Disney Archives - Real Mom Recs



2019 Disney Movie Release Dates

If your family is anything like mine, they are incredulous about how many exciting Disney movies are coming out this year! The kids are actually going through and putting them on the calendar so we can keep track of all of them. With this handy cheat sheet, you can do the same! Here are all the 2019 Disney movie release dates.

2019 Disney movie release dates


Spring 2019 Disney Movies

These have already been released, but some are still in theaters. If you missed them be on the lookout for DVD releases!

Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019

Kimpossible– March 2019 on Disney Channel

Dumbo– March 27, 2019

Disneynature’s Penguins– April 19, 2019

Avengers: Endgame– April 24, 2019

Aladdin– May 22, 2019

This live action remake delighted me as much as it did my children. Visually stunning, it sticks close to the original story (music included) but still feels fresh and new. Will Smith nailed it as Genie.

Summer 2019 Disney releases

Toy Story 4– June 19, 2019

Nine long years after the last installment, and a whopping 24 years after the original, this sequel has been a long time coming. And I’m very interested to see how Keanu Reeves fits in with the original stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.

The Lion King– July 17, 2019

This is another live action remake, and given that the cast is all animals I can’t wait to see how they pull off 100% CGI characters!

Descendants 3– August 2, 2019 on Disney Channel

The Art of Racing In The Rain: August 9, 2019

A family dog reflects on the life lessons learned from its owner who happens to be a race car driver. Sounds interesting!

Fall-Winter 2019 Disney movie releases

Frozen 2– November 21, 2019

While little is known about the plot, you can bet this movie is going to be an enormous hit. The original four cast members will be returning, and Sterling K. Brown and Evan Rachel Woods join in for the sequel.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker– December 18, 2019

We didn’t expect Disney to build two new Star Wars lands and then stop making movies, did we? The Skywalker saga will come to its conclusion as the remaining Resistance face the First Order once more.

Spies in Disguise– December 25, 2019

An original animated movie starring Will Smith as a spy who gets turned into a pigeon.

What to lookout for in 2020

Artemis Fowl- The best-selling young adult novel is finally hitting the big screen May 29, 2020.

Cruella- It’s already been given a release date of December 23, 2020. This will be a prequel to 101 Dalmatians focusing on the young life of Cruella de Vil, to be played by Emma Stone.

Mulan- The live action remakes aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Onward- A new Disney-Pixar film about two elf brothers seeking to find if true magic is still found on earth.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil- Angelina Jolie is back to pick up where she left off with the story of how Maleficent turned evil on sweet Princess Aurora. 

Guardian of the Galaxy 3

Jungle Cruise- A movie based on a Walt Disney World attraction?! I’m intrigued. Dwayne Johnson (aka the Rock) will star.

Disney Streaming Service

If you are looking forward to the remakes of Lady and the Tramp and The Sword In the Stone, you will need to view them on Disney’s new streaming service.

Called Disney Plus, it will be ad-free and will allow downloading so you can watch movies and shows offline. The cost will undercut Netflix at $6.99/month or $69.99/year.

According to CBS News, “the service’s entire lineup will cover five categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.” Disney Plus will launch November 12, 2019.

Which of the 2019 Disney movie new releases are you most looking forward to?


The Best Rides At Hollywood Studios Not To Be Missed

If you’re planning your Disney family vacation, you may be confused about what to plan for your day at Hollywood Studios. There are lots of conflicting opinions about who the park is for and how much time should be spent there. I will attempt to rank the top 5 best rides at Hollywood Studios, as well as highlight who will enjoy them the most.

best rides at Hollywood studios images include toy story land and Star Wars land

Debuting in 1989 as MGM Studios, the park was rebranded as Hollywood Studios in 2009 but retained its cinematic theme. It often gets mistaken for Universal Studios, but Hollywood Studios is one of the four Florida-based Disney parks. 

Originally focusing on classic movies, Hollywood Studios has since expanded its theme to include movies, television, and music. Two huge new recent expansions have kicked this park up several notches: Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge set to open in August 2019.

Arguably home to the most thrilling rides of Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios also has attractions that will please the youngest guests. Favorites include the Disney Junior dance party, Frozen sing along, stage shows of Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, and the uber popular Toy Story attractions.

