Do I Need To Carry Cash During My Walt Disney World Visit?
With the advent of MagicBands and dining credits, knowing how to prepare your finances for a Disney trip can be a little bit confusing. With all the new technology, Walt Disney World is moving toward rapidly toward a cashless system. That’s why it’s not surprising that I get asked alot about whether it’s necessary to have cash on hand during your Walt Disney World visit. Here’s everything you need to know:
Using Your MagicBand to Charge Purchases
Before tackling whether having cash on hand is essential, it helps to take a look at the most popular way to pay for items at Walt Disney World these days- charging purchases to your MagicBand. Travelers to Walt Disney World have the option of attaching charging privileges to your resort. However, unlike other resorts where this consists of hotel meals and room service, at Walt Disney World you can charge everything to your room account from theme park souvenirs to gratuities to dining purchases made anywhere on Walt Disney World property. You can set this up in advance using your My Disney Experience Account or when you arrive at your resort front desk.
Under the system, guests select a four-digit pin code. Anytime you make purchases at Walt Disney World, you simply tap your MagicBands to one of the touch points, enter your pin and the charges are attached to your room account. Disney keeps an itemized list of all purchases so that you know what charges you have made and you can ask for a breakdown of this at any time.
Changes to Walt Disney World Charging Policies
Historically, Disney would charge the credit card on file for all of the charges that you made during your Disney World visit the night before checking out. However, they have recently made revisions to the system. Now, charges are made in $100 intervals. For instance, at check-in, once MagicBand charging privileges are activated Disney will immediately put a $100 hold on your credit card account. Once you hit the $100 cap, they will put another $100 hold and so forth. This ensures that the clients are able to pay for any charges made. If at any point payment is rejected by your credit card company or bank your MagicBand charging privileges will be revoked.
Being able to charge things to your MagicBands has revolutionized the way guests visit the parks and means that almost everything you purchase during your visit can be billed to your room. If using this system you don’t really need to carry cash with you. The only downside is that you need to keep tabs on your spending so there are no surprises at the end of your stay!
I’m travelling with children. They won’t be able to charge items to their MagicBands will they?
Not unless you want them to! If you’re worried about your little ones sneaking a Mickey doll or secreting some food court items when you’re not looking there is no need to worry. The system allows you to specify who has charging privileges for your account. For instance, Mom and Dad be activated to make charges but you can leave the kids out. If travelling with friends, each of you can be set up to have your own accounts for purchases meaning you won’t be forced to pick up the tab for anyone else. I also often get clients travelling in large groups across more than one room with one guest who wants to pay for all charges. Under the system, it is possible to have the same credit card on file over several reservations allowing you to keep all of your charges in one place!
This makes me nervous. What happens if I lose my MagicBand?
If in the unlikely occasion that you do lose your MagicBand remember that you do have the protection of having set up a pin code for all purchases. However, it is important that you set up a unique code rather than “1234” in case your band does go missing. Also, in the unlikely event that you lose your MagicBand you can deactivate it immediately using your My Disney Experience account or by stopping by Guest Services. They will suspend all activity on the band and issue you a new one!
Do I have to use this system?
No. Over the last year, Disney has trialled going completely cashless at various locations around the Resort, most recently at Animal Kingdom Lodge. However currently guests do have the option of skipping the service and using credit cards, Disney gift cards or cash anytime you make a purchase.
Are there any instances where purchases can only be made with cash?
When it comes to making purchases in and around the theme parks and resorts most Disney vendors, restaurants, food carts and kiosks will accept, MagicBands, credit/debit cards or Disney gift cards as payment. However, there are a few exceptions worth noting.
- Mousekeeping – Disney’s amazing team of housekeepers will do an incredible job of keeping your room clean while you’re out at the parks. It is customary to tip them for a job well done and as your Mousekeeper can change daily I typically recommend leaving a cash tip each morning before you leave for the parks. It pays to have a bit of cash on hand for this.
- Balloon and fireworks vendors – If your child wants to pick up a giant balloon on Main Street or some sort of glowing item during Fantasmic! You may need to have cash handy. Some of the time remote vendors will not be equipped to take cards/MagicBands. However, this is becoming increasingly rare.
- Other tipping – If you want to pay your Magical Express driver, tour guide, bell services etc. It is always hand to have a bit of cash on hand.
What about restaurant gratuities?
These days many visitors to Walt Disney World have pre-purchased meals under the Disney Dining Plan. Under this system, your meals are paid for but gratuities are not. When it comes time to tip, you can do so using your MagicBand, gift cards, credit/debit cards and of course cash.
So you’re saying I don’t need to bring cash?
When it comes to traveling to Walt Disney World, gone are the days of having to bring a sizeable amount of cash, travelers checks or the like. With My Disney Experience and MagicBands it is now easier than ever to make purchases at Walt Disney World. However, for the odd souvenir, tipping etc. It’s always good to bring a bit of green with you!
Are there ATMs at the theme parks or resorts?
Yes. You will find ATM machines in the lobby of your Walt Disney World resort. Each of the theme parks will have them as well typically near the entrance to the parks.
What about Disney Gift Cards?
I am HUGE fan of Disney Gift Cards and find that they compliment the new cashless system at Walt Disney World really well. You can use gift cards to cover everything from souvenirs and dining to gratuities. I find the cards make it easy to stick to a budget and eliminate the guesswork when it comes to keeping track of your expenses. My daughter always uses her allowance to get a gift card before her trip which she can use on souvenirs or other fun items. It allows her to feel responsible but also puts a cap on unnecessary souvenir spending as once her gift card is used up that’s it! This is also a great way for bargain hunters to enjoy a bit of savings as retailers like Sam’s Club, Target and Costco have been known to sell Disney Gift Cards at a discount!
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