Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
One of the big questions when planning a trip to Disney World with your kids is: how much money do you spend on souvenirs for them? It’s easy for the spending to get out of hand when kids are begging for a new souvenir at every turn. And Disney doesn’t help when almost every ride ends in a gift shop! So, how do you give your kids souvenirs without busting your budget? Here are some easy ways to save money on souvenirs at Disney World without breaking your kids’ hearts.
It’s amazing how conservative kids get when they are spending their own money. A great way to curb the constant “I wants” from kids while at Disney World is to give them a set amount of money to spend on souvenirs during the trip.
One way to do this is to give each child their own gift card loaded with their money. When the card is empty, then their spending is over!
This will eliminate your children from fighting over whether one got more than the other. It will also teach them some responsibility.
Just be sure to keep an eye on the remaining balance on each card. You don’t want to be at the register and realize they don’t have enough to complete their purchase and you have to fork over the extra amount.
You can buy the gift cards either when you arrive or before you get there. Most stores like Michaels and Target carry Disney gift cards that can be used at the parks.
Envelope of Money
Another way to give each child a budget for souvenirs is to give them an envelope with money in it. (If they are younger, you may want to hold onto the envelope for them.)
The same principle applies as above: when the money’s gone, it’s gone. With either of these methods, just make sure you explain this to your child before you arrive and then again, at least once, after your arrival, so they are clear on the rules.
I have used both of these methods with my son. In fact, we use one or both methods on every Disney trip. They work wonders to save money on souvenirs at Disney World (and other places too).
Instead of constantly bugging me to buy something, he spends his time thinking about what he really wants to spend his money on. And, even at 6, he was pretty good about not asking for anything after he spent all his money.
These methods teach him to budget his money and set priorities without him even realizing that he’s learning!
Limit 1 per Person
If you don’t want to give your kids a budget, then limit them to only 1 souvenir per child. Let them pick out a special souvenir during the trip and that’s it.
The only problem with this method is that it is harder to control the amount of money that they spend. You may find yourself in a pickle if your child picks out something that costs an arm and a leg. Consider limiting the souvenirs to 1 per child with a cap on the cost.
Just be sure to explain this policy to your children before you arrive. You will probably have to remind them of it several times during the trip too.
Save Your Money
If your kids get an allowance, or somehow earn money, make them save their money to use on souvenirs during the trip.
You might also consider setting up a rewards system for them at home as a way for younger kids to earn some money before your vacation.
A plus to this method is that maybe you can get some extra chores out of them in the months leading up to your trip!
Many people plan their Disney trips months or years in advance.
If this is true for your family, have your kids request money instead of gifts from relatives for birthdays and/or Christmas prior to your trip.
In 2015, we went to Disney for my son’s birthday. He asked his grandmas and other family members for money in lieu of birthday gifts. This gave him a much larger amount to spend on souvenirs during that trip.
Buy Before You Go
When it gets dark at Disney, carts full of glowing toys come out. Kids can’t resist them! But they are expensive!
To battle against this temptation, stock up on glow sticks before you go. Each day, throw some in your park bag. When it gets dark, pull them out and give them to your kids.
This is an easy way for your kids to join in the glowing fun without spending a ton on these nighttime toys in the parks.
You can get glow sticks at Michaels, Target, and other stores for crazy cheap, especially around Halloween. I usually take a few dozen on our trips. At 12 for a dollar, if my son wants to wear 5 at a time, it’s no big deal!
Consider stocking up on other common souvenirs before you go too. You can find all sorts of Disney themed toys for pretty cheap at Michaels, Party City, Target, and other places. Many times, you can find Disney toys at your local dollar store too.
Just keep them a secret until your kids start asking for something while on the trip. Then present them with the surprises. They will never know that you bought them at home!
A cool, and free, souvenir at Disney World is character autographs. Most characters that meet guests will sign an autograph if asked.
But don’t buy the autograph books at Disney World! They are crazy expensive! Instead, either make your own or buy a generic journal before your trip.
Another cheap option for autographs is to get a spiral bound book of index cards from an office supply store. Then, when you get back home, you can take the autograph pages out and put them into a scrapbook with the photo of that character.
Another possibility is to use something unconventional for your autographs, like photo mats, hats, shirts, and pillow cases. You could also take your child’s favorite Disney storybook and have the characters sign the book.
All of these things are much cheaper than buying an autograph book in the parks.
Plus, if your child sees all of the autographs and character pictures they are getting, maybe they won’t ask for as many toys!
A Camera of Their Own
One trick to get kids to stop asking for souvenirs is to keep them occupied. If they have something other than merchandise to focus on, they will be less likely to beg.
A great way to distract your kids is to give them their own camera. There are a million things to take pictures of at Disney World.
Plus, it will be interesting to look at their pictures later to see the trip through their eyes.
Cameras are a great way to keep kids busy, and you might just foster a new hobby in the process!
Don’t forget that there ARE some free souvenirs in the parks! This is the best way ever to save money on souvenirs at Disney World!
Melissa over at Pixie Pointers has a great list of 20 free souvenirs you can get. My favorite free souvenirs are park maps, celebration buttons (get one if you are celebrating your first visit, a birthday, or other special occasion), and the Wilderness Explorer guidebook from Animal Kingdom.
Another option is to donate money (any amount) to the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund while in Animal Kingdom.
When you make a donation, they give you a pin. My son loves making these donations and wearing the pins. He usually will make a donation out of his spending money when he buys something at Animal Kingdom. This is the best because he gets the pin and the satisfaction of knowing that he is helping a good cause at the same time!
And of course, the best souvenir of all will be the wonderful memories you will make with your family!
Here are nine of the best ways to save money on souvenirs at Disney World. With these methods, you can save some cash while still having a great trip with your kids.
For more ways to save money on your Disney trip, see how to save money on food and Disney on a dime. For help planning your trip, see our step by step guide to planning your trip, advice for Disney first timers, and the best resources for Disney trip planning.