Guys. We just got back from Disney and I legit think I am going through some Disney withdrawal. There is something so enchanting about walking into the parks and hearing the music and laughter everywhere. And witnessing the tantrums. Lots of tantrums. Which led us to ask the question, after seeing a little girl sprawled facedown on the cement with her arms and legs splayed out like some strange starfish, what even ARE kids?? BUT IT’S ALL PART OF THE EXPERIENCE!
Anyways, while we were there this past time we were re-reminded about just how easy it is to drop some major money at the parks.
There’s something about seeing this:
And these ears:
that triggers a strange inner voice that whispers to you “I NEED this”.
That’s right. It no longer becomes about wants, so much as NEEDS.
Let’s real talk for a second. Do I NEED a 4,000 piece Lego set replica of the Disney castle? Do I NEED a bouncy ball in the shape of Mickey’s head? Do I NEED Elsa’s dress that most certainly will not fit me (but how can I be positive about that unless I buy it and try it on??).
But in that moment, I was about 78% sure that my very continued existence depended on the purchase of those superfluous items (full disclosure, we did NOT buy the Lego Disney castle. Well, at least not while at the parks…).
We get it, guys. We know that you’re going to tell yourself before starting your trip that you will be good about your spending. And we know that when you’re there, you’re going to see something that just punches you in the gut with that feeling of “oh my Mickey, I NEED that”. It happened to us.
So here are some ways to save you some money during your trip, so you can have a little wiggle room with your budget if you or your family members see that commemorative mug and think “yaaaasssssss”.
- Eat Breakfast At Your Hotel: We stayed in one of the Disney Resorts, which had a little shopping area with some basics for food. We had bought a pack of bagels and some cream cheese and every day before leaving for the park, we made a quick breakfast in our hotel room. This saved us a load of money, and also afforded us some extra time in the morning when the parks weren’t so busy to use the extra magic hours to enjoy the parks. Bonus is that some hotel rooms have a kitchenette in them (some have a full kitchen, but we haven’t had anything that fancy, yet); if you are lucky enough to have this, take advantage of the eggs and breakfast meats the Disney resort shops sells!
- Pack Your Lunches: Food is arguably one of the most expensive costs that you will incur during your trip, especially since food prices in the park are so high. As I mentioned above, the Disney resort had a little shopping area with some groceries. We were able to buy bread, peanut butter and jelly (they also have deli meats and cheeses), which we packed to bring with us to the parks. Yes, they do allow you to bring outside food into the parks!
- Split Your Meals: Are you seeing a trend with me talking about food? Seriously, in the parks the portions are large enough to split. If you snag a sit down dinner reservation (guys, book these early!), then go ahead and share some meals so you can go ahead and order that tempting dessert without stressing about the cost (or the calories – sharing is caring!).
- Buy The Refillable Mug: Especially if you are going to be staying at a Disney resort for multiple days and are someone, like me, whose ability to be a pleasant human being hangs on their caffeine intake. The mug at the resort cost about $18.00. I am someone who drinks, minimum, 2 cups of coffee a day – same with Hubby. We stayed at the resort for 5 days. Let’s math together, shall we? That’s about 20 cups of coffee that we would have had to purchase. Instead we kept washing out our reusable mug (they have washing stations for this very purpose at the resorts) and refilling it as much as our hearts desired. And we were able to get other drinks too, like sodas. AND we were able to use that as a water container in the parks (we filled them up at the water fountain stations), since water bottles at the parks are easily $3.00.
- Buy A Bottle Of Wine At Your Resort: If you want to enjoy some wine during your stay, the resort shop sells several bottles at reasonable prices. Two drinks in the park and resort restaurants cost about the price of one bottle, and if you are going to want multiple glasses this is an affordable way to go about enjoying an adult beverage. Pro-tip, they have bottle openers for your use behind the counters of the resort shop and will let you use one, if you ask. You get bonus points if you buy fruit at the store to make your own hotel-room sangria (joking).
- BYOW: No, this does not stand for bring your own wine. This is for bring your own water. Or some sort of bottle/container that can hold water so you can fill up at the fountains in the park. As I mentioned above, water bottles that would cost you $1.00 at a vending machine cost $3.00 at the park. Which is silly. Don’t buy that! Save your money for fun purchases and bring your own bottle.
- Get The Costumes Beforehand: Do you have little princesses, princes and pirates in your family? Will they want to dress up in the park to live the magic? If so, get them their garb before hitting the parks. Sometimes the Disney Store has sales on their costumes. Also, it’s nice to go to those halloween stores after halloween and get their costumes at a reduced cost. This will definitely save you some money while still allowing the magic to come to life. Especially if you plan on hitting the bibbidi bobbidi boutique.
- Character Dine At Breakfast Time: if character dining is a must for you, consider going at breakfast time rather than lunch or supper. The bill will be less and you’ll still get to meet the characters. We’ve eaten at the Tusker House for breakfast and thought the food there was quite good! We’ve heard mixed review about other places, so can’t speak to the quality of the breakfast food anywhere else.
- Use Shades Of Green If You Are Military: Every year Disney offers discounted tickets to military members and their families, which can be purchased and mailed to you through the shades of green website. Whomever has the military ID must be present on the trip (although we were never asked to present it), and each military member can purchase up to 6 tickets. Pro-tip, at the customer service booths you can purchase the photo pass memory maker for half the price if you have your military ID with you!
- Consider Tables In Wonderland: This only applies to Florida residents, annual pass holders and DVC members who plan on going multiple times a year. If you fit into those categories, consider stopping at one of the customer service booths and purchasing one, because it may save you some money in the long run.
As far as the dining plans Disney offers, Hubby and I never purchase them because, since we split meals and eat breakfast before hand so frequently, we are paying less in total than the cost of the dining plans. That being said, we have friends who swear by the Disney Dining Plans and we can definitely see how it would be potentially cost saving if you and your family plan on eating at an upscale park restaurants every night of your stay.
Hope you found this helpful!