Toy Story Mania

Toy story mania ride at Disney's Hollywood studios

  • Who Will Love It? EVERYONE!
  • Height Requirement: none
  • Fear Factor: No scary elements

Toy Story Midway Mania is the epitome of good, clean fun! Even the queue is fun with it’s life-size toys that make you feel like you’ve shrunk down to Woody’s size.

When boarding the ride, you put on 3D glasses that make the screen images jump out at you. You spin around from screen to screen, each one with a different midway-style shooting game. You shoot with your blaster and rack up points, trying to beat your seat mate. Whether you care about the score or not, it’s a blast.

Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky dog dash ride at Disney's Hollywood studios

  • Who Will Love It? The whole family, especially children 5-10
  • Height Requirement: 38 inches
  • Fear Factor: Only scary if you fear roller coasters (but it’s a pretty tame one)

This family coaster lets you zoom around inside Slinky Dog! Built on “Andy’s yard”, you’ll see green army men, Rex, Jessie, and more beloved characters as you ride.

Just about anyone will enjoy the ride, as it’s very smooth as far as roller coasters go. The intensity is on par with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so maybe a bit intense if it’s your child’s first roller coaster. I’d recommend starting with Barnstormer (a short but fun kid coaster on my list of favorite underrated Disney attractions) if you are unsure if your young child will like roller coasters.

Slinky Dog also has typically has the longest wait time of all the rides at Hollywood Studios, so you will want to make good use of Fastpass or arrive before rope drop and go straight there.

Star Tours

  • Who Will Love It? Kids and Star Wars fans of any age
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches
  • Fear Factor: The scariest part is how queasy you will feel

I need to include this one because of the mass amount of Star Wars fans visiting Hollywood Studios, even though I personally won’t ride it anymore (motion simulators make me incredibly sick).

With C-3PO piloting, you board a space craft motion simulator and go on a journey through space with tons of twists, turns and dips. In reality your seats only move slightly, but the 3D glasses and large screen have you believing otherwise.

Star Tours is another ride that has many different variations, and when the waits are short I’ve seen kids exit the ride and run around to get back on and experience a different storyline over and over again.

Hopefully this fall one of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge rides will replace this pick as one of the best Hollywood Studios rides, but as of now this is it for Star Wars fans!

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Twilight zone tower of terror ride at Disney's Hollywood studios

  • Who Will Love It? Thrill seekers, especially teens and young adults
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches
  • Fear Factor: The word “terror” is in its name. Psychologically and physically scary!

If you love the feeling of your stomach dropping down to year heels, this is the ride for you!

First you are shown a scary video from the Twilight Zone to get you in the mood. Then you take an elevator up (and scare you some more). Lastly, they just drop you straight down… and back up, and down again. The pattern actually varies so it’s not the exact same ride every time.

This ride is a thrill, and great fun, but make sure you ride with caution. The height requirement is 40 inches, which is the height of an average 4 year old. That does NOT mean that your 4 year old will like it! In fact, of my four kids I think the only one who would enjoy it is my oldest (10 years old). 

The others would be spooked by the creepiness of it, and absolutely lose their minds at the drop.

I first rode Tower of Terror as a teen and have loved it ever since.

Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith 

  • Who Will Love It? Thrill seekers of all ages
  • Height Requirement: 48 inches tall
  • Fear Factor: Ride is extremely fast and has inversions, but the theme is lighthearted and not intending to terrify

This high speed, thrilling coaster has the highest height restriction in all of Walt Disney World. 48 inches means most kids under age 7 or 8 will not be able to ride.

And that’s for the best, because this one is intense.

I feel the need to warn everyone before they go on this ride to keep your head back as soon as you get to the launch area (with the stoplight and countdown). When it takes off, it explodes out of the gate and you could get some major whiplash if your head isn’t already being supported by the headrest.

Even though it’s really fast, goes upside down and is super intense, the ride is still really enjoyable because it’s not at all jerky. You don’t bounce around and feel beat up afterward (I’m looking at you, Big Thunder). Other than the start and stop, it’s very smooth. And you feel so exhilarated after!

