Let’s face facts. Going to Disney World for a vacation is not a cheap thing to do. You have to shell out money for lodging, meals, transportation to and from Orlando and, if you’re anything like our family, lots of souvenirs. The good news is that I have a few good ideas on how to save money on Disney souvenirs.
Buy before you fly (or drive).
I think this is something that people often neglect to do. It’s very easy to get wrapped up on the impulse purchase at all of the great souvenir shops in the parks and at Disney Springs. When our kids were younger this was especially difficult because when my kids want something, I want to give it to them.
One way that we have found to mitigate this is to purchase some souvenirs before we left for our trip. You can find things for far cheaper online and at outlet stores prior to leaving.
Take this shirt on amazon.com for instance. On amazon, it sells for $13 – $20. At any of the Disney World locations in Orlando, you would likely pay around $30 for it. If I bought each member of my family this shirt (or something similar) on amazon it would save me at least $50 versus at Disney World. It is sold by Disney through amazon so it is of the same high quality your would find in the parks.
We typically try to buy our kids, and ourselves, a few pieces of memorabilia prior to leaving for our trips. It makes budgeting a lot easier because you stretch out how long you have to pay for your souvenirs for as long as you want.
Then we hide them from the kids. We will give them to them the day we are leaving for our vacation or we sometimes hold them until we get down there.
Another idea is to give the souvenirs to your kids every few days. What I mean by this is give them a shirt as soon as you get down there, and don’t be surprised when they want to wear it every day. Then a day or two later give them a cap or a set of Mickey Ears.
Disney Gift Cards
Another thing we do is get a Disney gift card or two for each member of our family. This does two things for us.
First, it provides each member with a specific budget of how much they have to spend. This allows for the impulse purchases that all kids (and dads) want, but it makes them think about how bad they want the shiny new object they just found. We use it as a budgeting learning tool for our kids. Once they have spent all of the money on their gift card they don’t have any more to spend the rest of the trip.
Now, I will say that we usually also put rules on when they can spend their souvenir money. Typically we make them wait for at least a few days into the vacation before they can start shopping. We also usually have them save a little bit for our last day because we have a tradition of going to Disney Springs on our last day in Orlando just to shop.
The second thing it does is save us money. You can buy Disney gift cards at BJ’s Wholesale Club at a slight discount. They typically cost around $96 for a $100 gift card so it’s only about a 4% savings, but when you couple this tactic with others the savings can really start to add up.
There are a few notes on the gift cards that I want to mention. One is that they don’t expire. If you’re planning multiple trips you don’t have to worry if you have some money left over on them. You can use them on your next trip.
The other thing I want to mention is that these cards can be used at most places that accept credit cards at Disney World. We use them for all of our dining and shopping needs. We always try to figure out about how much we are going to be spending eating out at the parks and resorts and budget meal costs into our gift card purchase.
Did you know that if you approach any Cast Member (Disney employee) and ask them to trade pins with you, they will? Our kids always have a lot of fun doing that and that is how they have gotten some of their coolest pins.
For this reason we usually buy some of Disney pins at a discount before our trip. You can usually find a batch of 25 pins for around $25 or less so it is much more economical than buying them at the park where they typically run around $4 each for the very cheapest ones. Some of the more expensive ones are upwards of $30.
Sometimes you can even find some really cool pins in a batch purchase like this from amazon or ebay. We always have our kids pick out the ones they are certain they want to keep and not trade. We fasten the ones they don’t want to lose to their lanyards with locking pin keepers.
If you are driving to Orlando, another great idea to save money is to make a pit stop at a Disney Outlet Store once you start getting close to your destination.
On occasion, we try to stop at the Disney Outlet Store in Florida off of Interstate 95 to or from our vacation. All of the products in the store are Disney branded. You will likely not save as much as you would if you were shopping online but the items will not be as pricey as they are at Disney World.
This gives us a chance to shop around and touch the stuff we’re thinking about buying so it is a great option.
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas on how to save money on Disney souvenirs. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. Also, if you have any money saving tips for vacation souvenirs, I’d love to hear about them.