10 Things to Buy Before You Go to Disney That Will Save You Money
So you've planned your Disney trip, bought your tickets, made your hotel, dining, and Fastpass+ reservations, and now you're starting to think about packing. You've probably thought of the obvious things to pack like your clothing, camera and travel pillow, but I've compiled a list of items that you might not think about bringing. But trust me, when you're in the parks, there will come a time that you'll want everything on this list, and buying them ahead of time will save you time and money!
Most theme parks don't allow guests to bring food past their front gates. I grew up going to Hershey Park and I distinctly remember my friends and I smuggling food into the park in our bags so that we didn't have to pay their outrageous prices for lunch.
Disney is different than other parks, though! They allow all outside food and drinks into the parks (with the exception of alcohol). Now I wouldn't recommend bringing a whole meal into the parks, since then you'd have to carry all that weight around with you all day, but definitely stock up on some hearty snacks such as granola bars or fruit. You'll be glad that you have them when you're waiting in a long line with no where to go! Plus, bringing your own food is a lot cheaper than buying snacks in the parks
2. Hand Sanitizer
Disney is by no means dirty. They have many pristinely clean bathrooms scattered throughout all of their parks, but you might not always have time to stop in to wash your hands before you need to be at your dinner reservation or before eating one of the snacks that you packed. So you'll definitely want to pick up some small hand sanitizer packs before your trip!
It rains in Orlando literally every single day! You will get caught in the rain multiple times during your trip, so you need to be prepared. You could bring an umbrella, but honestly, I prefer ponchos. They're much more light-weight, and they fold up into a more compact space in your bag. Plus, there will be others in the park wearing them, so don't worry about how dorky you look in them.
Disney sells ponchos at most of their parks' main gift shops, but they are super over priced! In the parks one poncho goes for about $9! Do you know what that same poncho (minus the Disney logo) goes for at the dollar store - $1! That means, if my math is correct, a family of five can save $40 just by buying their ponchos ahead of time!
4. Zip-lock Baggies
These come in very useful when riding water rides. Simply stick your phone, camera, etc. into the bag and have assurance that it won't get waterlogged. I like to bring a few small ones for electronics and a few-gallon sized ones to hold my Mickey ears, since I tend to take them off on rides. Plus, some of my ears are super sparkly, so the ziplock controls all the glitter that falls off of them and keeps the inside of my backpack from looking like a disco ball!
5. Disney Clothing
I know that some people are very big on buying clothing that is official Disney Parks merchandise, but, like the ponchos, you can get extremely similar merch for a fraction of the price at everyday department stores or even online. Before my last Disney trip, I bought a Beauty and the Beast shirt at Macy's, a Mickey shirt at Kohl's, and ordered a Tamatoa shirt on Etsy.
But not only will ordering online save you money, it will also save you time - specifically time in the parks that you could be spending riding rides and meeting characters, rather than looking for clothes. Also, if you get your clothes ahead of time, then you can wear them during your trip! It's like a win-win-win!
6. Autograph Books and Pens
One of the highlights of a Disney Trip for kids is meeting all of their favorite characters and collecting their autographs in a book can become a great souvenir. But, again, these books can get fairly expensive in the parks. I'd recommend getting a cheaper one online or even better - get a cute scrapbook and have your kids decorate it before the trip! It will get them excited to go and when you get there they'll get to show their creation to all of their favorite characters!
Also, don't forget to pick up a pack of pens for characters to sign with. I'd highly recommend getting a pack of the clickable sharpies. That way, you won't be fumbling around with caps in line. Also, if you get a pack with a rainbow assortment of colors, then your kids can pick which color they want each character to sign with!
7. Trading Pins and Lanyards
Pin trading is a really fun way to interact with Disney Cast Members, and it also doubles as a really cool souvenir. But, again, pins and lanyards can be extremely expensive in the parks! (You're sensing the theme to this post, right?)
Individual pins in the parks are typically $8 - $14. They also offer "mystery pin sets" where you buy a bag that includes two "mystery pins" out of a set of around ten designs. These sets of two pins are typically around $15!
Before your trip check out Etsy for much better deals on pins. I've found sets of 25 random pins, plus a lanyard for $13. You still get the excitement of the parks' "mystery packs" since you don't know which pins you'll be getting, but you also have the reassurance, that you can simply trade away any pin that you don't want once you get to the parks.
8. Glow Sticks
The Disney parks are known for their night shows, and no doubt you'll be seeing at least one during your trip. About twenty minutes before each of these shows start, several cast members will wheel out giant carts full of super fun-looking spinning, glowing, toys and your kids will probably ask youth buy them one.
Be prepared for this moment, because these light up toys are probably the worst souvenir that you could take home from the parks! The majority of them are not even remotely Disney related and they will most likely become discarded as soon as their short battery-life runs out.
Instead, go to the dollar store and find some fun types of glow sticks. They also come in fun spinning contraptions, or you could even make some into a pair of Mickey Ears to wear once it gets dark. But, since they were so cheap, you won't feel bad throwing them away once the glow sticks die out.
9. Small Fan
Orlando is extremely hot and humid, and while most of the attractions are now indoors, you'll still spend most of your day outside walking around the parks and waiting in lines.
So, before your trip pick up a small battery-powered fan. It will become your savior while watching the parade or waiting in outdoor queues. They even sell some that come with a water spritzer, which adds to the cooling power and doubles as a water bottle!
Gum is one of the few things that isn't sold inside the Disney parks. They're worried that people will stick their used gum under tables and things and they, understandably, don't want to clean it up. This is the same reason that they don't sell stickers. So if you are an avid gum chewer, be sure to bring your own gum with you and responsibly throw it away when you're done.
So what do you think of my list? Are there any other items that you always pick up before your Disney trips? Let me know in the comments below!
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