As a mom and wife who loves Disney, I also know how expensive it can be to prepare a family for travel and for a Disney World vacation. When you take some time to plan ahead, you can save yourself some of the expensive incidentals that can come up while visiting Disney World. Find out how my family and I save money by reading: Money Saving Tips as You Prepare for Your Next Disney World Vacation!

Money Saving Tips as You Prepare for Your Next Disney World Vacation!

My family tends to travel by car to Disney, so some of my tips involve packing more items. Not to fear! Most of these items are small to pack and will cut down on the number of items you will bring back with you from Disney World if you are traveling by plane.

Pre-purchase Disney Souvenirs for your Children

Many discount stores such as Ross or T.J. Maxx offer you a selection of Disney merchandise that will more than likely be cheaper than what you find in the park. Before we go on our trip, I pick out one “Minnie Mouse” prize for each night of our stay while at Disney World. I pre-wrap them and once we check into our hotel, I tell my daughter that Minnie Mouse has been by her room and left her a gift. Each night “Minnie Mouse” leaves an item for her to open. This helps to cut back on buying items in the park, because children are always asking for something. I just say “Let’s see what Minnie Mouse brings you first” and then she will forget about said item. The only items we may purchase in the park are our Disney ears and our Christmas ornament for that year.

I also plan the items I buy to correspond with our itinerary. For example, if we have a princess breakfast planned on Wednesday, Minnie Mouse may leave her a princess dress up accessory on Tuesday night. That Minnie Mouse always knows what we need for the next day.

Extras can ADD UP!

In addition to Minnie Mouse gifts, these are the items that are best purchased outside of the park and brought with you “just in case.”

Ponchos- Disposable ones can be found at the dollar store. We packed these for a rainy day (on this past trip it was at Hollywood Studios). They worked for that day and then we threw them away. No need to dry them out and repack them.

Glow sticks and necklaces- Stock up on these for your kiddos at night. When you see the price tag on the park items, you will be glad! Those necklaces and other glow toys can cost upwards of $20.

Water bottles- Be sure to bring one (or more depending on how you feel about sharing water bottles in your family) that is leak proof in your backpack. You can refill these for free in the park.

Character Signing Items– I have tried a few different ways to collect signatures and by far my favorite has been bringing a sturdy photo mat. We take that around with large sharpie pens for the characters to sign. Just make sure the mat will fit in your backpack. The large sharpie pens make it easy for the characters to sign (sometimes they have large gloves on) and it looks so colorful on the mat when your signatures are done. When you get home, you can hang it with one of your favorite character photos from the trip.Money Saving Tips as You Prepare for Your Next Disney World Vacation!

Know How the Dining Plan Works and Work It!

If you are someone who enjoys eating out on vacation or if you consider yourself a Disney foodie, then you must explore purchasing the meal plan with your stay at a Disney World Resort. When you pre-purchase the meal plan, you not only save a percentage of money overall on your meals, but you have already paid for them when you arrive. The stress of spending more money on food is gone! You will only need to be prepared to purchase your alcohol and provide tips for your service. For more info on the Disney Dining Plans, check out DISNEY DINING 101.

Are you someone who does not like to spend a lot of money on food? Or do you have a lot of light eaters in your group? No worries! You can pack your food for the day in a backpack. Without the meal plan, I think you will be surprised at the cost you will spend upfront on quick service, not to mention table service meals. If you plan to go without the meal plan, then the best way to save is by packing a bag with snacks and sandwiches.

If you plan to splurge on only one or two table service meals, consider using a Disney Travel Planner to help you navigate the reservation process. This leads me to my next tip!

Plan with a Complimentary Disney Travel Planner

Whether you are a new visitor to Disney World or a longtime fan, consider using a Disney Travel Planner to help you plan your next vacation. Did you know that planning a Disney vacation through a Disney Travel Planner is complimentary? That means it is FREE. It comes at no additional cost to you. Disney handles any commission as part of their commitment to top-notch customer service. A Disney Travel Planner knows how to help you find a discounted room or ticket package, as well as which restaurants offer character dining along with your meal to provide the best value and functionality for your trip. A Disney Travel Planner can also offer insight and provide research for your family’s needs.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to save money as we prepare for our Disney vacation. What are some tips from other Disney fans that you have found helpful? Let me know! I would love to hear from you!

Join the Disney Express Lane Facebook Group to discuss this and many other Disney related topics.


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Mandi is a wife, Mom of 3, writer, creator of, and self-proclaimed Disney nerd. She loves to travel to Disney Destinations and blog about her magical experiences so she can share all the tips, tricks and tidbits she picks up during her travel. She and her family visit Disney World several times a year and she is always in the know when something new is happening and she shares it here first! Mandi also works as an online consultant by empowering women to be all they can be in all aspects of their life. You can find her at
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