By Carlye Wisel
April 10, 2019
Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

Even though the cost of tickets, parking, and Mickey-shaped snacks have been increasing at both Disney World and Disneyland for months in anticipation of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (opening in California on May 31 and in Florida on August 29), price hikes don’t have to derail your Disney vacation dreams.

Disneyland tickets will cost $149 every day this summer, a record high, but there are still plenty of ways you can save money on Disney vacations, both in California and Florida, from May through August. And from what we saw inside Star Wars Land, it'll be worth the trip.

Related: Everything New Ride and Attractino Opening at Disney Parks in 2019

Here’s everything you need to know to save money on Disneyland and Disney World tickets, as well as hotel reservations and merchandise.

General Disney Parks Discounts

Pre-purchasing Disney gift cards is one way regular visitors save money. Big box reward membership programs, like TargetRED, can provide a 5% discount on Disney gift cards, which can be used to purchase Walt Disney World or Disneyland park tickets, Disney hotel stays, meals and more. Gift cards have also been known to appear at Sam’s Club or CostCo at a discount, so be sure to check online and in-store. (Membership is required for purchase.)

Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort post an array of discounts on hotels, merchandise, and occasionally park tickets on “special offer” pages on their respective websites, while both MouseSavers and Disney Food Blog provide a comprehensive list updated often with current promotions ranging from Disney Springs restaurant happy hours to AAA Disneyland discounts, many of which will apply during summer 2019.

Ticket Discounts

Since ticket prices have recently increased at both Disney theme park resorts, there are still many tickets available online at last year’s prices that can be used through December 31, 2019 — and cost less than current Walt Disney World or Disneyland tickets. Be sure to only purchase from a reputable third-party seller, made easy via Touring Plans’ free Disney World Ticket Calculator, which compares authorized Disney ticket resellers for the lowest available price on summer admission.

Military, AAA, and teacher discounts are regularly available for Disney World tickets and Disneyland tickets, and keep an eye out for discounted Disneyland tickets, which occasionally appear at CostCo locations throughout California. Florida conference guests are also eligible for “after 5 p.m.” tickets throughout summer; inquire with your conference's organizers for purchase.

Visiting Disneyland prior to the official Star Wars land opening? Locals headed to the California parks in May will find the SoCal Resident ticket to be their best bet. The 3-Day, 1-Park Per Day ticket, which can be purchased by May 20 and used by May 23, costs $179 per adult — up to 60% comparable admission. (2-Park options are available as well; proof of residency is required for both.)

Frequent Disneyland or Walt Disney World guests should consider a purchasing an annual pass instead of park tickets. The breakeven cost isn’t as good as Universal Orlando’s annual pass program, but Disneyland and Walt Disney World annual passholders can receive discounts on hotels, merchandise and dining as well as complimentary parking, which add up. Even easier? Visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland with a local — visiting the parks with a passholder opens you up to those discounts as well.

An easy way to save money any time of year is to ensure you only purchase Disney tickets for the days you need. If you’re heading to Orlando on a five-day vacation, your travel plans might not leave much time to visit Magic Kingdom upon arrival or explore Disney’s Hollywood Studios before heading to the airport. Consider purchasing less admission if so, or select 1-Park tickets instead of Park Hoppers if you don’t plan to visit two Disney parks each day. Also, with the parks reaching peak crowds in summertime, be sure you get the most for your money with a subscription to Touring Plans, which uses a mathematical algorithm to help guests skip lines and experience more for each day of Disney admission they purchase.

Vacation Package Discounts

There are regular promotions for vacation packages offered on both Walt Disney World and Disneyland websites (which include hotel, tickets and sometimes airfare) both during the summer and year-round, with up to 25% off select hotel stays this summer at Walt Disney World in Florida. (With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening at Disneyland at the end of May, there are no current package discounts for the California theme park; if visiting during summer, check in advance to see if you need a Star Wars land reservation as well.)

CostCo Travel offers discount packages for Walt Disney World, and if staying on-property at Disney World or Disneyland, consider booking with a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacation. Often, they will monitor price changes and promotions and obtain price-adjustments if your hotel room cost drops, guaranteeing that you save money if discounts or cheaper prices are released after your Disney trip is booked. (There are no more Free Disney Dining promotions offered for 2019 at the time being, but are likely to be re-introduced for 2020.)

Disney hotel packages vary between “room only” and “room and theme park tickets”, which include park admission for each day of your vacation and may go unused depending on your travel plans. Be sure to check the total cost compared to what a Disney World or Disneyland vacation would be with less admission.

Food Discounts

The Disney Dining Plan can save you money, but only if you choose the right kind for your vacation. Offered in three different tiers — Quick-Service, Dining and Deluxe Dining — the Disney Dining Plan, or DDP, allows guests to “pre-pay” for quick-service and table-service meals at Walt Disney World.  Disney Food Blog’s e-book offers a comprehensive look at if a Disney Dining Plan is worth it before you spend, and how to utilize it to save money, while the website lists current Disney food promotions and discounts.

Annual passholders have up to 20% off select Disney restaurants at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but Tables in Wonderland, exclusive to Walt Disney World resort, offers significant savings. While Disney annual passes provide discounts exclusively on food, Tables in Wonderland discounts also apply to alcohol at over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants. The annual membership costs $175 for Florida Residents, or $150 for Walt Disney World passholders and Disney Vacation Club members.

Disney Hotel Savings

Lower-cost Disney hotel rooms are sometimes available at discounted prices through Expedia, and occasionally, guests can land a genuine Walt Disney World reservation through Priceline Express. Disney Springs Resort Area hotels — which have the same FastPass and Extra Magic Hour perks as Disney’s own hotels — often have seasonal promotions going on as well as discounts for military, teachers, Florida residents, seniors and AAA members, some of which apply during summer 2019.

Parking Discounts

Some annual passes provide free parking, which is now $25 for standard vehicles at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World parks. Area hotels at Disneyland, some of which are a short walk or complimentary shuttle ride from the park’s front gates, will often offer parking at a discounted rate, and Anaheim Resort Transportation has solutions as well.

If only visiting Disneyland for a few hours, parking at Downtown Disney is free for 3 hours with a $20 purchase and validation from a Downtown Disney location, or free for 5 hours with validation from a Downtown Disney table-service restaurant. Parking is complimentary at Disney Springs.

Merchandise Discounts

Annual Passholders get up to 20% off at Disneyland and Walt Disney World stores (as well as Shop Disney Parks online). Merchandise is a good time to use those Disney gift cards, but be sure to check all Disney restaurant receipts, too — there’s sometimes a hidden Disney store discount at the very bottom.

Note: The 4-Park Magic Summer Ticket is no longer available, and has been removed from this article.

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