Buying All You Need at The Dollar Store
Here’s a thoughtful touch for you: Get yourself some soft drinks or water bottles and even sunscreen once you get inside the theme park.
Free? Did you say?
But you have to go to Indiana to a park called “Holiday World.”
Like all theme parks, they have a captive audience. And they do give those items away free.
But don’t expect to find a lot for free at Orlando’s theme parks.
Which brings us to serious financial matters.
Such as the cost.
Buying so-called “necessities” at theme parks is similar to buying admission tickets.
You can buy regular Disney Orlando tickets. At Disney.
But you can also buy Disney World discount tickets or Universal Studios discount tickets.
Similarly, you can buy sunscreen, sodas, whatever else you need…at any of the Orlando theme parks.
Or buy it beforehand.
Buying it beforehand saves money.
Call it Discount Necessity Ticketing.
Buy before, save your money
So you can buy most if not all you need at a dollar store or similar discount place…
And save your money for other must-have items at the parks.
Now this is a subject that should be dear to your hearts.
It is hacks to save money.
No matter how much money you have.
Because no matter how wealthy you are, the costs of theme parks keep going up.
Sure, you can take the attitude that the “happiest Place on Earth” and others somewhat similar are priceless experiences.
But even the least cost-conscious park-goers among us has to face this fact:
Costs keep going up.
Far faster than you can even keep up with them.
Disney is just one example.
Though as Disney raises prices, you can make a sure bet:
Others will follow.
Disney’s latest pricing increases just the other day…
Latest price increases for longer hours
The park will charge you $39 if you want to have someone pick up your runner’s package the day before the new Star Wars villain themed half marathon.
So you’re not a runner. You prefer to walk the park.
How about a shorter walk?
Available for another $15 extra. The cost of parking closer to the park.
Or about long lines…Bothering you?
Pay $69 in the morning or $149 at night to avoid those long lines.
These all come shortly after Disney surveyed guests about possible resort fees and introduced a new seasonal pricing structure that sent the cost of a Magic Kingdom one-day ticket to $124 during busy periods.
This is not just any Indiana theme park but Disney?
Disgusting, bloggers complain.
Or what would Walt think of this all these new prices?
The company in a statement says:
It has “long offered options such as backstage tours, ticketed events and other unique selections for guests who are looking for ways to further customize their visit based on their interests.”
So like it or not, face it.
It will cost you more to visit not only Disney but all the other parks…as they follow the Disney lead.
Disney has long been known for being different from other parks.
One example is Universal Orlando, which has been a leader in add-on charges such as preferred parking.
Disney used to resist price add-ons
Disney also allows visitors to bring their own picnic lunches, unlike Universal and SeaWorld
“Disney says there is guest demand for its new add-on services, but fans fear the all-inclusive philosophy is starting to erode,” notes The Orlando Sentinel.
Those lunches that you bring to Disney…to eat healthier perhaps, but certainly to save money…could they be the next add-ons?
Believable, at least.
Which leads us to saving money.
How much money can you save by buying many necessary items beforehand or before having to purchase them at the theme parks?
There is no real number here, but can anyone doubt the money saved?
You save a lot by buying beforehand
You must know this but it is always less cost to buy just about anything (maybe some sale items are the exception, so we say almost) off-site than in a theme park.
That helps explain why there are dollar and discount stores near wherever you are staying within virtual walking distance of the theme parks.
Of course, not everything is really at a cost of $1 dollar at the dollar stores.
It used to be.
But even at more than that single dollar, these stores sell much of what you might buy at a theme park…though you won’t find the autographed character toothbrushes, among other items.
You don’t really have to buy everything at dollar stores, either.
You can shop at Wal-Mart, Target or other discount places as well.
Up to you.
So here are some hacks for what to buy before you get your Disney World discount tickets or Universal Studios discount tickets…or any other theme park admission prices.
The key is to have what you need before you get to the theme park.
Where this gets more complicated is deciding what you really need.
You can compile a long laundry list of needed items.
Similar to a vacationing family whose single suitcase soon balloons into a dozen large trunks as you prepare for all events: rain or shine, cold or hot, sickness or good health…or whatever.
As an important side issue here, the hacks we are suggesting does not mean you have to go totally frugal. Or don’t spend any money.
But think about your spending.
Thinking outside the box or park
Something else to consider is that items you buy before the park can often be used again later…in different settings.
So your savings are even more.
So before looking at just what you absolutely, positively must have…consider how to get it there.
What we mean:
What type of bag do you need?
Not just any suitcase
We’re not going to tell you specifically what kind of bag to get…any more than we suggest you do all your shopping at any one or even several dollar stores…but a few words or hacks on what to look for:
Our first consideration of a bag is not its well-known name, or even necessarily its price.
