A trip to Disneyland with the kids is not a budget-oriented vacation. First, you have to consider the transportation costs (which may include plane or train tickets). Second, you can’t go to Disneyland and return in one day, so you’ll have to think about accommodation and sustenance.
And third, Disneyland is the land of magic, where kids have the chance to meet their heroes, princes, and princesses, so you can’t deny them dinner with their favorite Disney character! Plus, they will want to buy lots of merch, costumes, and food during the visit, so you’d better be prepared!
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and your savings won’t be in danger if you know how to plan your visit.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep spending at a minimum while having a good time with the family!
Purchase Your Tickets Early
The entertainment world was hit hard by the pandemic, and places like Disneyland, where crowds are part of the fun (so to speak), suffered a lot. This is why, when the gates reopened and people were free to crowd waiting in line for a ride once more, the ticket prices went up.
Starting mid-October this year, the prices for single-day and multi-day tickets got up by 8-9%, but so did the ones for Park Hoppers. Also, the Genie+ ticket add-on went up $5 from its previous price of $20 per day.
All these price increases add up when you have to pay for 4+ people, but you should know Disneyland plans more price increases in the near future. So, the best thing you can do to keep the costs down as much as possible is to buy the tickets now.
The next price increase is expected in January next year when Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is planned to open, and Disneyland Resort will organize the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration.
To avoid paying more than you already have to, you’d better start planning your next year’s trip to Disneyland before you plan your Christmas shopping. In fact, you may use this chance to offer the kids tickets to Disneyland from Santa.
Use Membership Rewards to Get Deals
Disney offers a series of discounted tickets to members of select groups, such as active duty and retired military members and their spouses. However, the rules change from one year to another, and the same discounts don’t apply as a general rule.
So, to stay up to date with the latest discounts, check out some of the best Disneyland ticket deals you can get based on your current situation. Also, if you’re staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel and have a Magic Key Annual Pass, you may be up for a discount if you visit in a specific time frame.
Therefore, the best way to check for discounts is to do a bit of research before heading toward California. It may take a bit of time, but it’s worth it when you’re on a budget!
Find the Best Times to Visit Disneyland
The most important piece of information everyone visiting needs to know is that Disneyland’s crowds are influenced by a series of factors such as:
- Kids are on vacation
- Local events
- Special promotions
Therefore, the parks are about to get full to the brim during the summer months, around Valentine’s Day, on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays. However, there are local events that also influence the level of crowds, such as conventions (the Anaheim Convention Center is right across the street) and special ticketing promotions for California and Southern California residents.
To summarize, you should be able to enjoy the parks without the pressure and craziness of the crowds in mid-January, the second half of February, the first half of March, most of May, September, and October immediately after a new school season starts, and right before the major holidays.
So, if you have a flexible schedule and the kids are not in school (or can take a few days off), make sure you are prepared for a road trip and plan your escape to the magic kingdom. Budget worries aside, off-season visits are a lot more relaxed and enjoyable since you don’t have to be on alert all the time.
Plus, if you have small children, they’ll be more at ease when there isn’t a whole wave of people trying to get to various places.
Where Will You Be Staying?
Most people plan their first trip to the magic kingdom in California by checking all the must-do things when at Disneyland off their list before. However, the best way to plan this trip is to first buy the tickets ahead of time and second, find the best accommodation.
The great news is that you can find good discounts at the Disneyland Resort hotel (which is one of the best accommodation options) if you visit off-season.
Disney usually categorizes the seasons as follows:
- The least expensive and least crowded time (aka Value Season) spans almost all through January, February, and the first weeks of October, November, and December;
- Times when the parks are moderately crowded (Regular Season) and mid-priced, starting with March, early and late April, continuing with most of May and June. Also, the last week of August and the first week of October;
- Peak Season when prices and crowds are highest (holidays, events, summer vacation, mid-April, and the first three weeks of August).
The discounts vary, but as long as it’s not peak season, chances are you may find something at one of the Disneyland resorts. So don’t be shy and ask for details!
Save on Meals, Snacks, and Drinks
Just because you’re at Disneyland, this doesn’t mean you should let the kids have all the ice cream or cotton candy they want. The same goes for snacks and drinks, especially when you’re on a budget.
Of course, you shouldn’t be too strict either. The best solution to save your budget and the overall experience is to look for loyalty programs, memberships, and discounts on everything meal-related. Many vendors will be happy to offer a discount if they know they’ll have your family as a customer again.
And, if you don’t find anything to fit your taste, take a walk to Downtown Disney. The area is not that far away from the parks and is filled with restaurants, terraces, bars, kiosks, eateries, coffee shops, and more. Plus, the prices are lower than inside the parks.
However, if you’re going to be visiting during peak season, you may want to book your restaurants ahead. Actually, this is highly recommended by Disneyland staff since it’s difficult to find a table when the place is crowded.
The good news is that you can book a table at most restaurants online. Overall, once you have your tickets and accommodation, it is good practice to start looking for places to eat. This way, it will be easier to navigate the crowds and avoid having to deal with hungry and tired children.
A budget-friendly Disneyland trip takes serious planning, but it’s also a good way to organize your activities and have a plan for when things get crazy. At the end of the day, if you’re having a good time and manage to make some good memories, every expense will be worth it!