I married into a Disney family. My father in law is a member of the Disney Vacation Club and we have been fortunate to be able to stay at the Old Key West resort for many years. We like to visit Disney a few times a year if we are lucky. We have found ways to see some sights on a budget and I'd like to share some with you. I just sent this to a friend whose family member is going for the first time. I hope it helps!
Pick up Disney toys/stuffed animals/clothes at Wal-Mart before trip and hide them/bring out during trip.
You can bring snacks into the parks - we brought cereal bars, raisins, etc. They check your bag but it's allowed.
Take the monorail around to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts and walk around each resort to see each theme.
Ask to ride the front of the monorail and kids get a monorail operator license!
Eat at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney - great sandwich, low cost - they even have breakfast.
Walk on Disney's boardwalk - it's just like New Jersey and there are carnival games, etc. Restaurants, a bakery, ESPN zone, a boat ride, you name it! You can see the fireworks at Epcot here too.
Make a reservation for character dining and make it the end of the brunch time around 11 - 11:30 before it ends. You have more time for characters and less people by then. (our favorite place is at the Contemporary - Chef Mickey's)
You can get a mini-fridge and stay at the Pop Century or All-Star resort and you can take the bus.
See the characters at Epcot Character Spot - they are all lined up inside the building and if you go early, there is little wait time.
Go around the world at Epcot - we like to eat at the Rose & Crown in England - make advance reservations - good kids menu, pick out an oyster in Japan and get a pearl - under $20.