Kids’ International Gateway: Saving Money

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Hi! My name is Alex, and I am 12 years young.

Me and Mickey
I was less than a year old so I do not remember this at all.

Since the age of zero I have been travelling to Orlando and its surrounding areas like Clermont and Kissimmee from 4,377 miles away in Kent in the United Kingdom, which is about 20 miles south east of London. This summer will be my 38th trip, so obviously I have developed a keen interest in Disney, Universal, and all of Florida. As most 12-year-old girls do, I definitely enjoy shopping, so I’ve conveniently put together a series of tips for young shoppers on how to control how much you are spending and how to avoid being in debt with your parents whilst Disney tries to milk every last penny, cent or Euro you have earned, begged, borrowed or stolen for your trip.

I have personally experienced the hunger resulting from not knowing this first tip.

The price you see is not the price you pay.

 There was a hot dog stand in the petrol station (gas station) outside Publix, an American supermarket like Waitrose in England (and by supermarket I mean grocery store; yes, I’m bilingual!).The hot dogs were 99 cents, so my Mum (Mom) gave me and my brother a dollar each. We politely asked the man on the stall for two, he replied, “Sure, that will be $2.13.” Bemused, disappointed, and still hungry, we left. Not understanding that tax wasn’t included like back home, and we therefore forfeited a snack. Remember also that the tax rate varies throughout Florida just to make life easier.

Disney has stores in the Outlet Malls.

In the 12 years I have been visiting Disney, prices have risen at a greater rate than my pocket money (allowance) has (although, a subscription to has remained constantly excellent value for money), so I know how to carefully spend. I am NOT saying I don’t spend, but I just shop around a bit more to find a better deal, especially when the prices are now just so ridiculous. Let me explain. A Disney parks T-shirt to fit my Dad costs $37.95 at World of Disney; meanwhile, in the Character Outlet that is owned by Disney and located in the Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue, the same top was ticketed at $14.95. Bargain! And even better, it saved him from receiving socks again for Father’s Day.

 Alex’s Pocket Money Pick List

To help you guys out, I have created a collection of my favourite purchases, some from inside the parks and others from surrounding stores.

1) My ultimate favorite purchase would have to be little gifts for my friends in the UK.

Disney key ring
A great gift for your friends or for you; you can even get them with the year on them.

Usually I buy some American sweets (can you resist candy?) and a small souvenir like a key ring or snow globe. I love the year dated Mickey and friends key rings from Walmart, which are only a dollar (plus tax of course);

2) Another reasonably priced gift is one of those stubby little Disney character pens with tufts of coloured elastic springing from the top. These are $9.99 at World of Disney or the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom;

Disney stubby pens
These are great little ball-point pens that are fun to use

3) The Character Outlet stores, located at the Premium Outlet malls, are great for Disney themed birthday presents. All of the stock that doesn’t sell in the Walt Disney World parks is for sale in these outlet stores for a reduced price. I bought some really cute Mickey print purses for $5.99, marked down from $19.99. If you have a good look in these stores, you are sure to come across a deal;

4) I definitely avoid the cheap gift shops along US 192. Whilst they are fun to look at, the items they sell are awfully tacky and poor quality not to mention overprice. I much prefer to wander round the Disney gift sections in Target and Wal-Mart, especially for clothes;

Shopping for Disney souvenirs at Target
One of my favourite t-shirts and so many people like this when I wear it too

I adore this I *Mickey* Florida t-shirt, which I bought for only $14.00. This was much less than the $30.00 it would cost you in a Walt Disney World park;

5) Try not to suffer from shopper’s delight. I mean, do not go and buy all your souvenirs on day one as you could be spending too much. At numerous times during the year Disney will run special promotions whereby you will receive a promotional voucher for 20% off your entire purchase before noon at World of Disney and other stores when you purchase a food or drink item from a counter service restaurant. So while you enjoy browsing, make a list of everything you would like to buy, and then once you have a voucher, off you go. I use this trick to buy my Vinymations and Disney pins which are a great collectable keepsake; and

6) This tip is for any young girls like me. The Florida Mall and the Mall of Millennia are the BEST places for deals, but only if you shop in certain stores at certain times of the year. For example, Hollister is great if you go in the summer because of the massive sales.

Alex outside Hollister
Only two bags this time, but it was my first trip of that day

I’ve picked up Hollister t-shirts for only $9.00 more than once. I tend to go straight to the back of the shop (store) and hunt for red sale signs on the shelving. However, if time is not on your side in a two week trip, then another great option is to go online to the American Hollister website and have it shipped straight to your hotel or villa. There are often extra deals online (such as an extra 20% off!), which really comes in handy. Also, don’t forget that most stores nowadays have a website, so do not panic if you overrun at one stop on your schedule and miss the shopping slot.

