Spending money at Disney World can feel almost too easy. Craving a snack or eyeing a souvenir? Thanks to Disney’s MagicBand, the process has been simplified. With a simple tap of your wristband, your purchases can be swiftly charged to your Walt Disney World resort hotel room. While the convenience is undeniable, it can sometimes lead to unintentional overspending.
The sensory-rich, exciting world of Disney can entice just about anyone into parting with their hard-earned cash a little more freely. Let’s explore 14 ways park-goers commonly waste money at Disney World and discuss some practical tips on how to avoid these pitfalls.
In this article:
Not Cancelling Dining Reservations In Time
Disney World offers a culinary adventure that goes beyond the usual theme park fare. With an array of dining options, you can schedule Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) 60 days prior to your vacation. But remember, plans can change, and sometimes, you may need to cancel your reservation, even when you’re already on Disney property.
Disney is understanding in these situations, allowing guests to cancel reservations. However, keep in mind that they don’t allow modifications within two hours of the reservation time. Failing to show up without canceling can lead to a penalty of $10 per person— a sizable fee for a meal you didn’t even enjoy! Some restaurants require earlier cancellation and even higher fees.
Be extra mindful of certain dining experiences, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review. For these experiences, failing to cancel will result in a charge for the full cost of the meal per person. To avoid these fees, make sure to stay on top of your dining plans and keep the cancellation policies in mind!
Ordering Too Much Food
Planning your sit-down meals at Disney World can indeed be as thrilling as exploring the park. However, once you arrive, you might find that you’ve overbooked yourself with too many dining reservations. In turn, this can often put guests in a predicament of either having to cancel reservations—as we mentioned earlier—or becoming no-shows, both of which can result in wasting precious vacation funds.
While dining in Disney’s restaurants can be enjoyable, spending too much time sitting and waiting for meals can limit your park time. Furthermore, rushing from one reservation to another isn’t the relaxing vacation you likely envisioned. In fact, in the middle of all the excitement, you might find that you’re not even that hungry.
So, when it comes to planning your dining experiences, consider reevaluating how you want to spend your time. Maybe you’d prefer just one sit-down meal per day if dining is particularly important to you. Alternatively, consider opting for Quick Service meals, which provide a variety of incredible options that go beyond typical theme park fare, helping you save time and money while still satisfying your culinary cravings.
Booking a Preferred Room
When reserving a room at a Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll be presented with the option to book a “preferred room.” These rooms, while identical in size to standard rooms, have a key advantage: they’re strategically situated near bus stops, pools, or food courts. But does this prime location justify the extra cost?
That depends on your preferences. If a few extra minutes of walking don’t bother you, it might be more worthwhile to skip the upgrade and keep that additional cash for other fun Disney experiences. After all, the difference in distance might only be about five minutes—a small sacrifice for potential savings. So, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the costs and choose what works best for you and your vacation plans.
Not Packing the Right Clothes
Purchasing Disney-themed apparel as a keepsake is one thing, but needing to buy it because you’re unprepared for the weather is another story entirely. Many guests assume Orlando’s climate is always balmy, regardless of the season, and may be caught off guard when temperatures drop.
Before you pack your suitcase, it’s always a wise move to check the weather forecast for your visit. Be sure to include a few sweatshirts, pairs of pants, long-sleeved shirts, and extra clothes in your luggage, just in case. You don’t want to find yourself needing to buy an entire new wardrobe at Disney prices simply because you and your family are uncomfortably cold. By preparing for all weather possibilities, you can enjoy your Disney adventure to the fullest without any chilly surprises.
Paying for Water
Staying hydrated is crucial with all the walking you’ll be doing while exploring Disney’s parks. We’re certainly not suggesting you skimp on this. However, there’s a savvy and eco-friendly way to quench your thirst without the added expense.
Rather than paying upwards of $3.50 for a single-use water bottle each time you’re thirsty, consider packing a reusable water bottle in your Disney park bag. These can be effortlessly refilled at the numerous water refill stations scattered throughout the parks for no cost at all. Plus, this simple switch can help you stay refreshed and hydrated without having to sip away at your savings.
Not Ordering Groceries
Dining out for every meal at Disney World can certainly take a toll on your wallet over time, not to mention your diet. After all, there are only so many Mickey waffles and servings of bacon and powdered eggs you can consume before you start craving a healthier start to your day. The good news? There’s a simple solution that can help you save significantly.
Consider ordering groceries to your Disney World resort using services like Instacart or Amazon Prime Now. By starting your day with a wholesome breakfast in your room, you not only maintain a balanced diet but also save a substantial chunk of your food budget. Moreover, these savings can be allocated towards your lunch, dinner, or even those must-have souvenirs.
Forgetting to Pack Toiletries
Packing for any vacation can seem like a daunting task, and your trip to Disney World is no exception. But here’s a little secret: if you forget anything, rest assured, Disney will have it. However, it’ll come with a Disney-sized price tag.
When curating a packing list for your Disney World adventure, it’s worth giving it a second, even a third glance, particularly for the smaller items. Take sunscreen, for instance. It’s something you’ll use daily under the Florida sun, but if forgotten, purchasing it on Disney property could make a significant dent in your budget.
