Other Disney World Discounts and Deals
LAST UPDATE: 3/11/15
Here you’ll find out how to get other Disney World discounts for all the “extras” that can really add up when you vacation at Walt Disney World or other Orlando destinations — items like parking, stroller rental, Internet access and lots more! Discounts are available for a lot of the “small” things at Disney World, but sometimes it can be hard to find those deals. Search no more!
We update prices whenever we become aware of changes, but prices on this page are always subject to change.
- FREE & Cheap Stuff to Do at Disney World
- Finding the Places on this Page
- Stroller Rentals in Orlando
- Disney’s PhotoPass and Memory Maker
- Drugstore Items and Groceries
- Tolls and Gas
- Phone Calls
- Internet Access
- Borrow From Your Disney Hotel Instead of Buying
- Special Occasions
- Wheelchair / ECV Rental
- Medical Needs
- Child Care / Babysitting
- Share Expenses
- Ways to Save for Your Walt Disney World Vacation
We have a whole page of fun things you can do for very little cost while at Walt Disney World, and without paying any park admission! This is very useful if you only have a partial day available (maybe the day you check in or out, for instance) and don’t want to use up a whole day on your admission ticket. Click here to read more.
Quite a few of the locations mentioned on this page are off Disney property. You’ll usually need a car to get to them. If you own an auto GPS receiver (or are considering the purchase of a GPS unit), this is a great use for it!
Best of all, there is an exclusive FREE MouseSavers Points of Interest file you can upload to your Garmin, TomTom or Magellan GPS unit, which will help you navigate to pretty much anywhere mentioned here on the site.
- Buy in Advance
- Give Your Kids a Budget
- Watch for Sales and Mark-Downs
- Annual Passholder Discounts
- Disney’s Visa Card Discounts
- Disney Vacation Club Discounts
- Birnbaum Guide Discount
- Mr. Potato Head Hints
- Lego Store Promos
- Disney Outlet Stores Close to Disney World
- Inexpensive/FREE Souvenirs
- Shipping Souvenirs Home
If you have kids, you know that they will probably be seized with a case of the “I wants” when they get to the Disney parks, because there are all kinds of neat merchandise cleverly placed at the conclusion of every ride. One solution is to take advantage of sales and bargains at DisneyStore.com or Amazon.com before your trip and put your purchases away. Then pack the goodies in your suitcase and dole them out to the kids when you get there. Click here for current DisneyStore.com discount codes and coupons.
One way to do this is to give them Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards for birthdays, Christmas, etc. before your trip. Encourage grandparents to do this, too. You can’t spend Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards anywhere but Disney, and kids will have a lot of fun picking out souvenirs from their own “money.”
A variation on this comes from MouseSavers.com reader Linda: “One thing I am doing before we go, is paying my kids half their allowance in Disney Dollars. I know there will be things they want to buy and I won’t, so this way, they are saving (forcibly) to buy the things they will want. The kids love it, and some weeks request all Disney Dollars!”
- Disney Dollars are “cash equivalents.” One Disney Dollar = one US dollar. They can be used at Disney Store locations in the US and at almost all locations in Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Cruise Line. Disney Dollars can be purchased at any US Disney theme park, or by letter from Walt Disney World Ticketing, PO Box 10140, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. You must pay in advance. Shipping is $15.00 for express delivery to domestic addresses only (no international shipping). Include shipping charges with the check and indicate what denominations you want (they come in $1, $5 and $10).
- Disney Gift Cards can be used online at DisneyStore.com, Disney Store locations in the US and participating locations at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Cruise Line (includes most shopping and dining locations). If you want to be able to use the card at Walt Disney World, be careful that you are purchasing a Disney Gift Card, not a Disney Store Gift Card, which can only be spent at Disney Stores (there are NO Disney Stores at Walt Disney World).
- Disney Gift Cards are sold at Disney Stores, Disney World and Disneyland. They are also sold online at DisneyStore.com in denominations from $25-$500 and shipping is FREE.
- Disney Gift Cards are also sold by many chain supermarkets, warehouse clubs and discount stores such as Target. Watch for special promotions on gift card purchases.
- Once you have a Disney Gift Card, if you’d like to reload money onto it by phone, call Disneyland DelivEARS at 1-800-362-4533 and press “1” to speak with a Merchandise Guest Services representative. Thanks to Linda P for info.
We have fairly frequently seen small sale racks at the Disney World resort hotel shops — look in the back of the store or ask the clerks. On a couple of occasions we’ve purchased items that were marked down as much as 50%.
Starting in 2009, we started seeing a few items on sale or marked down in the theme parks. However, we think most of the excess merchandise goes to the outlet stores.
Annual Passholders get a discount at a wide variety of merchandise locations. For all Disney-owned stores and most independent stores, the discount is 10%, but a few stores offer 15%. Check the link below for the list of discounts. And be aware that some stores not listed may offer a discount. It never hurts to ask!
- Clickhere to see the current Annual Passholder discounts on merchandise at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Visa cardholders can save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at World of Disney in Downtown Disney. It may apply at some theme park merchandise locations as well, so if you have one of Disney’s Visa cards, always ask about the discount. A $50 minimum pre-tax single transaction purchase is required to receive discount.
Present and use one of Disney’s Visa cards at time of purchase. Not valid in combination with other offers, discounts, promotions or with any previous purchase.
Discount is not valid on purchases of various items including ticket media, gift certificates, Disney Gift Cards, Disney Dollars, DVDs, sundries, many collectibles and select merchandise.
Also, see below for information about a FREE souvenir available to Disney’s Visa cardholders.
Disney Vacation Club members get 10% off at all Disney owned-and-operated merchandise locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Please note: some merchandise locations, including the China, Japan, and Morocco Pavilions at World Showcase in Epcot and most locations in Downtown Disney, are not operated by Disney and thus do not offer this discount. Certain items are always excluded, such as gift certificates, Disney Dollars, videos, food items, film, film processing, and various collectibles.
