Level up your next Disney vacation with these dream worthy splurges! There’s something here for almost every price point and interest. Here’s ten add-ons and extras and why they’re worth it:
1. Memory Maker
Get Dad from behind the camera and in the picture with the family with Memory Maker! Unlimited downloads of all of your Photo Pass photos and videos for $169 if purchased in advance or $199 after your trip. Our family really gets our money’s worth from our Memory Maker purchases, since we try to get as many photos taken as we can (often exceeding 1000 pics on longer visits!). Single photo downloads start at $16.95, so it doesn’t take long to really add up. After about a dozen photos or videos, the a la carte photo price would exceed the price of Memory Maker, so it’s definitely worth looking into. You can also purchase a one day Memory Maker package for $69.99.
Disney’s PhotoPass photographers are in select locations around the Disney theme parks, as well as a few character dining locations and photo studio at Disney Springs. Classic locations such as Cinderella’s Castle and Spaceship Earth are always great photo opportunities, but there are also some “hidden gem” locations tucked away, like in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom theme park. You’ll get access to all of those photos, plus on-ride photos and videos (the reactions on Tower of Terror are priceless!). Disney is continuously updating their “Magic Shot” offerings with special effects and editing. Who wouldn’t want a photo in Galaxy’s Edge with Baby Yoda?
2. Upgrade Your Resort
One of the most magical ways to kick your vacation up a notch is to upgrade your resort stay or room type. Typically stay in a value resort? Maybe try renting DVC points for a deluxe stay at Disney’s Polynesian resort. Want to make a birthday or anniversary even more memorable? Upgrading an already luxurious stay at a deluxe resort to a club level room would definitely be a spectacular way to treat yourself. Or be king of the “World” with a theme park view room.
Think you’ve seen and done it all at Walt Disney World, or just curious to know more about a favorite attraction? Disney has many amazing tour options in a variety of price points. There’s the Family Magic tour at the Magic Kingdom that includes a fun scavenger hunt and special surprise at the end (starting at $39). Get behind the scenes access to all four theme parks with the Backstage Magic tour (starting at $275). On this tour, you’ll see the Magic Kingdom’s infamous “utilidoor” system beneath Main Street USA , visit the costuming department to see all those amazing parade and character costumes being created and maintained, and up close details of the audio-animatronics in The American Adventure in Epcot, and that’s just for starters!
4. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Make your little one’s dream of becoming a princess or prince come true with a visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! Disney offers several different packages with at various price points so you can customize your makeover package. It’s one of those classic Disney experiences that tops the wish list of many children and for good reason: seeing the Fairy Godmothers-in-training transform your child into Disney royalty is memorable for them–and for you! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for tissues.
5. After Hours Events
Disney has really been knocking it out of the park with their After Hours events! With a more limited number of tickets sold for these events, it feels like you practically have the park to yourself. Not only do you get little to no wait times AND unlimited bottled drinks and ice cream treats, you also get in well before closing time so you can catch the fireworks before regular park closing time. You can almost get in an entire park day’s worth of activities with the After Hours events. And, you can spend the evening living it up in the parks after having a relaxing day at your resort. It’s truly a win-win situation, if you ask me!
6. Dessert Parties and Cruises
Is there anything better than Disney World fireworks? Yep–Disney fireworks AND desserts! All four parks have a version of dessert party and the Magic Kingdom also has the Ferrytale Sparkling Dessert Cruise (those may be the most magical words I have ever typed!). The dessert party options do tend to lean towards the pricier side, relatively speaking. $99 per adult is a hefty price tag desserts, even if they are unlimited and scrumptious. But, if you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, that price may not be too steep. The cost of our family attending a dessert party is certainly less than any birthday party I’ve thrown for my son at home! Plus, being able to sit and watch fireworks without staking out a spot an hour in advance on Main Street USA can be priceless during busier times of year.
The dessert party options vary from park to park: in both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, for the same price, you’ll also get some savory options to balance all those sweets in addition to cocktails, beer, and wine. So, essentially, you lose Cinderella’s castle, but gain fondue and margaritas. 🥂 However, with Rivers of Light now coming to a close, that does away with the dessert party option for Animal Kingdom. I always found the nighttime experience unique and beautiful in Animal Kingdom, so I was sad to see this show come to a close. Hopefully, evenings in Pandora and awakenings of the Tree of Life continue, even if a nighttime show and dessert party are no longer options.
7. Character Dining
Character dining is another one of those quintessential Disney experiences that you should try to do at least once. Though dining with Mickey and friends is more expensive than your average table service Disney meal, it’s likely one of most memorable meals you can have in Disney for kids and adults alike. Plus, you can enjoy a meal and meet beloved Disney characters without spending precious time in line in the parks on meet and greets. Some character meals, like Chef Mickey’s, are classic, comfort food while others add exotic flavors to family favorites, such as Tusker House. If you have a palate for fine dining, you’ll want to make reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Topolino’s Terrace, which brings me to our next splurge… signature dining!
8. Signature Dining
There’s way more to dining at Disney World than chicken tenders and corn dog nuggets. Don’t get me wrong–I love seeing Mickey and friends over brunch or to stop at Casey’s Corner for a quick bite. However, Disney World has several world-class dining options that are perfect for birthday celebrations, anniversaries, or “just because”. Some excellent signature dining locations are Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Boathouse at Disney Springs, and California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary resort where you can even see the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom during dinner! Or visit one of the premier restaurants in not just Walt Disney World but the entire country at Victoria and Albert’s. With decadent meals and white glove service (literally), Victoria and Albert’s has earned distinctive awards such as AAA’s prestigious Five Diamond Award. You can even opt to dine at the Chef’s Table for a one-of-a-kind dining experience (this one’s at the top of my personal Disney bucket list).
9. Seasonal Parties
I’ve already touched on why dessert parties are worth the splurge at Walt Disney World, but it holds especially true during seasonal holiday parties. Fireworks viewing is one of the most popular events at both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and you have to line up early to get a prime viewing location. Both of these parties also have their own dessert party options complete with sweet treats and plenty of Disney holiday magic. If you’re going to Epcot during the Christmas season, you may want to consider a Candlelight Processional dining package. While technically not a party, purchasing the Candlelight Processional dining package guarantees you seating at this extremely popular seasonal event hosted by celebrity narrators. 2019 rates ranged rom $40 to $72 for adults for the Candlelight Processional dining package and you can also use Disney Dining Plan credits.
10. Photography session
I’ve mentioned how Memory Maker gets the whole family in the picture for casual theme park photos, but did you know Disney offers photography sessions at it’s resort hotels and theme parks? Disney Fine Art Photography can capture the moment whether it’s a family portrait, senior graduation photos, gender reveals, engagements and weddings–you name it, Disney can put it together for you! Choose from a number of resort hotels as your backdrop, such as larger than life Disney characters at Art of Animation resort or bask in turn of the century splendor along the Boardwalk. Or go next level with a theme park shoot and have stunning portraits among the Tree of Life or Cinderella’s Castle. Mini portrait sessions start at $225 go up to $2600 for pre-park opening Magic Kingdom premier portrait sessions.