PlanDisney panelists tell us the most expensive and cheapest times to visit Disney World.
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Guests walk down Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park, July 11, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Between theme park tickets, hotel stays, dining experiences, and all the Mickey ears and T-shirts, the costs of a trip to Disney World add up fast — but don't worry, we've got you covered. 

We asked Eean Kerber and Mike Jones, members of the PlanDisney panel specializing in Walt Disney World Resort, for their money-saving vacation tips. Selected for their unbeatable Disney knowledge and passion, PlanDisney panelists (there are currently nearly 50) help fellow guests plan their Disney vacations by answering questions and offering their own personal advice and tricks for Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney Vacation Club on the PlanDisney site. With their advice, you can start planning your next magical experience at any budget, keeping in mind the most expensive and the cheapest times to visit Disney World.

“Disney Enchantment” at Magic Kingdom Park, debuts Oct. 1, 2021, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

Like many other popular vacation destinations around the world, the busiest times are often the most expensive, but that means you may be able to snag a deal during the less crowded seasons. Of course, Disney is a year-round destination, and there are no obvious "off-season" months these days, but you can find pockets of time throughout the year with relatively lower prices and fewer crowds. Flexibility is key if you're hoping to visit Disney World on a budget. For adults traveling without kids or families with small children that don't have to follow a school holiday calendar, visiting Disney World during less popular times (avoiding winter vacation and spring break) can help save money. You'll also want to look out for Disney race weekends and three-day weekends, as these can be busy throughout the year. 

Kerber and Jones recommend visiting the Disney World website to scout out deals using a few different tactics. Always check the Special Offers section to see deals on tickets and on-site hotels — you might be able to save hundreds by planning your trip for these limited-time windows. Next, look at the theme park ticket calendar. Disney World uses dynamic ticket pricing, so that means that park tickets are more expensive at busier times. Midweek tickets will often be less expensive than weekend tickets, and prices are typically highest on major holidays like Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving. Kerber recommends late January (after the holidays) and February as great times to go, especially if you're looking for a warm winter getaway, while Jones recommends visiting later during the summer after kids go back to school. 

Mickey and Minnie during Holiday Christmas parade at night
Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Most Expensive Times to Visit Disney World

As previously mentioned, the winter holidays are one of the most expensive times of year to visit Disney World, and the week of Christmas and New Year's is typically the priciest period to visit. July 4th, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other federal holidays are also going to be more crowded and expensive. Parks are also generally busy — and very hot and humid — during summer vacation, so if you can, plan your trip for May or the end of August and September. 

If you want to see the decor and enjoy the Halloween or Christmas festivities without going over budget, Kerber and Jones say that visiting early in the season can be a great compromise. Disney kicks off these holiday seasons early, so you can save money by planning a trip weeks before the actual holiday while still enjoying the festive magic. For example, Jones recommends visiting the first week of December (while kids are still in school) to take advantage of lower prices before the holiday crowds ramp up. Visiting during a less crowded time also means you can forgo additional costs, like Genie+, which allows you to skip the standby line at attractions for a fee. 

Pumpkin decor at Disney World Magic Kingdom
Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Where to Save and Where to Splurge

Whenever you visit, consider where to save and where to splurge on your Disney vacation. Opt for a more budget-friendly resort, like Pop Century — with easy transportation via the Skyliner and a fun theme — and splurge on an event like a fireworks dessert party, suggests Kerber. Or, eat at the less expensive quick-service restaurants (there are tons of great options across the parks and resorts) and splurge on one or two memorable signature or character dining experiences. Bringing in your own snacks can be a great way to save money, too, Jones says — walking around the parks can work up an appetite, so you'll be tempted to snack a lot, but balancing Disney eats like Dole Whips with snacks you carry from home can be a great tactic. 

Be strategic about your ticket purchase, too. The longer you stay, the more you can save; one-day tickets start at $109 per day, but seven-day tickets start at $68 per day, so you might feel that it's worth it to add on a day or two. Alternatively, you could save on park tickets by spending a day or two exploring the resorts, hanging out by the pool, or visiting Disney Springs, opting for a day packed with free activities rather than spending for another day of tickets.