For families with young kids, Disneyland is an unmissable family trip. It has a little bit of everything, something that every single member of the family can enjoy! However, the bigger your family is, the more expensive this trip becomes. For some, Disneyland is a yearly trip, and for others, it’s a one-time excursion, and it can be stressful to make sure you get a really great experience in such a short period of time, without emptying your pockets to make it happen. If you’re planning a trip to the happiest place on earth, and you’re wanting to find a few ways to save, check out this list:
Go during the off-season
When you go to any large attraction or tourist spot during the peak travel seasons, usually summer, you’re going to be fighting other tourists for the cheapest hotels and travel rates. Because of the influx of visitors the park gets during the summer, you’ll have a much harder time finding a hotel that fits into your budget. If you can find a way to get your kids out of school for a week or so during either January-March or September-November (excluding any holidays during these time periods), you’ll have a much easier time finding accommodations that won’t break the bank. You’ll also have smaller crowds, which means less wait time between rides, and more fun in a shorter period of time!
Do remember, though, that Disneyland often takes care of repairs during the off-season. That might mean that the Indiana Jones ride or Splash Mountain will be closed during your visit, and there’s simply nothing you can do about it. You can research online, but the truth is that rides can close without notice, so it might be hard to find.
Do your research
Make sure you check ahead of time what your costs are going to be, so you can plan accordingly. Check how much you’ll really be spending at your hotel (is breakfast included, or extra? Do they charge extra for roll-away beds? Make sure you account for any additional costs), and also try to get a good ballpark idea of how much you’ll be spending on food every day. After you’ve calculated how much you’ll be spending, plan to spend more than that. Try not to spend more than what you’ve budgeted for, but you don’t want to find yourself pinching pennies on your last day and not having enough money to buy gas to get home, because you exceeded your budget a few days earlier.
Buy Disney “souvenirs” before you leave home
Gift shops at Disney are so so expensive, and a lot of people end up spending a small fortune when they’re trying to get souvenirs to bring home. If you can stand it, try to get Disney t shirts, costumes, and other memorabilia before you actually get there. You can find tons of cute mouse ears on websites like Etsy, and even making a visit to your local Disney store is going to have lower prices than trying to find the same products once you’re in the park.
Speaking of souvenirs, if you’re budgeting, avoid some of the common pitfalls. For example, having one of the professional photographers at the entrance take your family picture, and then getting the prints can be expensive. The same story goes for those pictures from the middle of your favorite rides. Invest in them if that’s the one souvenir that you want, but most of the time, you can just take priceless photos yourself just with your smartphone.
Bring your own snacks
You can still plan on eating some of the food in the park, because that can be an important part of the experience. But bring a few granola bars or some fruit snacks to help keep your kids happy between meal times, so you’re not having to spend $10 every single time one of them tells you that they’re hungry, because it will happen more times than you’d expect when you’re passing churro carts every twenty minutes.
Utilize package deals
Some travel packages are complete scams. However, most Disney family-planned trips actually do save you costs. Often, they’ll come with a discounted rate for a 2 or 3 day pass for your whole family, along with credits for food and even a hotel stay. Just make sure that you carefully evaluate what you actually need from your Disney trip. For example, if your entire family is going to be completely worn out and cranky after day two (and that’s very possible--a day at Disney is draining!) then a third day, even if you only pay a fraction of the rate per person, isn’t really much of a benefit.
What other tips can you share for saving money while visiting Disneyland?