Making your Merch Moolah Last: 5 Money-Saving Tips Walt Disney World Merchandise
Let’s face it – by the time you have paid for your flights, Disney World park tickets, hotel and food for your family – a Disney World vacation can get be on the expensive side. One thing Walt Disney World first-timers often forget to factor in is the merchandise. And make no mistake – Disney’s merch game is on point. You cannot walk more than 10 yards in a Disney park without running smack into a cart of balloons or Stuffed Mickeys to buy. Not buying any merchandise is practically impossible (especially when your bright eyed children think that a credit card is like a magical money machine that never runs out). Paying for merchandise that you haven’t budgeted for or can’t afford can really add stress to what is supposed to be a magical time. So here is our top 5 ways to save on your family’s Disney merchandise and souvenirs.
(1) Purchase Items Before Your Trip
This is a tip that works particularly well if you have young children. Merchandise sold in the Disney parks comes with a pretty hefty markup. Purchase a few things you know your children will love from your local Disney store ahead of time. Don’t forget to search stores like Walmart, Target, Costco and even local buy and sell groups for even bigger savings opportunities. Pack your pre-purchased goodies discreetly in your luggage and park bag, and pull them out for your children at an opportune time. I purchased an Anna coronation dress from a Facebook buy and sell group for $10 before my last Disney trip. When my Anna-obsessed three year old saw the exact same dress (priced at $79) I was able to surprise her with my much less expensive version and we were both thrilled.
(2) Use Disney Gift Cards
If your children are older and would like to purchase their own souvenirs; consider gifting them a Disney gift card. If your children have a birthday before your departure or you are leaving after Christmas, make the Disney gift card a part of their present. Just make sure to explain to them the card limit (whatever value you have purchased) that they will not be allotted any more money once they have depleted it. As an added tip –you can purchase Disney gift cards for a 5% discount at Target, if you use a Target Red Card. So if you buy a $100 gift card, it will only cost you $95.
(3) Visit a Disney Character Outlet during your trip
Choose a morning during your trip and plan to visit one of two Disney Character Outlets. Both are a short ride from Disney property and they offer a large variety of Disney park merchandise at a heavily discounted price. I purchased several t-shirts ($10 vs $25 in the parks) and coffee mugs ($5 vs $19 in the parks) for family and friends. Keep in mind, the merchandise at the outlet stores is a general selection of what is available in the parks and also turns over very quickly. So if you have your heart set on something very specific you may have seen at a Disney park – you are better off purchasing it at the park (since you may not find it at the outlet).
(4) Press Pennies
Disney World is packed full of pressed penny machines (500 of them to be exact). It cost 0.51¢ to press a penny – two quarters and the penny you want to press. So scour your change jar, couch cushions, and car floor to collect all the pennies and quarters you can find. Just keep a small change purse in your park bag and pull it out to press a penny whenever you stumble across a pressed penny machine. My three year old got very excited to turn the crank and collect her new treasure each time we did this. She gave some of them to daycare friends and saved her favorites in a small album for collectable coins. I promise 0.51¢ is the cheapest Disney souvenir you can find!
(5) Consider Pin Trading
Pin trading is a big deal at Disney – there are entire blogs and websites dedicated to Disney pins, which can give you much more detail than I will here. In short- invest in an assortment of random Disney pins and pin them on a lanyard. Trade them with Disney cast members and trading pin boards in the park. The best place to buy a lot of Disney pins is Ebay – I believe I paid $15 for a Minnie Mouse lanyard and a lot of 15 random pins (remember the pins you start with don’t matter because you intend to trade them anyway).
The reason I categorize this as a cost savings tip – is because there is pin trading at practically every merchandise location in the parks. So when my children’s eyes started to drift towards the expensive toys – I would redirect them to the pin board (or any cast member wearing a lanyard) to see if they had any pins we could trade for. The cast-members are supplied with pins and have to trade any pin you want of theirs for any of yours. This was tremendously successful for us. My daughter collected a nice assortment of princess related pins and it didn’t cost me anything outside my initial investment.
We hope these tips help both you and your wallet enjoy your Disney World vacation!