What NOT to Buy at Disney World: 8 Things to Buy Before Your Disney Trip
One of the many things that I love about Disney world are the gift shops. I don’t crazy buying souvenirs, but I do enjoy both looking and buying.
However, while shopping can be a fun part of your Disney vacation, there are some things that you really shouldn’t buy at the parks. You’ll save money, time, and have more options if you buy them beforehand.
Of course, some of this will depend on your intent and what’s important to you.
For example, if you want a Disney rain poncho because you think it’s an awesome souvenir and you plan to wear if often, by all means buy one.
But don’t buy one out of desperation because you forgot to pack a poncho.
While I’m sure this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are 8 items that you should buy before your Disney trip:
Table of Contents
- 1 First Aid Supplies
- 2 Disney Trading Pins
- 3 Rain Ponchos and Umbrellas
- 4 Bottled Water
- 5 Sunscreen
- 6 Sweatshirts and Jackets
- 7 Glow in the Dark Toys
- 8 Autograph Books and Pens
First Aid Supplies
Each Disney park, including the water parks, has its own First Aid Center.
However, I know the last thing I would want to do if I felt a headache coming on would be to stop what we’re doing and go traipsing through the park so I can get a couple Tylenols.
Everybody’s first aid supply stash is going to be different.
For me, it’s Tylenol and an extra contact lens. (I am severely nearsighted in my left eye and would be miserable if something happened to my left contact and I had no backup.)
For someone else, it might be allergy medicine and tissues.
If you’re really prepared and your kids are little, you might want to get a pre-made First Aid Travel Kit like the one below:
Among other things, this kit contains:
- Over 100 plastic bandages of various sizes
- Moleskin squares
- Gauze dressing pads
- Antiseptic cleansing wipes
- Alcohol cleansing pads
- Insect sting relief pads
- Antibiotic ointment packs
Reviewers loved how this kit was compact and a great value that gave them a lot of “bang for the buck.”
This Amazon customer was glad their family had it on their Disney trip:
Passed TSA inspection. Passed Disney gate inspection. Used it three times my first day at Disney alone. Definitely worth the price!
Add saline for contacts and Benadryl for allergies yourself. Beyond that, perfect!
Disney Trading Pins
Actually, whether or not you buy trading pins at the park depends on your goal.
If you want one or two special, well-chosen, authentic Disney pins that you plan to keep forever and ever, then buying them at the park is an excellent idea.
However, if your goal is just for you and your kids to have fun trading with cast members, and you don’t care if you end up with Disney pins that are scrappers, then you absolutely do not want to buy your pins at the parks.
- You’ll be spending about ten times as much money per pin
- If you buy authentic Disney pins at the gift shops, only to trade them with cast members, you’ll and home with a bunch of cheap scrapper pins. That sucks, and it’s stupid.
You can buy packs of trading pins on Ebay or Amazon for about $1/pin. Just be sure that you realize these are scrapper pins, and please don’t trade them with somebody under the pretense that they are authentic pins like the ones you would buy in the park gift shops.
Rain Ponchos and Umbrellas
It is very likely that it will rain at some point during your Disney vacation, especially if you are visiting between the months of June and September.
If you don’t come prepared, and it rains (which sometimes it will do with little warning), you will have two options:
- Get completely drenched; and/or
- Spend over $30 buying ponchos for your family
We have done both of these things over the years. Then we finally got smart.
What I like about these ponchos is that they’re individually wrapped and very compact. I can easily stuff a couple in my crossbody purse before heading out to the parks. I even keep a few in my car’s glove compartment, just in case.
What to do if it Rains at Disney World
Last time I checked, a bottle of water at Disney World was over $3, which can add to a small fortune if that’s how you’re getting water every day.
And there’s no reason to buy bottled water on property.
First of all, you can go to any counter service restaurant and get a free cup of ice water.
This is good to know, but it doesn’t work well as your only source of water, because:
- It’s time-consuming
- Florida tap water tastes … weird
So ideally you want to arrive at the park with some water of your own. There are two ways to do this:
- Buy a big pack of bottled water at the grocery store
- Buy a big pack of bottled water and have it shipped to your room from Amazon
- Bring a refillable water bottle
Of course the last option is the smartest one, both because it’s cheap in the long run and it’s much more environmentally-friendly.
Here are some highly-rated water bottles that won’t cost you a fortune:
22-Ounce Summit Water Bottle
The 22-ounce Summit water bottle from Simply Modern is Amazon’s Choice in the “22 oz water bottle” category. But what’s even more impressive is that it has over 4,700 5-star reviews.
This water bottle is double-walled and vacuum insulated, so your water stays cold for hours, even in the Florida heat.
Each bottle comes with two different lids: a Stainless Steel Lid and a leak-proof flip lid.
Another plus is that it comes in 40 different colors and designs, so it’s not just some boring water bottle that looks like everybody else’s, but rather an accessory with a little style.
One Amazon customer said this water bottle was a “life-saver” during their family’s summer Disney trip:
This water bottle worked perfect in the Summer Disney heat. We would fill with ice from our Disney resort in the morning and kept the water cool all day, even after multiple refills of water using same ice. It never leaked during the trip (and used it every day for a week).
