Disney with Little Ones: Managing the Souvenir Madness

11194504_10101630826542604_4340056814273385135_oMy last article got me thinking about how we will manage souvenir purchases for our 2 young children during our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. As I mentioned previously, my 5 year old developed a sense of entitlement on a recent vacation that took me by surprise. Unfortunately, the bad attitude he displayed when he didn’t get his way slightly tarnished my memories of an otherwise fantastic family vacation on the beach.

As you can guess, Walt Disney World may as well be called The Souvenir Capital of the World. I asked some frequent Disney World visitors if they had suggestions on how to avoid this problem. They shared these great ideas that I have condensed into 10 tips, appropriate for various ages.

  1. Have your child earn his own spending money by doing household chores or for displaying good behavior. Let him know that he can lose his earnings just as easily. Offer to match his earnings if you can.
  2. Give your children their own money in the form of a gift card, a wallet with dollars, or a cash envelope that they decorate and you hold for them. With cash, they can see how much they have left. They spend it how they choose and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Several people reported that their kids were more frugal this way and had money left over.
  3. If your child is too young to understand the concept of money, explain that she can have 1 item per day or per park.
  4. Wait until the last day to buy any souvenirs so the child has time to decide what he really wants and avoid impulse purchasing.
  5. Practice before going to Disney – take them to stores to just look at toys. Ooh and aah together over the items and talk about how you are just looking today, not buying.
  6. While at the parks, take pictures of items she asks for, the price tags, and their location in the park. At the end of the day, delete all the photos of souvenirs she doesn’t really want. At the end of the week, make her choose just one or two.
  7. Purchase souvenir-type toys before the trip at a cheaper price and have surprises for the child throughout the trip.
  8. Be consistent throughout the trip. Survive the tantrum by not giving in and reminding them of the expectations.
  9. Support your child’s decision making and independence at the same time by talking them about their choices… but ultimately let them decide.  Ask questions like “if that was the only thing you could get, would you still want it?” “Should we wait and see if there’s something you like better?” Remind them how many days and how much money he or she has left.
  10. Finally, make a special point to buy at least one thing they weren’t able to purchase and save it as a birthday, Christmas or totally random surprise.

I love these tips and plan to put several of these strategies into practice. I can’t wait to let you know how it works out!

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Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.

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