The Hidden Costs of Disney

So I hemmed and hawed and decided. Then undecided, then decided again. The money has been spent. I think I’m home free. Then come all the hidden costs of Disney. You think that you’re going to just buy some plane tickets and book a place to stay. Not so fast sister.

There’s SO MUCH more.


Before we go

I need to BUY…

  • Guidebook
  • Disney merch
  • Autograph books and pens
  • Activities for the plane
  • id bracelets for the kids

I need to BOOK or ORDER…

  • Stroller rental and a parking space at the airport (which is almost as much as a plane ticket).
  • Dining reservation that require prepayments.

While we’re there the possibilities are endless really…

  • Balloons, hats, pins, dresses, cups, books, stuffed things, snowglobes, shirts, stickers, more stuffed things.

These two are in the Wildcard category.

  • Food- Not so hidden – we have to eat, but how much will we actually end up paying? We decided NOT to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. So we’re on our own. Groceries to be ordered and delivered with the stroller.
  • Clothes- ok we don’t really need these. But? Rain jackets that fold up. Warm weather clothes for kids that live somewhere very cold and have grown out of their summer stuff already. Summer stuff?! Masks for the pool and a swim diaper for the baby. And dammit I’m going on vacation for the first time in 6 years. Mama is gettin’ a few new things! New shoes, new sunglasses, and maybe a pretty new dress.

I think I could go on and on!

How do you manage not going broke before and during your vacation? Do you set a budget? Do you stop caring about it at some point? How many snowglobes does one person really need?

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  1. I think it is smart to have a list of things you could possibly purchase beforehand. Like Disney related clothing attire or costumes that may be on sale and probably WAY cheaper than actually at Disney. Making your own autograph books is genius and I will be doing just that for my kids when we go this summer. I guess I need to start being on the Disney lookout to find ways to save some money for things like food. Dang food!

  2. This is exactly why we’ve been hesitant to go on vacation anywhere! The costs are not just tickets, there is so much else that goes with it. So frustrating.

    • ViolaCay /

      Isra – it turns out that much of that stuff was overkill. With more advance planning some of it can be avoided. For example my kids ONLY wanted to use electronics on the plane. Big boy used a notebook for some of it, but that’s it.

  3. I am traveling to Disney in March. I went to my local dollar store and found quite a few Disney items for my kids. I bough them A little “grab & go” Disney activity kit, Disney gummies, and Disney tissues to have for the plane ride. They also had a lot of Disney Princess items (but I have boys), including a tiara and a wand. I also purchased a few packages of glow sticks and bracelets for night. I heard the Disney vendors come out at night and sell them 5x the price I paid…$1.00! I also went to my local Disney store and they were having a sale. I bought my boys Mickey water bottles for $5 (which would probably cost $15 at the park). I spent about $10 per child for a few items. My boys also have Mickey tshirts that I will pack for the trip (one less item we will need to buy at the park). They also had bags of cotton candy, these colorful twisted marshmallow sticks, & Disney gummies at the dollar store….so I will pack those to have at the parks to avoid paying $10 for cotton candy….every little bit helps before you get there and get stuck paying an arm & leg for Disney goodies! Hope this helped!

    • ViolaCay /

      I agree the Dollar Store was a great resource for me too! Loads of Disney stuff. You may have to make a couple of trips leading up to your vacation as they constantly restock.

      I also got some back up rain ponchos for Splash Mountain there.

      Have so much fun on your trip to Disney!

  4. One more thing…the dollar store also had small Disney notebooks that my boys will use for autograph books! They are hard covered 4×6 with blank white paper inside. I also bought a Mickey Mouse Club House magnetic picture frame from the dollar store that we can hang on our fridge after we come back from our trip to put a fun pic of the kids in it from Disney! Again, simple, cute, but so cheap! My kids won’t even know the difference….everything is Disney trademarked!

  5. Fab post – great tips! For pre-trip shopping, don’t forget about the back of the Disney stores in your local mall (the ones that are left) have great deals, real Disney merch, and more current stuff for older kids than in the dollar store. Once they know the new characters, Mickey Mouse won’t do but do it now while you can. :)

    I’ve been taking my kids to Disney since they were babies, and now that they are older I give them a budget and we stick to it. Usually $20 each. It’s a good habit for any shopping trip or vacation, anyway. Usually my kids hang on to it until the last day so they can see the whole scope of what they “want”. My mom used to let me get one special thing from Disney (even though we didn’t have a lot of $) and I always appreciated it- still have one of my Mickey watches.

  6. Hi, I just found your posts when I was looking for ideas for DIY autograph books. Great! We are going to Disneyland in April with my 2 girls (3 and 5) and I have been gathering little things like the glowsticks for the last month or so. I also have been making them shirts, they each have a Mickey/Minnie shirt and I have been working on “princess” shirts. Basically an updated peasant shirt pattern I found online and modified to model a certain princess (I have Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White). I think it is a good way to let them “dress-up” without having to buy or deal with overpriced, itchy costume dresses.

  7. Heather Hernandez /

    When you’re in Orlando, hit the local Walmart
    &/or Walgreens for lots of reasonable Disney paraphernalia…


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