Over 10 Ways Kids Can Earn Money for a Disney Vacation

tips for kids to earn money for vacation

Updated for 2018!

Planning a Disney vacation? Got kids? If the answer to both is yes, you will need some money. If the children have no money of their own when they arrive in Orlando, they will soon be begging for your money. Many parents just hand over souvenir spending money because it’s a Disney vacation, and that a big deal, no doubt. But if you are on a more strict budget or just want the kids to be responsible for some of their own purchases, then you may need some ideas on how they can earn their own cashola.

We asked our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans how their kids earned spending money for Walt Disney World or Disneyland trips. They had some amazing ideas we wanted to share. 

Read: Avoid Kid’s Tantrums in Walt Disney World? Teach Them This Important Life Skill

1. Chores/Allowance

This is the response most parents gave us; they paid the kids for doing chores.

Megan, “Our kids earn their money for chores every week. They know when a Disney trip is planned, so they can choose to save it for Disney or spend it on other things.”

Gina, I have five-year-old twins. They feed and water the dogs, get all laundry to the washer, empty the bathroom trash, and clean their rooms.”

Niki, “Our kids earn money by doing chores and know to save up when we go to Disney. They buy all of their own souvenirs.”

Alicia, “My kids start doing extra chores we put on a board to earn their souvenir money, we start the board about 4 months before the trip…. My house is really clean and my yard perfect those 4 months before Disney! Then they get to pick out one souvenir on the trip that I pay for.”

Personally, our children do chores every day, because they live in our house, eat up our food, and get rides to school and work. My kids are older, and the money they receive in our house is called “an allowance.” Routine chores like cleaning their rooms, feeding our pets, setting and clearing the table, taking out the garbage/recycling, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the entire house once a week, etc. are jobs we expect to be completed just because. They do these things just because they are members of our home, and my husband and I refuse to do it all by ourselves. We are a team, so everybody has regular jobs to help out.  

We also give our teens an allowance to help our children learn to budget money, which we consider a valuable life skill. We don’t tie it in to chores, but I know lots of families that do, and that’s fine by me. It really matters not if the kids get paid an allowance or do just because-chores, because those are just labels, as long as the work gets done. No matter what you call it, chores or allowance, work is completed and money is received.

If you have started planning a Disney vacation, now is a great time to make the kids work hard for their money. Let’s face it – you’re working, so why can’t they?! If your children receive an allowance or chore money, have them save a percentage of it just for the Disney trip.

 Read: Life Lessons with a Disney Spin: Why Kids Need a Vacation Budget

kids earn money for Disney vacation

2. Good Behavior

Heather, “My children earn ‘Disney Dimes/Dollars’ for doing things around the house over and above their responsibilities. They also earn them for good behavior. We cash the $$ in before we go. That is their spending money over and above the pin and ornament that we purchase for them every time we go.

Erica, “In the past I have rewarded over and beyond behavior, and that money went into their Disney piggy bank. Now they save some of their weekly allowance to buy stuff. We’re getting ready to move there though, so I’m not sure how this will work because we’ll be there a lot, so I guess they will have to learn how to truly budget.”

I think this idea would work really well with younger children, especially when they tag along on grocery or clothes shopping excursions. These can be especially stressful with younger children. 

Read: Disney World Impulse Buys: How Returning Kid’s Purchases Is Costing You Money

3. Good Grades

Nobody suggested this idea, so this is all me! Back in the 70s, I earned $1 for every A/B I received. 30 years later, my kids earn $2 for each A/B they earn. Children can save a percentage of their education money for the vacation.

When our children were in elementary and intermediate schools, they took “AR” reading tests and earned points. We paid our kids $1 per point. I never had to listen to my children beg for money in Wal-mart or any other store. Why? I simply told them to spend their AR book money. If they wanted something bad enough, they did. And they took that AR money along on vacations as well.

Now our kids were big readers when they were younger, and points for Harry Potter books could hit 45 or more per book. My parents thought we were crazy, paying our kids hundreds of dollars a year for book tests. My response, “Have you seen the cost of college admission these days?” Paying our kids a couple hundred dollars in book point money, which increased their vocabulary and kept them away from TV and video games, seemed like a good investment in their future post-graduate education. It was a good investment in their vacations as well.

Read: Life Lessons with a Disney Spin: Learning Financial Responsibility in a WDW Gift Shop

Disney vacation plans for kids

4. Wash Cars

Tonya, “My kids work the whole year to save money for the trip. Whatever they have saved is their souvenir money. We pay for food, airfare and lodging.”

I’m thinking car wash here. We see a lot of school groups do car washes as fundraisers, and this is not easy money. Many of you moms and dads probably remember washing cars for extra cash when you were a child yourself. I sure do! I washed care and raked leaves. 