On Tiana’s one on one trip, she made me ride Rock n’ Roller coaster 3 times in a row, which about did me in… but she was still thirsty for more!

This is probably your best choice for Fastpass (Tier 2) along with Tower of Terror (also Tier 2) and Slinky Dog as your Tier 1. You’ll beat the crowds the most with that strategy.

Other Hollywood Studios attractions and shows not to be missed

Fantasmic nighttime spectacular

Hollywood Studios is centered around Hollywood of course, so some of the best attractions at the park are shows, not rides.

Muppet Vision 3D

A cute and funny 3D show (at the attraction they strike out 3D and call it 4D because of the additional elements like bubbles and water), this is aimed at children but adults will enjoy it too. If you like Mickey’s Philharmagic at Magic Kingdom, this is the same idea except Muppets instead of Mickey and the gang.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

I saw this as a very young kid, and the last time I saw it (2018) I was amazed at how unchanged it is! Still an exciting stunt show with classic scenes from Indiana Jones. You don’t need to have seen the movies to be into the show, it’s still cool to see without the context. 

The show does involve very loud noises, explosions, fire, etc. Last time we saw it, my 8 year old boy was in awe!


No visit to Hollywood Studios is complete without seeing this epic nighttime show. Follow Mickey into his dream channeling music and themes from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in Fantasia. The show involves light and water effects and is larger-than-life. 

The show follows on a journey with music and characters from many of the famous Disney movies and turns dark when some villains get involved. But like all things Disney, it wraps up nicely with a happy ending.

What do YOU think are the best rides at Hollywood Studios?

Agree with me or not, I want to hear your favorites!


The Worst Disney Advice You Should Never Follow

You know what they say about people and opinions? Somehow that’s even more true when it comes to planning a trip to Disney World. There is no shortage of Disney World advice out there, the problem is that so much of it is very, very wrong.

Here is some of the WORST Disney advice I’ve ever heard, that you should never, ever follow!

Worst Disney Advice

Disney World is just for kids

People! Just no.

I’ll tell you who Disney World is for: people who like Disney World!

That includes a lot of children (but not all) and a lot of adults (but not all).

Disney World advice

Some of my fondest Disney memories are trips I did with only adults. One was a trip my siblings, father, and uncle and I took after my mother passed away. We figured a visit to the happiest place on earth was in store to distract us from our grief, and it actually did.

Another was the trip my husband and I took for our 5 year wedding anniversary. We already had 3 kids by that point, but decided to go just the two of us. It was a very different kind of trip than when we’ve brought the kids, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

That was the only trip that we were able to make it all the way around World Showcase, including stopping to watch all the country movies and enjoy a Gray Goose slush in France.

Disney World advice

There are lots of unique Disney experiences geared specifically at adults, including fine dining locations such as:

  • California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
  • Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion at Epcot)
  • Narcoosee’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Jiko (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)
  • Victoria and Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)

Just to name a few!

There are also VIP tours that are for adults only, including the popular Keys to the Kingdom Tour.

Yes, Disney is fantastic at catering to kids. But if you are jonesing for an adults-only trip, by all means GO FOR IT!

Animal Kingdom is just a zoo

Here is another one that grinds my gears.

Animal Kingdom is a theme park that mainly revolves around animals, but it is not at all comparable to your local zoo.

One of the most mind-blowing, technologically advanced rides anywhere in the world is found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is called Flight of Passage and you can find it in the Pandora section, an elaborately themed land from the movie Avatar. (Note: there are no animals found in that entire land. Because Animal Kingdom is not a zoo!)

The animal experiences at Animal Kingdom (Kilimanjaro Safaris, Maharajah Jungle Trek) are very well done and worth doing. You feel like you’re on a real African safari and get to view animals in a natural habitat, not in cages. They are better than what you’d find at a zoo, and they are only a small part of the park.

The rest of Animal Kingdom is like all of WDW: immersive, full of details evoking all the senses, unique dining experiences, characters, rides, etc. There are also some spectacular shows, our favorite being the Festival of the Lion King which is interactive with the audience and tells a story with amazing acrobatics.

