To Save Money, Should You Buy Disney Souvenirs Before Your Vacation?

where to buy Disney World souvenirs in Orlando

Updated for 2016!

What two things keep me from saving money on a Disney vacation? Food and souvenirs. I can save money on accommodations, be it staying off property or waiting for a super sale, you know, the kind advertised on television right now where you can save up to 30% on select WDW resorts. I could save money on food if we could travel during the Free Disney Dining promotions, but we can’t ever seem to get away during the golden days of free food. I can also bring my own meals and snacks into the parks, and that saves a great deal of money, even if it’s not as fun as eating a counter service meal at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

Read: Looking for Vintage Disney Items? Try Theme Park Connection

But souvenirs? You can all but forget about any great savings on buying souvenirs while hangin’ out in the parks. I have spotted sale stickers on occasion, but Disney sale racks are extremely few and far between. I tell people I could easily spend $2000 on merchandise to bring home from vacation, maybe $2500 if you threw in some jewelry…

Ok, I could spend that on souvenirs, but clearly I do not. Can you imagine the Visa bill?!

Take a look at some average prices for Disney World merchandise:

  • Sweat shirts – $45
  • Adult T-shirts – $27 and up
  • Kid’s T-shirts – $17 and up
  • Girl’s Princess Dresses – $65
  • Picture Frames – $25 and up
  • “Adult” Key Chains – (heavy, good quality) $10
  • Coffee Mugs – $10

I haven’t even touched on jewelry, packaged candy, purses, hair bows, and toys, toys, toys! Tons of shopping opportunities, and yet a limited supply of money. What is a cheapskate to do?

We put that question to our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans. Should you buy Disney merchandise before you leave for vacation to save money, or should you just splurge on Parks Authentic Merchandise while you are playing in the parks? Let’s see what they had to say…

Read: FREE Entertainment in Orlando? You have Simply GOT to Visit The Mall at Millenia!

Buy Mickey Mouse dolls for vacation

Only Parks Authentic

Chris, “I buy in the park. Especially if a souvenir for someone, I want to make sure it comes from the park.”

Ruth, When I am buying souvenirs from Disney they will be from Disney—-Those items you show I can buy at home. That is not a souvenir.”

Ami, “I can buy Target or Wal-Mart stuff at home. I go to Disney to buy Disney merchandise and enjoy the park! We set $ aside for souvenirs ahead of time and watch for specials. Sometimes if you spend a certain amount you get something at a discount, like a bag, blanket, etc. We were able to get more souvenirs that way!”

Ashley, “It’s only me and my husband and yes, I am a Disney Parks souvenir snob!”

Julie, “While I’m at the park, I buy park souvenirs. I budget spending money for each person and once it is gone, it’s gone.”

Rebecca, “Depends on who I am buying for!!! It ALWAYS has to be a “park authentic” souvenir when getting a Christmas ornament. When the grand kids were younger, they had no clue nor could they have cared if their stuffed Mickey or Pluto came from Target or Wal-Mart!! For me? I admit I’m a bit snobbish about my personal souvenirs!!!”

And our fan with the most enthusiastic comments…

Sharon, “NOPE!!!!!!!! I always get one thing from Disney!”

Read: 5 Easy Tips to Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

buying Disney souvenirs before your trip


Jennifer, “I do buy souvenirs at Target or the Disney Store before I go. The toys/ shirts at the park are better quality and I let the Kids buy with their own money at the park.”

Yarlin, “On my last trip I got some sweaters, pajamas, stickers, hats and lanyards at a very good price at Wal-mart. I think that depending on the article and quality, it doesn’t need to be park authentic. You can get some good items at very good prices. But some others I do prefer to throw in the extra buck like on pins, key chains and stuffed animals.”

Jessica, “We usually shop Wal-mart, especially for the kids. But, we also usually get one something special from in the parks.”

Heidi, “We don’t even wait to get near the park! We buy several things from stores near our home and take them with us (in secret) and then dole them out slowly while we’re there but then let the girls get one or two things from the park as well.”

Sabrina, “Since I discovered DDB and Harveys I now have to purchase from Target!”

Elizabeth, “We buy t-shirts for the trip online before we go, but we also budget money for souvenirs we want to buy in the parks. For me, there is a little extra something about having an item from one of the parks, or getting merchandise for a special event. My favorite souvenir, though, is pressed pennies, and those only cost 51 cents.”

Wendy, “I am a pin hoarder. While I can buy shirts, etc, else where, I prefer pins from the parks. I keep saying I will trade, but they are very few. Otherwise, discounted Disney shopping is great!”

John and Julieann“The only things I buy in park are the kitchen items. Things I can’t get anywhere else. Since I live in Florida, our stores carry a lot of Disney items.”

Gabriella“We always go to Target for groceries on the first day, so we always check out the Disney gear. You never know what you can find.”

Becca, “I am cheap, so I always shop clearance racks and buy ahead for my son. I have tons of Disney stuff in all sizes and all seasons, so whatever size he is in, I most likely have some new clothes I can pack and pull out at the park. We do buy 1-2 things at the parks, usually an ornament and something small for my son, so we do not feel deprived. Also – if a milestone is reached – we get something. First visit is Mickey ears. In October 2012 my son hit the height limit for Autopia in Disneyland, so we bought the plastic driver’s license with his picture on it to commemorate that occasion.”