But working hard for something you want is also a life skill. I don’t think setting up a car wash on the side of a busy road is a great idea, but calling family and friends to drive their car over could work. Tell them the kids are raising spending money for a trip, or better yet have the kids call, which allows them to work on their social skills before the actual hard physical work begins.

5. Recycling

Jonathan, “If you have a recycling plant/facility near your home, have the kids collect bottles and cans to earn cash.”

Recycle. Bottles, aluminum cans, and newspapers are recyclable, but how much the facility will pay for may depend on your area. Recycling is good for the environment, and walking the neighborhood finding cans and bottles can be good exercise. Walking anywhere is certainly great practice for a Disney vacation. And the recycling cash will be good for their little piggy banks!

Read: Life Lessons With a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Be Appreciative

plan a Disney vacation

6. Mow Lawns

Kim, “My children each earn $100 to spend at Disney. They hoard it for most of the trip until the really decide what they want.”

Rachel, “I pay my son to mow the lawn. He earns money doing a job I sure don’t want to do!”

Kids can earn money mowing your yard, and if your child is old enough to mow your yard, perhaps it’s time to branch out into the neighborhood. They could create flyers to put on the neighbor’s doors. This idea could be extended to raking leaves, shoveling snow, and most any manual labor that requires hard work.

I’m all for paying kids to do labor intensive jobs I don’t really want to do. Manual labor jobs also teach character, and what child couldn’t use more of that?!

7. Babysit

Briget, “Our kids earn money before we leave on any vacation by doing extra chores, picking bottles, and babysitting. We usually give them an extra $50 in addition to what they earn. They normally end up with a $100 each. We have two young kids and two teens. The teens normally have more money to spend. With that money, they buy their own souvenirs and snacks (if they want something after we eat as a family.) I found it cuts down on the ‘I wants’ if they pay for stuff themselves. I keep the money in plastic color coded envelopes so they can see how much they have every day.

If your child is old enough to babysit for you, perhaps it’s time for them to branch out and do some babysitting for friends and neighbors.

Care.com reports that the average babysitter cost per hour was about $13.50. They indicated that rate varies widely depending on a number of factors. But wouldn’t that be a great hourly wage for teens to work up to?

I remember babysitting for $1 an hour back in the early 80s, and man, what I could have done with $13.50 for an hour! Ok, realistically your kids won’t earn that much money per hour, but even half of that could add up quickly.

Read: Life Lessons with a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Save Their Money

Disneyland Disney World souvenirs and kids

8. Pet Sit

Colleen, “My son is the neighborhood pet sitter. When our neighbors go on vacation, he earns money by taking care of their pets! We have a lot of families on our street, so most of his spending money comes from that and birthday money.”

This job would take a lot of maturity on the part of a child, but with the average home in America having multiple pets, that means there are a lot of pets that certainly might need sitting services.

9. Holiday Money

Amy, “We have the kids save a portion of Christmas and birthday money they receive from relatives. I call this easy money. I have them send a thank you note saying part will be used on vacation”

Did grandma send the kids money for a birthday or Christmas? Have them save a percentage of this. I agree with Amy – that’s easy money. 

 Read: Is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Worth the Big Buck$? Just Ask a Cheap$kate Princess

kids earn money for vacation souvenirs

10. Yard Sales

Donnie, “My kids do chores for the grand parents, like cleaning the horse barn and have yard sales to raise spending cash they usually have $150 to $300 to spend on what they want.”

Have the kids round up toys they don’t play with and clothes that don’t fit, and not only could they make a little money, they might de-clutter their rooms at the same time. That’s a two for one deal right there. 

11. Walking

Nobody but me suggested this, so I’ll assume I was the only one desperate enough to think this up. One year when my children were small and especially resistant to walking anywhere over basically around the block, we paid them $.20 per mile to “practice for vacation.” I wore a pedometer and so did they. Again, my parents thought we were insane, but I didn’t have to carry any exhausted children anywhere. We had use of a stroller too, but little legs give out quickly, especially if they want to get out and walk around gift shops and touch things at resorts. Sure, the money was coming from me, but they thought they earned it, and that’s what mattered.

And I didn’t have to listen to anyone begging and crying for money. That’s almost priceless right there. 

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

souvenirs at Disney World Disneyland

Impulse buys are tough on kids at Disney. If possible, it’s good to discourage them from buying souvenirs on the first day. There seems to be something to buy at the end of every ride. If you are not prepared for the amount of spending opportunities your children will face on vacation, chances are you will deal with tantrums or Visa aches as you give in to avoid tantrums.

Brenda,I’m an adult, and I sold some stuff so I could have $$ that I could spend and not feel guilty.”

It’s never too late to teach a child how pricey vacations can be and how they can contribute by paying for their own souvenirs. Hey, this will free up some of your money up to buy tickets, or maybe some ice cream as the Magic Kingdom is closing.

