Stay at the Swan and Dolphin. It’s NOT a Disney hotel, and yet.. it is. Owned by the Sheraton chain, the hotel allows you get almost all the benefits of saying “on property” without having to pay the “Disney tax.” You can also WALK to Epcot, so if that is your favorite park it’s actually a great choice.
Take the boats to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It is faster than the buses and even more so if you stay at a hotel that is serviced by the boat line.
Use the Kiosks to change your Fastpass+ selections. If you are able to get to a park early, you can potential walk on some of the most popular rides like Soarin’. If you had set that as one of your Fastpass+ destinations, find a kiosk to change your itinerary (they are located in at least two places in every park).
Get a Disney Visa. You can get six months financing on a Disney trip, you can get a free photo with a Disney character at Epcot, and other perks.
Plan only three things a day. This is more a “brain hack” about attitude and how you approach your vacation. If you want to do ten things each day, you will probably never get there (or if you do you will be exhausted the following day). Keep it simple – talk to your family and identify the THREE things you want to do that day. Three things is a reasonable goal, and once you “hit” that goal everything else is “gravy.”
Buy your Disney toys/collectibles BEFORE you travel, and pack them. If you have young kids, the desire to buy Disney stuff will be hard to resist. The easy way to do so is to buy one small cool Disney item a day per child BEFORE your trip, and give it to them in the morning as a surprise. Then you will be able to say “you already have your treat, son (or daughter)”. If they see something they MUST have, then save that as a reward/goal they can have at the end of the vacation…
Skip the water parks, and do a tour of the Disney hotel pools. If you stay on Disney property, you can go visit any of the pools at any of the other hotels… And this is a lot cheaper than paying for the water park. Plan a day of hitting three different pools (the one at Beach Club is the best IMO).
Travel off-season (and get free dining). This is an obvious one, but if you can go during “off-season” (after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving, or between Thanksgiving and Christmas) you will be able to get cheaper hotel rooms OR take advantage of Disney’s Free Dining promotion. It will save you a LOT of money.