Be spontaneous with your dinners

This could be decent advice if you are only looking to do quick service dining. But if you want to enjoy some more relaxing sit down dinners, it is truly some BAD Disney advice.

Dining is a huge part of the Disney experience, whether you’re talking about character meals or adults-only signature restaurants. Many restaurants book COMPLETELY as soon as the 180 day booking window opens! You want to plan your reservations as soon as possible or risk not getting any (or not getting what you want). 

Do not wait to book your Disney dining reservations

Yes, it’s a drag to have to plan your meals 6 months in advance and it would be more fun if it could be spontaneous. You can certainly check the app on the day of just to see if anything opens up, because of course people’s plans change. Just do not count on that method if you really want to book certain meals. Play it safe and book 180 days out.

Don’t use Fastpass for lines that are fun

This advice is well-meaning and usually comes from Disney fans. But I’m as much of a fan as they come, and I have to say this is some bad Disney advice.

Disney is brilliant and they have done as much as possible to make waiting in long lines less miserable. (See my post about beating Disney crowds if you hate lines as much as I do!) So they have added some entertaining elements to the longest queues to help people get through them. Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Winnie the Pooh all have some fun things to do and see while you wait.

Does this mean it’s worth it to wait an hour or more in line? That answer is simple: NOPE.

Long lines are never fun, even with a few pieces of entertainment thrown in. Even with the PLAY app to pass the time, I’d still rather be elsewhere in WDW doing more instead of being stuck in a line. 

The best ways to bypass those long lines? Take your trip when it’s a slow time of year, go to the parks when it’s a slow time of day, and make the most of your Fastpass selections!

The ONLY exception to this (in my opinion) would be Dumbo. I never Fastpass Dumbo, because the wait is not a line. Instead they give you a pager like one you’d get while waiting for dinner in a restaurant. You then sit in the air conditioning and rest your feet while the kids play in a Dumbo-themed play area. It is a total win all-around and not at all like waiting in a typical line.

Dumbo queue play area

You need to do as much as possible to get your money’s worth

This is a great way to ruin a good vacation.

First of all, wrong mindset. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen a grown adult have a tantrum in response to a tired or scared child saying “Do you know how much I paid for this vacation?” or something similar. If you can’t afford a trip, don’t take the trip. It’s a horrible idea to pay too much for a trip and then try to force your money’s worth out of it.

Secondly, trying to do it all is what ends up making the trip a bad experience. No one will enjoy a trip when you are sleep deprived and forced to stay in the parks from open to close! That doesn’t make it more fun or more “valuable”, that just makes it miserable.

Some of the most fun Disney days are when you cut your park time short and go hang by the pool. Or when you decide to rest in the room and you all end up in bed watching Disney movies together. It doesn’t have to be go go go all the time to be a fun vacation, it just needs to be time spent together with room for magic to happen.

Kids don’t like Epcot

While Epcot is probably the most adult-friendly of all the parks, that doesn’t mean it isn’t for kids.

In fact on one of my trips with kids, my then-5 year old declared Epcot his favorite park. Test Track was his favorite ride in all of WDW and he had a blast playing the Phinneas and Ferb hunt through World Showcase (Agent P). He would also pay the price of admission just to spend an hour mixing sodas at Club Cool.

happy kid at Epcot
Here is one happy kid who NEVER wants to skip Epcot

Future World is full of fun rides and experiences for kids, and World Showcase is so different from the rest of WDW that it makes for a great change of pace for the kids too. Sure, they probably won’t appreciate Impression de France or watching their parents drink around the world, but if you make it about the kids there is tons for them to enjoy. Kidcot stops, exploring the pavilions, trying new foods from different countries, and meeting characters are some of the things kids love at Epcot.

If you go at a slow time of year, you don’t need Fastpass

This is not just bad advice, it also makes no sense. Fastpass is free and included with your ticket, why in the world would you NOT make use of it?

While I highly recommend traveling at slow times of year (January, February, September), it’s important to know that there is no time of year when there aren’t lines at WDW. Low crowds make it easier to fit more attractions in as lines are overall shorter, but the most popular attractions have long lines 365 days a year. Fastpass is your friend ALWAYS.

