The Rip-offs of Disney World

As the ‘Vacation Kingdom’ continues to shift from a place for everyone to catering to a select few, there is still a discussion to be had around getting to experience Walt Disney World without being subjected to being priced-out.

Most of the tips that were traditionally shared are out of date, and will continue to stay in the past until the pendulum swings from being top of the mountain to having to catch up from years of stalling progress. This is evident from the fact that Universal Orlando Resort is adding a brand new theme park in 2025 called “EPIC Universe” and there’s nothing of significance being constructed at Walt Disney World outside of new DVC offerings and updates of attractions, like Test Track and the former Splash Mountain turning into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

All that being said, Walt Disney World is still a happy place for millions of people and the tips for staying out of the way of being ripped off is all about choices.

The Tickets

Walt Disney World Annual Passes (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

You won’t be able to save big money on passes until the competition shows up for Annual Passes, which are still not offered in a value-proposition. The only way to save is by using websites like UndercoverTourist.com, but it’s just a few dollars here and there.

The Hotels

Expedia Hotel Pricing around Walt Disney World for Sunday, February 25th, 2024 (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Rooms in and around the Walt Disney World Resort will run you hundreds of dollars more than they did before the pandemic, which is a sign of labour issues and pent-up demand.

The best tip that we have is to look within a 10-minute UBER ride, like south of the Animal Kingdom in Kissimmee (example: Orbit One Vacation Rentals) or Lake Buena Vista (example: Spot X). If you do find a good deal with the Disney Springs Resorts – no harm. Just remember that the added fees could price you to a level that would compare to you the Swan & Dolphin.

The Food

Bottled Drinks in the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Everything continues to get more expensive, from Dole Whips to bottled water, quick service meals and even Victoria & Alberts.

It’s not appropriate for me to share personal feelings on food, as everyone has a different budget and travels differently. For us, we stay off-property (at Orbit One or Quality Inn) in order to have more memories with food – but that’s us.

The opportunities come in when you look at the add-ons, like snacks and basic caffeine.


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Change from getting an iced coffee from Starbucks to getting something that you can only get a Disney World – like a Joffrey’s or a limited-edition seasonal drink.

Shift from a burger combo at Cosmic Rays ($14+drink) to a Turkey Club sandwich w/pasta salad and a water ($16+tip) at Steakhouse 71 inside the Contemporary Resort and you’ll walk away feeling better. You can spend $40+ at a basic quick service easily, but if you do research into table service options in the area, the cost added to your overall trip can be minimal if you allocate your budget into “memories”.

What are the classic rip-offs?

  • Things that were free that are no longer free that were once included.
  • Bottled drinks climbing from $3 to $4 to $5.
  • Pre-packaged mass-produced snacks that are shared as “artisanal”, but are actually the exact opposite.

The Merch

Orange Bird Pin at Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Pin Trading at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

I’ve written about the tips for everything from Mickey Ears, Disney Pins and things that you can buy in advance of your trip from the Dollar Store – but what are things that have climbed out of a normal range?

  • T-shirts are now overpriced and produced with lower quality materials.
  • Hats that look great in photos are often cheap feeling when found in store.
  • Official pins in-store are so prevalent that there’s no sense to start collecting because there are so many styles released constantly – and the pin trading boards are often full of low-quality fakes.
  • The ponchos and other rain gear are actually lower quality than the dollar store versions. We’ve actually had brand new ponchos bought that had quality issues, with holes in the plastic already when we go to put them on. The $20+ umbrellas are definitely not worth it.

The Service

Cast Member Created Goofy Water Design (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Taking away employee touch points for technology, like mobile ordering and mobile checkouts in store turns the experience from an opportunity to see the Disney service in action into one where the UX is all virtual. What’s the point of paying record high ticket prices when everything is becoming streamlined for labour savings?

The biggest rip-off that’s being discussed is how people are feeling after a day at a Disney Park – which is looking at all the shortcuts and questionable situations that didn’t have to happen. Do you have to wait in lines that are as long as they are if the attractions didn’t always go down? Do you feel like cattle when you’re waiting for a packed bus because you’ve seen 10 basically-empty buses go by for the Deluxe resorts before you see one for the Moderate or Value resorts?


We’ll be seeing a massive shift as customers shift their buying habits to reflect the economic realizations, but for the time being – it’s important for you to vacation within your means. Disney doesn’t personally need you to live in debt for a new spirit jersey.

Dustin Fuhshttp://www.stepstomagic.com
I’m Dustin Fuhs, a theme park fanatic that has created this platform to showcase my passion, tools and opinions to create a fun and interactive experience for everyone who visits. My goal is to help you and your family have the most magical experience at Walt Disney World. In reading my articles and ideas, I hope that you can find some fantastic ways to bring your dreams into reality!

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