I hope you have enjoyed my first TouringPlans blog article. Walt Disney once said “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money,” but sadly the world is different now, and Disney does need to make money. I wish I just had more of it to spend. Maybe if I read my own blog, I will!

Love always,


Please welcome International Correspondent and Youth Attache, Alex, to the TouringPlans blog team. Alex (and her brother) has previously assisted with reviews for the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line.

Alex Duncan

Hi, I am Alex and I am 13 years young! Something else unique is that like Harry Potter I am a wizard! No, wait, sorry, I meant to say I am from England! Although we live in England I am so lucky that we have a second home in Clermont, Florida and this summer marks my 38th trip. I am attend Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls and am a 1st Kyu brown belt double black tip in karate. I have a 10 year old brother, Kieran, who wants to be the Captain of a Disney Cruise ship one day and my Mum and Dad are also big Disney fans (well they bought the house after all). I love shopping, adore Taylor Swift and I am on Twitter and Instagram. I have skills! Love always, Alex

29 thoughts on “Kids’ International Gateway: Saving Money

  • July 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Alex! What a great first post! Your tips are so great, especially for those who can manage to get off property. (I too love that Target and think they sell some really cute Disney merchandise.) I can’t wait to read more of your posts in the future!

    • July 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you Rikki that’s really kind of you. Your Blog articles are brilliant and I love reading them and hope to be as good as you. I was in Target last night looking at the really cute Minnie PJs they have. Need to sweet-talk my Dad some more 😉

      • July 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

        Target gets a lot of my money period….all the time. And thank you for the sweet words about my posts as well. 🙂

        • July 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

          Haha 😀 No problem.

  • July 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    What an enjoyable article! Good job on it. I am glad to see that you will be writing more. My kids will love reading your takes and advice on the trips. It’s nice to have it written from the point of view of someone their own age. I also enjoy your “bilingual-ness” – my husband is from England (Malvern) so my kids are “bilingual” as well.

    • July 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Thank you. That is very kind. Being bilingual is a special talent especially when shopping and going to restaurants. I still have to remember to ask for the “restrooms!”

      I am really excited to join a great team and all of the other bloggers and team have been really supportive. I have lots of ideas for future blog articles but if there is anything your kids would be particularly interested in please let me know.

      Alex x

  • July 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Well done. Thanks for the good words about getting souvenirs at Wal-Mart & Target. I have many great shirts that I have never paid more than $14 for that I get complimented on regularly.

    • July 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks. You really can’t beat the those stores!

  • July 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Well done Alex, what a fantastic blog. Really enjoyed reading it 🙂

    • July 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      Thats very kind. Im glad! And I definitely enjoyed writing it! x

  • July 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Alex. Thx for the tips as my parents and me and my sis were planning a trip to America and Peru next year. Still not sure whether speaking a variant of English counts as bilingual but it is a talent nevertheless. Just came bac from Spain with very uneven tan and an aura of depression after reading two John Green books again. Hope ur having a great hol. Cu bac at skl. Great blog maybe u could give it to ur English teacher and it may count as an essay. Mrs Saunders suck on that!

    • July 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Why thank you Mattie! Oooh! I bet you’re excited! I tried to avoid those books but i couldnt resist ‘The fault in our stars’ still don’t think it’s that good! Too depressing. Bet your tan looks gorgeous 😉
      Great idea; I will show Mrs Joyce 🙂

      • July 31, 2014 at 4:16 am

        She mite read it in assembly

  • July 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Hollister, eh? I never would have guessed. Great job, Alex!

    • July 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      Well now you know where to send Hannah! Sometimes they have a special sales for one day only too, we received an email for over half price shorts yesterday! $8-$15 marked down from $45. Bargain! Thank you. That means a lot and thank you for your and Laurels help too x

  • July 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I had a really bad surprise with this “The price you see is not the price you pay” thing.

    When I started researching about prices and stuff, I saw hotel prices and park tickets prices and calculated how much I would spend by using the prices the sites showed me. I told my travel agent about which parks I’d like to go and which hotels I’d like to stay, and asked her to calculate how much I would spend. She showed me a value that was substantially higher than the value I was expecting. I decided to do the process of making the reservations and buy tickets (but not complete the processes) to check the values, and I was surprised when at the very end part of the process, they showed that they would charge taxes that were not in the prices they showed me before.

    After that, I could never look at a price and say “oh, so that’s how much this will cost me”. This, and the almost obligatory tips in restaurants, make me think how much the hidden costs are part of the American culture. I wonder if Americans ever feel cheated like I felt.

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Oh dear! I feel really bad now because your experience was far worse than my hot dog problem!
      Thank you. You have clearly illustrated “the price you see is not the price you pay.”
      It now gets even more confusing because of Florida’s tax free weekend! Great time to buy your iPads 😉
      A x

      • July 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

        And to confuse things even more, you can be comparison shopping online where one website shows you the price including tax, and another is the pretax price. That can happen a lot when comparing things like hotels or airfare.

