Other Disney World Discounts and Deals
LAST UPDATE: 2/14/24
Here you’ll find out how to get other Disney World discounts for all the “extras” that can really add up when you vacation at Walt Disney World or other Orlando destinations — items like parking, stroller rental, wheelchair/ECV rental, Internet access and lots more! Discounts are available for a lot of the “small” things at Disney World, but sometimes it can be hard to find those deals. Search no more!
We update prices whenever we become aware of changes, but prices on this page are always subject to change.
- FREE & Cheap Stuff to Do at Disney World
- Disney World Stroller Rentals
- Wheelchair / ECV Rentals
- Souvenir Discounts & Coupons
- Disney’s PhotoPass and Memory Maker
- Drugstore Items and Groceries
- Tolls and Gas
- Phone Calls
- Internet Access
- Borrow From Your Disney Hotel Instead of Buying
- Special Occasions
- Medical Needs
- Child Care / Babysitting
- Share Expenses
- Ways to Save for Your Walt Disney World Vacation
We have a whole page of fun things you can do for very little cost while at Walt Disney World, and without paying any park admission! This is very useful if you only have a partial day available (maybe the day you check in or out, for instance) and don’t want to use up a whole day on your admission ticket.
If you are visiting Walt Disney World with young children, you may want a stroller while you are in the parks, even if your kids don’t normally use a stroller at home. Disney rents strollers in the parks, but you can also get a great rate on a stroller rental that you can use during your entire vacation in Orlando. Or, you can bring your own!
- Follow this link for our complete guide to Disney World Stroller Rentals.
Regular (unpowered) wheelchairs can be rented at each Walt Disney World theme park. If you need to use an “electric convenience vehicle” (ECV) — also known to some as a “scooter” — to get around Walt Disney World, be aware that the rental is quite expensive. But you can get a good discount on an ECV that is reliable, comfortable and easy-to-drive that you can use all the time, not just while you’re in the parks.
- Buy in Advance
- Give Your Kids a Budget
- Watch for Sales and Mark-Downs
- Annual Passholder Discounts
- Disney Visa Card Discounts
- Disney Vacation Club Discounts
- D23 Member Discounts
- Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Guidebook Coupons
- Disney Outlet Stores Close to Disney World
- Inexpensive/FREE Souvenirs
- Shipping Souvenirs Home
If you have kids, you know that they will probably be seized with a case of the “I wants” when they get to the Disney parks, because there are all kinds of neat merchandise cleverly placed at the conclusion of every ride. One solution is to take advantage of sales and bargains at DisneyStore.com or Amazon.com before your trip and put your purchases away. Then pack the goodies in your suitcase and dole them out to the kids when you get there.
One way to do this is to give them Disney Gift Cards for birthdays, Christmas, etc. before your trip. Encourage grandparents to do this, too. You can’t spend Disney Gift Cards anywhere but Disney, and kids will have a lot of fun picking out souvenirs from their own “money.”
- Disney Gift Cards can be used online at DisneyStore.com and participating locations at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Cruise Line (includes most shopping and dining locations).
- Disney Gift Cards are sold at Disney World and Disneyland. They are also sold online at DisneyStore.com in denominations from $25-$500. They can be sent via email or you can have an actual card shipped FREE to any US address.
- Disney Gift Cards are also sold by many chain supermarkets, warehouse clubs and discount stores such as Target. Watch for special promotions on gift card purchases.
- Once you have a Disney Gift Card, if you’d like to reload money onto it by phone, call Disneyland DelivEARS at 1-800-362-4533 and press “1” to speak with a Merchandise Guest Services representative. Thanks to Linda P for info.
We have fairly frequently seen small sale racks at the Disney World resort hotel shops — look in the back of the store or ask the clerks. On a couple of occasions we’ve purchased items that were marked down as much as 50%.
You may sometimes see a few items on sale or marked down in the theme parks. However, we think most of the excess merchandise goes to the outlet stores.
Annual Passholders get a discount at a wide variety of merchandise locations. For all Disney-owned stores and most independent stores, the discount is 10% or 20%. And be aware that some stores not listed may offer a discount. It never hurts to ask!
Disney Visa cardholders can save 10% on select merchandise at Walt Disney World Resort including Disney Springs, so if you have a Disney Visa card, always ask about the discount.
Present and use one of Disney Visa cards at time of purchase. Not valid in combination with other offers, discounts, promotions or with any previous purchase.
Also, Disney offers a FREE souvenir to Disney Visa cardholders.
Disney Vacation Club members get 10%-20% off select items at all Disney owned-and-operated merchandise locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Please note: some merchandise locations, including the China, Japan, and Morocco Pavilions at World Showcase in Epcot and most locations in Disney Springs, are not operated by Disney and thus do not offer this discount. Certain items are always excluded, such as gift certificates, videos, food items, film, film processing, and various collectibles.
For non-Disney merchandise, DVC members can get discounts at select locations in Disney Springs, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. The list of DVC member non-Disney merchandise discounts is extensive and the amount varies by location; the best way to check current discounts is on the DVC member website.
Select Disney Springs locations offer D23 Gold members members merchandise discounts when you present your D23 membership card.
Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2024 has coupons in the back for the following Disney Springs stores:
- Arribas Brothers, 10% off entire purchase. Valid at the stores in Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom and Epcot (Mexico & Germany pavilions). Expires 12/31/24.