But its weight.
Light. As light as possible.
Why is that?
Because a heavy bag at the end of a long day at a theme park will feel like you are carrying a horse on your back.
Something else to think about: One bag is best.
And before going, you might want to put labels on your property with names, phones, etc. Just in case it gets misplaced, forgotten somewhere or otherwise lost.
A half dozen other things to think about when it comes to bags:
Backpacks are usually the best choice when it comes to type.
Several compartments, easily separated.
Large, strong zippers that work well. Beware the bag that has zippers that are hard to close or those drawstring type of things.
Padded, adjustable straps.
Compression straps to tighten when the bag is not nearly full (does make a difference).
Rain-repellant (nice to have but not a necessity or not always).
There are a lot of things you will need but many you will not.
So if you think about it, a fat or thick wallet is not something you want to carry around.
On the do-not-need list
Choose a smaller container for some essentials like a driver’s license and a couple of credit cards and a hotel charge card if you have one (those family pictures, delightful as they are to show others, are not really needed here).
Now for what to bring.
Check the weather before leaving.
If you are going in the winter, it doesn’t take a lot of sense to remember to bring a sweater or light jacket.
The rainy season is also a good time to consider an extra shirt or pair of shorts in case you get wet.
What is definitely needed in your bag
Water bottles, of course. Or not? Country Time or Kool-Aid and other powdered drinks are easier to pack and carry.
Water at the drinking fountains is always there. Or a glass of ice water at restaurants.
So just one empty bottle should be enough to carry.
Sun tan lotion, of course. Even in the winter, when the sun is at its weakest, fair-haired people can get too much of the rays.
Sunglasses. Cheap ones are best in case they break (they often do). The ones with a strap are best because they are least likely to get lost (and they do).
Snacks to include: granola bars, raisins and snack crackers. And balanced with more healthy items like fruit. For health reasons. Individual portions are best.
Hand sanitizer, hand wipes and hand lotion. This is for the really fastidious who worries about these things. Mini hotel sizes if you’re staying at a local place do the job fine.
Many people tell you to bring umbrellas…particularly during rainy summer days. But a better idea: ponchos have hoods. Less to carry around, too.
Those little misty fans. They do the job. And a lot cheaper at discount stores where you don’t need Mickey or a character design on them.
Ziplock bags. Not only for trash but also to keep electronics dry (say you go on a water ride).
Batteries. For just about everything. Not just for kids, of course.
Fans/water misters. Battery operated (don’t forget those extra batteries). Look for the ones with straps to make them more easily wearable.
Charging chords, of course. Don’t leave home without them.
Only in case of emergencies
A small First aid kit. You would be surprised how often you might need it. Put in it bandages for bruises and cuts, aspirin for headaches and minor irritations, motion sickness or nausea tablets, and eye drops.
Hats are more than handy. Wide brimmed ones are best. Visors are good, too.
Insect repellant. Especially essential during the summer. Smaller sizes are preferable.
Your phone is fine for taking pictures, but if you are a serious photographer, you might want to bring a real camera.
Any feminine hygiene products you might need. Nail polish, nail clippers, etc.
Anything else your particular situation requires.
Other items that you might want but not necessarily have to have”
Guide books and a pen or pencil. You never know when you might want to make a note or leave someone a note.
A comb or brush. For men and women.
Lip balm. Lips can get dry in hot climates.
A small flashlight or penlight. Useful for reading in dark places. You never know.
Quarters and other chance for pressed machines, other miscellaneous uses.
Some items you may not have thought about:
Gum. The number one and two item.
If you are a gum-chewer at some parks, and you know the one, gum is not sold. So if you have to chew it, bring it along.
And water proof bags for cameras, cell phones, and many other uses.
Thinking about the kids
If you have children, your list has to be more thoughtful but might include these items:
Autograph books. Buying them at theme parks: expensive. But buying at discount stores: reasonably prices. Personalize them yourself with family photos and other homemade touches.
Entertainment items. Cards, games, small books, even a deck of cards…whatever you can think of. All invaluable tools when you have to wait in lines or elsewhere.
Disposable cups with lids. For sharing kid drinks.
A handful of toys bought before going to the park. Movie related items are usually the best.
Ditto with costumes. Simple ones. Much cheaper anywhere but the parks.
For smaller ones, you won’t forget the diapers or hand wipes. Never, not you, but this is just a reminder.
Their very own snacks: personalized to fit your own children.
And there are many more useful items that we didn’t include for anyone to consider
Portable dental floss ticks.
Did we mention a change of clothing? Perhaps just shorts and shirt, if you want to be minimal. But these come in handy not only when it rains but for any type of water related rides.
And a pair of underwear, perhaps?