Controlling Spending While on a Disney Vacation

When you’re visiting Walt Disney World, the costs can skyrocket without you even realizing it! 

I’ll be sharing a bunch of ideas that I’ve used during my trips, in addition to sharing a few tips and tricks from friends. 

DAILY ALLOWANCE

The tip is simple – know what your budget is for snacks and souvenirs…and then split it up into a daily allowance. 

This was something that my parents utilized during our first trip to Disneyland back in the 90’s, and it circled around explaining to your kids that the bank account isn’t open for business 24/7. We all have a responsibility to understand the excitement of a vacation to the parks, and how (as a business) Disney creates a level of consumerism that can’t be matched. 

If you know that you’re going to be having a budget for a vacation, having your family discuss the different spending levels could actually help with the meltdowns or tantrums while in the parks. Oh, and tantrums (and disagreements) don’t just affect the younger guests…they can also be evident for those of us who have our own bank accounts as well;) 

BUY IN BULK

Is there something that you know that you’ll want to buy more than once? This may be a snack (like a granola bar) or a pin to trade. Why not buy in bulk, knowing that a box of snacks will be cheaper than buying a single one? We use this technique for Disney Pins, because at the end of the day…we all know that eBay exists! 

Things that I’ve bought in bulk: 


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GIFT CARDS

I have a tendency to over-judge my hunger level, so in the past few trips…I decided to pre-load a Disney Gift Card on my first day and then know that all my food purchases will be made with that fund. 

MOBILE ORDERING

Merchandise Mobile Order in the Emporium at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

If you do decide to forgo the gift card idea, then why not use Mobile Ordering? On top of having a separate line…you also can focus on the price without worrying on being rushed. 

WATER BOTTLE

This is the easiest way to control spending…bring a reusable water bottle. Knowing ahead of time that you’re going to be wasting money on water or juice, because although you may think that Disney has “usable” water fountains, you’d be wrong;) 

I’ve got a full article on my favorite water bottles and where to find free water, but this just HAD to be on this article! 


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DISTRACTIONS

Controlling spending is also about knowing when to use the age old strategy of “distraction”. It may not work every time, but when you’re at Walt Disney World….there’s always an attraction or entertainment offering to get your family excited about that MAY work. Don’t use this all the time, but if you can avoid a meltdown because someone wants something…it could keep dollars in your pocket instead of being used on a toy that you can just buy online later. 

24 HOUR DELAY

Dapper Dans Loungefly Hat in The Emporium (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

We actually use this in our vacation because there are so many options. If you think you may like something, grab a photo of it and revisit it the next day. This is known as the “24 Hour Delay” and is completely successful. 


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ASK QUESTIONS

There are a few reasons how you could control your own spending WITHOUT even making a big deal of it. Ask questions that have a specific answers and there’s a chance that you can convince yourself to just walk away. 

  • “If I bought this – where would it go?” 
  • “Do I need it…or do I just want it?” 
  • “Would I use it OR would it just collect dust on the shelf?” 

All of these (and more) can be used to avoid spending money on things that…I’ve bought already. 

  • I have a Professor Snape wand from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – literally sitting on a shelf behind me
  • We’ve collected hundreds (potentially thousands) of pins – literally sitting in a box “waiting to be displayed” 
  • I have dozens of graphic tees – I only have one body to clothe a day. 
  • I bought cd’s and dvd’s from vacations – They are “display only” because who doesn’t use youtube and Netflix? 
  • and finally…I have autograph books FULL of signatures that only get opened when they fall on the ground. 

I’m a consumer of the Disney & Universal brands, so this article was tough to write…but it’s not because you shouldn’t buy stuff on your vacation, but because there’s always something cooler and more useful to invest your hard-earned vacation dollars on. Oh, and more Dole Whips! 

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