Are you headed to Walt Disney World and are looking to splurge? Or maybe you’re just doing a little research on the best ways to make your Disney vacation extra. Either way, adding some upgrades can enhance your visit. From surprises delivered straight to your resort room to five-diamond dining, here are 10 Disney extras worth paying for.
When I plan my Walt Disney World (WDW) vacations, it all depends on the budget I’ve chosen whether or not I want to splurge. For special occasion trips, I’m happy to add in some extras to enhance my family’s visit.
And, while I’d love to have an unlimited Disney World vacation budget for every WDW vacation, there are things that I’d happily pay for in addition to our trip. Here are my favorite Disney extras worth paying for.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links for Walt Disney World tickets. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll make a small commission with no additional cost to you. In fact, you’ll save a few dollars!
1. Staying On-Property
If you like to do research for Disney vacations, you may have looked at the prices for both off-property and on-property hotels. Many times, the prices for staying off property are lower.
But, when you start adding in all of the extras that come with staying on property, paying more for one can make sense. Here are just a few of the benefits of staying onsite:
- No resort fee
- Extra Magic Hours
- Complimentary theme park transportation
- Free Wifi
- Ability to add the Disney Dining Plan
- Disney’s Magical Express to and from Orlando International Airport
The ability to enter at least one park per day (or stay after the park closes), especially on high crowd days, makes staying on property worth it for me. Plus, I love the feeling of being inside the “Disney bubble”.
2. Character Dining
Truth, the food at most Walt Disney World table-service restaurants is pretty good. There are a few WDW sit-down restaurants that are excellent, even (think ‘Ohana and 1900 Park Fare).
But, I’m happy to pay more for character dining, especially if it means not having to wait in line for meet and greets. Plus, there are some characters in cute costumes that you’ll only find in the restaurants.
For example, you’ll only find Mickey and Pals in fun, chef-inspired costumes at Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. If you want to meet Mickey Mouse in the parks, you’ll have to score a FastPass+ selection or wait in line for a while.
But the best part is the fact that the characters linger around your table and spend time chatting and taking photos. I’ve found character dining experience meet and greet always fun and memorable.
3. Victoria & Albert’s
Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa along the monorail route, Victoria & Albert’s is a five-diamond dining experience. Yes, I’m calling it an experience because the six-course, prix fixe menu is worthy of the title.
For $185 per person (or $250 with wine pairings), it’s not included in the Disney Dining Plan. Worthy of note: Guests of Victoria & Albert’s must be ten years of age and older.
You’ll need to stick to the dress code when you visit via the official website:
“Men must wear dinner jackets with dress pants or slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. Women may wear a cocktail dress, nice dress, dressy pant suit or a skirt with a blouse. Jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes are not permitted.”
But, with the 2 1/2 hour dining, you’ll get free valet parking. The restaurant is VERY popular, especially for special occasions, so lock down a visit as soon as you can – reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
If you have dining allergies or aversions, please make sure to let the castmember know when you make the reservation. From what I’ve seen online, the menu tends to sway on the beef/seafood side.
4. Disney Character Makeovers
Alright, we’ve talked about adult dining fun, so now it’s time to give the younger kiddos a vacation upgrade. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is located both at Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs. It’s a way to literally make the kiddos feel like a Disney Princess or knight and it’s worth every penny, even if just for the magical reveal.
Adults can make a BBB reservation for children between the ages of 3-12. Older children, instead of going with the traditional Disney Princess look, can go with a sassy, colorful hairstyle and makeup. And these hairstyles last for days, especially the princess buns.
No worries if you have a child over the age of 12 – or are looking for an adult Disney makeover: there’s now Character Couture at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and the other resorts that will let you channel your inner Disney character. Here’s the scoop on my experience with the makeover:
For Character Couture, you’ll need to bring your own clothing for transformation. The makeover includes, hair, nails, and makeup only.
5. Memory Maker
As a Disney Annual Passholder, I get complimentary PhotoPass and Memory Maker each year. And, we head to WDW at least three times a year for at least a week. Add up all of those photos and it’s one of several hefty perks of being a Disney Annual Passholder.
Having written that, not everyone wants (or needs) an Annual Pass. But, I really suggest purchasing one for your vacation. Purchasing in advance does save some money, and you can but a single day package, too.
But, in addition to professional photos, you’ll get magic shots, animated shots, and even videos loaded right into your My Disney Experience app. You’ll also be able to go online and add borders and enhancements and then download them.
6. Get a Key to the (Magic) Kingdom
If you like learning about Disney secrets or just love getting the scoop on how WDW runs a tight ship, taking a Keys to the Kingdom Tour in Magic Kingdom is a worthy splurge.
Each five-hour tour begins anywhere between 8am and 10am and includes lunch. During the tour you’ll see the famous Utilidors, too.
Please keep in mind that the Keys to the Kingdom Tour is for guests ages 16 and older. You’ll need to make sure you have a valid photo I.D., and there’s no photography during the tour. No filming video footage, either. This is one time you’ll really have to remember what you saw.
7. In-Room Celebrations
If getting a celebration button to wear isn’t enough for you, paying for an In-Room Celebration package may be exactly the upgrade you want. From overcoming an obstacle to birthday celebrations to extra-special welcomes, Disney Floral and Gifts will deliver decorations straight to the resort room.
Yes, they are hundreds of dollars per package, but the splurge is such a thoughtful touch.
8. Minnie Van Service
The least expensive on this list of Disney extras worth paying for, so hear me out for a second.
Let’s say you’ve just spent 12 hours in the parks. Your feet are killing you and you walk up to your resort bus area and the line is nowhere near as short as you’d like it. Here’s where Minnie Van service comes in.
Of course, it has plenty of other uses including rides to anywhere on property and back to Orlando International Airport, too.
You’re able to access Minnie Van service via the Lyft app on a smartphone or call (407) 828-3500 to request an accessible vehicle.
9. Hard Ticket Party
Another great upgrade is purchasing a Magic Kingdom party ticket for either Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – two Disney Extras worth paying for.
The hard ticket events are in addition to Magic Kingdom park admission, but it’s a worthy cost at least once. Personally, we adore both so much that they’ve become must-attend parties on our fall and winter visits.
If you do want to save some cash, tickets for both are less expensive the further away form the actual holiday it is. Annual Passholders and DVC members get some decent discounts, too.
My favorite Walt Disney World ticket seller, Undercover Tourist, sells party tickets for Magic Kingdom events at a discount. It’s a safe, affordable way to purchase hassle-free:
10. All the Special Edition Merch
Truth? When my daughter was younger, I’d head to department stores and stock up on souvenirs to pass out during our trip. But, now that she’s older, she really likes to seek out special edition merchandise including pins – and I love the exclusive dresses and handbags.
And think about the just-opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you’re a fan, or have a fan in the family, you’ll probably want to upgrade your visit with a custom-made light saber at Savi’s Workshop or make your own droid at Droid Depot.
Did I miss one of your favorite Disney extras worth paying for? Please let me know in the comment section below!