Disneyland is a magical place but it’s definitely less than magical on your wallet. If you are wondering how to save money at Disneyland, we’ve got you covered. We have some great tips and tricks that will help you save money at Disneyland and enjoy making some amazing memories with your family.
We recommend working a side gig to save money for your trip and using these tricks to save money on your Disneyland trip.
Visit on a Less Crowded Day
As someone who can’t stand dealing with crowds, I’m a big fan of visiting Disneyland in the off-season for obvious reasons. Planing your visit around the crowds has several benefits that you may not have considered though.
For one, you’ll get to ride more rides during the day, which means your kids will enjoy themselves more (and complain less) so it’s a lot more bang for your vacation buck.
The second, and a huge reason why you’ll want to visit on a day that isn’t as crowded is Disneyland actually adjust the prices of tickets based on the expected crowd volume for the day. This applies to one-day tickets only but it can mean a huge savings for you if you choose the day you are visiting carefully. Prices range from $97 to $124 on peak days so that’s a $27 swing per ticket. When you have a family (especially a larger family) that price difference can make a huge difference in your overall cost.
Check out IsItPacked.com to see what the estimated crowd level will be for the day you want to visit.
To get the most out of your visit, download the Disneyland app the day you visit. The app will show you how long the current wait time is on the day you visit. Aim for the rides with the shortest wait time and hit those first.
Visit the others at another time when the wait time goes down. Of course, some rides never really have lines that get much shorter — some actually get worse later in the day. For rides you really want to do on your visit, try and get a fast pass so you can cut down on your wait time later in the day. Sometimes the best rides have almost no wait. My girls LOVE the carousel and typically we wait less than ten minutes to get on.
Visit Disneyland for More than One Day to Save
Disneyland is hard to do in a single day. Fortunately, there are some serious savings if you visit for more than one day.
I’m personally a big fan of annual passes. They can be a huge cost upfront but they do offer a monthly payment option that doesn’t include any interest so it is just the regular price divided out by 12 months. If you plan on visiting more than a few times, it drops your cost per day dramatically, especially if you are local to San Diego where you can visit more and can take advantage of the SoCal Select pass that is more affordable.
If you aren’t local, or are only planning on visiting for a few days, you can still save quite a bit of money buy purchasing a multi-day ticket. The more days you visit, the more you save. For example, the price difference between a 4 day and 5 day ticket is only $15 so you get the 5th day for almost nothing extra.
Staying at a Disney hotel is an amazing experience but it is definitely pricier than staying at a nearby hotel that is off Disney property. We’ve stayed at some amazing hotels that are still within walking distance of Disneyland’s front gate or that have shuttles to the park. We always select a hotel that has complementary breakfast so we can eat a big breakfast before heading into the park in the morning and stay full until the afternoon.
We’ve found that walking to our hotel is often faster than standing in line for the tram at the end of the day (and it’s WAY easier than unloading a stroller since they make you fold your stroller up and take kids out to ride).
For larger families (like mine), we find that opting for a larger suite room (generally with a kitchen) is often cheaper than getting two hotel rooms in order to fit everyone.
Bring your own Souvenirs
Once you are in the park, souvenirs can get expensive fast. There are so many fun options to buy and gift shops are everywhere. There are some types of souvenirs that make your visit more memorable but you don’t have to buy them in the park. Buy fun souvenirs and mementoes before you visit Disneyland and give them to your kids throughout your visit.
Many of the same souvenirs you’ll find at Disneyland can be purchased from The Disney Store at a discount, especially if you shop through Ebates, which will give you 3% cash back and let you know about current coupon codes.
Disney themed shirts, water bottles, spray bottles, and more are easy to find on Amazon or at your local Walmart. You can even buy Disney autograph books before you go and save a ton vs. buying them in the park.