Don’t bother bringing a baby or toddler to Disney, they won’t remember it

Maybe they won’t, but YOU will! Taking little ones to Disney is peak magic.

Toddler at Disney

There is nothing like seeing a two year old’s face light up when she meets her favorite character! And when they get older they will love seeing the photos. You can keep memories alive by telling stories and showing photos too.

The only time I agree with this advice is if you KNOW this will be your child’s one and only trip to Disney World. If that’s the case, I think there are better times to go (ages 5-9 would probably be my favorite). Old enough to have some stamina, but young enough to still be a true believer.

But if you have an opportunity to take a trip when your child is a toddler, and you’re up for the challenge, it can be very well worth your effort. Here are some tips for doing Disney with a toddler and the best Disney attractions to do with preschoolers.

What is the worst Disney advice you’ve heard?

I know there is more bad advice out there! Share in the comments and let’s see if we agree.


Doing Disney While Pregnant? What You Need To Know

Are you thinking about doing Disney while pregnant? Whether being pregnant at Disney was an unexpected plot twist or a planned decision, many women are nervous how pregnancy will affect their trip to the most Magical Place on Earth. But fear not- a trip to Disney World can be as magical as ever even if you’re expecting!

Let’s go over some of the major do’s and don’ts of tackling Disney during pregnancy, and then get to the all important question: Can I still go on rides?

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Top Tips For Doing Disney While Pregnant

Avoid Heat

Try to plan your travel between the months of October and April if at all possible. May to September can range from pleasantly warm to unbearably hot, and many women are bothered by the heat even more than usual during pregnancy.

If your trip has already been planned and it’s during the sweltering summer months, make sure to go prepared. I always recommend bringing these Misting Fans everywhere you go. It really does help you stay comfortable!

Other ways to avoid getting overheated:

-use a Cooling Neck Towel

-go back to your hotel room or to the hotel pool during the hottest time of day (noon to 3pm or so). This works especially well if you have a toddler who needs to nap then anyway.

-spend some time at one of the water parks

-plan frequent stops inside air conditioning (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Carousel of Progress, or inside any shops or restaurants).

Stay on top of hunger and thirst

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Photo credit: Simplybessy.com

No matter the weather, be sure you stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar up. These are easy to overlook when you are going from attraction to attraction, but when you’re pregnant you don’t want to compromise your health in any way.

To stay hydrated: Stick some water bottles in the freezer the night before you head to the parks. Then put a couple in an insulated cooler bag inside your park bag. As they melt throughout the day you’ll have some nice refreshing water without even having to get out of line or make an extra stop.

You can also stop in at any quick service food location in the parks and they will give you a cup of tap water free of charge.

Once you feel thirsty, dehydration is already kicking in. So stay ahead of it by planning your water breaks. Come up with a set interval that you’re going to take a water break. Every time you change “lands”, or every 3-4 attractions might be an appropriate interval. Or you can set a reminder on your phone to go off every hour reminding you to drink up.

Similarly, be planful about your meals and snacks. Of course there are tons of tempting sweet treats on every corner of Walt Disney World, and it’s fine to indulge here and there. But you’ll also want to make sure you are packing or buying nutritious snacks like nuts and fruit to refuel your body.

Minimize Walking

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Jodi of Tips From The Disney Diva did Disney while pregnant with TWINS!

I always recommend hitting the Disney parks with a plan, such as planning to avoid crowds, making the best fastpass selections, and saving money on your Disney trip.

When you visit Disney World pregnant, you should also make a plan to minimize walking.

WDW Info estimates that an average day at the parks involves 10 to 12 miles of walking! That is a lot more than most of us are used to doing. And if you’re suffering from common pregnancy ailments such as back pain, sore feet, and fatigue, it will be even more difficult.

Take it one “land” at a time

Make sure to plan your day to avoid criss-crossing the park to get to Fastpass and dining reservations. I recommend taking it one “land” at at time and covering what you want in that land entirely before moving on to the next. Personally, at Magic Kingdom I like to start in Fantasyland and then continue on clockwise and end in Frontierland, but you can tackle it any way you like.

Take frequent breaks

Find a comfortable bench to sit out any rides that you can’t go on with your group (more on that later). Take that time to grab your water and snack while you wait and give your feet some rest.

