Think it’s impossible to plan a Kosher Disney vacation on a budget? Disney expert Elana Maister is back today to share her best Disney tips.
The most expensive part of any Disney vacation should be your resort hotel and park tickets, but any family with young kids knows that you could end up blowing an entire vacation’s budget on souvenirs if you’re not careful.
Nobody knows how to sell merchandise like Disney does — and there’s nowhere they sell more than in their theme parks.
Most rides in the Disney Parks unload directly to a gift shop, forcing you through a gauntlet of colorful toys and cute stuffed animals before you return to fresh air.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune on souvenirs. Here are some tips and tricks to help get you through your vacation without busting the souvenir budget.
Shop Before You Go
Walmart stores throughout the country sell a variety of Disney licensed products; from stuffed animals to t-shirts, pajamas and accessories. Or if you have a Disney Outlet Store near you, stop there too. Stock up on inexpensive Disney items before your trip and keep them hidden from your kids.
Once your vacation starts you can leave a surprise Disney gift on your child’s pillow each night. When they get the gimmees in the gift shops remind them that there’s already something special waiting for them back at the resort, the thrill of the surprise might help them move on.
Purchase Disney Dollars
Disney Dollars is a form of currency accepted at Disney theme parks that looks kind of like Monopoly money but cuter and with pictures of Disney characters on it.
If you generally allow your kids a souvenir allowance when on vacation, consider giving them Disney Dollars (or have them earn them) to help them learn to budget – once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Take Pictures Before You Buy
Every time your child shows you something they want to buy, take a picture of it. Towards the end of the trip look through your photos and let them pick which item (or items) they like best.
And don’t worry about finding those souvenirs at the end of your trip; many items from the parks can be found at the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney.
Pin Trading has taken Disney World by storm. Here’s how it works; you purchase a lanyard with a few Disney themed pins on it. (You can even order pins on disneystore.com before your trip).There are thousands of pin designs to choose from ranging from Disney characters to rides, special theme park events, and even favorite theme park food!
As you pass guests and cast members wearing pins throughout the parks stop to see if they want to trade (cast members always say yes!) If you start your kids with a handful of pins before you go they’ll get so caught up in it they’ll feel like they bought something new every time they get a new pin, when in reality they haven’t spent any additional money at all.
Did you end up buying a light-up spinning Mickey the last time you went to the see Disney on Ice? Bring it with you! When the sun goes down and Disney starts wheeling out the carts with all those incredibly enticing light up toys, pull out the one from home and save yourself $20!
Do you have a spray bottle fan from the last time you went hiking? Bring it with you and avoid having to pay $15 for a new one with Mickey’s face on it.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a break from all the consumerism and you’d like to teach your children to be thankful for what they have, an excellent opportunity awaits you not far from the Magic Kingdom.
There is a great organization called Give Kids the World, a magical getaway for families of children with life threatening illnesses. Everything from accommodations, Disney tickets and food is absolutely free for these families. The resort looks like you’ve stepped into the pages of a fairytale and for most of the families this trip really is a dream come true.
So where do you come in? Give Kids the World relies heavily on volunteers. If your kids are 12 or over and you’d like to take one day out of your trip to volunteer as a family (or as an individual), check out their website. Who knows, this might end up being the greatest gift you give your own child while on vacation — and it won’t cost you a dime!
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, SteamFan