By double-checking your Disney World packing list, you’re not only ensuring you have everything you need for a magical vacation but also avoiding unnecessary expenses.
Staying at Deluxe Resorts
Are high-end accommodations a necessity for a magical vacation at Walt Disney World? Not necessarily, especially when you’ll be spending most of your day touring the theme parks. If your trip is more resort-focused, splurging on a Walt Disney World deluxe resort may make sense. However, for the average park-goer, dedicating over half of your vacation budget to a room you’re primarily using for sleep might not be the most cost-effective choice.
To stretch your budget further, consider staying at one of Disney World’s many moderate or value resorts. If you’re yearning for a taste of luxury without the hefty price tag, you can rent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points. This can provide significant savings, allowing you to enjoy high-end accommodations for a fraction of the usual cost. Remember, a little savvy planning goes a long way in making the most of your Disney vacation.
Choosing the Wrong Season to Visit
Choosing the wrong time to visit Disney can indeed inflate your vacation expenses significantly. If your schedule permits, visiting during off seasons can be a strategic way to save on numerous costs, including airfare, theme park tickets, room rates, and even dining.
We understand that coordinating such a trip around work and school schedules may not always be feasible for every family. However, the potential savings could be substantial enough to warrant a second look.
When deciding what the best times to visit Disney World are, you want to consider weather, crowds, and cost. So, plan your trip wisely, because when it comes to a Disney vacation, timing really can make all the difference!
Purchasing a Park Hopper
For the occasional Disney visitor, upgrading to a Disney World Park Hopper ticket might not be the most practical choice. After all, each park has more than enough attractions to fill your day, so dividing your time between two parks in a single day could be more exhausting than enjoyable.
Unless you have a compelling reason, like a must-visit restaurant in a different park or a burning desire to snag a boarding pass with popular attractions like the coveted Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios, the added cost of the Park Hopper might not be worth it.
So, consider your itinerary carefully. If you’re content to explore one park per day at a leisurely pace, skipping the Park Hopper can save you a substantial sum, leaving more of your budget for other Disney World experiences.
Buying Disney Souvenirs
We all adore Disney souvenirs—they’re reminders of those magical moments and unique experiences. But here’s the catch: not all Disney World souvenirs are created equal! Some may not be worth the cost, and others could be bought at a much lower price before you even step foot in the park.
When selecting your Disney merchandise, remember to exercise discernment. If the item is one-of-a-kind and not likely to be found anywhere else at a cheaper rate, it’s probably a safe purchase. However, items such as spinning character gadgets, glow-in-the-dark toys, light-up necklaces, and bubble wands can usually be found at a lower cost outside the park.
By purchasing these types of souvenirs ahead of time, you can save money without compromising the Disney experience for you and your family. So, plan wisely and make your souvenir shopping as special as your time in the park!
Carefree with Disney Dining Plan
Starting January 9th, 2024, the Disney Dining Plan will be fully operational again. In fact, it has been open for bookings since May 31st. Disney’s Dining plan has sparked some controversy among Disney park-goers, with some arguing it’s more expensive than simply paying out-of-pocket. However, many Disney Dining Plan enthusiasts argue it’s not just about the cost but the convenience and peace of mind the plan provides.
However, if you strategize your plan usage correctly, you can make the most of your dining credits. For example, by using them on table service meals with pricier items, you can maximize the value you get from the plan. This is certainly more effective than using them on less expensive items like chicken nuggets or pizza. If done right, the Disney Dining Plan can certainly contribute to a seamless and enjoyable Disney vacation.
Genie+, like its free predecessor FastPass, is an undeniably beneficial service. It’s an optional paid service that allows guests to bypass long queues by taking the Lightning Lane. However, it may not be economically viable or budget-friendly to opt for this service every day of your trip. With certain parks, you might be able to get away with skipping the purchase of Genie+.
To make the best use of Disney World Genie+, assess your family’s preferences and needs. Determine which attractions are most important to you and on which days the service would be most beneficial. Remember, the goal is to make your Disney World trip magical without overspending, and making wise use of services like Genie+ can help you do just that.
Renting a Stroller
While on vacation, convenience often tops the priority list—especially when you’ve got weary little ones tagging along. Renting a stroller directly from the Disney Parks might seem like the most straightforward solution, but it’s not the most economical choice. In fact, the cost of renting a stroller at Disney World comes to around $15 per day for a single stroller and $31 per day for a double stroller.
A more budget-friendly option is to buy a lightweight umbrella stroller from Amazon and have it shipped to your resort. Not only can this save you a significant amount, but it also allows you to use the stroller outside the park, making your whole trip more comfortable. As a bonus, when your vacation wraps up, you can pass the stroller on to another family, spreading a little bit of pixie dust.
From where to stay to when to visit Disney World, even seemingly insignificant decisions can have a significant impact on your Disney budget. So, make sure to carefully plan and avoid these potential money traps to fully enjoy the magic without financial stress!
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