- Art Corner, 10% off art supplies only. Expires 12/31/24.
- Basin, 15% off entire purchase (excludes gift cards and sale items). Expires 12/31/24.
- Columbia, 20% off entire purchase. Expires 12/31/24.
- Corkcicle, 10% off purchase (excludes sale items). Expires 12/31/24.
- House of Blues Gear Shop, 10% off purchase (excludes art, books, jewelry and sale items). Expires 12/31/24.
- M & M’s, 10% off in-store purchase of $50 or more. Expires 12/31/24.
- Mac, 15% off entire purchase (excludes gift cards). Expires 12/31/24.
- Orlando Harley-Davidson, 20% off a single item (limited to Orlando Harley-Davidson licensed products). Valid at 3 Orlando Harley-Davidson locations. Expires 12/31/24.
- Planet Hollywood, 10% off merchandise (exclude sale items and gift cards). Expires 12/31/24.
- Raglan Road, 15% off merchandise. Expires 12/31/24.
- Rainforest Cafe, 10% off Retail Village purchase (excludes sale items). Valid at Disney Springs or Animal Kingdom locations. Expires 12/31/24.
- Planet Hollywood, 10% off merchandise (exclude sale items and gift cards). Expires 12/31/24.
- T-Rex, 10% off Dino Store purchase. Not valid sale items, Build-A-Dino Workshop. Expires 12/31/24.
- Sperry, 15% off entire purchase (excludes Doorbusters, gift cards and Made in Maine collection). Expires 12/31/24.
- Sugarboo & Co., 10% off entire purchase of regular-priced items (excludes sale items and gift cards). Expires 12/31/24.
Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2024 has coupons in the back for the following theme park stores:
- Arribas Brothers, 10% off entire purchase. Valid at the stores in Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom and Epcot (Mexico & Germany pavilions). Expires 12/31/24.
- Rainforest Cafe, 10% off Retail Village purchase (excludes sale items). Valid at Disney Springs or Animal Kingdom locations. Expires 12/31/24.
You can get deals on Walt Disney World theme park merchandise at nearby outlet stores, some of which are “official” Disney outlets:
- Disney’s Character Warehouse store, located at Orlando Premium Outlets, Vineland Avenue
- Disney’s Character Warehouse store at Orlando Premium Outlets, International Drive
- Theme Park Outlet store at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores (be sure to check out the printable coupons on the site)
The Character Warehouse stores are operated by Disney. The employees wear Disney badges and the stores sell Disney passes — plus you can pay for merchandise with Disney Gift Cards if you wish. For Walt Disney World souvenirs such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and mugs (and sometimes more exotic stuff), the Character Warehouse outlets are worth checking out, though they don’t offer as many bargains as in the past. Sometimes you will find current merchandise that is still being sold in the parks, and it may or may not be discounted.
The Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland offers a shuttle service from selected Lake Buena Vista area hotels; check with the hotel to see if they offer this service. If the hotel does not have a shuttle available, you’ll need to use a rental car or taxi.
The Theme Park Outlet store is independently operated and the merchandise and ambiance are not very good. However, many non-Disney hotels offer free shuttles to Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores where the Theme Park Outlet is located – select the link to see the schedule.
Thanks to Katherine P for info.
Pressed pennies are fun to collect. Each location (and there are many throughout the parks, resorts and Disney Springs) has a different design, and the process of “squishing” a penny is fun to watch. Cost is typically 51 cents (the newer machines let you use a credit card or Apple Pay; at the older machines you supply the penny and pay .50 to press it). There are also pressed quarter machines, which of course cost you more! Walt Disney World has online maps of the pressed penny and quarter machine locations (which you can also access via MyDisneyExperience); or if you ask Guest Relations they can usually provide a list of all of the locations, along with the images available at each of the machines. Disney also sells inexpensive pressed penny/quarter books that you can use to store and display your treasures. Thanks to Sandy C and Jessica G for additional info.
Susan H of Port Neches, TX suggests this fun and inexpensive souvenir: “On our past visits to WDW we have let our kids send themselves postcards from each park. Buy your postcards off property for something like 3/$1.00 and bring along lots of stamps. A really fun way to do this would be for the child to write themselves a note about who they met that day and mail the card late in the day. Or you could get a character to autograph the card.”
Autograph book – Many children really enjoy meeting the characters and getting their autographs. For this you only need an inexpensive autograph book (or storybook – see below) and a fat pen (markers are ideal) that the character can grip easily. Autograph books can be ordered in advance of your trip from DisneyStore.com or Amazon.com. MouseSavers.com reader Lise G suggests, “A way to make the autographs more personal and fun to look at after visiting the parks is to buy [an autograph book with] a photo sleeve across from each blank autograph page. I take a snapshot of my daughter and the character while they are signing her autograph book. Now we have a memory not just a signature.”
Personalized storybook – If you will be attending a character meal, purchase a storybook featuring characters that will appear at the meal. For instance, if you will be eating breakfast at Storytellers Cafe, get a book with Chip and Dale in it. (Alternatively, get a single book with lots of characters in it, so you can use it as an autograph book throughout your trip.) Buy the book in advance and take it with you. Amazon.com carries a wide selection and generally has the best prices on current Disney storybooks and Little Golden Books. When you go to the character meal, or as you tour the parks, bring along a big pen and have the characters sign in the book. Later you can also paste photos of your child with the characters into the blank pages at the back of the book. Now you have a nice souvenir that you can actually use after the vacation (unlike the Disney autograph books), because you can talk with your kids about the characters who signed the books and look at the pictures when you read it! Thanks to Sulan D for the idea.
