Orange County, See California

5 Money Saving Tips for a Family Trip to Disneyland

There was a time in our lives when Tristan and I would go to Disneyland pretty frequently. The annual pass for Southern California residents was so affordable that going 3 times within the year more than paid for itself.  Now? Not so much. Costs for everything have jumped up and the thought of paying for everything for a family of four could easily make your head spin.

That said, I’ve come up with five tips to help you save some money on your next trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” If you’re a mom on a budget like I am, these tips might very well make you, well, happy!

This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, view my disclosure here.

1.  Go During Slow Season/Weekdays

The price of Disneyland tickets now fluctuate based on their busy and slow seasons, meaning prices go up when the park is typically busy (holidays, summer) and prices go down when they’re not (weekdays, back-to-school season).  A huge perk of going on a slow season day too is that the park will be a lot less crowded meaning you’ll get to wait in shorter lines and go on more rides! You can check the pricing for slow days on the Disneyland site here.

^2011 when we went during Halloween season

2. Bring Snacks/Go Out to Eat

Disneyland will allow some outside food and snacks – just don’t plan to bring a picnic or a cooler :). When you’re wandering around the park, there are some good eats, but sometimes you just want to munch on some chips, fruit snacks, or just something easy.  Bring them with you. For bigger meals, there are parking ins-and-outs, so if you really want to save money (or even take a short break from the Disney hubbub), take your car out to grab a bite. We did this a few times, and it does help to recharge when you get back in the park, especially on crowded days.

3. Stay at a non-Disneyland Hotel

This is contingent on whether or not your trip to town is mostly for Disneyland or not.  If the purpose of your trip is Disneyland, then you can really get quite a few perks staying at the hotel (ie. shuttle to and from the airport).  If you’re visiting Southern California and have other things on your itinerary, staying at a non-Disneyland hotel is pretty cost-effective.  There are plenty in walking distance and several offer a free shuttle service to get to Disneyland. For our recent trip, we stayed at the Annabella Hotel and loved it.

^ 2013 in California Adventure

4. Buy apparel and souvenirs in advance

Target, Wal-Mart, even Forever 21 tend to sell Disney-inspired apparel, so you can save some money by buying these in advance instead of buying them at a park.  My shirt here in the photo above I bought on an online shop and the shirt I wore for Dominic’s birthday I found at Ross (who would’ve thought?).  Even Dominic’s shirt and cute vest with Mickey ears were from Target.  On top of apparel, there’s plenty of knick-knacks you can find at your stores too like notepads to use as autograph books.  Mickey/Minnie ears are also readily available on Amazon like these ones here (with interchangeable bows!).

5. Buy a So Cal CityPASS

I’ve talked highly about CityPASS before when we used them in New York and Chicago. Well, there’s one for Southern California too!  If you’re coming from out of town or even showing family around town who are visiting Southern California, getting a So Cal CityPASS is a huge money saver. The pass is basically a booklet of tickets to multiple places, and this one in particular includes several of the major theme parks.

^ Our first visit as an engaged couple. We got “Just Engaged” buttons 🙂

I hope this helps you save some money on your next trip to Disneyland!  Sometimes every penny counts… so you can go and splurge on some Dole whip!

Have any money-saving tips for a Disneyland trip?  Please, do share!

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