Again, you may want to follow this touring schedule: parks in the morning, break at your hotel during the afternoon, and then you can choose to return (or not, depending on how you feel) in the evening.

Consider a wheelchair if necessary

Doing Disney While Pregnant

Photo Credit: www.amotheradventure.com, craftedfromthekingdom.com

No shame in the pregnant mama hitching a ride in a wheelchair! If you are in too much pain to walk and don’t want to miss out on the family memories, renting a wheelchair might be a good option to keep you in the action.

You can rent a wheelchair through Disney for $12 per day, or upgrade for a motorized ECV (Electric Conveyence Vehicle) through outside companies that work with Disney. More info on wheelchair and ECV rentals here.

What Can I Ride At Disney While Pregnant?

The short answer is: LOTS!

Ultimately the decision is yours, but for a normal pregnancy you are safe to ride anything that doesn’t have a height restriction. Rides without a height restriction mean that even babies can ride, so it is a very tame ride and should pose minimal risk to your unborn child.

The rides you want to avoid are marked with an Expectant Mother Advisory on the sign. They are mostly thrill rides that require a tight harness or safety bar. Another type of ride you want to avoid are ones that jerk/bounce you around a lot, such as Tomorrowland Speedway or Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Doing Disney While Pregnant
Look for the Expectant Mother Advisory on the sign for each ride to be sure

Here are all the rides in WDW you will want to AVOID while pregnant (by park):

Magic Kingdom


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Space Mountain

Splash Mountain

Tomorrowland Speedway


Mission: Space

Test Track

Hollywood Studios

Rock N Roller Coaster

Slinky Dog Dash

Star Tours

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage


Expedition Everest

Kilimanjaro Safari

Primeval Whirl

If you’re feeling sad about many of your favorite rides being on the “do not ride” list, keep in mind there are many more rides that AREN’T on this list than ARE.

And, in addition to rides without the Expectant Mother Advisory, you can of course enjoy all the non-ride attractions like shows, parades, street performances, nighttime spectaculars, and areas to explore like Tom Sawyer Island and the countries of the World Showcase.

Of course dining experiences and meeting characters are often the highlight of a Disney vacation, and those can certainly be enjoyed while pregnant.

Doing Disney while pregnant


Sami enjoys the China pavilion in World Showcase; Megan pals around with characters.

What other questions do you have about doing Disney while pregnant?

Leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to answer!

How To Save Thousands on Trips to Disney World

If you’re planning a family trip and want to know how to save on Disney World, this is for you!

One question I get asked all the time when people hear I visit Disney World every year is, “how do you afford it?”

Yes, traveling to Disney World can be an enormous expense, especially when you don’t live within driving distance (we don’t) and you have a large family (we do!). A big family vacation including flights, hotel, tickets, and food could EASILY add up to $10,000 or more.

As much as I love Disney, I would NEVER pay that much for one trip there- not even close. So here I am to give away all my secrets of how I save on Disney World trips year after year!

(Don’t forget to bookmark or pin this post so you can refer back as you continue to plan your trip!)

How to save on Disney World

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Plan Your Trip For the Off Season

This is my number one tip for all aspects of Disney trip planning! In addition to crowds being much lower, hotel rates and ticket prices are less too.

In fact Disney itself refers to off-peak times as “value season” because their prices are adjusted accordingly!

You’ll notice the busy seasons all include times when kids are out of school. It is worth it to at least consider taking your kids out of school in order to enjoy a less expensive, less crowded vacation.

Or, take advantage of any time your child’s school has days off that the rest of the country doesn’t get. Random teacher work days or bonus breaks that are specific to your area work great.

Seasons to avoid:

  • June to mid-August
  • Christmas week to New Year’s week
  • Easter week
  • Spring break
  • Thanksgiving week

Great off-peak times to visit:

  • September (actually late August to early October, but September is the best)
  • first half of November
  • January-February
  • end of April – first week of May

Read this post for more about off-peak seasons and managing crowds.

Book Flights On Points

I absolutely love to travel, and I love it even more when I don’t have to pay for flights.

And with a family of 6, paying for flights would be a total budget-breaker.

