Worst Wastes of Money at Walt Disney World

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Disney vacations and forking over hard-earned cash go hand in hand.

If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, you’re probably expecting to spend on accommodations, park tickets, and dining, but what about all those extra add-ons? When you’re paying so much already, it might be tempting to tick up the price to make your stay just a little more magical.

To save you from burning more dollars than you need to, I recommend avoiding these extraneous and unworthy up-charges.

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Park Hopper

About a 20% increase in cost per ticket, this addition makes park admission even more wildly expensive, especially if you’re buying for the whole family. Where at the Disneyland Resort I would say it’s absolutely worth the extra charge because you can simply walk across the esplanade, Walt Disney World makes it much more difficult with more lengthy transportation between the four parks. Plus, knowing you have the option to switch parks tends to add stress to your stay; a one-day ticket gives you the chance to focus on the park of the day, while also saving money.

Bottled Water

“Fun” fact: most plastic bottles end up in landfills and emit chemicals that destroy our environment – but that’s an issue for another time. Spending $2.50 on a bottle of water may seem like a small charge, but it’s one you can easily avoid! Take advantage of the drinking fountains located throughout the park by bringing a reusable bottle of your own, or just get a cup of water for free from a quick service location. You’ll be hydrating without wrecking your wallet, plus you can feel good about doing something small to help the planet.

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Mini Golf and Arcades

The easy answer for this one is that these are things you can do at home, and probably for less money. For comparison, a round at Disney’s Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens and Fairways will run you about $14 (or $12 for kids), which is substantially much more than my favorite local course, which charges just $9, and $7 for kids. Arcade prices vary from game to game, but it’s always more than I’m willing to spend, since I’m used to getting a game of skee-ball for only a quarter back home. Presumably, you’re already spending hundreds for park tickets, so why add even more to your vacation total while simultaneously taking time away from that valuable park time? I’m all for having fun outside of the parks, but your resort offers pools, playgrounds, movie screenings, and more, which are all free.

Floral and Gifts

One day I aspire to have the budget to throw away money on things like this, but as for now my jaw is just going to stay on the ground as I contemplate these prices. For $100, you can have a small bouquet of flowers delivered to your resort room, or spend over $50 for a canvas tote bag filled with a few generic snacks and drinks. There’s even a $550 in-room celebration that includes a cake and a few small souvenirs, like a towel and a pair of Mickey ears. Surprising your family or special someone is always fun, but don’t rely on Disney to do so if you want to keep your credit card balance in check.

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Souvenirs You Don’t Actually Need

This is up to your own discretion. I can’t tell you that you won’t cuddle a Pluto plush every day or use a Little Mermaid mug for your coffee every morning, but I can tell you I sure wouldn’t. Be honest with yourself and stop splurging on those tempting items in the gift shops. Also, beware of the space left in your luggage, you really don’t want to get strapped with having to also buy a piece of overpriced Disney luggage to carry all your useless souvenirs home.

Would you add anything to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Kate Joseph is a writer from Beverly, Massachusetts who earned her degree in journalism from Simmons College in 2015 and currently works as a copywriter in Boston. After her first trip to Walt Disney World at age three, she famously told her mother, "I don't like this world, I want to live in Disney World." So, she did! During college, she participated in the Disney College Program working as a committed cast member at Disney's Boardwalk Resort for one incredible semester. When she's not traveling to Disney destinations, she likes listening to podcasts, playing with her dog, and enjoying the outdoors.


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