Lou Mongello: Disney on a Dime

Today, Disney expert and host of the WDW Radio Podcast, Lou Mongello, is back on the show. We are talking about his top ways to save money when visiting Walt Disney World. We cover everything from accommodations, dining and park tickets, to how to maximize the available discounts and even plan some free activities on your trip! Lou’s Disney expertise will help have the most magical experience while saving and splurging on what’s important to you. 

[03:16] WHEN TO GO

Both Lou and I have been visiting Disney for years and years, and definitely at times when budgeting and smart spending were on the mind. There is a misconception that visiting Disney is so expensive that it is out of reach. Lou points out how the time of year that you visit is the most important factor when saving money at Disney.


Knowing where to stay is a great way to save money. Disney has four different levels of accommodations: value, moderate, deluxe and vacation club resorts. Lou suggests looking at the value resorts, skipping the view, and also checking out accommodations in Disney Springs.


There are a variety of ways to save when purchasing your park tickets. One way is skipping the park hopper option. While it doesn’t seem like a lot at first, it adds up. Lou also points out that the more you stay, the less your ticket is going to be. If you plan to visit Disney multiple times a year, think about buying an annual pass. The break even number for the annual pass is about nine to ten days. It starts to pay for itself with the discounts it provides.   


There are often a variety of available discounts when you are making your reservation. For example, discounts for being a Florida local, in the military, a teacher, a cast member relative or even being a AAA member. Lou recommends taking some time to take a look at what discounts are available.  


Lou loves eating at Walt Disney World. The first dining recommendation is to choose quick service restaurants instead of table service restaurants. There are so many great counter service restaurants to choose from! If you are traveling with a large group or family, look into staying in the family suites which come with a kitchenette. You can save a lot of money by doing breakfast or lunch in the room. Packing your own snacks and bringing your own water bottle are also expert tips. 


Buying souvenirs for your kids can get very expensive. You can find a variety of Disney merch online or in-store at different stores. You can buy it beforehand and bring it with you as a gift for your kids each day. Things like autograph books, ponchos or costumes are going to be so much more affordable purchased elsewhere than the parks themselves. 


Disney makes it very easy to spend money very quickly. If you’re really looking for ways to spend money, set a budget ahead of time. Break it down to what you will spend on food ect. Lou suggests putting your budget on gift cards if that makes it easier. 

[36:33] FREE…WHAT?

You don’t often hear the word free when visiting Disney. Lou recommends blocking off a free day aside from visiting the parks. There is so much that you can do and explore for free. For example, walking around Disney Springs, riding the Skyliner or doing free activities at the resort. There is also a variety of free night time entertainment. 


Lou highly recommends using a Disney specialized travel agency. They will help you with the best rates, dining reservations, questions and applying all available discounts. Using the services of a travel agency comes at no cost to you. 


On the opposite side of the spectrum of spending, if you are wanting to do something truly spectacular, Lou recommends the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser which is an interactive two night adventure. 

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Thank you so much for listening to this episode!

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