We kept it in the pouch on outside of backpack. Once I flung the backpack over my shoulder without securing the water bottle. It flew six feet in the air and landed on concrete. To our surprise it only had a small dent. Would have though dent would have been much worse. Our boys said that this was the best purchase of all the items we bought for our Disney trip.
Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle
If the idea of refilling your water bottle during the day with nasty tap water sounds disgusting, then the Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle is for you.
It has a protective cap that snaps shut when you’re not using it, as well as a flexible carrying loop, making it a good “on-the-go” bottle.
The filter claims to reduce both Chlorine and Class VI Particulates, which includes debris such as rust, dirt, sand, and sediment.
Each filter replaces about 300 standard plastic water bottles. It needs to be replaced about every two months.
Amazon reviewer Jessica says she loves this water bottle, although it’s not perfect:
I love this water bottle! Filters out any hint of chlorine taste. I purchased this specifically for a Disney trip as the bottled water there is expensive. So I view this purchase as an investment which helps with overall savings.
The only thing that could make this product better would be some type of insulation, or a double-wall. It doesn’t keep the water cold. It simply filters well.
Also, it leaks from the top when tipped or held upside down. I know you’re not supposed to tip it anyway as it’s designed to be used like a straw. However, the first several times I went to take a drink, I tipped the bottle out of habit, which caused it to leak on me. The suction on the drinking part is a bit difficult, but not super hard.
Overall I think this is a good product if you’re going to be refilling a lot. It was worth the investment up front.
CamelBak Eddy Kids BPA Free Water Bottle
If you want your kids to have their own water bottles, this is a great choice: kind of a combination of a water bottle and a sippy cup. You’ll probably end up using it a hundred times after your Disney tip is over.
The bottles come in 42 different designs, although none of them are Disney-specific. (You can get one with generic mermaids, but not one with Ariel.)
Amazon reviewer Kay14 loves how easy they are to clean:
I’ve been through tons, I mean tons of silly cups. These are my favorite.
EVERY part can go in the dish washer!! Yes!! The straw component is only 2 parts, I stick them each on a peg of the dishwasher and then place the cup and the top in there. No hand washing, minimal parts…holds plenty of water, cute designs (I have a unicorn one for my daughter) and the straw part locks when you push it down.
My kids love them, my daughter asks for her unicorn cup every day. I will be buying some more!
Buying sunscreen at Disney World is definitely better than just not using sunscreen at Disney World.
But ideally, you would pack your own. Not only will you pay less, but you’ll also have many more options available.
Like any other types of liquids and creams, remember to pack sunscreen in something like a ziploc bag in a bag so you don’t have to worry about it spilling all over your suitcase.
Oh, and it’s also a good idea to bring some sunburn treatment, because there’s always someone [in my family, they’re always of the male persuasion] who doesn’t put on enough sunscreen, or forgets to put it on their neck or something.
Other people usually recommend aloe cream for sunburn treatment, but we swear by Noxema.
Sweatshirts and Jackets
Okay, so understand here that I’m not saying “Don’t buy sweatshirts at Disney World.”
What I am saying is, “Don’t come unprepared for chilly weather and then be forced to spend a lot of money on a sweatshirt you don’t particularly want because your only other option is to freeze and be miserable.”
I’ve been on two different November Disney vacations where we were wearing jeans and jackets and were still cold. Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, it can get cold at Disney World in the winter, especially at night. Make sure you pack for that possibility.
What to Wear to Disney World in the Winter
Glow in the Dark Toys
When the sun begins to go down, cast members will magically appear all over the parks with glow in the dark toys to sell you.
And your kids will want you to buy them.
So it might be a good idea to already have some in your bag.
You can buy a bunch of simple glow sticks really cheap at the Dollar Store. Or, if you’re looking for a little more variety and glow stick with higher quality, check out the link in the yellow text box below.
I highly recommend that you bring a bunch of extra glow sticks so you can pass them around to the less fortunate (ie, children of parents who did not read this article and therefore have no glow sticks).
The Best Glow Sticks for Disney World
Autograph Books and Pens
Sure, you can buy autograph books at the parks or at your resort gift shop. In fact, that’s what we did on our first trip. And it was fine.)
But there are so many more interesting choices available when you plan ahead.
For one thing, you don’t even have to use an autograph book. Some people like to collect Disney character autographs on a tote bag, hat, or t-shirt.
I’ve seen parents rave about using this book for character autographs. The illustrations work great as a conversation piece:
I actually wish we had made some of our Disney albums, as my girls would have loved that. (My son, not so much.)
The video below shows you an easy way to make an autograph book from a notebook bought at Target:
Video — DIY Disney Autograph Books!! Simple, Cheap,& EASY!
Whatever you chose to collect character signatures, maybe sure you bring a couple pens like this one that are easy for the characters to use.
So what about you?
Is there anything you would add to this list? Do you have a favorite thing you prefer to buy at the park, even though it costs more money?
Let us know in the comments below!