Today, Walt Disney World is 50 years old! To celebrate, we’re sharing some of our best tips to save on a Disney vacation – including cheap flights to Orlando (MCO).
We know it sounds like an oxymoron, but yes: you can do Disney on a budget. By starting with a cheap flight, booking the right accommodations, and using the tips we share below to save in the parks, you can still have a magical experience without breaking the bank.
Cheap Flights to Walt Disney World
Making a trip to Disney affordable starts with a cheap flight. That’s where we come in.
Flight prices to Orlando, Florida vary quite a bit based on the season. We’ll discuss this more later, but the cheapest time to visit is in the off-peak season. Flights tend to be much cheaper in January – February and September – November.
Orlando is a top U.S. destination that has plenty of nonstop routes, and it gets quite a bit of flight deal love. We see fares drop to Orlando every month or so, with savings of $100 – $200+ per ticket (enough to cover a park day pass). For a family or group, that can mean a ton of savings!
For example, here’s the most recent flight deal we found to Orlando and sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. Every flight was under $200 roundtrip, with availability through July 2022 (peak summer season!) from almost every U.S. airport:
Got Delta SkyMiles? We find SkyMiles flash sales to Orlando, too. Delta typically charges 20k SkyMiles (or more) for a roundtrip flight to Orlando, but we’ve found them for half that:
When you start your trip by booking a cheap flight first, you set yourself up for a much more affordable Disney vacation. Follow the Flight First Rule, and book your park tickets and accommodations after!
Visit Disney Parks Abroad…For Less
You likely know about Disneyland in California, but did you know there are several Disney parks abroad, too? You can visit Disneyland in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
And when a flight deal like this strikes, it could be the perfect opportunity to visit Disney internationally!
Flights to Europe have been dropping under $400 – and even under $300 – roundtrip over the past months. When flights from nearly every U.S. airport to France are hundreds off, it’s the perfect reason to head to Disneyland Paris:
Next on the Disney bucket list? Disneyland Tokyo. Earlier this year, we uncovered a massive flash sale to Japan as low as under $200 roundtrip:
While Japan is still closed to travelers, this deal was available all the way through March 2022. In this case, a flight to Disneyland Tokyo could have been cheaper than a flight to Orlando!
Round out your Disney bucket list with a trip to Disneyland Hong Kong. But can you get there for cheap? When a flight deal drops, the answer is yes. Take a look at this deal we found and sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members:
Similarly, this wild deal to Hong Kong for well over $1,000 off normal prices was available through March 2022 and cancelable for a voucher. That’s hard to beat for a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland!
This flight deal is already gone, but you can get the next one with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
7 Tips to Save at Disney
1. Go Off-Season
The best time to visit Disney World is during the off-season. Why? The lines are shorter, the dining and lodging reservations are easier to make, and room rates and ticket prices are lower.
The least expensive times to visit the park are typically January through early February, and much of September, October, and November (excluding holiday weeks/weekends).
As a general rule, you can expect to pay more for theme park tickets and lodging during the busy school vacation periods, summer months, and around the holidays. Use the Disney World Crowd Calendar for daily crowd estimates.
2. Stay Longer…But Go Less Frequently
Disney World theme park tickets get progressively cheaper the more days you go. For example, two days of standard theme park tickets start at $109 per day (2021), whereas five days of tickets start at $90 per day, and seven days at $68 per day. With this in mind, it might make sense to extend your trip by a few days while taking Disney vacations less frequently.
3. Skip the Park Hopper Tickets
A “Park Hopper” ticket allows you access to more than one theme park on the same day. But Park Hopper tickets cost around 30% more than the standard (single theme park) tickets. Unless you plan on being at Disney World for just one day and want to experience as much as possible in a short amount of time, avoid the extra cost and visit different parks each day.
4. Stay at a Value Resort – or Off-Site
Disney has 3 main tiers of on-site resorts: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Value resorts are easily the least expensive lodging option on Disney property but still come with all of the perks of any other on-site Disney resort: free shuttles to the parks, free transportation to and from Orlando airport, Extra Magic Hours, advanced booking for dining, and FastPass+, and great pools and food courts. This is a great option for travelers looking to say onsite but within budget.
Staying at an off-site hotel in the Orlando area can be significantly less expensive than most on-site Disney resorts. Many of these resorts offer nice pools, complimentary breakfast, and free shuttle service to and from Disney World.
Another option (especially if you have a car) is to rent an Airbnb or VRBO property close to Disney World. Many of these properties are within 5-10 miles of the park and tend to be cheaper than Disney resorts. Plus, many rentals offer you more privacy, more room to spread out, and an opportunity to cook your own meals for much less than the cost of dining inside the park.
5. Bring Your Own Meals
Many first-time guests don’t realize that Disney allows you to bring food into the theme parks. While some people purchase a Disney Dining Plan package – or use a pay-as-you-go system – Disney permits you to bring your own meals, snacks, and beverages (glass containers and alcohol excluded) as an alternative to the pricey food and drink inside.
Remember: You can also ask for free tap water at any Disney counter service restaurant, or bring a water bottle to refill at a water fountain. Bringing your own food and beverages into the theme parks can save you a lot of cash.
6. Use a Disney Travel Planner
With all of the great online resources out there, hiring a travel agent to plan your vacation may seem antiquated and unnecessary. However, Disney World vacations are an exception.
Especially if it’s your first visit, a Disney travel planner can help you decide where to stay, how to get where you want to go and craft a package that is specifically tailored to your needs. They can also book time-sensitive and time-consuming theme park tickets, resort, dining reservations, and FastPass+ ride selections.
Better yet: By monitoring all of the seasonal promotions and deals that spring up from time to time, Disney travel planners can change your reservation to lock in a lower price (if one should arise after you have already booked your trip). The best part? Their services are completely free.
Happy 50th anniversary, Walt Disney World! It wouldn’t be a celebration without sharing some of the recent cheap flight deals we’ve found to Orlando (and beyond), and our best tips to save on your next Disney trip.