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Saving Money On A Trip To Disneyland

The other day I talked about our lodging situation when we visit Disneyland. So today I thought I would give some of our other money saving tips for visiting the happiest place on Earth. The experience is magical for everyone in the family. Your kids will be amazed at the sights, and you will be amazed at the way money can disappear from your wallet.

So here is how we keep our Disneyland trips affordable.

Get discounted park tickets

You should always get your park tickets ahead of time. Please. The highest price you are can pay is at the gates. A quick Google search and you can find places that sell discounted tickets. People even sell them on Ebay. We get ours through a discount program at my husband’s work. So take a moment and look around. You will find a deal, I promise. I also highly recommend the park hopper tickets, so you can go to both Disneyland and California Adventure. I really can’t imagine not doing both.

Bring Your Own Food

The park allows you to bring your own food. I don’t think that is their official policy, but in all the times I’ve been there I’ve never seen or heard of them not allowing outside food. We certainly bring our own. Theme park food is expensive! Think $30 for hotdogs for our family of 4. Craziness! You can save a boatload of money by bringing your own food. If doing Disneyland picnic style isn’t for you then at least bring your own water. Waiting in line is thirsty work. You will still save a bunch of money by not buying $3 bottled water all day long.

Don’t Splurge On Trinkets

Ok, you’ve saved on the park tickets. You’ve saved on your food. Don’t go blow it now and buy every Mickey Mouse item you can get your hands on. When you’ve been at Disneyland for a few days you start to get “Disney-head” (I made that up.) and start thinking that wearing Mickey Mouse hats is normal. But I promise you with every fiber of my being that you will never wear that hat again!

There are a couple of tricks that I use that help me.

  • First; we go shopping on the very first day. We usually get to LA around 3 in the afternoon. After checking into the hotel we head to Downtown Disney do all our shopping. Downtown Disney is a strip of stores and restaurants that is right outside the park but doesn’t require a ticket to get in. This gives us a dose of Disney without actually going into the park and gets us in the Disneyland mood. But it also lets us do our shopping before we get Disney-head and can still make rational decisions. “Do I really want to spend $15 on a Mickey Mouse Ice Cube tray?” No I do not. An added benefit is that we can bring our booty right back to the hotel and don’t have to rent a locker to store it while we hit Small World one more time.
  • Second; I give my kids a set amount of spending money. They can spend this money however they wish. Since it stops them from asking for every. single. thing. they see for entire trip they can’t guilt me into just one more trinket. Plus, it teaches them the value of money and the responsibility of making these spending decisions is a good lesson.

Bring your own stroller

If you have the option, bring your own stroller. You can rent strollers at the park for $15 a day but I’d rather spend that money on fun stuff. Plus, the rental strollers aren’t all that. You will be more comfortable and have more storage space (for all that food!) if you have your own stroller.

Do you visit Disney a lot too? What are your tricks for saving a buck? I’d love to know.

5 thoughts on “Saving Money On A Trip To Disneyland”

  1. When we went, we stayed at one of the Disney value resorts. This allowed us to have free transportation as they have shuttles that run to all the parks and the airport. We also did the meal plan where we got to eat our meals at discounted rates. My wife did a ton of research so we knew exactly which restaurants to go to and we had a great time. It still wasn’t cheap (there’s no such thing at Disney) but it definitely kept costs in line with our budget.

  2. We went to King’s Island this past Monday and used discounted tickets. It seems that everyone in line had them. We also packed our lunch and ate it at 2 pm. It was late enough that we could get dinner at the end of the day outside the park as well. It was incredibly hot so we did have to spend for an ICEE, but at least we didn’t buy any food.

  3. International mom

    As So Cal residents we save and buy annual passes that allow us mutiple trips. My husband is a die hard Disney fan so we go fairly often. I use a Visa card for all my monthly giving to charities and purchases all of which are paid off each month. This card gives me reward points called Disney dollars that are tranferred to our rewards card and can be used at all food places and stores. I have had some very good meals at restaurants I wouldn’t consider going to (ex.the Blue Bayou in Pirates of the Carribean) were it not for the fact that it’s paid for by purchases I make anyway. I love a good coffee and if you purchase at the bakery on Main street you can get a free refill if you hang on to your cup. I always bring water bottles for our drinks and filtered water is available at the Mexican restaurant in Frontierland and several other locations in both parks. I will bring snack bars and fruit snacks as well so if the kids need that extra bit it tides them over. Over the years we’ve learned some of the better deals for good food places that don’t cost us as many reward dollars and are healthier. They do have picnic areas too if you bring your own food and forgo any Disney food. These are listed on the maps. If you need a quick free snack the bread bakery and tortilla place in California adventure give free samples just for walking through, whether you watch their tour or not.

  4. It sounds like you’ve got this very well figured out! I can see how it can turn into a very expensive trip if there are no controls. I haven’t been to Disney in years, but I imagine I would also bring my own food and limit the amount of souvenirs.

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