This post is all about things you should buy before visiting Disney to save you money!
We all know that Disney is not the cheapest vacation you can take. It doesn’t matter which of the 12 parks you visit worldwide; they’re all going to be pricey. Between your theme park tickets, hotels, food, and souvenirs, staying on budget is very hard. Well, speaking for myself, that is.
I can’t begin to tell you how much money I’ve wasted on Mouse Ears, bubble wands, glow sticks, misting fans, and toys, all for them to be tossed to the side once we get back from vacation.
But you don’t have to go broke visiting a Disney theme park. Here are 10 inexpensive Disney essentials you should consider buying before your trip if you want to save money.
10 Things to Buy Before Disney World to Save Money
1. Portable charger
A portable charger has always been a top recommendation, no matter where you’re traveling. You can find it under my travel essentials and also under my Disney essentials packing list guide, so of course, it was a no-brainer that it would be number one on this list as well.
Between the hundreds of photos you’ll be taking and the Disney apps that you’ll be checking to see your wait times, etc., it’s all going to put a drain on your phone battery. While you can purchase a Fuel Rod at Disney World and Disneyland for about $30, I personally prefer a bigger power bank that’s a bit more budget-friendly on Amazon, such as this one.
The convenience of the Fuel Rod cannot be denied, though. When they’re running low on “fuel,” you just swap them out for a new one. They’re also much smaller and lighter, but one downside is that they don’t charge as fast, and there aren’t recharging stations everywhere, so taking them on a trip worldwide wouldn’t be essential, but they are great for “Disney.”
You should ALWAYS wear your sunscreen in all seasons.
If you’re visiting Disney in Florida or even California during the summer, be prepared for the sun and sunburn if you’re not covered. You want to buy your sunscreen before visiting Disney or be prepared to fork over a premium at the parks or resorts.
I personally prefer Black Girl Sunscreen for my dark skin as it doesn’t leave a white cast, but I recently found SuperGoop and fell in love with it as well, so I tend to alternate between the two. SuperGoop isn’t cheap, but sometimes you may be able to find it discounted at places like T.J.Maxx or Marshalls.
3. Rain Ponchos
We talked about the sun; now let’s talk about the rain.
We used to visit in July, and I can’t remember a day when we visited the park and there wasn’t any sort of rain. It can be sunny one minute and a thunderstorm the next. The weather can be really unpredictable in Orlando, so having some sort of rain protection is necessary. Ponchos are a lot more convenient and practical than umbrellas.
Ponchos are available at the park ($10-Kids, $12-Adults), but you’ll save even more by buying them on Amazon. You can get ponchos for almost nothing at the dollar store, Target, or even Walmart. They’re lightweight, so you can toss a couple in your luggage.
4. Water Misting Fan & Cooling Towels
When we said Disney World could get hot in the summer, that goes for the fall, too. Disney knows that you’re looking for a way to cool off, so they sell misting fans you can fill with water and keep yourself cool during the day. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, they’re going to cost you $22! Yup, you read that right.
Plan ahead and bring your own misting fan so you don’t end up spending $22 on something you’ll probably only use at Disney World. These ones on Amazon are very similar without Disney-trademarked characters and cost way less. I also found this compact misting fan on Amazon that can fit in your pocket, purse, or backpack.
Another great way to beat the heat at Disney is with cooling towels. Just put a little water on these small towels, and as the water evaporates, they will keep you cool for hours. You can buy a single one at Disney World for about $20. I’m not sure if the price has gone up since we were last there in 2019, but a pack of these on Amazon is much less than that.
5. Refillable Water bottle
I don’t know about you, but I love saving money and never have an unlimited budget when visiting Disney. That’s why I suggest bringing a refillable water bottle to the park. That will save you from having to shell out a whopping $3.50 at Disney World for bottled water.
But if you’d rather not bring any bottles at all, you can simply go to any of the quick service restaurants and ask for a cup of ice (that you can also use in your water bottle to keep it cool) and water. But refilling your water bottle at any of the refill stations is absolutely free.
