Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SAVING MONEY WHILE ON THE TRIP—Souvenirs and other things


April 17, 2012

I cannot think of a trip we’ve made to WDW that it hasn’t rained at least one day, so I always purchase several disposable rain ponchos at the local $1 Tree before leaving home.  As I said before they never fit back into the original bag, so I always pack Ziplocs for the ones we think we can re-use in the future.
Rain ponchos are not just for rain, they are great for water type rides and for when you suddenly discover that the temperature is dropping.  Even the lightest of poncho will help keep body heat in and keep you far warmer than doing without. At $1 tree you can get these for 2/$1 FAR cheaper than purchasing a poncho at WDW, although they are lighter weight and don’t have the Mickey icon on them of course.
I also pick up other things while I’m at $1 Tree for the trip.  Often they have cookies or other snacks in Disney shapes.   I also pick up small folding umbrellas, mending kits and glow in the dark necklaces and other glow in the dark goodies.  The need for the umbrellas, mending kits and snacks is obvious. 
The reason for the glow in the dark items are for treats for children either your own or, as we do.  Toward dark in the parks we start watching for very well behaved children.  Once we spot the children we approach their parents and ask if we may give them the items because we want to thank them for being so well behaved.  We never speak to the children without the parents’ permission.   Once we get it we tell the child that we want to thank them for being so good and give them the treat.  Since my husband looks like Santa Claus and we are generally at the park during the holiday season this makes the child feel extra special.
Many a time we’ve seen the children on the next day still wearing their prize and beaming from ear to ear.  It’s a little thing, but those smiles are worth millions to us.
If you are at $1 Tree alone and are traveling with children keep your eye open for special “souvenirs” for the kids.  I know several families that will secretly pack coloring books, stuffed animals, t-shirts and small toys with the Disney Characters that they have purchased at home on sale or from $1 tree.  Then Tinkerbell or some other favorite Disney Character (actually a spouse or older child while the other parent keeps the younger ones entertained) will mysteriously leave the gifts on beds or elsewhere for the kids to discover later.  I personally pick up adult size t-shirts and jackets on sale at home to wear in the parks rather than pay amusement park prices for such items at the park.
Also purchase your bandaids, aspirin/Tylenol, cold medicines, vitamins, Immodium, sunblock, anti itch medication and other similar over the counter meds and first aid kit items.  While you can purchase these at the parks and various resorts if needed while there they are FAR cheaper to get at home, preferably on sale with a coupon.  Plus we’ve found that if we remember to pack them there is less likelihood we will need them.  Kind of like the old saying about it only rains when you don’t take an umbrella.
When you venture to your local Wal-Mart, especially during the spring and summer look for hand held mister bottles with a battery powered fan on those.  Often these are under $5 at the local Wally World.  At Disney World the price will make you gasp and if you are down there in the hot part of the year, well that mist and fan certainly feel good.
Of course you will want to purchase some souvenirs while at the parks, but even that can be kept under control.  Many families I know purchase Disney Dollars ahead of time and designate a certain amount for each person to spend for souvenirs by giving them their amount in the Disney Dollars.  These can only be used there.  It’s a lot easier for a child to see they only have so many of those dollars to purchase things with and when they are all gone, they are gone.
Others I know limit souvenir purchasing to one certain day, that is where we fall.  We generally do our souvenir shopping on the day we got to Downtown Disney and then do all our shopping at the World of Disney store, because the annual pass gets us a discount there.  Some items, however, are park exclusive so if we see something we really like that is a park exclusive we will make an exception to that rule.  Into this category falls passholder exclusives as well. But we do stick tightly to our budget for souvenirs because if we don’t it would be VERY easy to spend way too much on all the delightful merchandise that is available everywhere.
Any items that you purchase in the park can be sent to your room for free from the store you purchase them at on any day but your departure day.  This is an absolutely wonderful service and truly a major perk of staying on site.  In the past we have even sent back to our room our backpack after we emptied it by including it in a sack with something we purchased.  The items have to be purchased by a certain time to be back to your room the same day, but that is generally not a problem.
On the backpack day we would not be needing the backpack the next day, so even though it was late in the day it didn’t matter that it might be the next afternoon before we got the pack back.
A word to the wise here.  Hands free is wonderful.  While fanny packs and back packs aren’t a true fashion accessory I’d wear either one on any day before I’d carry a purse of any sort.  Purses get lost, and yes even at the happiest place on earth things get stolen.  So keep your traveling throughout the park easy.  If you plan on eating all your meals in park, as on the dining plan, then a fanny pack for bandaids, aspirin and sunblock, nothing else to mess with.  Even the fanny pack can be a bother on certain rides when you must fasten a seat belt.  Keep traveling easy and you will enjoy your trip more.
Do you notice I keep mentioning sunblock?  You will be walking all day on asphalt, which reflects the sunshine and the sun at WDW seems to be more intense.  So slather the stuff on daily, refresh as needed.  If you are wearing shorts and/or sandals be sure and do you legs and feet.  Many a person ends up with a heat rash or sunburn on their ankles and calves when they don’t do this.
The heat rash is very itchy and uncomfortable, so try to avoid it at all costs.
Now for a very important reminder.  Camera, spare chips/sticks for storing the hundreds of photos you want to take, and BATTERIES.  Get these at home on sale and pack them with you.  Put spare batteries and memory chip in your camera case, a hip pocket or wherever  you can easily carry them no matter how good you think the batteries are in your camera.  There are so many things to take photos of the batteries will run out a lot faster than you expect  and batteries are EXPENSIVE at the World.  They sell/rent all sorts of camera equipment at the parks, but bringing it all from home is so much cheaper.
So there you have it, a lot of info on how to save money while traveling to Walt Disney World or any other vacation destination.  I’m certain I’ve probably missed a lot of helpful hints so hopefully some of you will add helpful hints to share with others while reading these posts in the comment sections.
Jan who says she hopes you have a Magical Disney trip in OK

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