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When I returned from my first trip to Disney World back in 2016, I thought I’d share a few of my top Disney World tips that I came up with. None of these are specific to any particular park, so they could be described as Disney World tips or Disneyland tips or even just plain only Disney tips. Most of these are not my own inventions but I compiled the list and this is what worked for us as we tried to keep to a little bit of a Disney budget.
1. Bring a stroller (even if your kids aren’t little)
Disney World Tips #1: When we first went, my youngest child was 3 and nearly 4 and is a big girl (just ask her!) – we haven’t regularly used a stroller for her probably in the past 2 years. Still, there are so many reasons you’ll want a stroller. First of all, even though your little kid thinks he’s a big kid, after 3-4 hours of walking, he won’t be a big kid. Of course, even though it was on the packing list…. we forgot our stroller at home 🙂
Strollers at Disney World rent for $15 / day! We had a bit more latitude since we were driving to Orlando (instead of flying), but when we realized we forgot the stroller – we stopped at Walmart and BOUGHT a stroller. It cost us $30 and then we sold it on Craigslist for $15 after we got back! Still cheaper than renting a stroller for a few days!
The other nice thing about a stroller is that you can put all your stuff in it (food, souvenirs, anything else you want to carry) and that way you don’t have to carry it!
2. Bring your own Disney glow sticks
If you’re planning on being in the parks at night for the fireworks shows or anything else, you’ll see tons of Disney glow sticks for sale.
Instead of shelling out $10 or $15 a kid for one of those light up toys, we just bought a 4 pack of glow sticks from the dollar store before we left. Yes, they’re not nearly as “cool” looking, but my kids at least had just as much fun with them at 5% of the cost!
Plus you know your kids are going to totally break / lose their $15 Disney glow sticks within 2 seconds, right? And besides, Disney glow sticks are one of those things like huge stuffed animals that look totally cool when you’re IN the park, but make you look like a loser the second you get out into the parking lot 😛
3. Do a little food planning
Disney World tips #3 – budget your food. I get it – nobody really wants to spend their Disney vacation eating PB&Js all day long. But we all know that Disney food can be super expensive, especially for those of us with large families.
So decide what’s most important for you. Again we drove down, so we had it a bit easier in terms of bringing food with us, but you can decide what makes sense for your family and where you’re staying. Look – I’m not saying you have to eat PB&J 3 meals a day, but plan what’s most important to you. If food is your thing, and / or character dining is what is most important to you, then by all means spend the money to do that! But if it’s not that important to you, and / or you’d rather spend your time / money elsewhere, a well thought out plan BEFOREHAND can help make that happen
(SEE ALSO: 4 rice cooker recipes for hotel room cooking)
4. Buy some Disney pins for trading
Disney pin trading is a big deal at the parks, so the 4th of my Disney tips and tricks is to buy some pins beforehand. I bought a set of 80 pins off of eBay and it cost me around $25-$30. I also bought lanyards for about $2 each at an office supply store before I left (hello 5x Chase Ink!), and we passed the pins out to the kids on the drive down.
In the park, we found many of the Disney cast members with pin lanyards. Another Disney tip is that if you’re having trouble locating cast members with pins to trade, look inside the shops – most of the cast members inside there will be happy to trade with you
I thought this was a great way for the kids to get a little extra fun while in Disney. Note that some people take Disney pin trading VERY SERIOUSLY and there do exist “fake” or “knockoff” pins on eBay or anywhere. So if that’s something that’s important to you, watch out. Personally, I could care less about “official” Disney pins and my kids had a blast with the pins we got off of eBay
5. Give your kids a souvenir budget (and their own money!)
Our kids are not big into souvenirs (or maybe they’re just too used to mean old Dad saying no to everything!), but rather than having kids start asking for every little thing, we gave them a souvenir / snack budget for our time there. For our family, I set it at $20 and told each of the kids that they could use that for a toy or souvenir, or if they wanted extra snacks (other than the food / meals we were doing as a family). Most of them got 1 souvenir, and one of my daughters also spent money on a giant lollipop, and one of my sons decided he’d rather keep the money and use it towards something he’s been saving for at home.
Depending on the age of your kids, I think this works even better if you actually GIVE them the money themselves (if your kids are younger and the concept of money is a little abstract) – of course then you can’t get the credit card points when they buy something!!! 🙂
Got any other good Disney tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments!