As a child raised on the mantra, “Everything eventually goes on sale,” it’s hard for me to walk through the many facets of the Disney World property and not suffer a mild case of sticker shock (who am I kidding—a MAJOR case). But I’ve learned that you can be a Disney fanatic and take memorable vacations without going pale at the final cost tabulation when it’s all said and done. Planning ahead is key, and learning the various activities, foods and souvenirs that come at a lower price point is a fundamental way to ensure you maximize the fun, not the credit card. Like I’ve said before, you don’t have to sacrifice your child’s college education to take a Disney vacation! While there are many FREE things to do at Disney World I’m including ones that come with a price tag attached….but you’re in luck! The first part of my 3-part series will list five of our favorite activities, foods or souvenirs for $5 (or under!).
5. Cane-Pole Fishing
Go back to one of the simplest forms of fishing at Ol’ Man Island located in Port Orleans Riverside with traditional cane-pole fishing. For just $4 a half hour, you can “tackle” a memory that is sure to last a lifetime! While you can enjoy casting-rod fishing at Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds ($5.50 per half hour), this particular old-fashioned method is exclusive to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. This enjoyable and inexpensive Disney experience comes equipped with bait (worms and hot dogs!) and doesn’t require advanced reservations (or even a fishing license!). And these waters are well-stocked, almost guaranteeing a tug or two on your line. No, you can’t fry up your prized catch for dinner that night (strictly catch-and-release only), but you can certainly impress your friends with tales of dockside Disney delight at a bargain! Cane-pole fishing begins as early as 7am and the last pole may be rented out at 1:15pm (fishing needs to be completed by 2:15pm).
4. Pony Rides
Another steal of a deal at Disney is the Tri-Circle D Ranch pony rides for children located at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. For $5, you’ll get to snap pic after pic of your child saddled up and moseying about on one of the many lovable ponies the ranch houses. Watch the wonder and excitement on their face as they trot along riding the “happiest horses on earth!” With such a nominal fee and all the “horsin’ around” going on at the Tri-Circle D Ranch, you will be certain to make a magical memory for your little one that won’t break the bank! Ponies must be guided by a parent or guardian at all times, and rides are available from 10am-4:30pm. Child must be at least 2 years old and able to hold on by themselves; must weigh no more than 80 pounds and be no taller than 48 inches.
Everywhere you turn, you can find a special Disney souvenir that allows you to think back on the magical experience you had on your vacation while back home. Disney World press machines, located all over Disney property, give you the opportunity to collect Disney engraved images on elongated coins at an incredibly small cost! You can get pressed pennies or quarters and pay anywhere from .51 to $1.25. And at this low rate, you can purchase a handful of these, perhaps one for each member of your family! Get crafty and turn them into bracelets or earrings, make a magnet or create a framed pressed coin piece-of-art to display on your wall! For under $5, this souvenir is a cost effective way to bring home wonderful memories with delightful rustic charm.
2. Photo Booth Pictures
You can always talk about your Disney memories with friends and family over a cup of coffee, but we all know that pictures are the best way to tell a story. Found all over the theme parks and even at a resort or two, you and your party can ham it up for the camera and take home a strip of memories to display on your fridge for a small cost! Fees at Disney are always subject to change, but currently these “film strips” (or photo pages) will run you about $5. Get snappin’ and save yourself some serious “cheese.”
1. Disney World’s Iconic Treats
A trip to Disney World is not complete without a sampling of their most popular and talked about signature snacks and there is news worth celebrating—many of these delicious offerings will run you no more than just $5. Regardless of what park you find yourself in, you can grab a “five” and head to a snack cart or quick-service counter, and the memories these treats hold will make it worth every last penny. My favorites include the Dole Whip soft-serve swirl ($3.79), the Mickey Premium Bar ($3.75), Gaston’s Tavern LeFou’s Brew ($4.49), The Writer’s Shop Carrot Cake Cookie ($3.99), Norway’s School Bread ($2.69) or a Mickey pretzel ($4.29).