Money Lessons Learned from Walt Disney World

Disney World main street parade at night

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite vacation destination is Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida. Some would say I have an unhealthy addiction to the place whereas I would simply call myself a fan. Either way, my travels to Disney World have taught me quite a bit about money.

I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Disney World the place you go to blow tons of money, not where you go to learn about money?” To some extent this is true. You can certainly blow a large chunk of change in WDW. They’ll take anything you’ll give them. Before I got savvy about how to visit economically, I did indeed blow more money than I had to. But I learned and corrected my m


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6 Responses to Money Lessons Learned from Walt Disney World

  1. Monkey Mama says:

    So True! We live about 6 hours from Disneyland and I have been there more times than I have count. I could appreciate it as a child since the school band always did very low cost trips to Disney, every single year for 7 or 8 years? (though my parents only had the time/means to take me once). As a broke college student we would crash with whoever lived closest (maybe 3 hours away? Some friends who went to college down south?) and make a day trip of it. As an adult with kids, we have the luck of free timeshare stays from my MIL. I don’t recommend a day trip like that for small kids. 😉 BUT, the timeshare we regularly use within walking distance from Disney also has a Motel 6 right next door. So, I know we could make it work very easily even without the free room. We have often only been to the park one day. When you have been there 50 times – one day is just fine! Going off season or mid-week will make the experience more enjoyable anyway – and can cram 2-3 days into one. (With kids we generally go two days – they are slower and want to hit the little kid stuff too).

    Most of our *broke* friends think Disneyland = stay at a Disney hotel, fly, go to the park for 4+ days, and buy every over-priced extra there is. I am absolutely amazed at what the average person around here spends on a Disney vacation. & these are not people with means! Likewise, we often get awe and jealousy at how often we have taken our kids. I know they are trying to figure out how on heck we afford that luxury vacation. Well, I don’t have to fly or stay in a luxury hotel, to enjoy a couple of days at a Disney theme park.

    As an aside, I am not a huge vacation/traveler type, so I do not set aside more that $1500/year or so for vacation, camping, and day trips (we spend most of that on day trips). There have been many years in my life I set aside $0 for vacation. BUT, I am always keeping my ears open for opportunities. A friend and I traveled to NYC city one year because we were able to get RT airfare for $150 (coast to coast). IT was just too good to pass up – we stayed with friends and at the YWCA. IT was a BLAST. I’ve rented a car with girlfriends to go to Vegas for the weekend. Split everything 4 ways, and it might have been a $50 trip. I’ve stayed in Vegas for free or $30/night at the Hilton, many times, with my spouse. There is always some deal to be found. I suppose Vegas is another one people really go all out, and we have that set aside for when all we can afford is a real budget trip.

  2. What a great article! I love riding bikes at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, too. There are so many free or inexpensive activities at Disney World to have just as amazing memories as spending a day at the busy theme parks!

  3. Kelly says:

    Wonderful article! My husband has a new insurance carrier that will begin in January…the paperwork said that they will be offering some gift cards for healthy living…I wonder if Disney cards will be on the list. Now you have me excited!! We love Disney too and make it in the plan to visit every year.

  4. Derek Hoffman says:

    Jennifer – great job on this article! I especially like the thoughts you shared on motivation.

    I’m truly amazed at the variety of options that are available to guests at WDW. It seems much easier these days to visit on a shoestring budget while not having to compromise and stay off-property.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Rod T says:

    Great article, but I would hope that people not put too much emphasis on the value resorts being ‘ motel 6 with theming.’ Having stayed at many different resorts on property, including the campground, there is not a great deal of difference in guest experience from value to deluxe. Even being able to afford a higher level, we often chose to stay at Pop Century. The rooms and beds are smaller, but I have never spent much time in a hotel room on vacation.

  6. I would love to visit Walt Disney World is I had more money available. I will keep these valuable lessons in mind.

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