For non-Disney merchandise, DVC members can get discounts at select locations in Downtown Disney, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. The list of DVC member non-Disney merchandise discounts is extensive and the amount varies by location; the best way to check current discounts is either on the DVC member website, which offers a printable PDF, or by looking through the Membership Magic booklet, which can be obtained from the front desk or concierge at any DVC resort.
Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2015 has coupons in the back for the following Downtown Disney merchants:
- Something Silver, 15% off entire purchase. Expires 12/31/15.
- curl by Sammy Duvall, 10% off all curl merchandise (except specified items). Expires 12/31/15.
- Basin, 15% off merchandise. Expires 12/31/15.
A popular souvenir is the all-you-can-fit-in-a-box Disney-themed Mr. Potato Head toy. This toy is available at many locations at Walt Disney World. For a flat rate you get as many parts as you can manage to fit into the provided box, as long as it closes and is not bulging.
Here are some hints for getting the most for your money when buying this toy:
- If possible, buy one or more basic Mr. Potato Heads while you’re still at home. You can get one cheaply from a discount store (or even a thrift store or yard sale, if you’re really frugal). The head sold at Disney World is the same as the standard ones sold elsewhere, and it’s the bulkiest part. Since will take up a lot of room in the box, skip it and load up on the Disney-exclusive parts! You may be able to make up multiple complete sets if you buy the heads separately.
- If you do buy the head at Disney World, be sure to open up the back and fill it up with parts! This is allowed.
- Be sure to get plenty of arms at Disney World. The arms are different from the standard arms that you can get elsewhere, and they allow you to attach special Disney items like Mickey ice cream bars, video camera with Mickey ears, balloons, suitcases and autograph books.
- The display at some of the stores allows you make your own Mr. Potato Head postcards. You choose the parts on a screen and then print the postcard out to take home. There is trivia on the back of the cards, and if you fill it out and take it to a sales clerk, they’ll give you a certificate and a small prize.
The Lego Imagination Center in Downtown Disney normally participates in the Monthly Mini Model Build (usually first Tuesday of the month, starting at 5:00 pm), where kids ages 6-14 can build and take home a FREE mini model!
Click here to see upcoming events at the store, and be sure to click under the Store Calendar section to get the PDF file with the monthly calendar, which often has coupons.
You can get deals on Walt Disney World theme park merchandise at nearby Disney outlet stores:
- Disney’s Character Warehouse store, located at Orlando Premium Outlets, Vineland Avenue
- Disney’s Character Warehouse store at Orlando Premium Outlets, International Drive
- Disney Character Outlet store at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores (be sure to check out the printable coupons on the site)
The Character Warehouse stores are operated by Disney. The employees wear Disney badges and the stores sell Disney passes — plus you can pay for merchandise with Disney Gift Cards (but NOT Disney Store Gift Cards) if you wish. For Walt Disney World souvenirs such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and mugs (and sometimes more exotic stuff), the Character Warehouse outlets are worth checking out, though they don’t offer as many bargains as in the past. Sometimes you will find current merchandise that is still being sold in the parks, and it may or may not be discounted.
The Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland offers a shuttle service from selected Lake Buena Vista area hotels; check with the hotel to see if they offer this service. If the hotel does not have a shuttle available, you’ll need to use a rental car or taxi.
The Disney Character Outlet store is independently operated and the merchandise and ambiance are not very good. However, many non-Disney hotels offer free shuttles to Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores where Character Corner is located – click on the link to see the schedule.
Pressed pennies are fun to collect. Each location (and there are many throughout the parks and resorts) has a different design, and the process of “squishing” a penny is fun to watch. Cost is typically 51 cents (you supply the penny and pay .50 to press it). There are also pressed quarter machines, which of course cost you more! Guest Relations can usually provide a list of all of the locations for the pressed penny and quarter machines, along with the images available at each of the machines. Disney also sells inexpensive pressed penny/quarter books that you can use to store and display your treasures. Thanks to Sandy C and Jessica G for additional info.
Susan H of Port Neches, TX suggests this fun and inexpensive souvenir: “On our past visits to WDW we have let our kids send themselves postcards from each park. Buy your postcards off property for something like 3/$1.00 and bring along lots of stamps. A really fun way to do this would be for the child to write themselves a note about who they met that day and mail the card late in the day. Or you could get a character to autograph the card.”
Autograph book – Many children really enjoy meeting the characters and getting their autographs. For this you only need an inexpensive autograph book (or storybook – see below) and a fat pen (markers are ideal) that the character can grip easily. Autograph books can be ordered in advance of your trip from DisneyStore.com or Amazon.com.
Personalized storybook – If you will be attending a character meal, purchase a storybook featuring characters that will appear at the meal. For instance, if you will be eating breakfast at Storytellers Cafe, get a book with Chip and Dale in it. (Alternatively, get a single book with lots of characters in it, so you can use it as an autograph book throughout your trip.) Buy the book in advance and take it with you. Amazon.com carries a wide selection and generally has the best prices on current Disney storybooks and Little Golden Books. When you go to the character meal, or as you tour the parks, bring along a big pen and have the characters sign in the book. Later you can also paste photos of your child with the characters into the blank pages at the back of the book. Now you have a nice souvenir that you can actually use after the vacation (unlike the Disney autograph books), because you can talk with your kids about the characters who signed the books and look at the pictures when you read it! Thanks to Sulan D for the idea.
Reusable Mickey-head straws – These straws can be purchased for $0.59 at most counter-service locations (except at Animal Kingdom, where straws are not available because of animal-safety concerns). They’re a fun way to remember your Disney trip, though a bit of a pain to clean. Thanks to Julie D for suggestion.
FREE souvenirs are available at several Epcot locations:
- In World Showcase, kids can participate in a FREE “around the world passport” coloring project that makes a great souvenir. Collect the “passport” item (most recently a paper fan) from the pavilion of the first country you visit, and then as you visit each country, kids can look for the activities table and color in that country’s section of the passport. A Cast Member will stamp it with a country-specific stamp and write the child’s name in the country’s alphabet. Thanks to Michelle L for info.