Luckily, thanks to lots of research and good credit, I have been able to leverage credit card sign on bonuses to avoid paying list price for any of my flights in the last ten years.

The one I love the most is Southwest Rapid Reward Credit Card because they always have sign on bonuses of 40,000 to 60,000 points, which covers three of our round trip flights to Orlando. (And with companion pass, my companion flies free so that means four of us are covered.)

It is intimidating at first to do the whole credit card points game, but once I started and saw how easy it was I quickly grew to love it.

And since I always pay off all my balances in full each month, I maintained my excellent credit score. No, opening new credit cards does not adversely affect your credit!

How to save on Disney World
Such a happy day when I got this!

Check out this post for more details on how to fly for practically nothing, including the best travel perk around: Southwest Companion Pass, which I’ve been using for two years now due to two credit card sign on bonuses.

Rent DVC Points

This is another huge, huge money saver if you read up and delve into it.

In fact, it is the best kept secret for staying at a Deluxe Disney resort for the price of a Value.

Here is how it works. Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members get points on an annual basis to use for their Disney stays (think of a timeshare). If they can’t or don’t want to use them, they can rent them to others for a fee. A service like David’s Vacation Club Rentals acts as the broker for these transactions. The points allow you to stay at Deluxe Disney resorts at heavily discounted rates compared to booking through Disney directly.

Another major perk of booking on DVC points is that there are many suites and villas available to accommodate larger families. (I love staying in a unit with a kitchen so we can save on meals too!)

Want to see how much you can save by renting DVC points? Let’s take a real life example.

The Connors family of 5 wants to go to Disney the first week in October. The first thing they do is check the Disney site for rack rates.

Rack Rates

  • Disney’s All Star Music Resort (a value resort) is the cheapest option at $313/night or $2,191 total
  • Disney’s Art of Animation suites, a value plus resort, costs $414/night or $2,898
  • The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are the only moderate that can fit you all, at $394/night or $2,758
  • A one-bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary resort) is a deluxe option on the monorail and closest to the parks, at $850/night or a whopping $5,950 total.

Now we check the same number of people for the same dates at David’s Vacation Club Rentals using their Cost Calculator. All of these options are Deluxe one-bedroom villas.

DVC Rental Rates

  • The same one-bedroom with standard view at Bay Lake Tower will cost $3,780 (over $2,000 dollars less than rack rates!)
  • The least expensive one-bedroom suite is Animal Kingdom Lodge, at $2,592 (this is in between the cheapest value option and the value plus option found above)

It’s also worth mentioning that Animal Kingdom Lodge is my top pick for the best Disney World resort hotels for kids!

When I do one on one trips with my kiddos, we rent points to stay in a deluxe studio which costs around $600 for the three nights.

This is a great way to upgrade your vacation with a Disney Deluxe resort while keeping with the prices of the values and moderates.

Skip the dining plan

How to save on Disney World
You don’t need the dining plan to enjoy a meal at Be Our Guest

Or at least crunch the numbers.

Disney is smart (really smart) and good at getting people to spend their money (very good).

They came up with a dining plan as a way for people to essentially pre-pay for their meals, and give an all-inclusive feel to their Disney vacation.

ASSUMING that it would result in a net savings, people bought like hotcakes.

The truth? The Disney Dining plan almost never saves you money.

Lots of people have run the numbers on this one. In order to get the value of your Disney dining plan, you would have to purposefully eat at the most expensive restaurants and order only the most expensive menu items at every meal.

If you ever get water instead of soda, if you ever skip dessert, or if you ever feel like a salad or chicken dish instead of steak… you are going to lose money with the dining plan.

If you are a big eater, drink lots of soda, and never share meals or get too full, you MIGHT be a good candidate for the dining plan. Maybe. You will still want to run the numbers first.

Here is an excellent rundown of the Disney Dining plan including a handy calculator to help you out!

My family doesn’t drink soda and almost never gets dessert. We also tend to split meals and snacks between the kids. An adult size chicken tenders and fries is plenty of lunch for two kids, for example.

