Jun 19, 2013

Eight tips to save money during a Disneyland trip!

For many people, the family trip to Disneyland is of epic proportions.  You save, you plan, you sacrifice, so your kids can have an amazing {perhaps once-in-a-lifetime} trip.  Why not make it a little easier and save some heart-ache and a little money by following some (or all) of the following suggestions from a family that has been been there, done that, and has the t-shirt.

1. Eat breakfast at the hotel.
It will save you massive amounts of money, and time (in the early morning hours when the lines are short, you don't want to "waste time" eating.)  Either find a hotel with a continental breakfast, or bring cereal, milk, bagels, english muffins and peanut butter and jelly.  If you have extremely picky children, just bring your own lunch as well, better to save the $8 on a kids meal your kid won't eat!

2. Don't stay at a Resort Hotel
You can do whatever you want, but it will save you a lot of money, (and maybe a longer walk) if you just stay at one of the close-by hotels.  We've stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian, and though the "magic" is in the lobby, the rooms are not really any nicer than your average room.  We typically stay at the Fairfield Inn, and it is a slightly shorter walk to the entrance than the Disneyland Hotel and is close to 50% cheaper.

 3. BYOW
Bring your own water...
 Bring a small ice chest and get a locker if you don't want to carry a backpack (or have a stroller), a bottle of water in the park will cost you $3.75 each... and you will be tempted to take out a second on your mortgage to satisfy your never-ending thirst. (No box, cooler, bag, or other container larger than 24″ x 15″ x 18″ is allowed into the parks as a food receptacle, or for any other purpose.)

4. Plan for hunger, but budget for luxury.
 Bring your favorite snacks, but budget for popcorn, churros or Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches.  If your kids have a see-food diet {they see-food, they want to eat food}, bring goldfish and or other favorite snacks to save money every time you pass a delicious smelling food cart in the park, but remember that there are memories made sitting on Main Street, waiting for the parade to start having a Churro or some popcorn.

5. Bring your own glow sticks
When the sun goes down over the Magic Kingdom, the glowing and flashing toys come out.  Honestly, the quality is no better than what you would find at the dollar store and you can save the equivalent of a week's worth of groceries if you just buy and bring your own glowing toys.  Side note: those glowing balloons??  You and your children will be seduced by their double balloon, Mickey Mouse shiny goodness... but they seriously cost $12 each.... if you have more than one kid, it would be cheaper to buy your own helium tank and put a glow stick in a balloon... 3 times a day... for a week.

7. Don't trust the weather forecast.
More than once, we have ended up dealing with temperatures we didn't expect.  This last time we went to Disneyland the forecast was off by a full 15 degrees, we expected highs in the lower 70s and ended up with lows in the upper 80s and lower 90s.  Use the forecast as a basis for how you pack and plan for either eventuality.  California weather is all about layering anyhow, so think layers.  Bring at least one sweatshirt, even if the forecast says highs in the 90s... evenings can get breezy and possibly down-right chilly.  Your wallet will thank you when you don't have to shell out a couple hundred dollars to buy short sleeve shirts or sweatshirts for everyone.

6. Buy the princess dress BEFORE YOU GET TO THE PARK!
Target, Walmart, Thrift stores {and during halloween - costume stores} all have MUCH better prices on Princess dresses than Disneyland.  In the park you will pay the premium cost of $50-$60 for a dress for your little princess that she will just HAVE to have.  Use one of your dress-up dresses, find one in a thrift store or borrow a dress from a friend.  Worst case scenario, spend the $20 to buy a dress-up dress from Target or Walmart... or if you are smart... use a coupon and buy at Halloween time.

8.  Buy the Disney shirt before you get to the park!
Unless you specifically want a Disneyland shirt that specifies the year or other identifying feature, you can find Disney shirts for your family at the Disney store, at online retailers and of course places like Walmart,Target or even Old Navy.  Everything in the stores at the park are over-priced and at premium prices, and though you may want to budget money specifically to spend on souvenirs, the Mickey shirt your kid is wearing can be something you save money on and enjoy from the first day in the park.

How do you save money when you go to theme parks? Any ideas that I forgot to share here?  Want more tips on Disneyland?  Check out these posts.

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1 comment:

  1. Great tips...since this place is so outrageously expensive♥


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