Read: The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Disney Vacation? It’s a Four Letter Word!

So there are Disney fans who prefer to buy their souvenirs at full price for “Parks Authentic Merchandise,” while others don’t mind saving a buck or two with some discount shopping.

Several of our fans had a several more suggestions on saving money on Disney merchandise before you arrive for your vacation.

Buying cheap Disney souvenirs in Orlando

Order Online

Karen, “When we went last time, we got a few special things at the parks and a few things at other stores. All of the things we got are just as special, no matter where they were actually purchased because they were bought for special reasons. We even ended up ordering a few things we had seen and regretted not getting after we got home!”

Read: 11 Cheapskate Ways to Save Time (Equals Money) at Walt Disney World

Character Warehouse/ Disney Outlet

Rebecca, “Depends on who I am buying for!!! It ALWAYS has to be a “park authentic” souvenir when getting a Christmas ornament. When the grand kids were littler, they had no clue nor could they have cared if their stuffed Mickey or Pluto came from Target or Wal-Mart!! For me? I admit I’m a bit snobbish about my personal souvenirs!!!”

Teryl, “We get things from the Disney Character outlet stores for a fraction of the price.”

Jacqueline,  “I make sure to stop at the Disney outlets…..authentic Disney at half the price! It’s also a nice surprise for our guests that come with us to Disney. I always keep an eye on what they’re looking at and then try to find something similar. Always makes great gifts!”

Read: 70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!

Yard Sales, etc.

Christine, “We shop yard sales, Craigslist and Disney Store online clearance before we go.

Read: Save Money on Disney World T-Shirts by Making Your Own!

Should you buy merchandise before you go on vacation? It probably depends mainly on your budget. I also think it depends on the age of your child. When kids are under the age of say, five?, they probably could care less if their toy is stamped with Parks Authentic logo. When they reach a certain age, suddenly this may be important to them. I could buy 4 “Disney” t-shirts from a Florida gas station for the price of one Parks Authentic t-shirt, and my sons had no idea where they came from. Gas station shopping would probably flop in my house these days.


I miss those discount shopping days. And they probably do too, because my kids have to buy most of their own souvenirs, which is another Disney story for another cheapskating day.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you, stopping the car at a yard sale, a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt in sight…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

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  1. Joanna says:

    It’s nice to see such variation! I would say I usually do a combo. I buy some things before we leave: pins to trade (eBay!), glow sticks (dollar store), a few theme shirts to wear there, some tiny gifts to get my kids excited before we go and a few to give them in the room (especially for something to do before they pick on what to sped their money on!). I then give the kids a certain dollar amount (as do the grandmas) and they save and when their money is gone, it’s gone. I will usually buy me a sweatshirt, a T-shirt, and some jewelry!

  2. Heather says:

    You should check out they have lots of items from the park now. And they also sell merchandise that they don’t sell in the parks. And some of the online items are cheaper. The costumes are about $20 less than the park ones, and cuter too.

  3. Jaime says:

    The past 2 times my husband and I have gone down the first week of December we always get coupons on our receipts after buying like a bottle of water to get 20% off at the world of Disney store and a few others if we use them before noon on any day. So that helps save us tons, though it just allows us to buy more lol

  4. Piki101 says:

    We do buy a few things ahead of time to save money like tshirts, sunglasses, towels (swiming), etc to have at the park. Then I allow them to pick 2-3 things from the parks/hotel gift shops. (stuff animals, mouse ears, etc) to bring home.

  5. Brigitte says:

    From Disney, we get Mickey ears plus ONE thing that my daughter gets to pick out before we leave. She is already talking about what her “one thing” will be on vacation. I buy from Dollar Tree, eBay, Wal-Mart, etc. beforehand and disperse it as we go.

  6. Sabrina Morley says:

    I usually spend a small fortune at the parks. With four kids it’s easy to do. But our next trip in two weeks I got smart. First I rented a house off property with a pool and a game room for two whole weeks! The cost was the same as a four night stay at a value resort! Bonus the two kids rooms are tremendously Disney themed! One over the top princess And the other Mickey and friends!

    I also shopped online at the Disney store. You can get park authentic stuff even on sale! But because of the time of year I was able to score Disney beach towels for $7, monogrammed for $5 total $12 each, half the price of at the park! Got a beach tote which we will use everyday for $5, Minnie sunglasses for $2, water bottles with carry case for $6 each Disney clue game for $15. Not all park authentic but totally Disney! I got sweatshirts and pajamas for all four kids from target. I spent less than $200 total for all of the above! You just can’t do that at the park!

    I made us t-shirts, simple with 2013 but the 0 is a Mickey or Minnie head! Just made the stencil and used fabric paint. $30 for all 8 shirts!!

    The kids will get to pick something from Disney Finds at DTD. The store is $20 and under!! This time I will be doing the pick a pearl with my sister. But I already bought my cage for $6 on etsy, so for less than $25 I get a great souvenir myself!

    Best part is there will be more time for rides. Less shopping time and more money in the budget for photopass pics of the eight of us together!

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