Souvenirs and trinkets from your Disney World and Disneyland vacations will be fairly pricey. While t-shirts, coffee mugs, and Mickey jewelry may be easy for many adults to ignore, toys placed at eye level will be harder for your children to overlook. Dolls, princess costumes, shiny key chains, and an endless parade of toys will meet your kids in gift shops at the resorts and just outside the vast majority of nearly every park ride. Unlike leaving the kids at home with a relative while you run over to Wal-mart or Target to do some shopping, you cannot avoid gift shops and character merchandise on a Disney vacation, even if you tried. As you can imagine, it’s tough to get some younger children out of gift shops without a huge scene or raucous tantrum.
Looking for a less expensive alternative to paying full Disney retail in too many shops? Many parents have started buying what has become known as “Tinker Bell Gifts” before they ever leave for their upcoming Disney trip, not only to add a magical touch but also to save some ca$h.
We have all the “Think Tink” information you need to get started!
What are Tinker Bell gifts?
Tinker Bell gifts are little trinkets and presents that magically appear from “Tinker Bell” on your first night of vacation. This makes perfect sense, because being a tiny fairy, she can fly right into your hotel room under the cover of darkness without ever being noticed. Your kids wake up with gifts and sometimes a note from Tinker Bell, explaining how she dropped off presents for extra fun on your Disney Vacation.
The gifts can always be from Mickey Mouse for those who have no Tinker Bell fans in your family.
Who thought of this first?
There doesn’t seem to be one source of origin for the Tinker Bell gifting, although Couponing to Disney.com and WDW Prep School.com have all done articles on this gift giving idea.
Tinker Bell Gifts seem to be an idea passed around by parents who thought their kids really benefitted from the presents in terms of behavior, and apparently they found the adults benefitted from buying items beforehand at cheaper prices.
What’s in this for you?
You are paying a fortune for this vacation, so why rush out and spend more money before you even leave from home?
That’s really the point. Tinker Bell gifts are usually just inexpensive items picked up from Dollar Tree, the Dollar Spot at Target, thrift stores, eBay, etc. Buying these presents before vacation can save you LOTS of money in place of buying expensive souvenirs in the Disney gift shops.
The consensus is that your kids may not ask for as many toys on vacation if Tinker Bell is dropping off gifts for them every night.
Many parents also use receiving these gifts as an incentive for good behavior. When kids do the right thing, they’ll know that Tinker Bell may bring more gifts as a reward. When kids make poor choices, you can remind them that “Tink” is always watching.
This is really no different from the idea of Santa’s naughty and nice list, just with a Disney spin and without the restrictions of one certain gift giving day a year.
Ideas For the Letters
Before you leave for vacation, type up a letter from Tink (Mickey.) If you want the visits and gifts to be tied into behavior expectations, then be very specific with your notes.
On water park days, Tinker Bell’s expectations could be to stay with mom and dad at all times, no complaining when sunscreen is applied, and wear a hat.
Park day expectations could be to stay in the stroller, eat all your lunch, don’t ask for every toy you see, and if you get lost, find a designated meeting spot or run to the nearest Cast Member.
This may require a little thinking before the trip on your part, to have the desired behaviors in writing prior to your departure, but you’ll be doing shopping for this ahead of time anyway, so it could definitely be worth the effort in terms of outcome.
And for those of you with children who have mastered the fine art of window shopping, your note can simply be a reminder to have a great day.
Not unlike Christmas stockings or Easter baskets, it would be a good idea to re-use the same packaging each day.
Consistent packaging will do the following:
help your children know what to expect each day
give sleepy children a reason to jump right out of bed – to check the loot!
save you money on buying a bunch of bags or boxes
“Plus” the Gifts
The term “plus it” was commonly used by Walt Disney in dealing with his Imagineers, meaning he wanted everyone to further improve projects like films, television shows, or park attractions.
How do you plus a Tinker Bell gift? That’s not hard really, since the original intent of the gifts is to be as inexpensive as possible. Inexpensive is a term we Cheapskate Princesses use that means cheap.
Doing a little searching on one of my favorite discount online shopping sites revealed lots of upper end Disney merchandise
Some of the items are new, while some would be new to you. New to You is a term Cheapskate Princesses use that means expensive when originally purchased, but now repurchased at a great discount = cheaper.
This gently used Tinker Bell Disney costume was listed for $18.oo with $7.00 shipping on eBay, so with luck, it could be yours for under $30. Princess dresses purchased at the parks retail for $64 before tax.
This brand new 4T-6T Jake and the Neverland Pirates costume was $27.00 with free shipping as a Buy Me Now listing. The few boys costumes they do offer on Disney property retail for $64 before tax.
