Okay, let’s start by stating the obvious here…Disney World is expensive!
Most of us go into our Disney trips expecting that we’re going to spend a bit more money on things in the parks than we would at home, and we accept that fact because we LOVe that Disney magic! However, there are a few things out there that are basically just rip-offs on Disney’s part, and we totally let them get away with it. In fact, we’re kind of…in a weird way…totally OK with it?! Today, we’re sharing our list of total rip-offs that Disney fans STILL love!
Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars
Oof, we’re starting out hot here with a controversial one! Listen, we love Mickey Premium Bars as much as the next guy, but we have to be honest — they’re a little overpriced in the parks. Currently, they’re $5.69 apiece before taxes. That’s a pretty pricey ice cream bar!
You know what else you can buy for $5.69? A whole box of ice cream bars at your grocery store. BUT we get it — you’re AT Disney and that ice cream JUST. TASTES. BETTER, ammiright? Outside of the parks, you can often find Mickey Premium Bars in your local grocery store. At Target, you can score a box of 6 for $7.29. To be fair, the ice cream bars sold in stores are a bit smaller than the ones sold in the parks, but you still get more bang for your buck. Ultimately, we have to admit that eating the store-bought ones doesn’t quite compare to enjoying their larger (and more magical 😉) counterpart in the parks!
We’re gonna break a few hearts here, but we have to be honest with you. Paying $69.99 for a t-shirt is just a little overkill…even in Disney World! To be fair, it’s the Spirit Jersey brand that’s expensive, most of their non-Disney shirts cost around the same amount, but still, they’re usually between $70 to $80 after tax!
If you’re looking for that specific brand of shirt, then it may be worth it for you to pay the price. However, if all you want is a Disney tee, then skip the jersey and go for a more basic design — the cheapest options for adults usually start around $20. In the end, it’s totally up to you which souvenirs you buy at Walt Disney World, but just think about how many more Disney snacks you could try with the 50ish bucks you’d save!
We totally understand the reasoning behind this — you’re in the parks, it’s a hot day, and you don’t want to get dehydrated! However, we encourage you to think twice before reaching for that $3.50+ bottle of water at the snack stand or restaurant. There are SO many other ways to stay hydrated that’ll cost you a lot less. (Or nothing at all!)
First of all, guests are allowed to bring their own food and beverages into the parks, so we typically recommend bringing your own water bottle and refilling it throughout the day at the bottle refill stations around Disney World. (We even sell some pretty awesome ones in our store!) You can also stop by select quick-service restaurants and various snack stands (most any stand with a drink machine) around the parks to pick up free cups of ice water.
If you’re using the Disney Dining Plan (when available), we try to recommend NOT wasting a snack credit on a bottle of water! There are so many exciting snacks out there to try, and most of them are a much better value on the dining plan. BUT, if it feels like the Sahara Desert in your mouth and you’re dying for a sip of cold water…buy the water. You do you — it’s YOUR money and YOUR trip. But there are much more cost-effective ways to hydrate if you’re looking to save a few bucks. Plus, you can always buy a pack from the grocery store and keep them in your hotel room, bringing some with you to the parks each day!
Of the things that landed on this list, this one almost didn’t make it. Why? Because there’s just something so special about seeing Mickey balloons on Main Street, U.S.A., and you can’t deny the joy in a child’s (or adult’s!) face when they get one! However, we HAVE to talk about the price.
These balloons range anywhere from around $14-$18 each, and that’s without tax! (Keep in mind prices go up on these periodically so ask before you purchase!) As quintessential as they are to the Disney parks, in the end, it’s just a balloon. If your kiddo gets an “allowance” to spend on souvenirs and this is eating into that, maybe encourage them to get a souvenir they can hold on to forever.
Basically, when it comes to Mickey balloons, we’re a bit peeved that they cost so much, but like we said, we’re suckers for a little Disney magic. We can’t exactly blame you if you shell out the big bucks to get one — you’re at Disney World after all! (Real talk — we still totes buy balloons more often than you’d think. BUT, we still know it’s a lot of money to blow on helium and latex!)