- At various locations in Innoventions you can send your friends or family an email postcard or send yourself an email certificate showing you completed an activity.
- At the end of Mission: Space attraction, you can send free email postcards at the Postcards from Space booths in the Advanced Training Lab. Thanks to Lloyd L for info.
- At the end of the Journey into Imagination attraction, in the Kodak “What If!” Labs, you can send a video postcard and add special effects “Imagination style!” Thanks to Bill S for info.
Disney’s Visa cardholders get access to an exclusive Character Meet ‘n’ Greet with a FREE keepsake photo. Cardmember Meet ‘N’ Greet operates daily between 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm at Innoventions West at Epcot. Must present a valid Disney’s Visa card for entry and limited to 6 people per card. Operating time, days of the week, location and appearance of Characters may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to availability and location capacity. Offer includes one complimentary 5×7 keepsake photo per valid cardmember account.
If you live outside of Florida and you’re buying a lot of souvenirs (especially expensive artwork or collectibles) at Disney World, consider having them shipped home directly from the shop. Disney will not charge you the sales tax on your purchase, though you will have to pay for shipping (which costs $8.95 and up). Shipping rates are high, so you’ll need to spend at least $150 or so in one shop for this to be worthwhile.
The front desk or concierge desk of Disney resorts can ship things for you, though you’ll generally have to provide your own boxes and packing material. The business centers at the conference hotels (Coronado Springs, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, and Grand Floridian) can provide packing material and boxes, but they charge more for shipping as a general rule.
If you would like to arrange your own shipping, there are two locations that are pretty convenient to the Disney property, though you’ll need a car to reach them:
- Celebration Post Office is open from M-F 9:00 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-2:00 pm Saturday and closed Sundays and holidays. It is located at 601 Market street right in the middle of downtown Celebration. Free parking is available behind the buildings – the entrance is around the block on Sycamore. Phone number is (407) 396-7001.
- FedEx Office is open 24 hours a day on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. It’s at 12181 S. Apopka Vineland Road (SR 535), less than a mile north of the intersection of SR 535 with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just north of the intersection of SR 535 with Palm Parkway, on the east side of the street. Phone number is (407) 465-0085.
- Renting a Disney Stroller
- Great Deal on a Rental Stroller – Magic Strollers
- Bring/Buy Your Own Stroller
Disney rents strollers at $15 per day for a single, $31 per day for a double. (Yes, seriously!)
Strollers rented from Disney can only be used in the park where they were rented, which is inconvenient when you leave the parks at the end of the day with sleepy children, or you want to “park hop.” If you’re in the Magic Kingdom, for example, and want to hop to Animal Kingdom, you’ll have to turn in your stroller at the Magic Kingdom, get your kids from the gate to the bus and then when you arrive get them from the bus to the Animal Kingdom entrance, then get a new stroller. If you want to go somewhere where there aren’t any Disney strollers, like the Boardwalk or Fantasia Gardens, you’re out of luck.
If you do rent a Disney stroller, save your receipt, because if you lose your stroller (or someone walks off with it) you can get a new one by showing your receipt at the stroller center. Also, if you park hop, your receipt is good for a stroller at any park.
There is a discount for prepaid multi-day stroller rentals from Disney: $13 per day for a single, $27 per day for a double. MouseSavers.com reader Melissa W notes that when buying a multi-day rental, “the days do not have to be used consecutively. We were told that they have seen people come back the following year or years even and still use unused days. Also, most of the time you do not have to wait in the line to pay for the stroller rental, rather just in line to actually pick up the rental and have your stroller tickets date stamped.”
We personally recommend renting a stroller for your Walt Disney World or other Orlando vacation from Magic Strollers, a service from a great company we have been recommending for years, Owner’s Locker.
Magic Strollers’ rental rates are, in our view, exceptionally reasonable, and are lower than many other stroller rental companies we’ve checked out. For rentals of three days or more, their strollers are less expensive than the Disney strollers, and you get a better stroller, delivered direct to your hotel. There is no minimum rental period – you pay for only the days you need. And Magic Strollers doesn’t charge your credit card until shortly before you arrive – most other services charge you as soon as you complete the booking.
- For single City Mini strollers, Magic Strollers charges $25 for the first day and $6.50 for each additional day.
- For single City Mini GT strollers, Magic Strollers charges $35 for the first day and $7.50 for each additional day.
- For double City Mini strollers, Magic Strollers charges $40 for the first day and $7.50 for each additional day.
- For double City Mini GT strollers, Magic Strollers charges $50 for the first day and $8.50 for each additional day.
As you can see, renting from Magic Strollers can save you a lot of money — for example, compared with renting from Disney, you can save $104 on a one-week double stroller rental!
Plus, you’ll have the stroller to use during your entire vacation, not just in the theme parks! Magic Strollers delivers FREE to almost any Orlando/Lake Buena Vista/Kissimmee area resort, hotel or condo. If you’re planning to change hotels mid-trip, that’s not a problem. Magic Strollers can deliver to one resort and pick up from another.
Magic Strollers rents top-notch Baby Jogger City Mini Single and Double strollers, which are simple to fold, comfortable and easy to steer. Every stroller comes with a “parent console” (cup holder and Velcro compartments) and is delivered in a canvas travel bag to keep the stroller clean and protect it from scuffs and damage in the hotel luggage rooms. Magic Strollers completely cleans and sanitizes each stroller between rentals using Ecolab products.
Magic Strollers also has the extra-rugged City Mini GT strollers, which have great convenience features like an adjustable handlebar and a hand-operated brake, which makes parking the stroller a snap. They retain the same ease of use and smooth operation of the regular City Minis, and like the City Minis they come in a protective travel bag.
Magic Strollers is a Disney Featured Stroller Provider, which allows them to deliver your stroller and pick it up even if you are not present. Disney determined that Magic Strollers provides “[rental strollers] that maintain high guest satisfaction consistent with the Disney Standard” and a “safe, first class and timely rental service for the benefit and convenience for guests staying in Walt Disney World resort.”
