahead can go a long way toward budget reductions.  We were able to know ahead of time which restaurants we did and did not want to dine at while vacationing at Disney because we spent some time looking at options on their website before we even left home.

2. Mousesavers

Mousesavers is hands down the best website out there for saving money on all things Disney.  While they lean very heavy towards information at Disney World, they also include savings tips for Disneyland, Disney cruises, and other non-Disney theme parks in and around Orlando, Florida.

Mousesavers has been around for a very long time, and they know what they are doing.  They do a pretty decent job of backdating their information, so a person checking out their site can gauge fairly easily whether or not what is written might have some relevancy issues based on how old it is.

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The website is also updated daily, so if a person is looking for deals, coupons, and other time-sensitive information, Mousesavers is definitely a site to check out.

3. Undercover Tourist

There are many, many places online where Disney theme park tickets can be procured, but we have always been a little hesitant to drop several hundred dollars on them without knowing much about legitimacy.  Disney has a serious system in place concerning theme park tickets, and it is very easy to get ripped off by a scam.

Undercover Tourist is the best legitimate site out there for discounted tickets.  I should probably say “discount.”  The tickets are still expensive, but discounted all the same.  For a family choosing to stay on site with a package deal purchased through Disney, Undercover Tourist may be more expensive, but it is worth doing some comparison shopping anyway.

4. Garden Grocer

I talked about our experience with Garden Grocer in a previous post about food planning at Disney.  Because it was so easy to get fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy products from them delivered straight to the door of our room, I feel compelled to endorse the company here.

Purchasing food through Garden Grocer is more expensive than going to your own supermarket at home.  It is much less money than buying the same food directly from Disney, though.  If we ever go back to Disney (who knows if or when) and if we were to stay on site, I would use Garden Grocer again.

5. Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World: The Official Guide

There are many Disney guide books out there, and this is our favorite.  The publisher updates it annually.  There is also a companion kids’ version, which is especially helpful for first time Disney World travelers.

I specifically like the Birnbaum book for two reasons.  First, while the authors very obviously love Disney, they are honest in their reviews.  If rides might be too scary for kids, they say so.  If there’s a great place to watch the fireworks or a parade without getting trampled by the crowds, they will let you know.

Second, Birnbaum includes accurate information about closed rides, refurbished attractions, and behind the scenes information.  For instance, they are the reason I discovered Garden Grocer.  The book also came in very handy when the kids wanted to pre-plan their time in the parks.

When we go to Disney, we want to have fun.  But we also do not want to come home feeling like we wasted our money.  By taking a balanced approach to splurging a little here and saving a little there, we can meet both goals.

Do you have a favorite resource when planning a trip to Disney?  Send us an email or comment below!

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