FREE souvenirs are available at several Epcot locations:
- In World Showcase, kids can participate in a FREE “around the world passport” coloring project that makes a great souvenir. Collect the “passport” item from the pavilion of the first country you visit, and then as you visit each country, kids can look for the activities table and color in that country’s section of the passport. A Cast Member will stamp it with a country-specific stamp and write the child’s name in the country’s alphabet. Thanks to Michelle L for info.
- At the end of Mission: Space attraction, you can send free email postcards at the Postcards from Space booths in the Advanced Training Lab. Thanks to Lloyd L for info.
- At the end of the Journey into Imagination attraction, in the ImageWorks “What If!” Labs, you can send a video postcard and add special effects “Imagination style!” Thanks to Bill S for info.
Disney Visa cardholders get access to exclusive Character Meet ‘n’ Greets with a FREE keepsake photo. The Disney Character Experience is available daily between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm in Epcot in Future World, next to Journey Into Imagination With Figment. The Star Wars Character Experience is available daily between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm in Hollywood Studios at the Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard. Must present a valid Disney Visa card for entry and limited to 6 people per card. Operating time, days of the week, location and appearance of Characters may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to availability and location capacity. Offer includes one complimentary 5×7 keepsake photo per valid cardmember account.
If you live outside of Florida and you’re buying a lot of souvenirs (especially expensive artwork or collectibles) at Disney World, consider having them shipped home directly from the shop. Disney will not charge you the sales tax on your purchase, though you will have to pay for shipping (which costs $8.95 and up). Shipping rates are high, so you’ll need to spend at least $150 or so in one shop for this to be worthwhile.
The front desk or concierge desk of Disney resorts can ship things for you, though you’ll generally have to provide your own boxes and packing material. The business centers at the conference hotels (Coronado Springs, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, and Grand Floridian) can provide packing material and boxes, but they charge more for shipping as a general rule.
If you would like to arrange your own shipping, there are two locations that are pretty convenient to the Disney property, though you’ll need a car to reach them:
- Celebration Post Office is open from 9:00 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-2:00 pm Saturday and closed Sundays and holidays. It is located at 601 Market street right in the middle of downtown Celebration. Free parking is available behind the buildings – the entrance is around the block on Sycamore. Phone number is (407) 396-7001.
- FedEx Office is open 24 hours a day on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. It’s at 12181 S. Apopka Vineland Road (SR 535), less than a mile north of the intersection of SR 535 with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just north of the intersection of SR 535 with Palm Parkway, on the east side of the street. Phone number is (407) 465-0085.
Disney’s PhotoPass presents Walt Disney World guests with a way to capture treasured moments. Using professional digital equipment, photographers take photos of guests throughout the theme parks. Guests receive a Disney PhotoPass that links all of their vacation photos together into one online account for easy online viewing and sharing. Guests can use one PhotoPass for their entire vacation or get a new PhotoPass each time they take a photo.
MouseSavers.com readers report that the quality of PhotoPass shots is highly variable, since some of the photographers are better than others. Occasionally there is a glitch and photos are lost by the system (or the photography equipment fails). So if it is really important to get an excellent shot of a particular event or experience, be sure to take your own photos, too! Also, reader David F points out that “every photographer (and just about any other Cast Member) was more than willing to use our camera to take a picture after they did the PhotoPass shot. They do not seem to be restricted to only doing the PhotoPass pictures.”
Hint: when you are given PhotoPass cards (used at most locations) or tags (at the water parks), you should immediately use your cellphone camera or digital camera to take a photo of the code on the cards/tags, just in case you lose them. (Or use your mobile phone to text the code to yourself.) If you lose a PhotoPass card or tag, Disney will do its best to locate your photos based on the last time and location where you had activity in the system, but sometimes it can’t be done. Don’t take a chance on losing your vacation memories when a simple photo could have prevented it! Thanks to Margit M, who learned the hard way, for this important suggestion.
Guests are still able to view and buy their vacation photos at Disney Photo Centers throughout property, or view, share and order their photos online at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com. There is no charge for obtaining a PhotoPass or viewing or sharing your photos online. The cost of ordering prints or individual photo downloads starts at $14.95. To edit photos, or add borders or stickers, you must be able to view your photos in MyDisneyExperience.
Be aware that your PhotoPass photos expire after 45 days (or 365 if you have an annual pass with the PhotoPass add-on), so don’t wait too long! They can be extended for an extra 15 days by paying a fee, but after that they’re automatically deleted.
Memory Maker is a package that includes all your PhotoPass photos, attraction photos (for attractions that have photos) and dining photo print packages for an entire trip, for $210 (or $185 if you buy in advance). You can also buy a one-day Memory Maker package that will let you download all the pictures from a single day for $75. The one-day package is not available in advance; you need to purchase it at the park, or can purchase it after you get back (but before your pictures expire).