Scheduling your stroller rental is super easy with Magic Strollers, and you’ll be informed every step of the way. You get a rental confirmation email when an order is placed. The confirmation email has a link that will allow you to edit your reservation or cancel it if needed. (See the Magic Strollers site for change/cancellation policies.) When the stroller is delivered to your hotel, resort or condo, you’ll get a text to your cell phone. If you’re not in your room when the stroller is delivered, just call bell services when you get in and they’ll deliver it to the room, or stop by the bell desk on your way out and pick up the stroller.
To read an unsolicited testimonial for Magic Strollers from a MouseSavers.com reader, click here.
- Reserve a stroller rental with Magic Strollers!
Bringing your own stroller will, of course, save you quite a bit of money and ensure that you have the stroller available all the time, such as when you’re going to and from your hotel. (If you will be using Disney’s transportation system, bear in mind that you will usually have to take your child out of the stroller and collapse the stroller while on buses and boats.)
Another consideration in bringing your own stroller is the hassles of getting it to Walt Disney World, particularly if you are flying. (You can “gate check” a stroller, which saves some of the work – just bring your stroller right to the gate at the airport. It will be tagged and put into the cargo hold from the gate.)
If you want to avoid the hassle of transporting a stroller on a plane, you might consider buying a cheap one upon arrival and giving it to another lucky family or a charity when you leave.
Or buy a stroller in advance and have it shipped directly to your hotel. This has the advantage of saving you money AND being less of a hassle (since you won’t have to transport it to Disney yourself). At the end of your trip, either give the stroller to someone or put it back in the shipping box and have the hotel ship it home for you. To ship it to a Disney hotel, it should be addressed as follows:
Hold for guest: (write the full name under which you made the reservation)
Check in date: (insert date)
Hotel’s name and address (which will appear on your confirmation form)
Most people who bring their own stroller recommend a cheap umbrella-style one. They are lighter, making them easier to get on and off buses, and you won’t worry as much about the possibility of the stroller being stolen. (It’s not unheard-of for strollers to go missing in the parks, so it’s a good idea to put something personal on yours. At minimum, write your last name on it using a permanent marker.)
Disney’s PhotoPass presents Walt Disney World guests with a way to capture treasured moments. Using professional digital equipment, photographers take photos of guests throughout the theme parks. Guests receive a Disney PhotoPass that links all of their vacation photos together into one online account for easy online viewing and sharing. Guests can use one PhotoPass for their entire vacation or get a new PhotoPass each time they take a photo.
MouseSavers.com readers report that the quality of PhotoPass shots is highly variable, since some of the photographers are better than others. Occasionally there is a glitch and photos are lost by the system (or the photography equipment fails). So if it is really important to get an excellent shot of a particular event or experience, be sure to take your own photos, too! Also, reader David F points out that “every photographer (and just about any other cast member) was more than willing to use our camera to take a picture after they did the PhotoPass shot. They do not seem to be restricted to only doing the PhotoPass pictures.”
Hint: when you are given PhotoPass cards (used at most locations) or tags (at the water parks), you should immediately use your cellphone camera or digital camera to take a photo of the code on the cards/tags, just in case you lose them. (Or use your mobile phone to text the code to yourself.) If you lose a PhotoPass card or tag, Disney will do its best to locate your photos based on the last time and location where you had activity in the system, but sometimes it can’t be done. Don’t take a chance on losing your vacation memories when a simple photo could have prevented it! Thanks to Margit M, who learned the hard way, for this important suggestion.
Guests are still able to view and buy their vacation photos at Disney Photo Centers throughout property, or view, share and order their photos online at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com. At DisneyPhotoPass.com, guests can also add decorative borders and other Disney-themed elements to their pictures. There is no charge for obtaining a PhotoPass or viewing or sharing your photos online. The cost of ordering prints or individual photo downloads starts at $14.95.
Be aware that your PhotoPass photos expire after 45 days, so don’t wait too long! They can be extended for an extra 15 days by paying a fee, but that’s it.
You can purchase all of your Walt Disney World PhotoPass photos on one CD for $169.95. The PhotoPass Archive Disc (aka PhotoCD) grants you a copyright release so that you can print the photos yourself. It can be purchased at three Walt Disney World locations: Camera Center at Epcot, M. Mouse Mercantile at Grand Floridian and Toontown in the Magic Kingdom. It can also be purchased at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com. If you purchase online you can crop photos, add borders and character enhancements, etc., before ordering the CD.
We received this interesting information about the CD from MouseSavers.com reader Ann F: “it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, they will all be on the CDs when you order them. I’ve ordered one CD with almost 700 photos and I’m ordering one today that has 800 photos. I’ve heard of someone ordering the CD and there were 1200 photos. They do only put 300 [photos on each] CD, so you’ll get several CDs [even if you only place one order].”
Memory Maker is a package that includes all your PhotoPass photos, attraction photos (for attractions that have photos) and dining photo print packages, for $199 (or $169 if you buy in advance). All of the photos get connected to your MyDisneyExperience account and can be downloaded at no additional charge from MyDisneyPhotopass.com for 45 days after being taken. The downloaded photos are full-quality and suitable for reproduction. You can download the original photos and also create custom versions of your photos with frames, text annotations, characters and more. Your photos come with a copyright release that allows you to do anything you want with them other than use them for commercial purposes. You can print them out, share the prints or digital files with friends and relatives, put them on Facebook or anything else you would do with your own personal photos. Memory Maker is sold at PhotoPass viewing stations and many stores throughout Walt Disney World, or in advance (see below).
You can also purchase Memory Maker after your trip for $199 and receive unlimited downloads of your photos and videos. If you wore a MagicBand during your Walt Disney World trip, attraction photos and videos will be automatically associated with your account even if you had not already purchased Memory Maker.
Participating attractions for Memory Maker include Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Test Track, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur.
Participating Character dining locations for Memory Maker include Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana (breakfast) and Tusker House (breakfast). (Starting in 2015, photos are not automatically included with Cinderella’s Royal Table and Princess Storybook Dining experiences, but they are included with Memory Maker.)
