Posted on March 25, 2011

Disney on the Cheap: How I Avoided Those Hefty Gift Shop Price Tags

disney-gift-shop

It doesn’t seem to matter where we go – from Disney World to the Philadelphia Museum of Art…  attractions seem to have this uncanny way of just magically dropping you right smack dab in the middle of a gift shop after visiting.  In Disney, for example, not only are there gift shops galore, but many of the rides dump you into souvenir shops specifically aimed at the ride itself.  One that sticks out in my mind is Pirates of the Caribbean (my fave ride!).  Climb out of your boat, walk up the ramp, BOOM!  You find yourself surrounded by many things pirate and Johnny Depp.

Several months before our trip to Disney, I realized that I could potentially have quite the situation on my hands…  Lily Bean is just 2.5.  She wants everything with a Disney Princess or Woody or Buzz splashed on it, and doesn’t necessarily understand the “we do not always buy souvenirs” speech.  The last thing that I wanted to do was end up at the parks and succumb to various impulse purchases that cost an arm and a leg.

So I planned ahead.

I started to keep my eye out for nice sales and discounts on Disney related merchandise – things that if we were in the park, we just might be tempted to buy.  (And yes, I will say straight up that we do sometimes buy souvenirs.  I always budget some spending cash into our trips – little splurges here and there are really OKAY!)

Since we are driving to Florida, space is not the issue that it might be if we were flying.  I will be able to bring a bag of previously purchased Disney souvenirs (unbeknown to Lily Bean) and we will leave them for her to find – maybe on her bed, in her chair, etc.  We will play that, “Oh… I wonder if Mickey Mouse (or Belle or Cinderella, etc) left you a special present back at our house?!” and race from the gift shop.  :)

Here’s what I ended up getting for her:

Disney Souvenirs on the Cheap

:: Buzz Lightyear : On clearance at Walmart for $13 (was $27)

:: Mickey Mouse Plush: On clearance at Disney Store for $4.99 (was $20)

:: Personalized Fleece Blanket: On Sale at DisneyStore.com for $12 + free shipping + cash back (Ebates!)

:: Tangled T Shirt: On Sale at DisneyStore.com for $7 + free shipping + cash back (Ebates!)

:: Disney Princess Hardback book + CD: $5.99 from Zulily (was $15) + cash back (Ebates!)

Grand total: $42.98 + Cash back

Not bad!

Tell me – what are YOUR favorite ways to save money on souvenirs (obviously besides not buying them)?

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  • Lisa

    we go to the Disney outlet to buy our stuff the kids are very happy because they get a lot of items for a little bit of $$$ and the stuff is from the park it may be a few month old but they do not always know the difference.

    • Another great idea. We love the Disney outlet, too. :)

  • Jennifer

    We did the same thing. Down the street from Disney World there is a Wal-Mart that had everything Disney we needed. So, we went and got our autograph books, pens, laynards, souvenirs. We did not buy one thing at the park.
    Since there was a total of 12 of us (mostly teenage boys), we brought our lunch and snacks to the park. Granted, we had a suitcase to hold it all, but it was worth it considering what we saved.
    I really like your idea about suggesting that one of the Disney characters left it! Too cute! Gonna do that next time because there will totally be a next time!

    • Yes! We stopped at the local Wal-Mart too… They had EVERYTHING and so much cheaper. Great idea!

  • Amanda Short

    When I went to Disney World, we made a trip to downtown Disney. There was a little clearance area next to Pooh Corner. I was able to get Cars baseball caps for my nephews @ 4 for $10. You had to purchase 4 to get the deal. I went ahead and got them for that price even though I only needed 3. I also found a nice jacket for $6.99. Normally $25. It was great way to get souvenirs. I spent just a little over $30 for three ornaments, four hats, and a jacket. I made it a point to find where the clearance items were and bought only from them.

    • We do this a lot, too – especially with shirts/apparel. Straight for the clearance rack. Most of the time you can find really nice stuff for a LOT cheaper – they might have an older logo, etc on them, but who cares?! :)

  • Liz

    It took my husbad and I a little over a year to save for our Disney World trip with our 4 children. We sat down with our 11 year old boys, 10 year old daughter, and 8 year old son and explained to them that if they wanted to buy souveniers they would have to earn the money by doing chores etc around the house. I put the earned monies into their savings accounts every week. The 2 older boys started off gung ho, then got very lazy. The 2 little kids diligently did their chores every day. When the time came to go, the little ones had over $500 to spend on how they wished, while the big ones had bearly $200. The big boys learned a great lesson as they saw their siblings buy whatever their heart desired and they had to budget themselves.

    • This is brilliant! I love that the little ones ended up with a ton of money while the older ones learned a good lesson. Thanks for sharing!

  • We have annual passes at Universal Studios (Orlando) and I know better than to pay full price! What I do is wait until we are leaving the park(s) and shop at the gift shop at the exit – there are gobs and gobs of sales and clearance items there – my best bargain was an adult size XXL sweatshirt with the Universal logo on it for $7.99! Plus, I had 10% off, being an annual pass holder!

    • Great tips! Less than $7.99 for a sweatshirt? WOW!! :)

  • Joey Fortman

    BRILLIANCE! ABSOLUTE BRILLIANCE!!!!!!!!!!! You are awesome. Can I travel with you??? =)

  • Andrea

    When my boys were around 7 and 10 I gave them an envelope of their own spending money for each day. They saved money from one day to the next to buy larger items. It stopped them for asking for everything they saw..it was for junk food and souvenirs. It was amazing they never asked for more money.

    • I love this. I will absolutely be doing something similar when Lily gets a little older!

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