I’m a big fan of Hydro Flasks, as they can keep your water cold for as many hours as you’re in the park and even longer. While I like the wide mouth editions, the ones with the straw lids are a bit more convenient. They’re, however, not the most affordable, and you may be able to get cheaper alternatives.
6. Autograph Books
If you’re visiting Disney solo or with the kids, bring an autograph book so they can get signatures from all the Disney characters they meet. This is such a great way to remember your trip to Disney, and it’s by far the most inexpensive souvenir you’ll have of Disney. Many autograph books come with a pen, so don’t forget it, as the characters won’t have a pen.
7. Disney Mouse Ears
Disney Mouse Ears are a must-have accessory whenever you’re visiting Disney. There are so many variations that it can be difficult to choose one. I have a Mouse Ear for almost every occasion, and I’ve forgotten to pack them every once in a while, or I’ll buy one that I just have to have, and they cost $35 and up depending on how special it is. But you can save some money by getting them online before you go, at websites like Amazon or even Etsy.
8. Glow in the Dark Toys and Accessories
I have since learned my lesson about these glow-in-the-dark toys and accessories. When the sun sets at Disney, everything that glows in the dark, including the toys and glow sticks, comes out in full force. And if Disney is having a special event, including fireworks, be prepared to see Cast Members pushing their cart down Main Street filled with all the delightful goodies that will have your kids wanting each and every one.
I’ve been suckered into buying light-up necklaces at Christmas, Mickey light up wands, bubble wands—you name it, we have it. But those goodies come with a price tag you’re not going to be fond of. So bring your own and give them to your kids before they go wild, begging for the overpriced ones in the park.
In the Pinterest image above are the necklaces Disney sold back in 2016 and what we wore to the Mickey Very Merry Christmas Party. The current ones now have a Mickey Ears design, but your kids won’t really care. These Christmas necklaces on Amazon are very similar to the ones sold back then in the park if you’re going at Christmas, without the Mickey Ears, of course, and are much cheaper.
9. Baby Essentials
Disney World has Baby Care Centers located in the parks, which are perfect for when you’re traveling with younger kids. They do sell baby essentials such as wipes, diapers, formula, etc., which might lead you to think that you should forgo lugging around the tons of diapers and formula you might need for your trip. But they do come with a premium Disney price tag.
If you’d rather not pack your suitcases with tons of diapers, consider having them delivered to your hotel using Instacart or even Walmart+. I’ve used Instacart in the past to order snacks and groceries for us to keep in the mini-fridge, and they were accepted and delivered to my room. If you’re off-property, you can simply drive to your nearest Walmart or supermarket.
10. Disney Clothing and Souvenirs
Don’t wait until you get to Disney to buy Disney clothing. Many places, such as Target or even Walmart, sell Disney-branded clothing that you can wear together as a family. If you’re thinking of getting a costume for your child to run around in all day while at Disney, consider shopping at the Character Warehouse (Disney’s official outlet), where you can get discounted costumes for your kids. We’ve gotten some amazing deals here on plushies, etc.
Skip the souvenirs if you can. Unless there’s a particular souvenir you can’t get anywhere else, such as specially selected items only available in parks, shop elsewhere. You can buy many Disney souvenirs online for a fraction of the price offered in the parks, and you also have a far larger selection. Etsy is another option if you’re looking for a unique, handmade Disney keepsake
The Best Way to Save Money at Disney World!
One of my best money-saving tips for Disney World is to get the Chase Disney Visa Signature credit card.
I never visit Disney without it, and it’s the only card I use at Disney. There’s no annual fee, and you save 10% at Disney World stores and most restaurants. If you shop at shopDisney.com, you get to save 10% on select purchases there too. You also get 1% back in Disney Rewards Dollars on every purchase you make. There are usually promotions surrounding the card, and promotions are always subject to change.
Related: Looking for discounted Disney tickets? While I tend to purchase my tickets on a military base in order to take advantage of Disney’s military discounts, Undercover Tourist is also a great place to buy discounted tickets!
Hopefully, these things to buy before Disney World will help you save a little money and make your Disney vacation extra magical!
For more Disney World tips and tricks, be sure to read these other blog posts: