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Planning a Disney vacation? Whether it’s your first visit or your twentieth there is a winning strategy to save money at Disney! Think about what you can buy before Disney to save big. These are our Disney World essentials that you should look for before you head to Disney.
Disney World Essentials to Buy BEFORE Your Trip
You’ve got your resort reservations, your Fastpass+ slots are filled, the magical MagicBand box has arrived at your house and you’ve made the decision between the Disney Dining meal plan or packing lots of snacks. But have you made your list and checked it twice to see if you included some items that will add up to big Disney savings?
The Disney World vacation pixie dust can easily take over and lead to extra spending. When the parade at Magic Kingdom starts and every other kid has a glowing light toy, you can guarantee your toddler will find them fascinating. And you’ll find the price to buy one at Disney mind-boggling,
Some advance planning can yield big savings, with lots of these items available at your local dollar store or through a quick Amazon shopping trip. Here are the Disney World essentials to buy before landing in Orlando, Florida, for maximum savings! (And yes, they can also be used for your Disneyland trip.)
TravelingMom Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2022. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
Practical Disney World Essentials to Buy
You know what makes your day at EPCOT miserable? A toddler with a sunburn. One essential item on your Disney World packing list needs to be sunscreen. Don’t forget it because it’s a pretty pricey hotel gift shop purchase.
And remember, sunscreen has a “Use By” date printed on it. This year I scored sunscreen on markdown at the end of the summer at Target, getting three aerosol bottles for just $2.99. Buy this before your Disney vacation and score major savings.
Heads up – if you’re traveling with only a carry on, this won’t be an option for you. Check out our favorite sunscreens for kids here. Savings: around $21
TravelingMom Tip: Pack a few Ziploc bags. Not only do they come in super handy for all sorts of reasons (wet clothes, diaper blowout), you should pack each bottle of sunscreen into a Ziploc bag to protect the rest of your stuff in the suitcase in case of accidental leakage.
When it rains at Disney, this magical theme park becomes a sea of Mickey ponchos. At roughly $10 per poncho, it would cost $60 to cover our family of 6. But who wants to pay that? There are a few ways to go here: dollar stores typically have ponchos for $1, but they are the thin ones. I found heavier ponchos with reusable pouches for $3 (kids) and $4 (adults) at Walmart. The bonus was that my family stood out with our red and blue ponchos, making the kids easier to spot. Buy these before a Disney vacation for uniqueness and savings! Savings: $33-45, depending on the quality of ponchos
TravelingMom Tip: Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, bring the ponchos to Animal Kingdom for Kali River Rapids. You will get soaking wet. If that isn’t your thing, wear a poncho! Other water rides such as Splash Mountain vary on the “soak factor,” so you’ll have to decide how comfortable you are with being damp.
3. Items to Beat the Heat
First time visiting the Disney World resort area? In case you hadn’t heard, Walt Disney World is in Florida. Florida is hot. In some months, unbearably so. Preparing for that in advance and packing for Disney in a smart “heat friendly” way will be a lifesaver. A misting fan can go a long way in lowering the whining levels of little ones during long wait times.
Bringing your own food can result in a TON of Disney savings. Yes, part of the experience is eating the food, but find out how we saved at least $50 every day by packing snacks and being selective about dining in the park. Best part? You’re not surviving on granola bars. We’ve got a whole list of varied snack and food ideas.
TravelingMom Tip: Get answers to all of your Disney questions with our Disney World FAQs.
5. Sunglasses & Hats
As we mentioned before, it can get HOT! Our Disney World essentials include sunglasses and hats for all family members. But buying them on site can really add up. We always include a few extras. Our teen son has a habit of putting his hat into the mesh pocket on roller coasters and walking off without it.
It seems silly, but if you want to save money at Disney World, you’ve got to be prepared for shenanigans.
6. Portable Charger
Disney sucks the juice from phones the way a toddler empties a Capri Sun — FAST. Bring backup power for your phone so you don’t have to search for a spot to plug in (or buy a pricey Fuel Rod).
When it comes to chargers, name brand really does matter. I’ve received a lot of the lipstick chargers and promo ones and eventually they stop working, usually at the worst possible moment. I recommend (and carry) an Anker charger. These charger come with an 18-month warranty and even the cheap $19.99 model will get you three full phone charges.