Want to Save Money on Food at Disney? Two Words: Kid’s Meals!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you and the kids, in the gift shops, undoubtedly with everybody wishing they had more money!

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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Mike Ellis

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.





Ladies: Don’t Wear These Costumes to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

do not wear this to Disney WorldUpdated for 2019!

Adults are not allowed to wear costumes to Disney World theme parks, because this can be confusing to many children. A five-year-old standing in line to see Cinderella, standing next to an adult dressed like Cinderella, would be confusing. The only exception to this rule is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, because everyone of all ages is dressing up in costumes for this extravaganza. Disney even encourages adults to dress up on their website, “Don your favorite costume and get ready to trick-or-treat at this Halloween-themed event held each fall in Magic Kingdom park!” [Read more…]

Taking Baby to Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

how to take a baby on vacation

Updated for 2016!

I have a good friend who struggled for years to have a baby, and when she finally got pregnant, my first question was, “When are you going to Disney World?” She said she and her husband had discussed it, and they decided when the baby turned five, that was a good time. I think I gasped. I seem to recall my mouth fell open. I thought she was joking, until she said that considering what the vacation would cost, they knew they wouldn’t have any fun at Disney with a baby.

When you talk about Disney World being an expensive vacation, that would be a valid point. Given the cost added to babysitting duty, can you really have any fun with a baby in tow at Disney World?

Babies are work, man, lots and lots of work. I believe you can have fun, although it may not be the most relaxing vacation you ever take. Is life ever easy with a baby? I’ve seen parents struggling at WDW with wailing infants that looked four days old, all the way up to those babies reaching up to touch Goofy in Chef Mickey’s. There are a lot of babies hanging out at Disney World, probably more than you would expect.

Read: Vacationing at Disney World? Then You’ll Need a Nap!

take a baby to Disney World

 Why Take a Baby To Disney?

1) No school to miss. Babies have all the time in the world, and there are no tests or home work to make up. And baby is learning anyway, all about colors, shapes, and songs, and he’s picking up language while you talk to him.

2) Food is practically free for babies. Breast feeding a baby is free.  If you are bringing formula and baby food from home, that is a normal every day expense for you. It is also nowhere near the cost of a childs’ meal. So food is not really an additional expense, because you had to feed her anyway.

3) Tickets are free. There is no Disney admission charge for children up until they reach the age of three. A one-day ticket in 2019 for a 10+ age child starts at $109, so think of the money you are saving by not buying tickets for that precious baby.

4) They take up very little space in a hotel room. If you didn’t bring your own Pack ‘n’ Play, you can borrow these at the resorts. Check for availability when you make your reservation. My babies have slept in laundry baskets before; they can’t roll out of it, and we packed up the hotel room with the basket when we left. That’s a multi-functioning bed at its finest.

5) You can still ride roller coasters. Rider Switch, which is sometimes called “Child Swap,” is a pass system that allows people with small children to take turns riding the “tall people” rides while the other person/people wait with the child. Now you won’t have to miss the ride because someone has to watch the baby in line. With your entire group  present, tell the Cast Member that you would like to use Rider Switch. The “waiters” receive a Rider Switch pass, similar to a FastPass, and the “riders” proceed on through the line. When they finish, you will swap. This will also work if a child is tall enough but doesn’t want to ride.

6) You Love Disney. Here is the part where I am talking about you having funIn reality, this vacation isn’t really about the baby, who wot remember the vacation anyway, it’s about YOU! You love Disney, you love spending time with your child, so overcome your fears and combine your two loves.

Read: “Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies

take a baby to Disney World on vacation

Anyone who has spent time around a baby knows that life can be stressful, especially if you have ventured out of your comfort zone and onto a monorail with a stroller. Here is a list of things that I believe can make your time with a baby at Disney a little easier.

Things You Need

1. Nap

Number one on my list is a nap. You need one and baby needs one, and I suggest you go back to your hotel room to take it. Everybody wakes up refreshed and happy. That said, my babies took naps on the Peoplemover, the monorail, and occasionally in a stroller. I know some Disney moms worry about schedules, but altering regular plans slightly for a few days won’t cause permanent damage.  You should definitely get that nap in though. Power nap = happy momma.

There are babies and toddlers asleep all over Disney parks. Babies can and do nap on shoulders, in strollers, on slow-moving rides like the train, and in movies like The Muppets 3D Adventure, etc. They can nap most anywhere. While baby is asleep, have some fun pushing the stroller through a gift shop.

2. Distractions

For those babies old enough to eat solids, snacks can make waiting in line a little easier. So can distracting toys and the occasional song sung softly in a little ear. If baby gets fussy in line, it’s not the end of vacation if you step out and take a break. You can hop on a ride later. While you walk baby around, have some fun just looking at the Disney architecture and the other people on vacations.

3. Essentials

You’ll need the essentials. Making a run to a store can be time-consuming and will be more costly than bringing these supplies from home.

