Do your Mouse Ears wilt at the thought of shelling out the better part of a month’s pay to frolic in the happiest place on earth? While Disneyland has never (and will never) be a budget travel destination, it remains a steadfast must on any family vacation list. Here are a few handy cost-saving tips to help keep your wallet as happy as your kids (or kids-at-heart) on your trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Parking at Disneyland starts at $20 per day and depending on the time of day you arrive, your lot could be a bit of a walk from the main entrance gates. Save by checking out SpotHero, where some nearby hotels offer $10 all-day fares. The hotels average about 15 minutes walking distance from the main park entrance, which is worth it considering the money saved.
When the pang of hunger strikes from within the park gates, you’re going to be at least a half-mile from any non-Disney dining options. With that in mind, meals in the park and within the park’s vicinity are charged at a premium. Luckily, Disneyland is easygoing with its outside food and beverage policy. Save big by preparing ahead for the day with a backpack (coolers aren’t permitted) filled with snacks, juice, and sandwiches. Just be sure to leave the wine and glass containers at home (though baby food jars will pass).
Magic wands, t-shirts, hats, toys, and much more await in glittering stores and stalls throughout the park. Plan ahead by checking out Target and Walmart for Disney-official gear that's often half the price. For something a little more chic and one-of-a-kind, Etsy is a treasure trove of all things Disney. Pro-tip: Avoid the ridiculous cost of an autograph book in the park by creating your own with any notepad around the house.
It’s called Splash Mountain for a reason – you’re going to get splashed. Stay dry and save money by bringing your own poncho into the park. The in-park ponchos can run up to $9 while one at a local pharmacy should go for around $2 or so.
As with any destination, you’re going to find better rates and more manageable crowds during Disneyland’s Off Season. Aim for a trip from January through March when you’ll find cheaper airfare, hotel rates, and more discounts available. Disneyland has recently shifted its pricing to encourage attendance on less-popular days. Look for one-day ticket prices when they’re at their lowest “Value” Day price which starts at $97 – a discount compared to a “Peak” Day when ticket prices start at $124.
If you’re planning on getting the full Southern California theme park experience, CityPASS is a bargain at $353 for ages 10-plus and $324 for ages 3-9. In addition to a 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket with Magic Morning access, you get access to SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California. The savings add up fast as a traditional 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket for an adult is $315 – making the price just $38 more to visit SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California. The added value of the Magic Morning access gives you an additional hour of time to get a head start on the park’s most popular rides.