Let’s talk about the new kid on the block — that’s right, Disney’s nuiMOs! These little plushes are adorable, posable, and oh yeah, SUPER pricey for what you get! Each nuiMO plush is $17.99, and they’re only a few inches tall. They’re basically the Beanie Babies of Disney World RN. 😂
Plus, if you want to dress up your nuiMO in cute outfits (which is really the main appeal, right?), then you’ll need to shell out an additional $12.99 per outfit for basic outfits. If you want to get your nuiMo their own Loungefly backpack or Spirit Jersey, prepare to shell out even more! Besides looking pretty stinkin’ precious, they don’t really do much…they just pose for your pics.
If you’re looking for plushes, then you can find Wishables in the park for $9.99 each, and larger plushes usually start around $20. (And it’s less likely that you’ll lose them!) For reference, a basic Build-A-Bear costs around the same as a nuiMO ($15-20), and while their outfits are sometimes more expensive, you get a fuller experience with a Build-A-Bear, creating it from start to finish!
Okay, it’s time for a heavy-hitter! Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the most popular restaurants in Disney World, but it’s also one of the most overpriced. Currently, the meal doesn’t offer the true character experience that it used to, only a short appearance from Cinderella. However, you’ll still pay the hefty price of $62 per adult and $37 per child!
The adult price is only $13 lower than what it was pre-closure, and you used to have a full character meal with multiple princesses.
Contrast this meal with what’s currently being offered over at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. It’s a restaurant that also lost the characters, but you’ll only pay $39 for adults to dine here! Plus, you’ll get an all-you-can-eat appetizer and a big plate of shared desserts. Eating inside Cinderella Castle is still an experience that we recommend at least once. It’s the CASTLE, after all. Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a little too pricey for our liking!
Walking extra steps to get to your car after a long day at Disney doesn’t exactly sound appealing, but neither does paying $25 extra to park a few feet closer to the park entrance! Preferred parking at Disney World parks currently costs between $40 and $50 per day, depending on the season. On the other hand, regular parking costs $25 per day.
If you’re an Annual Passholder or a Disney Resort guest, you can score preferred parking at a discounted rate. However, it would be spending money unnecessarily, considering that these two groups of guests wouldn’t typically pay for theme park parking at all. Some guests choose preferred right now because the parking lot trams aren’t running, however, it may not be as helpful as you think since the parks are at limited capacity and there are fewer cars in the parking lots anyway. This is really a case of “how valuable is your time (or, in this case, steps).” If it’s worth 25ish bucks, go for it, but we’ll save that dough for an extra pretzel or two.
Hard-Ticketed Events AT Hard-Ticketed Events
You know how visiting one of Disney’s hard-ticketed events or parties can be kinda expensive? Well, imagine adding an extra $99 per person on top of that price to visit another more exclusive event! That’s the case with Cruella’s Halloween Hide-A-Way at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
These additional events are 3-hour parties-within-a-party that offer food, drinks, and a special parade viewing area. The problem here is that you’re already paying a lot to be at the Halloween or Christmas party, and spending time at these events takes away from the limited time that you can spend at the party in general. Also, for $99, you could buy a LOT of party-exclusive treats…now doesn’t that sound delicious?!
Don’t get us wrong — these events are nice. But when we’re shelling out a lot of money to be at the after-hours event, shelling out almost double to get some food, drinks, and a parade view in an already not crowded park isn’t a great use of money or time to us.
Glow Toys and Bubble Wands
The last two items on our list are a hit mainly with the smallest guests! Disney knows exactly what they’re doing — putting these carts directly in front of your children’s faces literally flashing colors and BUBBLES at them. They’re pretty enticing to little ones. BUT if you buy these in the parks or even buy them from shopDisney, you’ll be spending over $20 apiece!
The great thing about this addition to our list is that we aren’t suggesting you skip buying these, just that you’re smart about HOW you buy them! Head to Amazon before your trip and score Disney-themed bubble wands and glow toys for half the price that you’ll pay in the parks. Then, you can pack them in your bags and present them to your kids at the parks!
Bubble wands and spinners are fun for kiddos but we just don’t love the hefty price tags for such simple, often “forgotten after your trip” items. If you really wanna go cost-effective and old school — straight up bubbles still haven’t lost their appeal with kids!
There you have it, 9 rip-offs that Disney fans love. We hope you’ll forgive us for blaspheming on fan-favorites like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Mickey Premium Bars! You know we love every single thing we shared on this list, but push comes to shove — some of them are just too pricey for what they are! If you’re not super mad at us by this point, then we hope you’ll stick around for more planning advice and Disney parks news!
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Do you buy any of the things on this list? Tell us in the comments!