11 Unexpected Expenses at Walt Disney World

You’ve made lists, gone shopping, made dining reservations, purchased discounted Disney gift cards and packed your Mickey ears. But no matter how well you plan there will always be unexpected expenses that pop up on your trip that you may not have budgeted for. So my hope is that this list of unexpected expenses on your Walt Disney World vacation will help you to be ready for anything that comes your way, making for a more enjoyable, stress free time!

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1. Tipping

Even if you have prepaid for your Disney food by purchasing a Disney Dining plan, you may not realize that tips are not included in your prepaid cost. So to prepare for this expense add up the number of table service meals included in your plan, check Disney menus for an average table service meal cost, and calculate 15%-20% of that total.

child eating Mickey waffles at Disney World character breakfast

You will also want to have small bills on hand for tipping cast members who help with bags ($1-$2 per bag), housekeeping ($3-$5 a day), or other services such as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

2. Travel Meals

Of course you’ve thought of the meals you’ll be purchasing on Disney property, but don’t forget to include a line item in your budget for meals you’ll be eating during your travel to and from your Disney vacation. You can reduce this cost by packing sandwiches and snacks for your flight or road trip.

3. Light Up Toys

selection of glow sticks at Dollar Tree

Once the sun sets you will start to see those carts full of enticing light up toys and souvenirs start rolling down Main Street. If you have little ones they will inevitably want one… and they aren’t cheap. Save money by packing glow wands, bracelets and necklaces. I buy them at the Dollar Store where they have a pretty wide selection.

4. First Aid and Medication

Inevitably someone will get a blister, develop a cough, or something else annoying while you’re away… because Murphey’s Law!

So don’t forget to pack basic meds, band-aids, and my favorite blister prevention tool… mole skin! I’d hate for a pack of band-aids to be one of my unexpected Disney World expenses!

5. Hot and Wet Weather Gear

A lot can fall under this category, but here are a few things that we have had to buy unexpectedly while in the parks.

Something to Cool You Off

About 90% of the year you can expect temperatures that will make you sweat. You might think that you’ll be fine, but when your kids are whining, you haven’t eaten lunch yet, and there is sweat dripping off your upper lip, get ready for a grown up melt down. We swear by Frogg Toggs Cooling towels and some sort of personal fan. The cooling towels are a life saver and I just purchased a few of these hands free neck fans for our upcoming trip.

You can find Disney cooling towels and misting fans for sale in the parks which will cost more than purchasing ahead of time, but either way be sure to include these in your budget!

Rain gear

If you’ve read any of my other posts about Disney prep, you know how important it is to bring ponchos! Here are some that I recommend. Another thing to consider is a towel. We once left our stroller outside during a show and returned to find that it had poured while we were inside, and It. Was. SOAKED. With nowhere dry to put our baby we were forced to buy a beach towel from one of the gift shops to dry it off. It’s one of my favorite beach towels now, but still was not something we planned on buying. So if you have room in your stroller or park bag, it’s something to consider.

Here is a link to the towels we bought for our trip to Costa Rica in the rainy season. They fold up really small and dry quickly. They are great for drying wet benches after it rains or yourself after Splash Mountain ;).

6. All the Disney Souvenirs

star wars themed Tinkerbell gifts on Disney vacation

Kids will always ask to buy things in the Disney Parks, that’s to be expected. And you’ve probably already budgeted for this Disney World expense. But one way to reduce your child’s urge to ask for every mother loving thing they see, is to pack Tinkerbell gifts! Tinkerbell gifts are just small daily treats that you can leave out with a sweet note from “Tinkerbell” wishing them a good day at the parks. You can find a ton of cheap Disney themed souvenirs at the Dollar Tree and could even order things like lanyards, autograph books, t-shirts (here’s a great deal on a 4 pack of kids tee’s), or stuffed animals ahead of time.

7. Parking

Disney's Animal Kingdom Parking entrance

Resort Parking

Once upon a time, parking at a Disney Resort was free. But you’ll now have to pay a nightly rate to park at any of the Disney owned hotels. If you’re flying in and taking Disney’s Magical Express, you won’t have to worry about this. But just so you don’t get caught off guard, if you’ll be parking a car here are the parking rates for 2020:

  • Value resorts: $15 per night
  • Moderate resorts: $20 a night
  • Deluxe resorts: $25 per night

HOWEVER, if you are renting DVC points (which you absolutely should!) your rental entitles you to free parking at your hotel. So not only are you saving up to 60% on Disney Deluxe resorts, but you’re saving $25 per night on parking. Just one of the many benefits of renting DVC points. (Read all about the rental process here then check out my preferred DVC rental company here)

Disney Parks Parking

Disney Resort guests can park for free at the parks, but if you’re staying off property, you’ll need to factor in $25 per day for parking, or the cost of an uber ride.

8. Photos

Disney photo pass photographer taking picture in front of castle in magic kingdom

Disney World has cast members scattered everywhere throughout the parks ready to take your picture and add it to a service called Memory Maker. Memory Maker allows you to download every picture taken during your trip, including ride photos. I am a huge fan of Memory Maker and the photos we get from Disney photographers are some of my favorites. Not to mention that I actually end up looking like I was on the trip too because I am actually IN some of the photos. If you are traveling with friends or family you can share the cost making it an even better deal. Just be sure to purchase Memory Maker before your trip starts because the price will jump once you’re in the parks.

The cost for Memory Maker in 2020 is $169 if you purchase it in advance and $199 if you purchase it after arriving.

9. Snacks

You could definitely avoid this cost by packing your own snacks and sticking to meals. But I feel it’s only right to warn you that one of the best parts of the Disney experience are the Disney snacks! Wether it be a Dole Whip, a Mickey Ice Cream bar, or an adorable cupcake, I would highly suggest you come prepared to buy at least a couple treats… a day.

10. Stroller

Even if your kids don’t regularly use a stroller anymore, you might find yourself wishing you had one at Disney World. Disney vacations involve A LOT of walking and at the end of a long day those little legs will be tired. I suggest planning on a stroller if you have children 6 or under. The cheapest way to do this, is by bringing your own. Most airlines will let you check a stroller for free and this way you’ll have one from the time you arrive at the airport to the time you get home.

kids in stroller at disney world eating ice cream

If you don’t want to bring a stroller through the airport, rent from someone like Kingdom Strollers. Single strollers start at $45 for 1-3 days and doubles start at $55. They also rent cribs and special needs strollers and now offer airport pickup and drop-off for strollers. See a full list of their prices here

Strollers are available to rent at Disney for $15 a day for a single and $31 a day for a double. Disney strollers cannot leave the park and require a $100 deposit.

11. Magic Bands

While Magic Bands are not a necessity, they are really convenient. They act as your room key, park ticket, FastPass, and even can be used to pay for things on Disney property. Purchasing a Magic Band will cost you anywhere from $15-$30.

Until the end of 2020, guests staying at a Disney World Resort will receive one for every guest on your reservation. HOWEVER, starting in 2021 you will need to purchase a Magic Band if you would still like to use one.

That’s all I’ve got for now but there is plenty of Disney content below to help you as you plan. And hopefully this list of unexpected Disney World expenses will help you to be as prepared as possible as you budget for your Disney trip!

More money saving tips for your Disney vacation

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Hi! My name is Kim. I’m the mom of 3 boys, the wife to 1 husband, and the driver of a 2013 Toyota Sienna. I love Jesus and my family, I have an obsession with getting a good deal, and if I had it my way I’d spend every weekend at Disney World trying a new food shaped like a Disney character.

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