To add a PhotoPass photo, just ask one of the PhotoPass photographers to take your picture and tell them you have Memory Maker. They’ll take one or more photos and then scan your MagicBand or park ticket. If you’d like, they can also scan a PhotoPass card. This is a good idea as a backup, as it will allow you to find and attach the photos to your account if for some reason the MagicBand scan doesn’t work.
To add a ride photo, you just go to the monitors as you exit the ride and find the photo or photos that show your party, write down the ID numbers on the screen (or take a picture of the number with your phone). Go to the photo center at the end of the ride and tell one of the cast members the photo number(s) you want, and that you’d like to add it to your Memory Maker account. They’ll bring up the photo so you can verify that it’s the one you want, then ask you to tap your MagicBand or park ticket.
In general, all pictures taken of anyone in your travel party will show up in your account and can be downloaded as part of Memory Maker, as long as they are in your “Family and Friends” list in MyDisneyExperience. You don’t need to be present for the photo to be added to your account. The exception is attraction and dining photos – as of right now they need to be claimed by the person who “owns” the Memory Maker package. With dining, you will need to be present at the meal to claim the photos. With attractions, you don’t actually need to ride the attraction, but at some point in the next 24 hours you will need to go by the attraction to claim the photo. It’s OK if the attraction photo isn’t of you; as long as it’s a photo of someone in your party you can add it to Memory Maker. It’s a good idea to tell everyone you’re traveling with to write down (or take a picture) of the photo numbers for any ride photos they want, and then tell you so you can go by the attraction and claim them.
- Click here to save $30 when you pre-order your Walt Disney World Memory Maker Package! The discounted pre-order price is $169 instead of $199. Note that you cannot activate a pre-order Memory Maker package for 3 days after ordering, so if you are going to arrive within 3 days and want Memory Maker, you may want to buy it in person when you arrive.
While you can pick up a few odds and ends (milk, juice, bread, bandaids) at the shops in any of the Disney resorts and many off-site hotels, the prices will be very high and the selection limited. Here are a few places you can go for your basic necessities that are very near Disney World and Downtown Disney. In most cases you will need a rental car or a taxi to reach these stores.
Disney has several on-property Hess stations, including one right across the street from Downtown Disney and one across the street from Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Many MouseSavers.com readers have written me to say that the Hess stations have reasonable prices on soft drinks, beer and bottled water. They also carry a variety of pre-made food items, including pizzas and subs. If that’s all you need, you might just want to grab your items at Hess and skip the supermarket. If you need any other groceries, Hess isn’t a great bet: readers report that selection is very limited and some prices (i.e., for a half-gallon of milk) were actually higher than the prices in the Disney hotel shops.
Publix has an excellent selection, including a whole section of British foods and a very appealing deli area (the sandwiches look excellent). You don’t need a shopper’s card to get discounts here, which is nice for non-locals. It’s easily reachable from both Downtown Disney and the southern end of International Drive, but the location is a bit obscure. The address is 8145 Vineland Avenue and the phone number is (407) 238-9924.
- To get to Publix from Downtown Disney, take Hotel Plaza Blvd to Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535) and turn right (south). Go about 1/2 mile to Vineland and turn left. Drive about 3 miles up Vineland Avenue and the store is on the left.
- To get to Publix from International Drive S., simply go north or south (depending on your location on I-Drive S. – you’ll have to consult a map) to Vineland Avenue, which connects with I-Drive S. You can only turn one way (west) onto Vineland Avenue. The store is less than a mile down Vineland Avenue, on the right.
This store has exactly one thing going for it: it’s extremely convenient to the Downtown Disney hotels. You can actually walk to it if staying in one of those hotels. While Goodings used to be a “gourmet” market, it has really gone downhill in recent years and now offers a very poor selection (perhaps slightly better than a convenience store) and high prices. It’s located at the intersection of Hotel Plaza Blvd and Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535). You can’t miss it — Hotel Plaza Blvd dead-ends into the Crossroads Shopping Center where the supermarket is located.
In addition to the usual pharmacy items, Walgreens stores have a huge selection of general merchandise (including picnic supplies, cold drinks, cheap flip-flops, etc) at normal prices. There are two very close to the Downtown Disney area:
- 12100 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), about two lights north of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd, on the west side of the street. Phone number is (407) 238-0400. This store also has a “Take Care Clinic” with basic urgent care facilities.
- 13502 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), a few blocks south of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just past the intersection with I-4, on the west side of the street. Phone number is (407) 827-1000.
Turner Drug will deliver to area hotels for a small fee. If you’ve forgotten a prescription or other standard pharmacy item, call them at (407) 828-8125 to arrange delivery. They do not accept insurance. Some health insurance companies may reimburse you later if you send in your receipt.
Winn-Dixie has a good selection including a deli, in-store bakery, pharmacy, and 1-hour photo services — all at non-resort prices. You may want to get a free Winn-Dixie Customer Rewards Card in order to take advantage of the many special prices that are only available to card holders. You can fill out the application online (under “Reward Card Enrollment”) and receive the card in the mail, or fill out an application at the store and get the card right then.
The closest Winn-Dixie to Walt Disney World is located at 11957 S. Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), about 3 lights north of the intersection with Hotel Plaza Blvd and just north of the intersection with Lake Avenue, on the east side of the street.
MouseSavers.com reader Dianne C has this excellent suggestion: “I obtained a Winn-Dixie shopping card, as recommended on your website. I found out before leaving that Winn-Dixie posts their new weekly ad every Thursday through the following Wednesday at www.winn-dixie.com. I was able to plan meals based on their sales and could then figure out what items to bring from home. (If a recipe calls for 3 or 4 spices, I measure out the amounts and put them in a small snack size zip-lock bag.) It was truly a HUGE money and time saver.”
There are two major highways you can use to get from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World. Both are tollways.
The easiest and best route is to use Greeneway (SR 417). This road is uncrowded and makes a straight shot to Walt Disney World. Depending on where you exit, the tolls will total about $3 to $4 each way.