Here are a few souvenirs we recommend buying before your trip:
Disney Womens Minnie Mouse Varsity Football Tee Medium Red HeatherDisney Mickey Mouse Little & Big Boys Big Face T Shirt (6/7)Disney Little Boys’ Toddler Mickey Mouse 3-Pack T-Shirts, Assorted, 5TMinnie Mouse Ears, Disney Ears, Princess Disney Ears, Minnie Mouse Party, Disneyland, Minnie MouseMickey / Minnie Mouse ears headband for boys girls, parties, Disneyland, + more (Sparkling Silver with Pink Bow)Disney Parks Star Wars R2 D2 Mickey Ears HatDisneyland 60th Anniversary Jeweled Minnie Mouse Ears HeadbandBell Toddler 3D Minnie Me Bike HelmetDisney Hand Sanitizers with Classic Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Mickey & Minnie Refills, 2)Generic Portable Fashion Mini Water Spray Cooling Misting Fan for Sport Beach Camp Travel Color Sent at RandomO2COOL Licensed ArcticSqueeze Insulated Mist ‘N Sip Squeeze Bottle 12 oz., CarsDisney Parks Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Bubble Blower Gun ToyDisney Frozen Bubble Gun With Lights – Bubble Blowers – Batteries IncludedDisney Princess Dress Up Trunk [Amazon Exclusive]Disguise Disney’s Frozen Elsa Snow Queen Gown Classic Girls Costume, Small/4-6xDressy Daisy Girls’ Belle Princess Costume Party Fancy Dresses Up Size 3-4T GoldAmerican Vogue ANNA ELSA FROZEN FEVER Girl’s Birthday Dress Costume (5-6 Years, Teal)Domiray New Cinderella Dress Princess Costume Blue Butterfly Girl Dress (4-5 Years, Blue)Frozen Anna Coronation Gown Classic M (7-8)DISNEY STORE PRINCESS ELENA OF AVALOR COSTUME – GIRLS – 2016 (5/6)Disney’s Princess Decorate Your Own Autograph Book KitDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book – Teal by Goofy Mickey DonaldDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book – BlueDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book Set by Dreamshop14Disney VACATION Set with Essential Park Accessories & Official Autograph BookDisney Parks Minnie Mouse Autograph and Photo Book NEWDisney Princess Autograph Book with PenDisney Car Authentic Licensed Autograph Book (Brown)
Bring your own Food and Drinks
Disneyland is pretty lenient when it comes to brining in your own food and drinks. You can’t bring in large coolers (soft side coolers are fine), alcoholic beverages, or glass containers (excluding small containers like baby food jars) but pretty much anything else goes (see the park’s official rules here)
I did get stopped when I tried to bring in a full pizza once but they just directed me to the outside picnic tables to eat then let us bring in the leftovers.
If you don’t want to carry a full day’s worth of food, you can always eat outside the park. Downtime Disney has some great restaurant options and there are many fast food restaurants fairly close to the main entrance. That will take up some of your time in the park but if you visit before going in or at the end of your day it cuts down on one meal in the park. The fast food restaurants nearby don’t raise their prices (like many airport locations do) and they are quite a bit more affordable than food in the park.
We’ll often fill the bottom of our stroller with PB&J sandwiches (we like just grabbing the frozen ones from the Walmart down the street and letting them thaw during the day), beef jerky, trail mix, fruit cups,
We always include some sturdy fruits and veggies too. Some of the best (that hold up well in the park) are:
- Sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon
- Baby carrots
- Celery with peanut butter
- Sliced peppers with individual servings of hummus
- Applesauce pouches
- Dried cranberries
- Dates (awesome with a little almond butter if you can find individual serving containers)
- Sugarsnap peas
We definitely plan on a few splurges. It wouldn’t be a trip to Disneyland for us without a Dole Whip and a lobster roll. Because we are come stocked with plenty of food, we can split a few as a family and save some money vs. buying everyone an individual meal.
We used to also load our stroller up with frozen water bottles and let them thaw throughout the day.
We stopped doing that when we found a better option.
Most people don’t know (and for a long time, we didn’t either) that any Disneyland restaurant (minus food carts) will give you a free cup of ice and water. Some of them (I’m looking at you Pizza Port . . . ) will even give you large water cups vs. the small water cups most places give you.
This is the perfect way to keep your group hydrated. We like to take it one step further. We bring those tiny drink flavor packets and create all kinds of different drinks using our free water.
We don’t have to carry around heavy water bottles and we have our choice of drinks to enjoy throughout the day. They even have powdered drink packets that have caffeine in them (and you’ll probably need a little boost halfway through the day).
Here are our favorites:
Crystal Light Drink Mix, Variety Pack, On The Go Packets, 44 CountA&W Root Beer Drink Mix Singles to Go! 6 Boxes, 6 Packets EachKool-Aid Sugar Free On The Go Drink Mix, Cherry, .35 Ounce (Pack of 12)Crystal Light On The Go Sticks – 20oz Water Bottle Size – 30ct Boxes (Pack of 4) – Peach TeaCrystal Light Pure Energy 3 Pack Variety NEW 2017 Flavors of Tropical Citrus, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry LemonadeCrystal Light Energy On The Go, Peach Mango, 10-Count (Pack of 6)Crystal Light On the Go Pure Energy Strawberry Lemonade Drink Mix, 6 ctHawaiian Punch Singles to Go Fruit Juicy Red Drink Mix- 8-Ct .75 Oz (Pack of 6)
Planning ahead can help you do Disneyland on a budget and focus on making amazing memories with your family.
Do you have some tips to save money at Disneyland? Share them with us in the comments.