        When it comes to buying everyday stuff, like clothes or dining, I think it just gets engrained in your head after a while when you live here. I basically know what the total is going to be, in my home state at least. Taxes can vary greatly among states, and even counties within states.

    • July 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      I think this is just part of international traveling. Different countries and cultures handle this sort of thing differently, and I think that’s why Alex’s lesson above applies to any of us traveling in a foreign land. In the U.S., it’s probably wise to ask for the final price if you’re concerned about lacking sufficient money.

      Interestingly, on Disney World property the parts in Oscela County (basically the All-Star Resorts) have higher sales tax than the parts in Orange County. And you can see inconsistencies from venue to venue within the same park regarding whether sales tax is included in an advertised price (often food cart prices will include tax). Confusion is understandable.

      I think Americans grow up knowing that everything will cost a bit more than what’s on the price tag; since we always have that expectation, we don’t feel cheated. Instead we feel like we’re getting a deal if we shop on a sales tax holiday or in a state like Delaware that has no sales tax.

  • July 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Great tips, Alex. I wish my teenage daughters were as sensible as you are about spending!

    One other thing to remember … At Disney, you should always ask if they have any discounts available for annual pass holders, Disney Vacation Club members, Disney Visa users, etc. Many merchandise areas offer these, but they won’t tell you unless you ask.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Haha! My brother’s money just burns a hole in his pocket too. He hadn’t bought anything so decided to spend $4 on a rubbish frisbee thing just because he “needed” a new toy. However, I can’t really talk….. I just couldn’t resist buying another pair of Hollister shorts. But, they were in the sale 🙂

      Thank you, great point. I remember when we had annual passes once and every time I bought something I asked if I would get the 10% discount. Trust disney to limit where and when you can use this! Also, remember that Disney need ID to give you your discount. Even on a child aged seven, to which my dad replied “oh I’m sorry. He hasn’t passed his driving test yet!”
      Thank you,
      Alex x

  • July 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Come on, you’re 12…I am 3 times your age! You can’t also be such a good writer, it’s just not fair…


    • July 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Haha! Thanks. Thats what a Grammar School teaches you! Maybe those long boring English lessons have helped 😉

  • July 31, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Fantastic article Alex! Loved your section on advising people to check out the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando as you can really find some good deals there. I’ve been doing monthly reports to give people an idea of what they may find: (latest one)

    One thing I’m not sure people realize is how close both Outlet Stores are to the Disney and Universal resorts. The one on Vineland is a stone’s throw away from Downtown Disney (although that stone has to battle SR 535 to get there, which can be a frustrating experience) and the one on I-Drive is really close to Universal. Both are definitely worth fitting into a vacation if you have the time.

    I’m also right with ya on avoiding the cheap discount “Disney” stores at all costs. They are like the sirens of the sea, beckoning guests in with their too-good-to-be-true deals only to deliver items that ultimately disappoint.

    • July 31, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Thank you very much, Derek. I’ve just read your blog too. Brilliant! Thank you for inserting the link here because it really shows how discounted items are in the “Land Of Misfit Toys”
      Good point, they are definitely worth checking out if you have a spare moment.
      Exactly! Last April, we drove past one of those gift shops along the 192 shaped like a wizard. There was a massive sign advertising how there was 3 T-shirts for $8.99! You are right. The quality must have been very poor.
      Thanks again!

  • July 31, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Great article. I always used to get frustrated over tax in the USA too, but I think Disney does price on snack carts including tax which makes it a little easier (20oz soda are $2.50 inc tax).
    I loved outlet shopping in Florida, got some great bargains at premium outlets and then with the $ to £ exchange rate they were even cheaper! I don’t buy many Disney souveneers, instead buying clothes at the outlets that I am more likely to wear than Disney stuff. Agree with you on the sales tip, last time inn California I got some great prices from the section at the back of the Abercrombie & Fitch store!

    • July 31, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Thank you! That is a great point actually because it is a lot easier just to buy two drinks for $5 than having to fiddle around in your pocket for the extra change due to tax! I wish the hot dog man outside Publix would have done the same!
      Me too! You really cant beat their prices sometimes. I would much rather wait until the sales to buy my shorts at $15, rather than buying the first ones I see at $25 in Target.
      Thanks again for you comment,

  • August 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Welcome, Alex! I’m very impressed with your writing… I want to use you as an example to my students this next year. I teach 7th grade, and my students need to see real-world applications of writing skills, and you as an example is perfect, since you’re their age! 🙂 Keep up the great work!

    • August 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you. That sounds exciting. I really enjoyed writing this, I hope your students can use this and enjoy reading it? I also sent it to my English teacher who apparently liked the fact I used my possessive apostrophes correctly!
      Thanks again,
      Alex x

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