Hint: When we are driving from the airport, we usually exit Greeneway (SR 417) at World Center Drive (SR 536). Getting to that exit costs $3.00 in tolls. Exiting here puts you directly on World Center Drive, a major (non-toll) highway that goes straight into Disney’s parks and resorts. Also, just after you exit at World Center Drive (SR 536), you have the option of making a right turn on Apopka/Vineland Road (SR 535), which takes you to the Downtown Disney area. Be sure to consult a map, though — if you’re staying on the far side of Walt Disney World (i.e. near the Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom), it may save you time to stay on Greeneway (SR 417) and pay more in tolls.
If you really want to cheap out, use Beeline Expressway (SR 528) and connect to I-4 South. You will pay less in tolls. However, this route often puts you in traffic jams and it is not as direct.
Disney has several on-property Hess stations with low gas prices. In fact, the Hess prices are usually the lowest in the Orlando area. There’s no need to drive way off property to get gas.
We have always used one of the Disney area Hess stations to gas up our rental car before heading back to the airport and we have never been charged for additional gas by the rental agency — the gas gauge is always still on “F”. So remember to gas up before you get on the highway back to the airport!
On your way to the airport, a good place to gas up your car is the Hess station located immediately before you get on Greeneway (SR 417) from World Center Drive (SR 536). The actual street address is 7900 World Center Drive and it is just west of International Drive (note that Google Maps does not display the location correctly). The gas prices here are usually the best in the area and it’s much cheaper and more convenient than buying gas close to the airport.
If you want to gas up closer to the airport, exit Greeneway (SR 417) at Landstar Blvd, which is the last exit before the airport exit, and turn left. There is a 7-11 about a block up on the right, with normal gas prices. Note that you will have to pay a cash ramp toll at this exit, so have some quarters with you.
The nearest gas station to the airport (“Landing Strip” aka “Suncoast Energy” on Semoran Boulevard, just north of the airport) is a complete rip-off. This station habitually charges nearly TWICE the normal price for gas and does not have signs to let people know the prices before they pull in. You won’t realize you’re paying a ridiculous price unless you look closely at the pump!
Parking at the theme parks is $17 per day ($18 for campers or trailers), tax included. If you will be leaving the parking lot and returning on the same day, or even parking at another theme park on the same day, be sure to save your receipt. You won’t have to pay again, because only have to pay the fee once per day. MouseSavers.com reader Adam S notes that it’s often fastest to “pay with your credit card at the parking booths. Disney’s credit card system at the parking booths is lightning fast and I’ve always got my receipt faster than any attendant can make change for cash.”
- Parking at the theme parks is FREE for Disney World Annual and Premium Annual Passholders. (However, the Florida Resident Seasonal Pass and Florida Resident Weekday Select Pass do not include free parking.)
- Parking at the theme parks is FREE for those staying in Disney’s resort hotels and the Swan & Dolphin (but not the Downtown Disney hotels or Shades of Green).
- Parking at the theme parks is FREE for Tables in Wonderland cardholders when dining in the park. If you arrive after 5:00 pm just show your card and they’ll wave you in. If you arrive before 5:00 pm, you will need to pay at the parking plaza when entering, then stop at Guest Relations in the park on your way out to get reimbursed. You will need to show your parking receipt and dining receipt with the Tables in Wonderland discount on it.
Valet parking at Disney Deluxe resorts is $21.30 per day, tax included, plus tip ($2-3 or so is pretty normal). If you decide to use valet parking, be sure you are issued a hangtag or receipt. It will allow you to valet park at any Disney resort at no additional charge (except tips) for the rest of that day.
The following guests get FREE valet parking at the Disney Deluxe resorts (but still should tip):
- Tables in Wonderland cardholders, when dining at the resort where they are valet parking. (To get the FREE valet parking, show the dining receipt with the Tables in Wonderland discount when you hand in your valet claim ticket to the cashier.)
- Guests with a license plate or hangtag indicating they qualify for handicapped parking.
Self-parking at the Disney resort hotels remains free of charge, and it is free to drop off your luggage at the front entrance of the hotel and then proceed to self-parking. If you are not staying at the hotel and are visiting during a very busy period, you may be given a three-hour parking pass, and/or you may be asked for evidence that you have a dining reservation there (they can look up your reservation by name).
Note: There are, as of now, no AAA/CAA discounts available for 2015 resort stays at Walt Disney World. We have been told there will no longer be Diamond Lot Parking (see below), but we awaiting confirmation.
If you buy a Walt Disney World vacation package (or sometimes even just Hopper passes) through AAA, you will receive a “Diamond Lot Parking Certificate,” which does not give you free parking, but does give you close-up parking at the major parks. Note that if you arrive near opening time, the regular parking spaces are often closer than the AAA spaces. Also, the trams don’t run to the AAA areas of the parking lots, since they are considered to be within walking distance. Some blackout dates (major holidays) may apply to the AAA certificates.
Long Distance from Hotels
Believe me, you don’t want to direct-dial any long-distance calls from a hotel. You will pay through the nose! Virtually all hotels add huge surcharges to long-distance calls. It’s a big profit center for them. The law requires that phone charges be prominently posted — there should be a rate card next to the phone in your hotel room. Be sure to study it carefully, because hotel policies and charges vary widely.
The most obvious way to avoid the long-distance surcharges at most hotels is to use a mobile phone if you have free roaming and long distance.
Another option is to use a phone card, because phone cards provide long-distance access through a toll-free number and most hotels don’t charge for toll-free number calls.
- There are prepaid phone cards that offer very low per-minute rates. The prepaid phone cards offered by warehouse clubs such as Costco are often a great deal.
- Long distance companies offer phone cards that are billed to your account. If you use a discount long distance carrier, the phone card rates are usually very reasonable and they just put the calls on your phone bill. However, most of the big-name long distance companies (AT&T, Sprint, MCI) charge a significant premium on phone card calls, including a “connect” fee.
Disney Theme Parks
All four theme parks now offer FREE wi-fi (wireless Internet access) in the parks. The network is called Disney-Guest.
