Fourteen Ways to Waste Money in Disney World

Ok, waste may be a strong word.  Probably too strong.  But I think you will get the idea.

That said, there are many ways to spend “more money than necessary” at Disney World.

It can seem like you’re always scanning your MagicBand for something, but there are some ways to save money while in The World.

Here are 14 things you shouldn’t buy while in or while planning a trip to Disney World.

14. Selfie Sticks

In June 2015, Disney banned the use of selfie sticks on rides. Just a few weeks later, they said that they would ask guests not to bring them into the parks at all.

I have a couple problems with selfie sticks. First, they can obstruct the view of others and be distracting especially on rides. They can also be dangerous. Walking around with a metal stick seems like an injury waiting to happen. Finally, selfie sticks eliminate the need to be friendly with other guests in the park. I’ve met some wonderful people just by asking or being asked to snap a quick photo.

Leave your selfie-sticks at home!
Leave your selfie-sticks at home!

Since these are banned in the parks, it would be a waste of money to bring them on vacation at all since you could really only use them in the resort areas and Disney Springs.

13. Printed Ride Photos

Printed ride photos will cost you almost $20 while you can purchase a digital download for about $15. A printed photo will give you only that one photo, but a digital copy allows you to print as many, and you could print quite a few pictures for that extra $5.

If you plan to purchase a few digital downloads, consider buying the Memory Maker, which gives you access to a digital copy of all of your PhotoPass photos from your vacation.

12. Media

Everyone has a favorite Disney movie or CD, but purchasing these at Disney will mean a huge mark-up and waste of money. Instead, look at your local superstore for these items.

11. Crayons/Colored Pencils and Coloring Books

Like DVDs and CDs, these things are often much less expensive at the local discount stores, and they can be stashed in a carry-on. If the goal is to entertain your children during wait times for rides and restaurants or during downtimes in the hotel room, consider purchasing these before you leave home.

10. Year Specific Merchandise

Year specific merchandise has pros and cons. If you visit Disney during a significant year like a honeymoon, a first visit, or an anniversary, it might be worth the investment. However, year specific merchandise may literally become outdated. Instead, choose something that you can wear over and over.

9. Documents

Historical documents like those sometimes found in Liberty Square or the American Adventure can usually be found for free in a local library or at a low cost in a museum. Unless this document has a special significance to you and your family, it may not be worth the dough.

8. Rocks

Some areas in Disney including Frontierland, Dinoland, Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge sell rocks and geodes. Items like these have become very popular and can be found just about anywhere. Since it can be a pain to carry rocks around in your bag and try to get them back home, this is probably not a good thing to spend money on while on vacation.

7. Alcohol

Most gift shops or food courts in Disney Resorts sell alcohol, but you’ll pay hugely inflated prices. Instead of buying alcohol at these locations, there are a few cheaper options. If you drive to Disney, bring it with you. If you’re flying, take a taxi from your resort to visit the closest liquor store. Alternatively, you could buy drinks at the restaurants or in the park.

6. Glow Merchandise

Every night, Cast Members swarm areas close to the fireworks with glowing Mickey ears, glow sticks, and spinners. These items can cost upwards of $20 and will probably only be used for one night. Instead, consider bringing glow necklaces and bracelets from home. Your kids will still enjoy the glowing light, and you’ll enjoy saving a lot of money.

Although you can change the batteries in many of the glow items, you'll have to decide if they're really practical after your Disney vacation.
Although you can change the batteries in many of the glow items, you’ll have to decide if they’re really practical after your Disney vacation.

5. Chain Restaurants

There are a few chain restaurants including Rainforest Café and McDonalds on Disney Property. If there is one near where you live, you might not want to spend time or money visiting there. Instead, spend your food budget on food that you can’t get outside of Disney. There are plenty of unique options to choose from.

4. Taxi Services

If you’re staying on property and spending money on taxi services, you’re most definitely wasting your money. With the exception of a trip to the grocery store at the beginning of your vacation, you should never spend money on taxi services because Disney offers free transportation. Disney’s Magical Express will take you to and from the airport, and Disney Busses, monorails, and Ferries will shuttle you around the park throughout your vacation.

3. Ponchos

Anyone who knows anything about Central Florida knows that random downpours can happen almost any time of day, so it’s worth the money to buy good ponchos. Disney ponchos are high quality, but they’ll cost around $10 each. If you plan to reuse them, that’s not a bad price, but you could probably find them for much less before you leave home. Just be sure to check the quality. Ponchos at a local discount or convenience store may be little more than a garbage bag with a hood and sleeves.

2. Non-Disney candy

I love candy and sweets, but when I’m in Disney, I only buy Disney sweets. Brands like Hershey, Reese’s, and Twix will come with inflated prices, and these things can be found nearly everywhere. Instead, I like to splurge on Disney candy like Frozen rice crispy treats, themed caramel apples, and fun cupcakes.

1. Bottled Water

Bottled Water is perhaps the biggest waste of money in Disney World. If you’re spending $2.50 on bottles throughout the day, you might as well be throwing your money away. Buy one bottle or bring one from home and refill it throughout your vacation at water fountains or counter-service restaurants. If you don’t like the taste of Florida tap water, buy a bottle with a filter. We’ve also found that the water from the ice machines is actually much better tasting (after it melts) than water from the tap. We fill up our ice bucket every night, and by morning, we have water. It takes a little bit of work and dedication, but it’s so worth it.

What do you think is the biggest waste of money in Disney?