This past weekend, Disneyland resorts increased their prices. For more on the pricing specifics make sure to check out Disney Insider’s excellent article (there’s a chart and everything). With costs rising, it becomes even more important to count your pennies when it comes to your next Disneyland vacation. In our Saving Up for Disneyland post we focused on how raise the funds for your next trip, now with our Top Tips for Saving Money at Disneyland we’re going to show you how to get more bang for your buck while you’re actually at the park.
#1 Plan Strategically
When it comes to Disneyland, timing is everything. Check out this site for when the park is mostly likely to have lighter crowds. By visiting the park on less crowded days, you may be able to reduce your trip length by a day or even two. This can lead to huge savings. Just a heads up, always be sure to check the Disneyland park calendar in advance. Less crowded days may have shortened hours and less featured entertainment.
#2 Fast Track Your Trip
If you do opt to shorten your stay to save money, don’t think this means you can’t maximize the park time that you do have. To get more out of your trip, try your best to get to the park at opening, take a break mid-day, and stay later in the evening. The park has its lowest crowds at opening and closing. You’re more likely to get on all your favorite rides and save cash by reducing the number of days you visit if you follow the come early, stay late principle.
#3 Consider Buying an Annual Pass
If you’re making at least 2 multi-day trips to Disneyland a year, you may want to consider a Premium Annual Pass. Yes, it costs $669 (boing!), but it also offers you free parking at the park, 10-20% off merchandise purchases and 10-15% off of dining. You can even get special rates at Disneyland Hotels. If this sounds out of your price range, remember you can always get one member of your party/family a pass and have them make all purchases within the park for the discount (anytime you use the pass for a discount, you will be asked for id). Also, with monthly installments it’s a little less painful to buy.
#4 Pick the Right Hotel
This is everything! Our absolute favorite is the Candy Cane Inn. It tends to run between $95 to $149 a night for a standard room, but it’s the perks that really make it affordable. Not only is it near the park, but it also offers complimentary breakfast, parking & shuttle rides to and from the park. Any hotel you stay at should do the same. Remember: eating breakfast at your hotel can save anywhere between $5-15 per person and parking can be over $20 a day at the park. Also, be willing to squish into one room (especially if there are 3 or 4 of you). You won’t be spending that much time there anyway 🙂
#5 Split Meals
We’ve noticed more and more people bringing food from outside the park and while we understand the desire to cut costs with this method, we think there is an easier way. Next time your at Disneyland try splitting meals. Great places to split meals include Rancho del Zocalo & Plaza Inn. Both of these restaurants serve rather large portions, between 3 of us we can order 2 fried chicken dinners. Also, if you want to try a fancier restaurant, try going for lunch and sharing appetizers and small plates. When we were last at Carthay Circle, the fried biscuits stole the show. We got to enjoy the ambiance and we walked away with a much lower bill.
#6 Stock Up
Before your trip, try to stock up on travel essentials (ex. sunblock, tooth paste, water bottles). Convenience stores or hotel lobbies tend to charge more for these products. Also, check out a weather report to see if you’ll need any special items (hats for sun or ponchos for rain). Nothing will waste your money faster than an unnecessary purchase of Disney-priced essentials.
This tip is going to sound a little odd, but trust us and hydrate. Water bottles at the park now cost over $3 a bottle and sodas run about the same, but many restaurants and food carts can offer you tap water for free. Think of it this way: this one tip could save you $6-9 a person per day. Plus, it helps make sure that you stay hydrated- an absolute must when you’re marching with Mickey for most of the day.
#8 Affordable Souvenirs
We LOVE Disney merchandise (don’t believe us? just check out these posts) But, we also know that many of these items can be insanely overpriced. We recommend limiting yourself to 1-2 souvenirs per trip. If you do choose to splurge, pick a signature souvenir that you may be able to bring on future trips or pick highly useful merchandise. We’ve both purchased Mickey ears in the past and have worn them on numerous trips. You can also be practical in your choices. Pens and mugs are a great way to carry a little bit of Disney with you wherever you go and get lots of use out of your purchase.