The Disney hotels now have FREE wi-fi (wireless Internet access) in the guest rooms, plus various public areas, such as the lobby, bus stops and main pool deck. The wired (Ethernet) access in the hotels has been discontinued.
The Ft. Wilderness Campground does not have wi-fi and it’s unknown if wi-fi is planned there: in the meantime, wired access is still available at the Campground and it is now FREE.
Most other hotels near Walt Disney World do offer high-speed Internet access in their guest rooms. Typically the fee is around $10 per night, but this varies widely. Because the type of access and the cost (if any) is constantly evolving, it’s best to call the hotel you are considering to get the current details.
Disney’s resorts that have conference centers (Beach Club, Contemporary, Coronado Springs, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club) have public Internet access available. It is expensive — roughly $10 for 15 minutes. Limited hours — ask at the front desk.
Most other hotels have a business center or a few public computers for printing boarding passes or checking email. Some of them may involve a fee; check with the hotel to be sure.
If you are staying at one of Disney’s Walt Disney World resort hotels, you can request the following items from the front desk (note that certain resorts will already have some of these items in the room):
- high chair
- baby crib
- bed rails
- European electric adapters
- hair dryer
- iron & ironing board
- wheelchair (keep for length of stay – saves you from having to rent at the parks)
- assistive listening devices
- sharps (hypodermic needle) disposal containers
Thanks to Binnie B, Grace, Lisa M, Dwayne O and Rachel D for the info.
Don’t be shy about mentioning special occasions — honeymoon, birthday, anniversary — to the reservations agent, front desk, waiters and other Cast Members. There is no guarantee that you’ll get a special treat, but it does happen. When MouseSavers.com founder Mary Waring stayed at the Wilderness Lodge on her honeymoon, they received a bottle of champagne in their room after they mentioned the occasion to the desk clerk. They have also been given free dessert at Disney World restaurants on at least four occasions, after mentioning a birthday or anniversary.
- Birthday Buttons
- Special Occasion Cakes
- Special Surprises: Flowers, Room Decorations and More
- Honeymoon and Anniversary Buttons
- Custom Parties
- More Romantic Ideas
MouseSavers.com reader LeCarla R points out that on your birthday, you can go to “Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom and tell them it’s your birthday …. you get a special pin to wear, and you get a ‘phone call’ from a character (my daughter ‘talked’ to Goofy). When we went to the Crystal Palace to eat, the waitress noticed her pin and brought her a birthday card signed by all the ‘Pooh’ characters and they brought her a special birthday cupcake, complete with candle! Later, a Cast Member noticed her pin and offered her a pin from his lanyard, and told her he usually traded, but that was her birthday present! With the birthday pin, lots of other ‘magical’ events can happen!”
The reader above mentioned her daughter was given a “pin.” It’s really more of a large round badge-style button with the birthday celebrant’s name written on it with a marker.
If your child gets autographs from characters while wearing their birthday button, the characters will sometimes write a happy birthday message. (This doesn’t always happen, so it’s best not to tell children about it in advance; let it be a surprise if it does.)
Prices listed below are subject to change at any time.
You can order special cakes for delivery to your resort room or to be served after your meal at a Walt Disney World restaurant.
- Small decorated cakes (6″-8″, serves 4-8 people) in chocolate or vanilla can be delivered to your room at any of the Disney Deluxe Resorts. The cost starts at $25 plus tax. The Grand Floridian offers more elaborate cakes at higher prices. Simply call In-Room Dining (room service) from your room phone after arrival.
- Small non-personalized decorated cakes (6″, serves 4-6 people) can be arranged on arrival at all Disney World resort table-service restaurants. Simply ask when you check in at the podium. The cost is $25 plus tax.
- Personalized decorated cakes can be preordered to be served after your meal at most Disney World resort table-service restaurants. The cost is $25 plus tax for a 6″ cake (serves 4-6), $40 plus tax for an 8″ cake (serves about 8-10) or $45 plus tax for a 10″ cake (serves about 12-16). Call (407) 827-2253 to make arrangements at least 48 hours in advance, though a week is even better.
- For those with food allergies/restrictions, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (which offers vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, sugar-free, egg-free, casein-free and Kosher items) can deliver a 6-inch cake that serves 8-10 people or a 9-inch cake that serves 16-20 to Walt Disney World restaurants or resorts. There are a variety of frosting and cake flavor combinations available, and they can put a name on the cake and simple decorations. As of March 2015, the 6-inch cake is $45 and the 9-inch is $80, which will be added to your bill at the restaurant. Delivery to a Walt Disney World restaurant is FREE. For delivery to a Walt Disney World restaurant, first book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). Then call the bakery at (407) 938-9044 at least 7 days in advance and provide the ADR confirmation number, date and reservation time.
Hint: if you will have access to a car, order and pick up a decorated cake from Publix supermarket. The quality is excellent and the prices are much better than Disney’s. They even have some Disney cake designs.
If you want to have flowers, gift baskets or even a decorated Christmas tree sent to your Disney resort room, the “official” florist is Walt Disney World Florist. They can do special romance baskets, sprinkle your bed with rose petals, leave a surprise Mickey on the bed for your child — you name it! Their quality is excellent but the prices are high. (For instance, the Disney World Christmas trees, delivered directly to your resort room, cost in the hundreds of dollars for a decorated 3 1/2 to 4-foot tree.) Visit their website or call (407) 827-3505 for more information.
Town Hall and some Guest Services desks may have badge-style buttons for those celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon. If you’re celebrating something special, it’s worth popping by and mentioning it. When you’re wearing a button you may find you’ll receive extra attention from at least some Cast Members.
For those with really, really deep pockets, the party-planning experts on the Walt Disney World Resort Sales team can turn one spark of imagination into a fully-themed creative bash with detailed décor and entertainment. Expect to pay many thousands of dollars for these over-the-top events. A “Villain” party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios might feature a crypt entrance, an eerie Tower of Terror bellhop host and gifts sent by favorite Disney villains. An “Under the Sea” party might include appearances by characters from Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid,” a band playing Disney songs and a “bubble cave” party space lit in deep-water blue with ocean sound effects. Call (321) 939-7129 for more information.