All of the photos get connected to your MyDisneyExperience account and can be downloaded at no additional charge from MyDisneyPhotopass.com for 45 days after being taken. The downloaded photos are full-quality and suitable for reproduction. You can download the original photos and also create custom versions of your photos with frames, text annotations, characters and more. Your photos come with a copyright release that allows you to do anything you want with them other than use them for commercial purposes. You can print them out, share the prints or digital files with friends and relatives, put them on Facebook or anything else you would do with your own personal photos. Memory Maker is sold at PhotoPass viewing stations and many stores throughout Walt Disney World, or in advance (see below).
You can also purchase Memory Maker after your trip for $210 (or the one-day package for $75) and receive unlimited downloads of your photos and videos. If you wore a MagicBand during your Walt Disney World trip, attraction photos and videos will be automatically associated with your account even if you had not already purchased Memory Maker.
Participating attractions for Memory Maker include Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dinosaur, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Expedition Everest, Frozen Ever After, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Test Track and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Character meals (such as Chef Mickey’s) may have a PhotoPass photographer there to take photos that can go on your Memory Maker account, but it is best to confirm that directly with Disney as you get closer to your trip. That information is subject to change. (Please note: photos are not automatically included with Cinderella’s Royal Table and Princess Storybook Dining experiences, but they are included with Memory Maker.)
To add a PhotoPass photo, just ask one of the PhotoPass photographers to take your picture and tell them you have Memory Maker. They’ll take one or more photos and then scan your MagicBand or park ticket. If you’d like, they can also scan a PhotoPass card. This is a good idea as a backup, as it will allow you to find and attach the photos to your account if for some reason the MagicBand scan doesn’t work.
To add a ride photo, you just go to the monitors as you exit the ride and find the photo or photos that show your party, write down the ID numbers on the screen (or take a picture of the number with your phone). Go to the photo center at the end of the ride and tell one of the Cast Members the photo number(s) you want, and that you’d like to add it to your Memory Maker account. They’ll bring up the photo so you can verify that it’s the one you want, then ask you to tap your MagicBand or park ticket. Certain rides automatically read your MagicBand (if you have one) when you pass the photo-taking spot on the ride and automatically associate your photo to your account, but this doesn’t always work perfectly. If you know you really want a specific photo from a ride, we recommend that you go to the photo desk after the ride and ensure that it’s linked properly to your account and/or PhotoPass card.
In general, all pictures taken of anyone in your travel party will show up in your account and can be downloaded as part of Memory Maker, as long as they are in your “Family and Friends” list in MyDisneyExperience. You don’t need to be present for the photo to be added to your account. The exception is attraction and dining photos – they need to be claimed by the person who “owns” the Memory Maker package. With dining, you will need to be present at the meal to claim the photos. With attractions, you don’t actually need to ride the attraction, but at some point in the next 24 hours you will need to go by the attraction to claim the photo. It’s OK if the attraction photo isn’t of you; as long as it’s a photo of someone in your party you can add it to Memory Maker. It’s a good idea to tell everyone you’re traveling with to write down (or take a picture) of the photo numbers for any ride photos they want, and then tell you so you can go by the attraction and claim them.
Archive USB Flash Drive
You can purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one USB flash drive for $34.95 if you’ve purchased Memory Maker or have a valid Walt Disney World annual pass. The PhotoPass Archive USB flash drive grants you a copyright release so that you can share, print or create products with the photos yourself. It can be purchased at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com.
Please note: this option is not available with Memory Maker One Day.
You can purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one DVD for $34.95 if you’ve purchased Memory Maker or have a valid Walt Disney World annual pass. The PhotoPass Archive Disc grants you a copyright release so that you can share, print or create products with the photos yourself. It can be purchased at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com.
We received this interesting information about the DVD from MouseSavers.com reader Ann F: “it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, they will all be on the DVDs when you order them. I’ve ordered one disc with almost 700 photos and I’m ordering one today that has 800 photos. I’ve heard of someone ordering the disc and there were 1200 photos. They do only put 300 [photos on each] disc, so you’ll get several discs [even if you only place one order].”
- Save $25 when you pre-order your Walt Disney World Memory Maker Package! The discounted pre-order price is $185 instead of $210. Note that a pre-order Memory Maker package will not cover any photos taken within 3 days after ordering, so if you are going to arrive within 3 days and want Memory Maker, you may want to buy it in person when you arrive.
- Active or retired US military personnel can purchase a Walt Disney World Memory Maker Package for only $98 January 1 through December 20, 2024! This offer is only available at Walt Disney World Resort ticket windows. Valid military identification required for purchase. There is a limit of 2 Memory Maker Packages per family. For more details go to Disney Military Tips or the Walt Disney World website just below the details about the Military Salute ticket offer. Thanks to Small World Vacations & Military Disney Tips for info.
While you can pick up a few odds and ends (milk, juice, bread, bandaids) at the shops in any of the Disney resorts and many off-site hotels, the prices will be very high and the selection limited. Here are a few places you can go for your basic necessities that are very near Disney World and Disney Springs. In most cases you will need a rental car or a taxi to reach these stores.
Disney has several on-property Speedway stations, including one right across the street from Disney Springs and one across the street from Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Many MouseSavers.com readers have written in to say that these stations have reasonable prices on soft drinks, beer and bottled water. They also carry a variety of pre-made food items, including pizzas and subs. If that’s all you need, you might just want to grab your items at Speedway and skip the supermarket. If you need any other groceries, Speedway isn’t a great bet: readers report that selection is very limited and some prices (i.e., for a half-gallon of milk) were actually higher than the prices in the Disney hotel shops.