7. Masks (and More Masks)
In these pandemic times you’ll be required to wear a mask at Disney. There are masks available for purchase at the Parks and even mask vending machines.But bringing multiples of your own will be cheaper (check out these awesome masks from Get Away Today!). With the heat and humidity, having multiple mask changes for each family member is a good plan as we outline in this post on what to expect at Covid Disney.
And on the topic of masks, do yourself a favor. Bring mints or gum to keep everything fresh and pleasant under the mask. You can’t buy gum at Disney!
Fun Disney World Essentials to Buy
8. Glow Sticks/ Light Up Toys
Night descends on Disney and glow sticks and spinning light toys pop up everywhere. Pick up a few packs of glow stick bracelets, wands and necklaces, and you’ll have your kids covered for $3 instead of $20.
Not feeling the plain dollar store offerings? Head to a Disney Outlet and still save money, even for the fancy light wands. Savings: $17 — per glow bracelet.
A favorite tradition of ours has become having the girls wake up at the hotel on their first morning at Walt Disney World to find a dress left for them by a “princess.” By keeping an eye on Disney Store emails, I am usually able to snag these for an average of $23 apiece.
While at Walt Disney World during our last visit, I spied the exact same Belle dress my girls were wearing for $64.95. Savings: $42
Check out these adorable princess costumes from Get Away Today!
10. Disney Clothing/Pajamas
With sales at the Disney Store and the outlets, you can often score Disney t-shirts for $4.95-$9.95 and pajamas for $7.99-9.99. We usually grab a few t-shirts for $4.95 and nightgowns for 9.99. Savings: at least $10 per child
Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!
11. Autograph Book
A popular toddler and kid activity at Disney is collecting the autographs of various characters as you wander the parks or attend character meals. Autograph books in the parks average $15-$20. We made our own out of dollar store notebooks (2 per pack for $1) and Disney princess stickers (also $1). Disney Savings: per child $12.50+ (Note that character autographs are suspended for now, so avoid disappointments by skipping autograph books until that resumes.)
TravelingMom Tip: Feeling a little fancier? Here are 11 other unique ways to collect Disney character autographs!
12. Disney Pins/Lanyard
Pin trading is a great way to interact with the characters and to introduce a new aspect of Disney to kids who may have visited several times already. Pins need to be Official Disney pins with the original backing on them in order to be traded. I bought several at the Disney Store Outlet for $4.95 each to get each of my kiddos started. I utilized my collection of conference lanyards (I knew I was saving them for a reason!) for the pins.
Pins in the parks range from $7.95-$13.95 each and you’ll pay around $8 for a lanyard. Savings: $11 per child. (Pin trading also is suspended for the time being. It’s still fun for kids to wear the pins around the Parks, but they won’t be able to trade for other pins.)
13. Bring Change
Packing pennies and quarters may seem like strange advice, but it will save you on souvenirs once you’re there! There are penny press machines in the parks and kids love pressing pennies. This souvenir will cost you a mere 51 cents, but only if you remember to pack the change.
Lock in Your Disney Savings Before Your Disney Vacation
14. Discount Gift Cards
The art of discount Disney gift cards is truly that – an art. Disney gift cards can be used across the parks for everything from dining to hotel rooms to souvenirs. Plan ahead and shop sales to turn your Disney budget up a notch.
For example, my local grocery chain HEB recently offered an app special coupon to buy $100 in Disney gift cards and save $20. Using my husband and my son’s mobile apps, we purchased $300 worth of Disney gift cards for $240. These deals tend to pop up starting in November through the Christmas season.
In addition, you can purchase Disney gift cards at Target using your Red Card for an everyday savings of at least 5%. Savings: 5-20% of the value you buy.
My biggest TravelingMom Tip: When packing for Disney, use a packing list! Print it out and check it twice for Disney World essentials. Nothing makes the cost of a Disney vacation skyrocket like items you forgot to bring. Knowing about things to buy before Disney only works if you remember to pack them!
Be sure to check out this post on TravelingMom before packing for Disney. We’ve compiled a master list for you!
Disney World Essential: Discounted Disney Tickets
We recommend purchasing your Disney tickets through Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
If you call to make your purchase be sure to mention TravelingMom!