Walt Disney World is a great place! I love to spend money there. And my kids love to spend my money there. Do they ever love to spend MY money at Disney. Walt Disney World, kids, souvenirs, and money: What’s a parent to do? The kid’s souvenir budget is a real thing. You can spend your whole trip say “No, I don’t think you need that.” That isn’t a lot of fun. Or you can use one of these strategies to make the experience better for everyone. And depending on what you choose, your kids may even learn something about money and a budget. Oh My!
Set expectations BEFORE your trip
The first thing you need to do about Disney, kids, souvenirs, and money is setting the expectations of what is going to happen BEFORE you go to Walt Disney World. You need to sit down with your kids and talk to them about spending money and souvenirs for the trip. Of course, that means you have to have a plan before you talk to them. But know that this part is really important. If your kids know before you leave what they have to spend. Or what the spending plan is, it will save you a lot of heartaches, and a lot of stress.
The Disney Gift Card Option For Souvenirs and Money
This is actually my favorite choice for Disney and kids and souvenirs and money. Get Disney gift cards before you leave for your vacation. Then when you get to Disney, give your kids the gift cards and tell them “This is for you to use however you want. There is X amount of money on it, and once it is gone, then it is gone. You will have no more money to spend.” Or something to that effect. You know better than me what will work with your kids. Then it is all up to them to decide what to spend the money on.
They can spend it on snacks, or souvenirs, or whatever their heart desires.
Now I will say that if you have little ones, they will need help in figuring out what to spend their money on. You may have to say “Do you really want to spend your money on that?” Or something like “If you buy that erasure you won’t have enough for the Stitch stuffed animal you want.” Basically, guide them and teach them how to budget their money. (That is where the learning comes in).
I have two teenagers, and I give them the cards, tell them how much they have, and let them go. If they run out of money, then too bad. They will have to deal with whatever snacks I buy them (usually only 1 or 2 a day). And they know not to ask me for a souvenir, because it’s not happening. You have to stay tough. Believe me when I say there are times I really want to give in, but then why did I set up the budget, to begin with. I should have just said “I’ll buy you whatever you want” from the beginning. It’s actually fun watching them go through the process of “Do I really want this?”
One suggestion is to get a Red debit card from Target and buy your gift cards with it. You get 5% off when you buy them this way. That means that the $100 gift card was really only $95! BOOM! Free money!
One Souvenir A Day
This one works especially well with little kids. When you go to the parks, you tell them that you will buy them one thing a day. By thing, I mean souvenir type of thing. I also tell them what the maximum price for the one thing is each day.
So you might say “I’ll get you one thing a day that costs up to $20.” If your child is learning numbers, then this is a great way to help with that education. I personally never included tax in that number. It was just the number that they could see on the price tag.
This plan is great for the kid who wants something from every park they visit. That was me growing up. It didn’t have to be a big something, but something. I usually wanted it to have the name of the park. Or I wanted it to be Goofy. Yes, I had trips where I came home with four Goofy’s. One from each park (not that you could tell them apart.)
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
This is another great one if you have small children!
Before you go on your trip, make a trip to a Dollar Store, and buy some Disney items. It could be pencils, notepads, small stuffed animals.
You can also get genuine Disney park items at shopDisney.com! And most of the time you can get things on sale. Just back them away and bring them out when you need them! That is an easy way to control your souvenir budget!
BE SURE TO GET A BUBBLE GUN! Trust me, when your kids scream that they want one that is being sold in the park, you will be glad that you bought it at the Dollar Store! The ones they sell in the park are REALLY expensive, and the cheap one works just as well.
You can then decide how you give the items to your child. It may be “Mickey brought this while you were sleeping!” Or just at some point when they are needing a distraction during the day. Or when they just have to have that ugly plastic Mickey Mouse. (Sorry, but some of them are really bad.)
It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make it fun and exciting and your little ones will love it!
Do I have to tell you this won’t work on teenagers? I thought not…
The Cash Option
This is basically the same as the gift card option. Just with cash. The problem is that kids have a tendency to lose cash. For some reason that doesn’t happen (as much) with a gift card. Don’t know why that is.
You also have to deal with all the change. I hate dealing with all the change.
One last Thought
All of these options are great. When it comes to Disney, kids, souvenirs, and money, planning before you go is key. It is a good way to control your budget, and teach your kids about money and budgeting. It also is great at preventing you from coming home with a ton of stuff.
While I personally use the gift card option (my kids are older), I also always provide a “bonus” for them. I always buy everyone one t-shirt from the trip. The only stipulation is that it has to say Walt Disney World on it.
I used to buy everyone matching shirts and then we would wear them on the same day. But that got to be too much pressure to find a shirt for all of us that matched early enough on the trip to be able to wear it on any given day. To be honest, sometimes Disney t-shirts are really ugly (in my opinion) and we just had to go with the least offensive option.
I also may on occasion take pity on one of my girls if there is something that they really love, and it is more money than they either want to spend or can spend. You have to use your discretion in those situations. You know your kids. And there is NOTHING that says you have to do that. Your trip, your rules!
What do you think? Leave a comment on your ideas about kids, souvenirs, and budget! Also, sign up for The Goofy Guy Newsletter!