The Seven Disney Items You Shouldn’t Buy
Everyone travels on a fixed vacation budget. Sure, some are more elastic than others, but the premise is the same. You only have X amount of dollars that you can spend on your trip. The last thing that you want to do is waste it on impulse purchases, things you won’t need.
Let me be painfully honest right now. I am THE expert on this subject. My home has tons of junk that I shouldn’t have bought at Walt Disney World. In this article, I want to save you the aggravation of wasting hard-earned money on things that will provide you with immediate buyer’s remorse. Here are seven items you shouldn’t buy at Walt Disney World.
Autograph Book and Pen
Here’s what everyone likes about autograph books. Each Disney cast member receives special training when they become a costumed performer. They learn how to sign an autograph in the writing style of the applicable character. In other words, someone playing Cinderella learns to sign an autograph like Cinderella.
Some of these signatures are tougher than others. Imagine how hard it must be to put pen to paper when you’re in a Goofy costume. You may have seen various Pluto performers hold the autograph book on their elongated noses to balance and give themselves a steady writing surface. It’s a great trick to be sure.
For you, an autograph book and pen are tools that you must carry around the park all the time. You need the book to store the autographs, and you’d be rude to ask for a signature without providing a pen. Those two things cost about $20 at Walt Disney World. Plus, you have to look after them at all times. Otherwise, you’ve spent time, effort, and money on something that you promptly lost. Unless you’re absolutely certain that you’ll have fun hunting for autographs, don’t buy these items. For many people, they’re more trouble than they’re worth.
Hoo boy, this is the awkward part of my confessional…well, this section and the next one. Disney sells these misting fans at the parks. They are absolutely awesome! I mean that.
You can see one for yourself at ShopDisney.com. The fan spins, the water gently sprays in your face, and the container holds a LOT of liquid. With two AA batteries, you can turn a humid day at the park into a much more pleasant experience.
Alas, the fans have a couple of problems. The first is that they’re huge. Look at the base of this thing. It is FAT. When you buy one of these, you have to carry it with you everywhere, and it will NOT fit in your purse. While it will fit in most backpacks, this storage solution comes with its own set of problems. You’ll have to take the fan in and out of the backpack as needed. It’s inconvenient and kind of aggravating.
Once you get home, your fan won’t have a lot of value. You’re generally in air-conditioned areas anyway, right? And I guarantee you that unless you’re extremely detail-oriented, you won’t remember to take the fan out in public when you need it. This mistake will frustrate you as you remember that you paid good money for the fan, only to forget it when you need it.
PS: I own at least three of these. And I NEVER remember to bring them with me on Disney vacations. That’s really the worst part. The fans that I purchased make me feel like an idiot.
No corporation in the world has mastered illumination the way that The Walt Disney Company has. Their nightly fireworks displays at Walt Disney World and Disneyland are the stuff of myth and legend. When you’re in the midst of all this joyous ceremonial pageantry, you’ll naturally want to participate.
What’s the easiest way to join in the celebration? Why, you buy a glowstick! You’ve been to raves. You know the deal. At Disney theme parks, you’ll find some of the shiniest items imaginable. Disney sells light-up ears, light-up canes, light-up light sabers, light-up shirts, and even light-up cotton candy (seriously).
Every urge in your being will compel you to purchase one of these glowing items. In the moment, it feels totally natural. Once you’re back home, however, that iridescent want that you bought becomes closet clutter.
By the way, I fully accept that you’re going to ignore me on this one. When you do, purchase the glow-in-the-dark mouse ears. They’re the best ones…and I say that as someone who has quite the collection of shiny Disney baubles.
Let’s talk about everyone’s two least favorite school subjects for a moment: math and economics. Quick, how much is a penny worth? No, it’s not a trick a question. Unless you have a Steel Wheat Penny, a penny is worth one cent. That’s…not a lot.
You know what’s a bad investment? At Walt Disney World, you can spend 51 cents to press a penny that the value of…well, zero. Yes, it has sentimental value to you, but the United States government doesn’t let The Walt Disney Company just print legal tender whenever it wants.
While these novelty pennies are certainly cute, they’re mainly clutter in your home. More importantly, you’ve wasted 51 cents on something with no value. Pressed pennies are a glorified Ponzi scheme.
Rain Gear (bring your own)
You’re almost certainly thinking, “But what if it rains?” You’re absolutely right on the point. You will need rain gear, as Central Florida endures a ton of flash storms, rainy day weather that comes and goes in a matter of minutes. You’ll want to be prepared for such inclement weather. Otherwise, you’ll pay the price.
At any theme park on the planet, you’ll witness price markups. It’s a basic part of the industry. Some examples are more shocking than others, though. Rain gear at a Disney park is one of the most glaring examples. Plastic slickers that cost pennies to manufacture run for $12-$18 at the parks. Don’t be a sucker. Pack your own rain slickers for those days when storm clouds are in the area. The money that you save can be spent on other, better Disney merchandise.
Specialty Magic Bands
Okay, the temptation is great here. Anyone from the Millennial generation or younger has grown up in an age of personalization. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can put your own spin on anything that you love. Want purple hair? Sure, you’ll look great in it! Need a tattoo of the Red Wedding? It’s your body, my friend. Want to livestream your dental appointment? Please don’t.
Anyway, the point is that you’re using to reflecting who you are in everything you do. Specialty Magic Bands seem like a great way to do so. For a cost of $28-$40, you can grab a Magic Band that displays your favorite character(s). That sounds great, right?
Here’s my question. What do you do with that Magic Band when you get home? Yes, you can store it as a keepsake in your mementos box, but you’ll have other, better knickknacks from your trip. Your Magic Band is just something that provides utility for a few days, and then you’re done with it. A few years from now, you won’t remember that your Magic Band had Oogie Boogie on it, just that you went to Walt Disney World. Save that money for a shirt or stuffed animal instead!
In an upcoming piece, I’ll get into the ins and outs of the pin trading industry at Walt Disney World. What I’ll say for now is that it’s the same as any other addictive substance available for sale, either legally or on the black market. The introductory rate is either cheap or free. The prices are jacked up after that.
Also, the situation devolves quickly. In one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, Lisa Simpson gets addicted to pin trading. At one point, she reveals that she’s not wearing a dress. She’s literally clothed in pins. I view this as the most likely outcome for Disney pin traders. Should you become a devout supporter of this practice, you’ll eventually spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on pins. Take it from someone who has done this with Disney Christmas ornaments: avoid this fate while you can!
In reading this article, you’ve probably sussed out the truth. I’m a giant hypocrite who has bought basically all of this stuff. What can I say? Those of us who truly love Disney are impulse shoppers!