Here’s a good generic baby packing list.

  • blankets
  • clothes, pajamas
  • bottles/extra nipples, formula, possibly a breast pump
  • bibs
  • diapers, wipes
  • pacifiers
  • toys
  • medicines, hand sanitizer
  • gallon size storage bags for emergencies
  • shampoos, soaps, and lotions
  • car seat
  • stroller
  • baby monitor
  • Pack ‘n’ Play, if you think you need your own.

What if you forget to take these items into the parks? Can you buy them there? Sure, most of it.

All the theme parks, the water parks, and Disney Springs carry baby supplies like diapers, diaper pins, formula, and sunburn treatment. If you don’t see it, you can ask for it. You will pay a lot more for these items at Disney than at home, but you are paying for convenience and ultimately paying a high price for poor planning.

There are also baby care centers with supplies available in small quantities, which we will discuss further on.

4. Sunblock

I know there are rules and regulations on sunscreen use with babies of a certain age, but their little skin can get easily burned out in the sun, so cover them up or bend the sunscreen rules.  Sunburn is a great way to ruin a baby’s day and thus yours as well. I know people are having a stroke to get to the parks early. 

I’m thinking if you make an early day of it, go back to the room for a nap and/or a swim, and then head back to the park between four and six when the sun is going down.

Read: When Should You Tell the Kids About A Disney Vacation?

Cheapskate Princess Guide to taking babies to Disney World

What if Baby Gets Sick?

Many of the reasons we suggest babies go on vacations won’t make new moms feel any better. You’re not in your comfort zone on vacation, away from your home and a regular schedule, and things can go wrong.

If baby gets sick at the park, where do you go?

That would be every parents’ fear, that a baby would get sick or hurt on vacation. Colds can come on fast, little arms can get cut or scraped. Every park has a First Aid Center, and here is a list of where to find them:

  • Magic Kingdom- at the end of Main Street, turn left. It’s located between Casey’s Corner restaurant and the Crystal Palace.
  • Epcot – It’s located on the World Showcase side of Odyssey Center.
  • Hollywood Studios – You’ll find it in the Guest Relations Building inside the main Entrance.
  • Animal Kingdom- It’s located in Discovery Island, on the left side before you cross the bridge to Africa. It’s basically behind Creature Comforts.

The beauty is that in all four Disney parks, the First Aid Center is located next to the Baby Care Center. You can take a baby into any of the First Aid Centers, and they can handle anything from minor cuts and scrapes to allergic reactions.

Speaking of Baby Care Centers, what can they do for adults?

At a Baby Care Center, you can do the following:

  • change diapers
  • prepare formula
  • warm bottles and baby food
  • purchase supplies
  • rock in rocking chairs
  • nurse infants in special chairs

Dads are welcome at all the Baby Care Centers, and they can use most of the services.  Many men’s restrooms now offer diaper changing tables, so the burden won’t all fall on mom’s shoulders.

Read: Beware of Buying These Disney Vacation Souvenirs on Ebay


So are you ready to make those reservations and bring that baby to Disney? Summer is probably not the best recommended time to go with a newborn, but you can still have a good time, even if you sweat a lot. See my above plan for taking a nap mid-day when the heat is the worst.

When it comes right down to it, taking a Disney vacation with a baby isn’t really about the baby at all. It’s about you, and you want to go to Disney World, and baby will be happy just hangin’ out with you.

You may feel stressed and overwhelmed, but you can feel stressed going to Wal-mart on a particularly rough baby day. You’ll forget to pack things, baby will cry, and you’ll have a few moments where you question your sanity. But then you’ll remember I said to take a deep breath, stop for a second, and remember how much you love being at Disney World. Then you’ll be just fine.

For every bad moment, hopefully you’ll have 12 good ones, plus you’ll have some fabulous pictures to show at baby’s high school graduation party years later.

So start planning that vacation.

Read: Should You Pull Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll probably see you in a Magic Kingdom restroom as you search for the diaper changing table. I’ll be the one green with envy, as my babies are all tall enough now to ride Splash Mountain without me. I sure do miss a baby asleep on my shoulder on the WDW train…


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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.


10 Tips to Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

save lots of money on Disney World food

Updated for 2018!

Through the years, I have found a lot of cheapskating ways to save money on Disney World trips, but food is one area where we struggle. Anything nicer than a counter service meal is going to cost a pretty penny, not to say that the meal won’t be worth that price. Driving off property for meals is often time consuming.

We have tips to help you save some cash on your next vacation, because a little savings here and there can eventually add up to a character meal when you really want a vacation extravagance.

Read: Don’t Eat Too Much of This at Disney World

1. Eat breakfast in your room

While this may not be all that exciting, eating breakfast in the room has saved my family a lot of money through the years. Many people are not big breakfast eaters, so they simply fix a bowl of cereal, some fruit, Pop Tarts, or some oatmeal in their hotel room. Boo-coodles of companies these days offer high energy breakfast bars.

