7 Tips To Help You Save Money At Disneyland
I’ll admit, I’ve never been to Walt Disney World in Florida. And my last visit to Disneyland in California was about two decades ago. But honestly, much as I have fond memories of my visits, the thought of taking the girls there gives me sticker shock. How do you visit Disneyland (or Disney World, for that matter) without going broke?
Fortunately, there ARE ways to do this. By factoring these hacks into your trip planning, you’ll be able to take your family on a truly memorable vacation to Disneyland Park without breaking the bank.
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Tips To Help You Save Money When Visiting Disneyland
1. Time it right
Disney theme parks may be the Magic Kingdom, but no magic will save you from paying premium prices at peak travel times! Just as with any other travel destination, traveling at off-peak times will help save you money.
If you’ve always longed to see Disney at Christmas, just recognize that this premium experience will come with a premium price tag. Everything from travel to accommodations will be less expensive if you avoid such peak times as Christmas/New Year’s, Thanksgiving week, Halloween, and long weekends associated with other federal holidays and school breaks. You’ll also pay more for these things if you try to time your visit around the release of a new Disney film.
2. Plan to Stay, and Buy Ahead
If you’re traveling from a distance to visit the original Disney park (and the only one built under Walt Disney’s supervision before his death), plan to spend several days at the park. There are several reasons for this:
- If you’re going to come all that way to experience this magical place, you might as well get your fill of it!
- Multi-day passes will lower your per-day admission cost compared to a single-day pass.
- And best of all, it’s possible to buy discount Disneyland tickets in advance for multi-day admission to the park. But there is no such thing as a discounted single-day ticket! (If someone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re trying to sell you a fake ticket.)
3. Plan smart on lodging and airfare
I’ve written elsewhere on hacks to simplify family travel planning, but it’s worth highlighting a few again here:
- Think outside the box when accommodation planning. Yes, there are hotels at the resorts – but there are also other hotels in the area, as well as AirBnB and even home-swaps. (If you live near a famous attraction or in a desirable location elsewhere, you may be able to trade homes with an Anaheim-area family.)
- Plan ahead. Save those frequent-flyer miles. (After literally saving them for years, I was able to score Dear Husband a free ticket for our recent family trip to Hawaii.)
- Don’t forget to look into package options to save even more. A travel agent, whether through an organization like AAA or another agency, may be able to score you an amazing deal.
- And when weighing the costs of your options, don’t forget to factor in the cost of food. Having access to a free full breakfast, and/or a small refrigerator and microwave, could save you a ton on meals over the course of your trip.
4. Read ahead
Read Disneyland Park’s rules before you even make your packing list. If you’re flying to California with several littles, the last thing you want is to bring a stroller that exceeds the park’s maximum allowed size – something that just changed as of May 1, 2019.
Likewise, you can’t bring large coolers into the park. Or ice cubes/loose ice. This means you’ll need to bring those freeze-and-use ice packs with you. (Or if you’re flying and only bringing carry-on luggage, buy a few at a pharmacy or discount-department store on your way to the hotel.)
But this raises an important point:
5. Plan your food
Yes, you CAN bring outside food into Disneyland Park! Even healthy options like fruits and veggies!
It’s worth bringing a not-too-huge cooler backpack with you, so you can plan to bring food into the park. A soft-sided cooler that fits inside the bin under your stroller, or inside your hiking daypack, should also work without violating park rules.
Even if you have a burning desire to eat your meals at the park (in which case, make reservations up to 2 months ahead of time for one of the restaurants), at least bring plenty of snacks for your kiddos. (Which you should, of course, do whenever you bring them out and about – not just at Disney.)
6. Plan your drink
Likewise, the last thing you need when you’re out in the hot sun is either constantly shelling out for more beverages, and/or collapsing (or having your kiddos collapse) from dehydration!
There are a few ways around this. My personal preference is to bring along hydration packs that hook inside one’s backpacks. Even the girls have them. We originally got them for camping trips. But whenever we’re traveling, we all bring them along so I know we’re drinking enough water.
Another way to save on beverages is to get one or two refillable drink cups at the start of your trip. (You can even get just one or two, bring separate bottles/cups for each family member, and keep sharing the refills amongst yourselves!)
7. Make a souvenir plan, and plan ahead
If you haven’t taken your kids to big places like this much, trust me: they are going to want to buy All. The. Things.
All of them.
There are a few different ways you can handle this:
- If your kids are old enough for an allowance, limit their souvenir spending to the allowance money they choose to save (or not) before the trip.
- Give them each a budget for souvenirs, candy treats, etc. at the start of your trip – or the start of each day – and stick with it. (I always find this does wonders for helping kids make wiser choices on what is really important to them.)
- For things you just know your kids are going to want (e.g., a set of mouse ears), consider getting them ahead of time. That way, the kids will already be dressed “right” when they get to the park; this may cut down on the pleas to buy wearable souvenirs as soon as you arrive.
Have you taken your kids to Disneyland Park (or Walt Disney World Resort)? Do you have any other money-saving hacks for visiting Disney? If so, let us know in the comments!
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