Putting Your Kids on a Budget at Disney World

There are few other places in the world with such a volume of items for sale designed to appeal to kids (or kids at heart), and even the least materialistic of children are going to want something to remember their trip by, especially when they see so many other children walking around in Mickey Mouse ears or Disney princess dresses.

You Can’t Completely Avoid The Gift Shops

Try as you might to limit your time in gift shops, it’s impossible to do so altogether. Many of the most popular attractions at Disney World route you through a gift shop as you exit, and most others have a gift shop right next door or across the way. This is true with many different types of attractions, from the high-thrills Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the tame and family friendly Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at the Magic Kingdom.

And even without stepping inside shops, much of their merchandise is visible thanks to window displays or outdoor racks. Even your Disney Resort Hotel is equipped with a gift shop.

After accepting that your kids are going to want to buy something, or many somethings, at Disney World, it’s time to decide how you want to deal with your children and money during your vacation. What do you say when they begin to ask you about buying souvenirs?

You may discover that the volume of retail opportunities makes Disney World a great place for teaching about money management. Or, you may find the prospect too overwhelming during an already packed vacation.

Only You Know Your Kids

If you do want to take the chance to teach your children about cash, one approach is to give children responsibility for their own souvenir allowance. Kids who are old enough to do the basic math involved (with a little help) can take charge of their own gift shop money from the first day of their vacation and spend it however they choose. You might debate the use of cash or a Disney gift card, and who will hold on to it do it doesn’t get lots.  It’s a great chance for kids to be able to make their own decisions, and feel like they have control over a piece of their own vacation fun.

The World Of Disney store in Disney Springs is huge. It's a great place to spend a last, partial-day of your vacation doing your souvenir shopping.
The World Of Disney store in Disney Springs is huge. It’s a great place to spend a last, partial-day of your vacation doing your souvenir shopping.

However, it may also be a bit overwhelming for children who have never managed an allowance before. Consider whether your kids are mature enough to understand the concept of a budget before you place this responsibility with them in the midst of such a cornucopia of merchandise.

Managing The Budget Yourself

If you don’t feel that Walt Disney World is an appropriate place for lessons about fiscal responsibility, or your children are too young to handle money, you can choose to keep charge of the souvenir budget yourself. This doesn’t give your children – or you – the independence of the allowance method, but it does make it much less likely that your child will blow their budget on the first item they see, and spend the rest of the vacation seeing things they like better.

A Simple Approach:  One Choice

A simpler lesson for younger kids is to let them know that you will buy them a souvenir of a certain value at the end of each day, or at the end of the vacation. This guarantees that they will not spend as impulsively as they might on their own, but still gives them the responsibility of choosing an item under budget. Hopefully, it will also relieve you of some of the burden of having to say “no” to items throughout the day since they know you will not purchase any items until the end of the day or stay at Disney World.