Autographs -- a Bargain!
Your kids will want to have memories of all the Disney characters they meet. The best souvenir in the park is an autograph book. They're sold everywhere and cost only $6.
Green River, WY
The Best Things in Life Are Free
A surefire way to beat the cost of park admission is to take a day off. Visit Disney's resort hotels, tour the grounds, admire the gardens and architecture, listen to the music, and talk to cast members, or go to Fort Wilderness Campground, which has a petting zoo, a great playground, and a general store, where kids can play checkers.
Deals on Wheels
Bring your own stroller. Not only will you save the $7 a day it takes to rent a stroller, but you won't have to wait in line or worry about the park's running out of rentals.
The Classey Family
Although we were on a shoestring budget, we felt no child should have to come home from Disney without a souvenir or two. So we bought them only for our son, not ourselves, and limited him to about $25 for the whole trip. For him, just getting something small like a Mickey Mouse pen was a thrill.
De Forest, WI
Bring along your own refillable water bottles -- one for each member of the family. Disney makes it easy. You can fill the bottles at water coolers all over the park. That hot Florida sun makes you thirsty; a family of four can easily go through $20 a day buying the bottled stuff at $2.50 a pop.
Cut Off, LA
Fill 'er Up
If you're staying at a Walt Disney World property, invest in one of the refillable coffee/ tea mugs for $5.95 to $9.95 (the price varies from hotel to hotel); these are refillable at your hotel for the length of your stay. You'll need the caffeine to keep up with your kids. And given the cost of a cup of coffee these days, you'll start saving from your very first day.
Have Car, Will Travel
We discovered that having our own transportation was key. Even if you're staying at a Walt Disney World hotel and have access to the free shuttle bus, it pays to rent a car because round-trip shuttle rides between the airport and the hotel can cost $100. For about the same price (with AAA or corporate discounts), you can have the freedom of a rental car. This is particularly welcome when shuttle bus lines are long or when shuttles are crowded or running behind schedule.