So even if it’s not as magical, eating a bar on a bus headed for a theme park is faster and way cheaper than “eating out.” This gets you to rope drop faster as well.

where to eat breakfast at Disney World

2. Travel, thus eat, in the “off-season”

I have a good friend that is like a walking Disney-price encyclopedia. She rattles off prices of meals and ticket prices like I can quote Disney Dooney & Bourke handbag prices. Heather told me she noticed that Disney raised the price of meals at two character meal restaurants and a buffet when they went for Christmas last year. I checked with a couple of Travel Agent friends, and they confirmed this often occurs during the peak travel times. You know when this is – when school is out and everybody is having a stroke to get to Orlando. They said you can pay $2 to $4 more for the exact same meal during these busy times, so go off-season to save a little cash.

Apparently this will not affect those of you on a Disney Dining Plan, whether you paid for it or got it for free.

3. Speaking of character meals… go during breakfast

Character meals are very expensive. I could feed my entire family of five at McDonald’s almost TWICE for the cost of one adult dinner buffet at Chef Mickey’s. But unlike Mickey D’s or eating cereal in the hotel room, character meals are a Disney experience, so go enjoy that character meal during breakfast rather than lunch. Prices are lower in the morning, even if the menu is different from lunch or dinner.

Are you eating for specific foods on the menu or for the seeing-characters experience? If the answer is characters, then I see waffles, eggs, and bacon in your future. And if you wake up early enough for a reservation before 8 a.m., think of the head start you’ll get to the parks.

Read: Should You Purchase the Disney Dining Plan?

4. Character meal and then skip lunch

Anyone that has eaten at an all-you-care-to-eat meal knows how full you will be when you finish. If you make your reservations for “brunch time,” like somewhere between 10 and 11 a.m., you may eat enough to skip lunch all together. Lots of families I know do this – hey, including mine!

If the kids get hungry, pick up a counter service kids’ meal, or plan ahead and bring a sandwich if you know they’ll be hungry even after the buffet.

How to save money on Disney World food and drinks

5. Bring in your own snacks

Cast Members do bag checks to make sure there are no weapons or glass containers going into the theme parks. They are not checking to see if you smuggled in food. It’s 100% A.O.K. to bring your own snacks with you into Disney them parks.

There are some restrictions about glass containers, cooler sizes, etc. Check it out here:

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

6. Bring in your own meal

If you have ever walked the back trails of the Disney parks, the little pathways off the crowded sidewalks, you will frequently see many families having picnics on the park benches. Coolers open, sandwiches in plastic bags, juice boxes, and packs of animal crackers are consumed by group after group. I nod my head to them in cheapskate agreement. A picnic may not be as glamorous and fun as a character meal, but it’s WAY less expensive. The kids will not be scarred for life if they don’t eat every meal in a restaurant – ask me how I know! And eating meals you bring yourself can save you enough to splurge for a character meal later on.

See the link above for restrictions on containers and ice chests, etc.

7. Bring in your own water.

I don’t have many negative Disney issues, although I am not a fan of these new Fastpass+ changes, but one of my huge complaints with Walt Disney World is the taste of the water. Bleh!! I frequently joke that their fountain water is spiked with yukiness so I will have to pay retail for their bottled water. I think you get somewhat used to it after several days, sort of, but it really tastes awful to most people.

Bring your own bottles of water to the parks with you, no matter how you have to get them there. Refill them frequently, or bring reusable, BPA-free water bottles, which cuts down on garbage when you throw away those plastic bottles.

Read: Walt Disney World’s Giant Turkey Leg: Gotta Have It or Skip it?

why bring water into Disney World

8. Bring a water filter or enhancer

More eco-friendly than throwing away 64 bottles of water in a week’s stay? Get one of those reusable bottles that filters your water. A company called Berkey makes a water filter that removes bacteria and parasites, heavy metals like lead and mercury, VOCs and toxic chemicals like benzene, chlorine and chromium-6 to levels higher than 99.99%.

Still taste yucky? Bring along those small bottles or flavoring. Mio, Dasani, Propel, Skinny Girl, Aquafina, Crystal Light, and Nestea all make water enhancers.

9. Freeze it

Have you ever tried this? We freeze our bottles of water in the summer. Perhaps it’s all in our heads, but we think the water tastes better while it’s melting, and I can always put that cold water bottle on my neck or in the crook of my arm when it reaches 107 degrees outside at noon. I like to wrap this frozen bottle up with a wash cloth, which we occasionally use throughout the day to keep our travel backpack dry.

If a rain shower pops up, you now have a cool drink as well as a wash cloth to wipe your face. That’s a cheapskate win-win.

