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How to save money on a theme park vacation

Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or another theme park resort? Here's how to save money and get the most from your vacation.

Pick the right park

The best way to save money is not to waste it. Don't pick the wrong vacation destination!

Walt Disney World in Florida offers four theme parks and dozens of hotels across a massive resort that's bigger than San Francisco, giving you plenty of room to keep the outside world, well, outside. But California's Disneyland offers almost as many rides and shows in just two theme parks located in a cozy and walkable resort in the Los Angeles metro area.

But consider this other options, too:

Visit our Park Guides for complete listings and advice for visiting these parks and others around the world.

Know where to look for discounts

Disney and Universal use finger scans and photos to associate tickets with their owners, so don't try to use someone else's unused days. You can't. Don't buy tickets from eBay or Craigslist, either. To make sure you get the days you paid for, buy only from the parks or authorized sellers.

Consider on-site hotel benefits

You might get extra time in the park, or even get to skip the lines, if you stay in a park's on-site hotels. They're usually more expensive, but the extra benefits might be worth the extra cost.

Consider add-on packages

With the right add-ons, you can save by paying in advance for stuff you would end up spending more on later. But these plans only work for people who would have bought the services anyway.

Make your reservations in advance

Save time in the parks by booking your meal times in advance. At Walt Disney World, you can reserve your ride times in advance, too, using the (relatively) new Fastpass+ system.

Spend smartly in the parks

Don't undo all your smart advance planning by going nuts once you pass through the park gates!


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