A trip to Disneyland or Disney World doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of ways you and your family can save money at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are 30 budget tips to save big bucks on your Disney vacation.
Article by Monique Smalling.
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1. Travel in the off season
The Disney parks adjust ticket prices based on certain seasons and days of the week. Families can save money by selecting less expensive days to be in the parks. Less expensive times of the year can include the months of January-May – this is often when you'll see discounts offered!
2. Avoid holidays
Hotel and ticket prices are both more expensive around the major holidays. Guests can travel and play for cheaper if they choose non-holiday time periods.
3. Stay at a Local Hotel
The resort hotels are truly magical but can also be expensive, and guests don’t spend that much time in the room anyway. Guests can save a lot of money by staying at a Good Neighbor hotel. These hotels are generally pretty close to the parks and cost significantly less money. Read our full guide to nearby Disneyland hotels!
4. Stay at a hotel with a breakfast
Many hotels offer complimentary breakfast for their guests. This is a great way to eat a meal for free and spend less money in the parks. Having a good breakfast will often tie guests over until lunchtime.
5. Stay at a hotel further away from the parks
Generally speaking, the closer the hotel to the parks, the more expensive it is. Guests are paying a premium for walking privileges. Guest can save money by selecting a hotel further away from the parks and driving in or taking a shuttle.
6. Don’t rent a car
Guests can take shuttles or ride sharing from the nearby airports, and there are shuttles from most hotels to the parks. Additionally, many hotels charge a parking fee per day for cars. Most guests don’t really need a car for their Disney trips, and can save by skipping the rental fee and the parking fee.
7. Purchase discount multi-day tickets or value tickets
If you plan on visiting the parks for more than on a couple of days, guests can save money per day by purchasing multi-day park tickets. Disneyland and Disney World both sell 3-day, 4-day or 5-day tickets.
8. Purchase single-park tickets
When purchasing tickets, guests can choose from park hopper tickets or admission to one park per day. The park hopper tickets allow guests to visit multiple theme parks in the same day. Guest can save money by purchasing tickets with admission to one park per day.
9. Schedule a non-park day
Ticket prices can certainly add up. Families can save money by scheduling a non-park day during their visit. A non-park day can include lounging by the pool, visiting a nearby beach, shopping, or visiting the different resort hotels. Check out our article, Best Guide to a Beach Day on Your Disneyland Vacation. Also, check out our article, Downtown Disney: Shopping, Dining, and Experiences to Make Your Day Magical.
10. Make a grocery run
Making a grocery run when you arrive is a great idea to stock up on water, snacks, sunscreen and other items your family might need. Hotel gift shops and resort shops are more expensive and also offer less selection.
11. Bring snacks
The Disney parks have a pretty generous “bring your own food” policy compared to other theme parks. Guests can bring in lunch bags or small coolers with snacks. Guests can save money by snacking throughout the day and then only paying for one or two meals. Click HERE for items you can and cannot bring into the parks.
12. Share meals
Another great way to save some money is to share meals. Some of the portion sizes as the sit down restaurants are pretty sizable and can easily feed two people. My family and I often share meals in the parks, especially the fried chicken dinner at Plaza Inn in Disneyland or the Monte Cristo sandwich at Blue Bayou.
13. Make lunch your main meal
If you are planning a character dining experience, lunches are less expensive than dinners. Also, most restaurants have more expensive dinner menus. Guests can save money by making lunch their main purchased meal of the day and eating snacks or quick service meals for dinners.
14. Order water with meals
Purchasing soda and iced tea with meals can certainly add up. Drinking water with meals not only saves money but keeps you and your family hydrated to go on more rides!
15. Pack your own water
Purchasing single-use water bottles in the park can add up pretty quickly. Bringing your own water can save money, and it is important to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months.
16. Bring a reusable water bottle
Even better than bringing your own water is bringing your own reusable water bottle. Stock is up with ice from the hotel and refill it with water throughout the day.
17. Order free water
Forget your water bottle? Most food service stops will provide guests with a free cup of water.
18. Select quick service dining options
The Disneyland and Disney World parks sort their restaurants and food options ranging from quick service on the cheaper end, to fine/signature or character dining on the high-end. The quick service options are the least expensive and can save guests money.
19. Eat outside of the parks
Guests can also save money by dining at restaurants outside of the theme parks. Restaurant prices tend to be a little higher in the parks, so a little money can be saved by timing meals after leaving the parks.
20. Eat at restaurant’s “to go” options
There are a few restaurants in Downtown Disney that offer outside, takeout options. Tortilla Jos, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, and Naples Ristorante e Bar all offer cheaper, to go options that are attached to their main restaurant. Check out our article on Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney: Shopping, Dining, and Experiences to Make Your Day Magical.
21. Stock up on sunscreen
Guests can save money by making sure they are stocked up on sunscreen before they arrive. Sunscreen is available in the parks, but it is definitely cheaper to buy beforehand.
22. Bring a first aid kits
Guests can plan for minor mishaps by bringing in their own small first aid kit with band-aids, ointment, pain medication, etc. These items are sold in the parks but will certainly cost more.
23. Bring your own stroller
The parks rent single and double strollers, but guests can save money by bringing their own stroller. Even a simple, folding stroller can come in handy to carry your toddler and backpacks. The rental fee per day can add up, so guests can save a few dollars by bringing their own stroller.
24. Pack Snacks
Pack snacks for the hotel room so you're not spending money ordering out or in the overpriced hotel gift shops.
25. Purchase PhotoPass for Pictures
If you plan on purchasing photos taken by cast members, the photo pass might be worth looking into. For a flat rate you can just purchase all your photos for either one day or the week which is much more cost effective than buying them separately.
26. Buy Disney apparel before you arrive
The theme parks definitely have some eye-catching apparel, however it can be pricey. There are some great options for purchasing cute Disney clothing and hats before you arrive at a fraction of the cost.
27. Purchase souvenirs offsite
Souvenirs can also be purchased at other retailers for less than at the parks. This is a great tip for traveling with little kids, because they won’t know where it was purchased!
28. Bring Ziplocks
Pack ziplock bags so you can put any extra popcorn, pretzels, etc. that your kids don't finish to eat later!
29. Buy a refillable popcorn bucket the first day
The parks generally sell refillable popcorn buckets. If a family purchases one the first day of their trip, they can refill it during the rest of their trip and enjoy a snack for cheap.
30. Buy costumes before you come
My daughters used to love to wear costumes into the parks when they were little. Parents can save money by purchasing their costumes at other retailers before they arrive at the parks. Also, buying costumes after Halloween can save money and the costumes can be saved until the next trip.
Plan Your Disneyland Vacation!
Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know for a Disneyland trip! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:
- Discount Disneyland Ticket Guide
- What's Disneyland Like Right Now?
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Guide
- 10 Reasons Disneyland Fans Should Visit Walt Disney World
- Disneyland Crowd Calendar 2021
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