Read: Where Can You Find FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples?

10. Two people split an entree

Food is really pricey at Disney World, but most people will readily admit you get what you pay for. You might pay a lot, but you most likely will not walk away hungry. Not a big eater? Then you should consider splitting an entrée.

Don’t think that will be enough food? Order an appetizer or an extra side to share, because the price of an appetizer is still less than ordering a full meal. Just ask for an extra plate.

Why bring your own snacks to Disney World

These ideas sound too familiar? Then you must be a regular in Orlando, been there and done that. Most of our readers are new to Disney trip planning, so leave a comment and tell us some of your other tips to save money on Disney food. We’re already working on “Saving Money on Food” part two, so maybe we’ll add your quote in using just your first name, to protect the cheapskates!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in the water isle at Wal-mart, looking for flavoring to take the sting out of that free Florida water.


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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.



Disney World Food Tip #8: Avoid Eating Too Much Sugar

stay healthy on a Disney vacation

Updated for 2018!

My son and I have a little verbal game we play on walks when we are not visiting Disney parks. You know on those mundane days when we are surviving non-Disney reality, because somebody has to walk the dog in reality-ville. He likes to ask me, “What snack would you eat at Disney World right now?” I answer based on how long ago I ate a meal and which resort or park I can re-call to mind first. He always starts off with that same question, “What snack would you eat at Disney right now?” He doesn’t ask that repeatedly because he lacks imagination, but rather he asks because snacks occupy a HUGE part of our Orlando trips.

Ask anybody…Disney snacks and goodies are the stuff vacation legends are made of.

Read: 5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation: A Cheapskate Guide

sharing snacks at Disney World

I remember like it was yesterday. Several years ago, our children all went to the video arcade at the Contemporary Resort, leaving me and my husband to explore without kids. We wound up at the Contempo Cafe, so I could watch the monorails zip through the building. I bought a Black Forrest cupcake, and knowing my children wouldn’t be around to beg, I proceeded to eat the entire thing. That cupcake was as big as my fist; pretty soon after finishing it, I felt sick as a dog. And what should have been a lovely adult-quiet-time snack turned into an all too common occurrence on vacations. I had a sugar crash.

Wait, wait. I thought sugar was supposed to make you feel good?

Livestrong.com explains that eating sugar gives you an instant surge of energy, but this doesn’t last very long. Your blood sugar will surge to respond to the sugary snack you just ingested, your metabolism will burn through it, and then your “system crashes.” Now you wind up feeling sluggish and tired. You could feel yucky after eating too much sugar because your fullness sensors become impaired. When this happens, you may wind up eating more food or snacks than your body needs, and again, you feel uncomfortably full and sluggish.

I now call this phenomena “cupcake crash.” 

Read – Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide

cupcakes at Walt Disney World

I don’t eat sugary treats on vacation for energy; I eat them because, for the most part, they just simply taste amazing!  Assuming these snacks and desserts are sometimes about equal to what I can purchase at home in terms of quality, home food 100% of the time remains unmatched by Disney atmosphere and theming. I swear that cupcake truly tastes better than the average home-made cupcake when eaten outside by the pool at Coronado Springs. A Goofy’s Glacier icee is definitely better than the absolute best Slurpeee I ever slurped, because it was consumed outside the Word of Disney Store, Tinker Bell lights twinkling in the trees, Disney music piped in from the bushes. A hot fudge sundae during Wishes? Man, oh man…

Any of those treats seriously trumps a Zinger eaten at my back yard table any day.

The key to vacation snacking dining success is to examine the type of sugars you are consuming.

Read: Should You Purchase the Disney Dining Plan?

caramel apples snacks at Disney World

Bodybuilding.com explains there are two types of sugars, simple sugar and complex sugars.

Simple Sugars

Simple sugars are those that can get absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. They are sometimes called “fast sugars,” and foods containing these types of sugars are high on the glycemic index. This sugar can be sucrose, glucose, maltose, fructose, or different types of natural sugar.

Simple sugars can be disguised as jams, sweets, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chocolates, biscuits, ice creams etc. They can also be found in mass quantities at the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Confectionary. I can just imagine the sweets counter now, with a Cast Member asking what I need today…

Complex Sugars

Complex sugars are those that release sugar slowly into the blood, thus they are referred to as “slow sugars.” Foods containing complex carbohydrates are generally low on the glycemic index. Fairly common examples of these foods are apples, peanuts, strawberries, lentils, green vegetables and mushrooms.

Low glycemic foods release sugar into the blood in quantities that the body can cope with without having to release high levels of insulin. Also these foods provide the body with nutrients it needs to burn sugar effectively.

Read: Walt Disney World’s Giant Turkey Leg; Gotta Have It or Skip it?

best snacks at Walt Disney World

Eating more of the slow sugars (complex) and less of the fast sugars (simple) ensure your energy levels stay constantly ramped up. When there is no huge sugar crash, this usually means you are less likely to crave another instant sugar hit.

