Today, I’m thrilled to be sharing my first blog post at the Exclusive Travel Partners blog! Head over and read my tips on ways to save money for your Disney vacation AND how you can save money while AT Disney! Click here to get to the blog post!
I am the mom who tries to save as much money as possible when it comes to my Walt Disney World vacations. I would rather go more often and cheaper than spend a lot of money and go less frequently. One of the ways I’ve been able to save money in the past is by bringing my own food into the parks.
Many people I talk to don’t even realize this is an option. We usually eat breakfast in the room, pack snacks and foods for lunch or dinner and eat the last meal at a restaurant in the parks. Some of the foods we bring are peanut butter crackers, pringles chips (they don’t get squished in the containers they are packaged in), tuna fish pouches, individual peanut butter cups and jelly packets along with bread and a plastic knife, trail mix, granola bars, gummies, goldfish crackers, water bottles, juice boxes and whatever else we find that won’t get squished or go bad in a backpack!
There are however a few rules and some suggestions for bringing your own food.
1) Disney parks do NOT allow glass containers or alcohol. Baby food is an exception.
2) You can not bring in a container larger than 24″ x 15″ x 18″. Don’t bring a box, bag or cooler larger than this. You also can’t have wheels on anything other than a stroller or wheelchair. So, no wagons or rolling coolers.
3) A soft sided cooler is the best bet for carrying food items. You can rent a locker at the front of each park to store it until meal time.
4) Use the microwaves in the baby care centers if you need to heat up things. Don’t however monopolize the microwaves to heat each person’s food in your party individually. These microwaves are for babies to get bottles and food warmed!
5) Find a nice bench or a table at a quick service restaurant* to enjoy your snacks and meals. But remember to clean up after yourself!
*After discussion on FaceBook, I’m adding to this tip. If the restaurant is busy, don’t take up a table when you aren’t purchasing from that restaurant. Consider sitting at a quick service table only during non peak dining times. These tables should be reserved for guests who paid for the food from that restaurant. If a cast member asks you to leave the table because you did not purchase food from that restaurant, do so in a nice way! Let guests who have paid for their food use those tables. There are plenty of other areas in the parks to enjoy your picnic food!
I’m almost certain I’ve shared this tip multiple times here on my blog! This is one thing I love to do! For months leading up to our trip, I always have my eyes open to ANYTHING with Disney on it. At grocery stores, dollar stores, drug stores, “big box” stores, convenient stores, book stores, and more, I’m looking for treats, trinkets, candy and gifts for my family that are Disney related. I buy these items and hide them in my closet. As we get ready to leave for Disney, I give my boys a bag for the car or plane that has Disney (and non Disney) items to help keep them entertained. When we get to Disney I also have surprises waiting for them. Sometimes I put them in Disney themed party favor bags and give them one each morning before we go to a park. At other times, I’ve been the last person to leave our room and I leave them by the bed for the boys to find when we return to the room. Either way it’s fun! AND it helps us save money in the parks on souvenirs.
Here is a list of things I’ve found in the past for my boys before ever getting to WDW:
- stuffed animals
- silly bandz
- mad libs
- coloring books
- glow sticks
Walgreens drugstore is probably one of my favorite places to find cheap souvenirs or treats- check out the seasonal section as well as the toys. Another good place to look is party supply stores. You can find the section with your child’s favorite Disney character and load up on fun cheap souvenirs. Don’t forget to check the dollar bins at the front of Target stores!
What special treats have you found prior to your Disney vacation?
One thing my oldest son enjoyed doing when he was younger was buying and trading Disney pins with cast members. All cast members wear a lanyard filled with various Disney pins. If you ask to trade with them, they have to do so (as long as your pin is a Disney pin and in good condition. See rules here). You may also luck up and find another park guest to trade pins with you! But, buying pins can get expensive in the parks. One way to enjoy pin trading without spending a lot of money is to buy Disney pins off Ebay prior to your vacation. That way you aren’t spending so much once you get to Disney. We have found a great assortment of pins on Ebay where they cost as little as 50 cents per pin! Even if we don’t like what we get, we know we can trade them for ones we like once we arrive at Walt Disney World!
Let’s be honest. Disney can suck money out of your pocket without you even realizing it! Especially if you have kids who beg for every snack, toy, shirt, pin and more at each turn. Here are a few ways our family has saved some money while at Walt Disney World.
Plan on bringing the following with you from home:
- Medicines (prescriptions and over the counter), even if you aren’t sick. You can buy OTC meds at the gift shops in the hotels, but it will cost you a fortune. If you do have your own car or rental car, do you really want to spend your time on vacation finding the closest drug store or Wal Mart just to save some money? Just pack it and bring it with you. It’s much better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
- Sunscreen. Again, you can buy this in the parks and at the hotels, but why spend a lot of money when chances are you already have this at home – or can buy it much cheaper at home. If you are buying, consider buying the travel size tube or stick so you can easily carry it into the parks to reapply. The florida sun is brutal!
- Bugspray. This also falls into the same category as sunscreen. The mosquitos can be harsh in the swampy, humid, Florida heat. Bring it from home and consider a travel size of this too!
- Water bottles. You can bring a case of water from home to carry into the parks each day or you can bring an empty water bottle and have it refilled for free at counter service restaurants. You will get hot and you will want water while at Walt Disney World. Who really wants to spend $2 on a bottle of water each time you get thirsty? If you are flying and don’t want to pack a lot of bottles of water, consider using Garden Grocer and have them deliver water and snacks to your room!
- Snacks. While it is fun to get snacks at Walt Disney World shaped like your favorite characters, these can add up and cost a lot of money. Consider buying Disney themed snacks ahead of time and bring them into the parks with you. If you keep your eyes peeled, there are a ton of Disney snacks at the grocery stores that can be kept in a backpack. You can also make your own snacks if you are a creative mom or dad!
image from amazon.com
- Lunches. This is an easy way to save money! Bring items to have a picnic lunch in the parks. There are so many off the beaten path places to have a nice lunch. We bring 2 slices of bread in a Disney themed sandwich container for each person. We also bring Jif to go peanut butter cups and squeeze jelly packets from fast food places. Don’t forget to pack a plastic knife or spoon to spread it all on the bread! You can also get Starkist tuna kits complete with mayo and relish. Throw in some chips (Pringles work well because they don’t get squished in their cylinder container), fruit (fresh, dried or in cups), and little Debbies and you’re set! You can also use silicone cupcake liners to put into tupperware type containers to separate snacks and keep them from getting squished in your bag.