Magical Secrets for Saving on Your Next Disney Vacation

See our savviest tips for visiting the happiest place on earth.

Orlando, FL, USA July 22, 2011 A monorail passes in front of Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

A vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California can be an amazing travel experience, especially for young children.

But the Disney magic can make the money in your wallet disappear. That's even more true with Disney World's new parking fees that recently unleashed outrage on Twitter under the hashtag #disneyparking.

Before your splurge too much on a trip to "the happiest place on earth," check out our hacks for saving money at Disney.

1. Book early and offseason

Red vacation write on white calendar marked for remember and target time to long vacation and relax time.
ieang / Shutterstock
Choose your dates carefully when planning a Disney trip.

Disney parks are most crowded and expensive whenever kids are off school: holiday times, and spring and summer breaks. If your schedule allows you to take a vacation during the offseason, do it!

Check out Undercover Tourist's Crowd Calendar for up-to-date info on festivals and events that may increase crowds and prices.

In general, the cheapest times to go are January and February, or September through early December.

Disney's official park websites list special offers to save hundreds of dollars on your trip, but buying park tickets from third parties like Costco Travel can save you more overall.

2. Find the cheapest lodging

The All-Star Sports Resort, a Disney
Joel / Flickr
Disney "value resorts," like the All-Star Sports Resort, often have rooms for $100 a night.

For additional savings during off-peak times, book a room at one of Disney's "value resorts." Rates start at $100 a night, which is comparable to prices at non-Disney hotels, and you get the added bonus of free transportation to the parks.

At Walt Disney World, the value resorts come with the lowest of the new overnight parking fees, which range from $13 to $24.

Guests who stay on Disney property also receive coupon books, which sometimes provide free or discounted meals at park restaurants. And, one of the biggest perks of staying within Disney is that you get an early extra hour of theme park admission.

Save even more on the lowest-price Disney resorts by reserving your room via Orbitz or a similar travel site — and using one of the site's coupon codes.