Saving money in a theme park that takes in so much cash it used to literally print its own form of currency (Disney Dollars) can be difficult. But that does not mean you need to surrender your credit card to the guy in the Goofy costume at the gate. Here are some proven techniques to save money and still enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth.

Saving Money on Tickets

Getting in the gate can be the first and most expensive challenge. Consider going on your birthday. Disney sometimes offers an admission promotion allowing anyone to enter the parks for free on their birthday. If that is not an option, small discounts may be obtained through AAA. You may also want to consider a Southern California Fun Pass, which bundles admission to other Southern California parks into one ticket.

Save Money on Food

Eating in the park can be another challenge. Annual pass holders or Disney Vacation Club members receive nominal discounts at some food sites but for the rest of us full price is the only option. Consider either bringing food into the park (official Disney policy does not allow food in the parks, however, I have never seen anyone turned away). Another option are the restaurants on Harbor Boulevard across the street from Disneyland. Many offer good discounts.

The best place to check for current discounts would be the local tourist magazines or brochure cases located in most area hotels. Captain Kidd’s directly across from Disneyland offers an eight-dollar buffet and McDonald’s will offer a 10% discount. Both of these options are far less expensive than dining in the park.

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Save Money on Souvenirs

Souvenirs are the final, but in some respect easiest, category to save money. The theme parks again will typically not even have sale merchandise on the shelves so the park itself is not really the best option. For savings on those mementos travel to the Disney Character Warehouse, 3 miles north of Disneyland on Harbor Blvd. They have purchased lots of clearance Disneyland merchandise for resale at this location. The staff here are really helpful and you can usually find something for any member of your party.

Another option would be the large Disney souvenir area at the Wal-Mart in the Anaheim Marketplace. This area has approximately 1500 square feet of t-shirts and other inexpensive Disney-related bobbles for you to take home to remember that special family vacation. These are not Disneyland souvenirs, but your five-year-old will never know the difference. Mickey Mouse is, after all, Mickey Mouse.

These are just some tips to help you save money on your next Disney vacation. Above all else, remember to enjoy the park, particularly while your children are young. There is much to see and do without needing to spend a fortune. Enjoy!

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Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex or Safety Wing (often cheaper).

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Book Flights

I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner! My second favorite site to find flights is Momondo, another great site for finding cheap flights.

Book a Place to Stay

I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.

If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

Rent Clothes

Rent clothes for your trip with Travel Style Expert for only $50 a month! The first 30 days are free!

Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available.

When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

Rent a Car or Take a Lyft

More often than not Lyft is cheaper than Uber. Use my Lyft link for an $18 credit! For a car rental in any country, I recommend Discover Cars.

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