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If there’s one thing Disney parks are good at, it’s giving you opportunities to spend money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: Disney attractions, rides and resorts deliver a brand of magic worth the price of admission.
But those admission costs add up, often making getting the biggest bang for your buck a challenge. Luckily, a bevy of bloggers have done your homework for you. Here are 10 expert tips from some of the top Disney fanatics to help you navigate the spendiest place on earth.
» Learn more: 5 things to know about the Disney credit cards
1. Choose the right ticket
Buying tickets for Disney parks is more complicated than meets the eye. You can buy a single-day ticket, a Park Hopper ticket or any number of other options, with or without meals included. Blogger Casey at Disneyland Daily puts your choices in perspective by helping you make a daily plan.
2. Consider bunking with Mickey
If you’re heading to Walt Disney World, you can stay at a hotel outside the park or at one of Disney’s many on-site resorts. Off-site hotels are often cheaper, but Disney properties come with valuable perks like Extra Magic Hours and transportation to the parks. Gavin at MickeyVisit.com can help you decide which is best for you with his thorough overview.
3. Let an expert help
Traveler reviews of Disney resorts are easy to come by, but most are written by people who haven’t sampled a lot of resorts. Enter Main Street Gazette blogger Ryan Wilson, who assembled a roundtable of experts to answer the question: What is your favorite Disney resort? Friend of the blog Fiona likes the wildlife theme at Animal Kingdom Lodge, while Disney veteran Eric prefers Disney’s Yacht Club resort for easy access to mega-pool Stormalong Bay, with its water slides, sand bottom and wrecked pirate ship.
4. Get in on the cheap
Though on-site Disney resorts are pricey, there are often discounts to be had if you know where to look. Jamie Collins’ blog Only WDWorld reports some enticing fall discounts on stays at select resorts through Oct. 7. While discounts tend to be seasonal, travel rewards (think welcome bonuses, targeted offers and multiple points per dollar spent on everyday items) can be racked up and redeemed in conjunction with less flexible seasonal discounts to make your overall Disney vacation more affordable.
» Learn more: How to find cheap flights to Disney World
5. Get the app
Guests at more than two dozen Walt Disney World Resorts can take advantage of the digital key feature on the My Disney Experience app. As Inside the Magic blogger Mike Mack explains, the app, like Disney’s “Magic Band” bracelets, lets you skip front desk check-in and head straight to your room to help make the most of your vacation time.
6. Beat the heat while you eat
When it’s hot at Walt Disney World, every gush of air conditioning is like a siren song luring you into a restaurant or shop. But eating every snack at sit-down restaurants can add up. ImagiNERDing blogger George explains that you can have your cake and chill with it too in the Magic Kingdom: Buy a snack from a sidewalk vendor and eat it in the deliciously cool Pinocchio Village Haus or Columbia Harbour House.
7. Stay past sundown at Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is often called a “half-day park” — a place worth only a limited amount of your precious vacation time. But, as Zannaland blogger Suzannah notes, there’s now a great reason to stick around past nightfall. The River of Light is a nighttime show combining colorful lights, dazzling projections and live-action performances above the reflective beauty of the park’s river.
8. Don’t miss the magic all around you
It’s easy to overlook the feats of design that make Disney so magical when you’re running from attraction to attraction. But hit the pause button for just a moment and you’ll find the design of the park is an attraction in itself. Designing Disney blogger Maxime’s expert insights on the design behind everything from It’s a Small World to the Main Street Electrical Parade, as well as the engineering-minded bloggers at ImagineeringDisney.com, give you a deep appreciation that adds value to your every step.
9. Recharge with a nap
Disney fun goes all day and into the night, which means the little ones (or you) might need some midday shut-eye. Magic Kingdom Mamas have given the subject some serious thought, sharing tips and even a few spots for sneaking in a nap.
10. Know what’s going on before you go
Disney parks aren’t just about the permanent attractions. There are special shows, Halloween trick-or-treating, food-and-wine festivals, holiday displays and many more short-term attractions opening and closing all the time. The bloggers at MagicForLess.com report the latest news to make the most of your trip, and spend less when possible.
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Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Disney vacation pros dish up budgeting tips for trips 7 ways to save at Disneyland — no magic required Credit card perks to pack for your road trip