You have made it, you are there- the most magical place in the world- Disney World! Now that you are stepping through the gates make a plan to save money where you can so you can put your money in the places that mean the most to you! Talk over your budget with your family before leaving home so that everyone is aware of limits, and is not surprised. ( I cannot promise there will still not be some melt downs, but preparing them should help.)
Be prepared-Avoid purchasing things like film, sunscreen, sun hats, aspirin, band aids, or antacids in the park. Put together your own first aid kid with anything you might need. Markup on these items can be anywhere from 200%- 400%. Bring your own stroller if possible as well and avoid stroller fees. Pack light and stay away from locker rentals too.
Eat in your room- When looking for a room I like to make sure it has at least a small kitchen so I can keep drinks, and snacks on hand. The other reason to book a room with a kitchen is so you can eat some meals in room. Often times they include silverware, dishes, and cooking tools (sometimes right down to sugar, salt and pepper) Find a grocery store near the hotel and stock up on breakfast items, and simple easy to make dinners- Eat a good filling breakfast before heading out and plan on being back in the room for dinner- this will save you a ton of money at the park. Maybe pick one night for a really special dinner at one of the nicer restaurants.
Share meals– Most kids are so in awe of their surroundings that they will not sit and eat a full meal. I cannot tell you how many $12 – $15 meals I have purchased for them that were just nibbled at and then tossed out. So we started to buy one meal (two if their are a good amount or we are really hungry) and we share the meal. Even if we are hungry an hour later we do it again-and also get the chance to try something different. Chances are, if you buy 4 -$10 turkey legs they are going to be wasted, share and enjoy!
Limit Souvenirs- Disney merchandise can be picked up everywhere these days. There is really no need to go overboard in the park. Allow each person to choose 1 or 2 special souvenirs and then thats it. Last time we visited the kids picked out a unique pair of Mickey Ears and just one toy that they just could not live without. Maybe it is your first time and you want to choose a matching t shirt for the whole crowd, or a fun decoration for the kids room. Perhaps you would like to choose a new family ornament for the Christmas tree.
You can have fun for less if you decide ahead of time where you want your money to go- hotels/resorts, souveniers, Disney experiences, or somewhere else.