So what are you to do, surrounded by all those delectable treats and desserts? Because like Mickey t-shirts and key chains, there are desserts, ice creams, and pastries everywhere you turn. If you don’t see them, chances are you can smell them as you walk down the sidewalks. And darling, they smell fantastic!

Try to eat more fruits and vegetables than sweets while you are at Disney World. That’s a simple concept that most of us learned in high school health class, but it’s easier to say than actually to do on vacation. You can bring healthy snacks with you or spend more for them on property.

And yet sometimes you will just need to give in to that yummy Disney treat-temptation.

Go buy that cupcake, purchase that Glacier drink, order that chocolate pie with a Dole Whip on the side. But then in true Cheapskate Princess style, you are going to share it.

Grab a knife ands split it in half, fourths even if you are traveling with a larger party. Divide it up, and have a “snack sample.” I tell my children all the time that a Disney snack isn’t meant to be a meal, it’s a sample. And some of those Disney muffins, pastries, fritters, cakes, pies, ice cream bars, and frozen drinks have enough substance to make you as full as if you had just consumed a meal.

Your vacation problem arrives when you overindulge on sweets, because a “cupcake crash” can be right around the corner.

Read – Walt Disney World’s Giant Turkey Leg: Gotta Have It or Skip it?

Mickey Mouse cake pop at Disney World

Buy three snacks, cut them up, and make your own dessert sampler. Just get a taste, and your body will thank you later. Trust me, your kids will LOVE this idea if you present it the right way. Hey kids, you get to try more desserts with the Cheapskate Sharing Plan, just in smaller amounts. You get what you pay for at Disney World, and sometimes it’s more about quality than quantity.

Ok, maybe they won’t thank you immediately, but you’ll be glad their little stomachs aren’t aching after consuming a cupcake built for four.

If you ever divided a cupcake into four parts because another snack time is only several hours away, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you with a knife in hand, explaining to the kids the differences between a snack and a meal.

how to save money on food at Disney parks

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

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.




Cheapskate Princess Extravagance: Disney Beach Shopper by Dooney & Bourke


Updated for 2018!

Summer time is a prime opportunity to take a vacation to Florida or California and visit a Disney theme park. You’ll need a cute bag to haul around your stuff, so when you want to treat yourself to something nice, splurge on a really special souvenir from a fantastic vacation, where can a Cheapskate Princess spend her money?

How about on a cute as pie summer-Disney-themed handbag or backpack by Dooney & Bourke!

While these styles are no longer for sale in 2018, you can get an idea regarding how much you’ll pay for Dooney and Bourke Handbags. And if you are heart broken you will be unable to make a purchase, I would definitely try eBay to see if someone has a gently used version for sale.

[Read more…]

How to Keep a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong

character meals at Disney World

Updated for 2018!

Ever taken a small child to eat dinner with a towering, walking, stuffed doll? There you have it…a Disney Character Meal. Many parents are understandably giddy at the thought of booking a character meal for their next Disney vacation, but is your child really ready to dine with Mickey and all his pals? [Read more…]

Stunning Mickey Mouse Jewelry by CRISLU

Updated for 2018!

Shopdisney.com has all sorts of beautiful sparkley trinkets created by CRISLU that are perfect for a pre or post Disney vacation purchase. There are part of the CRISLU Disney Boutique jewelry collection. These are current February 2018 prices, although remember that availability can cease at any time.  [Read more…]

Renting a Pool Cabana at Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Can you afford a Disney World pool cabana

Updated for 2015!

A Disney vacation isn’t all about roller coasters.  If you decide to to schedule a free day away from the parks and stand-by lines, you may find yourself planning a day by the pool. There are several resorts on the Disney Resort property that have cabanas by their pools, but we’ll use the cabanas by the Contemporary Resort as our example.

Just steps away from the sandy beaches of Bay Lake and two fabulous pools at the Contemporary Resort, the Cabanas for rent here are every Disney Princess’ dream. Compared to just sitting on a deck chair, there are loads of fabulous cabana services and amenities that will make you feel like you are receiving Rock Star Treatment.

Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World

quiet pool at the Contemporary Resort at Disney Wor

Can’t Afford to Stay at This Pricey Disney Resort? Then Go Eat Here!

What Do You Get?

  • An exclusive tented-area just for you, family, and friends
  • Personalized service from your own Cast Member during your rental (No gratuities accepted)
  • Towels, two padded chaise lounge chairs, and two padded chaise beds, just in case you find yourself in need of a relaxing nap in the Bay Lake breeze
  • A 32-inch flat screen TV with cable
  • An iPod docking station for your favorite relaxing tunes
  • A mini-fridge stocked with complimentary bottled waters and sodas
  • A phone for calls inside the Contemporary resort complex
  • A complimentary fruit tray
  • For an additional cost, you can dine privately
  • A ceiling fan
  • Free Wifi

Pool cabana price for the Contemporary Resort in POrlando

what to do at a Disney pool? Rent a cabana

Disney World best pool

When it is available?