Publix has an excellent selection, including a whole section of British foods and a very appealing deli area (the sandwiches are quite tasty, and they do a Cuban-style mojo pork meal that is kind of legendary). You don’t need a shopper’s card to get discounts here, which is nice for non-locals. It’s easily reachable from both Disney Springs and the southern end of International Drive, but the location is a bit obscure. The address is 8145 Vineland Avenue and the phone number is (407) 238-9924.
- To get to Publix from Disney Springs, take Hotel Plaza Blvd to Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535) and turn right (south). Go about 1/2 mile to Vineland and turn left. Drive about 3 miles up Vineland Avenue and the store is on the left.
- To get to Publix from International Drive S., simply go north or south (depending on your location on I-Drive S. – you’ll have to consult a map) to Vineland Avenue, which connects with I-Drive S. You can only turn one way (west) onto Vineland Avenue. The store is less than a mile down Vineland Avenue, on the right.
- You can get food delivered to your hotel from Publix via Instacart. At Disney hotels and most other Orlando hotels, you don’t need to be present when the delivery person shows up, but there is a handling charge at Disney hotels, and there might be a similar charge at other hotels.
In addition to the usual pharmacy items, Walgreens stores have a huge selection of general merchandise (including picnic supplies, cold drinks, cheap flip-flops, etc) at normal prices. There are two very close to the Disney Springs area:
- 12100 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), about two lights north of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd, on the west side of the street. Phone number is (407) 238-0400. This store also has a “Take Care Clinic” with basic urgent care facilities.
- 13502 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), a few blocks south of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just past the intersection with I-4, on the west side of the street. Phone number is (407) 827-1000.
- You can get delivery from Walgreens to most hotels using Postmates. At Disney hotels and most other Orlando hotels, you don’t need to be present when the delivery person shows up, but there is a handling charge at Disney hotels, and there might be a similar charge at other hotels.
Winn-Dixie has a good selection including a deli, in-store bakery, pharmacy, and 1-hour photo services — all at non-resort prices. You may want to get a free Winn-Dixie Customer Rewards Card in order to take advantage of the many special prices that are only available to card holders. You can fill out the application online (under “Reward Card Enrollment”) and receive the card in the mail, or fill out an application at the store and get the card right then.
The closest Winn-Dixie to Walt Disney World is located at 11957 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), about 3 lights north of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just north of the intersection with Lake Avenue, on the east side of the street.
MouseSavers.com reader Dianne C has this excellent suggestion: “I obtained a Winn-Dixie shopping card, as recommended on your website. I found out before leaving that Winn-Dixie posts their new weekly ad every Thursday through the following Wednesday at www.winn-dixie.com. I was able to plan meals based on their sales and could then figure out what items to bring from home. (If a recipe calls for 3 or 4 spices, I measure out the amounts and put them in a small snack size zip-lock bag.) It was truly a HUGE money and time saver.”
There are two major highways you can use to get from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World. Both are tollways.
The easiest and most direct route is to use Greeneway (SR 417). This road is uncrowded and makes a straight shot to Walt Disney World. Depending on where you exit, the tolls will total about $3 each way with a transponder or $6 cash.
Hint: When we are driving from the airport, we usually exit Greeneway (SR 417) at World Center Drive (SR 536). Getting to that exit costs $3 in tolls. Exiting here puts you directly on World Center Drive, a major (non-toll) highway that goes straight into Disney’s parks and resorts. Also, just after you exit at World Center Drive (SR 536), you have the option of making a right turn on Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), which takes you to the Disney Springs area. Be sure to consult a map, though — if you’re staying on the far side of Walt Disney World (i.e. near the Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom), it may save you time to stay on Greeneway (SR 417) and pay more in tolls.
If you want to save roughly $1 each way on tolls, you can use Beeline Expressway (SR 528) and connect to I-4 South. However, this route often puts you in traffic jams on I-4 and it is not as direct.
If you are driving a rental car, you should definitely bring your own transponder (see below) or pay your tolls in cash, as rental car companies charge significant extra fees whenever you go through the SunPass lanes.
If you visit the Orlando area fairly regularly, it may be worth your while to order a SunPass Pro transponder (currently about $15, including suction cup mount) or an E-ZPass transponder (FREE from Massachussetts, but you’ll want to spend around $10 to get a suction cup mount), which will let you drive straight through any of the “rolling toll” lanes on Florida highways (and also most other East Coast states), and pay a discounted rate to boot!
If you only need to pay tolls in and around Orlando and are flying into Orlando International (MCO), there is another simple method for avoiding rental car toll “convenience fees” you can read about here: Visitor Toll Pass. However, if you come often, it’s easier to have your own transponder than to have to pick one up each time you visit. Plus, you can use your transponder for almost any toll road or bridge anywhere in the eastern United States.
The transponder will only save you about $6-$8 per round trip between Orlando airport and Disney World. The primary benefit is convenience. You can sail through toll lanes without stopping, and when you encounter an unstaffed toll location that requires exact change you don’t have to hunt around under the seat cushions for quarters.
If you don’t already have a compatible toll pass and will primarily be using the pass in Florida, get a SunPass Pro. In our experience, it works somewhat better in Florida (fewer toll plaza read failures), and you’ll want a SunPass account anyway, so you can register your own car or your rental cars.
