10 Biggest Wastes of Money at Disney World

SAVING & SPENDING - TRAVEL
If you’re heading to Disney World, remember to avoid these errors that can end up costing you extra.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
castle of Sleeping Beauty at Disneyland Paris

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

A trip to Disney World isn't usually a cheap vacation. You have to factor in the price of tickets, which can cost more than $100 per person, and you also have to remember the cost of things like accommodations and dining.

And once you get to any of the amusement parks under the Disney umbrella, you can find plenty of additional ways to spend more than your budget might allow.

So, if you want to keep more money in your wallet, steer clear of these money mistakes at Disney World that can lead you to waste cash.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Booking fancy hotel rooms

LogoStockimages/Adobe Walt Disney World 50 Anniversary entrance Coronado Springs Resort

There are plenty of cool hotel options when you stay on the Disney property. But before you book an expensive room, think about how much time you plan to actually stay at your hotel. 

You might want to avoid wasting money on a high-end hotel room with a view of safari animals or a wilderness wonderland only to spend little time there because you’re at the park.

Buying food and water at the park

Daniel Krasoń/Adobe Pouring water into the bottle

You may be surprised to find out that Disney resorts allow you to bring your own water when visiting the parks as long as it isn’t in a glass container. The same policy applies to any outside food.

So, ditch the expensive bottles of water or marked-up food on site and save money by bringing your own.

Pro tip: If you don’t want to pack your own food each day, check out Disney’s dining plans, which may be another good option to help you stay within your Disney budget.

Splurging on souvenirs

satur73/Adobe Disney merchandising at Disneyland Paris

Disney has plenty of merchandise to choose from, but the cost might be marked up for park visitors. Instead, check online to see if you can find similar items from Disney or other retailers at a more reasonable cost.

If you decide to take something home, remember to account for space in your luggage and the weight of the item. It may cost you more if you have to pack an extra bag to bring the item with you or if the item causes you to exceed your airline’s luggage weight limit when you fly home.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Forgetting to bring toiletries

zigres/Adobe woman closing transparent bag with travel kit

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can cost you big bucks. When you put together your packing list, remember to include everyday items so you don’t have to scramble to get them once you’re on Disney property.

Things like toothpaste or sunscreen are likely to be cheaper at home than at the resort.

Purchasing clothes at the park

Solarisys/Adobe colorful toys at Disney store indoor shopping mall

Check the weather before you leave to make sure you’re packing clothes that are appropriate for Florida at that time of year.

Orlando typically is warm, but not always, especially in the winter. Packing the right clothes can prevent you from overspending on apparel at Disney’s stores.

And if you booked a hotel with a pool, make sure your swimsuits are in the suitcase. Those can be expensive at a Disney shop.

Plunking down cash on licensed toys

de Art/Adobe a fantastic laser sword lightsaber in the hands of a man

Disney World has become the amusement park to visit for Star Wars fans who want to be immersed in a galaxy far, far away. The park does have some cool one-of-a-kind experiences, such as building your own lightsaber or droid.

However, Disney also has plenty of overpriced licensed merchandise that you can probably pick up for a cheaper cost at home.

Disney may also have merchandise for Marvel or Pixar. But again, those items may be cheaper online or at a toy store at home.

Purchasing peak-time tickets

peopleimages.com/Adobe a happy young family sitting on a bus

Sometimes, you may have a limited amount of vacation time or don’t want to take your kids out of school during the year. But if you can, book your trip during off-peak days to save money.

Ticket prices fluctuate with higher prices during peak times such as Thanksgiving break, and hotels may also have different pricing depending on when you plan to visit. 

Remember that lines may be longer during peak times, so you might not be able to get as many rides in as you can during slower days on the calendar.

Getting the PhotoPass

Savvapanf Photo ©/Adobe Parade in Disneyland with famous cartoon characters in Hong Kong

Disney’s PhotoPass program allows you to download photos taken by a Disney photographer while you meet all your favorite characters. But you have to pay a fee to download those images.

Instead, ask a Disney associate to use your phone’s camera to take pictures. Unlike the PhotoPass program, getting photos with your camera is free.

Skipping special deals

Dragana Gordic/Adobe female travel agent offers tickets

You might not have to pay full price for your visit if you know where to look. For example, Disney World sometimes has special offers on its website for specific groups, such as Disney+ subscribers or members of the military.

You might also be able to get some deals by working with a Disney travel agent to book your trip. And if you’re a member, a genius Costco hack is to book your trip through the warehouse retailer for extra deals.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Forgetting to sign up for newsletters

Kaspars Grinvalds/Adobe man viewing newsletter signup page on tablet computer

One great way to save money is to sign up for promotional emails from Disney or newsletters from Disney fan sites that can alert you to upcoming deals.

If you don’t read these, you might not know about special discounts or fresh deals when they arrive.

Bottom line

Konstantin Yolshin/Adobe Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in Disneyland

It may sound daunting, but there are some simple ways to save money on travel while still enjoying Disney World.

In addition to packing sunscreen and shorts, remember to also check your wallet to see if you’re carrying one of the best travel credit cards so you can earn extra points during your trip or use your rewards for additional savings.

Decent Rewards for Disney Fans

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Intro APR on eligible Disney vacation packages
  • No annual fee
  • Apply Now
  • Earn a $250 Statement Credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all card purchases. There are no limits to the number of Rewards Dollars you can earn.
  • 0% promo APR for 6 months on select Disney vacation packages from the date of purchase, after that a variable APR of 19.24% - 28.24%
  • 10% off select merchandise purchases at select locations and 10% off select dining locations most days at the Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort.
  • Save 10% on select purchases at DisneyStore.com
  • Member FDIC
<span class='whitespace-nowrap'>Disney<sup>®</sup></span> <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>Visa<sup>®</sup></span> Card
3.9
Apply Now

on Chase’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt