Disneyland (and Disney World, I’m not biased) truly is the happiest place on Earth. And while I’ve grown up visiting the parks and have had an annual pass almost all of my life, I know that it’s not the cheapest vacation. Let’s face it. It can be crazy expensive. Between the hotels, the park tickets, food in the parks, merch, etc. The total of the vacation can rack up pretty quickly.
Luckily, there are a few ways to cut corners and save yourself some money so that the family vacation that you dreamed of can happen.
Skip the Park Hopper
If you have the time to spare and are planning on spending at least 2 days in the parks, skip the park hopper. For those who don’t know what a park hopper is, it’s a ticket that allows you to jump from park to park. So you’d be able to go to Disneyland and California Adventures in the same day. To save yourself some cash, get a 2-day 1-park ticket then spend one day at Disneyland and one day at California Adventures. The same goes for WDW (the only caveat there is that it is much bigger than Disneyland).
Currently, a 2-day park hopper is $280 whereas a 2-day 1-park ticket is $225. That’s a savings of $55 right off the bat.
Check the Calendar
Going during the slow season will help you save some money and tickets. 1-day tickets range anywhere from $104 to $149 depending on the time of year. You can find the pricing of the tickets online.
Pack Your Lunch
If you’re really trying to save some money, consider packing your own food. Disney allows you to bring in outside food and drink. Whether you just want to pack chips and water or you feel like packing sandwiches and other meals, you have the choice to avoid the expensive dining that Disney has to offer.
If you’re flying in from out of state, both Disneyland and Disneyworld have grocery stores nearby where you can pick up food and store in your hotel or Airbnb.
Don’t Stay on Property
Now this one applies more for Disneyland than WDW. When planning your Disney vacation, staying on property might sound ideal. What’s better than getting up, enjoying a character breakfast, and walking straight into the parks? Not much if you ask me. However, Disney hotels are very expensive. Disneyland has hotels literally surrounding it that are much cheaper and still walkable. My favorite is the Red Lion. It’s super affordable, has what you need, and is only a 10-minute walk from the parks.
Look into Value Resorts
If you’re taking a trip to Disneyworld, staying on property is ideal since it’s so large. The best part about WDW is that the options for lodging on property are endless. There are a few resorts known as “value” resorts that are affordable and quite adorable. The value resorts include All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. My personal fav is Art of Animation! Most of these hotels start at $99 a night!
Get a Target Redcard
I know what you’re thinking. What in the world does Target Redcard have anything to do with Disney? Did you know the Target Redcard (either debit or credit) saves you 5% off every Target purchase? And guess what Target sells. Disney tickets and Disney gift cards. Though it’s not a huge saving, it’s something!
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
If you don’t feel like getting a Target Redcard just for the sole purpose of a Disney trip, you can buy discounted gift cards online on sites like Giftcard Granny, Raise, and Cardpool.
Buy Merch Elsewhere
Along with food and rides, Disney also knows how to make killer merch. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on ears and other souvenirs that I did not need. It’s a habit I’m trying to break. However, the Disney parks aren’t the only places with cute merch. There are so many different stores that have Disney clothing, souvenirs, etc. A few of my favorites include Target, BoxLunch, and Zara. Etsy is another great option as well.