You can order a SunPass Pro online, or you can just stop at any Walgreens or Publix in the Orlando area and buy one on the spot. You’ll need to activate it online, which you can do with your smartphone. Be sure to buy the kind with suction cups that you can move between cars.
If you are going to use a SunPass Pro in rental cars, you will want to bookmark the SunPass site on your phone, or download their phone app, as you’ll want to register the license plate of your rental car each time you rent one and will be using the transponder. It’s very easy, and you can enter how long you’ll have the car for, so it’ll automatically be removed from your account when the time ends. Registering your rental car is not strictly necessary, but it’s very helpful. If your toll transponder doesn’t read for any reason, Florida’s toll authority will first try looking up the license plate in its SunPass database. If they don’t find a registered vehicle, they will check if the plate is registered to a rental car company. They will then charge the rental company, who will pass the charge onto you, plus their “convenience fee.”
If you want to buy a SunPass Pro at the beginning of your next trip to Orlando, there’s a Walgreens directly north of the airport, at 5702 Lee Vista Blvd, Orlando, FL 32822. You just exit via the North entrance to the airport and merge onto Semoran Boulevard. The Walgreens is about 4 blocks up on the right, at the corner of Semoran and Lee Vista. You do not need to go through a toll booth to reach the Walgreens, and it’s easy to get back on the freeway from there.
If you mostly plan to spend a bunch of time in one of the East Coast states that use E-ZPass, but will occasionally visit Florida, our recommendation is to get a Massachusetts E-ZPass. It works fine in Florida (and most other eastern states), they don’t charge for the physical transponder, there’s no annual fee, they allow you to use it in a rental car, and they won’t cancel your pass if you don’t use it for a long time. All the other options either have extra charges, problematic policies or don’t offer passes to non-residents.
If you’ll be using an E-ZPass in rental cars, you are going to want to get a suction cup mount for it, as the rental car companies won’t like it if you use the very sticky mounting tape that comes with E-ZPass transponders.
You should also register for a Florida SunPass account, and register any rental car with SunPass before you leave the airport. If your toll transponder doesn’t read for any reason, Florida’s toll authority will first try looking up the license plate in its SunPass database, then possibly check the database of the state the license plate is from. If none of those work, they will check if the plate is registered to a rental car company. They will then charge the rental car company, who will pass the charge onto you, tacking on their “convenience fee.”
In our experience, registering your rental car’s license plate with Massachusetts E-ZPass doesn’t necessarily work, unless the car has Massachusetts plates. If the Florida toll readers don’t detect a transponder, and they can’t find the plate registered in the Florida SunPass database, we believe they will check next with the tolling authority of the state the license plate is from. Rental cars you get in Florida will typically have licenses from all over the eastern United States, so the chances that the license plate’s state matches the state of your E-ZPass is slim. Play it safe and register with Florida SunPass as a backup in case the toll reader malfunctions.
Disney has several on-property Speedway stations with low gas prices. In fact, the Speedway prices are usually the lowest or close to the lowest in the Orlando area. There’s no need to drive way off property to get gas. There are also WaWa locations near Disney property and near the airport with very good fuel prices.
We have always used one of the Disney area stations to gas up our rental car before heading back to the airport and we have never been charged for additional gas by the rental agency — the gas gauge is always still on “Full”. So remember to gas up before you get on the highway back to the airport!
On your way to the airport, a good place to gas up your car is the station (currently a Mobil, but it has changed brands multiple times over the years) located immediately before you get on Greeneway (SR 417) from World Center Drive (SR 536). The actual street address is 7900 World Center Drive and it is just west of International Drive. The gas prices here are usually very good for the area.
If you want to gas up closer to the airport, there is a station on airport property (currently a Shell), just south of the main terminal. Just take the airport exit from SR 417, and it’s several miles up on the right hand side, right near the turnoff for terminal C, easily visible from the main road. The prices are very good, similar to the prices at the station mentioned above on World Center.
The nearest gas station north of the airport (“Landing Strip” aka “Suncoast Energy” on Semoran Boulevard) is a complete rip-off. This station habitually charges nearly TWICE the normal price for gas and does not have signs to let people know the prices before they pull in. You won’t realize you’re paying a ridiculous price unless you look closely at the pump! There’s also a “Sun” gas station across the street with similarly ridiculous prices.
There is a Wawa just about a block further north of the Suncoast on the other side of the road with normal gas prices – our recommendation is to use that one if you’re coming in via the north airport entrance.
Standard parking at the theme parks is $30 per day ($35 for campers or trailers), tax included. If you will be leaving the parking lot and returning on the same day, or even parking at another theme park on the same day, be sure to save your receipt. You won’t have to pay again; the fee covers parking at all four theme parks for the whole day. MouseSavers.com reader Adam S notes that it’s often fastest to “pay with your credit card at the parking booths. Disney’s credit card system at the parking booths is lightning fast and I’ve always got my receipt faster than any attendant can make change for cash.”
- Parking at the theme parks is FREE for Disney World Annual Passholders, including Incredi-Pass, Sorcerer, Pirate and Pixie Dust.
- Parking at the theme parks is FREE for those staying in Disney’s official resort hotels and the Swan & Dolphin (but not the Disney Springs resort area hotels or Shades of Green).