The Cabanas are available for half day rentals (morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and afternoon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and all day rentals run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

price for Disney World pool cabanas

rent a Disney World pool cabana

bed pool side at a Disney pool

Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Guide To Free Fun!

How much will the cabana cost?

Morning or afternoon rentals are $149 plus tax for each session, or the all day rental charge is $219 plus tax. All prices are subject to change without notice, and one person in your party must be at least 18 years of age.

The maximum amount of guests for the Cabanas are six. There is also a 24 hour cancellation policy, or the full charge will be applied, although you can cancel at any time due to inclement weather. For reservations, call (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529.

You can also visit the marina at the Contemporary for same day reservations.

Disney pool cabana

flat screen Tv in Disney pool cabana

The Contemporary Resort’s Quiet Pool is close enough to watch the action at the pool with the slide, but far away enough not to be bothered if you are here for relaxation and to work on your tan.  The sounds of ducks, boat whistles, and happy vacationers walking  the dock all blend together into just the sounds of vacation.

So break out your designer sunglasses, that cute sun hat, your new Mickey Mouse string bikini, and unleash your inner Disney Princess at the Contemporary Cabanas. You’ll be the absolute envy of poolside vacationers throughout Walt Disney World!

Remember that walking around the resorts is free, as Disney has an open resort policy. But swimming in the pools where you are not a paying guest is not allowed except under one condition. Use this link:

A Guide To Disney World Resort Pool Hopping

lounge by the pool in a cabana at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Mickey towels at Disney pool and cabanas

rent a pool canaba at Disney World

Have you ever rented a cabana? Did you think it was worth the money? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you lounging on a chair by the Contemporary Resort, soda in hand, the smell of coconut suntan lotion in the air…

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

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda 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 Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

30 FREE Activities at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Updated July 2018!

If you are looking for the top of the line Disney World Resort accommodations, then look no further than the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. When he was initially planning the resorts built in close proximity to the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney planned the Polynesian resort to directly reflect Adventureland, the Contemporary Resort to reflect Tomorrowland, and the Grand Floridian was designed to mirror the splendor of Main Street, U.S.A.. [Read more…]

Life Lessons with a Disney Twist: Mastering the Art of Window Shopping

Best thing for kids at Disney World
One of those terms that seems to be lost on the younger crowd these days is “window shopping.” This terms is so old, they now have an entry for it on Urban dictionary.com. They define it as “When one visits a store or mall to admire goods rather than to purchase them. The ‘shopper’ seems to be looking so intently at the glass in storefront windows that he appears to want to buy the window itself, hence ‘window shopping.'” So to window shop, you simply look around stores without serious intentions of making any purchases.  

[Read more…]

Where Can You Get FREE Fall Disney Dining and FREE Kid’s Mickey Mouse Hats?


If there is anything I love more than FREE, it’s extra FREE! Because a Cheapskate Princess loves a great deal, back in 2014 in conjunction with the Free Dining Promotion, we gave away FREE Mickey Mouse ear hats for the children traveling with your party when you make reservations for the Free Dining promotion. That was a win-win for everybody!

Maybe in 2017 we can offer another great deal?
Check back…


How much can you save with the Free Dining Promotion?

We asked our  Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans how much they saved.

Cheryl, “Last December, we went to and just missed free dining but was just me and hubby. We are adopting our five foster kids and are taking them in 2015. I am estimating we will save $2300+ for our week stay. We will be doing character meals and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. It will be me, hubby, and our two grown kids plus our 5 younger children, but one will qualify as an adult since she will be 10.”

Stephanie, “We have only booked with free dining for the last four trips. Since character meals are included, we save $1000 minimum with that deal. We do normally stay at a moderate or higher resort. We are booked for September.”-

Pam, “We love to stay when the free dining is available. With our family of five, we save $$. We love the quick service dining just as much as the dining with table service. With the baby, age eight, we love the flexibility of not watching the clock to make it to dining reservation and just grab a quick service meal when we get hungry. However there is nothing like a meal with the princesses or some of our favorite characters.  We’ve stayed in All-Star Sports and the All-Star Music Resort. We also stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and once at Coronado Springs when one of our big kids couldn’t go due to college (which, by the way, was heart breaking for me as well him…lol) Port Orleans is great for those families with five.”

Christie, “We LOVE going during free dining! On our last trip, we saved over $1000 by having free quick service dining for our family of four. It is just plain awesome. And where else can I try a cronut, two Dole Whips, and a Mickey pretzel for free in a week?!”

Free food at Disney World


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

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda 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 Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.