Save Money On Your Disney World Vacation: Make or Buy Before You Go

A Disney World Vacation is the stuff of dreams. Families plan and dream about this vacation sometimes for years. Sometimes the trip is so expensive that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and some people save all year just to take this annual trip.

Whether you visit frequently or you’re taking the trip of a lifetime, you’re probably looking for ways to save money and make your travels a little easier and a lot more fun.

Let’s take a look at ten things you can make or buy in advance to make your vacation budget a little lighter.

Make Before You Go

Whether you’re crafty or not, there are some things you can make pretty easily with very little know-how. These things can save you time, money, and frustrations throughout your vacation.

1. Autograph books

Autograph books are easy to make and they can be personalized and customized however you like and based on your crafting abilities. While you can purchase autograph books in Disney World, at the Disney Store, or even in your local craft store, it’s much more fun to make your own.

Not only are you collecting autographs, but you’re collecting memories. There are a ton of character meet and greet opportunities in the parks and the Disney resort hotels, so it’s a good idea to keep all of your autographs in one place. When you get home, you can print photos from your vacation and add them to your autograph book to make it more like a scrapbook!

You can easily make your own autograph books.
You can easily make your own autograph books.

2. Coin holders

I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite souvenirs are those pressed pennies. They’re inexpensive (just $0.51!) and there are a ton of different designs at all different locations throughout the parks and hotels.

It can be frustrating to walk around with a pocket full of quarters and pennies all day, though. A perfect solution to this is a mini M&M container. You can get them just about anywhere you can buy candy, and they’re perfect for holding change.

You can decorate them with stickers, wrap them in paper, or just leave them as they are.

While I love to get those pressed pennies, it’s also fun for kids to throw pennies into the fountains at Disney World. Every year, the Cast Members vote on a beneficiary, and Disney donates all of the fountains’ change to that charity.

Disney Souvenir Pennies are fun and inexpensive.
Disney Souvenir Pennies are fun and inexpensive.

3. “I’m Lost” tattoos

If you have ever traveled to Disney World (or just about anywhere for that matter) with kids, you know that it’s easy to lose sight of them especially when they get excited to see something. Disney Cast Members say, “there are no lost kids- only lost parents”, but that’s certainly not how it feels when you lose your child in such a busy place!

Temporary tattoos can solve this problem pretty easily especially if you have a child that is too young to know your phone number. Simply get a pen, marker, eyeliner pencil, or something similar and write your name and phone number on the child’s wrist. If you don’t use something that is waterproof, you can paint the New Skin liquid bandage over it to prevent it from coming off throughout the day.  This is cheaper than buying a fancy ID tag for your child.

For older kids and teens, you can make your own temporary tattoos with Disney characters, quotes, or images. Use an ink-jet printer to print your image then place it on the skin. Wet the back of the paper to get the ink to transfer to the skin. I would suggest putting New Skin over this too so it doesn’t run or transfer to clothes. Remember to make a reverse image if you’re using a quote!

Of course, you have to be careful with skin reactions when you’re doing any of this. If you need to remove it, New Skin removes itself, and rubbing alcohol takes off marker and other things from skin. Makeup remover also works well.

4. MagicBands

Ok, so you can’t actually make your MagicBands, but you can fancy them up! Disney sends the bands to you in a plain color.  Use nail polish, stickers, glitter, and markers to make them fun. Check out this article for more details.

You can also purchase accessories called bandits to customize your MagicBands without spending a lot. These are good for the less crafty crowd!

Dress up your MagicBands.
Dress up your MagicBands.


Buy Before You Go

Buying items for vacation is the most expensive option, but you should buy things that are too expensive to buy in the parks and that you will likely use at some point in the future.

5. Costumes

Whether it’s a princess dress or a pirate costume, consider buying it before heading to Orlando where it will cost at least double. They’re light to pack, so they won’t take up much space in your luggage, and it’s likely something that the child can play with later on.

The costumes you purchase at Disney World can be expensive.
The costumes you purchase at Disney World can be expensive.

6. Ponchos

The weather in Orlando is almost always quite nice, but Florida is known for its surprise downpours. It’s always a good idea to have a raincoat or poncho with you. They’re inexpensive at the local dollar store, and if you buy one that’s more than just a garbage bag, you can use it later on.

You might also want to consider packing additional ponchos to cover strollers or scooters if you have them.

7. Mobile phone/camera accessories

In our ever-connected world, it’s important to carry extra chargers and/or power packs for mobile phones. Since you’ll probably be using your phone frequently to check MyDisneyExperience and stay in touch with fellow travel companions and family back home, you’ll be using more battery than normal. There are lots of places in the parks to charge, so it won’t be a problem!

If you’re taking pictures with your phone or you brought a camera, you’ll want to make sure you have enough memory. You can remove unnecessary photos from your phone or add a memory card if your phone can take it.

All of these are light to pack but expensive to buy in the parks, so make sure you bring them with you!

8. Glow sticks

If you’ve ever been to Disney World at night, you know that the glow sticks come out in force. The carts appear as soon as the sun goes down, and the kids flock to all things that glow.

Save yourself some money and buy glow sticks at your local dollar store where they’ll cost a fraction of what they do in the parks. You can make them into necklaces and bracelets, and your kids will love waving them and wearing them during the nighttime spectaculars.

Glow toys from the parks are expensive.
Glow toys from the parks are expensive.

9. Water bottles

Staying hydrated in the Florida heat should be a top priority, but buying bottled water in the parks can cost a small fortune. Instead, purchase water bottles to bring with you.

If you’re flying, you have to leave them empty until you get through security, but you can fill them up at your gate and have water during your flight. You can even decorate the bottles with names, stickers, and other fun stuff to tell them apart and make them more fun.

Once you’re in the parks, you can get free water at all of the counter-service restaurants, or you can fill them up at water fountains. Either way, this will save you a ton of money on beverages in the parks.

Saving on your Disney World vacation: What do you make or buy before you go?