We all know that a Disney vacation can be a hefty financial commitment, but here are a few ways to cut costs when traveling with little ones.

1. Pack Enough Essential Supplies

Pack a week’s worth (or however long you’re staying) of pull-ups, wipes, Benadryl (my niece turns into a sneezing machine in Florida), whatever or have it delivered.  You can get all of these essentials at the parks and resorts, but you’ll pay a pretty penny for them.  If you’ll have a car, consider a quick trip to an off-site store to grab anything you don’t feel like packing.

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Get Park Wise: This one is from a client of mine who just finished her first trip to Walt Disney World on the mommy side.  If using the dining plan, use your refillable mug for your beverage when quick service dining at your resort.  You can then use your beverage credit to snag a bottled/packaged (i.e., savable) beverage.  Her family was able to get a few days worth of milk for their toddler this way without spending any extra cash.

2. Pack Your Own Costumes

If your pirates and princesses will want to don their rascally and royal garb at the parks (or even if you think they might), toss a costume or two in the suitcase.  I have no doubt that princess dresses at the parks will eventually hit a triple digit price tag (I’ve already seen some special editions that top $100), so packing a couple could easily save a chunk of change.  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Pirates League offer costumes with their packages, but guests are more than welcome to supply their own outfits for the makeover experiences.

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We also saved money by getting pixie dusted and pirate treasured at the Harmony Barber Shop!

3. Curb Souvenir Spending

Set a limit with older kiddos beforehand on what they can spend per day.  Can they purchase two souvenirs?  Or can they spend $50 however they choose?  This can often quell the gimmes when you get dumped into a gift shop after your favorite ride.  For little ones, set a limit for yourself.  I’ve been there.  I know how tempting it is to buy your wide-eyed two year old everything in sight, especially on that first trip, but try to give yourself a budget so you can start saving for the next one!

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Get Park Wise: Consider purchasing gift cards for older children.  Give them one for the entire trip or one per day.  When they’re empty, they’re empty.  This puts the responsibility on the child, and I’ve seen big spenders become a lot more choosy when they know there’s an end to the cash.

4. Reduce Your Tickets

Although the longer you stay, the less you pay per day for park tickets, schedule at least a day to enjoy the complimentary offerings at your resort.  A favorite for my mouseketeers is always the resort pool.  They spent an entire afternoon climbing and sliding down the monorail slides at the Disneyland Hotel and have enjoyed hours upon hours at Stormalong Bay.  Complimentary arts and crafts are occasionally offered, as well as a pool party and other activities.  Check your recreation guide for more information about your specific resort.  Bonus: If the kids are busy at the pool, they’re not asking for souvenirs! 

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5. Bring Light-Up Toys

Yes, this is kind of cheating because it may technically go with tip #3, but this has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years, so I think it deserves its own paragraph.  You know the scene.  You’ve staked out your spot for the nighttime spectacular at your favorite Disney Park.  All of the sudden, here they come.  Those carts filled to the brim with flashing lights, spinning characters and anything that would stand still long enough to attach lights or glow paint to it.  And those suckers are kid magnets.  We’ve given in once or twice, but we now throw a generous supply of glow sticks and light-up toys into our park bag.  We break them out before the carts make their seizure-inducing debut for the night, and not a “May I buy…” is heard for the duration.

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How do you save money when taking your little ones to Disneyland or Walt Disney World?