Disney offers Preferred Parking at the main theme parks for $45-$55 per day, depending on season, tax included. The preferred parking is closer to the entrance or the tram stops. Most of the time, it saves maybe 2-3 minutes of walking. Given all the walking you’ll be doing all day, we can’t recommend it as a good value. If you will be leaving the parking lot and returning on the same day, or even parking at another theme park on the same day, be sure to save your receipt. You won’t have to pay again; the fee allows you to use preferred parking at all four theme parks for the whole day. Resort guests who qualify for free parking can pay the $15-$25 difference to upgrade to preferred parking.
Valet parking at Disney Deluxe resorts is $33 per day including tax, plus tip ($3-5 or so is a pretty normal tip). If you decide to use valet parking, be sure you are issued a receipt. It will allow you to valet park at any Disney resort at no additional charge (except tips) for the rest of that day.
The following guests get FREE valet parking at the Disney Deluxe resorts (but should still tip):
- Guests with a license plate or hangtag indicating they qualify for handicapped parking.
Self-parking at the Disney resort hotels is FREE. Though take note of the note below about parking when visiting a hotel for food or just to check out the lobby:
- If you are not staying at the hotel and the parking lot is near full, they may give you a three-hour parking pass, or they may not let you park at all unless you have a dining reservation there (they can look up your reservation by name). Please note that the Polynesian and Contemporary have much more limited self-parking space than the other hotels, so you are more likely to be turned away at those resorts. (Day visitors can always valet park at the resorts, but will pay the standard valet parking fee.)
Long Distance from Hotels
Believe me, you don’t want to direct-dial any long-distance calls from a hotel. You will pay through the nose! Virtually all hotels add huge surcharges to long-distance calls. It’s a big profit center for them. The law requires that phone charges be prominently posted — there should be a rate card next to the phone in your hotel room. Be sure to study it carefully, because hotel policies and charges vary widely.
The most obvious way to avoid the long-distance surcharges at most hotels is to use a mobile phone. If you’re visiting from outside the US, make sure you know what roaming will cost you; some non-US phone carriers charge an arm and a leg to make calls in the US.
If you’re coming from another country and your phone service is insanely expensive in the US, you might consider getting a US SIM card (T-Mobile prepaid is a decent choice, or Mint Mobile is an option for longer trips). If it’s inconvenient to buy it in advance, just swing by a Target, Walmart or T-Mobile store on the way from the airport and buy a prepaid starter kit. Then use the forwarding feature of your phone service to forward to the new US number, and tell your friends and family back home that while you’re in Orlando your texts and calls will come from the US number. You may be able to reuse the SIM next time you’re in the US, though check with the carrier – some of them deactivate the SIM if it isn’t used in a long time.
Disney Theme Parks
All four theme parks offer FREE Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access) in the parks. The network is called Disney-Guest.
The Disney hotels have FREE Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access) in the guest rooms, plus various public areas, such as the lobby, bus stops and main pool deck.
The Ft. Wilderness Campground does not have Wi-Fi and it’s unknown if Wi-Fi is planned there: in the meantime, wired access is still available at the Campground and it is FREE.
Most other hotels near Walt Disney World do offer high-speed Internet access in their guest rooms. Typically the fee is around $10 per night, but this varies widely. Because the type of access and the cost (if any) is constantly evolving, it’s best to call the hotel you are considering to get the current details.
Disney’s resorts that have conference centers (Beach Club, Contemporary, Coronado Springs, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club) have public Internet access available. It is expensive — roughly $10 for 15 minutes. Limited hours — ask at the front desk.
Most other hotels have a business center or a few public computers for printing boarding passes or checking email. Some of them may involve a fee; check with the hotel to be sure.
If you are staying at one of Disney’s Walt Disney World resort hotels, you can request the following items from the front desk (note that certain resorts will already have some of these items in the room):
- high chair
- baby crib
- bed rails
- European electric adapters (these just change the plug pins, not the voltage)
- hair dryer
- iron & ironing board
- wheelchair (keep for length of stay – saves you from having to rent at the parks)
- assistive listening devices
- sharps (hypodermic needle) disposal containers
Thanks to Binnie B, Grace, Lisa M, Dwayne O and Rachel D for the info.
Don’t be shy about mentioning special occasions — honeymoon, birthday, anniversary — to the reservations agent, front desk, waiters and other Cast Members. There is no guarantee that you’ll get a special treat, but it does happen. When MouseSavers.com founder Mary Waring stayed at the Wilderness Lodge on her honeymoon, they received a bottle of champagne in their room after they mentioned the occasion to the desk clerk. They have also been given free dessert at Disney World restaurants on at least four occasions, after mentioning a birthday or anniversary.
- Birthday Buttons
- Special Occasion Cakes
- Special Surprises: Flowers, Gift Baskets and More
- Honeymoon and Anniversary Buttons
- Custom Parties
- More Romantic Ideas
MouseSavers.com reader LeCarla R points out that on your birthday, you can go to “Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom and tell them it’s your birthday …. you get a special pin to wear, and you get a ‘phone call’ from a character (my daughter ‘talked’ to Goofy). When we went to the Crystal Palace to eat, the waitress noticed her pin and brought her a birthday card signed by all the ‘Pooh’ characters and they brought her a special birthday cupcake, complete with candle! Later, a Cast Member noticed her pin and offered her a pin from his lanyard, and told her he usually traded, but that was her birthday present! With the birthday pin, lots of other ‘magical’ events can happen!”
