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It’s time to continue on with my Saving at Disney Parks Series! Let’s continue today with topic #3: how to save money on Disney souvenirs.
Let’s face it: when you plan a trip to the Disney parks, you probably figure that you’re going to have to budget and bargain hunt. You scout out the very best hotel rates, stalk the internet for the lowest airfare, use coupons for a rental car and head to Disney when they’re offering a free dining plan. You’ve thought of everything! Almost.
It starts off innocently enough.
“Look at everyone trading pins. Let’s buy a pin starter pack.”
Then it escalates.
“Sure, sweetie, I’ll buy you the $20 balloon that is bigger than you.” (Only to have it pop while boarding the tram car on your way out of the park.)
“It’s 95 degrees and 120% humidity and my kid just barfed on Rapunzel. YES, PLEASE SELL ME THE $17 icy water squirt-bottle-fan!”
“The dress, the wand, the matching shoes. Who needs to make the mortgage payment this month?”
If you’re not careful, it’s only too easy to spend your life savings buying “STUFF” at the Disney parks. If you ARE careful, there are so many ways to save money while feeling like you’re splurging.
- Shop sales on Disney merchandise all year round and BRING IT WITH YOU. Whether I’m grabbing a $3 Fairies shirt at Disney Store’s sale or finding a perfect-condition Snow White dress at a consignment sale, I shop all year round for souvenirs. I purchase new and like-new Disney-related items for pennies on the dollar and pack them in our luggage. Lily is never the wiser and loves each item that she receives. Sometimes I give her these items while we’re in the parks, other times I’ll leave them on her pillow before bedtime in our hotel room.
- Collect Disney Gift Cards for birthdays/holidays. How many times have your kids’ friends and family asked you what to get for their birthdays or holidays? If I know we’re heading to the parks soon, I’ll request Disney gift cards. They spend like cash at the parks and kids can choose their own souvenirs. Didn’t spend the entire card? Bring it home and use it up at the local Disney Store!
- Shop after-Halloween clearance sales for princess dresses and pirate costumes. If you have been to the Disney parks before, you know that MANY of the kids there are dressed up like their favorite princess, pirate, etc. If that’s something you think your kids would have fun doing, know that you can buy these outfits for way less than they sell for in the parks. Halloween is the PERFECT opportunity to pick up a couple outfits at a bargain price. Shop before Halloween using coupons (Party City and Spirit Halloween stores PUMP out the coupons beginning a month or two before Halloween – sign up for their emails!) Shop after Halloween when prices are slashed to less than half of the original price. This year I took a coupon to Party City in the beginning of September and got Lily an adorable Sofia the First dress for less than $20. The quality is really decent and the price didn’t break the bank. She’s wears the dress every other day and it will come with us on our next trip to Disney.
- Take advantage of free (and super cheap) photo gift deals to make personalized gifts and bring them on your trip. There are days when I feel like all I post are photo gift deals because there are literally that many available. Consider using these deals to make some incredible, personalized souvenirs to surprise your kids with! Make autograph books with the notebook deals, character pillows with the personalized pillowcase deals, use the blanket deals to make personalized throws for chilly nights at the parks when they’re in their strollers, etc. These gifts are not only memorable, they are useful as well.
- If you have a car, stop at the gigantic Walmart Supercenter just outside the parks and shop in their massive Disney souvenir section. Yes, you can load up on all the essentials – food, sunscreen, WINE… but this Walmart has something that other Walmarts don’t: a ridiculously large section dedicated to nothing but Disney branded EVERYTHING. Postcards, shirts, beach towels, mugs AND EVERY OTHER ITEM ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH THAT THEY CAN SLAP MICKEY MOUSE OR A PRINCESS ONTO! Truly! We save a bundle here purchasing our postcards (remember the time I paid almost $20 for 9 postcards in the Magic Kingdom?), tshirts for Lily’s cousins, etc.
- Bring coins for the Penny Press machines – cool souvenirs for $.51 each! Come on – who can resist the old-time charm of a Penny Press? Disney has these machines all over the parks. You need $.51 cents – 2 quarters to pay for the press and 1 penny to be flattened and stamped. Lily LOVES these machines. She loves winding the big crank and treats the pressed penny like it’s buried treasure! I recommend picking up an album for your pressed pennies – for less than $10 you can buy a book with pockets that hold and display all of your coins. Think I’m kidding about the sheer volume of these machines inside Disney? Check out this map of coin press machines in Disney World! Note: some machines are DIME and QUARTER presses, but most are penny presses. Consider printing the maps to locate these machines – and let your kids cross off the ones you get to.
- Disney Chase Visa credit card holders are eligible for FREE Park Perks. If you have a Disney Chase Visa card, be sure to take advantage of the perks available to you. Among them are: 10% discount at select gift shops throughout the parks, 10% discount at select restaurants throughout the parks, 20% off select tours and a private character meet and greet daily at Innovations West in Epcot with FREE souvenir 5×7 print (we met Pluto and Mickey when we did this 2 years ago). In addition to these perks, make sure you check out Chase’s website as you plan your trip because they frequently offer limited-time discounts, for example free credit when you book a Disney Cruise.
- Purchase a starter pack of pins to trade on Ebay. Pin trading – it’s all the rage at Disney Parks. Kids love running around the parks, wearing their pin-laden lanyards, trading pins with various Disney cast members. But pins can be expensive! Save some money by purchasing a set of Disney pins before you get to the parks. As always, read seller feedback before purchasing to help ensure you get what you pay for. I bought Lily a starter set of pins on Ebay – 25 pins for $12.15 with free shipping. At 49 cents per pin, she’ll have a blast and I will enjoy knowing that I didn’t spend a fortune.