For many of us the trips we plan to Disney are about making memories, family time and good old-fashioned fun. For our kids it’s about all that…and the souvenirs. Let’s face it Disney is pretty good at tempting us adults too! They have exclusive Park Only merchandise and the cutest little sweatshirts, stuffed toys, trading pins…OH MY! I could go on and on. They have not been in business for this long without knowing how to merchandise. Here are a few tips to keep your wallet happy as well as your kids (and you).
1. Buy Before You Go. Check out the Disney Store or Disneystore.com for small gifts you know your kids will enjoy. The key here is small as you are going to bring them with you on your trip. Little princess cell phones, McQueen bouncy balls, stuffed Tiggers are all good ideas. Looking for these items on sale is the objective. Even other stores like Target, Kohl’s or Toys R Us carry Disney items. Pick up what you can and put it aside. Tip: If you are flying and have so much of this stuff that you require an extra piece of luggage, you probably aren’t saving money. If it makes sense you can also mail packages to your resort ahead of time. Again weigh the cost here of shipping.
2. Make the Small Things Special. This can involve the gifts you brought down or things you purchase at the gift shops in Disney. A good idea is mystery pins (which are cheaper than trading pins), stickers, sweets, key chains, toy cars. When you arrive at the park and your child has the “gimmie/get-me’s” you can assure them that if they are a good boy/girl during the day; Mickey might leave them something during the night. After your children have been as good as gold you leave the little surprise on their nightstand. Tip: It never hurts to use your imagination here. Hide the gifts in funny places. Maybe even include a note from Mickey! Have as much fun with this as you want. I promise you it works!
3. The Cheapest Souvenir in the Park. My favorite souvenirs are pressed penny machines. Make it remarkable by purchasing a Penny Holder Book at the Disney gift shops. There are numerous penny machines in every park, and each one offers at least 3 options. Many of them are outside the rides, and are specific to that attraction. Most of the resorts also have penny machines depicting images from the resort. To make things easier on yourself, empty out a mini M&M container before you leave on your trip. What you do with the candy is up to you! Put two quarters and a shiny new penny inside and repeat until full. That way your money is at the ready when little ones are looking for something to “buy”. Tip: If you make subsequent trips take pictures of your pennies on your cell phone before you go to avoid repeats.
4. Free Stuff for the Taking. Each park offers “buttons” at the parks by the entrances. You can also get them at the resort concierge desk. They say “First Visit”, “Happy Birthday”, “I’m Celebrating” and more. Your child’s name is written in and its an invitation for cast members to give them Mickey stickers. Your child will also feel pretty special about being singled out by a cast member.
Don’t forget about toiletries, napkins, menu’s, maps, etc. They are super fun to look at when you get home and are away from the Disney magic. If you are creative you can even craft them into something else. Tip: You want Free? Make your kids pay for their own stuff. If they get an allowance or “Grandma Money” consider turning some of it into a Disney Gift Card for their use during the trip. They will definitely be thinking about what they spend their money on more carefully!
5. Admit Defeat. You are on vacation at Disney! Buy a few things for goodness sake! But set yourself (and each child) a budget and try not to go TOO far over. Disney Parks Merchandise is one of a kind and will make you and your children happy. Part of the Disney Magic is in the memories you take home with you. Even if some of those memories have a price tag. Tip: All the parks will deliver your purchases back to your Disney resort baggage area for free. It takes overnight but beats carrying it around all day.
Enjoy your trip and save on those special gifts!
Maria is a Stay at Home Mom with two young boys (1 and 5 yrs), who loves all things Disney. She enjoys helping her friends plan their trips with little ones and looks forward to starting her own blog one day. For now you can read Maria’s articles here on Chip and Co., her favorite site for connecting with the “Magic of Disney”.
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