I have been to Disneyland about 20 times. I love it there! After probably the 10th time I went, I realized I could save at least $1,000 by following a few simple steps. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure all of this out! However, I would like to help YOU save as much as you can on your first, next, or last Disneyland trip. Read on for lots of Disneyland
Here are some tips to help you save the most money at Disney vacation deals.
Disney Deals 2014: Travel During Off Peak Times
When crowds are at their smallest, hotel and travel deals will be at their greatest.
The least crowded times at Disneyland are as follows:
Mid-range crowd times at Disneyland are:
The most crowded (and most expensive) times at Disneyland are:
Touring plans crowd calendar ($7) is so incredibly helpful in estimating crowds and wait times at Disneyland. I HIGHLY recommend it! They also have a mobile app called Lines that is really useful for up to the minute ride times.
Off Peak Disneyland Resort Hotel Deals
The Disneyland Resort Hotels usually offer a 25% discount in the winter and other off-peak seasons which adds up really fast. On a 3 day stay at Disneyland, this would save you $900. You can also get a resort hotel discount if you have a Disneyland annual passport (season pass). Also, check MouseSavers.com for comprehensive tips on how to save at the resort hotels.
Is it worth it to stay in a resort hotel? My answer is probably not. It’s more convenient and you get into the park early each day you stay there, but the rooms are smaller and they don’t offer continental breakfasts or free parking which is a deal breaker to this cheap family!
Stay in an Off-resort Hotel
There are plenty of off-resort hotels to choose from in the Anaheim area. A good place to do research is here on GetAwayToday. We have used this site many times to get good deals and find all the hotels near Disneyland in one spot. Please note that hotels that list themselves as “1 block away” from Disneyland could be a 15-20 minute walk from the entrance, so do your homework and look on Google Maps before you book. The Park Vue Inn is right across from the entrance and the rates are very reasonable. We usually stay there. Staying at the Park Vue Inn, will save you $800 over the discounted price at the Disneyland Hotel (the midrange Disneyland Resort Hotel) and it has a free full breakfast buffet which save an additional $10 per day per person.
Save on Flights
It’s almost always cheaper to drive to Disneyland. It can generally save several hundred dollars per family, even off of the cheapest airfares. However, if you have limited time off work or school, flying can be a good option too.
It’s sometimes a tricky business to save on flight costs. We subscribe to email lists of several carriers who fly into the 3 airports near Disneyland: Los Angeles (LAX), Long Beach (LGB), and John Wayne (SNA).
It’s possible to get $75 one way airfare tickets (in the Salt Lake area) to LAX. You just have to watch the deals carefully.
Save on Rental Cars
You might not need a rental car as there are many shuttle companies that go from the airport to any hotel at Disneyland (see below).
Check out MouseSavers.com for the latest deals on rental cars at the LA area airports.
AAA will often give discounts on rental cars (up to 20%)
Plan to pay $50 – $100 per day for a rental car.
Many hotels charge for parking. The Disney Resort hotels charge $15 a night. The Park Vue Inn where we usually stay does not charge for parking.
Save on Shuttles
Shuttles are generally around $15 per person each way + a small tip. Children under 3 are generally free. We use Super Shuttle. The Disney resorts have shuttles for a fee as well (about the same price as Super Shuttle). For a few dollars off, check out this page.
Cheap Disneyland Tickets
There are no sure fire ways to save A LOT on Disneyland Admission Tickets. Five or ten dollars would be considered a good deal as there aren’t a lot of discounts out there.
Go to aRes.com and get $5+ off of your Disney tickets. Save $45 off of a family pack.
Check out Costco’s gift card section. One year we got 3 day park hoppers + a $20 Costco Gift Card… score!
Check out the Southern California City Pass if you plan to see other theme parks during your trip.
Consider an annual pass if you plan to go to Disneyland more than once or twice in a year.
Purchase tickets on ebay, craigslist, or from anyone else. These are most likely fraudulent.
Save on Food
The best way to save on food is to limit the meals you eat in the park. Make sure your hotel has a full breakfast and EAT UP in the morning. Bring GoPicnic meals with you for lunch and then eat at a restaurant outside of the park for dinner (we like IHOP or Denny’s) which is right outside the entrance/exit of Disneyland.
See Disneyland’s official food policy here. It is not strictly enforced. I have been able to bring in snacks, GoPicnic meals, water, and other pre-made items with no questions asked. We do have food allergies, so it technically would be allowed for us to bring in that food. They will not let you bring in a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. You will need to eat those types of things at the outside picnic area. So, if you want to bring your own food into the park…think premade…
Save a little bit (tax and tip) on Character Dining by purchasing in advance on GetAwayToday.com. My friends ask me all the time if Character Dining is “worth it”. Now, I am pretty cheap, but this is a place where I like to splurge. I think it is absolutely worth it! The food is great, they cater to food allergies, and you can see the characters you want there instead of standing in ridiculously long lines at Disneyland.
Save on Souvenirs
Buying souvenirs in the park is a no-no. They are much more expensive there. Try after-holiday sales at the Disney Store and bring the souvenirs with you. Also try eBay and your local classifieds sites for good deals. eBay is especially great for purchasing pins and lanyards. You can then trade your pins with Disneyland employees and get some pretty cool ones!
There are some pretty cool princess dresses on Amazon.com with free 2 day shipping. Buying princess costumes on Amazon could save more than $50 compared to buying the Disney Brand costumes at the park. And, the ones linked to above are machine washable and non-itchy.
Additional Disney Deals
For more comprehensive details on how to save money at Disneyland, check out our book, “The Cheap Family’s Guide to Disneyland: How to Save $1000 & Still Have Fun”.
If you plan to go to Disney World, check out our money saving advice here.