Updated for 2017!
Disney vacation souvenirs…I really dream about them at night after we get back from vacations. If I bought everything I wanted when cruising isles in the Disney gift shops, I would spend more on t-shirts and jewelry than I spent on our resort room. One of my best pieces of advice is for people making vacation budgets is to add more to the amount set aside for souvenirs. Kids and adults alike will easily overspend, and it’s too easy to do because all their merchandise is so enticing. Souvenirs are expensive at Disney, so where will you get the money? And do you always have to pay retail?
We have some tips on saving money for your actual trip, plus ideas on how to save money on souvenirs and activities for your next Disney World vacation. So put your Visa card away, hide your checkbook, and let’s see how the cheapskates do Disney!
Save $ on Your Trip FOR the Souvenirs
1. Driving to Orlando can save you money over flying. No one wants to pay thousands of dollars for plane tickets, but of course driving is also dependent on your geographical location and your ability to spend hours or even days in the car.
2. Save up for the trip rather than paying for everything using a credit card once you arrive. Unless you can pay it off at the end of the month, those finance charges you incur while on your trip can rack up pretty quickly. Nothing can speed up the depression you get once you return home than opening up massive credit card bill.
3. When you use your Disney Premier Visa card at select Disney locations, like Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, you’ll earn 2% in Disney Dream Reward Dollars. You’ll also earn 2% on card purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. For more information, use this link.
Disney Visa Cardmembers also save 10% every day on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com. Plus, you get access to exclusive Disney Visa Cardmember events at Disney Store.
4. Sometimes using other credit cards can give you more perks or money back than using the Disney Visa. Many people use credit cards at stores like Kroger and Target for fuel points and cash back. Obviously pay those off to avoid finance charges.
5. Have your children bring their own money to pay for their souvenirs. If that doesn’t get them very far, you can always help out. When children spend their personal money, it helps them decide if they really want an item or not. They’ll probably put more thought into their purchases when they know it’s their money they are spending.
6. Does your extended family know you are headed to Disney on vacation? As your children grow older, and family members inquire what they want for holidays and birthdays, suggest cash or Disney Gift Cards. It may not seem to be as personal a gift, but you can personalize the cards online. And the thank you note for the gift they choose on resort property can be extremely personal.
7. Use Disney Gift Cards for your vacation purchases. These are sold at Disney Stores, Disney World and Disneyland. They are also sold online at DisneyStore.com in denominations from $25-$500, and shipping is FREE.
Save Money ON Souvenirs
8. Order souvenirs (before or after) the vacation from DisneyStore.com. They have free shipping on all orders of $75 or more. They also offer Official Parks Merchandise, but you may not find any bargains on these official items unless they run a specific promotion. It never hurts to do a little online window shopping online. Use this link: To Save Money, Should You Buy Disney Souvenirs Before Your Vacation?
9. Check out Disney’s Character Warehouse for discounts on Disney Theme Park Authentic merchandise sold in gift shops on property. You can save up to 70% off retail prices and walk out with some tremendous bargains. They also accept Disney Gift Cards. Use this link: 70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!
10. Budget shop for souvenirs. My favorite cheapskate shopping spots are yard sales, eBay, and second-hand stores like Goodwill. Lanyards, trading pins, jewelry, and children’s Disney-themed costumes are solid online purchases. Use this link: How Can You Save Money on Disney World Souvenirs? One Four Letter Word…
11. It rains a lot in Florida, which catches many people by surprise given Florida’s motto of being the Sunshine State. Bring your own raincoats/ponchos. To help you keep up with your group in a sea of Disney raincoats, try purchasing colors other than clear or yellow. Disney can change their colors without notice though, so do what you can.
12. Plan to get character autographs? Make your own autograph books. You can purchase a small, inexpensive journal and have the kids do the decorations themselves. They can always use blank pages in the back as an actual vacation journal. Remember to bring a Sharpee marker or a pen so you don’t have to buy one on property for full retail price.
