14. Printed Ride Photos
A printed ride photo costs $18.95 + tax, and a digital download of the same photo costs $14.95 + tax. If you absolutely must pay for a ride photo (which I usually wouldn’t anyway), it makes more sense to purchase the digital download. With the digital download, you can save the photo to your computer and print it yourself (likely for less than the $4 difference it would have cost you to have it printed at Disney.) And if you’re planning on purchasing multiple photos, look into Attractions+ or Memory Maker, as those packages may be a better deal for you instead of purchasing individual ride photos anyway.
DVDs and CDs are overpriced in the parks and resorts compared to other stores that sell the exact same thing. Simply put, it is a better value to purchase these items from somewhere like Amazon, rather than in the parks where you’ll be paying top dollar for them.
12. Hats and Tails
Some hats are not a waste of money at all. Baseball caps, for instance, are not a huge waste of money because you might actually wear those at home after your trip is over. A hat that I would consider to be a waste of money would be one of the character hats that you will likely only wear while in the parks. If you’re local, or an annual passholder, you might get your money’s worth for an item like this, but an average guest will only wear one of these silly hats for a couple of days out of the year. Even more of a waste of money in my opinion is the character tails. They seem uncomfortable, and something that you would definitely never wear outside of the parks.
11. Crayons/Colored Pencils/Coloring Books
All of these items can be purchased at department stores before or after your trip to the parks. They might make nice souvenirs for kids at home, however I would stick to items that you cannot find in your local Wal-Mart instead.
10. Year-specific Merchandise
Year-specific merchandise has its pros and cons. Some guests collect the year specific merchandise, others (like myself) only purchase it if the design particularly appeals to me, or if that year was extra special. In most instances though, I find year-specific merchandise to be a waste of money, simply because it changes each year and I prefer items that are not specific to a certain time.
The documents that you can find in the Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square, as well as in the American Adventure, are in my opinion, a waste of money. For one thing, you can read all of these documents (the Declaration of Independence for instance) for free on the internet, and also your local history museum probably sells something similar at a more reasonable cost.
Rocks, such as the ones found in Frontierland, Dinoland U.S.A., Fort Wilderness, and the Wilderness Lodge gift shops, are a waste of money to me. Sure, some of them are pretty, but they really have no use and just seem like more of a hassle to get home and figure out where to put them.
Purchasing alcohol in resort gift shops can be a waste of money, simply because of the inflated prices at the resorts. I would suggest either bringing alcohol with you, or just purchasing drinks out at the parks and resorts instead.
6. Glow Merchandise
Glow merchandise, such as the light up souvenirs sold during evenings in the parks, can be a waste of money, as they are generally only used on that one occasion. Even if you use a light up wand for a couple of nights, you’re still hardly seeing a good value to the potential twenty-some dollars spent on the item.
5. Chain Restaurants
This point is entirely a matter of opinion, and dining options near your hometown. Personally, I prefer to eat at restaurants that I cannot visit at home while on vacation in Disney World. Because my local mall is home to a Rainforest Café, I would not choose to spend my time or money there while vacationing at Walt Disney World.
4. Taxi Services (if you’re staying on property)
For guests staying on property, there is no need to pay for any kind of taxi services. The Magical Express bus can pick you up from the airport for free, and there is complimentary transportation for anywhere else you would need to go on Disney property.
3. Ponchos (if you’re buying them every trip)
So many Disney guests opt to purchase their ponchos at the dollar store or Wal-Mart prior to coming to the theme parks. To some extent, this makes perfect sense. At $9/poncho, it makes sense that people would want to get them ahead of time for only a fraction of that cost. In most instances however, Disney ponchos are of a much higher quality than dollar store ponchos, and they will actually last in the long run. Buying a Disney poncho during each trip at $9/poncho would be a waste of money, however buying a Disney poncho once to use for a couple of years is not a waste of money at all. Even if you’re tempted to get the cheaper, dollar store counterpart, I’d recommend purchasing a Disney poncho and reusing it trip after trip.
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2. Non-Disney Candy
Some gift shops at Walt Disney World sell candy bars that you can get virtually anywhere, such as Twix, Reeses, or M&Ms. While I do love Twix as much as the next person, I cannot justify paying for them with inflated Disney prices. These kinds of candy bars will be much cheaper outside of the parks—I would suggest either purchasing them elsewhere and bringing them into the parks with you, or purchasing something Disney-specific instead. It is easier for me to justify spending money on snacks that are specific to the parks, that I cannot easily find in stores at home.
1. Bottled Water
In my opinion, water bottles are the biggest waste of money in Walt Disney World. I cannot justify paying for multiple water bottles throughout the day, when you can easily go to any counter service restaurant and order a cup of water for free. If you don’t like the taste of Florida tap water, I’d recommend getting a filtered water bottle to bring to the parks, that you can fill up for free, so that you’re not spending $2.50/bottle for multiple water bottles throughout the day.
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