Last summer, my family and I made a week trip to Disney World. We went on a tight budget because it's, well, Disney, and they like to charge an arm and a leg for everything. After a lot of research through blogs and info pages online, I found that there are actually quite a few cute little budget-friendly things that you and your family can do.
Those listed below were my family and I’s favorite
Disney sells what they call “Disney Pins.” They are cute little pins with iconic characters on them or to celebrate holidays. It’s one of their lines of merchandise that are highly collectible. The best part about them, though, is that they are tradable. Almost every worker at Disney parks, or cast members, wear lanyards around their necks that have pins attached to them. If you see a pin on their lanyard that you want, you can trade them for that pin and they can’t say no.
Now like everything that Disney sells at their parks and online, they can be expensive—at least $8 per pin. What I did was go onto online resale shops, like eBay, and buy several huge lots for less than a dollar per pin. Then I went through and chose the ones I liked and wanted to keep. The rest I took with me into Disney World and traded for the ones I wanted.
What I did was wear a lanyard and carry a small cross body bag (don’t worry, you can take small bags like these on all rides). I put all the pins I wanted to trade on the lanyard and put the ones I wanted to keep in my bag. When going on faster rides, I recommend putting your lanyard with your pins on them in your bag. I cannot count the number of times that I lost pins on rides.
This is something people of all ages can enjoy. My whole family loved looking for cast members to trade with, including my dad.
Almost every tourist destination has at least one of the machines. What you do is you put a penny into the slot along with a payment amount, usually right around 50 cents, and watch as a picture is printed onto your newly flattened penny. Usually they are iconic Disney characters, rides, park landmarks, or scenes from movies. These are another highly collectable thing that Disney participates in. They even make cute little booklets to hold and display your pennies, though you can probably find a cheaper one somewhere online.
I personally collect these because they are an adorable and cheap souvenir that you can get anywhere you go.
These pressed pennies are another thing that you should carry in your bag, along with some pennies and quarters. Some machines don’t take cash. I recommended using shiny pennies for this because the image turns out clearer and nicer looking.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
This is something that Disney recently started doing, by that I mean last summer. What you do is sign up at the Firehouse by the front entrance of Magic Kingdom on Main Street. You can’t miss it—it has a huge banner in front. The cast member will explain the rules to you and get you started.
The backstory behind this event is that you are helping Merlin defeat evil around the kingdom. You use your cards to fight evil. Each one has a Disney character and their superpower you can use. You just hold it up to a special symbol that you see on the side of buildings and watch the battle take place. I thought this was fun even as an adult because you get to see the character in action. Especially if you have an all-time favorite, it is very fun. This game gets you to travel all around the park to find the stations—it tells you where to go.
Each player receives one map and pack of spell cards per day. “Missions” can last from 20 to 30 minutes or possibly longer.
I still have my cards which I have kept as a souvenir. They’re cute as they have a picture of the character on them.
What the Mission Stations Look Like
A Pirate’s Adventure—Treasures of the Seven Seas
This is another fun, free thing you can do in Disney World. This one mostly takes place in Adventureland, particularly the Pirates of the Caribbean area. Like the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, you will be going on mission, but this time they’re not for Merlin, they’re for Captain Jack Sparrow.
This activity doesn’t take quite as long because they are only five missions to complete and they only take like 20 min to complete. Each mission is to gain a “legendary treasure” and to do it, you have to fight against enemies like Barbosa, Blackbeard, and even a British captain.
When you sign up or “enlist” in the stand across the walkway from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, you get your first card for your first mission. When you complete a mission, you return to the stand and get your next mission card. When you complete all the missions, you get a special completer card, signed by Jack Sparrow himself.
I loved this activity mostly because I am a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan. I also still have these cards as souvenirs.
All of these you and your family can do and save money. They are fun and relatively easy to do. I recommend at least trying all of these things. You never truly know what you like until you try it. But most importantly, have fun!