These brand new “Disney Authentic Silver tone Mickey Mouse Icon Head Flat Earrings” were just barely over $8.00 on a Buy Me Now eBay listing including shipping. They were still on the Disney Parks Authentic original card.
These “Disney Authentic Mickey Mouse pierced earrings” from a seller with 100% feedback were $5.45 including shipping. I mention the feedback rating, because this price seemed too good to be true. In fact the price was so good, I almost ordered these for myself until I remembered I was doing research…
Do any Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans bring Tinker Bell gifts along on vacation?
Of course they do, because our fans love a bargain and “plussing” what will eventually be a magical vacation.
What our fans said…
Pam, “Our youngest child is always excited to find her prize on the window sill. The gifts will range from t-shirts to wear to the park to a small toy or treats to eat in the park. We still go to the gift shop on our first day to find the perfect toy that she’ll carry the entire trip. Once we have “the toy,” then we just have to keep me, the mom, out of the shops!”
Erika, “The promise of Tinker Bell’s visit is the only thing that will get my little guy in bed after a long day of fun. My son caught on, though, and he demanded that Tink bring him a treat after nap time too! So that’s two treats every day times two boys. I brought an entire suitcase last trip just for Tinker Bell!”
Jody, “ Our gifts are usually something pertaining to the day. Glow sticks for any night we will be out after dark. New pajamas, toothbrushes, etc. are gifts that are usable and fun. We start picking up things when we find them on sale or something really neat, and we store them in our Disney box until time for the trip.”
Melissa, “My sister-in-law and I, a military wife and military mom, are going in October. She is 49 years young. Tinkerbell will be visiting each night with glow necklaces and bracelets, “magic” wands and pirate medals for us to give to fussy little ones we see, an expandable Minnie Mouse wash cloth, a container with quarters and shiny pennies for the pressed penny machines, a Minnie Mouse plastic container filled with a snack, a variety of Disney snacks to take to the park…. A pinch of Pixie Dust (glitter) sprinkled around will prove it really was Tinkerbell. I am arranging a character wake up call, too. Her boys were very small when last they visited (they are 18 – 26 now.) I want to be sure she has a magical Disney visit. Tinker Bell visited my daughter on each of the trips when we took her, and she loved it from ages 5 to 21. At Disney, you are always a kid!
Variations on a Tinker Bell Theme
You don’t have to leave them just at night…
Jana, “Mickey leaves my daughter gifts every day while we are at the parks. They are waiting for her each day when we get back to the room. I found great deals on Disney plush dolls at a local consignment sale and visited the Dollar Tree for glow sticks, bubbles, stickers, etc.”
You could deliver the gifts before you arrive…
Jordan, “We did a welcome gift bag from Mickey with t-shirts for the park, personalized Disney blankets, coloring books, crayons, stickers, and glow sticks.“
Nicole, “We do our Tinkerbell gift a bit different. We don’t have a gift for each day at the hotel, instead we have a bag full of things to entertain them while we are making the 23 hour drive from Wisconsin. This time they are getting new Disney backpacks each with coloring books, bubbles, new MobiGo games, new Disney movies, new books (Disney hidden picture books are a favorite for car rides), Disney themed snacks, fun little dress up items for in the car (tiaras, costume jewelry, Buzz Lightyear’s gloves, pirate gear etc.), a few other fun little fidget toys that will pass some time on the road.”
That’s pretty smart for those of you saving money by driving long hours rather than flying.
You could deliver a gift after you arrive…
Renee, “We went at Christmas, so when we got home from our trip, we received a personalized ornament in the mail from Mickey and Minnie with an attached note from them about how much fun they had with the kids. I ordered and shipped it from the Christmas Shop at Downtown Disney a few days into our trip. Everyone was surprised, and it will hang on our tree every year! I believe this will now become a tradition.”
“Kids” doesn’t mean they have to be young…
Anita, “My kids are older, 23, 20, and 16. We are making up a fun cinch sack bag for each of them. I bought the cinch sacks, but I am putting each person’s favorite character on them. Then we will fill each with items such as glow sticks and t-shirts we are making so we all match each day. We are adding a gift card for each of them to use while in the park, autograph books, and any other little thing we can find. We are going at the end of August in ’14. I am so excited. Then for Christmas, they will each get a scrapbook of the vacation.“
So if you are looking for a way to pixie dust your next Disney vacation, think Tink!
And for those Disney Moms and Dads that have already had gifts delivered from Tinker Bell (or Mickey or Minnie) let us know in the comments below if you have anything to add so this really can be the Ultimate Tinker Bell Gift Guide!
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in Target, searching through the dollar gifts for Disney items…
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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess