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Don't Make These Mistakes When Going to Disney Parks

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Going to a Disney park can be a magical experience, but to make the most of your visit, you should be aware of some common mistakes that many visitors make. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Not using all available discounts - If you're a passholder in Florida or a Magic Key holder in California, you should be using your discount when buying snacks, food, merchandise and souvenirs. If you use mobile order or mobile check out on your Disneymobile app, these discounts should automatically be applied to all your purchases. Cast members at check out will be asking you if you have any applicable discounts you want to apply to your purchase. USE THEM!! Sometimes Chase (Disney Visa Card and Disney Dbit Cards) will have specials on meet and greets for characters. Always check these sites before and during your trip so you don't miss out on discounts and specials. Disney in a supporter of our military families so there are special discounts on resorts and tickets, etc for all military families and their guests. One last place you can find deep discounts without having to research them yourself is using a Disney specific travel agent like These helpful Disney experts have the experience to look for these discounts and apply them to your vacation. They will do all the work for free and rest assured, they will take care of your every need!

Staying at expensive hotels for the wrong reasons: You need to do some soul searching and deep thinking before you book that resort hotel. Don't book the most expensive suites if you'll spend most of your time at the parks. You'll just miss out on all the special perks at those premium hotels because you'll be spending most or all of your time at the park. Now, if you plan on spending sometime at your hotel, decide on which experiences are worth it to you and your family. If you want to spend 1 or 2 days at your resort pool using the water slides, make sure your hotel resort has a great pool with a waterslide. Don't book that hotel resort without researching the type of vacation you ware looking for or just opt for the cheapest or most expensive. Research!!

Buy Tickets and Don't Use Them: Remeber when your researching your Disney vacation, plan on purchasing the amount of tickets you will realistically be using for the parks. Don't buy a 7 day ticket if you're only going to 4 parks for one day each. Also don't purchase a park hopper if you're not planning on going to more than 1 park in one day. You're just wasting the $69-$89 per ticket upgrade. Also one last thing, don't waste your ticket purchases if you havent made a reservation for the day you want to go. You dont want to show up at the park and hand them your ticket without a park reservation. You will not be able to get in!! Check your Disney App if your tickets and reservations. the app should say "You're Good To Go!!"

Buying the Wrong Snacks: don't buy expensive non-disney snacks when you can get them cheaper at a grocery store, why are you buying pre-packaged popcorn or rice crispy treats when you could buy items freshly made and yes, they taste better fresh!!

Dine Exclusively at Signature Restaurants: Don't only eat at the priciest restaurants and order the most expensive items. Okay, it IS your money and your vacation, however "Quick Service" restaurants offer great food as well and so do the food festivals at EPCOT! Research those updated menus, plan your vacation around food festivals like Food and Wine, Festivals of Arts and Festival of Holidays. There are always great food experiences all over the Disney resorts.

Buy Souvenirs You Don't Want: Stop purchasing the most expensive merchandise, even if you have no interest in them!! There is a Disney Character Warehouse Outlet Store in Orlando, take advantage of it. They sell Disney Parks merchandise at deep discounted prices. Those giant Disney lollipops are delicious, but messy. No one ever finishes those things, don't bother. There are mini lollipops available or better yet, opt for a disney specific snack that is worth the $7 you'll pay for that giant lollipop. Then, there are those giant Disney balloons which always just "accidentally" fly away anyways. Not worth it...or If you do want to buy one, purchase the balloon at the beginning of your trip so it has a purpose. Yes, it can easily let you find your stroller in that sea of strollers at parking. Remember though balloons are not allowed at Animal Kingdom or Animal Kingdom resorts (unhealthy for animals) and you cant take them on the plane home unless they're deflated. Those pressed pennies, or pins are a complete waste of time and money, unless you collect them. They get lost at the bottom of your bag, they get forgotten at the end of your vacation or worse, they get lost. If you do collect them, place pins on a lanyard and check out pin trading. The key to pin trading is to buy a lot of cheaper pins and trade them for more expensive or collectible ones from any cast member in the park. Pressed Pennis have their place as well. Make sure your purchase a pressed penny holder so you can keep your collection in check and not waste money purchasing multiple ones. Theyre also easier to keep on display.

Buy Bottled Water: Yes, water is essential to have at the parks!! However there are wiser ways to drink water rather than paying the $5 for each bottle you drink. Diney offers free small cups of ice water at all quick service restaurants. Just ask the cast member for a cup oif ice water when you get up to the counter. Just don't go overboard and ask for 10 cups of water, they may cut you off. Disney parks also has bottle filler spouts at the water fountains everywhere. either bring a reusable water bottle or reuse that plastic bottle you already bought. One last thing about bottles of water, don't buy bottled water at vending machines. Buy them at merchandise stores or gift shops where you can use any applicable discounts and mobile order!!

Ignore Free Transportation: Make sure you are taking advantage of those Disney free transportation like the hotel resorts buses, the Disney Skyliner, The monorail or those Friendship boats. Not all resorts have these transportation available and not all transportation go everywhere. So check your resort hotel to see which transportation is used. Please research this before you make your hotel reservation!!

Disney Gift cards and not use the Target RED Card or Costco Membership: If you are planning to budget out your Disney vacation using Disney Gift Cards, you should be purchasing these gift cards through your Target Red card (5% discount) or your Costco membership. Costco Executive Members earn 2% rewards annually, and Citi Costco Anywhere Visa Card members earn 3% rewards on Costco Travel. Also Disney World packages from Costco may include perks like Kids Eat Free, Park Hopper tickets, resort credits, and waived resort fees. Not to mention Disney packages through Costco include complimentary parking at all Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs. Disneyland Costco packages include a voucher for Magical Extras Savings (for discounts at Downtown Disney stores and restaurants), a collectible Disney pin, and a lanyard.

Check at discounts instead of buying merchandise in the park, check first before spending full price on in park items. I'm talking about the merchandise and souvenirs you're going to bring home anyways, not the items you're going to wear at the park, like ears or hoodies. Shopdisney will usually have anywhere from 25% to 50% off merchandise online. This way, not only will you save money but you'll also have more room in your suitcase for other souvenirs to bring home!!

The Right Time and Wrong Time to buy Genie+: Believe it or not, there IS a right time and wrong time to buy Genie+. If you go at rope drop (park opening), you're probably not going to need to buy Genie+ since the lines are probably going to be short to none. The only exception is if its a REALLY SUPER BUSY DAY. If this is the case, I would buy Genie+ after your first attraction or ride. Otherwise I would buy it during your lunch break and book your first lightning lane or fastpass for right after you finish eating. Maybe don't book a fast ride for right after lunch... but that's up to you!! This would be completely up to you and how busy the park is. I would normally not buy Genie+ until after lunch since I don't encounter much crowds early in the morning, especially at Disneyland.

Avoid Research: Please Please Please Do Not Go without researching your trip or vacation without planning!! There are so many websites, like this one to help you plan and research before and during your trip. Not researching or planning may lead you to miss out on cost-saving opportunities, like free dining plans or special promotions.

Remember, these are suggestions and recommendations only. If you want to buy the balloon or the lollipop or that snack, definitely BUY IT!! This is YOUR vacation, YOU have earned your money and YOU should spend it however you want!! These are just suggestions on different ways to use your money in more mindful ways. If you're actually planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or any of the Disney parks, I would highly recommend doing thorough research to ensure you get the best value and experience for your money.

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