How to save on Disney World
Sharing is caring! There’s plenty of shaved ice here for two

Instead of doing the dining plan, we like to stay in a suite that has a kitchen and get groceries delivered to cover our breakfast and snacks. Then we do one sit-down meal per day and one quick service. If we get a dessert, it is shared.

Remember you can always get a tap water from quick service locations for free.

Get grocery delivery

Getting groceries delivered is an awesome way to cut costs on food.

Even if you don’t want to cook on vacation (I know I don’t!) it still makes sense to order some quick and easy food items like cereal and milk, bananas, peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, yogurt, etc.

Having a quick breakfast in the room each morning also lets you get to the parks early and take advantage of the short lines without wasting time on a sit-down breakfast!

You can also get beer and wine delivered with your grocery order to enjoy in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

We use Orlando Grocery Express and have had all good experiences. And don’t worry about having to be present for your delivery- your Disney hotel will hold and even refrigerate your groceries for you until you get to your room.

Take advantage of free fun

Disney parks are fantastic and full of WAY more than you could do in a day.

They can also be exhausting and overstimulating for both adults and kids alike.

If you are staying five days or more, I highly recommend doing a “down day” without a park ticket.

Enjoy your hotel pool and the other activities available at your hotel. Visit Disney Springs and check out the huge LEGO store and World of Disney. Rent bikes and enjoy the leisure time as a family.

how to save money on Disney World
Biking to Disney Springs was literally the highlight of Tiana’s one on one trip!

The change of pace feels so good in the middle of several busy park days. You’ll also spend a lot less money by not doing a park! Just try not to be upset if your down day ends up being the kids’ favorite day!

Don’t rent a car

I love staying at the Disney resorts for many reasons, but one great perk is being able to use Magical Express transportation to and from the airport.

Once you’re at your Disney hotel, you can use the free Disney transportation to go to and from the parks.

This eliminates the need to rent a car (estimated $250/week) and cuts out the $22/day parking fee.

If you want to go where Disney transportation won’t take you (from one resort to another for example), you can use Uber all over the area. Since the distances are short, the prices are very affordable. You can enter the trip into the app ahead of time to see how much it’s going to cost.

Don’t have the Uber app yet? Sign up for an Uber account here and use code johnp37188ue to get $5 off your first four rides!

Skip the park hoppers

Park hopping can be awesome, especially if you have only a couple days in WDW and want to cram as much in as possible.

But at $55 per ticket, it’s worth thinking about if being able to park hop is really necessary. For trips that are 5 days or longer, you should be able to configure your days without needing park hoppers. If you aren’t planning to cover all four parks, you could do without park hoppers with even fewer days.

I’ve had amazing Disney trips both with and without park hopping, so it’s certainly not a necessity!

Stay on top of souvenirs

how to save on Disney World
These dresses were bought on sale six months before the trip and hidden from the girls until that day

Kids can make this difficult, but don’t let souvenirs bust your budget!

I always make sure to manage my kids’ expectations as far as toys and souvenirs ahead of time. They know before that plane even takes off that they will see tons of things they want that they won’t be getting.

I know, I know, I’m the meanest Mom ever!

My favorite way to eliminate the entire problem of kids asking for stuff is to get them each a gift card. I have my kids save coins in a coin jar that they can then cash in for their Disney gift card. You could also give them one for Christmas or a birthday gift.

$25 or $30 have been amounts that work well for us.

The kids then have the freedom to spend their gift card however they please. If they blow it all on the first day, that is that. Encourage them to think about the one thing they really want, but ultimately the choice is theirs.

It also makes sense to buy certain souvenirs ahead of time at a lower cost, such as princess dresses, light up toys, or any plush toys that can be bought at your local Disney store.

Get discounted gift cards

Disney gift cards frequently go on sale at Sam’s Club or BJs at a discount of around 5%. You can also use your Target Redcard to buy them at 5% off.

5% might not sound like much, but considering you might need $2000 for park tickets and food, getting discounted Disney gift cards would save you $100 with minimal time or effort.

Some people throw in a $25 Disney gift card every time they go to Target. This won’t save you any money, but it does feel like you spent less by buying them slowly throughout the year and spreading out the expense.

There are tons of other little ways to save! What is your best tip for how to save on Disney World?

For more Disney planning tips, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest:

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