Let’s face it, going to Disney World is the biggest splurge there is! The cost to go is simply getting out of control and if you are like us, just a chance to be in Disney is the best splurge ever!
We know that going to Walt Disney World on a budget is the smartest thing to do. While our budgets have changed over the years, we always go to Disney World on a budget in order to help keep our spending in check! If possible, try to budget in some extra spending money!
So, why would I want to spend more when I’m already spending a fortune? Let’s look at it another way. Ask yourself, “Are there things to do that are over and beyond that are totally worth it?” We think there are!
If you are trying to decide what to add as “extras” into your Walt Disney World budget we have some ideas for you! Here are some things we would splurge on:
7 Best Disney World Splurges!
1. Do a Character Dining Experience
You came to Disney World because you and your kids want to see Mickey….or Pluto…..or Ariel……. or Belle……. or Cinderella……You get the idea. Depending on who you want to see, many times you can do this while eating.
The beauty of doing a character meal at Disney World is you are consolidating your time wisely.
Instead of waiting in line to see the character, you are eating (which for us humans needs to be done anyway) and you and your kids get the exciting anticipation of watching as the character makes his/her way to your table! Our personal favorite is breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Another character meal we always hit up is Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s is inside the Contemporary hotel and you see all the classic Disney Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donlad, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip & Dale.
We like starting off our Disney vacation with character dining at Chef Mickey’s. We get to see Mickey right away, ride the monorail, and get some Disney magic right when we get to Orlando!
Another top character dining experience is Story Book Dining at Artist Point. The food is phenomenal and the character experience can’t be beat. You will meet Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen!
You will need a reservation to get into a character dining experience. We recommend using a travel agent to help you and also reading this post with 11 tips to help you navigate getting reservations at Disney.
For other ways to see Disney characters, check out this post.
2. Stay in a Club Level Room at a Walt Disney Resort Deluxe Hotel
When you stay at a club level at your Deluxe Walt Disney World Resort you get extras which push the experience over the top. The are two things that we feel stand out the most.
First is the concierge service which helps in the planning of your trip. The concierge can help you with any Genie+ issues, finding last minute dining options, and you get some upgraded room service amenities.
The other real nice benefit of the club level is there is a lounge that serves light food and drinks all day. We have been able to use it for our breakfast in the morning as well as a nice late night snacks.
They even have alcohol available between certain hours which is a nice relaxing way to end the day! We have a run down of how the club levels work as well as well as a description of the different options available.
If you are considering staying on site and possibly splurging on a club level, this post will be helpful to check out.
The club levels are offered at the Deluxe level Disney Resorts, as well as one of the moderate level hotels. We have a post explaining the 3 different Walt Disney World Resort hotel levels and breaks down the pros and cons of each one.
One of the best perks of staying in a Deluxe hotel is that you get Extended Evening Theme Park hours. This a perk regardless of if you are staying in a club level room or not!
3. Buy Souvenirs at the Disney Parks
If you read a lot of our posts we like to suggest that you buy your shirts and Disney trinkets at home and bring them with you in order to save money. We still believe that.
(In fact, we have a whole section devoted to Disney apparel and gear to buy BEFORE you get to the park).
However, this post is on “splurging.” Sometimes, when your child gets off an attraction that he/she absolutely fell in love with and you make your way through the gift shop at the end (funny how they have that set up that way), they might stare longingly at a shirt with the ride they were just on, or see a stuffed doll of what they just experienced.
And sometimes, you just have to open up the pocket book….ummm…. I mean swipe the MagicBand and buy it.
Many years ago, we went through Journey Into Imagination and Dave’s son, Gary (the daughters’ brother) fell in love with Figment. He started drooling over the Figment stuffed animal and mom and dad gave in and bought it. It was always his favorite!
Fast forward to today and now Gary has 3 daughters that still play with his Figment stuffed animal from his childhood. Now that’s a souvenir we were glad we splurged on! Here is a photo of Gary with Figment when he went back years later – we always try to find Figment and take a photo!
Some splurge souvenirs need a little bit of planning. For example, if you want to build a droid in Hollywood Studios you will need to get reservations. We feel it is well worth it!
4. Purchase the Memory Maker (Photo Pass)
Leave your phone or camera in your pocket and YOU stay in the pictures! For the money this is a great thing. You can stop at any Disney photographer, swipe your magic band, and they take your photo.
The photographers are all over the parks. Every picture the PhotoPass photographers take of you and all the on-ride photos and videos go into your account and at the end of your trip, they are yours!
You will even get the magic shots when the photographer asks you to pose in a certain way and a little magic appears in your photo.
You will love seeing the photos as the show up on your My Disney Experience app to see what the photographers did. By the way, if you order it in advance, your major splurge becomes a minor drawback, as you get a discount for pre-purchasing.
Memory Maker costs $69 for one day or $199 for your entire vacation. Advanced purchase of Memory Maker for your entire vacation is $169. This price includes everyone in your group! We have used this on our own Disney vacations will definitely add this to our budget for our next trip.
5. Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service
This is a wonderful splurgy way to get around the parks! Lyft has teamed up with Disney for these cute mini vans. All you need to do is download the Lyft app, open it up, and then select “Minnie Van” after you confirm your pickup location! If Minnie Van doesn’t show up right away, just scroll the vehicle type options until you see it.
Minnie Vans are owned by Disney, operated by Disney, and the drivers are Disney cast members.
Sure, the busses, monorail, and Skyliner are free and usually that’s how we roll but if you have just spent all day walking through the Magic Kingdom and your dogs are barking (feet hurt), this is sure a nice way to get back to the resort pool in a hurry!
If you do decide to try the Minnie vans, consider doing this in the morning. This is way you can avoid the early morning bus stops and bus delays and get to the rope drop early – and without all the extra people on the bus!
6. Experience the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Full disclosure, we have never done this, however, it’s not because we didn’t want to…it was just too much for us to splurge on. That being said, we have never heard anyone that didn’t think it was a fantastic experience for their child and well worth the splurge.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a beauty boutique for ages 3 – 12. There are packages for a girl to become a princess by getting her hair, nails and make up done. Some packages even include a dress/costume.
Boys can become a Knight at the boutique so there is something for everyone. It is located at the Cinderella Castle and there is an additional one at Disney Springs and the Grand Floridain Resort. You can get a full explanation of the experience here.
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, we now give you the final and most ultimate of all Disney world splurges! Drum roll please…..
7. Do a private VIP Tour of Walt Disney World
A private VIP tour guide will lead you through a custom touring plan through any/all parks, fast passing every ride or allow you to visit backstage areas, the tunnel system or pretty much anything you want to do!
This is pretty amazing but there is a serious cost associated with it. The tours start at $425 per hour and have a minimum commitment of 7 continuous hours! That is a minimum of $2,975 – on top of what you already paid for your park ticket. Ummmm….you can say splurge with a capital S!
That being said, 10 people can go in a group and the fact that your guide can get you in and out of places you want to see quickly is a great advantage. This might be a fun option for a group of adults to experience together and consider it a once in a lifetime experience.
Well, that’s our 7 splurges list! What do you think? Do you have any splurges you could recommend? Maybe a helicopter ride? Why not leave one in the comment section!
And now that you know our 7 things we would spend extra money on, be sure to check out our 7 things that you should NOT do at Disney! One is don’t buy new shoes right before you go – you can check out the others here!