Have you ever thought about taking your family to Disneyland? My parents took me to Disney World (in Orlando, FL) when I was younger and we all had a blast! It was a great memory that we talk about often. Maybe you would like to do the same for your family, but you are worried about the overall costs. After reading up on many different peoples’ experiences, I TOTALLY understand your concern. On one particular site, I read about a Disneyland visitor that bought $4 frozen lemonades for her party of 8. That was a quick $32 down the hole, and it was completely unnecessary (as you will discover shortly in my 10 tips)!
Have a look at my top 10 money saving tips for Disneyland to avoid the ridiculous expenses of Disney and enjoy the overall experience with the least amount of money possible.
The Top 10 Money-Saving Tips for Disneyland
If you are thinking about heading to Disneyland, review and take seriously the 10 tips below. You could easily save yourself thousands of dollars.
1. Go to Disneyland in the off-season
Yes, Disneyland is expensive, but if you want to experience a slight discount on flights, the hotel, and maybe even the theme park tickets, you’ll want to travel in the off-season. This means going in January, February, the last three weeks of October, or the first three weeks of November. Plus, by going in the off-season you will experience less crowds, which means more rides and less stress!
2. If you want a hotel stay, choose a non-Disney hotel near the park
Disney hotels can easily run you $250 per night. Why not stay just outside the park at a hotel for $150 a night instead? The rooms are just as nice and many of them have free shuttles to the park if you don’t want to walk. Consumers Advocate.org online has the best reviews of these types of money-saving options. Over the course of one week, this one move alone could save you $500!
If you are feeding a family during your vacation, even fast food can get expensive. But, we’re not talking about fast food prices here, we’re talking about Disney prices, which can be flat-out insane (one corn dog in the park can cost $9)! If you try to feed your family in the park for just one day, you could easily spend $300.
Instead, invest in a couple of tote coolers for you to carry and get fanny packs for the kids. This way you can take food from the grocery store and feed your family for the same cost that you would at home. Plus, with the fanny packs full of treats, your kids can feed themselves when they get hungry! Many people ask about taking food into the park, but with everything I have read, this is 100% acceptable. The staff will search your packs at the gate, but as long as they only contain harmless material and food, you should get through the lines without a hitch.
The approximate savings of this tip: hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands if you are visiting for a week)
Everybody needs a souvenir from Disneyland, right? Well, instead of buying a $20 piece of garbage that will fall apart in a couple of weeks, why not just let each of your kids buy a souvenir for 51 cents a piece? I bet you already know what I’m talking about – It’s that machine that smashes a penny (for two quarters, and the penny of course) and puts a new design on it. In this case, the design would be something Disney – perhaps a Disney character or the famous Disney castle! Your kids will have a blast seeing the machine crush that penny, and they will have a solid souvenir that will last forever.
5. Buy the Trading Pins on Ebay
I personally hadn’t heard of this before I started searching around for everything Disneyland related, but apparently this is all the rage at Disneyland. In the park, you can buy your kids trading pins for $15 a piece. They can then trade these pins with other castle members all around the park. While it is great fun for your kids, I wouldn’t be caught dead paying $15 per pin! Instead, take your Disney pin search to eBay before the trip. You can likely find a lot of 15 or 20 pins for just $20.
Savings? About $50 bucks, and quite easily I might add.
If you are travelling by plane with your family, those airline prices can be murderous on your budget. That’s why it is so important to find great deals on airfare. Traveling in the off-season will help, but so will traveling on weekdays and during the late-evenings and early mornings. I have actually written an entire detailed article on travel hacking that should help you out tremendously. By following my tips, you can likely save 50% on your airfare.
If you are traveling with four or more of you, this step will probably save you a thousand bucks on those airline tickets. Study up and have fun travel-hacking your way to extreme savings!
7. Go to the Dollar Tree or Walmart for Disney-themed memorabilia
Do NOT by Disney T-shirts and cups inside of the Disney theme park! These things can easily be found at the Dollar Tree or Walmart for less than half the cost that you would find in the park. If you want your kids to have cute Disney T-shirts (red is a good choice for locating them by the way), buy them before you enter the park. Your purse will thank you.
If you want to avoid paying $32 for a round of lemonades for the family (like the mother I mentioned to lead off this article), I suggest that you buy some hard plastic cups for each member of your family (ideally, these should fit in your fanny packs). Disney has drinking fountains all over the park, and they are absolutely free. When you are thirsty, instead of dishing out the cash, just pull out your cups and head to the nearest drinking fountain. It’s simple and easy, and it’s FREE!
9. Save big money by staying at the campground/RV park
If I were the one going to Disney, I would spend my nights away from those expensive hotels. If you have an RV (or can manage a tent for the week), the local campground in Anaheim will cost you less than $50 a night. That is less than a third of the cost of the cheapest nearby hotel! Talk about a huge savings! And, why not spend your nights in the campground? You’re spending your whole day at the theme park anyway! Spend five days in the campground instead of a hotel and you’ll save $500. For me, that would be totally worth it!
10. Save 5% on your tickets without getting ripped off
When my parents took my sister and I to Disney World, we actually didn’t buy tickets until we were 20 miles outside of Orlando. And, we got a discount by first listening to a timeshare spiel, turning them down, and then demanding that they honor their advertised deal. This was pretty inventive of my parents, but I don’t think I would recommend this today. There are too many phony tickets out there and you could be throwing your money away on tickets that won’t even get you into the gate.
On Disney’s site, they don’t really offer discounts on their tickets, but if you purchase a 3-day pass they’ll let you in the park early on one of the days, which is great for those awesome rides that typically have long lines! If you want a little bit of a discount, ARES Travel offers the best deals. They aren’t amazing, but the tickets are real and you’ll keep a few bucks in your pocket on each ticket purchase.
For a chance at better ticket prices, you could sign up for Disney coupons and look for those seasonal discounted rates. It might be a slim chance, but you never know!
When you add up all of these money saving tips for Disneyland, you could easily save yourself $2,000 on your next vacation to Disney! Not only will you have a good time, but you will keep a ton of money in your bank account! Enjoy, and have fun on your Disney trip!
Do you have any more money saving tips for Disneyland? Let us know in the comments below!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.