Buy your souvenirs off-site
It's always fun explaining to your child why they can't go home with a souvenir because Disney thinks $45 is a fair price for a stuffed Goofy. Avoid standoffs by buying Disney merchandise in one of the gazillion souvenir stores in Orlando or Kissimmee. Or hit up a Target. Or the Disney Store -- even it charges less than the park, Ford says.
"A lot of people going to Disney have young kids, and those kids don't really eat their whole meals," Ford says. So he suggests buying one or two things for the family and sharing them, so the kids can get back out on the rides, and you're not shelling out $65 for hamburgers and sodas. "Splitting meals is a compelling way to save money," he says. "It's not just being frugal, it's being smart."
Make a plan
Before you go inside, make a detailed to-do list of the rides, shows, and attractions you want to hit. "If my kids get to do all the things they want to do, they’ll be happy," Ford says. "And they love tracking it, and feeling like they’re part of the planning." When the kids are happy, and doing all they want, the trip runs more smoothly. Ergo you won't be stressed into eating in the most convenient (likely: more expensive) place, nor be saddled with unruly children you end up pacifying with a $30 T-shirt.