Home » 8 Easy Ways to Make Your Most Expensive Walt Disney World “Splurges” More Affordable

8 Easy Ways to Make Your Most Expensive Walt Disney World “Splurges” More Affordable

Pearl Factory

Think you need to spend big bucks on a necklace to hold the pearl you pick? Or are you trying to figure out how you won’t regret spending nearly $20 on a deluxe autograph book? Here are several options that will get you the same (or even better!) souvenirs without breaking the bank.

1. Splurge: Picking a pearl holder at the parks

Pearl FactorySave: Choose your cage before or after your trip

If you’ve been to the Mitsukoshi store in the Japan pavilion at Epcot, you’ve heard the excitement: the store’s cast members love to cheer and bang drums when a guest chooses a pearl from an oyster in a tank of water. The cost to participate in the fun is about $16 there and at other locations like the Pearl Factory at Disney Springs, but when you go to choose a setting for the pearl you found, that’s when the prices really jump. The cost of a basic silver cage necklace starts around $30, and the costs just skyrocket from there. But you can save a lot of money by heading to Etsy or eBay before or after you choose your pearl. If you search for “pearl cage” on either site, you’ll find a wide variety of options and prices. Currently, many of the necklaces that will hold your precious pearl are going for about $10 on the sites.

2. Splurge: Investing in a Disney autograph book

Autograph bookSave: Make your own and customize it the way you want

The autograph books that Disney parks sell are pricey —a deluxe one with room for photos costs up to $19.95, and even a basic one with nothing but blank pages (and no spaces for pictures) inside costs $7.95. But you can save a lot of money (and indulge your creative side!) by buying a blank book or lightweight photo album and adding your own embellishments like stickers and washi tape. 

3. Splurge: Spending big money on little pins

Save: Buy a big lot

Pin trading is still a popular pastime at the parks, but the pins are at different price points and just like Vinylmation, those costs can quickly add up. Your cost-per-pin can significantly decrease if you head to eBay and search for “Disney pin lots” (even if you don’t like the pins in your pack, you can trade them with other guests or cast members at the parks). But just make sure the bargain you find isn’t too good to be true — some of the pin lots might contain counterfeit pins. Fake Disney pins don’t have an official Disney Pin trading logo, prongs or serial numbers on their backs. (Don’t be afraid to ask eBay sellers for photos of the pins’ backs before you purchase.) More information about how to tell whether Disney pins are authentic or not is available here.

4. Splurge: Buying a special MagicBand

Save: Make a one-of-a-kind band

You can get a plain, single-color MagicBand free with a Walt Disney Resort hotel stay (or with an annual pass), or you can buy one for $12.99. But if you want to showcase your favorite character or attraction on your wrist, you’ll need to shell out at least $22.99, even if you have a resort reservation or annual pass. But there’s an easy way to add some personality to your band, and it’s a lot cheaper too. Just grab some rubbing alcohol (to clean off any oils from the band if you’ve worn it before), some rub-on stickers, Disney-design Duct Tape or nail polish. Use a razorblade to gently cut the duct tape to fit, use clear nail polish to make sure the rub-on stickers stay on or use colorful, glittery or glow-in-the-dark nail polish to make a MagicBand design that you won’t find in a store!

5. Splurge: Purchasing a Pandora charm

Pandora charm
Save: Create a floating charm

Pandora charms —those rounded, bead-like bits of silver, jewels and enamel that adorn bracelets —can cost $40 to $100 each! Disney offers its own version of cute charms that cost less than $10 each, but you can make your own charms out of an unexpected material —Shrinky Dinks Shrinkable Plastic. Find your favorite Disney clipart (maybe a picture of CInderella Castle, Minnie’s face or the house with balloons from “Up”), change the photos’ opacity to about 50 percent so the images will show up (and flip the images if they have words) print the images on the rough side of the Shrinky Dink plastic, cut out your images close to their edges, bake them in the oven according to the Shrinky Dink package instructions and once they’re cool you can add your charms to a clear glass locket.

6. Splurge: Grabbing a T-shirt at the parks

Save: Make your own fashion statement

Plenty of park-goers return from their vacations with new T-shirts in their suitcases, but you can resist the urge to buy one by creating your own before you hit the resort. And if you’re more clever than you are crafty, that’s perfectly fine. There are tons of stores online (like Zazzle, CafePress and Vistaprint) that will allow you to put in your own design and they’ll send you a printed shirt for prices that are much lower than Disney’s. The possibilities are nearly endless (you can have shirts printed that read “I’m so Frozen. You already snow,” “My Disney princess name is Taco Belle” or just a line from your favorite ride like “Dead men tell no tales”), but just be sure that your design doesn’t contain anything objectionable or you may not be able to wear your creation into the parks. 

7. Splurge: Taking a huge plush character home

Tsum Tsums
Save: Choose a few Tsum Tsums

Plush characters are a huge draw at Disney’s souvenir shops. There are lots of different styles, such as plush “baby” Mickeys and Minnies that come with their own blankets for $24.99 to massive Stitches that cost about $100. Most plush animals are around $35 each, but you can get a bunch of different characters for a much better price by looking in the stores’ Tsum Tsum sections! The smallest Tsum Tsums (shown above) cost just $5.95 each, making them one of the least expensive souvenirs in the parks, period. And their soft bellies even double as screen cleaners for your phone and other mobile devices. Disney is also coming out with new Tsums all the time (a “Jungle Book” line was just released, and there’s also a line based on “The Haunted Mansion” characters), and the 3.5-inch plushes are much easier to place in a suitcase than a 28-inch stuffed Pluto!

8. Splurge: Hitting up Disney’s Christmas shops for an ornament

Save: Create your own using a free item from the parks

Disney’s shops that celebrate the holidays year-round can be hard to resist. Even in the heat of summer, there’s something about walking through those doors and hearing cheery Christmas music that instantly makes you feel a lot cooler. You might be tempted by the huge array of ornaments that surround you to choose one (or five) for your tree at home, but at $20 (or more) a pop, that can end up being a big expense. You can still commemorate your trip by grabbing a park map. When you get home from your vacation, take some clear plastic or glass fillable ornaments, cut the map into long, thin strips, wrap each strip around a pen to curl it and place the curls in your ornament. You can also personalize the ornament even more by painting the year of your trip on the outside. 

Do you ever use other ways to save on Disney souvenirs? Let us know in the comments below!