The reader above mentioned her daughter was given a “pin.” It’s really more of a large round badge-style button with the birthday celebrant’s name written on it with a marker.
If your child gets autographs from characters while wearing their birthday button, the characters will sometimes write a happy birthday message. (This doesn’t always happen, so it’s best not to tell children about it in advance; let it be a surprise if it does.)
Prices listed below are subject to change at any time.
You can arrange for small non-personalized decorated Mickey Mouse cakes (serves 4-6 people) to be served after your meal at select Disney World resort table-service restaurants. Stop by the host’s podium in advance or when you check-in for your reservation. Requests must be made in person. The cost is $39 plus tax and tip.
You can also pre-order a cake from Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, with your choice of seasonal petit cake ($16-$22 plus tax) or a Disney-inspired character cake ($65 plus tax). Place your order at least 48 hours in advance by calling (407) 934-3500 or in person in the shop.
Hint: if you will have access to a car, order and pick up a decorated cake from Publix supermarket. The quality is excellent and the prices are much better than Disney’s. They even have some Disney cake designs.
Magical Floral and Gifts by Florida Fresh Floral can take orders for flower arrangements, gift baskets and balloon bouquets and deliver them to your Disney resort hotel, Good Neighbor resort or to hotels located on Disney property. Your order will be delivered to the hotel’s front desk. To order, you can visit their website or call 1-888-814-8714. You can order as late as the same day before noon; orders will be delivered between 9 am and 9 pm.
Town Hall and some Guest Services desks may have badge-style buttons for those celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon. If you’re celebrating something special, it’s worth popping by and mentioning it. When you’re wearing a button you may find you’ll receive extra attention from at least some Cast Members.
For those with really, really deep pockets, the party-planning experts on the Walt Disney World Resort Sales team can turn one spark of imagination into a fully-themed creative bash with detailed décor and entertainment. Expect to pay many thousands of dollars for these over-the-top events. A “Villain” party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios might feature a crypt entrance, an eerie Tower of Terror bellhop host and gifts sent by favorite Disney villains. An “Under the Sea” party might include appearances by characters from Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid,” a band playing Disney songs and a “bubble cave” party space lit in deep-water blue with ocean sound effects. Call (321) 939-7129 for more information.
Want more romantic ideas for a Disney World vacation? Check out MouseSavers ideas for great places to propose, romantic places to eat and fun things for couples to do.
Most of Walt Disney World is in Orange County, where the sales tax rate is 6.5% and the hotel tax rate works out to 12.5% (6.5% sales tax + 6% resort tax).
Disney’s All Star Resorts are in Osceola County, where the sales tax rate is 7% and the resort tax is 6%, so the hotel tax rate at those three hotels is 13%.
If you have a life-threatening medical emergency while at Walt Disney World, of course you should call 911. But what if you have a kid with an ear infection, or something like that?
If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can contact the front desk and they will help you make arrangements to visit an urgent care center or have a doctor make a “house call” to your hotel room. Be aware that this will probably be costly and may not be covered by your insurance.
- CentraCare at 12500 South Apopka Vineland Road (SR 535). (Between Hotel Plaza Blvd and Palm Parkway.) Call 407-934-CARE (2273) for hours. They have a shuttle that can pick guests up from local hotels.
- Buena Vista Urgent Care at 8200 World Center Drive. (At the corner of 535 and 536, next to 7-Eleven and CVS Pharmacy.)
We have not used any of these services so we can’t vouch for their quality.
If you need something from a pharmacy (forgotten prescription, etc.) see above.
Prices listed below are subject to change at any time.
Kids Nite Out
Kids Nite Out is a private in-room babysitting service that is available 24/7 at the Walt Disney World resorts. Cost is $30.00/hour for one child + $3.00/hour for each additional child, plus gratuity. 4-hour minimum. There is an additional $5.00/hour charge before 7:59 am and after 8:59 pm, and a one-time transportation fee of $15.00 is applied to each bill. Additional fees may apply for holidays and special events. Reservations can be made online or by calling (800) 696-8105.
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels’ Camp Dolphin
Camp Dolphin accepts potty-trained children ages 5-12 and is open 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Includes your child’s meal, supervised activities and a supervised trip to the game room. Camp Dolphin is available at:
- 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm for $65 per child
- 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm for $50 per child
- 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm for $85 for the 1st child; $65 for each additional child
Space is very limited so advance reservations are recommended. You can make a Camp Dolphin reservation online.
- Get two hours FREE with a receipt from certain Swan and Dolphin restaurants (Shula’s Steak House, Todd English’s bluezoo, il Mulino New York Trattoria) or if you have a 75-minute or longer spa treatment at the Mandara Spa.
Reader Marya C writes, “One great way I have found to save money is to team up with other families and share expenses. We have done this and are sharing the cost of transfers (we will pay less to take a limousine to the airport than we would just to park!). Rather than use expensive babysitting services at the parks, we may have each adult couple take a babysitting night so others can go out… the cost of two families splitting the tab for a minivan and condo would make the trip very affordable. I have always found that vacationing with friends keeps everyone on check. The kids do not get that ‘stuck in a hotel with my sibling’ syndrome and having a friend there to break up the monotony is great.”