Hidden Expenses at Disney World

We just spent an entire wonderful week at Disney World, which was nice from our usual one or two days since we are annual passholders. 

What I was expecting was the much larger dollar sign attached to our vacation. We’ve learned so many tricks over the years that I was prepared for Disney. 


This time we went with family from out of town and we tried to do a lot of the things they did, knowing that they wouldn’t be back for awhile. 

So imagine the shock when we really looked at what we spent!

What got us was the unexpected expenses. 

Ya know, those ones that sneak up on you, that you don’t really think about or pay attention to until you get hit with them!

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Fans/Heat Towels/Water

So florida in the summer is pretty hot, and we have an infant, so like responsible parents we brought a stroller fan from target. It lasted all of three days before it broke. We went to the baby care center and purchased a new fan, and that lasted three days.

The last two days we didn’t bother with the fan, because with our luck we would spend 50 dollars on things that wouldn’t last more than a few hours (it was 30 for the other two fans.)

It all has to do with the fun of being on vacation and not wanting to leave the park or resort, and that includes other things like fan’s and water bottles.

Yes, you can get free water if you are willing to stand in line(grabbing it at meal times is a good idea) and you can also use the water fountains. By the 6th day, I even filled up some water from a sink, I was so ridiculously dehydrated. 

Make sure you order in a pack of water, or pick it up, or have a good quality reusable water bottle (no glass per Disney rules!) so that you can stay hydrated!

Souvenir Options

Getting items on clearance before you go to the parks is a great way to save some funds. But Disney has SO many shops and cool items that you just can’t help spending money. I’m serious! They go out of their way to get you!

We noticed that they had “cheap” upsales that added up throughout the day. Like those souvenir cups, and sipper mugs. Sure, it only seems like an extra 5 dollars, but before you know it, you’ve spent 25 dollars on cups that might not make it home, and aren’t dishwasher safe. 

The little things souvenirs and trinkets

Another hidden souvenir is things like pins, autograph books and pens, and wishables!

You just don’t realize how many items you can buy at Disney, until you are there with your family and looking around at things!

Things we bring with us to the parks: Glow Sticks in bulk, Disney Wishables (some used, some new, I like multipacks online), Disney Themed Coloring Books and Stickers, Small Trinkets like the Mystery Princess Boxes from Target.  

Weather Emergencies

The weather in florida is insanely unpredictable. 

And Disney makes a hot dollar off of convenience items. 

Picture this, Disney Announces over the intercom system that they expect inclement weather in the next hour. Great. You have nothing with you for the rain. 

So you hunker down and then end up buying a poncho, or an umbrella to keep the stroller from getting wet.

Then theres those mornings where you wake up and its freezing! So you grab a hoodie. Then lunch rolls around and it’s 80 degrees.

*It is in your best interests to pack for rainy weather, and possible high or low temps depending on when you visit* 

Parking fees 

Yes, we all know that you have to pay to park at the parks themselves, and depending on the day, you’ll pay between 25-35 dollars for a spot in the parking lot.

You’ll also pay to park at whatever resort you are staying at. If your staying at a Disney Resort, you won’t need to pay to get into the parks, but if your staying off property you could end up paying for parking twice!


You read that right. 

Towels are a hidden expense. 

No, i’m not being ridiculous, but I never would have guessed it either!

While towels are provided in rooms and at the resort pools for resort guests, you don’t have that luxury everywhere. 

At Disney water parks you have to rent towels if you are staying off property. 

Imma say that again. 

Rent. towels. 

At a water park. 

That you paid a seperate entrance fee to get into. 

That’s pretty bold Disney, pretty bold. 

Food Pricing

Food pricing? Isn’t that predictable?

Sure, I mean you’re going to spend money on food. 

But how much?

Go ahead and try to find concrete pricing… I’ll wait… but I won’t hold my breath. 

Disney is very careful about not listing their prices online, instead they give an estimated window. They do this because even their food prices are seasonal. 

Tickets, resorts, food and souvenirs all change in price according to the season and even the day!

That’s almost as bold as renting towels! 


Florida charges Tax on a lot of stuff, somewhere between 6-8% depending on what the items is and what “county” you are in (Disney spans two counties here!)

If you are coming from a tax free area this can be really confusing!

Tipping at Restaurants

If you are using the Disney Dining Plan (and even if you aren’t) it is customary to tip the waiters for a job well done. Tips are not included in the Disney Dining Plan payment, and Disney Waiters are paid according to Florida Standards (which means they expect tips as part of their payment from Disney!)

Normally tips are 10% for a decent job, and 15-20% for a job well done. Cash is preferred here, but use your discretion with tips and how much cash you want to have on hand.

No-show Fees

Disney World charges no show fees if you have a reservation and you fail to arrive, cancel, or modify on time. We’ve had this happen once and we were able to get it waived (so remember to talk to Guest Services if this happens to you!).

The Fee is 10 dollars per person, so not crazy, but it’s also a harsh reminder that this isn’t an all inclusive vacation where you can forget responsibility.

What about other fees?

Have you come across other fees while planning your trip? Let me know about unexpected Disney World expenses so we can all plan a more predictable trip!

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