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How to Save Time and Money at Disney Theme Parks

Updated on November 24, 2020
caseymel profile image

I am a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful children who keep me very busy. I love technology, gardening, cooking, and personal finance.

A Day At Disney

It's A Mad House! You Need A Plan While You Are At Disney If You Want To Save Time And Money (And Your Sanity)!

A few weeks ago, we took our kids to Disney World for Spring Break. The first day, we walked around in a daze, jet-lagged and confused, only able to ride 3 rides because the lines were so long.

It was so crowded that we could barely move. The second day, we had it figured out and rode tons of rides!

You definitely need a plan to save you and your families time, money and sanity. We found this out the first day and planned better for the next day. We took the Disney Theme Park Map back to the hotel with us and mapped out a course of action.

Find out what your family really wants to see or ride while they are at Disney and make a point to visit those rides and attractions early in the day.

Welcome To The Magic Kingdom At Disney!

Our Trip To The Magic Kingdom!
Our Trip To The Magic Kingdom! | Source

Save Time At Disney Theme Parks With The Fast Pass!

The Disney card you used to get into the Disney Theme Park can get you a fast pass! Bring it to the most popular ride that you want to ride and get a fast pass. You go up to the machine by the ride and put your Disney card into it.

The machine will spit your card back out with a receipt (the Fast Pass). The Fast Pass tells you when to come back to the ride. It was normally several hours later, but it is better than standing in line for a few hours.

The Fast Pass will give you an hour span of time to come back. For instance, it may say: come back between 5-6pm. If you return to the ride at 6:05pm, you are out of luck, so make sure you return during you time.

While you are waiting to use your Fast Pass ticket, you can peruse the other rides that have shorter lines, see a show or watch a parade.

Word of warning: you can only have one Fast Pass from your card at a time. If you received a Fast Pass for 5pm, you will not be able to get another Fast Pass until after you have used your first Fast Pass at 5pm.

While you are waiting to use your Fast Pass, map out your next ride that you will want to get a Fast Pass for. After you use your first Fast Pass, go directly to the next ride you want to get a Fast Pass for and get your next Fast Pass.

The Fast Pass works at all Disney theme parks. We tried it out at The Magic Kingdom and The Animal Kingdom.

Since my daughter was too small to get on most of the rides, my son and husband used my daughter's and my Disney card to get a second set of Fast Passes for themselves. They were able to get on tons of rides!

How to Use Disney's Fastpass System

Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World

Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World
Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World | Source

Arrive As Early As Possible To Get On The Most Rides

We were never able to make it to any Disney Theme Park before 10:30am. We would wake up around 8am, get dressed, get something to eat at the hotel cafe and wait for the bus to bring us to Disney.

Once we reached Disney, we had to board either a Ferry or a Monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom. The lines were long to get on both, but we were usually able to get on the Ferry much more quickly than the monorail.

By the time we arrived to the Disney Theme Park for the day, it was already crowded, but the lines for the lines were still only around 30 minutes long. After lunch, we started to see the lines get longer. After lunch, they were normally around 2 - 2 1/2 hours long! Luckily, we had already gotten a Fast Pass for one of the more popular rides!

Disney Transport Bus

The Bus To Disney
The Bus To Disney | Source

To Drive To Disney Or Take The Bus?

We mostly took the bus from our hotel to get to Disney. It took a while, but it was free. The bus would come to the hotel every 30 minutes, so sometimes we had to wait up to a half an hour.

Once we got on the bus, we rode it to the Disney Parking lot by The Magic Kingdom. That usually took about 15-20 minutes.

We did drive one time. We hopped in the car and drove to the Animal Kingdom parking lot. We stopped along the way at McDonald's (which was much cheaper than the food at the hotel) and had a nice breakfast.

We then parked our car in the Animal Kingdom Parking lot and walked right into The Animal Kingdom. The parking cost $15, but it was much quicker and we were able to eat a bigger breakfast for cheaper by driving to Disney.

In the end, I think driving would have been the way to go each day because we saved time and even though we paid for parking, our breakfast was much cheaper, so the money part balanced out.

Should You Get The Disney Park Hopper Pass?

My children are 3 and 5 years old. They could only handle one park a day. My husband and I could only handle one Disney Theme Park a day.

There is so much to see and do at each Disney Park, that you could spend a couple days at each one.

I would not recommend getting the Disney Park Hopper Pass. They cost extra money and there is a slim chance you will be going to two Disney Theme Parks in one day.

Plus, you will have to wait in line to get on the mono-rail to bring you to the next Disney Theme Park. That will take a chunk of time out of your day.

Remember, there are long lines EVERYWHERE at Disney! That includes transportation to and from Disney.

Disney Poll

Do You Bring Your Own Food To Disney?

See results

Bring Snacks, Food And Drinks To Disney To Save Time And Money

Did you know you can bring food and drinks into Disney. A few people brought rolling coolers into the park. i would not recommend a cooler just because it is so crowded that you could barely walk without getting stepped on. The cooler would just be one more hassle.

Take a book bag or purse instead. They don't get in the way as much. Fill your book bag or purse with snacks and drinks that don't have to be refrigerated. The food and drinks are very expensive and they have you trapped in there with tons of other people who are also looking for food and drinks.

Most food lines at Disney were 45 minutes to 2 hours long! When you are hungry, the last thing you want to hear is that you have to wait 2 hours for food! Bring some healthy snacks and drinks with you.

Either my husband or I would stand in line and wait for the food while the other took the kids around Disney to see the sights and maybe ride a ride. This way, the kids didn't have to stand in line that long and they still got to see Disney. Only one person had to suffer through the long food line. Once we got the food, we would call or text the other one so we could all get back together and eat.

Have A Plan If Someone Gets Lost At Disney

One thing I want to mention is that my husband and my phone barely had reception in the park. We were not able to get ahold of each other a few times. We were able to text though, so if you don't have phone reception, try texting.

I took a picture of each of my kids in the morning each day before we left for Disney. By doing this, I had a picture of them with the clothes they were wearing that day. If they were to get lost, I would be able to show Disney employees the picture and have an accurate description of him and his clothing.

I thought about writing my phone number in ink on their arms in case they got lost, so someone could call me if they found them, but I never had a marker on me. Luckily, they didn't get lost.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Melanie Casey


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