Want more romantic ideas for a Disney World vacation? Click here for ideas on great places to propose, romantic places to eat and fun things for couples to do.
Most of Walt Disney World is in Orange County, where the sales tax rate is 6.5% and the hotel tax rate works out to 12.5% (6.5% sales tax + 6% resort tax).
Disney’s All Star Resorts are in Osceola County, where the sales tax rate is 7% and the resort tax is 6%, so the hotel tax rate at those three hotels is 13%.
Regular (unpowered) wheelchairs can be rented at each theme park for $12 per day. Disney offers a discount for multi-day wheelchair rentals (works out to $10/day). You can’t take the wheelchair out of the park — so if you spend the first half of your day at the Magic Kingdom and then want to go over to Epcot, you’ll have to turn in the wheelchair at the first park and get a new one at the second park when you arrive. However, you only pay the rental fee once per day — if you show your receipt at the second park, you will not have to pay a second time. It’s often cheaper and more convenient to bring your own collapsible wheelchair along.
If you need to use an “electric convenience vehicle” (ECV) — also known to some as a “scooter” — to get around Walt Disney World, be aware that the rental is quite expensive ($50 per day plus $20 deposit) and you can’t take the vehicle out of the park — so if you spend the first half of your day at the Magic Kingdom and then want to go over to Epcot, you’ll have to turn in the ECV at the first park and try to get a new ECV at the second park when you arrive. However, you only pay the rental fee once per day — if you show your receipt at the second park, you will not have to pay a second time. That assumes there is an ECV available at the second park when you arrive, however — they can be in short supply.
In general it’s a better deal to rent an ECV from an outside firm. Not only is it less expensive, it also guarantees that you’ll have the ECV available all the time, and you won’t have to keep switching vehicles as you move from park to park. For more great info for those with disabilities who are planning a trip to Disneyland, including suppliers of rental ECVs, we recommend Teri’s Disney Travelers’ Disability FAQ.
If you have a life-threatening medical emergency while at Walt Disney World, of course you should call 911. But what if you have a kid with an ear infection, or something like that?
If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can contact the front desk and they will help you make arrangements to visit an urgent care center or have a doctor make a “house call” to your hotel room. Be aware that this will probably be costly and may not be covered by your insurance.
- CentraCare at 12500 South Apopka Vineland Road (SR 535). (Not far from Crossroads Shopping Center, between Hotel Plaza Blvd and Palm Parkway.) Call 407-934-CARE (2273) for hours. They have a shuttle that can pick guests up from local hotels.
- Buena Vista Urgent Care at 8216 World Center Drive, Suite D. (Across the street from Caribe Royale and Buena Vista Suites.) Call (407) 465-1110 for hours.
- MouseSavers.com reader Crystal W writes, “During our fabulous trip to WDW last May, our daughter developed a high fever. Our concierge directed us to the CentraCare, but they were packed. The wait would have been hours. Luckily, I was able to find a Walgreens with a Take Care Clinic on Vineland-Apopka Road. They had us in and out, complete with filled prescriptions, in less than 45 minutes! They also accepted our insurance. It was truly a God-send, and my little girl felt well enough to go see Mickey that very afternoon.”
- CentraCare Physician Room Service, (407) 238-2000
- The Medical Concierge, (407) 648-5252
- Resort Physicians, (407) 465-0000
We have not used any of these services so we can’t vouch for their quality.
If you need something from a pharmacy (forgotten prescription, etc.) see above.
Prices listed below are subject to change at any time.
Disney Child Care
Disney’s child care locations accept potty-trained children ages 3-12 and are open 4:30 pm to midnight. Cost is $15.00/hour with a 2-hour minimum. Includes food, supervised activities. To reserve, call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) at least 24 hours in advance.
Disney Child Care locations are: Simba’s Cubhouse at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sandcastle Club at Beach Club Resort, Club Disney at Polynesian Resort and Cub’s Den at Wilderness Lodge.
- Disney Vacation Club members receive a 15% discount at Children’s Activity Centers.
- Magic Your Way vacation packages include a coupon for 15% off the regular hourly rates at the Children’s Activity Centers.
- Unlimited childcare at the Children’s Activity Centers is included without additional charge when you purchase a Magic Your Way Premium or Platinum vacation package.
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels’ Camp Dolphin
Camp Dolphin accepts potty-trained children ages 4-12 and is open 5:30 pm to midnight. Includes your child’s meal, supervised activities and a supervised trip to the game room. Regular price is $10.00/hour. Call (407) 934-4241, or drop by the day before (but it fills up fast!). Click here for more details.
- Get two hours FREE with a receipt from certain Swan and Dolphin restaurants (Shula’s, BlueZoo, il Mulino) or if you have a 75-minute or longer spa treatment at the Mandara Spa.
Kids Nite Out
Kids Nite Out is a private in-room babysitting service that is available 24/7 at the Walt Disney World resorts. Cost is $18.00/hour for one child + $3.00/hour for each additional child, plus gratuity. 4-hour minimum. There is an additional $2.00/hour charge before 7:59 am and after 8:59 pm, and a one-time transportation fee of $10.00 is applied to each bill. Additional fees may apply for holidays and special events. Call (800) 696-8105 for reservations.
- Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2015 has a coupon in the back for $5 off child care services and/or $5 off any baby equipment rental of 4 days or more from Kids Nite Out. Expires 12/31/15.
- Unlimited in-room babysitting from Kids Nite Out is included without additional charge when you purchase a Magic Your Way Platinum vacation package.
Reader Marya C writes, “One great way I have found to save money is to team up with other families and share expenses. We have done this and are sharing the cost of transfers (we will pay less to take a limousine to the airport than we would just to park!). Rather than use expensive babysitting services at the parks, we may have each adult couple take a babysitting night so others can go out… the cost of two families splitting the tab for a minivan and condo would make the trip very affordable. I have always found that vacationing with friends keeps everyone on check. The kids do not get that ‘stuck in a hotel with my sibling’ syndrome and having a friend there to break up the monotony is great.”