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When I was a kid, my family went to Disney World regularly. We always stayed off-site in a cheap motel and spent most of our waking hours inside the parks.
I remember on one trip, there was a ticket booth set up outside of our motel. The man in the booth promised he could sell us park tickets cheaper than face value. My mom asked a lot of questions. Basically, the business purchased long multi-day park tickets and sold them off in smaller chunks. Since each day is cheaper when you buy a 10-day ticket, he could sell a 3-day ticket for less than the parks and still make money.
He wasn’t the only one doing this. Booths outside of motels were filled with other entrepreneurs with the same idea. We did buy those tickets, and we saved some money.
A few years later when we returned, those ticket booths were gone. Disney had figured out that others were profiting and adjusted their systems to prevent this. Tickets had to be assigned to a name, finger scans were added, etc.
However, Disney World hacks, or shortcuts to save time and/or money, live on. The tips and tricks are constantly evolving with new technology and processes.
Types of Disney World Hacks
Some “hacks” are just simple things that some first-time guests don’t know about if they haven’t done any research on Disney World. These include things like booking ride reservations on FastPass+ in advance, booking dining six months in advance, using a crowd calendar to determine which days will have shorter lines, etc.
After the basics, there are some next-level hacks that are totally legal but not as well-known:
- Buying tickets through Undercover Tourist for a small discount
- Renting DVC points to stay at Deluxe Resorts for the price of a Moderate
- Staying at an off-site Disney Springs hotel on points, but still getting on-site benefits like 60-day FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours
- Using your Disney Visa to get 10% off merchandise
- Booking expensive character meals for breakfast instead of lunch or dinner
But then, there is another layer of hacks that are in a different category. Most message boards will not allow folks to even discuss them. These types of hacks are shared in private groups and on places like reddit and include things like:
- Reserving an on-site hotel AND an off-site hotel for the same dates, reserving FastPass+ 60 days in advance, and then cancelling the on-site hotel before the trip while keeping the ride reservations.
- Reserving a campsite at Disney’s Fort Wilderness that you never intend to use just for the on-site benefits (a “throwaway” room)
- Buying discounted park tickets through a convention link for a convention you’re not associated with
- Lying about the age of your kids for a free or discounted admission price or reduced buffet prices
I’m sure there are more hacks I’m missing. I’m also sure that Disney will likely figure out ways to close these loopholes, and the cycle repeats.
Smart vs. Shady
For the record, I’m not judging anyone for using any of these hacks or other hacks I haven’t mentioned. I’m not your mother or the Disney morality enforcer.
But, since my family is going to Disney World this summer, I am thinking about how we will save money and fight the crowds. And, how far am I willing to go?
I recently had the opportunity to buy some discounted convention tickets for a convention I’m not attending. I admit, I was tempted! But for me, it’s just not worth it. How do I know it’s not worth it? Because I’d be embarrassed if my actions made the front-page news.
What Disney World hacks do you use? Do you think some of the hacks are smart and some are shady? Are you ever surprised at what some people will do to save time and/or money?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.