13. Skip the autograph book and go for autographing something unusual. We have some great and CHEAP ideas for items for characters to sign beyond signature books.
We also have ideas for those of you who plan to stand in lines with the kids for autographs, from our readers who have been there and done that.
14. Now this option won’t be too popular, especially with the younger crowd, but to save money, simply don’t buy any souvenirs; take pictures instead. This will undoubtedly be pretty hard to do, because eve as a middle-age adult, I find it hard to walk out of gift shops with all the merchandise in sight, tempting me. Kids will outgrow toys, and adults will wear out t-shirts or drop coffee mugs, but a photo in a nice frame can stay on your shelf for years and years. Here’s some information on making your own picture frames for cheap: Make Your Own Disney Inspired Picture Frames for Super Cheap!
15. Souvenir t-shirts are going to cost you $20 and up, with some in the 30$ range. Make your own shirts. If they match so you can find your groups, bonus points for times saved rounding up small children. Use this guide: Making Your Own Disney World T-Shirts: A Cheapskate Princess Guide
16. If you plan to rent a park stroller, rent it for multiple days for a discount. This will also make your stroller pick up easier on subsequent days rather than waiting in the payment line every day.
Single Stroller Daily: $15 Multi-Day (Length of Stay): $13 Recommended for children 50 lbs. or less.
Double Stroller Daily: $31 Multi-Day (Length of Stay): $27 Recommended for children 100 lbs. or less.
17. Children dress in full Disney Character costumes at the parks these days, especially girls, and it won’t take long for you to see all the princesses with identical slicked back hair, all glittered out and wearing pink sashes. Most of them have gone to the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique at Disney Springs and Cinderella Castle.
You can pay upwards of $50 to have your little girl’s hair done up like a princess, or you can do it yourself for free. Now going to the boutique is a true event and way more fun, but doing hair and makeup yourself will save you money. Younger children won’t even know there is a paying option until they are older.
To see how much the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique costs, use this link: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: A Cheapskate Princess Guide
18. Choose a haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop at Magic Kingdom on Main Street over a Bibbity Bobbity Boutique package, because the costs are far less, and when the glitter and hair gel gets washed out from the BBB, the hair cut will last for months longer. Use this link for details and prices: Haircuts at Walt Disney World For $20: A Cheapskate Princess Guide
19. Riding monorails are free, even if parking at the resorts with monorail access may not be free for long. You can even ride the monorail from the Ticket & Transportation Center to Epcot, which takes about 10 minutes one way, not including waiting on the monorail.
20. Riding boats are free, and there are lots of boats to choose from. You can ride the ferry from the Ticket & Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom and back. Ride a boat from any of the Monorail Resorts (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian) to Magic Kingdom. Riding the boat from Disney Springs to Port Orleans Riverside takes about 20 minutes one way, not including waiting on the boat to arrive.
21. Walking around the Disney Resorts, called “Resort Hopping,” is free, even if parking at the resorts may not be free for long. All the resorts have different theming and landscaping, and you can actually feel like you have stepped back in time or even journeyed to another state while still standing on Disney property. A cheap activity we highly recommend is picking up a dessert at the resorts, and if you have purchased a resort mug, this will save you money on purchasing drinks at every stop. Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide
22. If you want to ride the balloon at Disney Springs, buy your ticket and ride before 10 a.m. This offer could change at any minute, but it’s been available for years. Save Money on Disney’s Characters In Flight
Speaking of souvenir money, if you are taking children on vacation with you, it’s highly suggested you read up on their vacation money, because they can nickel and dime you ad infinitum, and at Disney, that means get out your $20s and $100s!
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you rolling quarters and eating bagged sandwiches instead of eating out for lunch. Whatever it takes to save up that money!
To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.
Disney’s Cheapskate Princess
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. 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.
We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Julie and Elizabeth. You can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.