It's no secret that Walt Disney World can cost a pretty penny. (Though it doesn't have to!) At the end of the day, and despite all of the magical touches, Disney is still running a business. Here are 4 ways that Disney gets you to spend some major moolah, and 4 money-saving alternatives!
The Splurge: Light Up Toys
If you've been to the Disney Parks at night, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The light up toys, light up bubble wands, light up balloons, and light up ears seem to be at every kiosk and store. With nighttime shows temporarily suspended, you may not be in the parks as late. But, you'll definitely still see these. These things are cool, but PRICEY. (Not to mention, they're difficult to travel home with...especially if you're flying.)
The Save: Glow Necklaces
I encourage my clients to pack glow necklaces/bracelets/wands for nighttime at the parks. This lets the kids in your party still participate in the nighttime fun without the hefty price tag. As a bonus, some of those parks are dark when you're walking through at night, and this helps your kiddos stand out.
The Splurge: Water Bottles
Water is an absolute necessity at Walt Disney World, but paying over $4 for a bottle of water is not. Also, when the dining plans do return, please never, ever, EVER burn a snack credit on a bottle of water!!
The Save: Cups of Water
Any quick-service location will give you a free cup of water if you ask. Use this to refill your own water bottle, or just to sip on, as often as you'd like. (This reminds me of one of my #1 travel tips, stay hydrated!) I prefer to use a water bottle strap, like this one, to carry my own water bottle with me and refill as needed.
The Splurge: Autograph Books
Autograph books are in every gift shop around. They're very popular, and while they don't clock in at the most expensive item on this list, they're still an expense you can do without. Folks bring autograph books to character dining and meet & greets (remember those??) for a great way to interact with each character and commemorate the occasion.
The Save: Photo Mats
Buy a frame with a decent sized mat (the larger the mat, the better) and bring that around for characters to sign. Once you return home, frame your favorite photo from the trip along with the mat! A great alternative is to bring your own notebook for characters to sign instead. I do not recommend bringing t-shirts or pillowcases to sign...I know these are all the rage in some Facebook groups, but these are much trickier for some of your favorite characters to grab.
Pro Tip - Make sure you bring a Sharpie! They're the easiest for characters to hold.
*Character meet and greets are temporarily suspended to allow for physical distancing.
The Splurge: Dining Out for EVERY Meal
Disney food is E X P E N S I V E. Those must-have meals, snacks, and drinks add up quickly. I love Disney food as much as the next person (okay, probably more than the next person), but even I don't eat every meal and snack out while I'm at Walt Disney World.
The Save: Pack It Up
On mornings that I plan to rope-drop, late nights back at the hotel, or even mid-day hunger pangs have taught me that I need to have some food, ready to go. I always pack a box of these protein bars in my luggage for this very reason. (Being a runDisney runner taught me this! I've also been known to pack my own bagels and peanut butter for race weekends.) If you can't pack all of your necessities with you, you can always have your food delivered by Prime. My clients also have exclusive access to Concierge Couriers, a grocery delivery service provided only to Fairy Tale Concierge clients. Items that I like to have delivered include a case of water or Gatorade, extra snacks, and flavored coffee creamer.
Do you have other money-saving swaps that you like to make? Tell me in the comments!